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  1. 3 points
    "Yeah," Devin said, already in motion and looking a might bit concerned. "Let's get you spun the fuck up. Certainly sounds like we have time for that as the walls a melting away all Silent Hill up in this bitch." "Devin, get us out of here," Marissa turned to face her brother as she reflexively gripped Cade's hand. "No can do." He replied to his gorgeous sibling. "The Dark emanates raw dimensional interference. It doesn't belong here, and the closer it is, the more my targeting goes all wonky. I can manage small jaunts, but if I try anything farther, it'll rip my guts apart like before." Kat had no idea what the hell he was talking about. "Damnit," she cursed. She looked to everyone else and squeezed Cade's hand. "We need to go." She looked up to her boyfriend and rest her free had on his chest. "You are on Jase duty. He's injured and you are the biggest thing we have right now. Stay with him. The rest of us will look out for each other, and..." she took a concerned breath as she looked at him. She gripped his shirt and pulled his 6'4" self down to meet her 5'8" gaze. For a few moments the hospital faded as her lips pressed against his and her palm cupped his cheek to hold him in place she motivated her soldier. She pulled away and opened her eyes. "Be careful. I mean it." "Cathrine, my brother, Devin, new French girl, now let's get the hell out of here." She urged them. "On it," Devin, with no regard for Kat's presence, jaunted from where he stood in the room to the doorway leading out into the hallway. For the first time all of them, for the briefest of moments were able to see the two apertures in the same place at the same time, the shimmering purple distortions left by his jaunts pulsed and shimmered briefly like oil on water giving off all the various hues of purple from lavender to periwinkle before fading away. "Shit," Charlie muttered. "Sophia. She's in the waiting room!" "Dude, seriosuly?" Devin looked stunned and defeated at once. "Okay, look, I'll go get her, you stay with the girls and help Cade lead everyone out. I'll catch up." "But-" Charlie attempted to protest. After all, he'd brought her here and he felt like she was his obligation to protect. "I get it, bro," Devin smirked a friendly smirk, not his usual sarcastic snigger. "But who's faster? Keep my sister safe, and I'll make sure Sophia is fine. You got this." He raised up his fist and Charlie bumped it. "Head away from the screams of terror, text me locales, I'll find you." He dashed off towards the waiting room. Marissa jogged to the door, the heels of her boots clacking on the tiles. She took up position where he brother just darted from. "Running in those might not be the best idea," Cade offered up to her as he was helping Jason with the last few moments of his preparation to vacate the Hospital of Horrors. "Baby, me running in heels is the least of our concerns right now." Marissa replied to her boyfriend right as she looked at Kat. "So, please don't allow what happens in the next several moments of excruciating madness and horrific terror to put too dark of a mar on your opinion of our little town, it truly is a quaint place to live."
  2. 2 points
    "Cody." Jason spoke up from his seat, gesturing with his soda can in acknowledgement of Autumn's words. Ordinarily he would stand, but right now he felt sore and tired. "The Man In Black said we had to find Cody Sikes." "The who to the what now?" Kat spoke up. "This is what you guys were talking about when Sean and I arrived, isn't it?" "But isn't the Man In Black part of the Dark?" Cassie interjected, brow furrowing in confusion. "Apparently not. At least, when he visited me right before Cade and Marissa arrived he said he wasn't." Jase shrugged stiffly. "He said, and I quote, that he didn't want any of us hurt by the Dark 'any more than I'd want to go around my garden tearing up flowers'." "Jesus. That guy was visiting you right down the hall from us. What else did he say?" Autumn asked, one eye on the door. Jason focused for a moment, then spoke with the Man in Black's cadence. It wasn't a perfect mimicry, merely a replay of what he'd heard. "The Dark hates those who Shine, boy. It's in the name. I know you've spotted the pattern in the killings over the decades and centuries here. Every generation or so, right? Just enough time to harvest those with Shine or the potential for it. See, you and your buddies are food to the Dark, and flowers to me. I want to see you guys win." The pale-eyed youth then looked at the others. "Then I asked him to tell me about the Dark, and he said: "Can't do that, kiddo. Can't just give you everything, or you won't grow. But you children need to find Cody. And don't let the Dark kill you! It's not just death it wants to eat, it's Shine." Jase smiled wryly. "He also ate my mutton casserole I'd brought for lunch. I was hoping to eat that when I felt better." He paused, thinking for a second. "If Mr Black is an agent of the Dark then he had me dead to rights, and could have killed me there, then ambushed you all. He's had opportunities to harm us, and hasn't done so. I'm not saying I trust everything he's saying, but I have to ask what benefit he gains by lying about this. I think if the Dark has a physical agent, it's Cody." He glanced at them all. "The cycle of death - Mr Black knew about what we found out through research. It makes sense - if there's something here that encourages Shine, that explains why once a generation or so there's a harvest of those with unusually high levels." "Okay, what's Shine?" asked Kat. "The Force." Jason said with a small smile. "Technically everything that lives gives off a faint amount of it. In most of us here, it seems to be stronger somehow, focused. It's how we do what we do. If you want to get scientific - the current theory myself and Sean have worked out is that it seems to be the Grand Unifying Principle, a sub-quantum layer of reality that binds everything together. It explains how Devin can warp through space without turning into spaghetti from the gravity distortion that would entail if he did it on the quantum layer. It explains how Cassie can see into the past as well as the present and future - time wouldn't exist the same way there - it'd be just another direction." He looked at Kat, then Sophia. "You, Kat, have the Shine. Sophia does not. There's a sensory aspect to it that some of us can use - we can feel others when they're close. Cassie can feel them at much higher distances." Sophia frowned at the lean, bruised youth, plainly unhappy - though whether with the diagnosis of being normal or the source of the diagnosis was hard to tell. "As for the Dark - what Devin said, mostly. It seems to be some parasitic force local to Shelly. Every twenty-seven years it wakes up and causes a rash of murders and disappearances. We're currently halfway through year twenty-six of the current cycle. We've observed that it can amplify negative personality traits in normal people - cause boys harassing a girl to move to rape her, or cause an argument over household bills to turn into a beating, or a misunderstanding to become a brawl. It seems to be a corrupting parasite - it has to work through proxies." Jason frowned in thought. "Which explains why Cody is probably still alive and we need to find him. He was always a bit of a slimeball - someone like that is an ideal champion for the Dark. If it needs eyes and ears, then that could well be what its using Cody for." "Okay." Sean nodded. "So far, it makes sense. So do you think Cody is where Cassie felt that knot, the - what did you call it Marissa?" "The taproot." The prettier, smarter Jauntsen said as she sat back down by Cade, leaning a little against him. "Taproot, right." Sean nodded again. "Is Cody there?" "It's probably the best place to start looking." Cassie tugged at her lower lip thoughtfully. "When we're ready to, that is. That place feels dangerous to me." "Readiness. Yes." Jason half-closed his eyes, leaning back into the couch seat. "Those of us with psionic gifts have practiced tuning to each other. Devin wasn't there, neither was Kat. It doesn't seem to be inherently dangerous, though it is intimate. You become very aware of the other persons in the link - not like mind reading, just a sense of their aura, if you will." He opened his eyes, looking at Devin and Kat. "The way it works is simple enough - one person acts as a... lens, I suppose, and the others in the link focus their power into the lens. They can move Shine from themselves into the lens, allowing them to use their powers more, and the lens also gets a buff depending on who else is in the link. In our tests, we found that Cassie can amplify range, Charlie boosts the signal of the lens-person's powers, Autumn and Lona could increase the effectiveness of the lens against living creatures, and so on. There's likely other effects to discover, but we can do that later. Devin's effect on a link would be interesting to categorise, for instance." "Right now, though, we need to focus on dealing with the Project. Thanks to Sean, they don't know what we've been talking about. So we talk a little, and let them talk a lot: see what they have to say, see how they are approaching us. That will tell us how smart they are, or whether they are letting their sense of importance and authority do the thinking." Jason paused, his eyes sweeping the group. "We don't tolerate threats or intimidation, though. We need to establish from the outset that we will not be pushed around - if they indeed try to do so. As for Marissa's concerns about Devin... I think we can count on Devin being naturally contrary-" "Hey! I am not!" The teleporter objected with a grin. Jason arched a brow at that, spreading his hands wide in a 'there you are' gesture that caused a few chuckles at the interplay. "-And indeed, if the Project are trying to keep up with his antics it means they will pay less attention to the rest of us 'good kids' by comparison." "Cool." Devin said, glancing at his phone once more. "So what do I do? Just keep being me?" "As easy as that, yes." Jason smiled at his friend. "Frustrate and infuriate. Be by turns difficult and impossible. Make them work a little." "The major, Taggart? He seemed reasonable." Autumn said after taking another swallow of water. "A hard-ass, but not a bully. We might be able to work with him rather than treat him as an enemy." Cassie nodded agreement. "Yeah." the blonde seer spoke up. "He listened when we warned him about the creatures, and I got the impression he doesn't altogether respect Doctor Cook." Jason nodded at that, eyes closing once more. "Let's hope we're dealing with reasonable people then." he said. "Charlie, Sean. I don't know how much more time we've got right now, but this is a good time to bring Sophia and Kat up to speed - give them the 'story so far'. Fill in the gaps so they're not constantly scratching their heads and saying 'what?' when we're talking about something." He opened the bag of chips on his lap and slowly started to eat them, favoring the unbruised side of his mouth when chewing.
  3. 2 points
    "...and then today, two guys were influenced to attack me over some minor grievance." Jason's voice was low as he finished quietly explaining to his father, the elder and younger Bannon sitting a little way back from the rest of the room on a couch. "It seemed that the Dark - or whoever makes the decisions for it - decided to move on us all here at the hospital: a preemptive strike to take us all out." Gar Bannon was staring at the floor as his son explained most of the events of the summer and the first week of Fall semester. Whilst a genius - or at least, once a genius before he'd crawled into a bottle - Jase's dad was struggling, trying to find rocks to latch onto in the torrent of horror and eeriness that had reached out and enveloped his son during the last months. And in one particular, even before that. "Since you were eight?" he murmured quietly, turning perhaps the largest personal revelation over. He looked up into his son's clear, pale stare. "You've known since you were eight, and didn't tell me." "There never seemed to be a good time." Jason said, unmoved. Gareth examined the boy - the young man - seeing now the removal of the mask and desperately trying to find some shred of evidence that the inhuman calm was itself a pose to shield some deeper vulnerability. "The information would only have caused you more worry, and to no good purpose." A small fracture showed in the mirror-shine of his glacial gaze, though his tone was still matter-of-fact as he added. "You might even have given me up." "Jesus! How could you think that?!" Gar hissed, reflexive outrage warring with the awareness that others were present, if not actually part of the conversation. Jason's head tilted slightly, his stare examining his father's reactions. "My own mother did. How could I expect more or better from anyone else? You were fresh out of jail, heartbroken, and drinking." He replied in a tone that was entirely logical, irrefutable in it's simple truth. "I don't have intuitive empathy to go on when I trust people. Leaps of faith are alien to my nature. I go on observed behavior: what people do, what they say, and how those contrast. I extend trust bit by bit, from necessity and to test those around me as well as myself. Those I cared for most learned latest, since they were the ones I least wanted to drive away." Gar had always carried guilt that he had somehow been responsible for what he perceived as Jason growing up too fast, never being a normal kid. A loser drunk for a father - of course the kid would learn to cook, clean, do the dozen and one things that kept the household in order. But now, looking at his son, he saw that perhaps Jason had never been a 'kid' in anything but physical development. He'd always been a serious-eyed child even when learning to walk. When he fell down, even if it was a nasty bump, he'd just get up and try again. Kate had wanted to get him tested, but Gareth had resisted that, wanting to let Jase just develop naturally. "I wish I had known." he said, as much to himself as to Jason. "I should have- I dunno. I could have been there for you, perhaps. If you even need that. Do you?" he looked up into his son's eyes again. "Do you need people to be there for you?" "I.." Jason hesitated, examining his father, then glancing around at the room, at his friends. He remembered Marissa taking his hand in the trailer, Devin hanging out and talking a million miles a minute in the vehicle barn, Sean and his family welcoming him into the fold, Autumn hugging him despite her own nervousness around him, Cassie lightly poking him, teasing him about his lack of pluck, Charlie trying to understand him even as the experience terrified him. "Need isn't the accurate word. But I like some people being there for me. It enriches my life - usually." He looked back at his father. "You have been there for me, dad. Don't think you haven't." "Not enough, I haven't been." Gar frowned, wiping his face with a hand. "I need a minute or two, Jason. I just... Need a moment. It's a whole lot." "Sure." If Jason felt any worry, or concern, he didn't show it in an obvious sense. His gaze followed his father as Gareth stood, resting a hand on his son's shoulder for a moment, then wandered off to the far side of the room to sit down again. Jase looked at Hank, who nodded silently and went to sit near Gar, leaving Jason alone. He sat back, gesturing and floating a can of Sprite and a couple bags of chips over to himself as he tuned in to the ongoing conversation. "We cannot rely on the Project unless we run the Project." Jason said calmly from where he was seated, popping the tab on his soda. "And the only way to do that is to get inside and become indispensable to the Project. If we get involved now, we can at least try to head off any disasters they might cause. My recommendation is to play along guardedly, never showing too much at once. Treat it like a game of poker. They have some cards, we have some cards - and I'm pretty sure ours beat theirs - but it doesn't hurt to see how they bluff." He took a long sip from the can, then lowered it and regarded them all. "Don't think like teenagers - at the whims of adult laws and supervision. Teenagers don't have real power - we do. Teenagers don't have real knowledge - we do. Teenagers don't kill nightmare beasts - we do. Oh, and they probably have all the DNA they need from us over the last few years, so that horse has bolted." he added with a slight lopsided grin at Devin before wincing and gingerly touching his jaw. "Just consider our assets: Sean can get into any computer system, Marissa can wrap people around her little finger, Cassie can see, sense and feel things they try to hide. That's just the most obvious intelligence gathering talents we have. Then there's the muscle side of powers equation, and that's formidable enough that I'm pretty sure the bunch of us could give Major Taggart and his men shit-fits in a straight fight. So we play it cautious, we give the appearance of cooperation, and we try not to spook them into doing something stupid while we figure out what exactly they're all up to." "And if it all goes south, we at least will have better information to use when shutting them down and kicking over their sandcastle."
  4. 2 points
    The Project Facility - The Fellowship Studying the holographic display and the embedded device projecting it with avid interest, Sean stood with his hands clasped behind his back to hide their trembling. With the danger - okay, immediate danger anyway - and the fight with the Dark-spawn over, Sean was realizing just what he, they, had done, and how it could have gone seriously sideways. He'd backed up the hulking Mantis-Shrimp-Charlie with circular laser-blades, at the time ignoring the fact if he'd been hit by one of the Darkspawn Choker things, he didn't have Charlie's shell or Jase's Ice Armor to protect himself. Devin had been blipping here and there, Cade batted one of the damn things into the wall with a fire extinguisher, and Jase had frozen the big one solid. In a role-playing game or a video game, all that would be awesome. In real life, after the fact and without adrenaline pumping through your veins... it was still still awesome, but also damned terrifying. There were no restarts or respawning in real life. "Psionic," Sean corrected absently, "Psychic is all oui--" He chuffed in irritation as Charlie and Sophia clearly didn't care about the distinction, and then turned away with a slightly sour expression when he saw Sophia squeeze Charlie's hand and smile at him. Laser Ladyboy, indeed! "Oh, never mind." Sean sidled over to the refreshments, cracking open a Pepsi and grabbing a wrapped, dubious looking egg-salad sandwich. It wasn't so much mistrust or that they might get his DNA - they had that plenty already from all the visits with Cook and the tests he'd taken - but rather concerned he'd bring up anything he ate or drank while still dealing with the shakes. "Ugh! Warm!" Sean protested with a scowl after taking a sip of his Pepsi. The can suddenly got colder in his hand, the cola almost verging on slush. He took another sip, sighed in satisfaction, and nodded his thanks at Jase. "Not exactly what I had in mind when I wanted to show you around, Kat," Sean admitted dryly while asking her with a pointed glance at the refreshment table if she wanted anything. "But it seems like you fit right in with weird and wonder of Shelly." For the moment, he'd leave it up to the smaller redhead if she wanted to talk about her own psionic potential, if she'd known about it before or if it was a new thing cropping up from exposure. Though if her dad had been stationed at the base before... "Couple things with the plan," Sean added. "One, we still need to find out what Cook and the Major and their lot know about the Dark and all this, us, and we need to share too, so we can help each other. I had an appointment to meet with Cook at five. We're running kinda late on that, but it sure would be nice if he'd keep that appointment. We all have a lot to talk about." Like the rest of the Fellowship - still need a better name - Sean assumed they were being observed. With a minor bit of effort and recalibrating how he perceived the electromagnetic spectrum, it had been easy to figure how and from where they were being watched. An enigmatic grin tugged at his full lips as he reached out with his will, and began to play with the digital transmissions of the cameras about them. "Two, I've just given them an incentive to come talk with us instead of just watching and listening for who knows how bloody long," Sean admitted. "How's that?" Autumn asked. Sean's smile widened, inordinately pleased with himself. "I'm Rickrolling them. At least, through what they have watching us here." Devin barked a laugh, clinking his can with Sean's as he passed by pacing. "Classic. Actual Rick roll, or...?" "That's getting kinda old, so updated it a bit. I Allstarred them instead." The Project Facility - Security Office Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb In the shape of an "L" on her forehead "What the hell is happening?" a gruff voice demanded. "We don't know," replied a younger woman, trying to keep her tone professional, rather than frustrated. "Something, someone, has taken over the feed." Well the years start coming and they don't stop coming Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running Didn't make sense not to live for fun Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb "Get the damn feed back!" "I can't! I can't even change to the feed to another camera." A huff of annoyance. "Rather, I can, but this shit is still showing, overlaying whatever we're supposed to see and hear." So much to do, so much to see So what's wrong with taking the back streets? You'll never know if you don't go You'll never shine if you don't glow "Is it one of the kids? An outside hack?" "Yes? If it's outside intrusion, it's like nothing I've seen before." "Isn't the guy from Smash Mouth dead or something?" "Just turn it off, then," the gruff voice sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose evident through tone alone. Hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play Hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid And all that glitters is gold Only shooting stars break the mold "I can't!" There was choking laughter and frustrated tears in the admission. The Project Facility - The Fellowship "Anyway, three, we aren't the first these powers, not judging by the psionically active artifacts we saw at the museum, and the tales of the Land of Upside Down Thunder," Sean continued. "If the Dark is trapped there, it was because they couldn't find a way to kill it the first time. I don't think killing it is going to be as easy as levelling up couple of times. And four, assuming we have to get to the taproot itself to Raid it or pull it out or whatever to get rid of the Dark," Sean nodded at Marissa, continuing her analogy, we don't have a reliable way to get there. The Dark or its minions seem able to pull us in." Sean pointed a finger at Devin. "And there was the time at the trailer with coochiesaurus round one. Not sure yet if that was purely outside influence, or something to do with the trailer and the radio that we might be able to use to our own ends."
  5. 2 points
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked The creature lashed and struck out for Devin and every time simply shifted to the side in a shimmering purple haze. When the LumiDisc sliced his critter in half he stood straight up and looked at Sean. "Hey! That was mine! KSer!" The two beasts on Jason backed away, howling and lamenting their mistake of touching the frost rimed, pallid teen. They were not keen in the brains department, but where they couldn't get to Jason they saw an opportunity for his father and Hank, splitting off in a 'Y' around Jason to strike at his loved ones. Swiftly they leapt for the two men, and as Jason prepared himself a defense help was already inbound. Devin appeared in mid air, already halfway through a round house that connected with the side of the monster's head and he disappeared the moment he transferred force only to bamf out and reappear, standing at the second one's flank where he delivered a solid kick to the still frozen tissue, chipping off flakes of solid flesh. The first one staggered a few steps but continued on only to find Devin there to kicking it in the frozen bits. Three, four, five... Hank and Gar lost count of how many times Devin blipped in and out between the two beasts until his sneakers were covered in black goop from where he'd whittled past the frozen tissue and kicking away organs. When the two beasts fell over from pain or whatever they felt, the two stepped up and stomped on their heads, ending their time in this world. "Y'sure can move kid." Gar said, slapping Devin on the back. Devin caught his breath and offered a return on the nod he'd received earlier. "Yeah, I'm all kinds of impressive." He said more to the halfway than to anyone in particular. He teleported to Marissa and hugged his sister. "Stick close, stay down." He turned to the others. "We're not out of this yet," he motioned to Jason. "Do like Elsa and stay frosty, I'll scout ahead. We need a game plan, we coming or going, or what?" He strolled past Charlie's monstrous, nightmarish form and just patted him on the 'shoulder', thunking chitin and completely unafraid of what Charlie had become. He fist bumped Cade. "We got this. Keep doing what we're doing. I'll be back in a jiff." Devin disappeared. "That boy ever stay still," Hank asked as him and his father approached Jason. "You get used to it," Jason replied quietly.
  6. 2 points
    Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck Cassandra had to trot to keep up, and when the Major asked for help she almost dropped step for a second. Autumn had told him as much as she could sense of the situation herself...but was that true? She'd recently felt something new in herself, an ability to see the Shine that went deeper than what most of the Fellowship seemed able to do. It was still a little scary, thinking of turning that loose...especially here, now. But lives were on the line, and some of those lives were her friends. As they came into the operations and control center she was still mulling over the situation, too distracted even to take in the happenings on the holoscreens. Finally she made her decision. She took a deep breath and opened her mind... ...immediately it was a struggle, a war. Something thick and viscous and vile pushed in on her, smelling like sewage, like dead animals, like...somehow like despair, or terror or hate so cold and frozen it was like a vast icicle sharpened to a hooked edge... She stopped where she was in the hall, struggling with her body's instinctive reaction to the sensation of ingesting filth. But in the filth was knowledge. Amidst that noisome black goo were people, tangled and twisted up in it. And other things, not people, that seemed to be knots in its fabric. Then she realized what she was sensing. "It's like the shine," Cassie breathed, letting her breath out and swaying. "Like the opposite of it. Jesus, it's...it's everywhere." She turned around in a circle, eyes wide but unblinking, unseeing. "It starts here, and...it's covering pretty much all downtown and a little farther." Cass grimaced and focused in . "There's...like twenty, almost two dozen...but only nine of them are down here. They're made of it, like we're made of shine....and there's a big one upstairs." Flashes of shine refracted in her mind, and she could sense not just powers being used, but what powers they were. Focusing light? Ice and fire... Charlie's body consumed in the light of the shine as he remade himself... "Most of them are upstairs," she said. "The others are fighting them, but...there's a lot. They're going to need help!" She shook her head, forcing the vision back enough that she could see and hear around herself again. It was the opposite of waking up from a dream, the memory of it kept clinging to her, trying to push its way back in, to pull her away again. Instead Cass forced herself to meet the Major's eyes, who had paused in the middle of turning to lead his men to the elevator. "Your men are heading towards nine of the smaller ones. That's all there are on this level. The rest...fifteen or sixteen, plus the big one...are upstairs in the hospital. Our friends are fighting them, but I don't know if they can get them all. So far, there's none outside the medical center though. Whatever's going on here, we have to stop it. So far this...anti-shine...isn't hurting us, but I think if it goes on too long that's going to change."
  7. 2 points
    Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck Cassandra startled as Autumn followed her into the office and she nodded shakily. Whatever had happened had hit her head like the world's biggest hand scraping the world's biggest chalkboard with its massive, massive fingernails. She'd felt as if her skin would literally peel itself off of her body for a second there, and it was kind of a relief having a distraction from the memory of it. She could still feel that sensation...tingling all over her, a feeling of desperate dissonance inside and out. The universe was ringing like a gong, and it wasn't making a pretty sound. Her eyes fixed on the hologram hovering over the futuristic desk for a second. She recognized the double helix of a DNA molecule, but didn't really understand what the words next to it meant. Maybe some kind of scientific notation? With a trembling hand she got a snapshot, then crossed the office to the opposite door and pressed the side of her head to it. No screams was a good start. No footfalls or talking. Autumn was right, they had to move. That meant taking some risks. "This way," she urged Autumn, and opened the door. Beyond was what looked like a laboratory, all white-paneled and well-lit, with a row of equipment neatly lined up along one wall, and a bunch of cabinets along half the adjoining one. A couple of tables occupied the center, with yet more equipment on them. Cassie moved in, looking around. She couldn't make head or tail of most of it, but took a picture of the equipment so Sean could have a look later. The far right wall seemed equipped with a pressurized environment, maybe like those clean rooms they made computers in...on the left was a set of double doors. She waved at Autumn and headed for the double doors. "Did that come from here?" Cass asked as they went, "Is this something they're doing?? It must be...what the hell is it?" Autumn could only shake her head. As they crossed the lab, she scanned the various instruments and racks of test tubes and such...seeking some kind of weapon. Short of trying to rip apart a stool though, there was nothing light or wieldy enough to satisfy. Cass cracked the doors open and peeked through, then opened them and scooted into the corridor beyond. It was fairly long, stretching the same direction that the big commotion had been coming from only a minute before. Cassandra hesitated, then shook her head and pressed forward. The only way back was the elevator and coming face to face with Cook and Courtney. And if they didn't find out what had happened here, then no one would ever know. She couldn't stop now. At the T-junction at the end of the corridor, Cassie looked back to verify that Autumn had followed and nodded. She pushed up to the wall, leaned out just enough to peek right, then left...hoping not to be noticed while doing so.
  8. 2 points
    Marias Medical Center: Team Pluck What the fuck. What the actual- No. No no nonononono. This is not happening again, oh fuck me, it is not happening, Autumn insisted silently, as if the simple act of refusing to accept the unfolding nightmare could somehow stave off the madness and horror it brought. But the alarms going off in the hallway were just as loud as the ones in her head, and for all their screeching, neither drowned out the short-lived scream of someone on the other side of the doors who could no longer hear them. And suddenly, the redhead realized she couldn’t think of it as just a nightmare anymore, because she had just... ...listened to someone die. “Fuck,” the terrified young woman breathed as hot tears rolled down her cheeks, her back pressed to the wall near the fire doors. She wanted to throw up, felt her stomach knotting in revulsion at the oily sensation of diseased corruption in the air, at the faint, sickly-sweet smell of burnt-sugar she recognized from the woods, at the sudden realness of what couldn’t- shouldn’t be real, but that would require time she didn’t have. Through the wall, she could sense… something moving. Several somethings, things that she instinctively felt didn’t belong here, and every impulse and instinct she possessed pushed her away from the wall, propelled her forward- first at a jog, and then a dead sprint toward the door Cassie had entered. She couldn’t explain the shift in perception any more than she could explain the rest of what was going on, but she wasn’t about to question its accuracy, not if it helped keep them alive. There was a momentary, irrational pang of regret as she bolted away from the doors and the unearthly terrors behind them, as if she were somehow abandoning people- but the men and women on the other side of those doors had guns and training on their side, and the two teens did not; if they couldn’t hold their own, there was nothing she- unarmed and inexperienced- could do to help them. Survive. Whatever it takes, just keep going. Autumn barely slowed as she neared the office, instead grabbing the door frame to shift her momentum and skittering, breathless and wide-eyed, into the room just as the elevator chimed softly down the hall. “We need to get out of here,” she gasped as she tried to catch her breath and slow the frantic pounding of her heart. Cassandra could see genuine, bone-deep fear in the other girl’s pale features, her eyes a strange green-grey in the unwholesome light as she glanced quickly around the room. “Like, right now. And we can’t go through those doors.”
  9. 2 points
    As Autumn took her position, Cassandra breezed around the room, just giving it a once-over. She took a snapshot from one corner, then the opposite one. At the big print with the mountain and the lake she paused thoughtfully, then took a photo of that as well. She'd seen that before. Might be important. On searching the sports jacket on the rack, Cass found a set of keys...which by the fob went to a car. A Porsche. Her eyes widened and she held them up for Autumn to see...then even took a picture of them in her hand, and put them back. No grand theft auto today. Tomorrow though... Her exploration of the walls yielded a small keypad set into one. At that keypad she hunched over to bring it level with her face, and exhaled onto it repeatedly. When Cass turned to see Autumn staring at her, she blushed a little and said, "It's...supposed to fog up the keys except the ones that have skin oil on them. It, uh, didn't work though." Clearing her throat, she quickly made her way over to the desk. Between the two monitors was something odd. A funny sort of projector that was actually built into the desk itself. She tried wiggling it, but to no avail...it seemed to have been bolted on, or perhaps was poking up through a hole in the desktop. It'd have to be disassembled to get it out, Cass reckoned. She bumped the mouse a little, and the righthand screen awoke to a password prompt. Dr Cook had left his office unlocked, but not his computer, it seemed. In the drawers was a bounty though. The top right one opened to show a notepad upon which was written, 'J.bannon 4oclock meeting. Notes and observations.' In a neat printed script. It was otherwise blank. Her breath caught though when she pushed the pad aside to see what was under it. A gun. She didn't know a lot about guns, so she wasn't sure how big it was, or what make or model it was. She did notice, by chance, that it didn't have the little switch by the handle. The safety. That seemed odd to her. Cass quickly took a picture of the weapon, without touching it, and closed the drawer. The middle drawer of the desk then had just stationary and breathmints and boring stuff. The other drawers were locked. Dead end. Other than he might be planning to shoot Jase. Cass didn't think that'd go well for him. "Find anything?" Cassie looked up at Autumn and shrugged. "He has a gun. And he was planning to see Jase at 4 today. That's like..." she checked her phone, "...a half hour from now? Probably made that plan before the fight though." Autumn nodded, though seemed ill at ease at the mention of a gun. "So what now?" That was the question, wasn't it, Cassandra thought. "I think I'm gonna try something...shiny." She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. In her mind's eye she built Cook's office, just as it had been while she explored it. Cass let the details seep in, the colors fill out, until it was as good as the real thing. Then the shine took over. She felt more of the roomness entering her mental construct...more detail than she'd been able to see, but that was still there, noticed only subconsciously. The smell of it. The feel of the still air. The slight tension that came with it belonging to someone else. And beyond that, a kind of weird intangible sense that her mind didn't really know what to call, but that clearly identified the space as 'Dr Cook's Office at the Medical Center.' And then Cassandra rotated that space, not along any physical axis, but along the axis of time. thewindowslightenedanddarkenedandlightenedandablurofmovementCookandsomeoneelseandothersandthenemptyand...she managed to slow it down in time to spot Cook at his computer, and let the 'playback' go long enough to look over his shoulder and see where his fingers fell on the keyboard. With a gasp she let the vision go and quickly scrabbled at her phone's Note app, copying the code down into it. Autumn was looking at her again. "Everything okay?" the redhead asked. Cassie nodded. "Yeah. Just...had a lot at once there. Why, what did it look like?" "You were just kinda...standing there for minute, and then did a jumpscare. Sort of jerked and..." Autumn sucked a breath in as if startled. "Like that." "Okay." Cassie squared her shoulders and steeled herself. "I'm gonna try again." This time the mental 'construct' of Cook's office came almost immediately. When she started to 'rotate' it, she did so far more tentatively and carefully...and that caution was rewarded. Days sped past, timed by the light sluicing in through the blinds over the windows. She found resistance after a few days, and didn't push it...instead releasing the image and allowing it to move forward normally. "Holy shit," Cassandra exhaled, her eyes opening wide. "Holy shit, I think he killed Etienne."
  10. 2 points
    Both Jauntsens saw their friend's pale green eyes narrow for a moment, as though he were seriously considering Devin's offer - which, for all they knew, he could well be. Then he shook his head a little, sighing. "Tempting. But they were being pushed and besides, they're already neck deep in shit." "Pushed?" Marissa frowned prettily - she did most things prettily, Jase noted not for the first time in passing. "The Dark." Devin asserted as he plopped into the chair and rummaged through the cold bag next to it. "Oh hey, Bannon's Special Honey Jerky, made from organic locally sourced honey and organic locally sourced hitchhikers." "Go ahead." Jase shrugged. "I'm not up to chewing right now." He gingerly prodded at his jaw, then put a finger in his mouth to feel whether any of his teeth were loose. Apparently satisfied, he glanced at the other two. "I did actually give your idea some thought, Mari. And it's a good one. The only reason I didn't come forward is because popularity doesn't interest me - I am not a social creature and failed to see what clique I could possibly influence... But that was an error on my part. I should have asked you how I could help with your plan, rather than assume there was no place in it for me." He smiled, careful of his split lip. "So, when I'm out of here, show me what needs doing and I'll see it done. Queen or not, you're not on your own." As Devin grunted absent approval around a mouthful of jerky, Marissa's gaze met Jase's, softening slightly even though her arms were still folded across her chest. "You volunteering to be my knight?" she asked challengingly, her smirk a touch coquettish. "I'd hardly aspire so high." Jase retorted deadpan, his eyes gleaming. Devin grumbled something that might have been 'get a room already', but it was hard to say for certain. "There is another thing." Jason stated slowly, considering. Cook and Co knew a lot already, and he was pretty sure Etienne had told them something about the 'Dark'. "I had a black-clad visitor today, before you two got here. Came to tell me that he and the Dark are not on the same side, amongst other things." "You believe that?" Devin asked, suddenly intent. Marissa likewise abandoned the playful demeanour and frowned once more. "I was at his mercy. He's had two chances to kill me that I know of, and I'm still here. All he did was eat my lunch." Jase shrugged. "There's more, and it makes sense with what I've observed... But I'll drop that when most of us are here. Saves repeating myself."
  11. 2 points
    "You're a dingus." Marissa said flatly once Cade had left the room. Her arms were firmly crossed over her chest in the universal sign of distancing herself from whom she she was speaking to. It was obvious that she was both a mixture of irritated with him (when wasn't she), and pleased that he was, at least, alive. Her heels tapped softly on the tiled floor as she two-step paced not from his bedside. "What the hell were thinking? You should have walked away, ran even. This," she motioned to his injuries. "Is nothing more than male ego and pride." She paused long enough to inhale an annoyed breath he knew was laced with a thousand reasons why everything was his fault, despite the odds he was up against. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you're okay. You're still a dingus though." "Duly noted," Jason smirked. "So, what's this?" He pointed his finger to Marissa then shifted it to where Cade was standing. "We're dating, sorta. Kinda." Her faced scrunched. "It's complicated. I got to thinking after you pissed me off-" "Which time," he mused with a smirk. Her eyes locked on him and she pressed on, not finding his jokes humorous in the slightest. "The last time. I tried to get along, I did, but Jason, I'm not designed like they are. Evil isn't born, it's made, and frankly if that's the case, I want to be art. Trying to be a part of the Abstinence by Circumstance Club was seriously damaging my reputation. When I told you guys I would help you become popular and get the school on track, do you know how many approached me and how we were going to do it? None. Because the Nerd Herd doesn't care. I may hate it here, but this is still my town, I worked hard to become the Evil Queen and I'll be damned if I'm going to let something run through and mess that up." "I realized, if I'm going to re-establish my dominance at Shelly High, I'd need arm candy. Chet is now Courtney's thug, so, I found my own. Cade is like my big dumb Rocky, flexing his arms for his innocent damsel, Janet Weiss." She looked at her phone and wedged it firmly back into her tight back pocket. She looked a smidgen more irritated. "My brother is coming. Anyway, I needed to date again, I don't like it, but I can't stay some beautiful princess in a tower my whole life. Cade is weak, malleable and easy to control. Like a puppy. He doesn't talk much, and when he does it makes little sense, he's hot, built like The Rock and as dumb as one too. So, its like dating, with training wheels. He wouldn't know what to do with me if I was naked with tattooed instructions. I feel safe with him. Not too fast, not too slow... I'm in control, you know?" There was a notable shift in the air as it slowly rippled and shifted like a stone being thrown on the surface of a pond, then a sudden purple snap of energy spat out Devin as he appeared in the blink of an eye from nowhere. Teleporting into the medical center was probably not the best idea, but Devin was cocky and at this point was almost living to give Cook the finger every day. "S'up, Douche Strudel." He nodded to Jason. "Where's your girlfriend?" Marissa said with the typical measure of snark involved when she brought up Lona into any conversation. "Where's your puppy?" Devin shot back with a smirk. In unison they both gave each other the finger. It was amusing, but a part of Jason wondered if they shared a noetic link, being twins and all. "So, what? Charlie decide on Stomp the Yard and you just had to audition with your face? How'd that work out for you?" Devin asked Jason. Jason smiled and shook his head. "Don't make me laugh right now." He replied as he tried not to laugh. "Say the word, bro, and they'll wake up in North Korea wearing 'Make America Great Again' t-shirts." Devin offered as Marissa snickered and covered her laughter with her hand. "I gotchu fam."
  12. 1 point
    "Totally not going to do the prison thing..." Devin shook his head slowly then slyly winked one eye and nodded very slowly to Cass. "Go near that prison, Mr. Jauntsen, and yes, you will be doing the 'prison thing'." Sheriff Allister smiled ruefully in the young annoyance's direction. "You're not my supervisor." Devin smirked. "We got government backing now, dude," suddenly his eyes swelled with a thought. "Holy crap, Taggart, dude, when do we get launch codes? Because the Target in Great Falls is total shit. I got a new game from there and it was scratched, and I was like what the hell, dude? So I took it back and they told me they couldn't even exchange it for the same copy because I'd already opened it. What kind of crap is that? So, yeah, I wanna ghost the whole place, can we do that?" "You can't be serious." Taggart huffed, already massaging his temple with his thumb. Sheriff Allister smiled for the first time since they entered the room. "They're all yours, Major. You think whatever is coming from this thunder place is bad, spend a week with the Jauntsen twins and you'll be begging for it all to end." "Aw, Sheriff," Marissa pouted. "What's wrong? Knowing two people who aspire to more than screeching their lives to a halt at mediocrity like you did make you feel uncomfortable?" Again the Sheriff looked at Taggart, seemingly unphased by the adolescent troublemakers. "Enjoy."
  13. 1 point
    "Long enough that is has something to do with this," Devin showed them the copper bracelet on his wrist. It was the only relic they had at this point that seemed to have any connection with the strange energy The Dark manipulated. If it could disrupt its abilities to pull Devin through to other worlds, what other powers were hidden within it. He didn't like the idea of them having access to it, but it killing them if they tried to take it was a definite deterrent for thievery. "It's... how would you guys put it? Aether infused. We call it shine, but you get the gist." "What is it?" Ms. Giles asked as she reached a finger to trace along it's surface. "Don't touch it!" Cass shouted in a panic, extending her had to Ms. Giles and prepared to pull her arm away. "For some reason it only works for Devin." Ms. Giles recoiled her hand, curling her fingers into her delicate palm. "It's a dimensional stabilizer," Devin added. "Near as we can tell. It's stabilizes me, anchors me here so The Dark can't yank me back to the Land of Upside Down Thunder." Taggart fumed, shaking his head. "Every time one of these kids opens their mouth they give us another page or questions. What the hell is an Upside Down Thunder?" "Uh... it's sort of... it's hard to explain," Cade interjected. "It's where The Dark was banished to and the place is all sorts of messed up." "Like a dark mirror of our world." Charlie piggy-backed. "Not a pretty place, and until that bracelet, it could swipe Devin and steal him away to its realm." "Why you?" Taggart asked. "Because," Devin sighed. "...I can travel between dimensions." He didn't want to tell them per se, but, it gave the eggheads something to faun over while the others looked around the Project. 'Dazzle the with a light show and all that', seemed to be his plan. "Extraordinary." Ms. Giles said softly. "You kids are... generations ahead in anything we've researched so far." "Yeah, that's great," Devin smiled softy. "My point in showing you this... was... maybe you have the technology to analyze it. Perhaps date it? Knowing roughly how old this is, might give us a starting point for a timeline. Cass is great at timelines, she can arrange the data, Autumn can help or go forage for berries or something. Marissa can organize the intel and Sean can source historical reporting using the interwebs. Jason can hang out and be all expressionless and morose until we need something smart said or done. If you wanna fight something, you start at the beginning. Search for clues in the past, work to the now. This thing was banished, this much we know. Which means someone kicked its ass once." "What about you, Charlie and Cade?" Autumn rested a fist on her hip as she glared at him, knowing he was up to something. "Uh," the teleporter looked at her like she should know better than to question the great and powerful Devin. "My idea, Aykay. I don't have to help, I thought of it. Since I'm such a nice guy, and we've already established this in the past... I am on pizza duty. You're welcome. These guys are gonna help me carry, because we'll need drinks too. And no, I'm not getting you granola on your pizza, Hippie."
  14. 1 point
    Jason nodded agreement with Marissa's expressed sentiment, expressionless but for the predatory intensity of his gaze. "She's right. We are the only ones that can stop what is going on, and more importantly what is going to happen. We're not sure what part the Project here is playing in current events, but I get the impression that you really don't have much of a clue. So it's probably best you follow the lady's advice and get out of our way - for your own good." His tone was calm, matter of fact, lacking the bantering delivery of Marissa's injunction. "That could be taken as a threat, Mr Bannon." Cook replied, not meeting the teen's eyes and instead glancing at the papers in front of him. "I'm sure no-one here wants to be making threats." A subtle tension had come over the two men sitting at the head of the table, Taggart eyeing the youth the way one might eye a coiled rattlesnake. The woman, by contrast, seemed soberly curious, her dark eyes wide and watchful. Autumn and Cassie drifted over from the couch, the redhead having scooped up her snacks in an armload which she dumped on the table as she pulled out a chair next to Gar Bannon, smiling at him as she sat, then continued eating. "When my father is present, he is 'Mr Bannon'. And how you choose to take it is a matter of extreme indifference to me." Jason's voice never changed from it's level calm tone and his stare never wavered. "I don't make threats. There's rarely any point. 'For your own good' was meant in the sense that one would use when advising a slow child to stop playing football on the highway." He paused for a moment as though reflecting. "An unlikable slow child. The kind whose birth certificate was an apology letter from a condom manufacturer, but you still don't want to be washing them out of your radiator grille days later." There were snorts of amusement from both Jauntsens as well as one or two others present and Autumn, who'd just taken a delicious mouthful of cool soda, suddenly found herself choking as a shocked gasp met the urge to laugh and both reflexes mixed catastrophically with the Dr Pepper. Graskle winced and tried not to laugh, Jase's dad blinked at his son in astonishment and then at the choking Autumn in alarm, reaching out and patting her on the back, and Sheriff Allister looked like he wasn't sure whether to laugh or scowl. Cook's face went red, and Taggart shifted in his seat... and then the dark-haired woman leaned forwards. "Annette Giles." Her accent was brisk, educated, a trans-Atlantic mixture of British, American and Continental. She sounded expensive and refined in a way that made Marissa take notes. Cook and Taggart both looked at her in surprise, as though she had gone off-script. "I am a representative of the Project's current sponsors, and I was only recently informed of... how things have been developing. I think I've seen enough to make this call: as of right now, all Project activities are paused pending a full review." She glanced at Cook as she said this, who went from red at Jason's insult to pale from shock. "But we- I mean- I-" he started several times, each nascent protest meeting a slightly higher arch of a well-shaped brow. Finally, he subsided. "Very well." he muttered with an air of defeat. "I shall issue the orders. The Doctor won't be happy, though." "To borrow a turn of phrase from the younger Mister Bannon - that is a matter of extreme indifference to me." Ms Giles said with a pleasant smile. "The Doctor will understand that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Or 'she', in this case." She waited a heartbeat or two, arching a brow at him. "I did say 'as of right now', Doctor Cook. Everything on hold, no further tests, no progressing of experiments, all sub-projects paused. I'm sure you will make sure that the wishes of the sponsors are carried out in this matter. Come back when it's done." Cook blinked, then slowly stood up and, walking like a man whose joints were made of string, left the room. "Major Taggart - I cannot issue you direct orders, but I would take it as a kindness if you would send your men with Doctor Cook to ensure he can carry out his instructions." She smiled at the teens and adults at the other end of the table. "I'm reasonably confident we won't need protection here." "Ma'am." Taggart nodded at the two Airmen, who turned and left the room on Cook's heels. Annette Giles reached for a cup and poured herself some coffee, sitting back in her chair and ignoring the recently vacated seat left by Cook. "Alright then." Ms Giles glanced at Marissa, then Jason, then the other teens. "I trust as a demonstration of good faith that will suffice for now? Before I start talking, does anyone have any questions?"
  15. 1 point
    "Yeah. No pressure," she murmured, more to herself than anyone else. "Just let me know if anything starts to feel worse, or uncomfortable, or... weird, I guess. All right?" He nodded, and Autumn took a deep, steadying breath and leaned forward, gingerly reaching up to rest her fingers against Jason's temples. She didn't need to remind him to keep still or stay focused; if anything, composure seemed to be his default state. He watched her eyes, so near his own, go strangely distant, pupils expanding slightly as she looked not at him, or through him, but into him, her awareness extending from the gentle pressure of her fingertips through the glittering pellucid framework of his being. There was a growing awareness of his shine interacting with hers, the refractive precision of his focus helping to direct and shape the essentially restless, eager intensity that was immediately recognizable as Autumn. “Okay.” The redhead drew in another breath, then exhaled slowly, half-conscious of the cool, pale green of his eyes, their clarity oddly soothing- fixed points by which she could keep herself grounded amid the wash of unfamiliar sensations. She had a fleeting impression of winter, the vague sense of standing atop a frozen lake etched with crystalline fractal shapes like splintered glass, beneath the surface of which- fathoms below, in the shadowy emerald depths- something unseen and unknowable moved with predatory vigilance beneath her feet. It lasted only for a moment before she was once more aware of the physical presence of her friend, his essential vitality, and all the imperfections and flaws mortality entailed. As she concentrated, she became conscious of the rhythm of his breathing, of his heartbeat as faint echoes beneath her own, and, then- more keenly- of the jagged edges of pain that interrupted the otherwise smooth flow of energy through his frame. The colors and textures weren’t truly visible or tactile, but nonetheless seemed and felt very real to Autumn’s enhanced perception. Her mind recoiled from the injuries as she brushed against them, the near-physical experience of shared discomfort a reminder why she was doing this in the first place. Refocusing, she directed her thoughts to the connections between them, the open pathways forged by the contact of her fingertips against Jason’s brow, and allowed the power that shimmered in restless streams through her veins to flow through them. It wasn’t like the fight in the hallway- there was no sharp blossoming of sanguine energy in response to a threat, no vicious hunger uncoiling in scarlet ribbons beneath her skin, but rather the warm red of the sun at the horizon, the flickering edges of smoldering golden flames, the visceral glow of life itself that stretched outward and into the very marrow of his bones, the heart of the cells that sustained him. And then, for a brief, terrifying second, it waited, humming through the pair of them in a single current of potential, and she realized that this power came with a choice. His injuries and frailties, his strengths, the workings of his very corporeal existence were laid bare, vulnerable to the inexorable suffusion of vitakinetic energies throughout his body. In that instant she knew, somehow, how to relieve or exacerbate his pain, to further rend the bruised and lacerated tissues or encourage their mending, to alter the course of chemicals or the functioning of synapses to suit her intentions for good or ill. She’d never felt anything like it, the sense of being so intimately and fundamentally linked to another person on an almost cellular level, and as her focus wavered, the redhead blinked, finding Jase regarding her with that same incisive stare he’d worn the day before. She swallowed hard as a ripple of uneasiness passed through her, unsure how to proceed- before, everything had been almost automatic, but this was different. She’d been hurt, afraid, and instinctively lashed out to protect herself. Now, she was trying to deliberately use that same power not to hurt, but to heal. Breathing in, the uncertain redhead centered her attention on that implacable jade gaze and again got the sense of something inescapable and vast rushing towards her, around her, through her, an almost audible sensation this time- the susurration of wind through leaves, a river surging around stones, blood coursing through veins- -and that energy, the essence of Autumn extending within him responded, gently drawing the pain and fatigue away as discomfort ebbed and a sense of ease replaced it, coaxing greater efficiency from his body’s own inherent ability to heal itself. A slow smile of almost childlike wonder spread across her lips as she felt that shift, and yet, for all that she’d done what she’d meant to do… It wasn’t quite enough. They had no way of knowing how the Project would respond, and they couldn’t afford to be at any less than their best. Regardless of her own residual discomfort around him, or how others within the group perceived him, there was no denying that Bannon’s intellect and abilities were critical to their success… and, she reflected, feeling more than seeing the actual injuries he’d suffered, friends should be willing to do whatever was necessary. Whatever they could. Her smile faded by degrees, the line of her jaw hardening with resolve. She could do more. Autumn’s fingers slid into his hair as she exhaled/gasped with the almost instantaneous response to the thought alone, as if whatever power was contained within her had only been waiting to be freed. Heat and almost-light flowed out of her until she was dizzy with the sensation of being emptied, the rushing surge of energy swelling, rising as it poured through her fingertips. It swirled and eddied through his skull, spiralling beneath his skin in ardent lines to seek out the damage the two seniors had done, then expanding to envelop the wounded tissues, knitting them together again with a precision no surgeon’s tool could be fine enough to match. Nerves and capillaries, muscle and tendon and bone all stirred, resonating with the warm currents singing through every atom of his frame: loosened teeth tightened obediently in their sockets; the ugly split in his lip sealed neatly, leaving only a faint pink line that would be gone by morning; the swelling and bruising evaporated as blood vessels were woven delicately back together, and a dozen other tiny hurts and ailments were simply erased, carried away on that current as if they had never been. It was intoxicating- there was no other word for it- like the perfect buzz, the ultimate high, hovering just on the edge of being totally obliterated and incoherent, and... ...She could do more, which didn’t seem possible. It wasn’t, was it? Jase was fine, he was whole, he- No. He could be better. She could make him better, she realized, perfect those little mortal frailties and improve on them. She could do so much more- Reality wavered in front of her eyes and she felt her hands drop, unbidden, to her lap as a vaguely uncomfortable tingling fizzed and bubbled through her face and fingers, a weird, fuzzy feeling that drained the color from her features and- -Oh. Fuck, the suddenly exhausted young woman thought dimly as a wave of vertigo rolled over her, carrying her bodily backward onto the cushions with the force of it as it passed. Maybe I shouldn’t have skipped lunch? Her field of vision shifted as the room tilted and she saw Jase's eyes, no longer bruised or tired but bright and sharp, focusing on her as a gentle force she remembered from the training day grasped her body as she fell, lifting and steering her so that she didn't sprawl gracelessly on the seat cushions or slide to the floor, but instead came to rest sitting back on the couch, head back and unfocused eyes staring at the ceiling.
  16. 1 point
    "Sean, it's the same the same plan, you're recommending less 'fuck with them' and more 'wait for them to screw us over." Sean's ex-bully pointed out. "See, you're use words tells me more than I need to know. 'Allies' is not a thing with these types. They are going to screw us over. They are not 'friends', or 'allies', or 'Saturday poker buddies'. The moment you think of them as 'allies' is the moment you're programming your brain for trust, and that's when they blindside you. We are here to use them. They are a tool to be used and cast back in the box to be forgotten when we're done." They all knew the Jauntsens were messed up and Devin's appraisal wasn't something that overly shocked any of them. He was a decent enough guy most of the time, but he was still a bully who enjoyed the torment of others to amuse himself. To hear it out loud though. To hear him put into words how callous and cruel they could be or how they could simply consider people nothing more than carved figures on thier personal chess board of fun and games... well, it wasn't easy. Whether it was something all of them had considered at one point, or whether or not others were as in touch with their own personal levels of cruelty was all on them. As always however, Devin had a way of saying what some were already thinking... they just lacked the lack of filters and moral decorum to voice their thoughts. Like trying to live with and raise lions, the twins were perfectly reasonable... until one forgot they were both evil and rotten to their cores. That's how people ended up mauled and the twins' well fed. "It's true," Marissa cut in. "Look, we specialized in manipulating people at the school. Make them think a few trusting thoughts, implant certain buzzwords, a few polite gestures, and in no time people were ready to do our homework, buy our lunches for us, give us the answers to quizzes. Look, Sean, I know what you mean, and I know my brother does too, but he's right. Never think of these people as anything more than what they are: people who want to use you, experiment on you, and exploit your abilities. You guys practically burst into tears and threw fits and cried as you sped away on motorcycles over just a few of my more scathing comments, I assure you that I have little to no faith in your ability to properly gauge the mental or emotional level of fuckery that these people are capable of. Trust my brother and I on this. Being manipulative, dishonest, and horrible people is sort of what we do. Handle it however you like, but never make the mistake of building any sort of bond with these people. Believe it or not, we're looking out for you guys."
  17. 1 point
    "Copper," Devin said suddenly. All eyes were suddenly on him, waiting for him to finish that train of thought. "Okay, so, we go along with this project thing, right? Fine, but do you guys remember in that Mastermind movie? What did the Metroguy do? He claimed copper was his weakness and faked his death, right?" "This had better be good," his sister said flatly. "We know they're going to screw us over, but we need a means of measuring the how and when. Copper. All of us can easily 'let slip'," he air quoted. "That there is something; a stimuli a mineral, a frequency that that keeps our powers from working. Maybe I can't teleport into a place lined with asbestos... maybe Jason can't use his powers in certain extremes, maybe Cass can sense things through copper... maybe Sean can't focus at a certain frequency... maybe Cade can't commune with pit bulls, then we wait and see how they adapt. If the walls are lined with asbestos all of a sudden... we know their planning containment. If Sean keeps hearing the same frequency pitched through the air... or suddenly their safes are lined with copper we know what rooms they don't want us in and what safes have the loot in them. When they start having more pit bulls on the security team..." He felt his point was being made. "Everything they do will be subtle and calculated. We need to be no different. The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies." "Napolean," Jason looked up nodded slowly at his friend. "Didn't know you knew who he was." "Everybody does, dude." Devin shrugged, giving Jason the 'duh' face. "He was like, in the Canadian army or something then retired and made that ice cream." "Thus the expert in battle moves his enemies, and is not moved by him. I see where you're going with this. Plus, you get to fuck with them and see them lining their walls with asbestos..." Marissa finished with the real reason Devin proposed the plan. She gently rubbed Cade's arm with her thumb and seemed to cuddle closer to him the closer Autumn got to Jase. "Well, no, that shit'll kill, but you guys get the gist. Fucking with them is just the bonus, I see no reason we can't have fun with this." He smirked. "The point is we need to look out for each other," he glared at Cass, opening his eyes wide to make sure she knew he was talking to her. "And control the environment."
  18. 1 point
    "Oh, I think it'll help foster some goodwill," Sean countered with smirk. "How they react will see if they are planning on showing us some goodwill." Sitting next to Kat a little to the side of the refreshment table, Sean shifted on his seat, organizing his thoughts, then starting giving her the quick rundown she'd requested and Jase had suggested. "So, it all started - for us - during a late summer party with a disappearing tiger and an angry, flying starfish that ate a man..." His grin faded as he recounted the tale to Kat, turquoise and jade eyes cool as he regarded Devin's scar and heard his plea to Cass and Autumn, to all of them really. Not all monsters were literal ones, and not all scars were on the surface. He might have a new regard for Devin, but it was still new. Making sure Devin knew where he - or any of his friends - were or what they were doing wasn't a natural consideration. And Sean couldn't help but note Devin hadn't mentioned doing likewise. "... at school. Autumn got clobbered by a door and an eggplant - I'll explain later - but our powers were starting to grow. This is when Dr. Cook first..." Sean raised his can of Pepsi in acknowledgement and nodded, while he held up an apologetic finger towards Kat, putting their conversation on pause for just a moment. His strange eyes seemed to flash with their own light for a moment, then he took a bite of his sandwich. Despite appearances, it wasn't bad. "Done." "That's it?" Cass asked dubiously, just started to reach for her phone. Sean arched a brow. "That's it. C'mon, this is child's play. Even without psionic voodoo, it wouldn't have taken much longer using NFC. I got it - keeping it secret, keeping it safe." Sean took a deep breath, plunked his empty soda can on the edge of the refreshment table, then turned back to Kat, keeping his voice low. "Cody Sikes and Liam, the Dark is no joke, but it has to have something to work with, and, well..." Recalling the darker aspects of human nature, and the Dark, and the consequences, Marissa's teasing and the laughter it brought was a relieving weight. It made talking about what had gone on before, leading into where they were going, less wearying, and even seemed to make it an easier burden for Kat to bear. "... and that pretty much brings up to now. There's more, here and there that we can go into detail later, but you have all the major points now, I think." Sean leaned back and slouched in his chair, Kat mirroring him. It was a lot in a short time, and both saying it and hearing it took something out of the red-heads. Eyes heavy lidded, Sean finished his sandwich as Kat cogitated on what he had revealed. Sean cracked an eye when Cade addressed him. "I still control the horizontal, I still control the vertical," Sean affirmed, paraphrasing the intro to an old Sci-Fi series, "but I can't tell if they're still at their TV sets. You're right, it probably isn't going to be much longer before they decide they've given us enough private time."
  19. 1 point
    He stood silent as a few of the assembled looked at him after the touching embrace he and Autumn had just shared. He knew his mind was resistant to Sara's prying, like Jason he possessed such a strong sense of self that reading his thoughts and feelings was borderline impossible for someone like them. His thoughts raced with a thousand and one whys and hows but through it all he came up with nothing. Autumn shouldn't have some ability to read his thoughts and feel his fears. The possibility that he wore it on his face and she'd reached out and connected with him emotionally with something as simple as basic empathy never occurred to him. The Jauntsen twins had never had much in the way of practical experience in the realm of empathy, aside from their bastardized applications of it to suit their own needs. "What?" Devin said a bid harshly, looking at everyone as he projected his mild embarrassment of Autumn getting the emotional one-up on him this time. "Woman can't can't keep their hands off me. We all know this. Shows over," he paddled his hand out to shoo them all away like they should be looking somewhere else. "Go back to being losers." "Well, as my bae has pointed out," Marissa spoke up as she gripped Cade's arm and snuggled up close to him, interrupting her brother before he had the chance to start a brawl over a veiled symbol of peace of acceptance. She side eyed him though, a bit bothered by the fact that Autumn had seen something she hadn't when she was supposed to be the closest person to him. "Let's look on the bright side: the paramilitary contingent of soldiers and scientists who have been conducting unsanctioned collection on U.S. citizens and conducting decades long genetic experimentation on children... isn't going to bother us as long as our parents don't sign the permission slip they are no doubt going give us at some point. We're saved!" Her voice was perky and energetic like one of the cheerleaders back at school. It was obvious how her appraisal was nothing more than a tactical nuke of sarcasm directed towards her 'bae'. She splayed open her hands, fingers wide apart and got a super happy smile on her face. She shook her hands and very quietly celebrated. "Yaaay." Cade slowly turned his head towards her, his eyes narrowed in that 'really' expression. Around the room everyone's lips were pursed, tightened into a line that made them all wonder if Marissa was intentionally using her powers of persuasion or if it was a voluntary response. The faces they were making were all Kodak moments as they all turned various shades of red to keep from doing the inevitable until Devin finally broke the silence. His lips were pursed so tight in an awkward smirk that he eventually snorted a soft nasally sound that only rose up when trying to hold in a laugh. Like a snowball down a mountain peek they all just burst into laughter. For a moment they were teenagers who may have come from all corners of society, all with their own problems, but in those few seconds there was just the laughter. It was possibly the only thing they could all say they had in common, but it was enough. For now, it was what they needed. It something to remind them that their light burned brightest when they were simply together, being themselves, and making each other miserable in their own fun and special ways. Cade nodded slowly with his face twisted in a tense frown trying not to laugh but still giving in with a few chuckles. "Okay. Okay, I deserve that. Sounded better in my head." "Aww," Marissa cooed all pouty as she cuddled his arm. "You still have me." Her boyfriend looked at her with no expression in his eyes. With a dead pan splaying of fingers she shook them and quietly celebrated. "Yaaay." Marissa smiled playfully and slugged him in his thick bicep as another round of laughs made its way through the room.
  20. 1 point
    His eyes opened slightly as she sat by him, focusing easily (she was happy to see) on hers as he mechanically chewed potato chips on one side of his mouth, then swallowed. "Tired." he replied in typically laconic fashion, one corner of his mouth quirking in an answering smile. "Odd how that wasn't important with monsters and the Dark all around, but without immediate danger I just want to eat and sleep." "Yeah, not sure I'll be able to sleep, myself." Autumn responded, noting how he was sitting and the bruises on his face, then glancing over at where Gar Bannon was sitting hunched over in contemplation of his folded hands, deep in thought. She looked back at Jase, realising he'd followed her gaze over to his dad. "But how are you holding up?" she repeated with slight emphasis, trying not to look away or turn red when his pale eyes once more flicked to stare into hers. How was it so hard to talk to him without feeling like her face was going to catch flame? She'd have thought that hanging out, laughing and talking last night would have built up an immunity to the strange and terrible Bannon, but no. Even battered, tired, and wearing a replacement Rangers jersey and - ohgod - grey sweatpants, there was something about the way he focused entirely on her that was uncomfortably incendiary. "Jaw is bruised. Feels like some teeth are a little loose. Bruising to the ocular region on the left side. Bruising to the ribs and stomach. Sore and stiff." he said quietly, almost dispassionately reporting on his injuries. "No fractures that they detected, and my concussion seems to be mostly faded, though I have a headache." "Mmhmm," she agreed, nodding thoughtfully as she caught the inside of her lower lip between her teeth. "Sounds like what I saw earlier, at least, so it's good to know that's accurate." There was a moment's pause, then, Autumn's gaze dropping to the pale, amber-flecked fingers drumming restlessly on her thighs. If she'd gotten involved earlier, would she have been able to prevent him being hurt? Maybe. All she could do now was try to repair some of the harm done, or at least make him more comfortable. Resolved, the worried redhead moved, shifting one knee up onto the couch and determinedly turning to face her friend, the unintentional arsonist. "Hey, listen," she began, her eyes moving over his face again, studying the bruises blooming dark and florid over his angular features, the tape they'd used to close the small lacerations around his eye and cheekbones, and noting the bone-deep weariness in his expression that, implausibly, remained absent from the piercing, glacial green of his gaze. "I was thinking- and, if you want to wait for Lona, I totally get it... I just thought maybe I could try to help. If you want," she added, more quietly, searching his expression for some clue to the content of his thoughts. Jase regarded her for a moment, examining the warm concern in her sea-hued eyes and the hesitation in her manner. She wanted to help, but wasn't sure whether the help would be accepted - or perhaps wasn't sure she could help? He wasn't certain on the details there. What he was certain of was that he would need to be on better form than this to deal with Cook - or whoever came to represent the Project. His friends needed him to be in better shape, and that couldn't wait for an eventual meeting with Lona. Autumn seemed to have the same biologically-based gift as Avalon - at the very least, she might be able to remove the tiredness and pain, let him bring more of his resources to bear on any problems that came up. He smiled at Autumn, nodding as the corners of his eyes crinkled slightly in humor. "I'm in your hands."
  21. 1 point
    "Be there for us? Are you fucking kidding me?" Her reply was an incredulous near-hiss, the faint flush of rose beneath Autumn's freckles having deepened to a bright, angry scarlet that only served to accentuate the livid bruise on her cheek. She stared at Devin for a long moment through narrowed eyes the color of ocean-born storms, had been staring since Cass addressed him in her own diplomatic way, frustration graven into the tense outline of her frame; it wasn't enough that he'd actively worked to make her life hell, now he was criticizing her for not calling him? What kind of fucking joke was this? The irate redhead inhaled sharply, resisting the urge to whip her water bottle at his stupid, entitled face only because she knew he'd end up teleporting out of the way, and someone else would get hit. "Jesus fuck, Devin," she breathed, half-disbelieving the sheer enormity of his ego as she raked one hand through her disheveled hair and glanced briefly skyward. Did he seriously just not understand that maybe there was a reason his name didn't spring immediately to mind when people- when she needed help? When neither answers nor a well-aimed lightning bolt seemed forthcoming, she sighed, her sharp grey-blue eyes once again fixing on his. "You-" she began fiercely, fully prepared to tell the obnoxious teleporter exactly what she thought of him and wipe that goddamned smug, smarmy expression off his face... but stopped short. It took a moment to register that right then he wasn't being arrogant, that the familiar broad, sweeping gestures and bravado were different somehow- more fragile, more brittle- forced, it seemed to her, almost desperate. Autumn recognized that look: the wide, darting eyes, the pallor of his skin and the tiny beads of sweat forming across his forehead, and the shock of that recognition left her momentarily stunned, dissolving the self-righteous fury she'd been ready to unleash and leaving in its wake an uncomfortable, less volatile emotion she'd never consciously associated with a Jauntsen. "You're really not okay, are you?" she asked quietly, wonderingly, and before Devin could respond, almost before she realized she was doing it, Autumn closed the distance between them. A dozen alarms went off in her head, shrilly screaming that he didn't deserve to be treated kindly- that he'd just laugh in her face and humiliate her, or make some stupid joke like he always did, that he wouldn't appreciate it- but her body was already in motion, arms sliding around the gymnast's waist as she pulled him wordlessly into a hug. Nervous as she was, she could feel his heart racing, pounding against the confines of his rib cage in remembered panic as her hands pressed gently, insistently against his back; there was the vague impression of movement, flickering energy and expansive spaces beneath her fingers, and she realized that what she was feeling was something intrinsically Devin. It was the second time she'd voluntarily hugged someone who wasn't a relative in less than a week, and both occasions involved someone she hadn't especially cared for, but... if someone was suffering, and she could help, wasn't she supposed to try? Even if it blew up in her face, it still felt, as she held the taller boy silently, like the right thing. She felt Devin freeze, sensed the coiling of confused tension in his body as he hovered on the threshold of pulling away or bamfing to another part of the room, or another part of the country, maybe; all he had to do was want to be somewhere else, anywhere else, and he'd be gone... but this was Autumn, who hated him, and the shock as he tried to process that fact was enough to delay his retreat. He wasn't used to being touched, not casually, and for a moment he just stood there awkwardly, arms hovering uncertainly at his sides as if he had forgotten they were there. It was an odd experience for him, to be embraced with compassion but not desire, to feel the quiet, grounding presence of another person transmitted through physical contact- a connection, of sorts, that hadn't existed a few minutes before. Slowly, and somewhat uneasily, he gingerly returned the hug, his arms going around her shoulders, and, for the first time all afternoon, Devin Jauntsen had nothing clever to say. ...for all of ten seconds. "You, uh, know I have a girlfriend, right?" he quipped, unable to tolerate the stillness any longer. The redhead holding him sighed audibly, drawing back to regard him with a rueful expression that almost, almost suggested a smile, or was at least the closest to a smile he'd gotten from her thus far. "Yeah, and she has a better chance with me than you do, so don't get it twisted, DeeJay," she retorted, pulling away with a huff and taking another drink of water as the fact that she'd just hugged Devin Jauntsen in front of everyone started to sink in. Eventually, they were going to need to have a conversation, at least if he was serious about wanting people to rely on him, but for now he seemed a little calmer, and he wasn't hurt- at least not in any of the ways she could do anything about. Focusing on that, rather than the surreality of what she'd just done, Autumn took a few steps away, putting physical and metaphorical distance between them as she allowed her awareness of the people around her to shift- an exercise that was gradually getting easier as she put it into practice. It was still... Well, weird, to be able to touch someone, or look at them and see the energy that animated them, the dynamic almost-light that moved in scintillating currents through their bodies, but it was fascinating, too, and kind of exciting. As she glanced around the room, it occurred to the restless teen that there really was a difference in how brightly its occupants "shone:" the new student, Sean's elfin friend, seemed vibrant to her altered perceptions in a way that, say, Sophia did not. Gareth Bannon and his friend, the infamous Hank Graskle, were likewise only faintly luminous, their pale incandescence as candle flames next to the brilliant flame of Cassandra, or even Jason himself, but there was still an undeniable brightness suffusing their physical being, a radiance whose ebb and flow she intrinsically understood as their essential vitality. With a slight frown creasing her freckled brow, Autumn returned her attention to the tall, quiet youth sitting alone on the other side of the room, her clear, sea-colored eyes re-assessing his condition; she wasn't Lona, and didn't have the other girl's gift for making people whole again, but if she could inflict pain, as she had on the two seniors in the hallway, maybe it was possible to also take that pain away...? As the others discussed plans for the future and relayed the events of the past to those who needed catching-up, Autumn herself focused on the present. With a crinkle of plastic, she finished off the last of her water and set the empty bottle on the table before heading to the couch where Jason was resting. "Hey," she offered by way of greeting as she took a seat next to him, lips curving into a faint smile that didn't quite erase the worry from her eyes. "How're you holding up?"
  22. 1 point
    "No one's saying we just rush in," Cassandra replied, still annoyed, even if not exactly with Cade. She looked back at Devin. "Look, we went to the hospital when Jase did. We were pretty much done, and it occurred to me, lets have a look around. This is like the one time no one will be surprised to see us here. I figured we'd just do a little snooping, maybe get eyes on Cook's office. Which we did, by the way. We didn't know we'd wind up taking a secret elevator to Conspiracy Central or we'd definitely have called first." She sighed. "I get it. You're...concerned, and that's good. I really appreciate it. But sometimes opportunities come fast and furious, and we won't always have a chance to call. Like this time, things went from 'is the heat on' to 'boiling hot' in like ten seconds flat. We took some serious risks, but it paid off. Speaking of which..." Her eyes went to Sean, and she asked, "Can you copy the videos and photos off my phone? Just in case someone around here comes to their senses and realizes I've had it all this time?"
  23. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked "They're moving around, trying to get in our path." Kat squinted, trying to focus this new sense. "I can't really tell this far from them. It's more like a... a..." Marissa put a hand on the tiny girl's shoulder, gentle pressure reassuring her. "Chill. The warning's enough. Looks like you're experiencing- what do you call it, Jason?" She threw a glance back past Sophia and Gar at the shimmering ice-coated specter behind them. "Primary sensory awakening. Or if you prefer classic language, her Third Eye is opening." Came the glacially calm reply. He felt cold to Kat's new senses, too, like an ice-cube being run down her spine, as though the chill he radiated was more than merely physical. Of course, cold did not radiate, the exchange student corrected herself. What was actually happening was that Jason Bannon was sufficiently cold that he was drawing in thermal activity from the air around him whilst not himself being warmed by the process, small ice-crystals of frozen moisture forming a barely perceptible sleet in his wake. The tangent to thermodynamic principles oddly helped. "Third eye." she said levelly. "I'm psychic now?" "Psionic." Sean corrected from up ahead as they moved steadily together to the next corner. "Psychic is all ouija boards and tarot cards and crystals and talking to the dead. You're feeling energy from the subquantum stratum, and as you get stronger you'll be able to shift it around." Sophia had been silent for a few minutes, absorbing the shock of Charlie's outlandish and monstrous appearance, the way Sean was throwing around laser-chakrams and the casual manner in which Jason Creepazoid Bannon had just looked at a fish monster and deep-frozen it. But there was only so much a girl could take. "Wait - who are you people, the bizarro X-Men?!" she said a trifle shrilly. "I mean - laser ladyboy, ice creep back there, talking about third eyes, and that's Charlie the lobster lord, and nobody thinks any of this is weird?" There was a fwoop as Devin appeared next to her, making her eep and flinch. The teleporter held a fire-ax in one hand and a broom handle in the other, having evidently done some scrounging for usable weapons. "Naw, that's not weird." Devin had obtained a donut from somewhere in his wanderings and currently spoke around a mouthful of it as he handed the fire-ax to Cade. "Weird is when Chuck lets slip that he's actually the last descendant of Zoidburgthu, and it is vital for the survival of his species that he snargle your garthog. Something to bear in mind when you're blowing his squid dick later - just don't get ink in your eye." He grinned at the bewildered girl. "Just remember this phrase:" And the irrepressible Jauntsen did a warbling, back of the throat gurgling sound that was a dead ringer for a murloc warcry from WoW. "That's Charlie-speak for 'fertilise my eggs, big boy'." Sophia stared at him as there were some snorts and one or two short laughs of amusement from the rest of the Fellowship, even Hank cracking a grin as Jason's frosty lips quirked in a smile. Charlie sighed from up ahead of the column. "Thanks, Devin." came his very normal, Charlie-like voice from within the chitinous shell. "That helped. Really." "Just being an awesome wing-man." Devin said, handing the rest of his donut to Kat and blipping to the front of the group next to the shapeshifter. "She'll be okay, dude. Just remember to-" another murloc noise "-her-" and another gurgling warble "-and she'll be putty in your hands." With a grin, a pat on Charlie's armored back and a fwoop he was gone again. "Jase." Charlie called back over his shoulder. "Can you freeze his vocal chords?" "Probably." came the wry, matter-of-fact reply. "But where's the fun in that?"
  24. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked "Stick to the plan." Marissa spoke up, pointing down the hallway in the direction they'd been headed. "Charlie, you lead." The brunette's eyes were wide with a mixture of excitement from the action and concern that they weren't out of this yet. Charlie glanced back over one carapace-clad shoulder and nodded, moving up the corridor. His laser discs hovering over his shoulders, poised to lend fire-support, Sean followed. "That's Charlie?" Sophia asked, hurrying to catch up with Marissa, Cade and Kat, taking care only to step over the gooey remnants of the creatures on the floor with a grossed-out expression on her face which once more turned to confused with that icky obstacle navigated. Marissa smirked at the busty girl's tone, though she could feel a trace of empathy for her too. This was all weird as hell, after all. She'd just had longer to process it. "Hidden depths, Fingleman." The Queen Mantis said by way of explanation. "Everyone has them - some depths are just deeper. We'll explain more later - give you the blue pill-" "Red pill." Jason from behind, Cade from next to her, and Sean from ahead all corrected, almost in chorus. "Whatever, nerds!" Marissa snapped, but her glower was fond as she glanced at them, then took in the adults present. "Hi Mr Graskle, Mr Bannon." "Miss." Hank nodded as he and Gar followed along behind, the icy shape of Jase bringing up the rear again. Gar was looking over his shoulder at his son, and Hank nudged him. "Later, Gar. Let's get outta here first." There was a fwoop as Devin reappeared next to Marissa, who to her credit barely jumped. "It's clear up around the corner." Devin reported. "I'm still feeling that fucked-up oily sense though. Pretty sure there's more uglies lurkin'. We should mo-" There was a splintering crash from behind them back at the T-junction as the icy wall finally gave way under the assault of the massive abomination trapped beyond it, which shrieked in anger and pain as it forced past the jagged frozen shards that ripped at its rubbery hide to emerge into the corridor. Spotting it's prey escaping once more, it screamed and began to lumber towards them, picking up speed. "-move." Devin finished, and the group of teens and the two adults began to run. All but one. Jason turned, head canted to one side as he considered the beast with a gaze that was frosty in more ways than one. The gashes caused by the ice were knitting, he realised. But the blackened areas of flesh where his fire had seared the creature on Friday were still raw and cracked, and the frost-bitten patches of ripped-off flesh where it had bashed against the unearthly chill of his wall were likewise not healing. This monster, this thing of the Dark, had plagued him and his friends long enough. The role of monsters was to die, which was one reason the young psychopath worked so very hard not to be one: all monsters eventually were vanquished. This one's time had come. The creature was lumbering at a running pace now, maw opening wide, the stunted ruin of it's tongue visible as it roared. And then, between one thunderous footfall and the next, it went silent. Its limbs slowed, then stiffened as Jason stilled all molecular activity in the creature, sucked all thermal energy from its atoms, vapor visibly wreathing into the air around it as Jase's Shine drove the heat out. Its tissues, muscles and organs froze, the lashing tail becoming as rigid as a board, the oily rubbery skin became stiff and coated with ice as the red glare of life left its remaining eye. Between eye-blinks, the horse-sized monstrosity charging towards them became a frost-etched sculpture of frozen flesh that slid to a halt a few meters from where its killer stood, trailing tendrils of steam in the air as he turned back to his friends. "Let's go." he suggested calmly, walking towards them. Ahead of them somewhere in the hallways, they could hear hoarse, whistling calls increase in volume as more hunters closed in on their prey.
  25. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked "Ohfuckohfuckohfuck!" Sophia was not particularly athletic, but her gym coach would have been impressed at the turn of speed she was making right now as she fled headlong down the hall towards the T-junction at the end, hanging onto Devin's hand for dear life. She was making a couple of classic errors a lot of horror movie fans would have called her on, and those were glancing back and wasting air talking and/or screaming rather than running, but other than that her performance was a solid 'eight' apart from the East German judges, who were harsh graders and didn't go above 7.6. Devin, by now, felt he was an old hand at fleeing from monsters - no looking back, no wasted breath, and keep your eyes on where you were putting your feet. Parallel to the two fleeing teens, Gareth Bannon and Hank Graskle were both making good time for old guys, actually pulling ahead of Devin somewhat since they weren't towing a panicking Junior. Then Jason appeared at the corner, stepping well out from the left hand corridor and stopping in the middle of the T at the top of the hallway, his appearance giving pause to two of the fleeing people. He appeared to be made of ice, glittering starkly in the overhead lights, the frozen substance covering him from head to foot and causing him to trail vapor as though he had stepped from a bath of liquid nitrogen as the ambient temperature air encountered the sub--zero chill of his body, and his eyes were a gleaming frosty blue-green. He moved unhurriedly, turning and planting himself in plain view, the sight of him encouraging the Fishasaurus to shriek and redouble it's efforts to close the distance. Hank and Devin, experienced and focused on survival, didn't let the eerie sight sway them. Gar and Sophia were not so lucky and the surprising sight, followed by the sudden gloom as the main lights died and the emergency lights flickered to life, caused near-disaster. Gareth gaped at the sight of his son, the shock causing him to stumble and fall headlong, sliding along the tiled floor as the air at the point where the hallway met the junction began to haze up, ice crystals forming on the walls, floor and ceiling. Hank also slid, but it was the slide of a baseball player stealing home base as he slid on his knees to the corner and then righted himself, turning to look back down the hall. Jason's dad found himself being lifted by unseen, impossibly strong hands then half-pulled, half-thrown to the end of the hallway, sliding enough distance that Hank was able to catch him and pull him to safety around the corner, the elder Bannon shivering from his passage through the strength-sapping cold of the forming wall. Devin saw the frosty shimmer in the air, gauging the distance, and realised that he wouldn't be able to cross the line in time, not towing Fingerbang. He saw the calm inexorable expression on Jason's frozen features, his friend nodding to him as the buzzing, chittering sound of Ugly's equally ugly swarm of bugs bore down on them from behind. Jase would hold off closing the wall to the last second, but he would close it.
  26. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked She was breathing fast, holding her head, trying to get through the intense pain moving its magma-hot hooks into her brains. Kat was on her knees, almost cowering next to Sean, in the dazing reddish light painting the Medical Center's hallways with doom. What had happened ? When Kat first had seen the moving horrors closing in on them, her heart had missed a heartbeat. Then something had happened. In her urge to protect herself, she had become... lucid ? Would that be the word. She could feel the very atoms in the air between the monsters and her - she had felt the very bonds between the air molecules, and with a little manipulation, somehow she knew that she could probably have stopped the monsters, or slowed them down to the least. She couldn't do it. Everything went so fast, the lights were shut down, and suddenly, her fear took over and broke her focus, an arrow of pain crossing her mind and leaving her panting, unable to move. But her attempt didn't go unnoticed to the members of the Fellowship, and Sean turned a worried eye to the kneeled shape behind him. "Kat! Get up!" Sean exhorted the smaller redhead, getting an arm under her shoulder while trying to keep his attention on the monsters and shoving her towards Marissa. "This isn't over and you're not alone." "Girl," Marissa gripped Kat tight, holding her close and offering her a cheeky smirk. "I need you to get your shit together, because it's only Tuesday. Trust me, you last until Friday, and our parties are just as wild as our weekdays. Stay with me, now." Kat took a deep breath in, sweeping her humid cheeks. "My head fucking hurts." Her chest was still heaving at a fast pace, but she was standing on her feet, the ghost of the painful experience she just lived turning into an annoying headache.
  27. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked Charlie shrimped out and waded into the fray like a Mongol thirsting for blood Marissa was, for once, impressed. She'd not admit to it, and thankfully he couldn't hear the muffled 'wow', under her breath, but she also knew he wouldn't last long. He was one, they were many. The laser trick, it was a cool idea, but it needed refinement. Through pursed lips she swallowed her pride. "Sean," she spun the pretty redhead to look at her, clasping his shoulders tightly. "Listen to me. Charlie needs help, and we need to help him, okay? I know you're scare and it's hard to focus, but I'm scared too." She smiled. "I know things aren't easy for you, they're not easy for me sometimes too. Use it. Every time you've been bullied. Every time some jerk on the street has name called or made you feel like less than person and more like just a piece of ass to make cat calls at. Every insult, every rumor, every beat down... they are right right behind you, and they are about to make dinner out of one your friends. "It's time to stand up to those bullies, Sean. Take control of your life and stop letting the monsters in our lives run our lives. You are brilliant, talented, all kinds of bad ass... and Charlie needs you." Her voice was pure sincerity laced with the slightest quiver of worry for Charlie being in there all by himself. The typical sarcasm and venom she naturally spewed seemed to be set aside for the duration of the hellish situation they always seemed to find themselves in. Her prefect brown gleamed slightly with a violet sheen. "We are not victims. The Dark has no power over us, Sean. We are light. You, more than any of us understand that. So, shine."
  28. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked They looked like some undersea nightmare, in Charlie's opinion. If these four were charging them, he shuddered to imagine what might be heading for Sophia. No, he had to trust to Devin, and focus on the ones in front of him. Charlie took a breath and tried to find the positives. He'd grown since the encounter with the Coochiesaurus, being little more than instinctive claws and feral swipes. No. Since then, Lilly had taught him self-defense. It probably didn't mean more than knowing how to throw a punch, but that was fine. Because Charlie's real asset was the ability to shapeshift, and transform his body beyond human bounds. Jason had taken care to give Charlie some useful inspiration from the world of real life zoology. Like, for example, the mantis shrimp. Charlie did some more internet research and agreed. In another life or death throw-down against the supernatural, the mantis shrimp was a very good model to work off of. Now, he stepped up with Sean to the front, took the mental image and concentrated. Muscles and flesh contorted and twisted. Skin mottled and then warped itself into hard plating, a carapace engulfing his body. Next, they stretched out, a second set of limbs, ending not in hands, but in sharpened points. Emerging from behind the shoulders, these showed evidence of joints somewhat like elbows, giving them definite flexibility. Sean's ill-aimed lasers blew out the lights, but Charlie felt his bio-sense would give him enough to gauge. One, two, three... The monster that had dared to get closest to Charlie didn't see it coming. It couldn't have, as the pincers lashed out with the speed of a high-powered rifle and skewered deep into the Deep One-like creature's guts. It could barely let out a cry before the piercers lifted it up and dashed it to the ground. It lay still, burst like a goopy rubber tire, pungent dark fluids tinged crimson by the red emergency lighting spattering across the walls and floor.
  29. 1 point
    Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck Autumn exhaled slowly, willing her hands to unclench and counting to four as she bit back the angry retorts and refutations that sprang to her lips; she needed to focus right now, which was hard enough without the sarcasm of the 1st runner-up in the Queen Bitch pageant. She took another breath; the athletic young woman could practically taste the adrenaline flooding her system, bitter and sharp on the back of her tongue, even as it elevated her normal level of restless energy to a near-visible vibration in her limbs, a noticeable tension in her posture just on the cusp of motion. Whatever had happened down there was apparently happening upstairs too, where Jason- where her friend was still injured... and, the plain redhead of Shelly High reasoned that if Cook and Courtney had made it down the hall from the elevator unscathed, whatever she'd sensed on the other side of the doors hadn't come through them yet. She hoped that was good news. Glancing at the Major, and then back toward the departing Captain Williams, Autumn hesitated, weight shifting on the balls of her feet. Did they know what they were walking into, the repulsive mockeries of life that were waiting for them? Would ten people, even well-armed ones, be enough? Maybe, if they'd dealt with them before... Fuck. How the hell did this even happen? At the trailer, it had seemed like the teenagers themselves had been transported when they'd adjusted that radio-or-whatever-the-hell-it-was, but what would it take to move an entire hospital? What the fuck did they do?! "Excuse me, sir?" she turned, her gaze direct and alert amid the flashing blue lights as she addressed the man who seemed to be in charge. "I don't know if this will help them, but there were about a half-dozen... things on the other side of the fire doors." With a sidelong look at Cassandra, she added, "Maybe more."
  30. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked Sean gulped audibly at the sight of the creatures that belonged in one of his campaigns - a part of his mind filed away the wet, stagnant stench preceding to add verisimilitude for his next game - resisting the urge to run. One, he'd only be running into whatever Jason and his father were facing with these things still behind him, and without the excuse that he was ostensibly trying to find another way to help. And two, he didn't want to run again, when now there was something he could do to help his friends and Kat, even if it left him in danger. He firmed his resolve and his stance, hands balling into small fists at his side as he took a step forward to interpose himself between the aberrations and Kat's slight figure. Sean heard an odd squelching beside him, and thinking another one of the things was there, he glanced to the side, his jaw dropping open for a moment as he saw Charlie contorting and shifting into something that was definitely not a talking head from TV. Refocusing himself, he gritted his teeth, his turquoise and jade eyes blazing, his attention back on the crawling, skittering, tentacled creatures, trying to not to picture any number of anime. The inhuman flow of their neural activity - or what passed for it - was nauseating. The strange light permeating the hallway fractured into panoply of rainbow luminescence, then solidified into three smooth, distinct shafts of light, red, yellow, and green, hovering about Sean's tight, slender shoulders. The three arrows of almost tangible incandescent tinted his pale complexion, picked out incongruous highlights in his hair. His expression was a rictus of terror and fury. Always, there seemed to be something after him, after them. "Not this time!" he promised, soft, but emphatic. Sean's pet lasers zipped, curving through the air as swift and graceful as Yondu's arrow, leaving ionized trails as they streaked towards the three closest creatures... ... and missed, overshooting their slick, rubbery hide, not even singeing them, nor even causing them to swerve the volley. "Fuck," Sean cursed, having misjudged their alien gait. "You missed?!" Marissa exclaimed in disbelief. "It's my first time!" Sean retorted, voice rising sharply in protest and panic, his face almost as red as the laser beam he had made. The Yellow laser scored a scorched furrow in the ceiling. The Green laser simply stopped, hovering in mid air several meters down the hall. But the Red laser had sunk deep into the wall. There was an electric snap, the acrid scent of burnt rubber, red light seeping balefully from where it had sliced into the wall... ... Then the lights went out, Red having found something critical inside that wall, instead of something critical inside the guts of one of the creatures as Sean had intended. The Hallway went black, save for the constrained light of Sean's lasers. "Seriously?!" Marissa shouted. "Oops?" Sean added apologetically. Reddish emergency lighting came on, weird and flicking, granting light enough to see, barely, and far too many ominous shadows dancing around the hallway.
  31. 1 point
    Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked Sean felt a surge of annoyance, as well as an attendant flush threatening to stain his delicate features, at the lumping-in of him with 'the girls' that could be said to be implicit in Devin's words to Charlie. Charlie was one of 'the guys', like Cade, and therefore a protector for 'the girls' - which included Sean - as well as the wounded Jason who, if he wasn't beaten half to shit, would probably have been equally part of the guardian bro club. Or something. He set his lips in a determined line - last time they had run into a Dark-spawned aberration, he'd run away from the fight. Sure, he'd headed towards the trailer, to try and figure out if he could stop whatever was causing the problems, but at the end of the day he'd been looking for something else to do because he was woefully under-equipped to fight monsters. At least, that had been true then. But they had done some experimentation and training since then, and Sean could feel the zip and crackle of photons and electrons in the air around him. He could amplify and emit photonic energy to such a degree he could vaporise holes in metal. He could enhance his own awareness and reflexes. Sure, he might not be the tankiest of tanks or anyone's idea of a living weapon, but he was far from helpless now. Even so, he wasn't eager to go forth and fight that Cthuloid monstrosity head-on in the middle of the hospital. Taking a breath, he focused his Shine a little, expanding and refining his awareness of the neurological electrical activity of living creatures near him. He'd only toyed with it a little, but if he was right it could help him discern and avoid attacks, so long as he could see them coming. He became aware of the bio-electrical buzz of those nearby, the emotionally-charged reactions of the electrons in their brains to the sudden fright and tension of their situation. Apart from Jason. His brain activity felt like it always did - fast and clear, a little slower than usual right now due to the pain receptor interference from his injuries - but there was no chaotic crackle of emotionally charged activity as he straightened from pulling on his boots, then fished the Rangers shirt out of the bag Sean had brought and, moving stiffly, tugged it on over his head where it hung loosely on his slender torso. He shoved the rest of the clothing into the leather depths of his satchel before shouldering it, then glanced at the door and Marissa. "I don't need guarding." he said without petulance or any real emphasis. The lovely girl scowled, pointing a finger at him. "You are a mess. You're moving like an old man and your eyes still aren't fully focusing a hundred percent. So help me god, Jason: Do. Not. Test. Me." she snapped, brown eyes flashing. Their gazes, the one of pale jade ice and the other of dark fire, locked for a moment in a battle of wills that was as epic as it was instantaneous - before Jason's lips twitched in a faint smile, and he nodded once slowly in silent assent. Her gaze narrowed slightly, resting on his face for a moment longer before, apparently satisfied, Marissa turned with a flip of her hair and peered down the hall. "There's a side entrance leading to the employee car park. If the monster is coming in the front way, we can make it out that way." she asserted to the rest of them. Cade nodded agreement as Sean moved to stand next to Kat. He felt responsible for her, and the shocked fright currently on the tiny French exchange student's face was familiar. He'd felt the same way, back when shit had started getting weird last Friday and a lifetime ago. "Ever see Silent Hill, or play the games?" he asked her conversationally, his tone low. She shook her head mutely and he gave her a smile he hoped was reassuring. "Well, think of it as being in a horror movie. There's a monster coming to eat us. And we're leading it away so hopefully not too many other people get hurt." He took her hand on an impulse. "Stick with me, okay? We've... sorta done this before. And we can answer questions later." "What about Autumn and Cassie?" Jason asked as he came to the door, Cade hovering behind him like a minder. "They're somewhere around too. Probably the treatment rooms near the front." "Shit." Marissa took out her cellphone and tapped on it as she started down the corridor, Charlie moving slightly ahead of her, using his sense of living things to discern if anything was ahead of them that wasn't human. "Let's get moving. We can update them." "Text will be slow." Sean warned, following along on Marissa's heels with Kat in tow. "There's some kind of latency in effect for cellular signals. Just saying it might take a minute or two for them to bounce back." Even as he spoke, he pulled out his own phone and tapped rapidly. "I'm texting the others - the ones not here. Laurie, Lona and Co. If monsters are out Shine-hunting we might not be the only targets." "Double shit." Marissa said, but she didn't stop tapping as the six of them hustled along the hallway. "Slow texts are better than nothing. Hopefully those two will be getting the hell out as well. I've told them and Deej where to find us." Jason and Cade were bringing up the rear, the massive athlete spotting a fire extinguisher on the wall and picking it up. As improvised weapons went, it was better than nothing, he mused when suddenly all of the teens heard gunfire coming from the lobby, followed by a screech of outrage from the monster and a booming male voice shouting above the screams and hubbub. "JASON?". Jase stopped moving, turning towards the lobby. "Dad." he said, a faint tension in his voice and the widening of his eyes the only signs he was alarmed, but for those who knew him, it might as well have been a panicked shout and an expression of abject fear for another. He glanced at the rest of them, but it was not in search of approval or advice, they saw. He needed neither one. "You guys keep going." he said simply, then headed back down the corridor towards the waiting area, breaking into a painful jog, the air around him taking on a faintly distorted heat-shimmer like effect as he tried to wrap himself in a cocoon of telekinetic force... which failed as a stabbing pain in his head announced some manner of feedback. He staggered a couple of steps, then gritted his teeth and continued on his path. Thirty Seconds previously Sophia was staring in panic towards the front of the hospital. Something large, something that roared, had from the sounds of it broken into the lobby twenty feet away. People were screaming, and the world was going twisted like something from a video game or horror movie. Black oily blotches were spreading on the walls, and the overhead lights seemed to be emitting a sickly greenish, purple tinge in addition to their normal radiance. Two burly-looking guys in hard-wearing clothing who'd just come into the waiting area and had been standing by to talk to the nurse at the desk were likewise looking around with a shocked expression, and she noticed one of them already seemed to have pulled a gun from somewhere, holding it low in a competent-seeming grip. She placed him then - Hank Graskle, the loony survivalist gun-nut. Both he and the guy with him were looking towards the front of the hospital too, hearing as she did something large slithering and thumping towards the doors leading into the waiting room. And then it got really crazy. Devin Jauntsen, of all people, appeared in a ripple of purple-blue light that hung in the air behind him for a second, staggering slightly as he materialised and shaking his head like he was getting rid of some disorientation. "Hate that." he muttered, then looked around and spotted her. "Hey, Fingleman. We've got to get outta here. Charlie sent me to getcha. Come on." he grabbed for her hand, and Sophia on reflex pulled it away. "What the fuck, Devin?!" she half-yelled- And then screamed, along with the other people present, as a hideous thing burst through the doors. Part fish, part lizard, with stunted twisted humanoid limbs adorning it's bulbous, oily body, the thing looked as though it had been badly burned at some point, cracked weeping blackened flesh visible under the sheen of whatever sickening fluids seeped from its pores. One dark, shark-black eye focused on Devin, the other eye a puckered burn scar, and the thing's maw unfolded open like the leaves of a toxic alien flower, drool collecting around the many teeth it showed before it issued a terrifying, glottal scream of rage and recognition. "Aw shit." Devin groaned, his face pale. "Hey ugly. Nice to see ya too. Will you come the fuck on now?" he demanded of Sophia, grabbing her arm and tugging her towards the treatment rooms. Behind them, the creature shrieked and started forwards, squalling in pain but it's progress unchecked as a rapid sequence of shots from Graskle tore into it's side, the blubbery mass of flesh protecting it from serious harm. "Fuck." Graskle cursed, backing up with his hand out, moving the other guy with him. Devin recognised Gar Bannon from his visits to Jase's house over the summer. "Let's find Jason." Hank told his friend. "The fuck is that?" Gar demanded, eyes wide and the colour having left his face. Hank didn't seem so obviously shocked, though his face was taut with fear and adrenaline as he reloaded his pistol. "Move!" he snapped, pushing Jase's dad in the same direction Devin was pulling Sophia. Gar turned and ran up the hallway, calling Jason's name...
  32. 1 point
    Autumn and Cassandra The elevator dropped rapidly, but smoothly so. It was sleek and sterile inside the tiny moving room, barely big enough for three adults to squeeze into - obviously a personal conveyance rather than one used for transporting cargo or large numbers of people. The control panel had two buttons arranged vertically - their arrows making their purpose plain - and a red button set further down and to one side, un-emblazoned. Mentally, both girls were ticking off seconds as the elevator travelled - how long for Cook to get into the room, perhaps banter some more with Courtney, and then call for the elevator himsel- The doors hissed open almost before the two of them registered that they had come to a smooth stop. Beyond the doors was a short corridor, a double fire-door at one end and another, single door situated about halfway along. They stared for a moment, then Autumn firmly took hold of Cassie's arm and propelled both girls from the elevator as a soft chime sounded and the door began to close. They looked back at the door closing behind them, then at each other. Someone above had pressed the call code. They had maybe thirty seconds, now. Nowhere to go but forward. They moved along the corridor, Cassie trying the side door and finding it open as Autumn quickly paced up to the double doors and glanced through them in turn. Beyond the single door was another office, only this one had no regular computer monitors on a wood-finish desk as the one above had possessed. The desk here was smooth, glossy and black, the surface underscored with tiny scintillating lights that changed colour in lazy accordance with the holographic displays being projected into the air above. Across the office, on the opposite wall, was another door, currently closed. Autumn, meanwhile, peered through the panels of the double doors at a large, brightly lit hallway beyond. She heard machinery, and voices., and ducked out of sight as two uniformed men walked past. They appeared to be wearing U.S. Air Force BDUs, and though were only carrying sidearms looked tough and competent. The two Airmen turned a corner and went out of sight, and Autumn looked back to catch Cassandra's eye, each girl silently asking the other "Which way now?" Project Argo - Elsewhere "We're ready to go again." a woman in Air Force fatigues reported in a crisp tone. "It took some doing, but the wave-form oscillation matrix has been stabilised. This time the Argo's interference shouldn't throw off the projector and cause a breach elsewhere." Though the woman, a Captain with a double PhD in Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics, privately mused that she wasn't entirely sure how it had happened last time. It was as though something had reached out and redirected the focal point of the machine - how or why was still a mystery. "Excellent." came the digitised voice of the Doctor from over the speakers. "Proceed with the startup sequencing." "Yes, sir." The Captain said automatically, turning to give orders to the Airmen at the consoles. Beyond the control center's massive observation pane she could see the cavern beyond, containing the Key - the cyclotron-like device which she had helped design and build , currently swarming with techs in radiation suits and, beyond them... A shimmering, white surface that made up one wall of the cavern. A material that defied drills, explosives, or any other means of entry that they had tried over the last decades since it's discovery, it curved slightly between floor and ceiling, continuing into the rock that embraced it. It was just a glimpse, she knew. The thing was larger than the cavern, easily as large as the lake over their heads. No, she corrected herself. Not a 'thing'. A vessel. Caught in some manner of phased-state between the atoms around it, preserved like a fly in amber, outside of normal space and time. The Argo. Cody Sikes / The Horned Man They were trying again. He/they could feel the ripples in the cosmic foundations washing across his consciousness. Good. he/they thought, rising from the grisly remnants of his last meal and staring around in the dark cave-like place which sheltered him, hid him from those who would harm him. The air was redolent with filth and the reek of decomposing meat, buzzing with flies, but Cody paid it no head as he breathed in deeply. When he'd first come to this place, drawn by the Tree in his dreams, he'd been weak, and vomited at the scent of ancient death. But now he was strong, the Horned Man told him. Now he was the Horned Man, and he had to bring home the harvest, water the Tree. He had been chosen, and should be proud of that. The Horned Man had set his eyes on other candidates, but they were blinded by the light that emanated from their own souls and were worthless because of it. No he, Cody was perfect, and strong, and without Light. The Light shone brightly in his minds-eye, a gathering of the brightest currently at the hospital. His pawns had failed, as the Horned Man had thought they might do, but the Horned Man was subtle. The Light that drew them together, the bond they shared, was a weakness. Injure one, and others would come running... And a cluster of stalks of grain were easily reaped and threshed. That was why he had let Cody try his scheme - all ways led to the End of the Path, after all. He felt the ripples strengthen and the Horned Man joined with him - or was he already joined with him, or was he already the Horned Man? It was confusing, but what wasn't confusing was the power. The men in uniform were making a key to a door they ill-understood, but that key could be used... differently. Marias Medical Center - Above AND Below They all felt it at the same time. Cassandra and Devin the most severely, then Kat. But all of them felt it to one degree or another. There was a subtle wrenching in the Shine, the subquantum as Jason and Sean called it. Space from elsewhere was being folded over itself, like a shroud being pulled over a corpse - an apt description as the sensation was accompanied by a bone-deep cold that lasted forever and an instant. The air turned stale within the medical center, the radiance from various light sources seeming... wrong somehow. Muted, throwing odd shadows. The Fellowship looked at each other. "Oh, hell to the fuck no." Devin vocalised what they were all thinking, feeling his stomach dip and roil as space became twisted. Marissa glanced out of the window, noting that the sky seemed to be entirely formed of black, billowing clouds, the leaves and bark on the trees outside taking on a withered look. Charlie glanced out into the hospital lobby, spotting Sophia coming to her feet, looking alarmed. People were milling around uncertainly, looking up at the sky, wondering if this was a storm or a sudden tornado. Dark patches began to appear on the walls, growing from the floor upwards, glistening like oil slicks as they stained the pristine hospital paintwork. Jason pulled off the monitor electrodes he was wearing and sat up, swinging his legs out of bed and grabbing his boots, pulling them on and heedless of his lack of shirt. "We're the target of this." he said tersely. "The Dark wants to kill those with Shine, feed off them somehow." "How do-?" Sean began, but Jase cut him off, his manner curt but calm. "Mr Black told me. Let's move, hmm?" Below ground, for Cassie and Autumn, the effect was much the same, and they quickly realised they were not the only one to notice it. An alarm began to sound in the complex in which they had found themselves. Cassandra clutched at her head for a moment, feeling cold hatred so intense that it made her gasp. Autumn felt a wrongness to the quality of the air, like the air itself was sick, and fought down a feeling of nausea. The sudden change had taken only moments, and the elevator carrying Courtney and probably Dr Cook was likely still on it's way down. That was when the screams started. For Autumn and Cassandra, the first was a high-pitched yell of a man in pain and mortal terror, suddenly cut off, from beyond the double doors Autumn was standing at. For the Fellowship in the medical center's ICU, the screams were of fright, accompanied by a crash of glass from the front of the building and finally, as though punctuating the whole horrible cacophony with an exclamation point, a gargling, shrieking roar that all remembered from the previous Friday.
  33. 1 point
    Cass had been running a little simulation in her head all this time. The "If Cook Gets Back, Here's What We'll Do" simulation. It featured she and Autumn playing it cool, greeting Cook in his office like they'd been waiting a little while and were totally chill about it. They'd say something like, "Hey there you are. About time, we were about to go looking for you." And he'd be confused and maybe a little mad at first, but he wouldn't really suspect them because waiting around wasn't what people did when they were up to no good. But in that simulation, Cook was alone. And also not a murderer. Those things changed the calculation significantly. When Autumn motioned for her to stop talking, Cassandra realized by the clenching of her heart that they were about to be cornered by a murderer in his murder-lair. She immediately went to the keypad and punched in the numbers she'd seen Dr Cook put in during her vision. As the door slid silently open, she waved Autumn over. The redhead's eyes widened and she gave Cass an 'are you nuts' look. Cassie shook her head and gestured around the office, indicating its spectacular lack of hiding places, then back into the elevator as she stepped inside. Autumn hastily followed, and Courtney saying she wanted to get her hands on them was the last they heard as the door slide closed again, and Cassandra pushed the 'down' button within.
  34. 1 point
    Tuesday Afternoon Sean arched a quizzical brow at Kat's insouciant grin, but nodded. "Okay, then. I'd have to go anyway, I have an appointment scheduled with my doctor." Which I can't let you sit in on. Sean glanced around the milling students and faculty one final time, the press of bodies starting to break up now that the action and excitement was over, then shrugged a shoulder down the hall. "It's over for now - we should get to class before we're late." Sean tried to be a good guide during their afternoon classes, explaining the quirks and regulations of Shelly High, formal and informal, as they came up, but Kat to see he was fidgety and eager to get out of school. Only a fraction of his thoughts were on class, though he was able to answer any question when called upon. Kat caught him doodling in the margins of a notebook, strange creatures, some indistinct and amorphous, others with features suggesting features derived from rather explicit anatomy. "What're those?" the new student asked with blatant curiosity, pointed at some of the doodles. "Huh? Oh!" Sean glanced at what he'd been idly drawing. He was much better with graphic programs than sketching, but these were better than most of his drawings and he'd barely been paying attention. "Just ideas for a game." It wasn't a lie, but Kat got the sense there was more to it, especially after Sean closed the book with a snap, flashing her an apologetic smile. "Game's still in development." The bell sounding the end of class had hardly started ringing before Sean was up and out of his seat, his satchel over his shoulder, and with an emphatic, "Finally! Let's get out of here." Sean led Kat to the student parking lot at a brisk pace that made his figure move in interesting ways she couldn't help but notice, nor be aware of others noticing too, though Sean didn't seem to see, or was ignoring it. The vehicle Sean led Kat to wasn't what Kat expected, though if she questioned herself honestly, she'd have to admit she didn't know what she'd expect the dichotomous boy would drive. A jacked up, deep forest green Jeep SUV. Both of them needed the running boards to climb into the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with any sort of grace. It was almost reversing out of the parking space before Sean got the key in the ignition or Kat got settled in the worn but plush passenger seat. "It's... big," Kat offered, looking around the vehicle, glancing inside the central compartment, scrolling through the preset radio stations. "We can get a lot of snow in Montana, and I'm not exactly built for pushing a stuck car," Sean explained, giving the steering wheel a pat. "'Sides, it was what I could snag at the auction." He grinned, he was still getting used to driving the SUV, compared to when he could borrow his mom's Corolla. "I like it. I like driving so high." Uh-huh. Kat noticed something in the back seat. "What's that? A drone?" "Yup! Built that one myself. I also have a DJI one." Sean enthusiastically talked about his drones and their respective specs, interspersed with pointing out the modest features of the small town of Shelly as they drove away from the school. Sean had a great speaking voice, fluid and animated, but his words suddenly cut off with a pursed frown, considering what he had heard about the fight and how badly Jason was beaten. "Can you hang on a sec, Kat? I gotta make a call." Before waiting for a reply, Sean had pressed a button on the central console. "Call Jase, home," Sean commanded. Do you mean Call Jase, home? came a smooth electronic query. "Yes," Sean sighed, already annoyed with the confirmation, even as he was annoyed when the car asked if he was calling some other random name that didn't sound anything like Jase, so the confirmation was necessary. Calling Jase, home. The sound of a call being made filled the SUV... and continued filling it until the answering machine came on. "This is--" Sean cut it off with a sharp jab of a finger and an irritated, "Harrumph!" His nose scrunched up as he considered, then he quickly glanced over at Kat. "Do you mind if we make a quick stop before heading to the hospital? I just thought of something." "Sure! I mean, of course not," Kat replied. Sean took a sharp turn and soon he had pulled into the small lot in front of a clothing store, Larsons Clothing. Sean hopped out of the SUV, Kat following at his side, and a bell tinkled as they stepped into the last of a breed - a small town family owned merchant with great service and excellent prices. "Good afternoon, ladies," chirped the friendly and matronly woman coming out from around the service the service counter, a warm smile on her face. She was one of the owners of the shop, Sandra Larson, as stated on her name tag. "Can I help you with anything? We sell mostly men's clothing here, which may not be a trouble for your slender friend, but it may be a little trickier for something as, hmm, shapely as yourself, miss. But let's me see what I can do..." "No, no, it's okay," Sean assured the proprietor, blinking. He'd been in here before, and recognized Sandra, but realized the last time was when he looked a great deal more like Kat than he did now. "I know what I'm looking for, shopping for a friend." "Ah, of course." There was a twinkle in her eye as she smile grew a trifle. "I'll be at the counter if you need any help." Sean took a quick look around the modest store, then strode towards one corner, Kat trailing in his wake, looking around with more casual interest. Sean knew why women took longer shopping for clothes, and it wasn't just that they generally had a lot more options to choose from. Women were a lot more varied in shape and what fit one didn't mean it would fit another, even if technically there were the same 'size'. Sean had to deal with it and was reasonably good at estimating what fit. He pictured his friend and with a critical eye, picked out a pair of grey jogging pants, a pair of socks and boxer-briefs, and a heavier shirt, with the local high school sports team, the Rangers, on the chest. It wasn't long before he heading back to the counter with his selections in his armed held to his chest. Kat raised a pair of questioning brows. "I tried calling his place, but his dad didn't answer, and I didn't want to nose about trying to get in with nobody there," Sean explained softly, not adding that Jase's dad was part of a survivalist group or something, and had access to too many guns. "I figure Jase will have been all bloody after the fight and could use a change of clothes." Sean plunked his purchases on the counter and Sandra began ringing him out, making small talk. "Shopping for a friend?" "Yes'm. He's in the hospital and could use a change." Sean usually did his shopping in Great Falls or online, and wasn't paying that much attention to retail small talk. "How sweet, I'm sure he'll appreciate it." "Um-hmm." Sandra folded the clothing neatly and placed in a plastic bag and handed it over to Sean. "You and your friend stop by again sometime soon, y'hear?" "Yes, sure, we will," Sean replied with automatic politeness, then was heading back to his Grand Cherokee, tossing the bag in the back, before climbing back into the driver's seat. "Now, the hospital." Sean was well acquainted with the Marias Medical Center, and even if this was the first time he actually drove there himself, it was with a sense of familiarity. Over the last six years, he'd been to Marias more often than most of the most accident prone athletes in school, and so knew the lay out of the place very well. Or at least, the public layout of the Marias Medical Center, now aware there was much more to the place. And much more to his personal doctor, Dr. Cook. Still, Kat noted the blithe confidence with which Sean walked through the hospital, exchanging the occasional greeting with a nurse or doctor he recognized or who recognized him. At the desk for general admissions, he asked for where Jason was - saying he was a friend - and when after giving him the ward and room number, the nurse went to give him directions, Sean waved the offer away. "I know the way, I've been here enough. Thanks, though." Sean pointed the way down the hall with his chin, the bag of clothes tucked under his arm. "This way, Kat. It isn't that far."
  35. 1 point
    Tuesday Afternoon - Marias Medical Center Directory, directory... Okay, seriously? she grumbled inwardly, pressing the ice pack to her bruised jaw and grimacing as two of the facilities staff rolled past with a cart of cleaning supplies, chatting about the previous night’s episode of “Mindseeker.” It was more or less the same tone the orderlies and deputies had used when talking about the “Bannon kid”- I have no personal investment in this subject, and don’t really care what happens, because it doesn’t affect my life in any real way. It stung, a little, that until recently she’d thought of Jase that way herself, and the realization was enough to quench the nascent flare of indignation on his behalf. Maybe she’d get a chance to check on him before she left, say hi to his dad or something… Jason was in pretty rough shape, and based on their talk at the farm, Gar might not handle it all that well. Autumn mulled that over as they walked, her sneakers quiet on the polished floor. The two girls had been wandering the hallways for several minutes without running into either a reception desk or someone they recognized, and while that meant no one had stopped or questioned them yet, it also meant there was no clearly-designated person to ask directions. It seemed a little odd that, despite the number of people in uniforms busily milling about, no one had offered to help them thus far, or done more than give the teens a cursory glance. Were clueless-looking teenagers such a common occurrence at the medical center that no one noticed them anymore? Maybe everyone was just crazy busy, or just super uncomfortable interrupting someone who was on the phone; for all Autumn knew based on the rumors she'd been told, they were being monitored from a closet stuffed full of computer equipment somewhere, so nobody who worked there cared about underage trespassers. Under the circumstances, it's not that she particularly wanted special attention, but the pointed lack of it seemed either rude, creepy, or both. "Oh, for crying out loud, did they design this place to be confusing, or what?" Autumn muttered under her breath, restlessly scanning the signs and pinboards that occasionally interrupted the otherwise sterile, featureless walls. The whole place was immaculate, clean and contemporary, and if she'd never heard anything about Dr. Cook or the sinister-sounding "Project," she probably would have been impressed with the setup. "Deeefinitely a possibility," the pretty young journalist next to her replied airily, rolling her eyes for dramatic effect and miming a talking mouth with her free hand. The redhead grinned at that, in spite of the twinge of pain it caused, and returned her attention back to scanning the hallway for anything that might help them navigate the maze of white corridors. There was something compelling about Cass's improvised performance, a certain degree of confidence, as well as the aforementioned "pluck;" even if the inquisitive blonde wasn't sure what she was going to find, exactly, she still needed to look, and that was a sentiment Autumn could definitely appreciate. As they approached another intersection, a large, glass-covered rectangle caught her attention and she paused, tapping Cassandra on the shoulder. "Hey, ask if three o'clock is okay," she suggested, meeting the other girl's gaze before darting a glance in that direction: just around the corner was a directory of the ground floor and quick reference of the other areas of the medical center. Holding the ice against her cheek, Autumn took a deep breath and walked over to examine the names and numbers listed there, feeling a tiny knot of anticipation coiling eagerly around itself in her stomach. She was nervous, sure, but it was like the feeling just before getting on a brand new roller coaster, or leaning out to rappel down a ledge- once you started, you were committed, regardless of what happened. And, there it was, near the top of the list, in crisp white plastic letters on a grey background: Dr. J. Cook. Diagnostic Medicine. East Wing. And, conveniently enough, a little further down, Vending. “Think he’s in there?” she asked, slate-colored eyes scanning the board for other useful points of reference as Cass appeared next to her and covertly snapped another pic. “One way to find out,” the intrepid reporter grinned, and the two girls wasted no time heading further into the complex.
  36. 1 point
    "Not tried the food yet." Jase said, settling his head back on the pillows propping him up. "And I guess they'll let me out once they're sure there's no serious damage to my brain." Again that quirk of his lips that heralded a smile. "They've already tried to give me an EEG. The head of neurology here, no less. I'm getting the VIP treatment." "They want to scan your brain." Marissa's eyes narrowed. "Cook behind that?" "Probably." Jason nodded. "I refused it as unnecessary." "What if it is, though?" Cade asked pragmatically. "Necessary, I mean. You did have a couple of seniors dancing on your head." Jason grunted, closing his eyes for a moment. "What I need is rest, though visits from my friends could be an aid to recovery." Both Marissa and Cade nodded as they grasped his meaning. Lona could ensure there was nothing to worry about, and take care of it if there was. Jason paused a moment, considering as he rested his eyes. Though the Man In Black had conversed frankly and openly, Jase was not inclined to discuss the man's visit while under observation. Perhaps Mr Black had a way to take care of listening devices, or perhaps he didn't care. Either way, Jason decided, he would be more circumspect. "I could also go for a soda, if the nurse thinks I can have one." = = = = = = = = = = = = = Liam opened his good eye. He hurt, hurt all over, though the morphine drip was helping to numb the worst of the pain to mere aches. It made everything seem kind of hazy and unreal. He'd woken up this morning knowing that Avalon had been there, having heard her voice. He also remembered, through the haze of chemicals, the face of Jason Bannon as he had- No. -as he had- No, that isn't what happened. There were two attackers, large men as big as the sheriff. They had spoken English with an accent. One of those harsh-sounding languages. As the thought came to him, images likewise came to him. Two men, black leather jackets and gloves, wearing balaclavas. His mind whirled as the memory surfaced, conflicting with the sharp, angular pale features of Jason Bannon and the hellish look in his eyes. Two men, yes. They'd worked him over good. Said he owed them money. He remembered being afraid, so afraid that Ban- that the large men would kill him. I should sleep now. Get better. Then tell the sheriff about the large guys, probably worked for some scumbag in Great Falls. Yeah. Liam closed his eyes. When he was ready, he'd tell the sheriff about the two guys who'd worked him over. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = "Well?" Doctor Cook said to Courtney, handing her a tissue for the blood coming from one nostril. The lovely girl dabbed the blood away, looked at him and sighed, brushing her vibrant red hair back over one shoulder. The two of them sat on a couch in one of the Pedriatric Department offices, currently unused. "He thinks two big guys did this to him, saying he owed them money. No connection between the attack and Bannon in his mind now." she replied, her tone subdued as she rubbed two fingers against her left temple. Cook nodded, giving her a pleased smile, and handed her a couple of Tylenol and some water. "That really goddamn hurts to do that, you know. And his memories weren't a picnic either." she groused, crimson lips twisting in discontent before tossing back the pills and the water. "You're a trooper, Courtney." Cook acknowledged, resting a hand on the girl's shoulder. She smiled a little archly at the handsome older man. "Not tonight, Doc. I have a headache." she teased, though she shifted a little closer to him, leaning into the one-armed hug. Cook merely smiled, a considering look in his eye. "Do you think you could get into Jason Bannon's head?" he asked. Courtney sighed, making a tsk sound. "Men! Only interested in me for my mind." she pouted. "As it happens, I've skimmed most of the minds in that band of freaks, and could maybe at least push their thoughts a little, most of them at least. All except two. Devin Jauntsen seems to be naturally resistant. The few times I've tried to 'push' him emotionally or read him, he either gets a headache or just doesn't react. And the other-" "Is Jason?" "I scanned his thoughts once." Courtney said quietly. "Once. On Friday last week, when you said he and some of the others had shown evidence of talent. I pushed him a little - with conversation - and then with my gift. It was hard to do, too. Like I couldn't feel his emotions at first, and then..." Her voice trailed off, and the doctor was aware that the girl was pressing her legs together and squirming slightly in her seat. "And then...?" he prodded. Courtney turned and looked at him, and he was struck by the expression in her eye. "One word." she said. "Wow. It was like I was prodding fog, and suddenly got hit by a freight train. And his thoughts?" she shivered, and it was not altogether in fear. "I gave my report, what he said to me. You read it?" "Yes." Cook stated, remembering. "It was very... graphic." "Yeah, it was. And he meant every word of it." Courtney's eyes were wide and dream-like. Not for the first time, Cook privately wished that the most gifted of the in-Project psions wasn't a hypersexual teenage girl. Courtney's predilections were not easy to manage, and even though cognitive therapy and drugs were able to take the edge off her disorder she could get distracted, especially by dangerous or taboo prospects. Whilst that wasn't a problem when all she was doing was seducing football players or cheerleaders with equal abandon, it could present a problem if she set her sights on other game. "Courtney." Cook's voice took on a tone of stern command. "Focus, please. Do you think you could get into young Mister Bannon's head the way you did with Liam?" "Not a chance in hell." Courtney shook her head, clarity returning to her gaze. "I was able to get into his surface thoughts that one time, when his control slipped. The rest of the time his mind is like a diamond - I'd have an aneurysm trying. The night of the game I tried to make a connection - I wanted him to know I hadn't deliberately gossiped about his unit and tried to 'push' him to believe me more easily. No dice." She sighed. "He believed me anyway, I think. But yeah... Most of that bunch are pretty independent minded, enough so I wouldn't look forward to trying to do to them what I did to Liam. Might be something to do with them being gifted too, perhaps." "Perhaps." Cook allowed. Privately he mused that the 'Fellowship', untaught and unobserved by the Project, seemed to be manifesting levels of psionic ability beyond what the so-called 'test group' were capable. The test group's psychokinetic could just about move a handgun and light a candle - whereas the Bannon kid could throw a grown man around like a rag doll. Something was off with the science of their Project, regardless of what the all-knowing Doctor who ran the show thought...
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