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  1. 2 points
    "Oh hell." "Oh god," the red-faced redhead groaned along with him, in almost perfect unison. It couldn't have just been cleaning supplies, or a Wet Floor sign or something lying over her. Oh, no, no. That would be too easy. It had to be Cade Allister's hand, contoured perfectly to the curve of her ass while she lay sprawled over him, because that's just how this day was gonna go. Obviously. She'd overslept, been called out by her ex, gotten punched in the face by a Dark-possessed senior, flipped into Nightmare World and back again, and had now achieved the distinction of being bitch-slapped by physics on the way to rescue someone she didn't even like; getting accidentally groped by her friend's boyfriend was just the icing on the cake. To his credit, after that initial squeeze the sports prodigy jerked his hand away with the alacrity of a child who'd just touched a hot stove, but by that point Autumn had already started trying to disengage from the uncomfortably compromising position in earnest. Cursing under her breath, the girl whose freckles had been completely obscured by the bright scarlet of her blush tensed, bracing her palms on the floor and hauling herself across the athlete's prone form with a grunt of effort. She tried not to think about the fact that not only was there was a guy underneath her, it was Cade, or that at some point in her life she might not have minded being pressed quite so close to the even-tempered young man, or that Marissa was likely to hear about how she'd been "all over" her boytoy during the rescue mission- a probable death-sentence, even if it was obviously intended as a joke. Cans of air freshener, jostled loose as the debris shifted and toppled forward where she'd been lying, bounced haphazardly across the floor, accompanied by boxes of disposable nitrile gloves and commercial rolls of trash bags. "Not a word," she breathed, rolling over to stare up at the ceiling with an anguished expression as she waited in vain for the floor to swallow her. "And no," she grumbled when no merciful oblivion seemed forthcoming, tilting her head back to glance at Bannon, for all that he was currently upside-down. "Just my pride."
  2. 2 points
    Before they'd left, Cade approached Taggart. "I noticed that Cassandra and Autumn had armor before, is there a chance I can get something similar, and some sort of weapon. I may not be able to find a fire extinguisher." The Military man looked at the much younger man, who'd largely remained quiet in all the discussions. "I'll get you a flak Jacket, and a stun gun. No way in hell I'll give you more than that." "That will work fine, thank you sir." Cade answered, and soon enough the stun gun and jacket were brought in, and he donned them in silence. His Father helped ensure it was fit properly, and he nodded, saying nothing. "Don't worry, Dad. We'll be in and out." After that it was time to go, and he said goodbye to his father, and then Marissa, smiling after yet another kiss. He followed the others and took his place, and waited as energy enveloped them all, Then flung them through space to another location. It was rough, more trippy than anything he'd ever experienced, and damn close to making him hurl. Cade felt a weight atop him, and felt something brush his thigh, "Wha?" followed by a few unintelligible syllables, as Cade opened his eyes, finding Autumn and an assortment of wire rack remnants on him. His eyes narrowed. "You Okay?" he asked his teammate?" He heard Jason and Devin talking, so obviously they'd made it. So he turned his attention to Autumn again, who looked to be very uncomfortable, and it was then that he realized his left hand felt really warm His right arm was out to the side, and felt cold. He instinctively curled his fingers, and felt the cold floor with the right hand, and felt something soft but firm, and covered in fabric with the left. "Oh hell."
  3. 2 points
    One defining characteristic of Jason could be described as this: that he always knows exactly who he is, and usually what his immediate circumstances are. Even before the awakening of his Shine, that self-possession, that solidity of personal identity was a trait that he worked to hide, rather than to attain and display as many teenagers do. His mind usually did exactly as he wished it to, focus and will coming easily to him without the temperamental upsets of hormonal storms. It was one of the things that made him both daunting and insufferable. Relatively few external forces could disrupt the smooth, clockwork-precise workings of his brain. Even concussed or stoned, he felt mostly in control of himself and indeed was sharper than most sober people. Devin's mass-teleportation was pure hell. It upset his kinetic awareness of the objects and people around him. Worse, it upset his very personal kinaesthetic awareness of his own body and how it fit into space. He'd formulated a theory that Devin's teleportation involved breaching the quantum barrier down into the subquantum where space and time were malleable, then breaching the layer back up into the 'real' world once more when the link to the destination was made. The smoothness with which Devin popped himself from known location to known location, barely causing more than a temporary ripple in space, seemed to bear that out. The blind jump, though, carrying four other people to a destination Devin only knew by a map layout... That involved disruption of space-time on a wrenching level. If Devin's normal 'blip' was a pro-diver smoothly breaking the surface of the water like a knife, poetry in motion and form, this had been an 500lb Walmart-scooter-jockey with terminal diabetes belly-flopping naked into a hot tub full of screaming Girl Scouts. In short, it hurt. And left Jason feeling more than a little violated and nauseous, much like the Girl Scouts would feel. He lay still for a moment, briefly dipping into his memory palace and making the spinning world go away as he contemplated a memory of the sun rising over the fields of the farm when he'd first moved to Shelly, his dad talking about how they'd have a good life here. It was a soothing memory, dating from before his father had succumbed to despair and alcohol, and it briefly occurred to Jason that maybe now his father would have the impetus to make changes. Then he sighed, steeled himself, and emerged back into the world which, whilst not spinning anymore, was still painful. "Devin." he said quietly as he sat up, feeling muscles protest as though he'd just gone ten rounds with Hank at a practice session. Had it only been two days since that? "Yeah? Ow." Devin's voice was a groan as he weakly plucked some cleaning supplies from his body and tossed them aside. "That. Fucking. Sucked." Jason said in a precise and succinct manner, grabbing a mop that had fallen over his legs and trying to use it to stand. He succeeded on the second try, fighting down nausea as he straightened up slowly, forcing his legs to obey his commands and support him. "Got us here, didn't I? Ow. Owow." "You need to practice that." Jason somewhat unsteadily, and with the aid of the mop, walked over and offered Devin a hand up. "Yeah... Well... You gonna volunteer? Ow." Devin grabbed the proffered hand and let himself be pulled somewhat upright, leaning on the wall and looking like he was also trying to hold onto his lunch. "Ask me again when I don't feel like cutting my own head off to stop the aching." Jase replied with a slight crinkling at the corners of his eyes as he let go of Devin's hand, then looked around at the others. "Anyone hurt - Scratch that. I mean, anyone seriously hurt?"
  4. 2 points
    As the fabric of space began to twist and fold around Autumn in ways that defied her rudimentary understanding of physics, there was a moment of primal terror, an inkling that if this didn't work- if her hand slipped, or they'd miscalculated, or Devin was distracted, or any of a hundred other possible disasters- she would be unwoven from the tapestry of existence, a lost thread cut from the whole. Would it hurt? she wondered, her fingers tightening reflexively around the wrists of the two nearest her as they all clasped hands, waves of violet and indigo tugging at them in irresistible cosmic tides. Would she even be aware of it, or would she just... not be at all, anymore? Almost simultaneously, a separate thought occurred: what if it did work? What would that kind of freedom be like, to move through the world without regard for walls, or highways, or artificial borders of any kind? And, suddenly, a kind of wrenching queasiness contracted the muscles of her abdomen, and there was no more time for thinking. No more time. No more thought. There was no sensation of movement or inertia; she was standing in the loading bay with the others, head swimming with vertigo and feeling for all the world as if she was about to be physically ill- And then she wasn't. Wasn't travelling, wasn't holding anyone's hand, wasn't worried about her parents. Just... wasn't. Until, just as suddenly, as if the laws of reality were so repulsed by the group's defiance they simply flung them back into the world again, she was. Was in a storage room. Was lying half under a collapsed shelving unit. Was absolutely miserable, her ears ringing from the concussive shockwave and every muscle complaining loudly that this had not been the best decision she'd made this week. "Fuuuhuhuck meeee," the redhead groaned, briefly opening her eyes to blearily assess the situation and immediately regretting it. The demolished room swam, spinning dizzily in her field of vision, and she lowered her head again, waiting to either pass out or for the world to right itself. There was movement nearby, voices she vaguely recognized, but Autumn felt absolutely zero compulsion to process them at the moment, instead just concentrating on reorienting herself in her body and quietly taking inventory of the assorted contusions and scrapes she'd received in their violent expulsion from... wherever they'd been. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think. Beneath her cheek, the floor felt oddly warm, although not unpleasantly so, and whatever cleaning chemicals they had in here smelled kind of nice. Her nose crinkled slightly as the athletic young woman shifted uncomfortably atop the debris she'd landed on. Kind of like... I dunno, body wash...? Cologne, maybe? That couldn't be right. Frowning, she tried lifting her head again, reaching up to push the hair back from her face, and froze as the "debris" under her stirred. Charlie was nearby, slowly getting up to his feet. Devin was in the corner, giggling like a crazy person. That only left two other options, and with a creeping sense of dread, she realized she could see Jason a little further away. Process of elimination left only Mari's- Cora's- somebody's boyfriend. Fuck, she mouthed silently, squeezing her eyes shut in a grimace. Gingerly, Autumn shifted her weight, resolutely ignoring the fact that just a few seconds before, her hand had been way closer to Cade's Louisville Slugger than possibly even Marissa's had at that point; if she didn't extricate herself from the awkward tangle of limbs and wire racking real fucking quick, this was going to become another "Friday Snapchat" situation. Her face hot enough to ignite kindling, the red-haired teen began the cringe-inducing process of trying to crawl out from under the shelving and from on top of Shelly High's star athlete. ...And then into a dark, deep hole, if she was lucky.
  5. 2 points
    The teens all gathered around Devin, waiting for his instructions. While they did so they could see where people from inside the compound were all gathering behind the Major. Some of them had dedicated their lives to the study of this noetic science and still had barely scratched the surface but today these kids had come along and were about to prove to them that none of their time had been wasted. These kids were going to defy the laws of physics and laugh in the face of the modern sciences. There was a small army gathering in the small square windows of the loading bays double doors. At the commands of the Major, none of them dared enter any closer. "Okay," Devin started. "Last time I did this it was like trying to control a plane while it was going down in a hurricane. There will be a lot of shaking. There's nothing you can do. As the energy surrounded me last time, I can only assume, since you're going with me, it's going to do the same to you. You're only job is to not let go." He held out his hands and like a football team calling a play everyone reached in the center of the circle they'd formed and locked wrists with whomever they could. "W-what if we let go?" Autumn asked. She really didn't want to know, but like everyone else, so also really wanted know... "Then your individual energy will be hurled away from the whole," he shrugged, completely guessing. "You could probably end up anywhere. Like, inside a mountain." "There a seriously more encouraging ways to get me to hold your hand," she joked with him, trying to brush away the cob webs of doubt being spun in her mind. He silently laughed took in a deep breath. "Maybe I like the chase." He said as he exhaled. As the team formed a '*' Devin began to focus, finally closing his his eyes and picturing Etienne in his mind. In the center of them all was a sight that left them at a loss for words. The small jump-scars that Devin always seemed to leave behind temporarily after he jumped began to waver and shimmer in front of them. Like three dimensional oil on water, with a vaguely violet hue, a rift in space began to enlarge and surround them. As predicted the energy was volatile, warping and wefting them as it consumed them in its cloak they all began to twist and distort like animated funhouse mirrors. They felt only mild discomfort, not unlike motions sickness as one moment they felt like they were frozen in place and another they pulled off at light speeds. Parts of them 'smeared' in random, impossible directions and as the anchor to it all they felt Devin trying with all his will to hold them all together. They coudl feel the pull as his power wanted to slingshot them off into somewhere, because that's what Devin's power was 'programmed' to do, but this time, it had no destination. It had no target, and the laws of the universe dictated that if you are to go... it must be somewhere. 'Guessing' was not part of that natural order. You ither knew where you were going or you didn't and Devin, currently, didn't. So his power tried to send them somewhere, anywhere, just like he was telling it to. He convulsed as he explained to the laws of universe that 'anywhere' whether you knew it existed or not, was relative. Wider and wider the scar extended, consuming them like a violet, gelatinous, tangible energy. They gripped each other for dear life at this point, wondering if maybe this wasn't such a great idea. Droplets of blood dribbled from Devin's nose as the stress of this many passengers was pushing him to his physical and mental limits. Finally Devin opened his eyes and within them they saw infinity. Black with shimmering nebulas and a trillion glimmering stars just as the energy around was suddenly sucked in to their center, and exploded outward like one of Jango Fett's sonic charges going off. The sounds was unlike anything the spectators had ever heard. The team, however, was gone. The storage room they arrived in exploded with the concussive force of air punching into the room not unlike the pistol shrimp's natural defense. The sound ruptured the walls and shelving in the room flinging toiletries and cleaning agents, and mops and anything not nailed down, all over the place. The team was no exception. They arrived in a boom that pushed and pressed outward from their entry in a perfect, spherical 'crater' in all directions. The floor caved in, the walls pressed outward and the ceiling was threatening to collapse. The team lay all about the room, feeling like they'd just been kicked off a ten story building and belly flopped into an ocean. They were knotted around shelving, covered in loose debris and definitely having a bad trip. Except Devin who was lying in one corner, riddled pain but still managing to giggle like an idiot while being covered in loose rolls of toilet paper and paper towels with one of his legs resting up on a fallen shelf. "That..." He giggled with madness. "Was awesome!" He tried to move beyond laughter and decided that was a poor idea as he collapsed back into the bed of loose paper rolls. "Ow."
  6. 1 point
    "Sean will be watching us." Jason said, turning towards Cass, holding out a hand. "May I?" She hesitated, then divined his intent and offered the plastic envelope to him. Jase reached out, then paused, his lips curving in a slight smile before he walked over and gently took the protected photograph from her fingers. It took a second before she realised what had happened, but by then he'd already turned away and was heading over to Sean. "Jase... the power generator for this place? It's atomic, advanced - way smaller than a normal reactor. Hell, it could probably power most of Shelly. It reminds me of the trailer- What's this?" Sean asked, looking up from where he was busy pulling up schematics as Jason held the photograph in front of his face. "Cassandra's father. You've got eyes in the complex and it's a high tech place - check and see if his face is in their security logs, and then if he's in the building at all." "Sure." Sean nodded, studying the picture and then, with a touch of his Shine, digitising a reproduction of it on the screen before him, then adding some three-dimensionality. "Might take me a few." "You've got a few." Jason turned and walked the photo back over to Cassie, offering it to her in an almost courteous manner. The pretty blonde smiled despite herself, shaking her head as she tucked the photo away. "You know I meant no using your powers on people, or against people." she said, looking up at the impassive features and the gleaming jade eyes. His lips twitched a little, that wry, ageless reptilian amusement back in his expression. It was hard to remember that he was only sixteen years old, looking into that gaze. That gaze was ancient. "What is perceived to have been said, what is actually said, and true intent are often not the same things, even for me. Regardless, I gave my word, and I keep it to the letter." he said with just a hint of pointedness that was not so much addressed to her as it was to the room in general. Cassie regarded him, blue eyes full of wary curiosity. She opened her mouth to say, or ask something when Sean spoke up. "Found him." He pointed at the holo-display and a security file image appeared. "Says here he's part of some experiment - no name, just a serial number, and no details what it's about." "I bet Etienne is probably undergoing it right now." Devin said darkly. "Some MK-Ultra mind-jacking shit. Ms Giles said Kline was involved with that stuff." "Logs say he's currently offsite at somewhere called 'Site B'. Checked out a day ago with a bunch of others." Sean said, looking at Cass. "We can always go back for him once we figure out more." "Site B?" Taggart asked sharply, looking at Giles. "That's our other project site." Annette nodded, standing. "While our brave friends here attempt a rescue, I'm going to go and seek permission to discuss Site B. I think it's best done sooner rather than later." So saying, she made to leave the room, stopping at the door. "Major, have your men place Dr Cook under arrest, please. Don't harm him unduly." She left, and a few moments later Doctor Cook was escorted from the room by two Airmen. Taggart looked at the three other adults in the room, nodding once, then at the unlikely-looking strike team. Or perhaps not so unlikely looking, he mused. The Charlie kid seemed mild as milk, but had carried himself pretty well in the fighting upstairs, the Jauntsen boy was mouthy and annoying as hell, but damned if he couldn't get a herd of cats moving in one general direction, and the Bannon kid - Okay, the Bannon kid was chilling to the point of terrifying, and yet had acquiesced readily to a promise not to use his powers in this room or to kill any opponents on the raid without quibbling or raising objections. That was just plain weird. One thing did not match up to the other thing. Taggart cleared his throat to get their attention. "Time to go." said Devin, giving Marissa a hug then walking over to the door. "Chuckles, snargle her garthog later. Cade, Jase... Granola - I mean," he corrected as Autumn scowled. "Autumn. You in?" Autumn nodded before she even really thought about it. Jason had said she'd be of use, and while she still held some doubts, she had healed him up. Besides, it just wasn't in the restless redhead's nature to sit on the sidelines while friends went into danger, even if said friends were best described as walking hell waiting to be unleashed. "Yeah, I'm coming." she said, tugging once at the drawstrings of her hoodie before thrusting her hands in the pockets and moving over to the group by the door. She threw a considering glance at the pair on the couch as she passed them: the new girl, Kat, seemed to be a little unglued and, of all people, it seemed Courtney was offering aid. Personally, knowing the girl was a telepath with megalomania and narcissism was not reassuring, but there was nothing to be done about it right now. Behind her, Charlie gave Sophia one more kiss and practically swaggered to the door like he was ready to take on Tyson in the ring and win. Cade stood up, hugged his dad, then turned to Marissa who threw her arms around his neck and gave him a fleeting kiss before pushing him mock-playfully in the direction of the waiting group. And Jase... Was standing right next to them, having moved over to where Taggart was waiting in a neat, unobtrusive and almost silent fashion. He radiated none of the tension or excitement felt by the others, even the phlegmatic Cade - a harmonic like the faint whisper of a lightly-struck tuning fork passing between them, each member of the team picking up a little of the others' excitement - except for Jason, who seemed impervious to it, a calm pool of ice cold water whose mere presence muted the tension just a little, like a finger pressed to the vibrating metal. "You're going to miss me, I know you are." Devin said to Cassandra with his best devil-may-care smirk. Cassie rolled her eyes. "Not near as much as Lona will. So be careful." she shot back, ignoring the kiss he blew as they left the room. Taggart led the five of them down the corridor, past the control room and into a large, open space that was currently uninhabited. There was a roll-down door at one end large enough for a van or truck, and the room was plainly meant as a loading bay. He turned to them, looking at Devin as he backed up some. "This is it." he said. "I''ll keep it free for your return and have an EMT team standing by. How far back do I need to be?" Devin glanced around, then shrugged. "Hell if I know, dude. Best be outside the doors, in case. This is breaking new ground, feel me?" Taggart nodded. "Good luck." he said, then turned and hustled from the room, leaving the five of them looking at each other.
  7. 1 point
    As Charlie and Sophia talked quietly in the corner, everybody politely ignored the pair, though one or two smiles were shared at the kiss. One set of eyes, however, rested on the pair a little longer than propriety dictated - hardly a surprise, since the eyes in question belonged to a person to whom propriety was more of a suggestion than a rule. Courtney smiled a little, a mysterious and somewhat cynical curve to her lips as she observed Charlie and his girlfriend, her crimson nails tapping on the table very lightly, then shifted her gaze to the others in the room with an attitude not-dissimilar to that of a lioness watching the traffic at a watering hole. She watched the interplay between personalities, felt the warm flow of emotions between the group, and her smile became somewhat less predatory and more thoughtful as she did so. Kat's thoughts were spinning as she sat down, her emotions chaotic as the events of the day piled up behind her consciousness like a traffic jam. As she fought through the surging, clashing feelings, she became aware that she was not alone, that the glamorous-looking girl who seemed to be largely detested by most present had walked over and sat down beside her. Courtney, she remembered this one was called. The telepath who had just switched sides. "Girl, your head is a mess of static." Courtney said quietly, her gaze warm and sympathetic as she made a slight wincing expression. "Listen, don't pay too much mind to what others say. You've got the gift, same as them. I know what it's like to have a head full of fucking noise." She lifted a hand and placed it on Kat's shoulder. "Look, I'm a bitch, sure. Ask any of them. But Devin welcomed me to your club and I want to help, if only a little. I can't throw down in a fight like those guys, but I might be able to help you focus a bit... If you want me to. Nothing serious, just like a little calm-you-down."
  8. 1 point
    Cook's misery was not at all abated when he glanced to either side of where he sat. Taggart looked as though only strict professionalism and discipline were keeping the special forces solder from leaping out of his seat and throttling Dr Cook with his shoelaces. Even the composed, elegant Ms Giles radiated anger from her dark eyes as they, like Autumn's, fixed on the wretched fellow. Taggart reached over and yanked a file from the stack in front of Cook, sitting back and opening it. "Courtney Adams. Not yet eighteen years old, I see. 'Subject exhibits symptoms of extreme antisocial behaviour and poor impulse control, including sexual mania, passive-aggression, panic attacks, mood swings, megalomania and narcissism.'" The major fixed Cook with a gimlet stare as he turned a couple of pages. "Subject showing very promising telepathic talents, capable of influencing emotional states and even affecting memories in tests." He snapped the file shut and all-but slammed it down on the table. "And you gave her the run of the project." It wasn't a question. "And you had her 'testing' these other minors." Ms Giles also stated. "How, exactly?" Cook shifted in his seat, then reached for the file Taggart had set down, pulling it in front of him and opening it. "We observed on Thursday morning that several persons of interest - labelled as such because of their involvement with the finding of Dr Kline's trailer-" "The trailer was Kline's?" Jason looked sharply at Cook. "And everything in it?" Cook merely nodded, and Jase looked down at Sean, both of them thinking about the micro-nuclear reactor and the radio, two devices apparently placed there decades before but in terms of advancement being decades ahead of even 2019. "It was his initial research station, back before we obtained funding." Cook cleared his throat. "And no, I've never been there. Etienne didn't know what it was you found when he reported it. Kline just said it was outdated, done with and closed down. Anyway... we observed that several of you were exhibiting powers that, as has been said, you shouldn't have exhibited. At least, not as a result of our work. Upon realising that our spy had been uncovered in that same meeting, we put into place several other steps to keep observation on the group. One of which was Courtney Adams, who was set the job of gathering telepathic information and lightly probe at the interpersonal bonds between you all. She was only supposed to feel out who felt what towards whom, where loyalties lay, and so on. Matters began to get out of hand on Friday, however, when she fixated on Jason Bannon and decided to test him in more extreme ways, trying to provoke emotional responses in some game of her own devising. That was not what she was ordered to do." Cook clarified, frowning a little. "She went well beyond what she was supposed to be doing, culminating in an attempt to force a confrontation between a member of the football team and young Mr Bannon, to push him into using his powers defensively." "Why?" Annette looked at Jason, frowning, then back at Cook. "Some kind of power game - apparently she sees Marissa Jauntsen as a rival and sees Jason Bannon as a useful pawn." "Pshh." Marissa snorted with elegant disdain. "Someone has a high opinion of themselves." She would have doubtless said more, but at that moment the door swung open and Courtney walked in minus her usual sway and bounce, her face drawn and weary but taut with anger as she stalked to the table. Cook went pale - okay, paler. "Sorry." the crimson-haired bombshell said without meaning it as she pulled out a chair, seating herself. "I was looking for the Greyhound terminal and must have gotten confused by hearing the sound of bus brakes squealing as I got thrown under one." She fixed her honey-brown eyes, currently hard as agates, on Dr Cook. "You are so totally fucking lucky I'm worn out from adjusting all of Sheriff Allister's poor deputies or I'd give myself an aneurysm reverting your toilet training level to five months old." "You should be resting." Cook started, but Courtney made a dismissive gesture as she reached for a coffee. "Why? So I can wake up in restraints and be cleared off to site C like Etienne?" she asked with a smirk. "Site C being the prison, or rather the complex underneath it. You didn't know that, Cookie Monster, but I did. Those toughs that Kline sent - not nice men at all, but not much in the upstairs department. Disciplined, but not strong or imaginative." She looked at Ms Giles and Major Taggart. "Cook is full of shit. At least about what my orders were. He specifically told me to push Jason to try and get an idea of the extent of his powers, and perhaps push him into an incident that would give the Project a chance to swoop in, clean up, and net themselves a Bannon." She glanced at Jason, her crimson lips thinning apologetically. "That's what I wanted to tell you on Friday night outside Bunnees. But I couldn't, because this fuckbag would have found out and I'd have been disappeared." "What about the 'you're friends with the Jauntsens, and that's not good, join me and we can rule the galaxy' speech?" Jase asked, fixing her with a level gaze. Courtney shrugged, unabashed. "Totes sincere. As was my statement that I didn't orchestrate your junk being the subject of the school snapchat." She appraised him up and down through her lashes with a smile. "We can take that conversation up again after all this is sorted out, if you like. You've got potential." Her expression turned from sultry vixen to all business as she focused her gaze back on the three adults-in-charge. "For now, consider this my switching sides. Doctor Douche, I quit. Ms Giles, Major Taggart, assorted losers with powers - I'm now on Team You. Isn't that wonderful?" "Yay." Charlie uttered in a voice devoid of joy or excitement, the sentiment apparently shared by Taggart and pretty much everyone else present. Ms Giles was the only one who didn't immediately look at the telepathic redhead as though she were a scorpion in a skirt. "And what do you bring to the table, my dear?" "Everything Cook knows, unfiltered." Courtney shrugged. "To be fair, he's mostly told the truth. But those files there are the cooked books to trot out for inspection, for instance. The real files are on his computer." She fixed Cook with another glare. "If you'd been loyal, I would have kept quiet and gone along with the changing of the guard. For a man who was all holy about not having sex with me, you're certainly quick enough to try and fuck me when your neck is on the line."
  9. 1 point
    Cook had been regarding the consternation and acrimony between the powered teens with a watchful eye, one hand still absently rubbing at his throat. With Autumn's words and Devin's affirmation, however, he swallowed as he once more became the focus of unfriendly eyes. His gaze flicked to Jason, who was possibly the only person in the room not looking at him right now, instead staring into the middle-distance expressionlessly, the gleam of his eyes dim and his focus apparently turned inward. "Doctor?" Annette's voice did not have the same inhuman iciness as the silent youth, but her tone and gaze were definitely frosty, as was Taggart's. "What is this about seducing a sixteen year old girl, and who is Etienne?" "He wasn't supposed to seduce her." Cook protested. "He was supposed to become close, but he was posing as a Senior when she was a Sophomore, for crying out loud. The idea was for him to act as a mentor figure for her... Dammit." He sighed, massaging his neck. "I should start at the beginning." "Do so." "Right. So, it was a couple of years ago. We found out that the Doctors Wright - both brilliant scientists in the field of genetics - were doing some work on and around the Blackfoot reservation. Some digging revealed they had obtained a grant and permission from the state health board to do an in-depth analysis of genes in the native American population and how those transferred through intermingled families with roots in Montana, with a focus on isolating genes associated with congenital defects, cancer, and the like." Doctor Cook glanced at the folders in front of him, obviously collecting his thoughts. "Doctor Kline, though, suspected they might have other motives and be perhaps trying to analyse the same thing we had theorised - a predisposition for paranormal gifts genetically present in the local populace. So he tasked me to gather intelligence covertly." "Tasked you?" Taggart asked sharply. "Intelligence and counter-intelligence was my responsibility. Why was the Branch not informed of this operation?" "Or the Society, for that matter." Annette Giles stared levelly at the now-sweating Cook. "Doctor Kline was very insistent that the intelligence be gathered covertly. He claimed that the Wrights may have friends connected to the Society, and be tipped off if proper channels were employed." The doctor stammered. "And you believed him?" Giles' raised eyebrow spoke volumes of her skepticism - apparently well-founded skepticism, as Cook said nothing and just looked down uncomfortably at his papers. "Totally fucking busted." Devin sneered, then "Pardon my French, of course." as Annette glanced his way with an air of patient reproof. She smiled slightly then looked back at Cook, her lips once more forming a straight line. "So... I hired a corporate intelligence specialist." Cook admitted, straightening his shoulders. "A civilian asset." Taggart said levelly. "An uncleared, unvetted civilian asset." "He knows nothing about the involvement of Aeon or Branch Nine. And his resume was solid!" The doctor said defensively. "Several jobs in Canada and the U.S, recently downsized, looking for work. And he looked like he could pass for seventeen to eighteen. So we cooked up a cover, inserted him into the school as a senior finishing his education in Shelly prior to interning at the medical center, and tasked him with getting close to the Wrights." "Specifically Clara." Marissa 's dark eyes were hard as she found a fresher target for her ire than the still unresponsive Jason. "A girl so lonely and buttoned-up she would qualify as vulnerable even if she wasn't a minor." "No statutory laws were broken-" Cook began, but was cut off by Cassandra. "Age of consent might be sixteen, but I'm pretty sure even if he didn't do the nasty with her before that, it still counts as 'grooming'." She shook her head in disapproval, even as several others present, the sheriff included, nodded in agreement. "And as I said, he wasn't supposed to get that close." Cook protested. "Jesus. He was supposed to be a star student that she would look up to, then become friends with. But something went wrong. He developed actual feelings for her. At first we decided-" "'We' being you and Doctor Kline?" Taggart's face was stony, but his fingers tapping on the table's surface betrayed his anger. "Yes. At first we decided that, so long as Etienne would still go through with the mission, that it could be a benefit. He snuck into the Wright's property several times, tried to break into their private lab building, but claimed he was unable to bypass their security. Then he and the girl broke off the relationship" Cook shrugged. "The mission was pretty much a bust, then. Kline gave the order to terminate his contract, and I was about to when everything changed, and he attended a party thrown by the high schoolers on Reservation ground and witnessed strange things happening. That, plus his rekindled closeness with the Wright girl, made him of use again... until his cover was blown and these kids found out he was a spy." "We have our ways." Sean's girlish features were somber as he regarded the doctor he'd trusted most of his life. "Yes, you do." Cook sighed, rubbing his hand over his face, glancing Sean then at Ms Giles. "That was last week. Late last night, he comes into my office without knocking, wild-eyed and loudly telling me he quits, he's not going to do it anymore, and that we'd better leave Clara and the other teens alone. I didn't have a choice, then. I had to contain him." "Contain him how?" Taggart demanded. Cook shifted in his seat, and the Major leaned forward. "What did you do, Doctor?" "I... handed him off to Kline's men." Cook stammered, then spoke in a rush. "I didn't know what to do at first. So I pulled out the gun I had in my desk for - uh - protection." He glanced at at the still-motionless, inward-turned Jason for a moment, who didn't even appear to hear the words. "And brought him down here. I called Kline, told him what had happened, and he sent some people." "What people? Whose people were they?" "Some private security force. Uh... Doctor Kline has used them a couple of times for, um, off the books things. They bundled Etienne into an armored van and took him away." "Mercenaries. Doctor Kline is employing goddamn mercenaries on American soil as part of a black project." Taggart looked like he was fit to spit nails. "Where did they take him?!" "I don't know!" Cook nearly wailed. "I didn't want any of this. You have to believe me." "I should call my superiors and have you renditioned to a black site in goddamn Siberia for the rest of your natural life, you-" Taggart bit back a stream of profanity with some effort backed by solid professionalism. "Think. Did they say anything to each other?" Cook screwed up his face in thought, starting to shake his head negatively... then paused. "Wait... Wait! One of them had a blue shirt on under his jacket. It looked like the uniform shirts the guards wear at the prison!" He looked from Taggart to Ms Giles, desperate hope in his eyes that he'd bought a reprieve. "That's all I can think of, I swear!"
  10. 1 point
    Skrrrrrnnnggggkkk. The dissonant sound of a chair scraping awkwardly over the floor cut through the tension with all the elegance of a dull kitchen knife as Autumn brushed a few stray crumbs from her chest and pushed back from the table, getting slowly to her feet and glancing speculatively around the room. Kat's speaking up was a reminder that there were quite a few people present who knew even less about the current situation than she did, and even Friday- when this madness had all started for her- seemed like a lifetime ago, now. Apparently, as she'd wondered back then, there really was no maximum threshold for impossibility, no upper limit on the number of things that couldn't happen in a single day. Sometimes multiple days in a row. There was so. freaking. much. she wanted to say to Jason, to the twins, to Cade, to the poor bystanders and the new girl who'd gotten dumped in the middle of things the way she had, and the conflicting thoughts weren't doing much for the dull ache behind her eyes, but none of those thoughts were exactly helpful either... and if they didn't get their shit together as a group, they were going to completely waste this chance to get the information they needed. "So, hi," she began, in a voice that was surprisingly steady despite the awkward little wave that accompanied it in violation of Basic Public Speaking 101. "If we haven't been introduced, I'm Autumn, nice to meet you. I hope it's cool that I'm interrupting, because, hooo. This is, um..." She spread her freckled hands briefly, indicating the room as she winced and shook her head, nose crinkling slightly. "This is a whole lot, and it's definitely been a bit of a day. So. Before anyone storms off, or any declarations of war are signed in blood, there are just a couple of things I want to bring up, and then I think we need to give Dr. Cook a chance to answer Cass before this crazy train goes completely off the rails. First." Her gaze moved first to Jason, and then to Devin and Marissa, and though it lacked the frigid incisiveness in the eyes of the former or the imperious challenge in the mien of the latter, it was clear, direct, and unwavering. "Bylaws and accountability, right? 'Order.' We deal with our own. That means nobody who isn't one of our own needs to be involved, so all of this..." She gestured again, more expansively, as if to encompass the incomprehensible vastness of the growing rift between them. "Needs to happen at some other time and place than when we're exhausted and sitting in a secret government facility with reps from secret government projects- and the freaking Sheriff who knows all of our parents- hours after having nearly been eaten by whatever the hell those things were from some... messed up Wes Craven mirror world." Pausing to actually inhale, the animated redhead ran her hands back through the tousled mess of her red-gold hair, holding them there for a moment in frustration as she continued. "Look, we can do all the yelling and threats and all that on our own time, and if you guys want to strip down and go at it bare-knuckle in a field somewhere, I promise I'll split the ticket sales, but Cass gets the media rights." Glancing over at her plucky counterpart, the redhead managed a slightly crooked grin that just reached her eyes, and quickly faded. Her voice was almost imperceptibly softer, all the levity dissipating as the earnest young woman regarded the twins, hands dropping back to her sides. "But if you two don't want to be here right now, cool. I feel that. Seriously. Things are pretty fucked right now, and not likely to be any less fucked any time soon. Marissa's got my number, I can fill her in later. Go home, take a shower, light up...." Autumn paused, eyes darting warily in the elder Allister's direction, "...a candle, do a sheet mask, align your chakras, destroy someone's hopes and dreams, y'know. Self-care. Whatever you need to do." "Second. I'm holding my questions until we get some answers from the doctor here, because not all of us are freaking savages," she glanced disapprovingly around the table in a reasonably accurate imitation of her mother before addressing the officer present, "but... Major Taggart? I wanted to say thank you for earlier, for at least trusting the two of us enough to let us help. You took us seriously, and you didn't have to. So, thanks." "And, third. I didn't say it before, and I know we're not all friends here, but I'm really glad everyone's okay. Okay? Okay. Cool." She didn't give anyone time to respond, instead just nodding and moving ahead as if her cheeks weren't burning from the admission. "That's it. Dr. Cook, you have the floor," the restless young woman stated tersely, the warm blue of her eyes fading to an unwelcoming grey as she sat down again, the chair once more screeching into place. "Let's try this again."
  11. 1 point
    "And you wonder why I don't want to be alone in a room with you," Marissa sneered at Jason, obviously irritated and beyond upset with his speech and admission of being capable of unspeakable acts of torture upon another human being and not even show any sign of concern for them. Yet all of his friends were supposed to sit around believe that he would never do that to any of them were he suddenly rubbed the wrong way. "You're a lunatic, Jason and frankly I'm afraid of you. Not that it matters, since my being afraid of you means less than nothing to you. If the others in this room aren't scared of you, then they are either stupid or have no sense of self-preservation." "No," she raised her hands in surrender. "I've no further concerns other than the fact that we're all locked in a room with that," she pointed a perfectly manicured nail at Jason. "So can we please wrap this up before he decides to regale us with more bragging about the levels of barbarity the great and powerful Jason Bannon is capable of?" "Not cool, dude." Devin shook his head. "We've been over this, and apparently you don't listen or just don't care. We are not here to threaten, harm, and intimidate people. If all you can think of to do with your abilities is throw people around homes and threaten to inflict harm on others, then say the word, bro. We can start dancing right now. That shit though?" He pointed to Cook, unconcerned with the people in the room at the moment. He looked to Hank and Jason's father. "That shit isn't gonna fly. Get your house in order, because this boy need Jesus or Tony Stark, or something, because we all know he's one hundred percent in control of everything he says, and he doesn't lie. Which means there no excuse for this sort of behavior. Every few days he's either scaring the shit out of us going off on some power fueled rampage that ends up with people getting hurt." It was Devin's turn for an icy stare directed at Jason. He could handle a few passive threats but Jason always took shit too far, like he was some kind of a super badass, but he wasn't. He seemed to be nothing more than a bully, like Devin not long ago, so he understood the mindset. He could tolerate a lot of antics, but keeping his sister living in fear from day in to day out all the time... that shit needed to stop. "Unfuck yourself, Jason. Or just say the word and we can start the war right now. Because this shit is like every fucking day with you, man." Marissa stood up, standing near her brother. "Devin, don't. Let it go. Just... it's just not worth going over it with him again. He doesn't get it, and never will. That's the sort of person he is, and it's not our fight, let the military deal with him. He's not your problem anymore." "Yeah, fine." Devin nodded, never breaking gaze with Jason who just glared at him like that damn cat in the memes. Jason didn't care. He never cared. He couldn't care. Sure he'd tell everyone differently and swear up and down that 'he would never [fill in the blank]' but he'd also be ding it with a straight face, a steady heart rate, and a smile while he was unraveling someone's organs. "Good luck, people. Just think, you're trapped six stories underground with him." He looked to the Sheriff and smirked. "Enjoy."
  12. 1 point
    "For the record - you do not have government backing." Major Taggart addressed Devin and the other teens, some firmness entering his tone. "For several reasons - not least of which being you are legally minors and so cannot be employed by the U.S. government, least of all in a black operation such as this one." "Good." Charlie spoke up. "That means we're not bound by any official secrets act, either." "Espionage Act of 1917, currently codified under Title 18, Sections 791 through 799 governing espionage, makes it a criminal offence to disseminate information regarding classified military or government projects in such a way that could be injurious to the security and safety of the United States or interfere with the running of its military operations. There's currently some debate as to how that interacts with the First Amendment, but suffice to say whistleblowing doesn't end well for the person blowing the whistle, usually." The words were spoken quietly, matter of factly. Jason's icy stare fixed on Taggart, who was nodding. "That said, I would greatly enjoy the sight of the U.S. government trying to prosecute super-powered minors, who gained said powers as part of an illegal eugenics experiment and wide-scale surveillance conducted on American citizens on U.S. soil. I think that would be a landmark media circus that might even get them to stop talking about Trump." Taggart's face froze as surely as though Jase had turned him into ice. "In your face." Devin smirked at Taggart. "Or wait... was that also in our face? Whose face are you in right now, Rain Man?" "Merely making observations." Jason shrugged, smiling a little. "In my opinion, it doesn't suit either side currently at this table to be at odds. I don't particularly want my face splashed all over the news or journalists digging into my life - at least currently." "And besides, I'm calling dibs on the exclusive." Cass interjected, mock-glaring at everyone. "Anyone talking to any journalist except me is off my Christmas card list and I'm never talking to you again." "Also that" Jase nodded slightly, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement. "Cassandra gets the Pulitzer." The good humor faded from his pale eyes as the door opened and Dr Cook returned, looking harried, with the two Airmen in tow. "Doctor, please take a seat." Annette said smoothly. "We've been having a most interesting discussion." There was a slight edge to the word 'interesting', her eyes boring into the doctor for a moment before she turned back to Jason. "So how do you see this relationship moving forward, Mr Ba- Jason." "Just call him JayBee." Devin grinned at the elegant woman. "If you're not a pile of ash afterwards, he's okay with that." Annette looked at the smirking Jauntsen, then at the glint in the jade depths of the young psychopath's eyes, and shook her heard, smiling a fraction. "I'll stick to 'Jason' for now." she decided, immediately giving the rest of the Fellowship a good impression of her common sense. "Smart." muttered Charlie with a sly smile. "You can tell why she's in charge." Sean grinned. "If you are being truthful," Jase spoke over the snickering. "Then we have aligning aims. You don't want Shelly to be eaten by a metaphysical shadowy parasite, nor do we. You don't want every detail of this project or our lives splashed all over the internet - nor do we. You want to find out what Crossroads has to do with all this - so do we. And finally, you are interested in us: our abilities specifically. And I, at least, am interested in the Aeon Society and how it can benefit me." He glanced at Cook. "Before I knew about Aeon or Branch Nine, I approached the doctor here with an offer of cooperation: to let me help him. He was less than enthusiastic." "You also lied about how you felt alienated and set apart from your friends. That you felt they were treating you - how was it you said it? 'Like a bomb about to go off or an abusive drunk parent'." Cook replied, a hint of triumphant accusation in his tone as he saw a chance to sow discord. "That you felt your efforts were unappreciated and that all you got from them was 'petty ingratitude and fear'." "Which is indeed how I felt yesterday." Jason nodded slowly, not at all discomfited by Cook's 'j'accuse' moment. "Indeed, I was close to leaving Shelly altogether by the time school was out yesterday. It seems, in light of events since our talk, that I was mistaken - or at least mostly mistaken. Perhaps my friends do struggle to understand and accept me, but no less than I struggle to understand them. I did not lie to you, doctor. Lies are your stock in trade, not mine." "You're a sociopath-" "High functioning psychopath." came a chorused mutter from the other teens. "-lying is all you do." Cook finished with defiant vitriol - and then the vicious satisfaction in his gaze turned to fear as an invisible grip closed around his throat, terrifyingly strong. His hands came up, but there was nothing to struggle against as he was pulled bodily out of his chair and onto his toes. "I can do many things." Jason's voice was calm, a contrast with the predatory gleam of his eyes. "I can reach down your throat and pull out your heart. I could twist your head clean off your shoulders, burn you slowly to ash as you scream, sizzling in your own fat. I could freeze parts of your body and shatter them, starting with your reproductive organs. I could do all that, and my heart rate would not climb even a fraction." Cook's breath came in gasping wheezes now, his face turning dark red. "Am I lying?" "Dude..." Devin said warningly. Gar reached out and put a hand on Jase's shoulder, his expression tense with worry for his son. "Am. I. Lying?" Jason repeated, each word sliding into place like knives into sheaths. Cook managed to shake his head and croak something that sounded like 'no'... and then collapsed heavily, catching himself on the table and falling back into his seat, gasping for life-giving air. "Next time you feel like insulting me, Doctor Cook, bear that in mind." Jase stated in the frozen silence. "Your discomfort, fear, pain and life mean less than nothing to me. You extend your safety by minding your manners and cooperating." He held out a hand, a donut drifting into it as a cup of the admittedly terrible coffee was poured from pot and likewise floated down to the end of the table where he reached out and took it, taking a sip and making a face. "So you see, Ms Giles, I am willing to cooperate in the achieving of our mutual goals, taking one day at a time. Right now I think the best thing for us to do is find out all we can about the legends of the Dark, then confer with you about what aid we might possibly need." "Yes." Annette nodded, recovering her aplomb admirably - though looking a little wide-eyed as the gasping Cook rubbed at his bruised throat, his eyes downcast. "That seems sensible." She looked at the others. "Does anyone else have any further concerns?"
  13. 1 point
    "As close as my research can tell, the Dark has been active in Shelly since the beginning. Possibly before the beginning - but for that we'd have to consult the local Blackfeet and hope their oral history has some reference to it. The Land of Upside-Down Thunder is a Blackfoot term for this area, though, as is 'Dawning Dark Light'. So it's safe to say that they have some knowledge of it." Jason spoke quietly, addressing Ms Giles and Major Taggart. "I'm not going to give the full presentation I gave to everyone else right now, but the short version is this: every twenty-seven years there is a spate of killings, disappearances, and violent assaults that would lead to death if they weren't interrupted. People go crazy - mothers kill children, drunken friends pull knives on each other... you get the picture. After talking with the Man in Black earlier when he visited me in the hospital, and combining it with what you've said about the high count of 'aether' in this area, I think that something in this area produces people with Shine - weak, isolated, but harvestable. And once a generation or so, the Dark wakes up and eats, feeding on the deaths of those with gifts. Only this time, several things have changed - we're stronger than the previous ones for some reason." He paused, thinking for a moment. "Mr Black did say that he regarded us like I regard my flowers. It's possible he was blowing smoke - or he might have something to do with whats different this time, why we've manifested gifts beyond what the project was capable of cultivating." "So we're his eugenics experiment?" Cassie asked, wrinkling her nose. "We know he's old. He can afford to think in terms of generations, centuries of nudging the course of events, searching out bloodlines with the best chance of producing us. Then he takes the best seeds he can find, and plants them in the best ground for them to bloom." Jason looked at everyone. "Hell, maybe he even steered the Project here. Ms Giles did say that Kline's a geneticist, not a quantum physicist, yet he suddenly stumbled on the concept of 'aether'. What if someone helped him?" "Shit." Marissa said softly. "That makes sense. Chess played over decades." "If I had a goal like 'defeating the Dark', and needed people like us to do it, and had time on my hands... It's how I'd operate." Jason shrugged. "Back to the Dark - we know it has some kind of intelligence to how it acts. We know that Mr Black has said we need to find Cody Sikes. We know, thanks to Cassie, that it's heart seems to be in downtown Shelly. We know Devin can potentially flip us over to it's side of the mirror to fight it. But..." "But what don't we know?" Sean finished, nodding. "We should talk to the Blackfeet before we go charging in."
  14. 1 point
    "Long enough that is has something to do with this," Devin showed them the copper bracelet on his wrist. It was the only relic they had at this point that seemed to have any connection with the strange energy The Dark manipulated. If it could disrupt its abilities to pull Devin through to other worlds, what other powers were hidden within it. He didn't like the idea of them having access to it, but it killing them if they tried to take it was a definite deterrent for thievery. "It's... how would you guys put it? Aether infused. We call it shine, but you get the gist." "What is it?" Ms. Giles asked as she reached a finger to trace along it's surface. "Don't touch it!" Cass shouted in a panic, extending her had to Ms. Giles and prepared to pull her arm away. "For some reason it only works for Devin." Ms. Giles recoiled her hand, curling her fingers into her delicate palm. "It's a dimensional stabilizer," Devin added. "Near as we can tell. It's stabilizes me, anchors me here so The Dark can't yank me back to the Land of Upside Down Thunder." Taggart fumed, shaking his head. "Every time one of these kids opens their mouth they give us another page or questions. What the hell is an Upside Down Thunder?" "Uh... it's sort of... it's hard to explain," Cade interjected. "It's where The Dark was banished to and the place is all sorts of messed up." "Like a dark mirror of our world." Charlie piggy-backed. "Not a pretty place, and until that bracelet, it could swipe Devin and steal him away to its realm." "Why you?" Taggart asked. "Because," Devin sighed. "...I can travel between dimensions." He didn't want to tell them per se, but, it gave the eggheads something to faun over while the others looked around the Project. 'Dazzle the with a light show and all that', seemed to be his plan. "Extraordinary." Ms. Giles said softly. "You kids are... generations ahead in anything we've researched so far." "Yeah, that's great," Devin smiled softy. "My point in showing you this... was... maybe you have the technology to analyze it. Perhaps date it? Knowing roughly how old this is, might give us a starting point for a timeline. Cass is great at timelines, she can arrange the data, Autumn can help or go forage for berries or something. Marissa can organize the intel and Sean can source historical reporting using the interwebs. Jason can hang out and be all expressionless and morose until we need something smart said or done. If you wanna fight something, you start at the beginning. Search for clues in the past, work to the now. This thing was banished, this much we know. Which means someone kicked its ass once." "What about you, Charlie and Cade?" Autumn rested a fist on her hip as she glared at him, knowing he was up to something. "Uh," the teleporter looked at her like she should know better than to question the great and powerful Devin. "My idea, Aykay. I don't have to help, I thought of it. Since I'm such a nice guy, and we've already established this in the past... I am on pizza duty. You're welcome. These guys are gonna help me carry, because we'll need drinks too. And no, I'm not getting you granola on your pizza, Hippie."
  15. 1 point
    "I don't like it." Allister said, though in a much calmer manner as he absorbed what his son and the other teens were telling him. "Not the dating thing - I mean everything else." "You think the kids asked for it?" Hank inquired in blunt fashion. "Any of them? I know for a fact that Jase here ain't hurt anyone that hasn't hurt someone else first. And if you're worried about him being a loose cannon, think of the two shitheels that jumped him at school. He could've turned them inside out." "But I didn't." Jason said quietly. "Because I saw they were being pushed by the Dark. Like Mari said, it can get in peoples heads. Those without Shine, at least. It can't exactly make them do stuff they wouldn't normally, but it can push them into acts from their darker sides and turn it up to eleven. For instance, it couldn't make a loving father kill his kid with a snap of it's fingers, but it might be able to push an angry man into beating a loved one and then just... going too far. Marissa pointed out that maybe Liam was pushed by the Dark when he attacked Lona. If that had been something I'd considered at the time, I'd have acted differently." He didn't sound guilty, per se, but it was at least an admission that his actions were not altogether something he took pride in. "You saying he was innocent?" Allister peered at the slender young man. Jason slowly shook his head, frowning a little. "I don't know if he was or not. I am pretty sure that if he wasn't capable of the act, the Dark couldn't have pushed him to it." "Liam 'Hey girl, here's a drink that's totes not spiked' Day?" Marissa snorted. "He's totally capable of it." "Amen." Sophia chimed in. "The guy's a sleaze who hangs around hitting on Juniors and Sophomores because Seniors are too wise to his shit. No tears shed here." As the Sheriff looked at her she squirmed a little, shooting a glance at Jason. "Like, I don't think it's cool that Bannon 'Carrie'd' his ass, but if he's graduating from sleaze to full-on rapist, I feel safer that he's limping rather than running." "Also... If it wasn't for Jase, most of us wouldn't really be understanding our abilities the way we do. He put a lot of brain work into figuring out what exactly the Shine is, how it lets us do the things we do, and so on." Charlie admitted with a slight grin. "He was the one that put the idea of the Mantis Shrimp in my head for a 'combat shape'. He's helped us out, Sheriff. A lot. And for the record, in case it wasn't clear: he's not a monster. He stopped three guys from assaulting Cora at the fair." "He saved some of us from a sabertooth in the woods." Marissa put in. "I know, I know. Yes, a sabertooth. Don't ask me how it got there." "He helped fight the vagisaurus in round one, too." Devin said. "He could've run, but didn't." The teleporter smirked at Jase. "He's crazy, but that shit was awesome. Apart from my junk almost getting eaten." "You should see his garden." Cassie chirped. The others looked at her askance, some of them slowly considering even as Autumn nodded firm agreement. "What? It's beautiful. Seems to me a monster couldn't grow flowers like that. Even if he does lack pluck." Jason smiled faintly at the teasing, inclining his head towards the blonde girl. "Yeah - the garden is awesome." Autumn said with a warm smile, trying not to blush as pale green eyes flicked her way. She grabbed a donut and hastily bit into it to stop herself saying anything more. "He might not be normal." Sean said quietly. "But none of us are normal, and Jase? He's our not-normal. He's got our backs." Ian Allister looked at them all, then at Jason, and huffed quietly, his manner thoughtful. Cade put a hand on his shoulder. "Dad, they're right. You know what Gramps is always saying about judging people before walking a mile in their shoes." "Hmm." The sheriff grunted non-committedly, then looked at Jason again, then at his son. Settling back in his chair, he appeared deep in thought, apparently having nothing further to say. Ms Giles, who had watched the interplay avidly as the Fellowship spoke up and gathered around one of their own, was wearing a slight smile. "It appears the sheriff has some things to think about. As, indeed, perhaps so does Jason." she remarked gently. "To sum up the answer to the last question Devin asked: we're not sure why people have different affinities and abilities. Though I imagine some of you-" she glanced around at the Fellowship "-might be working on figuring that out yourselves." "In the meantime," Taggart spoke up for the first time in a while. "There seems to be a large paranormal threat in Shelly. I'd appreciate any intelligence you could give us on it. I know, for example, that Miss Allen here can sense where it seems to be based. But what exactly is this Dark and how long has it been here?"
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