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  1. 2 points
    El. Ellie herself. Teir fa Thunn. The Blight- a term which, like the Dark, seemed capitalized even in casual speech. Site B. The bracelets, and how they, from Coyote- the Trickster, she reminded herself- ended up with the Blackfeet, and thus her grandfather, and then the Fellowship. Not-Cody. The Huntsman. Gods. The Teulu themselves, and the gunmen. There were so many questions, so many coincidences that just... couldn't be all coincidences, right? But now wasn't the time for that. Now, she was just happy no one else had vanished into the darkness, literally or metaphorically. "Oh, we like pockets," Autumn replied, lifting the cup back to Jase's lips as she watched him watching the otherworldly beauty, studying his expression for some sign of what was going on behind those cool green eyes. He seemed... interested? ...But that was all, and not interested interested as far as she could tell, the curious young woman noted with a twinge of what felt suspiciously like relief. "It's just that most of the companies that make clothes don't like giving them to us. And just women, too. Guys can have all the pockets they want, but we're supposed to carry purses," the redhead grumbled contemptuously. "It's supposed to look nicer, or something, but I don't want to spend extra money for a giant pocket on a strap that's just gonna get caught on literally everything I walk past, and I don't care what it looks like. I want pockets in my jeans, real ones, not those stupid fake ones you can't even fit your whole hand in. I just want to be able to carry my chapstick, my wallet, my knife and my phone. That's it. It's not even complicated, and if you're gonna go to the trouble of stitching on a little half-sized pocket for looks, you might as well give me the whole damn thing. Ugh," she exhaled in frustration, the terminal subvocalization less a linguistic part of the rant and more an instinctual expression of annoyance with the subject. "Anyway," Autumn continued, resolutely ignoring the flicker of amusement in her boyfriend's eyes as they shifted to observe the faint bloom of rose coloring her cheeks. "I don't think my jeans would fit you," she observed, her tone conspicuously less heated as the pocket controversy was abandoned for the moment. "Marissa's might, though. Or we could always hit Goodwill before the meeting, or something, because honestly, I have so, so many questions, but I also don't want to be rude." She paused for a moment, half-consciously tucking a lock of Jason's hair behind his ear as she turned back to him. "Speaking of clothes, I called your dad while you were asleep. He's bringing some for you. Probably something to eat, too. I thought you might be a little hungry." Her eyes caught on the neat, pale line that, oddly, seemed to accentuate the angle of his cheekbone, and the tip of her tongue darted out to moisten suddenly dry lips; if they'd been even a couple of minutes later, mundane issues like wanting a glass of water or something for breakfast wouldn't have even mattered. "I'll hang out until I get that coffee you promised." A faint smile tugged briefly at the corners of Autumn's mouth and she leaned forward, pressing a brief kiss to his temple. "Also..." Straightening, the inquisitive teen set the empty cup on the nearby table, her nose crinkling slightly at the sweet, fruity scent that clung to him. "Why do you smell like a Jolly Rancher?"
  2. 2 points
    "After saving Devin in the Blight, I put my bracelet on him to protect him from its energies so I could take him home." Ellie explained, lifting her leanly-muscled left forearm to show a familiar coppery-gold band around her wrist. "He then disappeared - which is when I realised he must be a Radiant." "A what now?" Autumn asked, even as Marissa interjected "Wait, take him home?" "Those who can fully draw on the Radiance - what Annette tells me you call 'Shine'." Ellie explained to Autumn, her gaze studying the way the redhead was sat comfortably close to Jason on the bed's edge. "Beings of power. And yes, my original intent was to take Devin to my home. He is brave, has wit, and is handsome." she said as she switched her gaze to Marissa. "He would be a fine catch, whether for myself or for some other female. That is changed now, of course. He is a Radiant, not merely human." She shrugged artlessly, indicating them all. "Like yourselves, he is superior." "See? Superior." Devin grinned broadly, winking at Jase and Autumn. Jase smiled very slightly, and Autumn just rolled her eyes at the teleporter, the pale fingers of one hand lightly toying with the ends of Jase's now-clean hair where it brushed his neck. "Great." Marissa said through pursed lips. It was uncertain whether she was trying not to scowl or smirk. "Now my idiot brother has a groupie from... Where are you from, exactly?" "We commonly call it El." The slender blonde replied, her gaze unwavering. "Though the old name for it is Teir fa Thunn. It is where the Radiants of old placed us when they discovered our creation by two of their number." "The Trickster and the Huntsman." Jason's quiet voice replied. Ellie glanced at him appraisingly, and nodded. "So, you know something of our history." she stated, considering him. "Some of it." Jase replied, shrugging. "Its all new to me still." Grey eyes locked with green for a long moment before Ellie nodded, slowly, then looked at Devin. "So you were telling the truth." she said quietly to the teleporter, glancing at Jase once more. "Interesting." "Ahem." Marissa interrupted. "Eyes off my bestie's boy toy, Ellie. You've still not covered why you're still here." "Without my bracelet, I was lost." Ellie returned her gaze to Marissa as though the odd interlude had never happened. "I wandered through the Blight until I came to an opening. I emerged into a place inhabited by many of your warriors - whom Annette tells me are mercenaries - called 'Site B'. I decided to allow them to capture me, figuring that they would treat me as an attractive human female and not a Teulu warrior. They were studying the entrance to the Blight, and other things too. Technology that I recognised as being of Radiant origin. As expected, the males they had guarding me were fools. I escaped, though I had to leave my equipment behind, and homed in on the call of my bracelet which Devin was still wearing. I found Devin yesterday, before your great battle. Annette has been offering me shelter whilst I tell her what I saw of the interior of Site B." She paused then, looking down at the simple sundress she was wearing, then at the clothing of the two girls present. "This dress seemed appropriate for the end of summer festival yesterday, but I find what you are both wearing to be more practical." she noted, tilting her head to one side and examining the brunette and the redhead intently. "If, as Devin asks, you can assist, you would have my gratitude. This dress has no pockets." She made a small micro-expression of disapproval. "Do human females not like pockets?"
  3. 2 points
    "Hey," Devin smiled big as his eyes fell on Ellie. He seemed genuinely happy to see her and approached the lovely blonde alien. "'Well' is a relative term, everything hurts. We got beat up pretty bad, but we made it. What're you doin here? I was planning on coming to see you after school today. And yeah, totally true, I talked you up, like... a lot. In the bed there, that's Jase. He's not much of a people person, even when he's not going out of his way to ruin my shirts, and I think Cassie and Sean are on the way, so you'll get to meet them soon, too." "Yeeeaaah," Marissa's head cocked slightly to put her brother in her sights. "Deej? The hell?" "Oh!" He suddenly remembered that he hadn't really explained much aside from an introduction. "This is the girl I was telling you about. The Teulu from the void who helped me and gave me the bracelet when I was hunted in the Upside Down Thunder school. She followed me here for sex, duh. I mean look ant me, right?" He gave Ellie a quick appraisal. "Speaking of traveling... uh, I think this is all she has for clothing, Em, you think maybe you could do something with her later? Maybe you and the girls hook her up with more than one outfit? We're not sure how long it's going to take to get her home, so, she's kinda gonna need some sisters to lean on while she's here." "Well, she appears to be the culmination of how 'boring' evolved', but I suppose the Fellowdiva's and I probably have more than a few cast off lying around." Marissa shrugged. "But I'm going to need more than good faith to go on... what's her story? Why is she here?" She looked to Ellie, realizing she was addressing the wrong person. "Why are you here?"
  4. 2 points
    'Ellie.' This is the girl Devin was talking about. There was no essential physical resemblance to Jason Bannon; something about the willowy blonde's upright bearing, however, the intent quality of her gaze, and the slightly formal, concise manner of her speech suggested some level of kinship belied by their superficial differences. Were these things somehow common to all the Teulu? Some weird facet of being (if what Jase had said was true) designed and engineered for certain traits and behaviors? If so, she reflected, wide eyes narrowing thoughtfully as she considered the beautiful stranger, that'd be pretty incredible. At least as incredible as Marissa resting her hand on Jason's shoulder- a fact Autumn noted and set aside for later. Her tolerance for repeated crises was already being tested, and there was no point deliberately courting another one today. "It's good to meet you, too, Ellie," she replied in answer to the newcomer's general greeting, the redhead's polite 'meeting a new person' smile growing a little as Jase's fingers brushed hers around the cup of water. ...And then it widened further, an impish light gleaming in the thalassic depths of her eyes as she added, "Especially since Devin was so excited talking about you and how awesome you were. I'm Autumn, by the way."
  5. 2 points
    "Good luck." The corners of Jason's eyes crinkled slightly at his friend before he turned his gaze on Marissa, his air one of understated contemplation, like he was trying to understand something. Her raspberry lip balm and scented body lotion tickled his keen sense of smell, and the press of her lips on his forehead and the following caress had been warm, completely at odds with her flippant bitchy attitude after the kiss. He couldn't decipher her, he really couldn't. Devin he could understand: the patterns of behaviour were all contiguous with one another. Marissa, though... She spoke like she hated him, but wanted him to talk to her at the Labor Day picnic, and had sought him out at the training session the day before that. She didn't date, and had rebuffed his (admittedly) clumsy and pushy overture... but then she was on Cade's arm the next day. She scolded him for getting hurt like it was attention-seeking behaviour, right after a sign of physical affection. Devin, the young Teulu mused, might be right when he said that Marissa liked him, but didn't know how to approach that. Or Devin might be right when it came to a shorter, more pithy phrase he'd used once or twice: 'Bitches be cray'. Or Devin might be right on both counts. "Where are the two who tried to kill me?" he said after the few moments that had passed while he cogitated on the confusing brunette. "Chick with the crispy claws is somewhere in the ICU." Devin said, watching Jason warily. "I heard the paramedics say she was in shock. The dude you knocked out, though... I dunno where he is. The sheriff drove off with him- Whoa, slow your roll!" he admonished as Jase began to sit up. Marissa laid a hand on Jason's shoulder and pushed him back down with surprising, though gentle, strength. "Dude! After yesterday I just about burst something pulling that bullet out of you. Now Granola's juju might have put you out of danger, but there's plenty of time to rest before you go and commit a war crime or two." "ID said he was a U.S marshal." Jase tried to sit up again, but Marissa's palm on his shoulder was enough to foil his efforts. "He might be able to pull some strings and get-" "He won't." said a calm voice from the doorway. All three teens looked to see a tall blonde girl, who appeared to be roughly their age and was dressed in a simple sundress and sandals, enter the room with a straight-backed casual grace Her sparkling grey eyes regarded the three of them, moving from face to face before settling on the youth in the bed. Her full lips quirked and her eyes narrowed as she considered him, then she looked directly at Devin. "Annette says the would-be killer is in her custody. She will be getting answers from him." she told the teleporter, pointing down at the floor with one finger as she approached him, her gaze traveling down his exposed torso under the blanket before lifting once more to study his face as she came to stand before him. "I am glad to see you are well, Devin." she said softly, a faint smile curving her lips. "Uh, hello?" Marissa said from where she stood by the bed. Autumn, coming back into the room with a jug and a glass for Jase, paused at the door for a second as she took in the scene. Marissa lifted her hand from Jase's shoulder as her bestie returned and stepped away, gesturing to Autumn to go ahead. "Don't mind me, AyRae. Jase was about to go and look to start round two with the assassins - I was just making sure he didn't pop a stitch or whatever. Now..." she said as Autumn, somewhat nonplussed, nevertheless moved to perch on the edge of Jason's bed and pour him some water. "Who the hell is this?" she demanded, looking from her brother to the tall, graceful blonde who was looking at Devin like he was a steak on the grill. "I am called Ellie." The blonde replied, half-turning away from Devin to study Marissa with a discomfortingly direct stare. "And you are Devin's twin, Marissa. It is an honor to meet you." She glanced then at the boy in the bed and the redhead holding the cup so he could drink from it. "It is an honor to meet all of you." she added, returning her gaze to Marissa.
  6. 2 points
    The Fellowship... they also seemed tougher, harder than one might expect from the typical youths of Shelly, Montana. Neither of the twins particularly worried, not after the loss of Charlie and the nightmare they battled the night before and... well, just Shelly in general. Marissa offered Autumn a silent nod in acknowledgement and watched as she walked off down the hall to to get his water. Together the twins walked into Jason's hospital room and took their first looks at the recovering telekinetic. Jason's eye followed them as they walked in. Devin rolled his shoulders and pulled his blanket tighter around him as the cold of the hospital offended his delicate Californian comfort level. Marissa tapped out one last text on her phone before sliding her phone into a back pocket on jeans that were baggy. It was the first time he'd ever seen her as just a plain, young, teenage woman without the mask and costume that made up her daily regalia as Shelly's glamourous Ice Queen. He could decide which version was lovelier. "You owe me a shirt," Devin quipped as he leaned against the footboard of Jason's bed and injured young man knew that was the closest the 'bro' was going to get to an 'I'm glad you're safe' sentiment. "Pants are a freebie, I'm throwing those in because they were old." His sister approached Jason, she was almost predatory in her silence without the loud clack of her heels to betray her position. His her typical disapproving look and unimpressed expression she gave him a once over to see that they didn't need amputate anything in order to save anything else, and when satisfied her lips relaxed into a slight smile. She bent over him and pressed her lips to his forehead, a short, gentle kiss and although she wasn't wearing any makeup she wiped it away with her thumb afterwards. "You look like shit," she chastised him, finally. "But I'm glad you're safe." "Aww," Devin taunted her and she offered him a reply of a single digit and unamused expression. "Dude, don't do that shit again, I'm serious." "Yes, I know," Jason smirked sarcastically. "Because this was in my itinerary right next to 'learn Mongolian' and 'order more of the good coffee'. Nice to know you care, though." "Oh, we don't," Marissa was quick to correct him. "But we lost Charlie already and..." she inhaled and exhaled in a rare moment of her shattered composure. As always she was swift to recover and the cracks in her social exterior mended. With those mended cracks, like clockwork, a bitchstorm was in the forecast to blow away any remnant of her feelings. "Well, frankly, I don't have time to be ordering a ton of funerary skirts. It's bad enough your name has to be in every conversation that takes place in this town, do you have to steal someone's funeral thunder too? Christ, give someone else a day for a change, Lord knows he earned it." "Yep, she missed you." Devin smirked. His sister's faced scrunched up as she shot her brother a look that said a number of insulting things. "No. I didn't. And piss off, go get shirt or something." "I am," he smirked. "I'm waiting on that hot nurse to comeback with one of those disposable scrubs tops they have around here. "I think she's a first year learner-doctor-thingie, whatever they call those. Wish me luck."
  7. 2 points
    Smell was the first thing to come back. Sensitive nostrils twitched, picking up an astringent antiseptic odor, immediately identifiable as a hospital room, a faint scent of his own blood, along with some manner of cleaning solution on his skin. A puff of warm citrus and juniper. Autumn. The beep of a heart and vitals monitor was next, the distant sounds of people talking, phones ringing, a tannoy. Nearby, someone breathing, the rustle of fabric. Then he became aware of warmth, the sun on his face, the sticky patches where the monitor trodes were attached to his chest, the tickle of hair on his bare arm. Jason opened his eyes, slowly, squinting slightly against the light. The acoustic tiles on the ceiling met his gaze, then he glanced around without moving his head whilst he took stock of how bad he felt. Private room, not the ICU. Good. That meant Autumn and Devin had been able to extract the bullet and treat his wounds. His head felt fine, his thoughts clear. There was a slight itch in his chest and at the side of his head, which he knew from experience was a sign that the accelerated healing Autumn had triggered was still at work. His throat was dry, and he was hungry - another sign of artificially sped-up healing - and he felt a little weak, probably as a result of blood loss. Turning his head, he saw the tumble of fiery copper curls resting against the edge of his mattress, Autumn sitting in a chair with her head leaning against the bed, eyes closed and arms folded across her chest. Silently, the normally cold-eyed genius studied her for a long moment, taking in the glint of pale lashes brushing against her cheek, the dusting of bronze freckles that accented the ivory skin, the tilt of her nose and the soft rose of her lips. Unwilling to break the stillness of this reverie, he merely watched her, green eyes glimmering with warmth as they caught the sunlight streaming through the half-open blinds. = = = = = = The faint hum of an electronic vibration elicited a soft, short grumble of displeasure from the drowsing redhead as she shifted in the chair, pressing her cheek against the lightweight cotton blanket. Just let me sleep a little longer, her dream self mumbled, frowning a little at the uncomfortable contours of her bed and burying herself deeper under the blankets, clutching them possessively to her chest. A few moments later, there was another buzz; she scowled, fumbling about in the ocean of quilts for the alarm that shouldn't be going off yet. It was too early. ...Or too late? Either way, it wasn't time to be up. Either way, school wasn't for... Hmm, she hummed in both worlds, frowning a little as she tried to remember when she was supposed to go to class. It probably wasn't for hours yet, was it? No, because her dad was supposed to take her, and- Her phone vibrated again, still in her hand as she protested the intrusion with a quiet, unhappy groan. She sat up in bed this time, blinking into the patterns of light and shadow that rippled around the edges of the room. What time was it? She was supposed to have coffee with Jase, wasn't she? Or breakfast. Was that today? Movement nearby tugged at her attention, banishing thoughts of time and classes and linearity. A pair of ageless, luminous green eyes regarded her from the darkness, as fathomless and deadly as the draconic creature to whom they belonged, but as Autumn's breath caught in her throat, the gleaming hoard surrounding him flickered into brilliant life with the light of an unseen flame. There was no treasure there, she realized with mute horror. Not gold, not silver, not glittering gems, but brass, and the metallic scent of blood. Buzz. Another notification brought her fully awake, wide-eyed as she jerked upward suddenly. "Jesus fucking-" Autumn froze mid-swear as she caught sight of Jase, head tilted slightly and pale jade eyes alert. "Oh my gosh. You're awake! Are you-" Her voice broke even as her cheeks flushed with the realization that he'd been watching her. But he was awake, awake and alive, and all the ominous remnants of her dream vanished in the wake of that knowledge. "Are you okay?" she breathed, then made a face. "I mean, how do you feel?" Her eyes moved over his features, drinking in the sight of him as a traveler in the desert might an oasis as she held tight to her phone and the arm of the chair to keep herself in place. "I feel good." The reply held a dry rasp that altered the normally quiet notes of Jase's voice to a hoarse whisper. He moistened his lips with his tongue, and swallowed slightly. "Bit weak." His gaze turned contemplative. "Glad to be alive." He shifted his arm, extending his hand towards her palm-up atop the blanket covering him as his eyes held hers. "Are you okay?" he asked softly, studying her posture, noting the tension in her arms and face. "Am now," Autumn nodded, allowing herself a small smile as she reached out, freckled fingers brushing across his palm before lacing slowly through his. The sense of relief at that simple contact, at the mere fact that he really was okay, was nearly overwhelming. She wanted to throw her arms around him, cover his face in kisses and hold him until the sterile chill of the hospital disappeared, but awareness of the fact that it was a hospital, and he was recovering from being very-nearly-dead, restrained her enthusiasm. At least for the moment. "Do you want me to get you some water, or something? Are you thirsty?" He nodded, the edges of his eyes crinkling in a smile as Autumn gave his hand a gentle squeeze then stood, extricating herself from the chair and looking around the room. It didn't look like anyone had brought any water or cups yet, which considering the somewhat hectic nature of the last half-hour or so was understandable. "I'll be right back." she promised the youth in the bed, before turning and slipping out of the room, leaving the door ajar behind her as she went. In the waiting area beyond, her dad sat a few seats away from the door, looking somewhat uncomfortable. Opposite him, against the other wall of the small private waiting area, Devin lounged in his seat with the blanket thrown idly around his shoulders, casually alternating between watching his phone and watching his twin. Marissa was pacing a few feet away from her brother, her impatience evident in her stance and stride as she tapped at her phone's touchscreen intently. All three glanced at Autumn as she exited the room. "He's awake." she announced quietly, her relief still obvious on her features. "He's fine." the redhead said then, as much to hear herself say it as to reassure those waiting. Moving past them and up the corridor she added "I'm going to get him some water." As she headed the ten or so feet towards the nursing station, she didn't fail to notice the two men wearing hospital security uniforms that were guarding this lobby. They seemed tougher, harder than one might otherwise expect from rentacops, and she was sure she recognised them as two of the soldiers who'd accompanied her and Cassie with Taggart that fateful day - had it only been last Tuesday?! One week ago? Putting that from her mind, and somewhat reassured that the teens and her dad weren't alone here, Autumn went to get the water.
  8. 2 points
    The antiseptic scent of the hospital was becoming entirely too familiar. As she sat in one of the room's two chairs- this one pulled up alongside the bed where Jase's chest rose and fell beneath the blanket with reassuring regularity- Autumn sighed and tapped the second entry in her contacts list under his name. While Devin and Marissa were busy handling the Fellowship side of things, there was still another call to be made. She wasn't even sure if Gar would be home, but much as she'd preferred to tell Devin about Tawny in person, the sad-eyed father of her new boyfriend might want to hear the news from someone he actually knew. He could be outside working, or on his way to Great Falls to get supplies or parts, or... A sudden chill rippled up her spine as the connection to the land line was made, and the house phone on the other end began to ring. What if they'd gone to Jase's house, too? "Fuck," she muttered, glancing out into the hall where her dad was busy conferring with one of the deputies. Or maybe, just maybe, the sheriff already called, and he's on his way. Just... see if he answers, and then start worrying if he doesn't. The phone rang several times, then several more, and Autumn was just recalling when she'd first called the home of the slender youth currently unconscious beside her, how the phone had rung for what seemed forever as she waited on tenderhooks for him to pick it up... click "Bannon Farm?" The by-now-familiar soft-spoken voice, deep but not particularly resonant, of Jason's father picking up. "Hey, Mr- uh, Gar." Leaning forward slightly in her seat, the redhead couldn't suppress the soft sigh of relief as he answered the call. "It's Autumn." There was a moment's hesitation, even as she watched the flicker of the younger Bannon's eyelashes. "So, first, um. Jase's fine," she began. "But he is here at the medical center. Resting, right now." There was a long moment of silence as the man on the other end collected his thoughts. Finally, the sound of a deep, slightly unsteady intake of breath came over the line. "What happened, Autumn?" "He-" Fuck, how much can I say right now? Swallowing hard, she exhaled and slouched backward again, sliding down in the seat in a passable imitation of pre-party Bannon as she stared up at the acoustic ceiling tiles. "He was attacked on the way to school." Her eyes stung, the pinprick patterns overhead swimming until she squeezed them shut and forced the words as calmly as she could past the tightness in her throat. "They, um. They shot him. Only two of the bullets actually hit. It looks like he fought back, and the two that attacked him are here somewhere, in custody. He's sleeping, now. He's fine," she stressed, her voice wavering slightly with suppressed emotion. "Seriously. He's fine." Another male voice spoke up from the background - Hank, Autumn realised as she recognised the harsher, gruffer growl of the Bannon's friend. "Jase was shot. Autumn's with him, and says he's fine." Gar replied to the unheard question, then returned to speaking with his son's girlfriend. "Okay, we're on our way down." Though he sounded stoic, Autumn could detect the note of concern in the older Bannon's voice. "Do either of you need anything?" "Ummm," she blinked, focusing on the question as she sat upright again, unable to really get comfortable surrounded by the smell of cleaning chemicals and gleaming tile and the general atmosphere of sterility. "He's gonna want clean clothes, I think. Something comfortable." She paused for a moment longer, considering. "Some kind of breakfast, maybe? And... Coffee. Please. And-" She swallowed again, and exhaled. "And I'm sorry to worry you. I just thought it might be better if you heard it from somebody you knew. ...You know?" "I do." Gar's voice was steadying now, losing its earlier tremor. "If you say he's fine, then I'm not too worried." The vote of confidence was heartfelt. "We'll grab some things and be down right away. And Autumn...? Thank you." "Yeah," The smile in her voice was audible across the distance of the phone connection. "I'll see you guys when you get here." She tapped the red icon on the screen, ending the call with a near-inaudible click. "Hey," she murmured, resting her cheek against the edge of the thin hospital mattress, her gaze tracing the shape of his profile silhouetted against the morning light filtering through the blinds. "If you can hear me in there, your dad and Hank are on their way, so just... Just rest, okay?" Shifting her weight to nudge the chair a little closer, the redhead folded her arms across her chest, wishing idly she'd had her hoodie as her own eyes drifted shut.
  9. 2 points
    Laurie padded silently downstairs on fuzzy bunny slippered feet, summoned by the smell of banana chaffles, bacon, and coffee after her morning shower. She'd slept fitfully, her eyes still felt a bit grainy, but feeling anxious and wired, she'd gotten up early to get ready for school and morning football practice. She might just be the kicker, but the coached still insisted for fairness sake. She wasn't even sure she could bring herself to go to school today after last night. She might have gotten up early, but not as early as her brother it seemed. She found him puttering stiffly around the kitchen, nibbling on a quarter of bacon-laden, three-cheese banana chaffle grilled cheese, and sipping from a big mug of coffee. Judging by how much was left in the pot, it was far from his first. His eyes were sunken and ringed by dark bags. Collecting her own life saving mug of hot brown morning potion, Laurie glanced around the kitchen. Sean must've made enough food to feed at least half again as many as lived in the house. The waffle-maker dinged and Sean fished out the pair of perfectly browned chaffles, adding them to the stack kept warm in the oven, along with the other half of the grilled cheese and a pan of bacon. She cocked her head, then looked down. She could hear the soft whir and thump of the dryer in the basement. Sean had done at least one load of laundry. He'd been busy. Laurie sat down at the kitchen table, inhaling the rich nectar of life before savoring her first sip of coffee in the morning. There were place settings already set out for her and their parents. Sean's plate held a few crumbs and dabs of cheese from the other quarter of chaffle grilled cheese he'd eaten, along with a sliced apple and sectioned orange. "You sleep at all?" she asked, her voice low in the house, more from habit than necessity. When she'd gone to take her shower, she'd heard mom and dad still talking. She was pretty sure they hadn't gone to sleep at all. "Some," Sean said, and Laurie took it to mean barely. He took the other half of the grilled cheese he'd made out of the oven, showing it to his sister balanced on a spatula and arching a questioning brow. He slid it onto her plate, scrunching up his nose as she began drowning it in maple syrup. Syrup on waffles, sure, but on a grilled cheese? Ugh, especially when he already put a bit in the batter. And she ate it with a knife and fork! "Philistine. You want another? Or just more chaffles? Eggs?" "'Nosher pwease!" Laurie said around a mouthful, point at her plate with her knife. "We've got two-a-day practice." Sean nodded, finished off his quarter of grilled cheese, took another sip of coffee, then fished out two more chaffles, buttered them, then started on preparing his sister a full banana chaffle grilled cheese sandwich. Grating some more sharp cheddar, monterey jack, and provolone, trying to lose himself in the mundane activity, as he'd been since the wee hours of the morning. He glanced over at his phone sitting on the counter. 26 sales for ReGenesis, mostly European. He hadn't thought about localizing the game yet. Honestly, he hadn't expected to be done before graduation, really. It would take some research, but afterwords, tasking a semi-autonomous program, he should be able to get it done. For some languages anyway. Could talk to Jase about-- "Mom talked to dad and me," Laurie commented. Sean grunted. He knuckled his back, stretching. He'd gotten off lighter than most of his friends, and Autumn's help notwithstanding, he was still sore, if not at bad as before his scant bit of troubled sleep. He really did need to get in better shape. Some at least, last night proved that. All he'd really done was run, fall down, and dive out of the way. Jase's teasing/not-teasing aside, he wasn't fat - except where most girls wouldn't mind some extra, curvy padding. What he was, was lacking muscle tone and even meager athleticism. Teagan had tried a few years ago, but she'd been a bitch about it, pushing him hard and he'd resisted through sheer contrariness. Jase or Cade wouldn't judge him if he asked for help, Jase would even approved in his understated way, but what worked for them wouldn't really work for him and seeing the disparity would just make him feel disheartened. And his pride wouldn't let him ask his younger sister for help, despite her getting taller, and more athletic as she practiced for the football team. YouTube maybe, or there might be someone else he could ask for help... "I'm really sorry 'bout Charlie, Sean." "I don't want to talk about it," Sean muttered. He reclaimed his sister's plate, flipping the grilled cheese onto it, then slid the plate towards her as he sat down across from her at the kitchen table. He stared blankly down at his mug of coffee, spinning it in his hands as Laurie profaned the chaffle sandwich with syrup. If Charlie wasn't his best friend, he'd still be a good one. A player in his games since the beginning. His loss hurt. That they hadn't been able to do anything to stop it before it was too late hurt even more. But what hurt the most was the shame he felt that he wasn't the one who'd been killed, been torn to pieces, the sense of relief he was still alive. Which seemed perverse, since he was the one who's life was ticking away faster than anyone else's. Into the leaden silence, Carolyn and Jack joined their children. Sean went to get up, to make his parents breakfast, but his father clapped him on a slender shoulder, gently, but firmly, forcing him back into his seat. "Stay seated, Sean. Finish your breakfast. You've done enough, we'll take care of the rest." Carolyn went to the coffee pot, pouring a cup for her husband and for herself, then started brewing a new pot. Jack took over breakfast duties, murmuring with his wife, starting to cook some eggs for the both of them as Carolyn started putting things away and cleaning dishes. Despite seeming having not slept at all, only a bit of redness about their eyes, the elder Cassidys appeared to be less affected by lack of sleep than their children. Over her mug of coffee, Carolyn watched her children. Laurie shoveled food in her mouth the way Teagan had when she'd had one of her bigger growth spurts and had really started working out, staring at her brother almost angrily. Sean looked sullen and resigned, absently eating apple and orange slices, glancing from his near empty plate to his phone and back. "I think you two should stay home today," Carolyn suggested. "Missing one day so early in the year, and considering yesterday and Cha - and what happened, I'm sure everyone will understand." "No!" the siblings said in sharp unison. Laurie hadn't been sure at first, but as soon as her mother suggested it, it was the last thing she wanted to do. "Coach has us on two-a-day practice this week and I'm not going to let them say the girl can't keep up!" "I... just need something... normal," Sean said over his sister. He gave a bark of bitter laughter. "Whatever 'normal' means now. If I stay home, I'm just going to seethe and wallow and think too much 'bout last night. I don't need - want - that." Their mother gave them a wan smile. "If that's what you want, kids. But if you change your mind, give me a call, and I'll authorize you guys leaving early." She wasn't under any delusions that both of them had never skipped a class before, but she wanted to cover her bases. And if it let her know where her kids were, all the better. After last night, she and Jack had really considered insisting on Sean and Laurie having tracking apps on their phones, but it was a battle they knew they wouldn't win. With what Sean could do, and even before his... abilities, they couldn't have gotten away with it anyway. "We won't," Sean and Laurie claimed again in unusual synchronicity. Carolyn sighed. Jack grunted. Talk about the kitchen turned to feigned normalcy, asking about football practice, the launch of Sean's new game - Carolyn had helped her son set up the business for his indy game studio Intersectional Interactive when he had developed Annwn - and what they wanted for supper. The meeting tonight and anything smacking of it was studiously, if obviously, avoided. Sean took his load of laundry from the dryer and brought it back to The Barn, shrugging into his freshly cleaned hoodie with the tree on it, tucking the loaner from Autumn under his arm. Laurie got her gym back and practice uniform and the siblings met up at Sean's SUV, who them drove them to school. A bit of the feigned normalcy turned real as Laurie reached for the radio, her other hand slapping Sean's away when he went to stop her. He sat back, flashing her a taunting smirk, as with a thought, he simply took control. His car, his rules, but it never stopped Laurie from trying to claim dominion over the radio. She huffed and folded her arms as Sean synched his phone to the SUV, listening to a playthrough of his game that was already streaming on Twitch. The Twitch Streamer... wasn't good, even Sean admitted that despite earnestly wanting to hear the early reactions to his game. It didn't help that the Streamer had a really thick accent, Scandinavian, Swedish maybe? 29 units sold. Laurie bolted out of the Grand Cherokee almost before it came to a complete stop, running for the field to join Cade and the rest of the football team, her gymbag bouncing on her shoulder. Sean followed more slowly, watching and listening to the Twitch Stream, hoping a more talented Streamer would start streaming ReGenesis in the next few days. Not wanting to go inside yet, Sean took a seat at the far end of the bleachers at the top, letting the fading chill of morning wash over him. Shelly High might be surprisingly well funded for a small rural town in Montana, but it still had shit coffee. Sean took a pull from the thermos he'd brought from home. Another day. Still alive.
  10. 2 points
    "Mr. Keane," Marissa approached Ian, Autumn's father. On his phone he was trying to remain as calm as possible as he directed the dispatch to their location. She saw that he was on the phone, but any situation demanded it's fair share of multitasking, this was it. He leaned the phone from her ear to signify that he was splitting his attention. "Do you have any blankets in your car? Maybe something you didn't unpack from the picnic last night?" He noted how calm she was, practically unphased by the sight, having missed the conversation between her and her brother moments before, but she was unnaturally composed, like an oracle wading through the fruits of her own warnings. Devin leaned in lowering his heat to pop into Autumn's field of vision. "Hey," he prodded her for attention. "You're doing great, Granola. He's going to be fine," his words were a soothing mixture of positive reinforcement and distraction in the hopes of calming her down. "Okay? If we can stop his bleeding, his body can do the rest. You got this, girl. Focus on what you have to do, not what's happening around you, it's what's always worked for me. We got this." He continued to press on the wound, not too hard as to not force the bullet through the tissue further, but enough to make sure the flow of blood was halted. "Plus, I have my shirt off, so that means I have to charge you by the minute for this lovely scene you are being allowed to behold, so... y'know, there's incentive." "Sure." Autumn said calmly, her lips brandishing the slightest hint of a smile. Still she seemed like she was blind, her focused on nothing but Jason's body, unblinking yet still seeing the whole of the scene around her. "Put it on my account for next time you do something stupid and you're the one down here bleeding." "That all I gotta do to get you to feel me up?" He replied in typical Devin-level sarcasm. "Pfft." "You're, uh, Marissa, right?" Ian asked her while tucking his phone in his jacket and popping the hatch with his key fob. "I think we have a few back here, might have dog hair on them, they're mostly used for the keeping them from shedding on the seats when we-" "They'll do." She said without looking in his direction. She scooped up the blankets and carried them over to the Marshals. Ian followed, not sure how he could help but willing to accept instruction. "You don't seem particularly phased by any of this." He looked at the two bodies. "Um, h-how can I help?" "Mr. Keane, between secret societies lead by demons, talking saber-toothed tigers, adopting a three thousand calorie a day diet, Autumn's hair regiment, and an interdimensional pus demon that lived in Viscera World," she cocked her head and offered him an unimpressed look. "I've seen my fair share of nightmare fuel. This? This is just another Tuesday in Shelly." She handed him a blanket and nodded towards Marshal Marshall. "Cover them up, keep them warm. Jason will need one too with the amount of blood he's lost." "You two seem to know a lot about this stuff," Ian pointed out while trying to cover the Marshal. She mingled a scoff with a chuckle as tried to cover Dale without tampering with her injuries too much. She silently cursed as the thought of knowing she couldn't do anything for them, shock was not something that was easy to treat on an unconscious patient and she'd done what she could. "Twenty-one day First Aid class. My mom made my brother and I attend when we were... eleven, I think?" She turned to her brother, "Hey was it eleven we took that course?" "Yeah," he nodded, speaking up so she could hear him. "It was right before Christmas and right before we turned twelve in February." "Riiiight," she nodded in recollection. "Some big role involving a hospital drama... our characters wouldn't have been involved with any of the hospital stuff, just the kids of one of the characters who was a doctor. Didn't stop mom though... three weeks of first aid classes, as research. Which reminds me, my CPR card is expired." "Em!" Devin shouted for his sister, looking away from Jason to address her. "Call Annette, or text her. Let her know what's happened. Maybe she can help." "On it!" she yelled back, winking at Ian for the punctuation of their conversation while she slid her phone out of her back pocket to begin scrolling for Annette's number. She pressed the button on her phone and waited there with a third and final puffed up blanket coiled under her arm. "Hi... Ms. Giles? Marissa." She confidently introduced herself on the SeanTech Jailbroke phone she was carrying. "Jason's been shot. I don't know! He probably just stoically glared at them until they just lost their shit and took aim, Lord knows I've wanted to strangle him a few times myself. No, no, Autumn is here, she's a freakin' rockstar. She's all over it, but we have two others in shock and I can't treat them and Autumn can't really leave Jason and... we're a bit in over our heads here." Her voice almost showed signs of breaking at those last few words, thinking of Jason and seeing how he was hurt badly was almost enough make her humanity rise the surface. Still, she remained composed, the quality that kept her reputation as Shelly's Ice Queen secured and pressed on. It was difficult for the next words to pass her lips, and she hated saying them, but she couldn't see any other option. "Ms. Giles, we need help."
  11. 2 points
    The trio of gleaming black vehicles- Jase's Charger, Marissa's Mercedes, and Devin's Ducati- were a strange, incongruous sight next to the unassuming sedan and the one that looked, at first glance, like some kind of law-enforcement thing. But Autumn didn't waste time trying to figure out which branch it might belong to, because as soon as her dad's SUV approached the impromptu parking area, she clicked off the seatbelt, flung open the passenger door despite her father's shout of protest and the sudden, jarring application of the brakes. She saw- -Marissa, standing over someone (?) near the side of the road. -Devin, shirtless and kneeling next to the driver's side of the predatory beast Jason was going to have to let her drive when her grades went up... Because that was the deal, right? -Combat boots. ...He wore those everywhere, which was kind of crazy considering how quietly he moved around, but they were super practical. It was one of those little quirks she appreciated about him, the fact that he didn't really care about all the superfluous stuff. -Long, slender fingers, relaxed in a graceful curve where his hand lay on the ground. ...The same fingers that felt so warm twined in hers, that faint current of something running between them. -Bright white towels stained red. So very, very red. Vivid as the roses he cultivated in the barn, fragrant blooms with velvet petals and dark thorns, their sanguine hue blooming here, instead, on the thick cloth pressed to Jason's chest, wound tight around his head. And then father and Range Rover and school were forgotten. She could feel the shift, the tactile crunch of the gravel underfoot as she sprinted across the road heedless of traffic, the sting of the rocks through her well-worn jeans as she hit her knees next to Devin. Even without seeing the wounds, the second she touched the unconscious telekinetic she could feel them, raw and brutal and life-stealing. The injury to his skull was the worst, the most immediately dangerous, but there was a fucking bullet in his chest, a weird alien otherness to the lump of metal she could only really feel by the shape of the pain around it. "All right, so... the one is fortunately-" Fortunately?! Jesus fuck, Autumn, how is anything about this fortunate?!- " just buried in the muscle between his ribs. Didn't hit his heart, or lungs, or..." Oh, Jesus. Oh, god, oh fuck. "Fuck," she swore. "Fuck, fuck, fuck. Um..." Okay. Okay okay okay. Think, Autumn. Focus. Running a trembling hand back over her hair, the ashen-faced redhead frantically tried to process what to do first, but her thoughts were racing too fast to keep hold of for longer than a moment. There was a vague sense that other people were also hurt nearby- one of them badly- but if those were the gunmen he'd mentioned in his text, well. Fuck them. They can wait. "Okay." Exhaling, she took hold of the makeshift terrycloth turban wound around Jason's brow. "Skull first. Right. Um, Devin." She glanced at the blood-smeared gymnast on her right, his handsome features a mask of concentration. "Keep pressure on his chest for me right now, please and thank you. I'm gonna need your help with that in a minute." She drew in another deep breath, gingerly peeling back the saturated towel as a quiet, choked sound escaped her throat at the sight beneath. No. No, no, no nonono. Fucking- You know, just no. Just fucking no. "We are definitely gonna need to talk about this whole head trauma thing," Autumn muttered shakily, her fingers slipping around the bloody line of her boyfriend's jaw. The fact that he'd survived at all was almost incomprehensible, as was the reason he'd been attacked in the first place, but they could deal with that later. Extending her senses, she let the faint icy ripples of his Shine intersect and resonate with her own, providing clarity as the young vitakinetic traced the jagged edges of the fracture with her power and painstakingly rejoined each fragment of splintered bone. She could feel the tiny flickers at the core of his cells, their vital energy responding to hers as she coaxed shrieking nerves and ruptured blood vessels together, weaving the visceral fabric of his flesh and life back into a coherent whole. As Ian watched, circling around his daughter to take in the horror of the scene before him, he saw her clear blue eyes go distant, darkening slightly with the expansion of her pupils. It was almost, he thought, like she was seeing something he couldn't, something beyond the frighteningly still form of the young man he'd just shared coffee with at the kitchen table the night before. He'd seen what Jason Bannon could do then, but this... This was someone's life, not manipulating kinetic energy, or however the boy had described it. That's not how the world worked. "I'm calling an ambulance," he announced tersely, grabbing the cell phone from his pocket and raking a fingertip over the screen. "This is-" "Crazy?" Devin supplied helpfully, leaning forward to keep his weight on the bullet wound. "Yep. And it's probably going to get a whole lot crazier. 911's not a bad idea, though." Jerking his head in the direction of his sister and the two Marshals, the athletic teen glanced briefly up at the elder Keane. "Those guys're gonna need it." Blinking, the older man looked from his daughter over to where Shelly's dressed-down beauty queen was grumbling at the two prone figures. "Shit," he sighed, and pressed the button to dial.
  12. 2 points
    Cassandra awoke to the sound of silence. Not dragging herself up and out of dreams full of disturbing images, clawing her way to wakefulness. No, she was simply awake, with all the abruptness of being dunked in cold water. For a minute she lay still, trying to chase the fleeing shadows that she'd been immersed in. Trying to...climb a mountain under a funnel cloud, avoiding the sight of some terrible presence above? She jumpscared when her alarm suddenly went off, blaring that it was time to WAKE UP NOW PLEASE THANK YOU. She had to get up and cross her room to the dresser to turn it off...an arrangement Cassie had set up by choice so she couldn't just slap snooze. By the time peace was restored, whatever fragments of dream that had clung to her consciousness were well and truly gone. And then Bacon, having heard the alarm, was tapping his paws on her door and making that weird little huffy growly noise he did...not quite barking, but letting her know that HE knew it was time to get up. So Cass let it go and stalked out to grab a quick shower, giving her dog a quick cuddle along the way. A knock on the bathroom door came as Cassie was still playing with the temperature mix of the water though. Her mom called in, "Cass? How're you feeling today?" "I'm okay," she called back, grimacing as the water turned a little cold. Better a little hot than a little cold...oh ow, but not that hot, Jesus... Teresa replied a second later, "I'm just... If you need a day off or something, to rest...you can do that is all I'm saying. It'd be okay." That brought Cassandra up short, and she looked at the door, legitimately wondering if her mother had been replaced by some kind of simulacra. What the... "It's...I'm really okay, mom," she called again over the sound of the water hitting the shower floor. "I'm actually looking forward to things going back to normal, you know?" Another pause, then, "Okay, hon. I have to head in a little early today, but I left some breakfast out for you. Eat it. I'm serious. And if anything happens, if you change your mind and need to come home, you can call me up and I'll fix things with the office. All right?" Good enough. The water wasn't perfect, but it would be good enough. Cassie stepped under the spray and gasped as it felt like it was going to burn her for a second...then seemed to cool off a little as her body got used to it. "Mom," she laughed, "I said back to normal. Shouldn't you be asking if I got my homework done?" "Maybe there's a new normal," Teresa said. "Be good, hon, I love you." "Love you too," Cass answered automatically. She fished the dwindling bar of soap out of its little divot and wrapped a washcloth around it. Her mom's concern was touching, and even welcome, but it felt weird too. Like a tug of war when the other team all just let go right as you were about to give a big yank...and instead just went flying back onto your butt. A few minutes later and she was hurrying out to the kitchen, a little behind schedule. Her hair was still wet and lank against her head because there wasn't time to properly dry it. Breakfast was...well shit. Eggs, and a couple of strips of bacon? Bacon himself was sitting just at the kitchen's island where the plate was, looking very tense and alert. Cassie tossed him a strip, and he snapped it out of the air and happily munched on it, wagging his tail fiercely. The eggs she more or less just swallowed whole since they were fried and soft and she had no time for niceties. Probably no time to bike either...the bus again today, it seemed... It wasn't until Cassandra was on the bus that she realized she'd forgotten to stuff her little binder of folders into her backpack. Hopefully she wouldn't need those notes today. Looking out the bus window it felt plausible that she wouldn't. It was sunny, and comfortable, and for the first time in a long time she felt like...nothing was hanging over her head. No huge disaster, no looming shadow. Ding dong, the witch was dead, and now Oz and its population of little teenage people could just get on with whatever the hell they did all day. The presence or lack of notes was a tiny thing next to that. She closed her eyes contentedly and just let the freedom to not worry sink in...then stuck her earbuds in and queued up a playlist for the rest of the trip to school.
  13. 2 points
    "Dunno... why dey sho'... me." Jase's voice was slurring, his pronunciation sloppy - a worrying contrast to his usual precise, crystal clear diction. The light behind his eyes, usually fiercely bright and intense, guttered like a match flame in a high wind as his half-lidded gaze tried to focus on Devin. "Jus'... walk up an'... drew gun. N'er see 'em... before." "You just got one of them faces, Jaybee." Devin said chattily, trying to keep the mind behind the dimming eyes engaged as he wrapped a terrycloth turban around Jason's head, staunching as much of the bleeding as he could. The pain made Jason draw in breath in a hiss, momentarily jolting his thoughts into focus. "ID says... marshals." Jase tried to tap the wallet on his lap, but his hand wasn't obeying instructions, instead just twitching and flopping. "Used cop light. Pulled me over." His voice started weakening further, his eyelids slipping lower. "Be... careful." "I will. Yeah. Being careful is top of my list." Devin replied almost manically. "Right after 'living long and prospering', so you don't need to tell me to do that." He busied himself ripping up another section of towel to put as a compress over the chest wound, then realised there'd been no answer to his repartee. He swore and looked up. "Jaybee?" Jason's eyes slipped shut, as the sound of a Range Rover drew nearer...
  14. 2 points
    "Just got a txt from him, omw there now w my dad. Meet us there, please? Not sure exactly where he is. Trying not to freak out." Marissa's console spoke to her as he silently cursed to herself and made a three point turn in some random Montanan mouth-breather's drive way and sped on back in the direction her brother flew off in on his motorcycle. Devin's wheels laid a patch of black as he squealed to a halt. With a few seconds he was off his bike and running to Jason. "Hey, I know you," was all he said as he leapt over Marshal Marshall, and knelt down at Jason's side where he was leaning against his Charger. Bloody and wheezing and slumped over, Devin did the only thing that came to his mind first... He slapped him. Jason opened his pain strewn, weary eyes and glanced up to see Devin. He managed bloody smile. "Dawg, what is it about you that makes people wanna be all up in your guts?" Devin huffed, using his limited knowledge of basic (very basic) first aid to take a look at his friend. Prevent further harm, prevent infection, save life... the three core fundamentals of first aid and here was Devin using them for the first time on freaking gunshot wounds. "S'car," Jason wheezed and coughed. "Chicks dig the car." "Very funny," the bruised teleporter-on-hiatus looked at his friend and gave him a sarcastic look. "Shut up, dickhead. I'm trying to save your life before my sister shows up and vetoes the idea, and considering I already have blood on my seventy dollar jeans, I'm just saying... things aren't looking good for you my man." Jason was trying hard not to laugh. He knew what Devin was doing: keeping his attention on him, not what he was doing as he tore open Jason's shirt and began to inspect the wounds. His world was getting hazy. He was losing blood, not fatal amounts, yet, but it was surprising how much a single hole in the torso could just pump out until there you were... getting drowsy and watching your breathing increase. Devin pulled his own shirt off and with a tug it ripped and provided him with rags with which to apply pressure to his head and try to clean the area around his ribs to see the wound better. "Dude... I know this hurts. I can see the bullet bro, but if I pop it out of there, you could bleed to death." Jason winced as Devin placed the rags on his head and applied pressure, while wrapping around the remains of his shirt and tying it tightly. It wasn't pretty, but he didn't have a lot to work with. Marissa, thankfully, squealed to a halt directly behind her brother's Ducati. She slid open her phone and popped a pin at her location for Autumn to follow. Her door swung open and like her brother made a mad dash to the scene... only to stop at the Marshalls who were lying on the ground in what science would later quantify as a metric fuck-ton of pain and oodles of regret. She knelt down beside and Marshall Marshal and cocked her head smiling. She patted him on the chest and said, "See? Should have called. S'wahtcha get." "Em! Emjay," Devin called for his sister, trying to lie Jason down and keep his head turned up to the blood had to fight gravity. "Help me out, Jason isn't looking good." "Nooooooope," her lips popped on the 'pe'. She stood from Marshal and walked to his partner, smirking evilly at the sight of her roasted little giblet arms. "Sounds like an Autumn problem, oh, brother dearest. She wanted him, so she gets all the drama and bullshit that goes with his psycho ass." She turned to face her brother, opening her arms wide to indicate the mess. "I mean, fuck Deej, we just saved the world. Like just, just saved it... what? Twelve hours ago, if that? He couldn't go twelve God forsaken hours without pissing off or attempting to murder someone? I mean, what the fuck, dude! Like we don't have lives!? Are we even going to address just how inconsiderate of him this whole fucking mess is?" She waved at the bleeding telekinetic. "Hi, by the way." "Keep them open dude, look at me," Devin glared into Jason's emerald eyes, seeing the way his wounds were fading the light behind them. He smiled and chuckled with fading confidence, slapping Jason's cheek a few times to rekindle his attention. "Bro, believe it or not, she doesn't want to see you like this. This is her playing hard to get." "What?" Marissa huffed, looking up from Marshal Dale at the sound of her brother possibly talking shit about her. She looked back at Marshal Dale, smirking. Silently she started treating her for shock, which, thankfully wasn't too hard. "Wow. Bet when you woke up this morning you weren't thinking about this cluster fuck right here, were you? Noooo, of course not." "Tourniquet!" He shot back. "I need, and don't have a tourniquet. He's bleeding pretty bad." She grunted and rolled her eyes at how Jason's problems were, once again, inconveniencing her. "Get my gym bag! It's in my trunk! There's towels in there." "Go get it, then! I have my hands full!" He yelled. "No!" She shook her head and yelled back while she elevated Marshal Dale's legs. "I'm busy too! Let Autumn go get it! It's her fucking boyfriend. You think if you brought Lona home ODing on heroin, and don't look at me like that's a stretch, that I'd make it my problem? Her dumb ass wants to OD let her fucking OD... Jason can't go twelve hours without trying to kill people, chances are he prolly had this coming! Have we even stopped to consider what he did to provoke them?" "You're such a bitch!" Devin gently rest Jason's head on his hoodie, which was also, like Devin's hands, sticky and crimson. He dashed off to Marissa's trunk to get her gym bag, pissed but realizing that for all her faults she made sure the trunk was popped by the time he got there and sure enough, there were three towels, one for the work out, one for her and one for her hair... like clockwork. "Fuck you," she yelled back. "You deal with him while I, once again, play accomplice to, and once again, cover up a Jason-Fucking-Bannon crime scene. Yaaay..." she sarcastically clapped like she was happy then stopped, looking suddenly ashamed as she looked down at Marshal Dale. "Sorry, that was insensitive of me." She looked to her brother, who was now making copious use of the white gym towels. "So, remind me again just how lucky we are to call him a pal?" "Not now, EmJay," Devin grunted, his hands working swiftly and meticulously to save Jason's life. "I've got shit to do and you're seriously pissing me off right now." He didn't listen for a reply from her, if she even offered one. Problem was, she wasn't wrong. Besides not having all the facts, this was beginning to be a common problem for Jason: leaving bodies mangled in the streets. Still, they tried to off him in his car, he could tell that, at least. It was his life or theirs so Devin wasn't questioning the choices made. Marissa though, she just had that irritating way of whispering dissention in his ears and she was hardly, if ever, wrong. He tapped Jason again, getting his attention. "Bro, I can't wait, okay? If Autumn doesn't get here soon, dude... I have to get you help. Jason!" He smacked him again, keeping the teens eyes focused as best he could as they lazily started closing. "Jason... she has a minute... you? maybe thirty seconds. You come first bro, I don't think she'll be pissed about that... stay with me..."
  15. 2 points
    Even with the help of a little bit (okay, a lot) of self-medication, sleep had eluded Autumn for most of the night. They'd struck a blow against the Dark, eliminating a very real threat under circumstances which, a few weeks ago, would have seemed anything but. Sitting in her tree house, wreathed in smoke and silence, it had still all felt kind of unbelievable. Like a bad trip, or a nightmare she was just waking up from... Except that it'd be more accurate to say that the nightmare itself was a kind of waking-up, an uncomfortable realization that the reality she'd known had been just a comfortable illusion. Was it normal to have an existential crisis at sixteen? Probably. For a given value of "normal," anyway, which also included things like alternate dimensions and aliens and old legends proving true. Apart from Jacob and the dogs, in fact, almost no one in the Keane house had slept soundly that night; there were too many questions, too many things left unresolved. Still... As the crisp, cool chime that heralded a text message confirmed, some uncertainty wasn't necessarily a bad thing. A soft knock on the door frame drew Autumn's attention away from the image of bemused green eyes to the groggy, unshaven smile of her father. "Morning, sweetheart. I didn't think you'd be awake yet." He paused for a moment, noting the phone already in her hands. "You said breakfast starts at 7:30?" "Mhmm," she hummed, stifling a yawn with her arm and squirming comfortably under the quilt. It was, she had to admit, kind of weird having her dad around, but weird in a good way. Unfamiliar, but not unwelcome. "Morning, Dad. Anybody in the shower?" "Not yet, but you should probably hurry if you want to sneak in there before your mom." "Yeahhhh..." A long stretch, a sleepy smile, and a resigned sigh brought her upright, pushing a tangle of copper curls back out of her face as she sat amongst the blankets. "Probably." As she stood under the warm spray a few minutes later, hair slathered generously in the thick conditioner Marissa had recommended, Autumn's thoughts slowly shifted from the events of the night before to a rough outline of the day ahead. Riding in with her dad. Coffee and breakfast with Jase at school. Going to classes and going through the motions of whatever passed for a "normal" day now, with two fewer students- ones who hadn't just moved to Canada or wherever, but who really really wouldn't be coming back, ever. That was... Well, it was a thing, anyway. Talking to Marissa during Study Hall about Homecoming, maybe. The meeting at the medical center... Ugh. Not looking forward to that. She grimaced at the prospect of being trapped in a room with a bunch of people all trying to talk over each other as she carefully rinsed the fragrant masque from the heavy mass of uncoiled curls, combing her fingers through them again and again until the water ran clear. "Autumn?" her mother's voice called out above the sound of the torrent. "Leave some hot water for me, please. Going down to put the coffee on, now, so don't be too long." "Sorry!" she yelled back, quickly scrubbing away the remnants of sleep from her skin. "Just a minute!" True to her word, the young redhead was bundled in towels and padding back across the landing shortly thereafter, just as Dana came up the stairs. "Morning," she greeted the still-sleepy vet with a smile, eyes flicking downward as she paused to make sure she wasn't dripping on the floor. "Oh, hey! Is Jay up?" "Not yet." Dana shook her head, returning the smile with one of her own as she took in her daughter's sudden shift in demeanor, the pink cheeks still flushed and rosy from the shower; there'd been a time when talking about Jacob Crocker had elicited that response on its own. "Why don't you go check on him? Once you're presentable, of course," she teased gently, planting a quick kiss on the girl's freckled forehead as she headed in to get ready for work. Autumn was just about to remark that he'd seen her in a lot less than towels before so it wasn't really a big deal, but caught herself- that was not a conversation she wanted to start this early in the day. Instead, she busied herself with getting dressed, giving herself a quick once-over in the mirror as she toweled off and marveled briefly at the fading pink lines on her skin. Within another day or two, they'd likely be completely healed, vanishing as if the whole thing had never happened. The old scars still lingered, though, faint white traces marking out memories of adventures and mishaps. That was interesting- certainly something to think about. Maybe one of the brainier members of the Fellowship would have a theory about why that was so. Leaving her rather sad-looking hoodie on the chair next to the closet, she slipped on a well-worn flannel over the typical Autumn uniform of jeans and t-shirt instead and skipped briskly down the stairs in her sock feet. Her mother had been mostly right: Jacob wasn't really up and about, but he was awake, sitting up in the guest room and talking quietly with Nathan. Someone had made him oatmeal, which the ravenous young man devoured as she checked in; there didn't seem to be any lingering effects, apart from the residual discomfort of being thrown around by a creature with inhuman strength. Even so, the general consensus was that taking a day to rest and get checked out by an actual doctor wouldn't be a bad idea. There was more to be said, as always, but it would have to wait. Giving both the Crockers quick hugs and quicker apologies, Autumn promised to call during lunch, and to let them know what happened at the not-PTA meeting later. For now, there were dogs to take out for a run around the yard, and breakfast to get to. ------------- It was just after seven when Ian's silver Range Rover pulled out of the drive, Autumn already fiddling with the controls on the dashboard of the new-ish SUV. "Do you have Spotify on this?" He blinked at her, momentarily distracted from the road and thoughts of how to address what had happened yesterday, and in that brief pause she'd already located the green icon on the console display. "Oh, yeah, cool. Can I link my account, so we have stuff to listen to on the way?" Almost before he'd gotten out a slightly-bewildered 'sure,' the animated young woman was tapping contentedly away at her phone, and within moments the folksy sound of a mellow guitar thrummed through the air, accompanied by a clear, male voice he didn't quite recognize, but which felt somehow familiar. "Oooh, this one's good," she nodded, apparently satisfied at the algorithm's selection. "So," he began, glancing at her from the corner of his eye as she hummed along, murmuring bits of the lyrics here and there. "Are you-" His not-so-little-anymore girl turned, blue eyes expectant, and he cleared his throat, reaching for the travel mug of coffee he'd brought. "How're you holding up?" "I'm... okay, I think," she replied, weighing her words carefully as she spoke them. "Like... It's nice to not have this thing hanging over my head, you know? I feel like I have room to breathe." "Even though your friend is gone?" The surprise registered clearly in his voice, and another cursory glance in Autumn's direction found her watching the trees roll lazily past the open window as the breeze ruffled strands of her still-damp ponytail. "Charlie wasn't my friend." She frowned into the mirror, a little twinge of guilt twisting in her chest. "I know it sounds-" Maybe don't say ''shitty,' or 'fucking' in front of your Dad. Just a thought. "It sounds awful. But he really wasn't. It sucks that he died, but I barely knew him, so it's just..." Exhaling, she looked over at Ian, brow furrowing slightly as she searched for the words. "I feel like I don't feel as bad as I should, and that makes me feel bad. I care that he's gone, but it's not personal, I guess. Not like with Grandpa," she finished more quietly, peering at her father's profile while he drove. "You know?" "Mhmm." Ian nodded, his gaze on the road and morning traffic ahead. "Like, the whole thing with Cody upsets me because I feel like, I don't know. Like we could've done something differently, and instead of dying in a fire as some monster in a nightmare hellscape, he could've just gotten therapy or gone to jail, or whatever. I mean, yeah, it was his choices that put him there, but could our choices have changed anything?" They sat in silence for a few moments, and then, abruptly: "He was like us." "Like you?" That warranted another quick glance at the passenger side as he tried to maintain some semblance of a neutral expression. "You mean, with the- the powers?" "Yeah." Autumn went back to watching the landscape slip past them, twisting a lock of red-gold hair around her fingers contemplatively as Marissa's words at the hospital came back to her. "He was like us, and turned into this awful, evil thing. So... If one of us makes the wrong choice, like he did, could the others bring us back? Or will we end up like him?" A crisp, vaguely frosty note interrupted then, saving Ian from another uncomfortable discussion so close on the heels of the one from last night, and the energetic teen felt herself smiling in spite of the tone of the conversation. She swiped away the lock screen and tapped the notification- //Been attacked. 2 gunmen, neutralised. Head wound, bleeding. Need you both. Road into town from my place, two miles down. Be careful.// "Sweetheart?" She could hear her dad talking, but he sounded so far away as she read the message again, his voice distant and distorted like the sound of someone underwater. Or maybe she was the one under the waves, drowning in shock and sinking with the sudden weight in her gut as the words swam before her eyes. "Is everything okay?" "No," she managed, then shook her head. No. No, everything is not okay at all. Just don't... Don't fucking cry right now. Okay? Don't, Autumn. Don't cry, and don't panic. Just go. Just fucking go. "Dad, you've gotta turn around. We have to go get Jase." "Okay." He had a dozen questions, the foremost of those being 'Why?' But the note of fear in his daughter's voice, the desperation in her bright blue eyes as she whirled to look at him, tugged at his heart and sent a pang of worry lancing through his chest. "Okay," he repeated, checking the mirrors and taking a deep breath, steeling himself for whatever they were about to find. "We will. Just tell me where to go, all right?" She nodded, a choked sound of assent narrowly escaping the rapid constriction of her throat as she blinked back tears. NO. NO CRYING. CRYING IS NOT HELPFUL, AUTUMN RAE. "Umm. You can-" Struggling to regain control of her breathing, Autumn forced herself to inhale, counting silently to four and defying the upwelling of panic surging within her. She exhaled, focusing on the sensation of the breeze from the window, the feeling of the upholstered seat beneath her, the weight of the phone in her hand and the sense of her own body in space. It was fine. She was fine. Jason was fine. Everything was fine. "You can turn up there, by Bunnees." Clutching the phone in a white-knuckled death grip, the terrified redhead gestured toward an intersection that led out of town toward the Bannon and Heath farms. "He said- ohh, god," she breathed, shaking her head to clear it. "Um. He said he was attacked, and they had guns, and-" Her father's eyes widened, hands tightening on the steering wheel. Guns. Were they still there? Was it safe to even go? he wondered. And then: Was it a random attack, or did the Bannon boy do something? Almost immediately, he felt guilty for even considering it, but... There was definitely something strange about him, even without the whole crazy powers thing, and he'd heard a few rumors while he'd been home. The bit about his dad being involved in a militia, of course, but maybe it was more than that. The distraught girl's voice wavered dangerously, and she swallowed, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes. "And he actually asked for help, which means it's gotta be bad, and-" There was another chime, this one different from the first, and both Ian and Autumn glanced anxiously at the screen. //Jason needs you. He's hurt. On my way to get you, send me a pin.// "It's, uh. Marissa," she explained, grateful for something else to focus on for just a moment or two as she started tapping out a reply with trembling fingers. "I guess she heard, too. I need to text her back. Gonna see if she'll meet us there." [Just got a txt from him, omw there now w my dad. Meet us there, please? Not sure exactly where he is. Trying not to freak out.] Even after pressing 'send,' Autumn kept typing away as the SUV headed out toward the edge of town, sending a string of increasingly worried texts to Jason's phone that remained unread.
  16. 2 points
    Everyone had herd it at least one in their lives: 'you think it hurts now, wait until tomorrow'! Well, screw those people, Devin had thought all through the morning as every bruise and small injury he'd endured the night before was alight in throbbing pain. Every movement caused a wince, standing was a chore, walking hurt, sitting for some respite form the pain was an exercise in masochism because all it did was remind him that the moment he stood, it would all flare up again. It had taken him ten minutes to put his pants on, another five for his shoes and somewhere in the neighborhood of 'I'm so done with today, already' to realize that he was already running late. His sister was no different. Today, the Queen of Mean had discarded all semblance of regality as she leaned against the island in the kitchen lazily sipping her coffee as he entered the kitchen on foot. Teleporting was too painful for him at the moment and he was taking it easy. Chucks, loose-fitting jeans and a faded t-shirt earned her a second glance but when he realized she was wearing zero in the way of makeup, he couldn't help but wonder if he was actually dead and never survived the fight. Perhaps this was his purgatory... to live with normalcy for all eternity. "Uh, Emjay... the hell happened to your face?" "Blow me, Cocksmear," she grumbled from over her mug, glaring at him from narrowed dagger slits that currently hid her eyes behind them. "Marissa," their father, who was stirring up some scrambled eggs on the stone while their mother was at the table on her phone, scrolling through websites centered around normal people suddenly acquiring abnormal abilities. "Don't call your brother a cocksmear." "Thank you," Devin said while opening the fridge and grabbing the orange juice. Carl slid some scrambled eggs off from the pan and onto one of the plates waiting behind Marissa. They already had the toast and a couple slices of bacon and were just waiting for the final touch. What was it about finding out your children were super heroes that made parents finally want to parent? "It's about time I get the respect a god deserves around this place." His father slapped him in the back of the head. "Shut up, cocksmear." Marissa choked on a laugh, spurting up coffee bubbles onto her nose. "Eat your breakfast." "Marissa, sweetie, I'm not finding anything on the internet." Misti approached her daughter, phone in one hand while her other took her daughter's arm and began turning it over, inspecting it along the forearm and wrist where the night before Marissa had numerous minor abrasions and lacerations. "Perhaps this resistance you have to things is also accelerating your healing? You look eighty percent better than last night, most of your minor injuries are fading away... this is amazing. I just can't believe any of this." She glanced up at her daughter, sans makeup and horrid choice in attire for the day and sighed with a shrug. "Well, forty percent better, at any rate." "Yeah, well," Marissa sipped her coffee again, "Everything hurts. Muscle aches, head hurts, I can tell the wounds are fading, but it still feels like I got ran over by a damn truck." "Amen to that," Devin grumbled, fork in hand and eggs in mouth. His phone began playing 'ki ki ki, ma ma ma' from Friday the 13th and with a smirk he glanced at the screen. His fork hit his plate without a word and began moving with purpose out of the kitchen to get his coat and keys. "What?" Marissa asked, knowing her twin better than anyone. "What is it?" She walked away from her mother and chased after him. "Is everything alright?" Misti asked. "It's Jason." Was all Devin said as his keys rattled and he tucked his phone in his pocket. "What, he finally kill someone?" Marissa mused with a sarcastic smirk because it was way to early for murder to be happening. Right? Her brother looked at his phone again, then back to her. He tapped out a reply, supposedly to Jason, while he spoke to his sister. "Possibly. He used the word 'neutralized' so... in Bannon speak they're in several pieces and he's pro/conning which stumps to have sex with first... or they're chained up in his basement slowly turning over a spit roast while he masturbates with a pile of his own feces." He chuckled and shrugged, faking a confident smile. "You know how crazy people are." "I'm going." She said sternly as her pocket vibrated. "Fine." He blew her off. "Meet me there." Marissa grabbed her keys and and left after her brother, checking her phone once her parents were out of view. *// He's hurt. Go get Autumn, I'll pin the location so you can find us easier. She silently cursed while she was both driving and texting her parents to assure them Devin was just being an ass and making fun of Jason while also texting Autumn... *// Jason needs you. He's hurt. On my way to get you, send me a pin.
  17. 1 point
    "Funny." Ravi commented dryly, taking a breath and relaxing back into the examination table's padded surface as Sable cut the remains of his shirt away. He fixed his gaze on Sable's face as she worked, now and then tempted to glance down from some morbid fascination at what she was doing, but all things considered her face, even focused in concentration, was a better sight. "I'm going to have to reopen the wound to get at the bullet." Sable told him, her professional demeanour broken only by the swift glance to his face. Her gaze warmed for a second as she noticed his golden eyes were on her, then the professionalism was back, and Sable's attention was once more wholly on what she was doing. Ravi heard the metallic scrape of her picking up implements and then... Well, nothing much. Some tugging - vaguely disturbing but not painful. Sable's expression was intent, yet calm, and Ravi watched the mild changes in the shape of her lips, the exotic shape of her eyes as they tightened or curved while she worked. He felt something cool - not cold, but cooler than his skin, running down the outside of his chest to pool under his back. My blood, he supposed, trying not to fidget, or even to breath deeply. The uncomfortable tugging grew in intensity, becoming almost painful, and he was aware of a scraping sensation in his chest. Talking would probably be a bad idea. So instead he focused on musing. What was he? What was Amelia? What was Sable doing later? What would a woman pick up in terms of carnal knowledge over three centuries of extended life? Or eight, for that matter: what did Ravenna want with him - and why did the remembrance of her licking his blood from her finger send prickles of heat through his skin? He tried to get his mind to focus on something other than his favorite past-time and instead pondered other matters. Who was Mourne? Were there other 'chosen' going through the same weirdness right now? Was Amelia going to do something stupid and annoy their hostess? Did the crazy extend into the bedroom? What was Amelia doing la- Dammit. It's said that men think about sex once every five minutes. Ravi wondered how they managed it so little. Thank whatever gods watched over him that he could multi-task. Sort of. More scraping in his chest, and a steady pulling sensation that was over the line of discomfort and into pain. Ravi let out a low hiss and closed his eyes. "Almost done." he heard Sable murmur, her voice reassuring, a balm on his nerves. More tugging, more liquid pooling against his skin, and then - *clink* "Got it." Sable didn't sound triumphant so much as satisfied as she dropped the bullet into a small dish and then began to swab and clean the wound. "Hmm. A couple of stitches and a bandage should be all you need, given what we've seen of how you heal- Oop!" She caught him as he half-rolled, coughing, blood flecking his lips as the fluid in his lung decided it was time to come up and out. Heedless of the blood on her own dark clothing, Sable held a shallow bowl under his face with one hand as her other arm effortlessly supported his spasming form. The paroxysms ceased, and Ravi sank back onto the bed with a weak groan as Sable took the bowl away. Eyes closed, he was aware of her dabbing a cloth on his face and mouth, then going back to sewing him up. He must have drifted off, because it seemed like he'd barely closed his eyes before she was nudging him awake. One of the two huge men was present, and helped Ravi into a wheelchair before stepping aside, letting Sable wheel him out of the infirmary. "Clean up." she told the... guard? Servant? as she left, nodding to the examination bed. They emerged into the hallway, Sable wheeling him to a guest room similar to Amelia's. "Let's get the blood washed off before you start feeling pain again." she suggested, nodding towards the bathroom. As being bathed by Sable went, it was a considerably less erotic experience than Ravi had imagined - she was gentle enough, but businesslike, having him sit on the edge of a bathtub as she wiped him down. "There's a robe and pajamas on the bed." she told him as she helped him up and through into the bedroom - tastefully decorated in dark reds and golds and, yes, black. She seated him on the edge of the bed, hesitating and stepping back as she considered him. "Do you need help?" she asked almost caringly, then corrected "And more to the point, if I do help, will you behave?" "No, thank you to the first question. Hell no to the second." Ravi managed a smile, causing Sable's lips to quirk in a grin and her head to shake momentarily. "Good. Because I'd have one of the bodyguards do it." she teased, turning to leave. She stopped in the doorway, looking back at the half-naked aristocrat as though she had more to say, but instead left in silence. Slowly, and with care to not pull at the stitches under the bandage around his chest, Ravi stripped off his by now ruined pants and socks and shoes. Turning, he found there were indeed a soft cotton set of pajamas and a warm-looking robe on the bed, which he donned before laying back on the bed itself, staring up at the decorative canopy. There was a sense, only a sense, that he was in danger here, but he'd been in dangerous situations before. Panicking wouldn't help matters, and he was certainly in no shape for a heroic escape. Besides, the danger wasn't so much one of intent on his hostess's part so much as just... part of her being what she was. In his opinion, anyway. Given her remarks about his taste, he did feel somewhat like a prepared side of veal. And would that necessarily be so bad, to have her drink his blood? What was it like? Did she have to kill to gain nourishment, or could she just tap him like a maple tree? Did it hurt? These and all his other questions chased him down into slumber as he closed his eyes. He'd completed what she asked of him. He was wounded. Surely some rest was in ord- Reclining on a luxurious bed, in a room of dark red and black, Ravi slept.
  18. 1 point
    About 1:15pm When Cade got the text, he made a quick reply, and then turned around from heading to class, instead heading to the nurse's office. It wasn't that much trouble to get in to see Marissa, and he smiled. He'd made a quick stop at a vending machine, for another snickers. "Brought you a little something." he said quietly. Marissa was lying back a bit on the small hospital examination table the school had and her eyes lit up at the sight of the Snickers bar. She was sipping Coke from a can with a straw. The small hospital table to her left had several wrappers from tiny Halloween bite bars they'd fed her but her complexion still owned a pale and weakened pallor. The can found a home next to the wrappers and snatched the candy bar. "Ugh, thank you! They had a coke and just these parts... Christ, I had to look up on Google for them how to treat me. They ran to get me a Gatoraide. The military needs to station some medical people here, seriously." She tore into the Snickers and sighed as her eyes closed with pleasure while she chewed. Her mouth filled with chocolate and nougat and in an in a very unladylike fashion spoke while she was nomming half of a Snickers bar. "Don'chu hev claph?" "You're welcome." he grinned at her. "Yes I have class, but I knew I needed to come check on you, and likely, something you'd be wanting." Cade laughed abit. "You were also very explicit on what would happen if I "ghosted" you if something happened. " he shrugged. "It'd look odd to people if something happened to you and I didn't come to check on you." "So..." she slowly stopped chewing and side-eyed him. "You didn't come because you actually cared, just because you were afraid of what I would do if you ghosted me?" Her lips pursed and she nodded. She sucked on her teeth. "Can't say I blame you. You're learning at least, thanks for coming at least." She lifted her phone and set it back down. "Deej's been texting me and my mom is coming down after she finishes a meeting, so she might send me home. If you don't see me the rest of the day, that's where I am. Text me if you like." "You know that I came because I care." he said, his voice quiet. It struck him as odd, her seeming almost bothered that he didn't list that first. He really didn't understand women, least of all, Marissa. "Yeah, I'll text you." he looked at her. "Are you really okay?" his actual concern was evident now. His label-neutral lover relaxed and sighed. "Honestly, I don't know." She shrugged and looked up at him. "Something's not right. Cade, I've torn through two plates of eggs, toast, sausage, two snickers bars, a yogurt, some mixed fruit and veggies for lunch and... I'm still hungry plus, I weighed myself and I'm down three pounds from last night before we went and... you know." "I've watched enough T.V. to know that whenever people get super powers, there's always one persons who just go wrong and... they melt away or they explode, or they break down..." A look of worry spread through out her pallid complexion. "I... I'm kind of freaking out. It's like my body is eating itself, and me, to death. I've seen Thinner, this won't end well for me. Oh... and the school nurse think I might be pregnant, so there's that. Expect my mom to go nuclear." "i'd heard that rumor myself. Crap like that spreads faster than anything. I haven't paid any mind to it, it'll die on its own soon enough. I won't say you collapsing, and your increased appetite isn't concerning, but a heightened metabolism would help you resist poisons and disease too, right? I mean it always does in the comics if we're gonna use that as a basis. You're just always hungry, you could turn out like the Flash and have superspeed too. Just means we have to cook some really big meals, going forward. Maybe ask the others if any of them are experiencing something similar? I'm not, but then we've established I'm not like any of the rest of you. I'm no genius, but I bet your mom will want to take you to the medical center to run some tests, and see just what's going on. You know your mom isn't going to let them do anything shady, she'll be watching like an angry Hawk, I'm sure. You could ask to see my mother, too, if you like. If there's anyone at the hospital you can trust implicitly, it will be her." he'd let his inner nerd out just abit, and he didn't care. Cade smiled. "As for your mom, don't let her get to you. You've got enough stress. I've got your back, and you know Devin does. Hell, the Fellowship sticks together, even if we don't all always get along. Go home get some rest before the meeting. I'm sure it's going to be stressful enough. If you need anything, let me know and I'll get it on my way over, after I go home to get cleaned up." "I'm thinking that might not be a bad idea, I'm a little worried." He was a bit quirky at times, but she knew he cared. She was pretty sure he couldn't help but care, like a Paladin always looking for a Princess in a tower, Cade was always going to be the nice guy, that much she could tell. Still, he was cute when he wanted to be. She mustered a smile and held out her arms, waving her fingers inward to summon him to her. "C'mere. Hug me and kiss me while I still taste delicious." She invited him, referring to the chocolate still on her lips. He smiled and leaned down, holding her gently and kissing her. His neck tingled as her hand slid through his hair and her nails gently tickled his scalp. She was right... she tasted like chocolate. "Hopefully I'll feel better soon, hmm?" she cooed with anticipation and hope in his ear. "Go, get to class... I'll feel guilty if I make you late twice in one day." He couldn't help but smile. "Worth being late for you." he answered her back, before they released each other. "When you're feeling better, I'll be sure to show you how glad I am for that." he added, before drawing himself up. His hand lingered on one of hers she was slow to pull away, his own hands were quite warm, and he finally pulled back. "If you need me, you know how to reach me." He turned and left, looking over his shoulder once at the door, still smiling. He didn't think it was something bad with her powers, as far as he knew, nobody actually had any sort of negative side effects, unless they overused their abilities. (written with Dave)
  19. 1 point
    "Right. Well. Frau Ackula did say Sable had the 'touch of an angel' so that scans," Amelia said. She folded her arms, then muttered something under her breath and got her phone out. Then she started up a speech-to-text app, repeated what the guy had said as best she could imitate it, and fed THAT into a German-to-English translator. And scowled. "Not German. Or my pronunciation sucks. Or both. Probably both. What did you say? African?" "Afrikaans," Ravi corrected, a little bemused. "But..." "I know," snapped Amelia as she swiped a finger on the phone's screen. "I just...it's going to bug me. Oh. Hey, look at that. Afrikaans. Who knew." Immediately she turned and pointed at Ravi, "And don't say 'me.' I'm onto you." With a chuckle Ravi held his hands up, palms out, jokingly signaling surrender. "Not yet, but give me a little time to heal up and you could be." Amelia scowled again and stuffed her phone away. "So. I am not a hundred percent sure this whole thing isn't just her playing with her food, you should know. Sending you after me, staging an attack that she then rescues us from...manipulating our feelings, making us feel grateful, dependent...it's exactly the kind of thing I'd expect. And this whole 'you've been chosen' thing is simultaneously too vague to be plausible, and too specific to be plausible. Like...she knows it's US who's been chosen, but not by who or for what? Uh huuuh..." She paced away, then back. "Okay. My head's exploding. I need a shower, apparently. I just." For a second Amelia looked at her hands, then shook them as if they were wet, then looked back at Ravi. "Is it weird I'm not freaking out more about this? I feel like it's weird. I mean...maybe it's just shock. Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. There's definitely some...like...furniture being rearranged upstairs... This could explain a LOT, you know? Assuming it's not some kind of incredibly elaborate disinformation scheme."
  20. 1 point
    1300-ish, Shelly High School The Snickers bar didn't do much, in fact, she was hungry again about thirty minutes later. With eyes closed she stood at her locker, hidden by the small door, taking a moment to collect her thoughts and just relax. She could hear the school all around her, the chaotic garble of too many people talking all at once, the occasional squeak of a shoe across the waxed floors, locker doors slamming closed or popping open. It was almost hypnotic and she felt like she could just curl into a ball fall aslee- "Um, excuse me?" She breathed. If she ignored it, it would go away. Right? "E-excuse me? You're Marissa, right? Marissa Jauntsen?" She opened her eyes and lazily spun about to face whomever it was trying to get her attention. Lunchtime. One hour... just one hour to herself, was that too much to ask? It was, said the cosmos as she tried to guess why Steve Rodgers, before the serum, was trying to flag her down at her locker. Sandy blonde, 90 pounds soaking wet (with a brick tied to his ankle, hopefully), and unpleasant to look at he certainly wasn't anything she'd consider interesting. His teeth were straight and his eyes were a pretty shade of silvery gray. "What," she asked lazily and like she hadn't heard a word he'd said up until now. "Hi, I'm, uh, Garett." He smiled nervously and offered his hand which she just glared at as her eyebrow slowly raised up in confusion. "Great." She slid her book into her locker, having realized just then that she'd been holding the whole time. "Don't care." Garret lowered his hand, his cheeks flushing slightly, "Oh, uh... so, um, you're Cade Allister's girlfriend, right?" "We're not putting a label on it," she said on reflex. She turned from her open locker and looked at Garret. "You're still here... why?" "Yeeaah, why wouldn't I be?" he tried to smile past her attitude. Truth was she intimidated the hell out of him most days, but today she just seemed less like herself and more approachable. "But you two are going out, though, right?" "Yes, no... sort of," Marissa, exasperated let her shoulders collapse and she just faced him, shaking her head in annoyance. "Why? What's it to you, anyway?" "My friend, didn't know if you had a date for Homecoming and wanted me to ask you for him," he pointed across the way and heads of two other students disappeared behind lockers. "Ronnie." "Wilkins?" she said with a disgusted look on her face. "He never bathes. I have a class with him, we can smell him from three seats away... no, nuh uh, no way in hell, ever. Plus, he's a Freshman. Tell Ronnie to stay in his lane. Maybe his pillow is free that night, Gary." "It's uh, Garret." He pointed out. "Don't care." She also pointed out. "Um, what about Sean Cassidy?" Garret added. "Sean is a guy, Barret." "Garre-," he shrugged. "You know, never mind. I'm cool with Barret. No, the reason I was asking was because you hang out with Sean, right?" "Sean hangs with me," she corrected him. Her gaze got as hard as it could, given how miserable she was feeling. "So if you have a problem with him, you have one with my brother and me. Now, why do you want to know about Sean? Hurry up, you're like a little mosquito, and you're starting to bother the hell out of me. I don't even recognize you, are you a Freshman too?" "Wh-what? N-no," this was why she scared the crap out of him. She spoke and flipped to angry faster than he could think of what he was going to say. He swallowed hard, trying to relax and say what he needed to before she went nuclear. "I mean, yes. I am a Freshman, but I don't' have a problem with Sean... we heard he's a gamer and were wondering if he had any open spots in his gaming group? I was hoping you could... um, p-pass my info along to him, please?" He presented her with a torn piece of notebook paper with their numbers written on it in obvious gamer handwriting. "I have a raw damage wizard I've been wanting to try out and was hoping he had the room." She stared at the paper for a good long moment, brow raised in mock appraisal of the weeb specimen so brazenly standing in front of her. What happened to her? When did the nerds and losers of this school decide that she had fallen so far that they could simply just approach her like she was one of them and not their royalty to be worshipped? She sighed deeply and snatched it from him. "Surefinewhatever," and stuffed it into her jean pocket. "Now go away, Glen I we're done." "See? Now you're not even trying anymo-" she forced her past him with a slam of her locker and made it three steps before her world began to spin. She stopped as the walls wavered and the ceiling weft about slowly her eyes rolled back and Marissa fell backwards... Garret yelled for help from won of the teachers and Courtney hazily appeared in her field of vision as a blurry mess right before her world went black.
  21. 1 point
    Their hostess listened to her guests, poised elegantly with her blood red lips concealed behind her curled fingers in a standing ''thinkers' pose. "For now, Ms. Parsons," she pointed a digit upwards and took a few steps towards Amelia, her shoes echoing on the hard marble floor. "We'll do nothing. It's not uncommon for your kind to have to hide in the shadows and skulk about in plain sight of the kine." "Kine?" Amelia asked with an inquisitive eyebrow in her hosts direction. "A word we kindred use for your people. Mortals. Humans." The derisive tone in her accent reappeared briefly as she explained. "Our little shadow has gone on for millennia, those agents won't make a second attempt any time soon, but I've taken the liberty of relocating your apartment, you're welcome. You job, honestly, is probably quite safe. My people are working against them now so a direct assault on you again is not wise." Ravenna offered Amelia a matronly glare before turning her attention to Ravi. "But let's not tempt Fate, shall we?" "Let my people do their jobs, besides," her eyes locked on Ravi and he'd seen the expression of hunger in a woman's eyes numerous times, but nothing like what he saw in D'Sombra's. "Mr. FitzCoventry is not yet in any condition to be galivanting about the city, sleeping with it's estranged female populace while simultaneously completing a journey of self-discovery, now are you?" She leaned down and traced her finger gently up his abdomen with centuries of careful, practiced and erotic precision. A touch from her was like nothing he'd experienced and in the back of his mind he wondered if it was her, or just the nature of her 'condition'. She stopped at his wound, her finger tip smeared in half dried blood and withdrew it, rubbing it gently on her lips before indulging in a slow taste as her tongue traced the blood and cleaned her finger tip with a soft kissing sound. "My," she smiled. "You are a rare breed. Delicious." She had no need to, but the deep breath assisted her regaining control and restoring her poise. They could both a certain unease coming from her, like they were suddenly trapped in a room with a vicious animal and a brief moment later that moment had passed. "I hate to admit it," she said to them, turning once more to address them both. "But we need Mourne. My people are searching for him. He's not answering his phone, so chances are he's... conducting business. For now, Ms. Parsons, collect your thoughts, get cleaned up," Amelia noticed the way her arrogant gaze absorbed Amelia's appearance and she certainly caught the 'for the love of God', her hostess added a bit more quietly. "And enjoy my hospitality for the evening. Mr. FitzCoventry, these two gentlemen," she motioned to the ebony mountains that stood at the doors leading into the larger penthouse. "Will take you someplace more comfortable and we'll see about getting that bullet removed, save you some pain in the long run. Sable has an angel's touch, you'll be fine. I'll join you two shortly, after all, I owe you payment, Ravi. Do I not?" The two men left their post at a gesture from their mistress and proceeded to carry out her order. One gestured for Amelia to join them as the other assisted Ravi in standing and helping him along. The penthouse was a like a maze, consuming the entirety of the floor it was a combination of office and living space divided into dozens of large and small rooms. It was almost painful on the eyes how the color theme was so monochromatic, blacks and silvers everywhere with the only color being in the thousands of portraits that hung on the walls. Every ten feet was a painting, old and dated and in one instance, Ravi swore he saw 'Madame Monet and her Son' brightly lighting up the dreary décor of a meeting room as they passed by. The only white room they was a small infirmary, muted with grays and white, it didn't really surprise either of them that this room existed up here. In truth, Amelia was half expecting a Wal-Mart tucked into one corners of her 'how the rich live' experience. The man helped Ravi get situated on the table, lying him back and resting his head on a cylindrical pillow so he could see the room and still talk with Amelia. Despite their size and gruff exterior, bot men seemed gentle and professional, not manhandling their charge any more than was necessary. "Juffrou Sable sal binnekort by u aansluit." One said in a deep baritone as he and his partner left the room. "What?" Amelia asked. She shrugged looking at Ravi confused. "We- we don't understa-" The door closed, but it didn't seem locked. "Something about Sable joining us, I'm assuming," Ravi said calmly, winching and grunting slightly at the pain of not having quite settled in comfortably yet onto his new table. "Hints of Germanic... Afrikaans, possibly?" "You understood that?" she chuckled. "I am from Europe, Amelia. I know German when I hear it, not too hard to assume the rest. As for what they said? Not a clue." He smiled, reassuring her that he was just in the dark as she was.
  22. 1 point
    They'd kept him waiting a little while, which he didn't really care about. It was logical to suppose that Annette Giles was a busy woman, and even a member of the Fellowship couldn't necessarily bump her schedule on a whim. Besides, it gave him a chance to sit quietly, alone with his thoughts, spiraling as they did in a loose double-helix of crystalline forms and shapes in the halls of his mind. The murder attempt, the mysterious Enterich, Site B, meeting a member of his species, Marissa's possible betrayal, Devin and Autumn saving his life, the reactions of his various friends, his plans here in the Project... All kept in the air, turning and presenting new facets with each turn as he considered each issue. He sat in a small anteroom obviously meant for visitors - though what visitors he was not sure. Perhaps serious men and women in uniforms and suits, come from D.C to be wowed by their off-the-books project? Worthies from the mysterious Aeon Society, come to nod and chatter as Cook put his show-ponies through their paces. That was almost good for a smile. Cook's best demonstration had been Courtney whose gifts, impressive though they were, were already being rivalled by the couple of telepaths in in the Fellowship's ranks. Right now, Courtney had the edge in experience with using her gift, but her raw power, the strength of her Shine, was lacking. That sent his thoughts down another tangent. What was the connection there? Had the experimentation of the Project actually harmed Courtney and Tawny's natural development? The early interference having somehow stunted them? If so, perhaps that could be corrected, once he had access to Dr Cook's notes and had time to study what the modern-day Mengele had been up to. The door to the anteroom opened and Ellie walked in, moving with the same feline grace with which she'd entered the hospital room earlier, and sat in the comfortable chair next to his, half-turning and drawing her long bare legs up to curl into the cushions as she gazed at him, cheek propped on one hand, her air contemplative. Jase, lounging in his own chair with his arms folded, stared back expressionlessly. She was beautiful, for certain. Clear complexion, wide grey eyes, full lips, and a body that was athletic, hardened even, yet with female curves in what his aesthetic sense deemed the right places. They stared at each other for a long moment, which stretched to a minute, then two, as some silent battle of wills played out between the two of them. Finally, she gave a slight sigh and inclined her head, still regarding him. "You have the eyes of the Draig." she stated, head tilted, considering him as she spoke. "I recognise the name of the clan." he replied. "It was my mothers, before she left El and came here." "She did not teach you about the Teulu." Ellie remarked then, her eyes narrowing. "She abandoned you." "When she realised that I would not be like her, or my father." Jase agreed, nodding. "She is Teulu, but feels fear, shame, regret." "Interesting." The blonde girl pondered. "I have heard of that deformity now and then. She is lucky to have made it to adulthood - perhaps the reputation of the Draig is not earned." This last was delivered with a faint amused look, which Jason returned. "If you seek to push a button, or prick my pride, you will have to do better." he rejoined with a shrug. "I have no investment in my mother's clan. I don't even know of them beyond their name." "You and the one called Autumn seem close." Again the frank studying stare as she looked him over, appraising him. "Does she know you are not human?" "She does." "She has a marvellous gift." Ellie commented. "A good choice, I think. She seems resilient, too. Healthy." "Are you commenting on her as a comrade in arms, a girlfriend, or as breeding stock?" Jason asked, tilting his own head as he stared at her, his emerald eyes narrowing a little. "All three are worthy of consideration." Ellie smiled a little, a sly light entering her gaze. "Does she know how you feel about her?" "I have told her, by word and action, what she means to me." Jason shrugged, glancing at the clock on the wall. Ellie regarded his profile. "Your scar is fetching." she noted, changing topic yet again. "A sign of danger survived, of a tale to be told, of experience. Many females would be drawn to it, I think." "Thank you?" "Not me, of course." Ellie stood and stretched, almost incidentally - he was sure - showing off her body in the sundress. "I am for Devin." "So I gather." Jase's reply was dry, reflecting his own amusement. Ellie glanced at him, a brow raised. "If I were not, though, your redhead would have caused to be nervous. Even if you are skinny and undertrained, and do not know your heritage, your mind is sharp and your Radiance is strong enough to make the warrior Taggart nervous." she eyed him speculatively. "And you are handsome. Handsome counts for a lot." "I am interested in learning more of my heritage." Jase remarked, studying her. Ellie shook her head. "Since your mother has not taught you, perhaps I will." she said in a tone of one thinking it over. "I would be sure to tell Devin what a fine ally you are, if you do." Jason smiled slightly, one corner of his mouth curving. Ellie's eyes sparkled with humor as she looked back at him. "You learn fast." she noted. "Good. You have much to learn." She stepped towards the door, beckoning him. "For now, though, Annette is waiting." = = = = = = = "I thought you'd gotten lost." Annette said pointedly as the two young Teulu entered her office. Taggart, seated in a chair to one side of her desk, studied the pair of them intently, plainly trying to catalogue similarities. "You were observing us." Jason said calmly, taking a seat in front of Annette's desk. "I'm fairly certain if you did believe we'd wandered off the path there would be alarms and soldiers everywhere." The older woman stared at him, then shrugged, looking at Ellie expectantly. "I wanted to speak with him." Ellie said as if that explained everything. "I was curious, and you did not say it was an urgent matter." "She didn't say to dawdle and flirt over coffee, either." Taggart grumbled. Ellie smiled a little at the Major. "I do not work for Annette, or yourself, Major Taggart." she told him. "And I have been without a male for a long time. So if I wish to take a moment to flirt with handsome powerful males, I shall do so. Besides, there was no coffee." She paused, a gleam entering her grey eyes. "Speaking of handsome powerful males, do you have a mate, Major Taggart?" she asked, eyeing him speculatively sidelong through lowered lashes, her manner one of semi-blatant flirtation. "Perhaps a coupling would improve your temper. I am for Devin, but he has a date to Homecoming already, so I am free if you feel the urge." Annette cleared her throat, trying not to laugh as Taggart reddened at being propositioned by a girl who appeared just about old enough to be his daughter. "Ellie." she said with a hint of reproof. "Please." The blonde girl inclined her head and moved to recline on the office's couch, still smiling a little, her gaze resting on the uncomfortable Taggart. Annette studied the young man across from her, noting the cheekbone structure so similar to Ellie's, the scar, and the piercing eyes that studied her right back without giving much, if anything away. "You wanted to speak with me, Mr Bannon?" "Call me Jase." came the calm reply. "Jase, then." Annette smiled, reminding herself she'd dealt with worse characters than the youth across from her. Perhaps not as dangerous in an immediate way, but definitely more malicious. She'd seen and heard the conversation between Jason and Autumn when they'd been alone, and though her heart had been touched by the sight of young love, more important was the knowledge that Jason Bannon was not an unreasonable savage. "What can I do for you?" "Funny." Jase didn't smile, but his eyes did reflect humor. "Once, Cook asked me the same question. And I answered him the same way - I want a job." That got the room's attention. Taggart straightened, glancing at Annette, who went very still, her expression one of intense thought. "You want to work for us?" she asked after a few moments. "With you." Jason corrected. Annette leaned back in her chair slowly, regarding him. "And how do you see that working?" she asked, trying not to fidget. "After all, you are only sixt-" "Please don't tell me that I am only sixteen as though that makes me somehow less worthy." Jason told her flatly. "I have perfect three-dimensional, multi-sensory recall. I can can do advanced calculus mentally at roughly the speed of a computer. I can read, parse and absorb data faster than likely anyone you know. I have taught myself to a post-graduate standard in multiple disciplines. I am learning literally nothing in high school except that teenagers are petty and how to be bored out of my mind." Jason spread his hands expressively. "In addition to which I am not even human, as you no doubt already know, and a psychokinetic of constantly developing potential." "I see." Annette glanced at Taggart. "Do you?" Jason asked rhetorically. "I am bored, Ms Giles. Worse, I am wasted. I am under-utilised and achieving very little forward motion in my current situation. I want to study these gifts, the Shine - or Radiance - and the energies of the Dark. I want to put my brain to use developing new science - because right now, Ms Giles, this cutting edge frontier is still in the realm of witchcraft and quackery. You've got people trying to understand, comprehend, and measure Radiance. But they cannot feel it, cannot use it. I can. I've even got a hypothesis as to how our abilities work - but I need equipment and funding to test it and develop it." "Perhaps you could sit down with some of our scientists-" Taggart began. "Who will listen attentively, be properly impressed, and then I shall be ushered off to school and cut out of the loop whilst they chase the breadcrumbs I give them blindly." Jason interrupted, his eyes glinting. "I'm not interested in a pat on the head, Major. I want to be on the inside of this one. What I don't know, I can be taught. Hell, assess me first if you don't think I can cut it. Give me a trial run assisting whoever is your lead scientist. Because frankly, I'm about as suited to high school as I am to the vacuum of space. I want to be doing, to be challenged, not to waste my damned time in a glorified day-care center." "What about your friends?" Annette asked quietly. "Your girlfriend, even? Socialisation is important, even to... your kind. I assume, anyway." "I don''t plan on cutting off contact with them." Jason retorted. "And, let's face it, you want them to be working with the Project too. I can be a test case, an example that the Project - specifically you two - can be trusted. Look," he leaned forwards slightly. "On paper I will still be going to the school. But pull some strings. Say I've been assigned to advanced lessons - it won't be false, because I will be learning here. I still plan to go to Homecoming, and to hang out with my friends, and live a life outside of the lab. But I have reached my limit with attending lessons that teach me nothing and waste most of my days." "Let's say we give you an assessment... and it your mental gifts are everything you say, and we bring you to come and work for us-" "With you." Jason corrected again. "With us, yes. How much do you see yourself being paid?" Annette asked with a small smile. Jase sat back in his seat again, smiling back at her. "For the initial period of three to six months, something reasonable." he suggested. "Comparable to a STEM graduate in a well-paid entry position. After that apprenticeship is done, perhaps at the end of winter break, we can renegotiate." The elegant brunette glanced at Taggart, then at the intently watching Ellie, then at the youth in the chair before her. "And your father-" "Will be fine with it." Jason said firmly. "Well." Annette steepled her fingers, plainly considering. "You'll need to be tested, of course. And we'd likely identify areas you're not fully competent in yet and set up a training program." "Good." Jason nodded. "I want to learn. Stasis is death." "But we'll need to think about it, too." Annette held up a manicured hand. "That is not a 'no', far from it. But I will need to seek approval for this, and so will the Major. I think, however, on balance, that our superiors will be agreeable." This last was not quite a question as she glanced at Taggart, who shrugged. "Provided Mr Bannon-" "Call me Jase." "-Jase has scores to match his claims, I see no reason why not." The soldier studied the youth. "I'll get a proper test sorted out for him, then we can take things a step at a time from there." "Good." Annette placed her hands on the desk and rose, smiling. "I have to say, this is possibly the oddest job interview I've ever been part of." "It's my first job interview." Jason admitted, standing up. "Not counting Cook, who shut me down fast." He took Annette's offered hand and shook it, then turned to the Major. "Major Taggart." he nodded. "Jase." Taggart offered his own hand for a shake. "Got to say, I like the moxie." The older man smiled wryly. "Good luck, because I won't take it easy with the test." "If I wanted easy, I'd stay in school." Jason replied with a faint smile, then turned to go. "I can see myself out."
  23. 1 point
    Caring: “I’ve watched so many television shows and read so many books where the hero and heroine live happily ever after and since I was a little girl, I remember thinking ‘why can’t that be me’ but the reason why those shows do so well, and those books sell so many copies is because they’re selling fantasies. I wish I had someone to share myself with. To tell them every secret, to give them every bit of me from my body to my heart and show them the real me, like the real, real, me, but I know I never will. I find a guy who stimulates me mentally and then I see him naked and I’m positive he could stimulate me everywhere else too, but all love is to him is a chemical reaction in the brain. It’s ‘just a thing’ to him, easily explained and therefore easily categorized and controlled, filed away as something the body needs, like sunlight or orgasms. I get a hot guy who can stimulate the hell out of me, but all he cares about is sports, fishing, and doesn’t want to spend time with me unless his sister is with us. I love big, too big, I think because I feel like I’m the only one that ‘gets’ what love is, so I just make people want me and get what I need. Who cares right? It’s just a chemical reaction in the brain.” Assessment: Jauntsen, M (heretofore referred to as Subject TEASE) possess a preternatural attractiveness, pheromone production and neuro-hypnotic vocal stimulation (Analyst Comment: People can fall in love with the sound of her voice.) The psychological effects of knowing everyone desires her seems to have left her with an inability to create legitimate emotional connections, possibly due to her not feeling that no one is capable of legitimately loving her due to her abilities having no sort of ‘off’ switch. Pleasure: “Is this a serious question? Jesus, my parents aren’t going to hear this, are they? No? Oh, well then. My brother [Subject JAUNT] and I have a strict ‘work hard, play hard’ policy. I mean, we’ve earned it right? Seriously, think about it, we’re all addicts. Everything we do is linked to some center in our brain that pumps us full of chemicals. Food? We have a chemical for that. Fatigue? Chemical for that. Sex? Several chemicals for that. After all the things we’ve done for the gaggle of ingrates on this planet some guy is going tell me ‘you can save the world, but don’t drink a shot or sleep with that hot guy until you’re twenty-one or eighteen’? Screw that. I deserve to get lit when I’m not dealing with the four corners of crazy, I’ve started calling ‘my every day’. I need that escape after the shit I’ve seen, lady. Hell, you would be lining up the designer drugs, booze and hot guys for us if you’d seen what we dealt with, and we dealt with it for you. You’re welcome. So, yeah, I’m going to smoke and drink and fuck until the nightmares go away. I think I deserve that much.” Assessment: Obvious PTSD arising from the nightmarish ‘creatures’ the group calling themselves the [FELLOWSHIP] claims to have witnessed. Subject TEASE employs escapist practices as an obvious excuse to allow her to delve into deviant behavior with no guilty repercussions due to her feeling ‘entitled’ to it. Subject TEASE possesses numerous insecurities possibly stemming from how almost everyone she is contact with for too long ends up desiring her or falling in love [Analyst Comment: Do we have an estimated time of how long that takes? I’m in a small, enclosed space with her.]. She doesn’t know true emotion from manipulated emotion, seeing emotional attachments as lies perpetrated by her abilities. Recommend: Psychological evaluation and full tox screening. Power: “Pfft, easy. Do you think anyone actually gives a shit about you? You think your bosses do? You’re a number to them, a replaceable asset and the moment they can get you cheaper, younger and prettier… trust me, sister, you’re out of here. Why? Because they have the power to do whatever they want and no one will call them on it because they own the news, the media, you. Me? I want that kind of authority and control over the world around me so people who haven’t worked as hard as me, or done the time I have, or seen the nightmares I’ve walked through can just walk in and take from me what they didn’t do shit to earn. I know monsters are real, and I also know that I’m one of few people in the world capable of stopping them, so if you want me to keep doing it, you need to learn who’s in charge. I can wait through all the screams and wade through all the bodies while you make up your minds.” Assessment: I honestly can’t tell if she is serious or not. Certainly, though she wants absolute autonomy over her life and possibly feels the only way to achieve that is plant her flag on the hill and dare the world to try and claim it. This ties in heavily with her opinions on money (below) and how it relates to power. Recognition: “I wasted my childhood practicing and training and dieting and all for what? Not even so much as a ‘good job sweetie’ or ‘you and your brother did great’. I’m done with those days, like, so fucking over it. I’m so done with being the good daughter and tag-along friend. I was the good person once and then I realized that in most films, comics, television, it’s the villain who is always more relatable. Everyone talks about Darth Vader, but Luke is reduced to sucking teets on a barren rock. Thanos was only brought down when thousands of Earth’s strongest stood against him. One guy and they needed an army… after they totally made the Hulk a bitch. See what I’m getting at? They say that girls like me only date the guys who treat them like crap and all the nice guys are out there finishing last… well, yeah, loser. The world isn’t a good place anymore, and this princess didn’t get saved, so Evil Queen it is.” Assessment: Her associates have informed me that she capable of being compassionate and kind yet none of that was visible during this session. She holds such scorn for the world like it, collectively, had wronged her in some way. More sessions would be necessary to determine the source of this trauma and deal with it but as it stands, in line with the Project’s directives, she’s exactly what they’re looking for. Wealth: “I’ve read a lot. So many books about that fantasy about the poor hero or heroine who rises from nothing, goes on adventures and finds true love and riches in some faraway kingdom. I, mean, whatever, I guess. Nothing lasts forever, especially happiness. I’m not happy, I rarely, if ever, am. They say money can’t buy happiness, yet, it can buy all the things that make me happy, if only for a while. Endorphins from that meal, they don’t last. The designer drugs wear off, the liquor filters through leaving a hangover. Relationships come and go. People enter your life and soon exit after a few years. Nothing is forever, like happiness. So, what’s the big deal, then? Money is power in this world and if you have it that’s all that matters. Celebrities make murder disappear and the rulers of the world spend and spend while claiming there isn’t enough for the people that really need it. All the examples for me to follow are right there in the world: money equals power, power equals recognition fuels our desires for pleasure and happiness and in the end that’s truly what caring is all about: ourselves. In the end we’re nothing more than a few chemical reactions in the brain. No magic, nothing to discover that holds any wonderment or beauty… just a moment of our brains saying ‘yup, that was a thing’. Look at me and listen to what I’m telling you…” Assessment: Subject TEASE displays all the qualifying traits of an exceptional sixteen-year-old girl who is well on her way to a bright and successful future. While possessed of a few traits that certainly could be addressed, it is the opinion of this analyst that we continue to support and direct the continued growth of her abilities, opening all possible avenues for her to learn, grow and develop.
  24. 1 point
    Most of this exercise felt a tad hard, and I struggled to see these values as something else than an intricate mess impossible to decrypt. It felt like I was back in Junior Year for the French exams of my bachelor's degree. Anyway, here's my take. Core Values Here's what I referred to. Those first three 'A's are core to Kat, and I feel like they work very well together. Which makes it harder to me to explain them without doing a sort of back and forth between them. Achievement, Aesthetic and Autonomy For convenience's sake, we'll call them Ach, Aes and Aut. That last one does sound Latin. Those three also work well with a fourth, not as important value, and it took me a good minute to decide if I wanted that fourth one in bold or not. I decided not to, else this whole exercise would've become impossible to write for me, and impossible for you to understand. Ach: Despite her mostly obvious condition, her ADHD, and despite her not necessarily being a hard worker, Kat's sense of Ach is very important to her. She does not appreciate half-assed work at all. Be it hers, it would make her feel bad about herself. Be it someone else's, it would make her twitch. One could call it perfectionism, with its upsides and downsides. She's actually grateful for the training session that happened at Bannon's farm. It gave her the means to appreciate her capacities as a psion, would she be to simply try! This also influences her perception of Aes and Aut. More on that after I make it look like I tried to organize this... thing. Aes: Kat is bound to seek and marvel at Nature's beauty, this is perhaps the central concept around which I imagined the character to begin with. This, is what I somehow try to get to with her ADHD, even if I'm doing so subtly - which is another way of saying I'm not really good at it. The Ride sidefiction with Courtney contains what qualifies as my attempt to show this. Looking back, I feel like it was clumsy -eh, spoiler thingie was right after all- but I don't necessarily regret it. Gotta start somewhere. When the human brain receives an overload of information it struggles to decrypt, to understand, it'll take a shortcut and say "Oh well, I understand it this way, deal with it". That's the beauty of recreational drugs. I'm not saying you should do drugs. I'm saying that, for Kat, there's a definite upside to them, even if she struggles to, or won't, put it into words. It gives her another way to see the world around her. A fantastic way to her. Aut: Kat likes to do things her way. It feels more Authentic (see what I did there?). That's all I have to say on that value, really, because most of its applications revolve around Ach and Aes. And, to be honest with myself, all the other values too. Maybe I can develop a tiny bit here. When Kat entered her teens and started not so much growing up as other teens would, she was sort of left alone. Everyone was changing around her, and she might have felt excluded from this huge thing in life. Apart from a couple friends, Alice and Erwann, Kat spent her teens mostly alone, her father only visiting a couple times a year, and learned to do things by herself rather than relying too much on others. What is Art? The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. That's something I found on Google. While it somewhat rings with my own definition, I like to go deeper. Nowadays, a large portion of thinking individuals called humans consider Art as something with a value, that value being currency. Call it dollars, euros, rubles, whatever. When Art is so much more than a pile of expensive pigments, or rocks, or shit thrown onto a canvas. Art is all about an individual giving shape to their vision, appreciation of what they see as beautiful. It does not necessarily need to be shared to others to still be Art. In my book, making Art is an art itself, one does not simply throw shit onto a canvas and call it Art. Else I'd be stomping over Art all day on Paris' sidewalks. Art requires effort, reflexion, sometimes even, pain and suffering. It requires one to ask themselves questions, because that is how we humans put things in perspective, how we assess the value of something, a value foreign to any form of currency. That value is how much a thing matters to us, and it is hardly quantified in any way. It can be the work of one, or several individuals. Music is a good example. Mozart was but one man. Muse is a band composed of three men. Both Mozart and Muse were/are artists. Both put some time and effort into their music. Why this long ass paragraph? Simply because I see Kat as an artist. I want her to be. I wanted you to understand my own way of seeing Art. And how much work there is to me behind a three letters word. Ach and Aut are important values in life when you want to get things done. The former gives you the tools, the latter gives you the drive. This applies to Kat. It is the reason why she's not shutting herself in completely. As long as she relies on the tools and the drive she's got, whatever she wants to do, she will do it, or at least try to. And Aes benefits from it a lot. Although as for all things, there is a catch. Kat is a fast learner and has a very good memory. Which is why she sees no point in reading the same book twice. Doing so would achieve nothing to her. On the short-term, she might be right. But knowledge left alone for too long tends to be forgotten if not called upon regularly, that is the way the human brains work. Kat has yet to experience the displeasure of this truth first-hand. But one day she will. And she will be left with no other choice than to ask for help/open that book she decided not to read again, ever. Integrity I see Kat as a sincere, honest person, blunt even, sometimes. "Filters" does not appear in her dictionnary. "Tact" does, but using this thing won't get her into Valhalla. If someone asks her opinion about something, she'll flatly reply what she thinks of this something. It doesn't mean she won't care about how what she said will affect the person who asked her, but she would rather tell them than lie to them. I sort of failed to really illustrate that well in Ep. VI, when comes the time to explain Tessa what happened during Labor Day, but I think this line sums it up decently: "But it wasn't so much lying as telling a half-truth, was it?" You can laugh about anything, just not with anyone. I feel like it works the same way with being sincere. Sometimes the truth hurts. But lies can do so much more damage. This is Kat's way of seeing the big picture: "Better to hurt you with the truth than to make the truth hurt you more once you understand I lied." Pleasure Of course, everybody likes to enjoy themselves. Even masochistic people. Because they get some fun out of something that hurts. Kat especially, likes to have fun, and if she has to do something unpleasant, she will try and find a way of having some fun with it. However in some cases, there is nothing you can do about the unpleasantness. Labor Day was a terrible day for her. First, because there's "Labor" in it. Second, because a lot of unfun things happened. But when she thought about what needed to be done, it did need to be done, because otherwise a lot more of unfun things would have happened. That day, she was a hero to her own desire to make her own life enjoyable. You might think I seriously thought about this stuff, but if I did there would've been no fun in it. No thought process behind it, I'm just rolling with it. Enjoyment is not something we should think about. We should experience it. Feel it. Enjoyment is about living a moment to its fullest. Once again, I feel like The Ride sidefiction with Courtney makes a good example. What is it about? Two girls having some fun, and they do it damn well. And there really is nothing more to enjoyment. Other Values Leisure At the moment, the main part of Kat's life revolves around school, and as I've explained earlier in this post -I hope I did well enough- Kat does not like to drag on the process of learning. And school does just that. For good reasons of course, ensuring you definitely have learned something for good and will be able to use it later in your life being one. But Kat would really like to use time she sees as wasted to do something else. Something fun. Like watching those squirrels fool around in the foliage just outside of the classroom. Playing some music. Video games. Painting. Asking Courtney what she's doing with the panties she's not wearing at the moment. She's like most kids around her age. School is a drag. Why'd they have to put her in Junior anyway? She should be in Senior Year. This is even worse. Time freedom A value that goes hand in hand with Leisure. Kat is mostly dissatisfied with the lack of control she has on her life right now. The time she spends in school spreads out on a huge part of her day, and she doesn't get to do as much of what she likes to do as she wants to. She doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life after school, but one thing she knows for sure is that it needs to give her that ability to control the time she spends during each day, doing things. To stop wasting time. I haven't got much else to say on that. Friendship Friends are important. Being by yourself isn't fun sometimes. Friends can be a reliable source of fun, and it goes both ways. Friends make life a lot more enjoyable, and Kat sees that. I already feel like I've said enough, but I have to develop or this will feel incomplete two days later when I read it again. Having friends is about more than just having fun. Being friends with someone is making the choice to share a part of your life, however small it may be, with them. And that part contains an equal measure of good and bad things, fun and unfun, joyful and sad, simple and complicated. Friends make our great moments in life greater, and they help lessen the burden of the worse ones. Alice was that friend to Kat, and Kat was that friend to Alice, though I haven't really had, or created, any occasion to show that. And again, it goes both ways. I might make it sound like everyone is selfish, but keeping a good relationship with friends ensures they won't let you down. And that is why not letting your friends down is so important. Human beings thrive in society, and sometimes, alone, we're not able to do much in our lives. That is why our friends are here for us, and why we're here for them. Because otherwise life sucks, for everyone. Creativity A value I struggled with at first. Should I put it with the core ones? Should I not? Here it is. If Kat cannot really figure out how to deal with her ADHD, she can at least capitalize on one of its upsides: brainstorming is easier. Or not. Kat being an artist meant, to me, that this value had to make it into this post. Of course, artists can struggle to come up with ideas, but it does not necessarily mean they don't value the ability to come up with ideas, and there lies the difference. Innovation does not need to come from oneself, you can always ask a friend for some help if you're really having a hard time with something. If you really value creativity, you appreciate it in everyone, not just yourself. Do you now understand what I meant by 'intricate mess impossible to decrypt'? Here goes Friendship. Knowledge Kat is naturally curious, and -thank you Vivi!- curiosity is an expression of a desire for knowledge. I completely forgot where, but I did mention Kat owning anatomy books for example, not in any way because she pursues a medical career, only because it piqued her interest, to know how the human body works. Also helps with drawing/painting human beings, to be fair. Another example would be when she asked Sean some help to build her gaming PC. You can be certain she memorized everything that was explained to her, will cross-reference it, and expand her knowledge of computers based on that. Because she peered into something new to her and wants to know MOAR about it. This is also where her ADHD kicks in. Distractions are not so harmless when they make you want to expand your knowledge on everything. We only have one life to do things with and Kat struggles not to get lost in the middle of all these interesting things she would need several lives to learn all at once. Distractions also make it harder to focus on that one book you're reading, that has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but at the same time she should really watch that bird building a nest in the tree before it flies away.
  25. 1 point
    Adventure: “I don’t know, you know? I can’t live like Sean. I can’t spend my life in imaginary worlds when I have this one, right here to explore with like, unlimited experience credits or whatever they’re always trying to collect. South Island, New Zealand. Paris. Bora-freaking-Bora! You ever seen that place? Holy crap! To me there has always been something alluring about the forbidden and exotic. I’m a ‘why’ guy. When I see a closed door, I always ask myself ‘what’s on the other side’? Don’t even get me started on if it’s locked. That simple example sums up a constant internal drive I have to just be in the middle of things where all the interesting stuff is happening. From climbing a mountain – okay, I don’t actually have to climb anymore, but you get it – to celebrating holidays around the world to even trying to sneak into Site B, bruh if it keeps me moving, I’m down. Life is too short to pass up the chance to get out here and see everything, do everything and be a part of every little or big thing you can, right?” Assessment: Jaunstsen, D. (heretofore referred to as Subject JAUNT), possesses an intrinsic desire to, as he put it, ‘be in motion and stay that way’. With his unique powers (teleportation, see reference b.) Subject JAUNT appears to entertain a constant desire to be on or in the middle of some manner of ‘adventure’ where he seeks to keep his attention span engaged. It is possible he has minor Attention Deficit Disorder. Recommend: full medical and psychological screening. In the meantime, engage him with anything that will hold his interests, such as travel, or ‘secret’ assignments and he should be manageable. Autonomy: “Dude, like… I like people, I do, but there’s just something about being alone. (I) Felt alone my whole life, so I guess I just don’t think about needing other people. Woke up, did what I had to do, watched our parents go do their things and leave us in the hands of a nanny, which was cool, I guess. We had this one (nanny), Debra, who was so hot. She got fired for getting freaky in the hot tub after hours. There was so much yelling, but I got to see her naked though, so that was cool. But, yeah, (Subject TEASE) and I have been doing things for ourselves for so long, that we just feel like it’s our default setting. We’re just doing our thing waiting for the people in this chapter to fade away. It’s what people do: they show up for a while, make you happy, talk about forever… but there’s no such thing. Y’gotta be ready to take care of yourself, y’know?” Assessment: Obvious obsession with women (see notes, too many references to list) aside, Subject JAUNT exhibits signs of a deep desire for autonomy yet can’t do so without including the importance of his twin sister, Marissa (refer to, Subject TEASE [Analyst Comment: Who came up with these objective names?]). Despite bracing for the end of attachments Subject JAUNT obviously ears for and craves attachment, consistently placing himself in a position for emotional vulnerability, even though he has no faith in the permanency of such relationships. His sister, Subject TEASE, is the key to securing Subject JAUNT's order and discipline. Recommendation: Interview with Subject TEASE. Excitement: “I’ve always been addicted to that high that comes with streaking down the road on my motorcycle. You are aware that when I’m not traveling to other dimensions and battling demons, I’m curb stomping para-military security forces, right? See, you’ve never used my powers; you’ve never felt your mind in connection with everything around you and then? You do the impossible. Dodging bullets, streaking through intervening space so fast that we don’t even have a number that high, so we call it ‘instantaneous’. The beat of the heart, the anxiety and tension of the moment… and the adrenaline? Oh, god, girl, you don’t even know and I’m sorry that you never will. I can totally see why Taggart’s dudes love what they do, are addicted, and often go to therapy for it. As soon as we go hot, I go from six to midnight. Plus, have you ever had sex after almost getting eaten by an otherworldly demonic vagina worm? It’s… primo, I’m telling you. I’m pretty sure I need this in my life, I’ve found my niche. Y’know?” Assessment: So much to unpack here. From a strictly 30,000-foot view, Subject JAUNT is an adrenaline junkie and displays borderline traits common to those who’ve found themselves in numerous violent skirmishes and can dissociate themselves from the value of their own life or the lives of others (Analyst Comment: Possible PTSD). This further backs up the assessment that Subject JAUNT requires a full psychological screening. Inner Harmony: “I’m a dick. I’ve always been angry at the world, my parents, everyone around me, I guess. I’m not really sure the reason why, I guess it’s because I’ve felt it’s not fair that other people have gotten to live their lives normally while I’ve been a prisoner in my own upbringing. Practices, auditions, acting gigs, more practice. There was no time for me or [Subject TEASE] to ever just be ourselves, you know? We got bullied really hard at home and that just made me angrier I suppose. When we moved, we thought we’d get back at everyone and be the predators instead of the prey, but that never really sat well with me either. Still, I went along with it until I just couldn’t anymore. Ever since, something has just felt out of balance, I guess? I don’t wanna be ‘that guy’ anymore, but I’m still so pissed. Hmm? That’s just it… I don’t know. A friend once told me: ‘[Subject JAUNT] if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.’ I feel like that’s my everyday now, I’ve no clue where I’m going, so… I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as I’m here, right? Walk any road long enough and it has to lead somewhere, that me: always walking and hoping to see that souvenir shop that’ll make the whole journey worth it. That thing that’ll balance me.” Assessment: Subject JAUNT only seemed to appear lucid and focused during this portion of the session where he reflected on the sort of person he felt he was now, compared to the destination of the person he’s trying to become. Unsurprising, like most teenagers around his age, he’s found himself in a conflict of self as he searches for an identity. This is common as the brain develops and we stop acting from our emotion center and begin relying more on our logic centers, which fully develop in most adults somewhere in their early to mid-twenties. This was also the only portion of the session where Subject JAUNT did not directly attempt to seduce [SESSION LEAD]. Pleasure: “I mean… work hard, play hard right? The workouts, the movie nights, the traveling all over the world… it what makes all the madness in life worth it in the end, right? You can't do this everyday and not expect to, at some point, take some time for yourself and unwind? Hiking, food, snowboarding, chilling with the Fellowship… man, that’s what life is about. We’re not here for a long time so we might as well have a good time, right? Bali, Tahiti… you ever been? No? Shame, they’re are gorgeous. Hey, uh… what’re you doing this weekend? Why is always my age you ladies bring up first? I don’t see a ring on your finger. I mean, those places don’t have the same laws, we do here, and I wouldn’t tell if you didn’t. But, hey, it’s cool, I get it. If you change your mind, let me know. You, me, this weekend, could be awesome.” Assessment: Subject JAUNT possessed more neurosis than can be detailed within the scope of this project and his forms of decompression and relaxation seem mostly involving spending time with his friends and try to sleep with any woman he finds attractive. It is the opinion of this Analyst that Devin could not function without this down time and a lack of decompression in high stress, high tempo operations would result in his insubordination or violation of good order and discipline in order to seek it out. While that’s not necessarily a destructive behavior, it does leave him open for possible poor decisions or manipulation form internal or external operatives. Follow-up Secondary Core Values associated with Subject JAUNT: Challenge, Cooperation, Friendship, Health, Leisure, Recognition, Time Freedom, Wisdom ---===[Tear Line]===--- To: Garret Q. From: Katie F. Subject: Subject JAUNT Garret, You’ll find the Subject JAUNT session material is attached. The guy means well, but like most his age he’s a mess of emotions and he’s overwhelmed by the world at large. He has a ton of issues, but I think his intrinsic measure of personal pride and desire to defend ‘us’ and the world at large don’t make him any major security risk. That said I recommend a full psychological evaluation. We did three polygraphs, and he passed the first, failed the second and the third using all the same questions. The kid knows how to lie, the machine didn’t even register so much clammy hand when he said his name was Seventy-two. He’s either sociopathic, pathological, or honestly believes his name is Seventy-two. -Kait F. Discloser Liaison, DIA (Intern) P.S. Thank you again for approving my leave on such notice. Something came out of nowhere and I need to handle it. Should only take the weekend, see you Monday!
  26. 1 point
    Core Values Knowledge: More than anything, the drive that animates Cassandra is the drive to know. This is less about scientific pursuits, though those are of interest as well...it's much more about knowing what is happening here and now, and why. She wants to know about people, what they're doing, what effect it's having. What is being hidden, and who from. It is fueled by a bottomless curiosity, and a childhood in which she was surrounded by secrets that she could only intuit the existence of, without understanding what to ask or how to find out. Pro: This motivates Cassandra, and she is at her best when motivated. She can be clever, resourceful and courageous in the pursuit of information, and she is genuinely earnest in her desire to share what she learns. Con: While Cassie isn't blind to the fact that making things public can have negative consequences, she is prone to downplaying those risks. Similarly, though she tries to respect privacy and act ethically, there are times the drive to know and learn overrides other concerns. Integrity: Secrets sit poorly with Cassie. While she acknowledges that there can be legitimate reasons not to share private information with the public, she tends to draw a thick line between 'private' info...information of a personal nature about a specific individual...and other kinds of information. Knowledge means nothing if it's hoarded. She sees a strong connection between a variety of social ills and the lack of good, accurate and relevant information...be it willful or otherwise. Cassie also believes that most basic human right start with the right to know things, even if it's just what one's rights are. It all starts with that. Pro: She understands on a gut level how conflicts of interest, motivated reasoning and confirmation bias can taint conclusions and make it worse than useless. While recognizing she has her own biases and opinions, Cassandra wants to at least start from an impartial place, and then build off of that...and to do so in a transparent way that doesn't substitute her opinions for facts. Con: For all her good intentions, Cassandra doesn't really know how the sausage is made, so to speak... The tension between having a truth to be told and needing a sufficiently loud voice to tell it is still lost on her. She has a lot of hard lessons to learn, and holding onto her values won't be nearly as easy as she thinks. Excitement: What she does NOT want is to sit behind a computer, Googling things. Or to be in a lab, endlessly iterating experimental trials. The truth is out there! There in the world! You find it schmoozing with lowlifes and high society, or riffling through files in locked cabinets, or stealing photographs of restricted areas. Cassie doesn't want to read about things other people discover; she wants to be the one doing the discovering! Pro: This does mean she is less prone to succumb to intellectual laziness, substituting the work and thoughts of others for her own work and thoughts. It encourages fostering a wide base of skills and competence that will serve in a range of situations. Con: It is based on the simplistic, naive understanding of the world that only a teenager can have. Not just an implicit assumption that this kind of high-risk activity won't lead to problems, but that self-reliance won't close doors to her, or force her to make hard choices between leads to follow up on, since she can only be one place at a time. Pleasure: ...and she wants to have fun doing it! Cassie has come to understand the value of work, and realizes that sometimes it's going to grind or hurt...but she still wants it to be entertaining on the balance. Even if that means working some side activities in along the way. A party here, a bit of bar hopping there, Cassandra will always find SOME way to enjoy what she's doing. The last thing she wants to be is some joyless husk, going through the motions because the only alternative is to dry up and die. Pro: Without even meaning to, Cassandra already is pursuing a functional work/life balance. This could mean she avoids burning out, or neglecting her own mental and emotional well-being in pursuit of her goals. Con: There's no other value more likely to put her in conflict with her other values...this was in fact something she overcame in herself to gain the motivation and drive to take action in the first place. Indulging this value will always run the danger of enticing her to be complacent, or sacrifice other goals. Family happiness: On a purely personal level, Cassandra wants her family back. When her dad was taken both she and her mother were devastated, and still haven't recovered. Rather than pull them together, it broke them apart...and the pain of that is a constant ache that she's had to learn to live with, but can't be rid of. This is the personal tragedy that underlies so much of what she has become now, and resolving it is something she would willingly sacrifice a great deal to accomplish. Pro: With the victory over the Dark over, this is now her immediate goal and passion. This challenge will be where she learns to truly spread her wings and discover her own potential. Moving forward from there, her devotion to her family is the result of, and creates, a strong support network that she will be needing throughout her career. Con: More than anything in her life, this runs the risk of becoming an obsession. It is intensely emotional and confirms some of her worst impulses of conspiracy-mindedness and paranoia. She will follow this no matter how deep, or how dirty, the rabbit hole gets...and what she discovers could influence her beliefs and actions for her whole life. Other Values Achievement: Cassandra wants to have an impact. What this means she's still pretty nebulous on, but she wants it to be big. Something that affects the whole country, or maybe even the whole world! The kind of thing you read about in school, back when things were still being discovered. That doesn't mean she won't 'waste time' on smaller stories, but she'll always be chasing that elusive bombshell that will change how people see the world forever. Recognition: And she wants people to know it was her that found it. That's ego; she knows it is...but can you ever really separate truth from the teller? If she's the one that breaks the story, then she's part of the story right? It's not even about fame, or money or any of that...she just wants to know that people know that she's the one that did it, and what that means. Help others: The truth can heal, it can set people free. That's what Cassandra hopes to harness. Not just 'gossiping' or using salacious bits of true stories as weapons or to bring people down. If she must hurt with her words, let it be for the sake of justice...and let it help more than it hurts. And there's power in sharing knowing...people who's tragic story is told might find help in unexpected quarters, or a family might find closure for a loss they never understood. Help society: More than just helping individuals or communities, Cassandra believes that sharing some kinds of information has the potential to transform nations or even the world. Say, when the research showing links between smoking and lung cancer went public. Documenting the moon landings. 'The Jungle' from Sinclair, or the Watergate tapes. Stories that turned the world upside down, and made everyone re-examine what they believed, for the better. Friendship: But the real truth is the friends she made along the way... No, but really, Cassie is social creature. She knows that she'll be making enemies, but she really wants to make friends. People she knows she can rely on, people who can give her a social bedrock to stand on. Friends she can count on to tell her the truth about herself, that she might otherwise be blind to. Friends who can tell her when she's got it wrong, and give her support to get it right. She knows she can't do it alone, and would never want to try to.
  27. 1 point
    The skinny youth dressed in the oversized longcoat had remained silent, leaning on his staff, as Fisher and Runa spoke, his mismatched eyes apparently idly scanning their surroundings. As Laurel spoke up, he seemed to awaken from whatever speculation his mind was engaged in, straightening a little and throwing the giantess a polite nod. Though he still seemed woefully underfed, when he stood straight it was noticeable that the Aesir scion was not as small or frail-seeming as his body language usually suggested, being almost as tall as his cousin with the sunnier disposition. His shoulders, too, did not seem so hunched or narrow within the confines of the coat. "My thanks to you, fair Runa, for your time - upon which we have intruded far too much already." The son of Odin said with careful formality. "We shall leave as we arrived - in peace." He paused in the process of turning as he gave her a slight smile. "Should we meet again under peaceful circumstance, perhaps we could share an iced chocolate." Without waiting for a reply he completed his turn, tapping Fisher on the shoulder as a signal to follow as he headed away from the giants and their Nemean ally. "Let's get going." he told the others quietly as he drew level with them, not looking back at Runa and her companions. "We've got all we need." "We have?" Darcy looked from Grim to the giants, to Grim again, and finally at the others. Fisher shrugged acceptance, as did Austin. Rachel frowned, feeling ill at ease turning her back on Titanspawn, but also didn't want to bicker in front of enemies. Laurel simply nodded with her usual grace and turned to go. Nadya, confused but trusting that Glumsley knew what he was talking about, likewise fell into step as the Band began to head out of the graveyard. Once they were near the entrance to the place of final rest, Grim began talking. "They're gathering power, a lot of it. The power of Fate, of Legend. That's what all the strange incidents have been for." he began, drawing a sandwich from his satchel and taking bites between sentences. "Runa was telling the truth - her part of it is just legwork. The ritual is to break a magical seal - probably set by someone divine, given the amount of power they're drawing." "Right." Laurel frowned, nodding as she absorbed this. "So I'm assuming the ritual likely isn't complete, or we'd know about it by now." "Correct." Grim nodded as he finished the sandwich, then popped the tab on a can of Coke. "The power is being funneled into a vessel - an actual vessel. Something old and/or valuable, a vase or a pithos, with a mystical presence of it's own, perhaps. The power will then be consumed at the apex of the ritual by the person running it, and they will then break the seal." He looked around at them all, the verdant hue of his right eye a stark contrast to the wintery grey of his scarred one. "Best bet, the ritual will be tomorrow night, at midnight. The place will be Mercedes party. So we're all going, and we're going to get our hands on that vessel before the Witching Hour starts." He smiled wryly. "Halloween is a great night for breaking seals, especially ones between the lands of the living and the dead. Whatever our enemies are trying to set loose, it's a great idea to stop that from happening." "So our tasks are, in order, secure Adrianna's help with her amulet. We then infiltrate the party in costume-" he made a face "- and find, in no special order, the vessel and the possessed partygoers. Before midnight." He glanced around them again. "Any questions?" he asked before tilting back his head and taking a long drink of soda. "Yeah," Dane nodded as he began flicking a lighter to spark his medicinal remedy. "Why was Venkman the only one not covered in marshmallow? I never understood that." Grim had just taken a large mouthful of soda, and it was a testament to his presence of mind and sheer cussedness that the Band didn't end up wearing it. A couple of worrying choking noises emitted from his throat, and then he swallowed, coughed once, and stared at Dane ominously. "Are you serious?" "Well, yeah, man. I mean, Mr Stay Puft was all -*ker-blooey* and there was fluff everywhere, but not on Venkman." Dane replied earnestly. "You..." Grim began, then stopped himself. "I..." he began again, then halted whatever diatribe he'd been about to spew forth like dragonfire. And the damned scion of Baldur just stood there with an expression somewhere between curiousity and worry. Grim opened his mouth one last time, then shut it with an audible snap, turned on his heel, and stalked from the graveyard, muttering to himself.
  28. 1 point
    Shelly's Teen Queen o' Mean left the mercifully unconscious marshals (though not without some fantasies involving a baseball bat and ten minutes alone with each of them) and hustled over to the trunk of her Mercedes, reaching in and fishing out some bottles of water from her gym bag. Long dark hair swaying, she hurried past the still-bemused Ian Keane, who was wearing the expression she'd come to closely associate with parents and adults generally who found themselves thrust into the world of the Weird. It was the look Gar Bannon had worn at the Marias Medical Center when monsters and lasers had been flying around everywhere, best translated as 'What the hell is this, exactly?!' Count yourself lucky, buddy. This is 'just' a shooting - no monsters are trying to eat your face. This is easy mode in Shelly. Marissa snarked to herself as she moved over to where her brother and Autumn knelt by the prone Jason. Devin was staring at the blood-smeared chunk of metal he'd pulled out of his friend, and despite herself Marissa found her gaze following her twin's. Yup, that was a bullet. Yup, that had been in Ja-... in Jas-... in his chest. Almost brusquely, she thrust a bottle of water into her brother's hands, forcing her voice to remain crisp, bordering on sharp. "Here, clean your hands off." she said to both teens, turning and offering her bestie a bottle as well. Autumn's freckled features were pale, her ocean-hued eyes fixed on the reclining boy's face, and the expression of mingled hope/grief/shock in those eyes was almost enough to make Marissa lose it as the redhead knelt there, mutely accepting the bottled water with a nod. Marissa ruthlessly steeled herself as she untucked the last blanket from under her arm and stepped around Autumn, knowing that she was going to see- He looked dead at first glance. The blood was caking the side of his head, soaked into his t-shirt and Devin's hoodie where it was cushioning the back of Jase's skull. The perpetually shaggy hair, which had grown over the summer to almost neck length, that he annoyingly only bothered to comb and otherwise left alone, was matted with dark wet stickiness. Marissa forced herself to look at his chest, to note the rise and fall of his breathing, ignoring the freshly scarred patch over his heart. He wasn't dead, see? she told herself. Nothing to worry about. He was fine. Just fine. Yay for Team Fellowship. She fought down the urge to go back over and tapdance on Dale's throat. She wanted to be wearing proper reinforced heels for that. "Let's clean away some of this blood." she muttered to Autumn, crouching by Jason's head and taking the last bottle of water, un-stoppering it and pouring some over his face. As some of the half-dried blood was rinsed away, the scar across his cheek came into view. It wasn't much - a faint line paler than the surrounding skin by a few shades. No real sign that it had been done by a bullet - it even looked sort of rakish with Jason's cheekbones; still, Marissa was glad she hadn't looked at the 'Before' picture. Her imagination of what it must have been was going to be bad enough. The steady stream of water caused Jase to stir, his eyelids flickering, and Marissa immediately halted, setting the bottle aside and, flapping the blanket open, draped it over the lean shape lying on the ground before standing back up, dusting off her hands and looking around. "Okay." she said with the air of one checking off a list. "Crazies one and two over there are as comfortable as they need to be until the paramedics get here. Big Chief Crazy here looks like he's going to be fine - yet again." she added with a tone that suggested she found that to be an annoyance, as the Sheriff's car rounded the bend, his siren blaring. = = = = = = = There had been no discussion on the matter - Autumn wasn't leaving Jason's side, at least for now. So it was that she rode in the ambulance with the paramedics and her unconscious boyfriend, her father following along behind as the Sheriff set deputies to safeguard the vehicles by the side of the road. By unspoken agreement, Devin rode with Marissa, a spare blanket wrapped around him both for warmth and to protect the Mercedes upholstery. The two marshals were likewise shipped to Marias - Dale on a gurney, still unconscious, her hands twisted charred claws, and the recovering Marshall cuffed in the back of the Sheriff's Range Rover once the paramedics had checked him at the scene. "Hey, I want a phone call." Marshall mumbled from the back seat. "I'm a federal agent - you'd better have a good reason for cuffing me-" "Mister." Sheriff Alister's blue eyes were cold enough to give Jason Bannon's glare a run for its money as the former Marine met his prisoner's eyes in the rear view mirror. "I had a day yesterday, today looks like it's going to be similarly shitty thanks to you, and right now the best right you can exercise would be the right to remain silent, hear me?" "Look," Marshall tried again, pressing his face to the safety grille. "You don't know what he is, what he can do. I saw it. He stopped bullets, man. He set my partner on fire!" "That so?" the Sheriff said, turning off the main road and heading down a side street as they neared the hospital. "That'd be a helluva thing to see, now wouldn't it just?" Marshall realised they were no longer following the ambulance, instead heading down a sloping slip road that circled around behind the hospital. "Hey, where are we going?" "Ever hear of a service entrance?" Alister replied, pulling into the underground parking garage and rolling his car towards the loading dock with the freight elevator at one end. "This is like that, only for dirtbags." The freight elevator doors rolled up, and the wide-eyed Marshal Marshall saw five serious looking dudes wearing military fatigues and carrying guns. The sheriff half-turned in his seat, looking at him whilst jerking a thumb at the soldiers. "These boys want a word with you, son. You're their problem now. Might be that your partner got off light after all." he told the astonished man as the Project security personnel approached...
  29. 1 point
    "Not sure a near-death experience is worth it," Autumn murmured distractedly as the bleeding from the lurid gash across Jason's face slowed to a trickle, then finally stopped altogether. A final chain of tiny crimson droplets oozed out, dark and glistening as pomegranate seeds as the lacerated flesh across his cheekbone sealed completely, leaving in its place a pale line graven into the warm olive of his skin- a permanent reminder of how close he'd come to oblivion that morning. It was an odd experience, she realized distantly, like watching the wound being inflicted in reverse. She was less concerned with how it looked, though, and more focused on the fact that it had healed neatly and quickly so that she could move on to the next life-threatening injury. The swelling on his brain was likewise slowly draining away, the damage caused by the kinetic impact and fragmentation of bone dissipating; she could sense the shift in his breathing and the growing strength of his heartbeat thrumming- or so it felt- through her own veins. He hadn't yet started stirring, though, which was both a blessing and a cause for worry. On the one hand, it meant he wouldn't feel the part that came next, and it would give his body time to recover more naturally, albeit with some help from the accelerated healing her powers afforded. On the other... It's fine, Autumn, she reminded herself as something in her chest tightened uncomfortably. Worry about keeping him alive first. "Okay." Huffing softly as she exhaled, the redhead used her forearm to push the loose hair back from her forehead, squinting a little into the sunlight and taking stock of what the others were doing. She could see Marissa and her father doing something with blankets off to the side and set her jaw, lips compressing briefly into a taut line. She didn't have time to worry about them; this was her priority right now. Her freckled fingers trembled, slick with the blood that masked Jase's still, impassive features. "Okay. We need to get that bullet out. If I heal him now, the skin and muscle will just close up around it. You up for this?" she asked, lines of worry etched around the corners of her eyes as she glanced up at Devin. "If not, I can do it, I'm just..." She hesitated. "Just trying not to do more damage in the process." The weary teleporter took a deep breath, rolling his shoulders as if in preparation for some great feat of athleticism rather than simply removing a small lump of metal from a few inches away. "You kidding?" he quipped, managing a crooked grin. "I mean, I dunno if you should be asking that with your boyfriend right here, but I'm flattered, Granola. Really. We'll talk, 'kay?" "'Kay," she replied, smiling faintly in spite of herself. "If you can pull it out, I can take care of the rest. We just need to be quick about it. Ready?" From the corner of her eye, she could see Devin's head bob in a brisk nod. "Do it." With a grimace and a low, pained groan of effort, Autumn's erstwhile tormentor concentrated on the shape, the position of the bullet relative to himself, one fist clenching reflexively in the torn and bloodied remnants of the towel under his palm. She could sense the exhaustion rolling off him in waves as she watched Jason's eyelids for signs of movement, could feel the physical vibration of his arm against her as he pushed through the discomfort and fatigue. It should've been such an easy thing for him, no more strenuous than snatching a penny from a table; in truth, she'd been more concerned about his ability to deal with the visceral aspects of the injury than the actual removal of the near-fatal projectile, but it seemed she'd had her expectations in the wrong order. The red-haired girl was just about to tell him to stop as something shifted almost imperceptibly in the prone young man's expression, but then- "Got it," Devin gasped triumphantly, followed immediately by a soft shimmer of faded violet as the misshapen bit of lead hit the pavement nearby with a faint metallic sound. "Holy balls," he breathed. "That sucked." With a hiss of relief and anxiety, Autumn pushed away the towel, her palm resting near the neat hole that had come so perilously close to his heart. If the bullet had gone just a little deeper... Shaking her head, she focused on the current problem rather than what could have happened, her power knitting the torn muscle fibre and delicate nerves together once more in a stabilizing tapestry of interconnected energy and tissue that helped strengthen the whole. As the last layer of skin- paler than the flesh around it- drew the small circular wound closed, Ian and Marissa glanced up at the sound of approaching sirens.
  30. 1 point
    Note: Some of these examples describe a problematic or contentious aspect of the value in question; this is intentional. No one value is solely positive or negative. These are ideas or pursuits that Autumn values, after all, and while they do help define her character for good or ill, there’s always a certain measure of nuance and variation in their application that helps create internal and external conflict. Core Character Values Achievement: There are few things more satisfying to Autumn than succeeding in some endeavor as a result of her own efforts, and the greater the difficulty she faces, the greater the sense of accomplishment. This isn’t strictly a function of winning, or even of competition itself, but rather of persevering through hardship or overcoming some trial in her quest to improve. It’s more important to her that she work for something and earn it through sheer dogged determination, trial and error, practice, or the exertion of will and energy than through any other means. It doesn’t require external validation of success (though such acknowledgements aren’t proscribed), and people who pursue public acclaim over personal satisfaction are obviously missing the point. While there’s no reason not to celebrate a hard-won victory, the party or fame or shiny thing to put on the mantel isn’t enough reason for Autumn on its own. Trophies, like the one from her first successful hunt, or the progressively complex embroidery and macramé projects she’s done, hang on her wall as tangible reminders- milestones by which to gauge her progress and urge her onward. They’re not the ultimate goal. Example: Sometimes, it’s the little things: learning to climb by scrabbling up limestone outcroppings and boulders, then progressing to scaling rough cliff faces, and then perhaps one day, Everest itself. Life is full of mountains, both real and metaphorical, and working out how to deal with them is one of her primary drives. Autumn’s reward for reaching the summit is the view, the ache in her muscles, and the knowledge that she accomplished what she’d set out to do. Primary Synergy: Autonomy, manifests via the desire to learn how to do something for herself rather than ask that it be done for her. Autonomy: Lessons about self-reliance and self-determination came early and often for Autumn, a commonality shared with many who have grown up in places like Shelly. “Responsible risk-taking” was encouraged from a very young age, and though initially it was simply intended to build confidence in children, in Autumn it also fostered a strong independent streak and a desire for agency in making her own decisions. This dovetailed with observations of her grandfather’s stoic-mindedness, such that she believes others should also enjoy those same freedoms, and with the same level of accountability. While not predisposed to automatically resent or reject authority (at least what she’d consider reasonable authority), she also doesn’t feel compelled to submit without question. It’s also made her more comfortable with being on her own, somewhat protective of the spaces she defines as “hers,” and resentful of intrusion, coercion, or being expected to do things solely to please others. Obviously, this can have a (potentially serious) knock-on effect in her interactions with other people, particularly in the depth and nature of the relationships themselves and her reluctance to rely on the judgement or capabilities of others over her own. Example: Autumn wants to finish the tree house her grandfather was building with her before the weather becomes too cold and uncooperative to work on it. The project would be completed much faster with help, but it hasn’t occurred to her to ask because while it’s important to her, it’s not specifically important (or relevant) to anyone else. Why should it be? They have their own interests and pursuits, after all, just as she does. Primary Synergy: Challenge, manifests via the drive to refine her skills on her own and seek out new ways of testing herself. Challenge: Autumn thrives on being pushed to improve, to constantly better herself in some way even if she’s the one doing the pushing. Although not especially ambitious (a fact which frustrates and infuriates her parents), an integral part of Autumn’s character is the need to keep moving forward through adversity, to chase the next bend in the road and see what’s there. Part of this is due to a certain natural curiosity (“Can I do this?”) and part, of course, is simple pride (often a response to, “I don’t think you can do this.”) Once the bar has been set, and she’s implicitly or explicitly accepted a challenge, she’ll devote herself fully to reaching it. Naturally, this can lead to a lot of personal frustration at repeated failures or unforeseen complications, or can alternately result in her being manipulated into doing something. She rather uncharitably views people who don’t share a similar outlook as boring, lazy, or complacent. Example: Jason sparked Autumn’s interest in improving her weakest grades with an indirect challenge, subtly suggesting she might not be capable of winning a prize she hadn’t even cared about previously, but which suddenly became more appealing when framed as entertainment/gratification. “It’ll help your college transcript” is a lame reason because it doesn’t coincide with her interests; saying “I’ll have to ride in the passenger seat and look pretty while you drive” makes it more of a game than a chore, because it’s not specifically about the car, but about Jason being obliged to do something silly. Primary Synergy: Achievement, manifests via the satisfaction gained through self-improvement and completing especially difficult tasks. Family: More than simply Autumn’s relationship with her parents, or even her kinship with extended relatives like the Crockers and those few friends who might be brought in by association, the idea of family for her is also one of shared history, legacy, and deep roots. “Family” is one of the few constants in her life, a fixed point by which she navigates the world in a metaphorical and literal sense. From family she’s learned not only practical skills, but also about life and herself, how to treat others, how she should expect to be treated. She treasures things given by or inherited from her predecessors, from recipes to camp sites and threadbare quilts, and feels a sense of responsibility to their former owners that such heirlooms are cared for, and -when possible- that others are made aware of their significance. Knowing where you’ve come from is, for Autumn, a key part of a person’s identity. As such, she takes a dim view of those who are dismissive of the provenance and emotional importance of these objects (even within their own families), or of their own heritage and what it can teach. Example: Hearing others flippantly refer to the bracelets she discovered in her grandfather’s office as “decoder rings,” “gadgets,” and the like would be a point of contention for her- especially after the visit to the reservation, the training day, and the subsequent explanation of their origins to the group. It was (and is) important to her that such things be understood. Primary Synergy: Integrity, manifests via respect for lessons and ideals demonstrated and/or passed down to her by her parents and grandparents. Integrity: Most people have trouble keeping secrets, telling lies, cheating or taking advantage of others, and intentionally behaving dishonestly or in ways that are inconsistent with their personal philosophy. For Autumn, this is as much a part of her character and upbringing as it is an aspect of normal human psychology. That’s not to say that she’s incapable of doing these things, but rather that it makes her extremely (and almost invariably visibly) uncomfortable, making her one of the worst possible choices for anything involving deliberate deception because she’s almost guaranteed to fail hilariously/catastrophically. Integrity encompasses more than simple earnestness; it’s less a personality trait and more an ideal she consciously tries (not always successfully) to uphold. People who are obviously inauthentic or lack integrity in her eyes are kept at arms’ length, and usually treated with the bare minimum level of common courtesy, which might earn her a lecture or two about manners; she learned a lot from her grandfather, not all of it appropriate for a teenage girl. Example: If Marissa had told Autumn about Enterich, the money, and the threats to her parents, and then sworn her to secrecy, Autumn would be in an awful position in which this particular value would prick at her conscience no matter how she proceeded. If she told the group, she’d be violating Marissa’s trust and conceivably risking the Jauntsens’ safety; if she didn’t, she’d be withholding vital information in a move that could potentially put them all at risk, or hinder their fight against the Dark. Ugh! Primary Synergy: Family, manifests via cultivation of strong personal identity rooted in tradition. Standard Character Values Adventure: Activities like creeping around in places she shouldn’t be (#TeamPluck) and venturing into places no one’s ever been are enormously appealing to Autumn, especially if there’s an element of risk involved. Generally, there should be a purpose to the trip, something of benefit to be gained (information, for example), but in some cases that benefit could simply be the experience itself rather than something tangible. Trekking across the steppes of Mongolia for a month? Sure, sounds like fun! Diving into a long-forgotten cenote in the Yucatán to look for Mayan relics? Heck yeah! Riding down the side of an erupting volcano monastery on an alien world on the back of a six-legged lizard-goat to escape the clutches of a cabal of interdimensional space wizards? ...Obviously. Change & Variety: It’s no secret that Autumn gets bored, that she quickly becomes restless and frustrated if stuck in one place or mired in one activity for too long. All that energy needs to be directed somewhere (see: Achievement, Challenge), and she’s usually happiest when she can try something new, explore new possibilities and discover things she’d never seen or considered. It’s important that she find new ways to engage and be engaged with life, to indulge her inherent curiosity about the world and pursue interesting ideas and activities whenever possible. Help others: One of the ideals impressed on Autumn not only by her family but through experience with groups like the Girl Scouts is the concept of service, of being helpful and directly useful to others. Living in such a way that you don’t actively harm or diminish others’ quality of life is important, but acting in ways that actually benefit them is much more rewarding, and intrinsically more valuable. It should be noted that actually helping is the goal, rather than simply repeating encouraging but ultimately empty platitudes or offering pointless charity. Knowledge: Autumn’s pursuit of knowledge isn’t an abstract one. Far from the cerebral sort, it’s her curiosity and need to understand things- people, ideas, and so on- that helps establish her relationship with and position in the world. Trivia is pointless information, random bits of data that don’t have any practical bearing on her life; she would rather take an active role in exploring, discovering, and inquiring about something that interests her than simply read a book or internet article on the subject. The knowledge she’s after is experiential rather than academic, relevant and applicable rather than obscure and arcane, and when she asks questions, it’s because she genuinely wants to know the answer (even if she’s not necessarily prepared for it). Leisure: “All work and no play…” is no way to live. Even with the threat of imminent death hanging over her head, Autumn will find or make time to go for a walk in the woods, enjoy a cup of really good coffee, play with her four-footed family, or work on whatever project has sparked her interest. Time, after all, is the one commodity that no one ever feels they have enough of, and she’d rather not look back on her life with a long list of regrets about things she didn’t do. Pleasure: If you can’t enjoy yourself, what’s the point? Whether it’s the thrill of kissing someone who excites her, the simple luxury of napping in a hammock on a summer afternoon, the sensual joy of eating or drinking (or smoking) something delicious, or the satisfaction of finally finishing a gruelling backwoods hike, Autumn isn’t immune to the allure of indulgence or delight. It could be argued, in fact, that one of the motivators for her behaviors (or human behavior in general) is the appreciation of some form of pleasure as a reward; that she doesn’t actively chase gratification for its own sake, as an end in and of itself, is the defining difference between pleasure as something she values generally, and a value intrinsic to her.
  31. 1 point
    He never dreamed. Perhaps it was a function of his mind, the way he'd trained and expanded on his already-prodigious mental gifts to harness even his subconscious, that area of the hominid mind where every experience, every sight, sound and smell was stored in one large databank, seldom accessed by most, those impressions and the unprocessed emotions they sparked only emerging in chaotic dreams that spoke of depths under the surface. For him, there were no emotions unprocessed, no memories that he could not access consciously. He could walk through a room and, ten years later, close his eyes and be back there once more, recalling the smell of the floor wash and the cologne and old cigarette smoke, looking around and recalling the spines of every book on the shelf he had glanced at. So Jason Bannon didn't dream. He remembered, with his mind in a curious state of REM sleep, lucidly wandering the halls of his mind palace, reliving experiences as his body rested. But not now. The damage to his body and mind demanded more than that and so he floated in black nothingness, a faltering heartbeat from oblivion, unaware and removed from his friends struggle to save his life. And then... the blackness he'd sank into faded away, leaving him in the Atrium, the central chamber of his mental realm, the garden of icons which represented those closest to him. The sunlight from overhead, normally clear, warm and bright, flickered and darkened now and then, red and black streaks permeating the radiance as the darkness which sought to claim him fully fought against the warm flood of power that inexorably pulled him out of its grasp. He couldn't move from here, could barely even look around right now, his minds eye turning as if through tar to take in the garden. The edges of everything looked fuzzy, and then too sharp, and then resolved themselves, the landscape quivering underfoot as things began to settle. And as his consciousness and sense of self began to resume normal service he became dimly aware of pain, though not aware enough to wake up just yet. = = = = = = = Sheriff Ian Alister had literally just settled into his chair in his office when the 911 call had come in. Jason Bannon, shot and wounded, with two unidentified shooters, both also down. As he raced from the sheriff department building and jumped into his Range Rover he wondered if this was perhaps some payback for the teens raid on the Crossroads hidden facility? Should he warn Cade? The Cassidy boy said he'd wiped all the security footage, though, so it was unlikely anyone could have zeroed in on one of the teens who'd attacked that facility this fast. Maybe his drug dealing caught up with him. Perhaps he's pissed off the wrong people. God knew it was more than possible - Bannon was acerbic and dismissive of authority. Still, Alister reasoned, he was Cade's comrade in arms, and the Sheriff had taken an oath to protect and serve. As he gunned the engine of his car and peeled off down the street, flipping the siren on, he was aware of the radio chatter indicating that ambulances and paramedics were on the way from Marias. = = = = = = = "Who was it?" Annette's voice was crisp and authoritative, not betraying her shock or anger at the new the watch officer had just dropped across her desk whilst she'd been drinking her morning tea and getting caught up on things. Her dark eyes, however, were narrowed dangerously as she looked up at the Air Force lieutenant. "Unknown as yet." the officer responded. "Two shooters, both down. Looks like the kid likely disabled them. We intercepted the 911 call two minutes ago, and given the mention of a Person of Interest I thought-" "Yes, thank you." Annette nodded, tapping her fingers for a moment. It was irritating to not know more, but that was hardly the fault of the man in front of her. "Get Major Taggart in here as soon as he can, please. And notify our personnel in the hospital. I want all eyes and hands on deck." As the watch officer saluted and left, Annette repressed the urge to swear like a Malay pirate. Though she'd only known them briefly, the Aeon representative felt a strong sense of personal accountability and almost big-sisterly protectiveness for the unusual and astonishing teens. Someone was going to have a bad day as a result of this, she grimly resolved as she lifted her phone and started to make some calls. Enough was enough. Branch 9 and her own people needed to stop with the territorial pissing match and start looking into how they could best work together with the Fellowship.
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