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Everything posted by Sean Cassidy

  1. Shop Room Sean put the two men out of mind when he saw his new vehicle up on the lift without any wheels. It made him feel a little anxious, especially when he didn't see anyone working on it, or Sara's unmistakable form anywhere in sight. De-tired, it felt like his Jeep was naked, or had its feet cut off. Silly, yes, but it was his first vehicle and his biggest ever purchase. Most of the other students were busy on their own projects and shopwork and barely looked up when Sean entered the class. He'd taken a shop class last year, and had helped out several students with fixing or tuning up their computers, building them one, or unlocking their phones. Sean nodded at one he was a little more familiar with, and walked over to Benny Lofton. His real name was Benedict - it was a family name - but even his parents called him Ben or Benny. "Hey, Benny, have you seen Sara around?" Sean asked, nodding up at the deep green Grand Cherokee. There was maybe a bit more rust and scratches on the undercarriage than he thought. "Just wanted to ask how it was going with my ride." "You certainly went big with your first, Cassidy," Benny drawled without any trace of innuendo as he stood his wiry frame up and cleaned his hands. He wasn't much taller than Sean and was a gearhead and a gamer foremost. "Sara's at another class, history, I think, but don't worry, it's in good hands. She'll be back after lunch." Benny looked up at the Jeep and blew out a laconic raspberry. "Maybe I should take a look at the auction, see if I can find something decent on the cheap, or a wreck to fix up." "You'll certainly find plenty of wrecks there," Sean said wryly, picturing a couple that practically already looked like a car-crusher had gotten to them. "But maybe a few turds that can be polished, and a fewer diamonds in the rough. I think I got a zircon at least." Sean gave a small, rueful chuckle. "But I like it, bullet hole and all." "Bullet hole?" "Check the tailgate when you get a chance. It was a drug-runner's car that got seized and then impressed into doing alphabet agency work," Sean admitted as he started to turn to leave. "Thanks for the heads up 'bout Sara, Benny, I'll be back later when I get a chance." "Oh! Wait a sec, Cassidy," Benny said, reaching out a hand, but stopping before touching Sean's shoulder. "Hmm?" "I just wanted to ask you something about Annwn," Benny said. "See, I got stuck..." Sean was pleased to talk about the one game he'd gotten out on Steam and the mobile app stores, but he didn't give Benny any spoilers or direct him to specific easter-eggs and secrets, but did offer him some hints for progress. Then he spent a few minutes talking about his new game he still had on the works, admitting he hit some delays as he decided to rework some stuff and focus a bit more on another subsystem. "... should be getting a Youtube vid up in a week or two, showing what's going on with it--" Just then Sean's phone chirped rapidly with several missed texts. He glanced at them with raised brows and frown. "Sorry, Benny, thanks for the chat and showing interest in the game, I'll hook you up with a game-key when its done, but I gotta go, and check on something. Later."
  2. Able to port things right to your hand, that's awfully convenient, Sean thought with not a little interest and envy. Between that and being able to port just about anywhere, he's gonna have to watch out about getting fat. Trying to make his interdimensional collect call, Devin heard Sean's voice as though from far away. "If the bracelet has been locked to Devin, or made for him, could it possible he wasn't Dark-napped? Assuming they couldn't whip one of these things up in a second, could Lady Fett or her people have been the ones to pull Devin to this Notaworld? With the express purpose of giving him the thing?"
  3. Sean felt a sharp spike of excitement at the mention of nanites. A glorious example of high technology. They should have been way beyond current levels of technology, but then again, so should have been an atomic generator the size of a fridge. Also, these came from the same Otherworld as Devin's bracelet, tech levels could be higher there, he supposed, though that made the crossbow somewhat anachronistic. Still, if there were nanites, he should be able to manipulate their functions, at least stop them all from discorporating inside Devin's bloodstream, so they could get a sample or several to study. If he could figure out what they were capable of, he might be able to figure out what the people who injected him with them in the first place are capable of. "Nanites," Sean breathed in wonder, despite the troubling revelations Devin had revealed. His thoughts and attention went from the provenance of the bracelet and explaining things to the bewildered Tawny - with the texts, he had thought Devin had told her already -to refocusing on Devin, or rather, what was coursing inside him, opening his senses to the Electromagnetic spectrum once more, the nanites must communicate with each other, those signals would give him something to pinpoint them, give him a chance to arrest their self-destruct protocols before they were all gone. Unless they were entirely organic... Organic organisms had bioelectric patterns, in theory, he might be able to figure out how to manipulate them as well... So intent was Sean on trying to save some of the nanites that he didn't notice Cass locking into place when she bent her will towards the bracelet, and was slow to react when Lona shouted the bracelet was trying to kill Cass. He almost stumbled getting out of Lilly's way when she turned and rushed to help her, Sara steadying him with a strong hand. He nodded his thanks, his eyes flicking from Jase and Cass, giving him the space he requested with an upraised hand to the bracelet on the ground, back and forth. "Maybe the person who gave it to you, Devin, set it to work only for you? A biometric - or psimetric - lock of some type?" Sean opined. Alive... He glanced up over his shoulder at Sara. "If it's alive, can you maybe... I dunno, 'talk' to it? Convince it we aren't hostile against... its purpose I guess?" Sean frowned and crossed his arms against a phantom chill witnessing what it had done to Cass. "In a certain sense, an AI could be considered alive. Considering the nanites, if this thing has a supercomputer running it, I might be able to talk to it. Or we can try and combine our efforts."
  4. Sean and Sara entered the storage room together, talking softly about the work being done on his Jeep. He gave Laurie a suspicious look when he found her here first, but his sister's face gave away nothing about why she knew which storage room Devin had been referring to. Sean's suspicious gaze was drifting towards Devin when Tawny barged in. While the sunny blonde make her demands and Lona explained - such as she did - Sean pulled a sandwich from his cooler bag, spraying a few crumbs as he chuckled at Lona's response. He was about to ask Devin what he meant about being Dark-napped, if it was something to do with his 'jaunting' or if he thought it could happen to any of them, when he revealed the copper bracelet. When Jase asked him about the bracelet, Sean quickly finished his sandwich, then stepped forward and narrowed his eyes as he focused on the Shine, his head cocked slighly. Then his turquoise and jade eyes widened as the bracelet blazed with psionic power. "It is like them, but if anything it's stronger," Sean said. "I think its Shine is being enhanced or influenced by your own, Devin." He blinked several times and refocused his vision, looking up at the taller boy. "Where did you get this? Just found it on the Otherside? The arrowheads and spearheads were saw at the museum were unique, coming from a very specific dig site."
  5. Parking Lot Among other things today so far, it had taken considerable effort for Sean to resist tapping into Marissa's phone and surreptitiously enabling its speakers to listen in to what Ms. Forster had to say to her. Just opening himself up to the idea, he'd opened himself up to the barrage of zipping fireflies that represented texts, snaps, status updates, and other transmissions spit out by the plethora of electronic devices among the student body. And despite his best intentions, he couldn't stop seeing what some of them were. Nothing overly salacious or private this time, at least. Still, he'd been distracted during his last class. He forced that sense down, replacing it with reaching out for his drone in the back of his car out of idle curiosity, so hadn't been paying attention to his surroundings as much as he should have been, especially with The Dark apparently being more aggressive lately. The whistle and lewd comments weren't uncommon, though unusual at school, but the unquiet comment about 'that has a dick?' was rare to hear in Shelly, where most people knew him, or at least of him. Even outside of Shelly, it was rare to hear, unless he revealed his condition - most of the comments he heard were directed at an over-endowed, young woman. His face reddened in embarrassment and annoyance now. It was easy to blame the Dark, but he'd been subjected to people like this guy for years. He had been ignoring them, he should have continued ignoring them, but he couldn't just let the last comment go. "'He'," Sean called back coolly, turning his head to glance at them as he continued to the shop, resolutely keeping to the same pace. "I'll accept 'they' too, if 'he' is too hard to wrap your brain around." "What?" the man said in a rough growl, taking any attention he had on the diesel tank to direct it all at Sean, dark brows knitting. The other guy - Patrick Welker Sean's mental files told him, he'd been in the baseball team, and had asked Teagan out once, who had turned him down - fumbled a bit, taking up the sudden slack his colleague left him. "I'm not a 'that' or an 'it'," Sean clarified, keeping his voice cool and calm, not confrontational. "I prefer 'he' and 'him', but I'm fine with 'they' and 'them', if you must. Sorry 'bout ruining your casual harassment of what you took to be a high school girl." He gave Patrick a tight, bitter grin. "Couldn't leave him in the dark, Patrick, huh?" Sean really didn't think they had anything to do with the Dark, but better safe than sorry. He opened himself to the Shine, to see if he could sense any of the Dark's influence on them or in the area, as well as circumspectly shifting into view of any of Dr. Cook's surveillance he could determine. He had to have something overseeing the Shop room.
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  7. Sean had been developing a new respect for Devin, if not over all the shit he'd put him through the last few years, and as his twin, Sean was trying to grant a modicum of that to Marissa. If he didn't hate her, he still didn't like her. But God Damn, if Marissa didn't have it. Sean didn't feel Jason's cerebral infatuation, but he couldn't help but feel the impressed awe and increased wariness most of the rest of the class did. And not a little envy that he wouldn't ever admit to anyone. He might have been getting better at retorting against harassing comments and behaviour, getting them to shut up, and maybe even having his or her friends laughing at their expense. But Marissa had cowed the entire class with a glare and, like, two sentences. The reverberations of that glare would probably stop anyone from making a crass comment about Marissa into next week - well, if she didn't decide to spit her venom all over someone, Sean supposed - and he never seen a hair whip be so... emphatic before. Sean wished he know how to do that, at least a little bit. Not the hair whip - his hair wasn't nearly long enough, nor did he intend that it ever would - but the ability to utterly silence a catcaller that he practically choked on the regret, and made everyone around him feel for sorry for him. Ms. Forster gave Marissa a slight nod, giving her the point, even if she didn't seem to believe her answer anymore than Marissa did. Her unprofessional smirk didn't waver as she surveyed the rest of the almost unnaturally quiet class. "Well, come on, no one else willing to step up next? Aren't you all supposed to think you're immortal at this age? I didn't expect my class to be so... demure. Very well." She picked up a clip with attendance and seating chart on it. Her brows rose at some of the notes Mr. Carlson had made for her convenience. Her smirk widened a trifle. "How about you, Sean Cassidy? Why did you decide to take biology" Sean gave a small start from comparing Ms. Forster to Mrs. Jauntsen, which lead to comparing Mrs. Jauntsen to Marissa in her terrifying and glorious ire, showing off her legs in the too short pleated skirt. Not for the first time, he could barely believe Misti Jauntsen had a daughter like Marissa. Sean had taken biology pretty much for the easy science credit, but he couldn't admit that to Ms. Forster and her appraising gaze and her faint smirk. He knew new subs got notes on his unique condition, so he was treated appropriately, with varying success, along with any sudden new substitute teacher being suspicious to one degree or another. He also wasn't about to stand up to answer when his cargo pants were feeling two sizes too small at the moment. "I've learned a fair bit reading my own medical file and researching on my own to understand what it all meant," Sean said, straightening up in his desk, his voice clear and sweet, though his odd eyes had darted about for a moment when caught with his attention wondering. "But with my slew of genetic quirks..." There was a faint snicker at the back of the class, but no one dared to shout out again after just being so succinctly lambasted by Marissa. Sean's cheeks reddened faintly, but he didn't look around and his voice stayed steady. "... I figured having a basic foundation in biology would help in understanding how and why my genetics developed as they did... And it looked like an easy science credit."
  8. Cafeteria <Will do,> Sean affirmed while giving the mental impression of a thumbs up, glancing at Sara from the corner of his eyes. Having had a bit of extra practice with it during the trip to Helena, Sean wasn't quite as surprised by or awkward with the establishment of the telepathic network. Despite trying to be more assertive and less embarrassed about his appearance and condition, Sean couldn't overcome the habits of years in less than a week, and at the mention of people disrupting Jase's 'business' and his own tormentors, he couldn't help but casually look around in a well practised manner for any or them. <Add half of the cheerleading team thanks to Courtney, and two or three others,> Sean added to Lona's list, including one teacher who was notoriously strict on the female students about adhering to the dress code and many suspected he looked at them more than school faculty should. <But hey, let's not just not consider my fan club. How 'bout the rest of you? Anyone you guys can think of that might try to mess with you, like, with the play or your music, Lona, or whatever else the rest of you hold dear?> "You're welcome to join the game too, Sara," Sean offered the incredibly buff girl who was build like how any number of fantasy female barbarians and warriors should have been. "I might end up with big group for gaming, but I'll give everyone the opportunity to shine. And if it gets too unwieldy," Sean shrugged as he finished his muffin then open the top of his small carton of milk to contain all the detritus of his breakfast. "I'd might split the group and run two tables, with the help of a sub-DM, if someone is interested in the job. I'll make it work, and hopefully everyone will have fun."
  9. Cafeteria "He's like an ogre," Sean commented in a very passable Shrekian brogue, though an octave or three higher, his grin widening for a moment. Labyrinth was good, though he had always preferred the Dark Crystal. He dipped his head towards Charlie in a token gesture of respect for his choice. "I didn't know they'd done a stage adaptation for Labyrinth." "They haven't," Charlie admitted, with a slight bit of anxiety. Marissa had had a good idea, but it was going to be some extra work to pull it off. "Ouch," Sean said in sympathy. "Got your work cut it for you then, adapting it, don't want it to be all Jareth and Sarah. I might be able to help you out with the 'Fiery' bits, at least, put something together than can be taken apart on stage, maybe using some fishing line..." Sean liked putting together models and figurines, using green stuff to modify them, then painting them, and he was decent enough at sewing. He loved Halloween and almost always made his own costume. "And hopefully, the drama club can pick up pieces for the goblin costumes cheap after Halloween. Or I can work lighting again, if you're short stagehands." He wasn't sure about being on stage. He'd do it if Charlie was in a bind - like he'd done before - but auditioning for a part... Sean chuckled - perhaps to some, it might have been construed more of a giggle - when he turned his attention to Beth, Cass, and Clara. "Pan's Labyrinth would be a very different production - definitely not lighthearted. Would need some spectacular costumes to work, though anything from Del Toro would. If you're interested in the D&D game, I'll send you a link to my gaming app - makes Character Creation and keeping track of things during the game much easier and I'll write up a synopsis of what's happened so far, if you like. It's not necessary, but it'll help with getting to know the other characters and the setting."
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  11. Cafeteria Sean couldn't keep a quick frown crossing his lips when first Kyle, then Beth, joined them at the table with Charlie, Cade, and Cass. He understood they had friends outside of the Fellowship, but he'd wanted to know if there had been any more strange going on during the weekend. He gave Clara a one shoulder shrug. With Kyle and Beth there, the rest of them had to watch what they said, but it wasn't their fault. It was no one's fault, really. He replaced his frown with a slightly cautious smile and gave Kyle and Beth a small two-fingered waved. "I'm always nice," Sean protested with exaggerated affront, if not complete honesty. "Pleased to meet you, Beth, any friend of Cass, yadda, yadda, " Sean said. He gave Kyle a nod. He had met Kyle before, when helping Charlie out two years ago, replacing a girl who had dropped out of a play at the last minute. "Kyle." Sean arched a dark red brow at Charlie. "You decide on which play drama club is doing this year, yet, Charlie?" Sean tilted his head with idle curiosity to see what Jason was reading, then turned his attention back to the rest of the table. Cora was leaving, and bummed with her leaving, he wasn't sure if Cade was still going to be in the mood to game. With the Dark and all that it portended, he wasn't even sure about the rest of the Fellowship's interest in gaming. "You guys have any interests or hobbies you want to reveal, see if any of us share them?" Sean asked the newcomers. "Video games, movies, certain genres of novels? I might have room for another player or two in my D&D campaign, if either of you, or you, Cass, are interested."
  12. Sean opened his mouth to issue an instinctive denial, then closed with a snap. For a few moments, he focused intently on peeling his orange, then he looked up at Sara and sighed as he slowly peeled the slices of orange apart. "Do you?" Sean asked in turn, gesturing at Sara's arms with an orange slice. Even at rest, her biceps bulged impressively. "Like the attention your muscles get? They're incredible, no mistaking, but I'm sure they aren't all positive." "They aren't," Sara agreed with a shrug. "And I do, but I don't go out of my way denying what I'm accenting. And in some ways that seems to be what your doing. I'm not talking about your condition but the way you, well, dress. And then they way you act because of others responding to the way you dress." "I don't... it's not..." Sean waffled a hand side-to-side in a bit-of-this-bit-of-that gesture. "It's complicated." He snorted wryly, and Sara couldn't help but notice it was a cute sound. "But what isn't, now, right?" He tore the top off his muffin, pulled off a piece and popped in his mouth, chewing contemplatively for a moment, then took a deep breath before continuing. "I was seriously messed up when all... this started. I was thirteen when I was first seriously hit on by a guy, twice my age, staring at my chest. I wasn't showing anything, just wearing a loose Star Wars shirt. I could have retorted I was only thirteen, instead I shouted I was a boy, then he accused me of misleading him. My dad almost got into a fight. Then there were the comments about implants, regardless of how young I look. At the time, I thought it was my fault, I wore layers and layers, which didn't really hide the fact I had tits, just made me look chunky." Sara sensed the wash of remembered shame, embarrassment, and self-recrimination roll off Sean, low emotions that the Dark would feed off. "And I quickly got tired of trying to explain to strangers my condition, especially considering it's always a crap shoot how someone will take it." Sean sighed in exasperation, then took another bite of muffin and washed it down with some milk. "Look, I'm not an idiot, I know what I look like. I don't fault people for thinking I'm a girl, or for people looking. I'd look if I saw a girl - or someone, I suppose - with a figure like mine, though I'd like to think I wouldn't be a crass as many, or as blatant. It's taken a long time and plenty of therapy to understand I can't control how others will react to me, but I can control how I feel about it and how I react to them. I used to be so ashamed and embarrassed about the attention and comments, and when people saw that it seemed to encourage them. Ignoring them, it helps sometimes, sometimes, it doesn't. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to respond more assertively." He shrugged expressively. "I'm still figuring it out.... and figuring out how to dress. Other than bras, I was stubborn about wearing girl clothes, wanting to hold onto the self-image I had as a child. Guess what, guy clothes don't take boobs into account - lots of girl clothes don't either from what I've read," Sean added in a low mutter. "I've only just started buying some new clothes, don't have much, so making do mostly with what I still have, which after my last growth spurt..." He shrugged again as he looked down, spinning a slice of orange on the table with a slim finger. "Lots of stuff fits tighter than it did. But trying to hide feels like a step backward." Sean's cheeks reddened as he glanced back up at Sara through a look of vibrant red hair. "It's... with everything that's happened, is happening, it seems so... small, juvenile to keep trying to convince myself that I hate how I look. Lately, I've looked in the mirror, and regardless of how I want think of myself, or what I want to consider myself, I can admit, to some degree, that I might actually like what I see. Sometimes at least. I might still hate how others react and comment about what they see, but that isn't on me. And I've had people in my life saying much the same for years, only I didn't want to hear it." He grinned self-deprecatingly. "Hell, Dr. Cook was one, from the first when we started going around looking for second opinions on my conditions. And who knows what that means, considering..." He waggled his fingers in a mystical manner. "... our voodoo." Sean gave his head a shake, then gave Sara a wry grin. His cheeks were still red, but she could feel a sense of relief, some weight off his slender shoulders, at having admitted some of what he was feeling to someone else. "Okay, so that's was lot of words to say, how I look at myself is in flux, and I'm gonna be making mistakes and regrets along the way... And I need a shit-ton of new clothes after spending most of what I had saved up on my car and maybe some style advice." Sean glanced away for a second and blew out a breath, trying to get the red out of his cheeks. "It's been pretty good so far," Sean said, turning back to Clara, Lona, and Jase, and consuming the rest of his orange slices. He gave them an easy grin. "Still loving having my own vehicle, even if it still needs some work." He tilted his head at Sara. "And that work might help Sara score a higher mark in Shop class, and save me a few bucks. How 'bout you with you guys? We were there Sunday afternoon, but did we miss anything 'weird' while we were in Helena over the weekend?"
  13. "I could use a bite," Sean agreed. There was an extra bounce in Sean's step as he walked briskly to keep up with the hungry, amazonian Sara on their way to the cafeteria. It was immeasurably satisfying and liberating being able to drive himself to school and about town in his own vehicle, and only a day after the purchase, the wonder hadn't come close to wearing off yet. Nor could the comments that he was overcompensating for his lack of masculinity or over abundance of feminine attributes ruin his mood when classmates had seen him drive up in his new vehicle - they weren't even completely wrong, he had to admit to himself, pragmatic reasons he had for choosing as he did aside. He'd been slightly hesitant at first to offer Little Bigfoot (as he'd begun to name his lifted Grand Cherokee Trailhawk) to the shop class to work on, but Mr. Bishop's clear confidence in Sara's capabilities, as well as his own experience with them at the auction had gone a long way in easing his worries. As did his home-made drone he'd left in the back that he'd kept a link to. He might might not be able to catch much on video, but it had audio too. If it would help Sara with her grade, bonus. Sean couldn't thank Sara enough for her help in getting his vehicle in the first place. He was wearing a pair of black cargo pants with actually useful pockets - though the hip pockets were still too shallow for his phone - and an open flannel shirt over a faded red Nuka-Cola t-shirt that was snug across his chest. Perhaps it was having a vehicle of his own, as well as growing proficiency with having fucking psionic powers, but Sean was far less self-conscious about his appearance and the snide, contemptuous, or mocking comments or glances it garnered. Indeed, with his lack of concern, it seemed he actually drew less overt attention or derision, fewer people seemed to feel the need to pick on him about. There might be more about one being victimized for acting like a victim than Sean had been willing to admit. Or maybe it was the flat expression on the hulking girl at his side. It was an effort not just to peek into anyone's phone that his curiosity turned his interest on. With his senses attuned to the right frequencies, every phone and tablet and the transmissions flying about seemed to him to be jumping up and waving their arms, yelling 'Look at me! Look at me!'. He couldn't help but look at some of the transmissions that appeared to be practically zipping right across in front of him. Most were banal stuff, the rare bit salacious. He didn't catch anything about him or the Fellowship off-hand, and was kind of surprised he felt surprised about that. Sean and Sara walked into the cafeteria and got in line to get breakfast. Sean just got a blueberry muffin and an orange and an orange juice. "Get your tits back in line with the rest of you, Cassidy," one boy snarked, sharing a chuckle with his friends. Sean snorted and rolled his eyes, setting his bottle of orange back and picking up a carton of milk instead and giving it a shake at the boy. "Thanks for keeping an eye on them, Randall. They're growing girls and always wondering off like that if I don't leash them down."
  14. Sean stopped off at his place to pick up his drones - which he intended to use for his own practice - and endured his parents' congratulations and questions about his new vehicle, his dad promising that if he got stuck in the snow, he was calling Sean to tow him out with the winch. Sean affected his escape by mentioning his friends were waiting on him, nodding pointedly at Autumn who was waiting with good grace, and he wanted to show off his Grand Cherokee to them too, worn and beaten as it was. He picked Sara up at the garage, where she'd returned the wrecker, then drove them to the Bannon Farm, let the music cycle through the regular, if still ecletic, playlist on his phone instead of potential video game soundtracks. At the moment, Disturbed's cover of The Sound of Silence was playing, and Sean drove with a wide smile on his face, fingers tapping rhythm on the wheel. You saw the road differently when you were the one driving, and in Sean's case, it wasn't only because he was driving a SUV that rode higher than most other vehicles on the street, let alone a bicycle. When you were a passenger, you just didn't pay attention to where you were going compared to when you were the driver. Still, he'd been to Jase's before, so he knew the way and it was well past noon when he drove down the dirt road to Jase's home and parked in the row with all his other friends' vehicles and climbed out Cherokee with a hop and swung the door closed in time with Autumn and Sara on the passenger side. Sean opened the door into the back and pulled out a pair of drones, when he had made himself and another his parents had gotten him for Christmas one year of fairly substantial quality - it had been his only gift that year. They didn't see anyone else, and when they followed the sign to the kitchen, they didn't see anyone there either. "Well, I guess considering what Jase can do, and what Charlie apparently did, they didn't want to be anyplace they could easily be seen by accident or might break stuff Jase rather they didn't," Sean mused. "I can locate them if they're nearby," Sara assured him. "I might be able to track them," Autumn added glancing around the ground." "I can too," Sean countered with a grin, waggling one of the drones. "Either way, we all get practice." Sara reached out mentally, seeking the mindsparks of the Fellowship, while Sean extended his own supernal senses, following the slumbering currents of digital life in his DJI drone. With a completely unnecessarily dramatic exhalation, Sean tossed the drone into the air and the quad rotors spun to life, the drone rising smoothly into the air under the control of Sean's will. Tapping into it's systems, Sean could see what the drone was seeing through the gimbal-mounted camera> It was bewildering at first, his normal vision being overlaid with the video transmission from the drone, but a few moments effort, he was able to switch more smoothly from one to the other, instead of having them conflict. It bit like watching where he was going and looking at what his drone was seeing on his phone... y'know, just without actually using a phone. Or a remote control of any sort. Awesome. "Found them," Sara drawled as Sean played with his toy. Autumn rolled her eyes and huffed a lock of red hair out of her face. Sean blew a raspberry as his drone rose higher and panned around, the excellent camera giving him an excellent view of the area. "Okay, I have too," Sean said after a moment. "And I see the way to them too." Sara headed off, Sean have to step briskly to keep up with Sara's longer strides. Sean sent his drone ahead and had it circle the Fellowship with joyful little swerves - his sister gave it the finger. Then he set it on auto when he almost tripped over a rock he hadn't seen and would have probably landed on his face is Sara hadn't caught him with a strong hand. "Oops." Soon, Sean, Sara, and Autumn were approaching the group of psionic and otherwise truly exceptional teens. Sean gave them a small wave as they reached them. "Hey, guys, sorry we're late. But I have my own set of wheels now. And I so have something to share about the Shine," Sean said animatedly as he brought the drone back to him to hover over his shoulder. "We found some things out about it too." Jason said, looking up and giving the them a wave of greeting. "For instance, it seems to be everywhere, concentrated in living things, but everywhere." The normally stoic teen's eyes were shining. Sean nodded excitedly, almost bouncing on his toes, and tapping his fingers together. "Yeah, we figured that out too, almost by accident. We had some time to kill and stopped off at the Montana Historical Society Museum. Get this, there were these 15,000 year old artifacts - arrow heads and spear heads - from a Clovis site - the Clovis were the first civilization to settle North America. And they burned with the shine, almost as bright as we do!" "Items imbued with the Shine?" Jase rubbed his chin, musing as his pale eyes rested on Sean. "That... could make sense actually. After all, if we can connect with objects, feel them, alter them." He looked at Sean. "You know what this means, of course? It's keyed into the Grand-" "Unifying-" "Theory." the two finished together, Sean laughing and Jase smiling and nodding. "There's more too." He explained about Lilly's seeming ability to choose which possibility became 'real' at the moment of most impact. "...which would also prove the Multiverse theory." he finished. Sean cocked his head to the side, assimilating the information, adding it to his own conjectures. "I've always considered Multiverse Theory a valid assumption. There's also this -despite what we might think of what Cook did or has done, those artifacts highly suggest we aren't the first - by a long shot - to have abilities like these." "No indeed. We figured that the elders on the Reservation might have tales. They did call this place the Land of Upside Down Thunder." Jase went on, looking excited which was itself an odd sight. "There's even more though. We found that our Shine interacts with each other. Like, we can affect and boost each other if touching. We're just scratching the surface of that right now." He smiled wide, looking intrigued at the possibilities. "Hmm, interesting," Sean mused, rubbing his pointed chin with a thumb and forefinger as he pondered the possibilities. "Interacting effects that build on--" "Whoa! Okay, super cool, love the shirt, bro," Laurie interrupted, holding up her hands in agitated exasperation "But he's a PSYCHOPATH! DID YOU KNOW THAT?!" Sean stepped back, startled at his sister's vehemence, then looked up at Jase, his brows furrowed. His friend didn't look different, but he had been acting different since just before school started. "So... not Asperger's then?" Jason sighed, glancing at Laurie without any particular rancor, though the focus of his stare folded her arms across herself in a hug and stepped back. He looked back at Sean. "No. Not Aspergers. I have a missing - or rather undeveloped - part of my brain. Primary psychopathy, not secondary, which is down to abuse, mental illness or trauma. I don't feel fear, or remorse, or sadness, or shame, or embarrassment. I don't form chemical bonds with people." He evinced no particular defensiveness or impatience, his eyes flicking from Sean, to Autumn and Sara, then back to his friend. "I found out when I was eight. It was the reason my mother abandoned me to my grandparents - or perhaps the final straw. Who knows? The Aspergers act - the bad one - was me trying to present somewhat normally. I don't feel compulsions to kill or torture people or small animals, or commit cannibalism. In fact, no convicted serial killer has ever been a primary psychopath. They were all secondaries." He paused, glancing at Laurie. "This came out because I was illustrating how the Shine seems to let me 'connect' to you all in a way that previously was an intellectual effort, rather than instinct. And... Since you're going to hear it anyway... I put Liam Day in hospital following his attack on Lona. Words have already been said on the matter, feel free to add yours." "I-- hm, uh," Sean said succinctly, folding his arms across himself in near mirror to his sister, his eyes going from Jason, to Laurie, then back. "Right. Words. I have those, and I'm processing more. But..." Sean looked around the group. "We're here for another reason and if the Shine is letting you connect... Let's save the words for later, and we'll talk it out ourselves, since you've already did so with the others." Sean arched a brow at Laurie. "In all the time he's been over to our place, have you ever felt or even considered Jase might hurt you, me, or mom or dad?" Laurie pursed her lip and gave her brother the side eye, then lowering her brows her eyes skirted to Jason. "Nooo..." it was obvious she was going to say more but was cut off. "And I never would." he said calmly, smiling a tiny bit at Laurie, then Sean "I'd not harm anyone who didn't threaten me or those I consider my friends. For what it's worth, your family are important to me too." He sighed. "I have a code - a set of rules for avoiding my worst impulses. It takes the place of a conscience. Liam crossed that line - and Lona has already asked me not to do something like that again without talking to her first. I agreed." "Not gonna lie, it's a lot to take in," Sean admitted. "And I'm not sure of everything I feel about it right now. But I'm a freak of nature, and that's not even counting the whole, y'know, psionic stuff. You've handled that fine enough, Laurie, what's one more freak of nature - if in a different way?" "I guess..." Laurie said as she crossed her arms again letting both her brother and his friend not to approach her, and from then on she kept a wary eye on Jason Bannon. "Tell you what." Jason said levelly, a gleam of humour in his eyes. "Let's get on with some powers practice, and if you notice me eyeing up your liver you can leave." "Fair enough." There was a crook of black humour to Sean's grin, while Laurie's tone was both more serious and more uncertain.
  15. The atmosphere at the auction was more intense today. Yesterday had just been for inspections. Today, people were focused on buying, on getting a great deal on a vehicle they could drive off the lot, on parts, or a fixer-upper they could turn around for a good profit or drive themselves. Sean was almost bouncing on his toes, barely constraining his eagerness to finally getting his own vehicle. He could have gotten a shitbox of a car earlier, like his sister Teagan had, but he had saved up to get something better... Hopefully he didn't get screwed on any auction he won and ended up with a lemon. When they got to the lot, the auctions were already going by fast, sometimes as quick as a vehicle every two minutes. Sean grunted, finding out he'd already missed out on one of his selections. Irritating, it at least it hadn't been one high on his list. Sean got into the bidding for the Rav4, but the bids ran over his self-imposed limit in a blink and he barely stopped himself from going over. He skipped over the Honda Civic, then again lost out on the Ford Explorer. He put in a cursory bid on a 2009 Corolla, but tapped out before hitting his limit, the bids going higher than he was willing to shell out for that particular car, especially one that was powder blue. It was nearing eleven in the morning when the bidding on the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk finally started and Sean wanted it, after losing out on his other bids. He tried to keep his expression calm and bland, as though it was just something he'd like, not something he wanted. He hissed silently when the auctioneer opened up well above what he had to spend, even though that had usually been the case with all the other bids he'd participated in, but the price dropped drastically when nobody bid. When it had gone down to a fifth of the opening bid, Sean was a hair behind someone else, and then the bidding started climbing again at a steady rate, then slowing. It seemed the cosmetic damage was enough to deter some bidders and not that many people were interested in a vehicle modded for off-roading, since there hadn't been a huge crowd for the Grand Cherokee and as the price rose, more left. Sean and one other guy appeared to be the most interested in it. The guy was about as tall as Cade and as broad across the shoulders as Sara, maybe in his early thirties, with a bushy orange beard and an easygoing smile on his face, wearing flannel, worn jeans and work boots, and a cap. "I see Montana ain't just Big Sky country," the man drawled in good humour between bids as laughing blue eyes flicked over Sean and Sara with idle appreciation, Sara's physique was obvious, but Sean tried to take the comment nonchalantly, refraining from fiddling with his neckline, not for the first time this morning. He was wearing black jeans, and an open flannel shirt as well - checked black, grey, and white - but under it, he wore a woman's scooped neck maroon shirt that revealed just a bit of cleavage. There were plenty of women in the crowd wearing lower cut shirts then him, but it was the lowest cut he'd ever worn. Autumn's brows had risen in surprise when she'd seen the top Sean had chosen to wear. He'd tried to be cool about it as he explained he'd been reading blogs and reddits about dressing figures like his. They claimed moderately low necks made boobs look smaller because it broke up the space between the neck and the rest of the chest. It was true the last time he'd worn a turtleneck, he'd looked like his torso was all boob. The shirt wasn't hiding his boobs, to be sure, but nothing really did anyway, and honestly, they did look less prominent than they had in the too tight cheerleader's outfit, at least from the front. And he didn't feel as self-conscious about wearing the shirt as he had the outfit either, at least not in Helena where people didn't know him. "You do you, Sean," Autumn had replied bemused, glad she didn't have to lug those things around when she ran. "You wear it well." "Montana is also Big Snow country," Sean replied to Orange Beard, "I want something that won't get stuck in it." The man chuckled. "Fair 'nuff, fair 'nuff. First car?" "I hope so," Sean admitted. The guy seemed friendly without being a creep, but Sean kept most of his attention in the bidding, in case this was a ruse to distract him. "Going big, I like that. I already bought three today. I'll step back and let you ladies have a go at this one." He tipped his had at Sean and Sara and like he said, he took a step back. "Uh, thanks," Sean said with an awkward smile, realizing he thought he and Sara were a couple. With Orange Beard taking himself out of the bidding, Sean had the highest bid. He was determined to get it this time, and he wasn't above at little cheating himself. With a bit of whispering to Sara, when she sensed the next person was about to bid, Sean made that person's phone go nuts. He only did it once, feeling a bit of guilt and more than a bit of thrills, and then he ended up the proud owner of his own vehicle! Sean claimed the keys, filled out all the paperwork, and winced when he transferred the funds. It was by far the biggest purchase he had ever made and he couldn't help be hesitant for a moment spending that much. With Sara's help, he started up his not-brand-new forest green Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, and tested out the various systems. Everything seemed to work, though the winch sticked at first, and Sara said some stuff would need to be looked at to make sure what shape they were in, and the brake pads would need replacing in a few months at most. It was good enough for Sean. He hadn't even capped out his car fund, though he had come close. "Thanks, guys for coming along with me. Now lets head back to Shelly. We should be able to make the gathering at Jase's, even if we show up late. We can tell them about those artifacts at the museum." Sean had read all he could about the artifacts and the Clovis culture when at the museum, then online back at the hotel room in the evening. Autumn elected to ride with Sean, while Sara took the wrecker, Sean suggesting staying in contact telepathically on the drive, as a bit of practice, to see how far she could keep the connection, and whether she could maintain the effect while doing something else. In turn he would do the same with Sara's phone. Sean encouraged Autumn to practice attuning to them like she had in the museum, to see if she could perceive some part of what they were doing, to try and jump start her own yet unknown psionic potential. The sun shone brightly as it headed towards its noon zenith while the three Shelly natives drove back home.
  16. Sean stared at the spear heads and arrow heads in intense wonder, his multi-hued eyes almost seeming to glow from the reflected shine he could sense radiating from them. His fingers twitched in unconscious want as he leaned in towards the display, swiftly reading the placards and committing the artifacts' providence to memory. He wasn't really considering... borrowing one of the artifacts, despite desperately wanting to get his hands on one of them - it would be impractical too, each artifact had its own placard, and they all came from the only Clovis site where human remains had been found, so any missing would be noticed almost immediately. But he - the Fellowship - could sense the psionic energy resonating from these, perhaps they could find others-- "Sean!" Autumn hissed again with more urgency, placing a hand on his shoulder. Sean gave a start, a reaching hand flinching back to his chest as he looked to his left and right, finding Autumn and Sara flanking him, his turquoise and jade eyes wide. "Whuh...? You don't see it? The shine?" "What are you talking about?" Autumn asked in confusion, just as Sara said, "What shine?" "It's like what you showed us at school, Sara, when we noticed the other brightness that was you, Autumn," Sean explained softly so he wouldn't be overheard, his words rushed with excitement. "But different. Everyone has some degree of Shine, I think - maybe everything does, if you can sense it closely enough. Some shine more brightly, like you guys... and those things." Sean nodded at the display of fifteen thousand year old artifacts from the people who first settled in North America. "They're shining almost as much as you both are." "Sean, you aren't making sense," Autumn said. "They aren't shining, they're just old rock, maybe reflecting the display lights a little." "No, not... " Sean sighed and tore his eyes off the artifacts and turned around to form at triangle with Sara and Autumn so he could address them both at the same time. "I was following the currents in the electrical system, following the flow of data from the security cams and then I noticed how some of the other patrons were reacting. I was wondering if it was something you were doing, Sara, and wanted to see if I could see, sense... a current flowing between you and them. And then I could... sort of. I could see the shine in everyone, and sense the pulse of shine you directed at those folks, Sara. And the shine coming off those." Sean flicked a hand over his shoulder at the Clovis arrow heads and spear heads on display behind him. "Okay, we all - those of us with psionic powers anyway, I don't know about Laurie, Lilly, or Cade, or you, yet, Autumn - can detect specific phenomena. Electromagnetism, Minds, Health, Life Force - which might be the same thing, I suppose - Spatial Distance, feel stuff at range. But I think we can all sense, on some level, something else, something more general, more pervasive, that... interconnects everything else. Maybe its the medium our powers work through? Not as distinct as the other stuff we can sense, but its still there, you almost don't notice it unless you try to. Like breathing..." Sean pursed his lips, then shook his head. "Not like breathing, you don't need it to live. More like... the warmth of the sun. Or gravity. I went with the sun thing because of, well, y'know, 'shine'. But the allusion works well enough. Sometimes, you don't even notice the feel of sunlight, and other times, you can practically feel it burning your skin, but the its always there, even when hidden by clouds - except of course during night time. It's not a perfect analogy. But what I'm saying is, I think we can all sense the shine, this psionic energy..." This has to have an impact on determining a true, valid Grand Unifying Theory... "How?" the girls asked in unison. Sean tried to explain as best he could, how it felt sensing/seeing electrical currents and then trying to do the same for a different type of current when he'd been trying to see what Sara was doing and then the pop of the shine in everyone lighting up. It was easier for Sara to follow what Sean was saying, switching out electrical current for the sensation of minds all around her and then going from there. For Autumn, it was much harder, without a starting reference point. Continuing with the shine-sunshine/sunlight analogy, Sean used a window in the climate controlled museum, having Autumn stand nearby with her eyes closed. And then he subtly bent the sunlight - or at least the none-visible portion of it - towards Autumn, waiting, urging, her to feel the difference, to give her some sort of reference for what he was trying to convey. Sara got it first, Autumn several minutes later, but she did manage it, and both gasped in near mirror to how Sean had. They could see how brightly the other two shone, the much dimmer brightness of other people... and the shine from the artifacts in the display case, a shine that shone near as bright as the Shellites did. "You know what this means, right?" Sean said gently. "Regardless of what Cook might claim or believe - to be fair, we don't actually know what he might believe, we so need to talk with him - we are almost certainly not the first with powers like these. Not when things that old resonate so strongly to us. And it gives us something else to investigate in regards to The Dark and the Land of Upside-Down Thunder." He had the hat and the whip from an old Halloween Costume, but it had been quite a while since Sean had entertained the idea of being an adventure archaeologist like Indiana Jones. He snorted wryly. Or in his case, like Lara Croft.
  17. "Heh heh, oh, right," Sean tried to laugh it off, the faintest blush crossing his fair cheeks as he gave Sara an awkward shrug. "I kinda did too." He hadn't really considered they might be uncomfortable sharing a room, let alone a bed, with him. He and his sisters had shared rooms when they had gone out of town for family trips - which hadn't been often, beyond when they had been looking for second opinions on Sean's condition - and this hadn't actually felt that different to him, Sara filling in as an even more buff Teagan and Autumn as a less teasing version of Laurie with even redder hair. He had been thinking Sara should get the solo bed on the basis of being by far the largest of them, but the issue was rather obvious now that it had been conspicuously left unsaid. "We'll make it work, I'm sure. If we can deal with stuff back in Shelly, we can deal with a litt- with this." Sean was aware of it, but with Sara's admission, she and Autumn noticed the subtle change in Sean, a slight shift in his gait, somewhat more feminine gestures and inflection in his voice. Maybe it was because they knew him, had grown up with him in Shelly, but Sara and Autumn could see the slight difference in how Sean was in a familiar environment like Shelly, compared to how he presented himself out of town. In Shelly, he was the boy built more like the girls in his video games and RPGs. Out of Shelly, he was perceived as a somewhat tomboyish, remarkably attractive girl, and didn't even seemed annoyed or resigned about it. Sara could sense the lingering traces of such emotions, but they were overlaid with a bolstering self confidence and acceptance. Sean couldn't determine how others decided to see, but he could work on how he much he was affected by their perceptions and how comfortable he was in his own skin. Being confrontational about his issues, especially with someone he'd never see again, hadn't usually gone well for him. Not worrying (as much) about what others thought helped a great deal with that, and almost surprisingly, it seemed in return, he didn't get as much targeted attention. They didn't need to know about him. If a passing contact with someone developed into something a little more substantial, then he could decide if he would tell them or not. Sean left his bag with his change of clothes between the end tables separating the beds, making no claims, and then turned to his companions. "I know we've had a long car ride, then a few hours on our feet, but either of you up for anything this afternoon instead of staying cooped up in the hotel?" Sean had mused on the Montana Historical Society Museum, but now, that seemed like homework for the shit going on in Shelly. They'd be back down in the muck soon enough, they could take a day off. The Dark bided every twenty-seven years, after all, what was one more day? "Maybe a movie or something? There's an Cinemark, more selection then we get in Shelly."
  18. Sean's enthusiasm to check out the vehicles started out strong, but was starting to fade some by the time they got to the Grand Cherokee. He had read up and studied the vehicles he was interested in, so he had a good idea at what he was looking at, but he had no experience at judging what was purely cosmetic damage compared to something more serious, or how just how extensive the wear and tear on the components was, or how much more they should be able to endure. Sara was a godsend, pointing out the pros and cons to him, and taking the time to explain what was what. Unfortunately, there invariably seemed to be far more cons than pros. The Subaru didn't make the cut, and the Explorer would only be a good deal with if the bidding didn't go to high. There was a 35 year old Ford F-150 that looked promising at first, but Sara nixed that one, noticing a distinct flaw in the engine. The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk would require more work on it than Sean had initially thought, though Sara still said it was the best of the SUVs they had looked at. He'd looked at the specs online, knowing it had a lifted suspension and bigger tires than standard, but seeing it with his eyes, the Grand Cherokee with the Trailhawk package and extra off-roading mods looked awfully big. Sara had had to support him with a strong hand when he balanced on one of the red tow-hooks to get a better view of the engine to see what Sara was pointing at. At least the thing had running boards to help him climb inside and he'd never have to worry about getting stuck in the snow or seeing over traffic. "This was the one I really had my eyes on originally," Sean admitted with a sharp nod, arms folded as he eyed the forest green beast. "Though it needs more work than I expected. I was worried about getting caught up in the bidding, that's why I was looking at more options. There's the Explorer, I guess. I'd at least one more option among the SUVs or crossovers though." He looked up at the tall mechanic girl, as he fully unzipped his hoodie and rolled up the over long sleeves. It wasn't quite warm enough for him for just a t-shirt, though Sara seemed completely at ease with her bulging biceps stretching her short sleeves. "You'll help me out, tuning up whatever I end up with, Sara?" "Yeah, sure," Sara replied succinctly. Maybe a telepath needs few words, Sean thought bemusedly. "Cool. Let's see if we can find me one or two more options, so I have a couple of choices to bid on tomorrow." It wasn't just his initial prospects largely being let downs that was getting to Sean, it was the all the people. He wasn't used to crowds this thick, pressing so close. He was grateful for Sara's presence, not just as a mechanic. Her size and physique gave them a wider berth that Sean was sure he would have gotten alone or with Autumn. Autumn found a Rav4 Sara deemed passable, if bare bones, and it had over 200k miles on it. When they turned to the cars, Sara was non-committal about the Corolla and a Camry that could pass for the near twin of Sean's mom's car. The Honda Civic hatchback needed a lot of work, including replacing both bumpers, but Sara admitted that getting parts for a Civic was easy and relatively inexpensive. Still, Sean preferred buying something he could drive off the lot, and the what Sean thought was a College Douche-Bro that turned from inspecting the car to inspecting him a little too luridly turned Sean off from really considering the Civic. At least his fingers didn't even twitch towards zipping up his hoodie. As they finished the inspections, Autumn took a look at a few and got Sara's advice at what to look for, Sean had wanted to a pass at the Tesla Roadster, but there were way too many around it and he decided to pass with a bit of regret. Tesla might have some issues with supply and autonomous driving functions, but by all accounts, they were well crafted vehicles. The trio left the lot and returned to the Wrecker, sometime past noon. Getting a bit hungry, they stopped off at Wendy's to grab something to eat before checking in at the Days Inn where Sean had booked a room. It was for two beds. Sean had at first only been considering Sara accompanying him, but when Autumn had come aboard, he had called back and been assured a cot could be moved into the room. "Hello, I've reserved a room. Under Cassidy," Sean said, when it was their turn up at the service desk, pulling out his phone with the reservation and his credit card. The desk clerk looked over the information and then typed on his computer. He gave the three of them a professional look, his smile friendly, his eyes appreciative though not leering at what he thought were three attractive young women. Sara caught him wondering if they were just friends or if two of them were a couple, idle thoughts, and surprisingly, not salacious in the less. "Here we are, Ms. Cassidy." Sean gave Sara and Autumn a minute shake of his head, considering it not worth the hassle of correcting the clerk, especially not with more than a few others to overhear. "A ground floor room, two beds." He entered Sean's credit card info, then handed him three keycards. Sean collected them and his phone and credit card, then arched a brow in inquiry. "I called yesterday, asking if it would be possible to get a cot rolled into the room?" "Let me see." The clerk type on his computer once more, then gave Sean an apologetic smile. "I'm afraid not, all our extra cots are in use. The evening clerk should have reserved one for you. And unfortunately, we don't have anymore rooms available. If it was an issue about double booking a room, I'd be authorized to book you a room at our expense at another hotel, but..." The clerk - Denis - gave them a sincere shrug at the trouble. "The beds are queen size, and I can make sure there are extra blankets and pillows. And for the trouble, in addition to breakfast, I can comp you for dinner. Would that be acceptable?" Sean spoke with the others softly - there were enough people at the auction, Sean wasn't sure if they could find another room or rooms for a reasonable price - then he turned back to the clerk. "Thank you, that's fine. And thank you for doing what you could." Denis printed off three vouchers for the onsite restaurant and handed them to Sean. "I always try to do what I can for our guests. I hope you have a good stay with us. Your room will be down that way, and the restaurant it just over there." Sean gave the girls a slightly chagrined look as they headed towards their room. "Well, free dinner at least, right?"
  19. Sara drove them past the Wal-Mart Supercenter and onto Billings. They drove past a strip mall that already had more cars filling up the parking lot than would be typical this early in the morning, if ever. They could see people getting out of the cars hitting 18th street and heading north. Sean suggested they do the same, guessing any closer parking spots were already taken and the girls agreed. Sara found a good spot near one of the exits of the strip mall parking lot, in case they needed the wrecker to haul away Sean's find. The three of them joined the flow of people heading up 18th Street and very quickly, they decided they were lucky they had found a parking spot so close, as the crowd of people and parked cars grew thicker and thicker. There were bi-monthly auctions in Helena, but the big one for Montana was only annual and people came from all across the state, and some of the neighboring ones. There had to be nearly as many people there for the vehicle auction as there were people living in Shelly. Even such a crowd, the three Shelly natives stood out, and it wasn't only because Sara was the most muscular girl - and just about the most muscular person, period - there, Sean one of the most well-endowed, or that two of them were vibrant red-heads in a sea of mostly brown and black hair, speckled with shades of blond. They got questioning looks for being three (apparent) girls with no men accompanying them, as well as being relatively young. If they weren't the youngest, they saw, they were the youngest unaccompanied by someone else clearly older. Still, there was an almost festive air to the auction, like a livestock fair, though business was still paramount. They crossed Livingston Ave. and followed the flow of people into the massive, fenced on lot filled with close packed vehicles, arranged in some basic sense order. Most vehicles showed some damaged - to the front bumper or rear end for the most part - all showed at least some to a lot of wear, and they weren't nearly all just civilian vehicles. Even from where they were near the entrance, they could see Construction Vehicles rearing over the lot, a section of RVs, some Crown Victoria and Dodge Charger Police cars, what might be a SWAT van, and a number of motorcycles. Sean's gaze lingered there for a moment before he gave his head a shake. The fun stuff could wait until he made it big. For now, something practical for all seasons in Montana. "Okay, I got most of the stuff for the auction done online, but I still have to sign in to be allowed to do inspections," Sean said nodding towards a small outbuilding set off a ways to the side of the entrance. There was a relatively long line heading, but it seemed to be moving fast. "Hopefully this won't take too long." Surprisingly, it didn't, though Sean, Sara, and Autumn all three had to endure being chatted up some by men in line with them, and in one case when two fairly obvious older lesbians’ made Sara blush, though whether it was the looks they were giving her or what she picked up that they were thinking Sean and Autumn didn’t know and Sara didn’t say. Then there was Chris, a guy who chatted amiably with Autumn, and at least looked like he was still in high school. Sean seemed to take it all in stride without embarrassment, brushing off the attention by being coolly non-committal. And while Sean didn’t notice, Autumn saw Sara position herself and flex her muscles a couple of times when certain males started to get too close to all of them , and scared them away. When they got inside the registration hut, the man manning this the desk - Ralph according to his name-tag - gave them a doubtful look that added at least two more chins to his face. He had a handle-bar moustache and a fringe of hair about his head, both brown fading to grey, and had to be in fifties at least. "You girlies have your fathers here?" Ralph asked them brusquely. "Everything auctioned is sold as is, where is. A young face and a pretty smile ain't gonna change that." That made Sean, and not only Sean, bristle. "Why would they be here? They aren't buying something. I am," Sean said sharply, pulling out several forms and his tablet from his satchel, and placing them the counter, the tablet already queued up to a site. "Any maybe my friends, if they see something that catches their eye. And I brought her," Sean nodded over at Sara, "because she knows cars better than me or my dad." Ralph harrumphed, giving Sara a quick glower under lowered, bristly brows, and none of them needed telepathy to know what he was thinking. But he backed off when Sara leaned over planting her fists on the desk top her arms straining the short sleeves of her t-shirt, “Ralph,” she said with a level tone, “why don’t you just do your job and let us worry about how we make our purchases with our money after all the sign does say all purchases final so why do you give a fuck.” Ralph flinched when the muscle-girl stood up to her full near six-foot height and flexed. “Okay, okay. Like you say it’s your money and all purchases are as is and final. Let me have those forms. Please?” He took special care going through Sean's forms and the entry on his tablet - enough that the people behind the Shellites were beginning to grumble - but couldn't find anything out of order. He stamped one of Sean's forms with more force than necessary and waved them away with a dissatisfied, "Next!" "Dick," Sean muttered as they went down the short flight of stairs, pulling up a map of the auction grounds on his tablet, that showed were each lot number was located for inspection. "At least that's done. I have my eyes on a couple of SUVs that looked to be still in running condition, including a Grand Cherokee that I think only has some minor body damage and a couple of sedans, some of which are hybrids. Oh, and Tesla Roadster that looks near mint - it was impounded from a bro who was street racing. While drunk. Who somehow didn't kill himself." Sean snorted in regretful bemusement. "No way is the bidding on that going to stay under my budget, not that it would survive a winter in Montana, anyway. Sara, if you could, point out anything you think might be good, y'know, superficial damage that won't be hard or costly to fix up. I only looked at things that looked like they could be driven off the lot." Sara shrugged, her eyes panning over the see of vehicles in all stages of mechanical life. "Sure. Why don’t we start with the ones you have picked and then after looking at those we can move on to browsing." Sara glanced over at Autumn, “If there’s anything you want me to look at just point it out okay?” Sean clapped his hands eagerly. Soon, so soon, he would no longer require his bike or have to rely on his friends to get about town, or out of it. "Okay, let's get going. I don't want to be inspecting cars all day. Maybe we can catch a movie afterwards or something." Sean pursed his lips and cocked his head slightly to the side, considering. "Or maybe check out the Montana Historical Society Museum. See if there's anything interesting there that might mean something to us after what Jase found out."
  20. "I don't think you're going to get out of the weird and terrifying as easy as that," Sean said wryly as he plugged in his phone and narrowed down on a playlist. He gave Autumn a crooked, understanding grin. "I'm still figuring out how I feel about all this too, Autumn. And it doesn't take 'powers' to be involved." Sean hooked his fingers in actual air quotes to emphasize the word. "Don't sure if others have mention the Shine around you, but not only those of us with obvious - if not glamorous - psionic abilities have it." He tilted his head towards Sara on the other side of him. "Sara showed us. Laurie has it, and Lilly. And Cade. And you do, too. Welcome to the club." "The Shine..." Autumn muttered, plopping her head back against the headrest. "What's the pay like?" "Couple hundred units of crazy a week, and several dozen questions without answers so far," Sean replied. "But there's several of us who aren't bad at cooking or baking, though, so the catering is decent." Sean held up his phone, waggling it a little, selections sliding on the screen without him touching it. "You guys mind if I try out some of the music I'm considering for the the video game I'm working on? It's mostly for ambience, so there might be some adaptation I still have to do." Sara shrugged. Autumn nodded her ascent. "Go ahead. What kind of game?" "Open world, post-apoc setting. With psionic powers as an option." Sean's lips twisted in a smirk as he set his phone in a dip on the dash and cued up the first song with a thought. "Since Bethesda shit the bed with Fallout 76, I'm looking to fill that void." They drove down I-15 for a while, listening to Sean's playlist for several songs. Autumn looked over at Sean, sitting slightly squished between the two girls. "You do all this yourself, Sean?" "I did some," Sean admitted with self-deprecating pride. He took a long sip of the hot chocolate before continuing. "Lots you can do with computers and synthesizers and enough time. Others are open source or royalty free, that I left as is or played with a bit, some I commissioned. Looking for stuff that's a bit rock, or a bit metal, or kinda country, depending on the area. Good music really adds to a game. I add music and sounds at gaming night too. Gaming night really does help me with video game design," Sean explained. "At least in plot management and in considering what the players might do. The music is a bonus." "Cool," Autumn commented with honest non-commitment. She could tell it was a very big and dear interest to Sean, but it wasn't much to her. They made it to Great Falls in good time with the traffic being light so early in the morning. They stopped at the Roadhouse Diner for breakfast, being served by an older, blonder, more jaded version of Max. The disparate young women and young man that looked like a young woman drew some attention from some of the other patrons, mostly a group of grey-haired retirees and former fields hands and men who used to work the oil derricks, but none of them said anything to them that they could hear. Sean didn't rush his plate of crepes and fruit, but it was clear he didn't want to linger and was eager to be on the road once more, wanting to have as much time as possible to look over the vehicles he was interested in before the bidding tomorrow. Sean covered the bill, the ladies covered the tip, and soon they were back on the road, travel cups of coffee in hand for those who still need to be more caffeinated. Sean changed the playlist to a varied and eclectic collection of music instead of his video game music - the girls had been kind enough to indulge as much as they had - as they settled back in the wrecker. "Well, at least my entirely selfish and personal reason to get out of town for a day and a night gives us an reason to not think about the strange for a while."
  21. The morning still held some of night's chill, but the sky was blue and clear, and with the sun just a little above the horizon, it already promised to be a warm day. A good day for a drive down to Helena, a good two-and-a-half hours away from Shelly, the site of the big, annual government auction in Montana. It was a chance to get a decent to great vehicle at a massive discount, if you knew what wanted and what you were looking at, since all sales were final, sold as is, and where is. Sean had been looking at the listings of vehicles being auctioned the last few weeks, and did what research he could online, so had a good idea of what his choices should look like. But he wanted someone more familiar with vehicles than he was with him when he went down to Helena to inspect the vehicles today before he bid on any of them tomorrow, someone who had a better idea of how much wear and tear there was, if anything needed to be replaced, how much any needed repairs would cost, and the like. And if that someone had their own vehicle to get down to Helena, that would be a big bonus. Sean's dad was busy this weekend on a contract, and while he could have asked his mom, she wasn't who Sean had in mind when he went out to buy his first car, even if his parents were subsidizing the purchase, putting in a dollar for every two he put in. They'd paid half of Teagan's car, but with his online computer work and the modest sales of his first video game, his car fund was considerable bigger than Teagan's had been, and his parents couldn't afford to match it entirely. At Bunnee's last night, Sean had shared the table with an ideal candidate for his car-buying excursion. So when the talk around the table had died down, the guy dressed up as Shelly High's bustiest cheerleader had caught up with the undeniably strongest girl in School, and likely in Shelly, at the counter, and asked her if she'd go with him to Helena for the weekend to be his car guru to look over any set of wheels he was interested in bidding on. He offered to pay for the gas, motel, and meals in exchange for the favor - he had factored in for incidentals when the idea of going to the government auction to get a vehicle came to him after reading about it last year. Sara had regarded the short(ish), remarkably pretty and curvaceous redhead for a long moment, asked him a few questions about the auction and what he had in mind, then nodded in agreement. Sean hadn't thought about it at first, but taking a wrecker to Helena was an excellent idea, in case he could get a ludicrous deal on a fixer-upper, though he was intended on getting something he could drive off the lot. There was another redhead by the counter, there to pick up a called-in order, who couldn't help but overhear Sean and Sara's conversation. After the absolutely insane and impossible day she had, Autumn could so go for a weekend away from Shelly, at least a day and night, anyway. Before she could even consider if she was being too forward or not, Autumn asked Sean and Sara if she could go with them, belatedly adding that she'd like to take a look at the auction too, to see if it might be something she'd look at again when she was serious about getting a car of her own. Sean had been surprised by Autumn's request, but he had no objections, mentally tacking on a bit more to the incidentals bill - he was offering to cover the costs for Sara, he wouldn't do less for Autumn. He would have to make sure he didn't get too involved in bidding and ended up going over-budget. Sean had looked up at Sara to see if she had any issues with another coming on the road trip, and when Sara had shrugged a massive shoulder, Sean had welcomed Autumn along, totally understanding wanting to get out of Shelly after being thrown into the Weird so suddenly today. Sara pulled up to Keane residence in the wrecker, giving the horn a quick beep just as Sean texted Autumn that they were there. Knowing they would be early, Autumn was ready and was out the door in a moment. Being the smallest of the three, Sean slid over on the bench seat so he would be sitting in the middle on the drive. After Autumn climbed in the passenger side and got settled, Sean offered her a cardboard tray holding three cups - the fourth cup was already in Sara's hand. "I didn't know if you drank coffee or not, so there's a coffee or a hot chocolate, if you want it," Sean offered with a grin. "And if you don't want, neither will go to waste." Sara pulled out back onto the road and headed for the I-15 S to take the three Shelly natives down to Helena. "I know we're starting out early, but it's a good drive to Helena," Sean said, cheery and eager to be on the road on the way to get his own car. He glanced at the radio, but Sara was driving, it was her choice of music or if any music played at all. "You guys wanna stop off for a bit in Great Falls to grab a quick breakfast, or just wait until we get to Helena?"
  22. When Cass made her teasing flirt about a tall drink of water and Jase immediately followed up with a short joke - really? A shot? - Sean was going to counter with a self-deprecating comment about maybe not being being a tall drink of water, but he did have a big pair of jugs. But he was derailed in annoyance when Jase added trying to get him into a pair of stripper heels, and Laurie seemed entirely too interested in the idea. He huffed and folded his arms. He'd gone along with Laurie's bet for a few reasons, but there had been limits. No make-up, no heels. Laurie had suggested pig-tails, but Sean didn't even have to nix that, his hair wasn't nearly long enough. Sean did learn something wearing the cheerleader's outfit, or at least had it reinforced plainly. With the Shelly High Administration wanting to do all they could reasonably do to not to sexualize the cheerleaders, the top was was actually quite conservative, the neck if anything higher than most of his own regular shirts. But it was tight on him, and thanks to simple geometry, it couldn't avoid revealing a slice of slim midriff. The skirt was taking him more time to get used to. If it was a bit shorter than the cargo shorts he typically wore, it wasn't anywhere near as revealing as the running shorts many of the female runners wore. Yet, he couldn't help feel conspicuously exposed wearing the skirt, simply because it fit loosely over his thighs instead of having individual legs. He couldn't help but to keep checking the skirt wasn't riding up, even though if it had, his boxer-briefs offered him more modesty than most female running shorts. He had been expecting all the surprise at people seeing him a cheerleader's outfit. He hadn't been expecting quite so many people taking more than a moment to realize it was him. It happened even among some of the members of the fellowship. It really showed where people's eyes - men and women - went first, and tended to lingered. Sean couldn't even really feel affronted - well, in most cases. There had been that one guy at the game practically drooling, moaning 'boobs' like a zombie until the girl at his side had elbowed him in the ribs hard enough to make him cough as she glared at him. For the most part, what Sean felt was more a bemused exasperation to bemused irritation. Where Sean hadn't witnessed Marissa making much of an effort becoming friends, or at least being more friendly, with the Fellowship - beyond Jase anyway - he couldn't help but notice Devin was, however hard it was for him to overcome either nature or habit of the last few years, ever since the Jauntsens came to Shelly. Sean couldn't entirely fault him standing by his sister, just as they had stuck with only each other side-by-side on their perceived perch at the top of Shelly High's social hierarchy. Whatever two cents he might have offered was thrown away when Cassandra mentioned the Shadowman collecting the Bear and Spike. His fair face went even paler and he shivered, hiding his instinctive response behind a long sip of his extra thick summer berry shake. Then Lona revealed being assaulted by Liam Day. Sean suppressed a shudder, a delicate hand balling into a tight fist under the table, as he gave Lona a sympathetic nod, his turquoise and jade eyes wide and bright. Being assaulted was always something in the back of his mind, compounded by what would happen if an assaulted discovered what in his mind he perceived as Sean being a trap. "Thirded," Sean added about Liam not being believed if he tried to spout stories about Lona hexing him or using 'mind powers' on him. "And we might have another option, if he doesn't leave and/or he tries skulking about for revenge." Sean plunked his milkshake down and licked dry lips as he looked around the table. "There's someone else who has a vested interest in our health and the publicity of what we can do. I'm not sure what he could do about the Bear or Spike." Sean nodded at Cassandra. "But Dr. Cook has extensive surveillance around Shelly, and seeming a lot of behind-the-scenes influence. It could be a tentative test of what he can offer, if not precisely of his trustworthiness, so see what he can do about the situation. And it leaves our hands clean. If he can't do anything, or won't, there's other options available to us." Seans eyes went back to Cassandra, intent and vivid, a hidden hand still tightly closed beneath the table "A question about Shadowman. You couldn't see his face, I know, but could you get a sense of what he is? Like, is he a, I dunno, let's call it a manifestation of The Dark, or someone so consumed with it, The Dark has near or complete control? Or is he The Dark's willing or not so willing minion?" Or does he/it belong to yet another faction we haven't encountered yet? But that was needless complication that didn't need to be brought yet, when they knew so little.
  23. Project #4 - The Game: Sean Sean sat in the bleachers with his parents and Jason, the roar of the crowd washing over them as they joined in the cheering. Sean didn't have much interesting in football, or sports in general, but he'd come out to support Lilly. But there was something more to it this evening, with his sister on the field. And after the absolutely crazy and disturbing afternoon, something as normal as cheering on a friend and family at a high school football game seemed all the sweeter. Over the field, Sean piloted his drone, filming Laurie's first football game for posterity, a private grin gracing his lips. The remote in his hands was just for appearances sake. He was controlling the quadcopter with his mind, which gave him far more precise mastery of the drone than his fingers ever could. Even better, he found out he could not only perceive the electromagnetic spectrum, he could convert it to some degree. Twisting just a few threads of photons, he was able to power his drone, giving it far greater flight time. Sean jumped to his feet as quickly as the others when Laurie made the field goal, pumping his fist exuberantly and cheering, though his slender shoulders tensed. Laurie was jumping excitedly on the field, getting celebratory slaps on the back and hugs from her teammates. Laurie turned to the crowd, and finding Sean and her parents, with a wide grin on her face, she waved and pointed at her brother. With a put upon sigh, Sean smiled ruefully back at his sister and waved. Shortly after Jase got up to get more snacks, Sean stood up too. He stretched surreptitiously, then picked up a pack he had stuffed under his seat, and assured his parents he'd be back soon before he headed off to the bathroom. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ Sean stepped out of the stall and walked up to sink. Hands on the porcelain, he stared at himself in the mirror, turning this way, then that. He thought of himself as a boy, a young man, but the person in the mirror looked like anything but. And yet, he didn't totally hate what he saw, even if he didn't usually appreciate the attention he drew. He knew what he looked like, but he had tried imagining what he'd look like as a 'normal' young man - whatever that meant - more than a few times. The image that came to mind however, was always unfinished, amorphous, or ended up looking like someone else, someone he'd seen elsewhere. Taller, bulkier, but hardly more defined than that, the face, if it didn't belong to his father or an actor he seen somewhere, would be square and hard, speckled with a coarse five o'clock shadow. It didn't look like him at all, didn't feel like him. He was still figuring out what being a boy meant, meant for him, challenging his preconceptions from growing up as a reasonably regular - if still delicate looking - boy during his formative years. And with reality warping, monsters looming, conspiracies conspiring, and psionic powers unveiling, Sean was not only being forced to adapt to how to saw the world, but how he saw himself. He had thought of himself as a boy cursed with a woman's body and looks, could he reinterpret that to being a boy who happened to look like a woman, and that there wasn't anything wrong with that, that it was just different? He was figuring out who he was, but his friends seemed to accept him already, quirks and all. Why should he worry about how others saw him? The more he worried about it, the worse it seemed to get. But other people, girls, like Marissa, got as much attention as he did or more, but it hardly seemed to phase them. Let them think what they want, say what they wanted, as along as they didn't act on it without invitation. It did seem a lot of it was all about attitude - he conveyed a sense of being a victim, and so he was. Devin might be right about that, and that was an insufferable thought. So when Laurie had proposed her bet, Sean had only hesitated for a moment before agreeing. He'd known it was a sucker's bet, but Laurie had been very fidgety during supper, and he could see her nerves getting to her, first game jitters. He was sure Laurelei had the skill, he just didn't want her psyching herself up for failure, so he agreed to her teasing request to give her something extra to strive for. And if he did lose the bet, it gave him the excuse to claim - to himself at least - that it wasn't something he had wanted to do, but was a push he needed to at least start getting over his hangups. Hiding didn't help - and didn't work, denying didn't work, it was time to embrace it, just a little. He knew that was what Laurie was trying to do, in her teasing way, and others had suggested it to him, in one way or another. This was it. He cooled his face with some water, dried it off, took several deep breaths and rolled his shoulders. Then he grabbed his white and yellow pom-poms, plastered a grin on his face, and strutted out of the bathroom, the pleated skirt of the Coyote cheerleader's outfit swishing about his hips. He was doing this for Laurie and for himself, to see what it was like. Let others think and say what they wanted, he would endure. There were much harder things he was being forced to contend with compared to being intersexed.
  24. From where Sean was standing at the end of the trailer, so he could look beyond its bulk to search for any fleeting transmissions in the sky, he looked askance at Etienne. His motives might be suspect, but he hardly seemed dangerous to him, not even a bit nefarious... though Sean guessed that could be an act. He was hired to honey-pot Clara, apparently. "What kind of mercenary are you?" Sean asked dubiously. "Never held a gun... " Etienne growled in exasperation. "Because someone is hiring you for a job, even if that job turns into somethi--" "Oh no! Don't go there, Don Juan," Sean interrupted with a pointing finger, giving up the search for now and walking back towards the trailer down. "I don't want to hear it, and I really, really, doubt Clara will." "D'accord," Etienne agreed with a hard nod. "But, as I was saying, because someone is hiring you for a specific reason, that doesn't make you, make me, a mercenary. Cook, he's been so wrapped up in his own thing, sometimes, I am thinking he's forgetting the rest of the world." At the mention of the Doctor, Sean's full lips tightened into a thin line. Sean really needed to a talk, a candid, hopefully open, talk with his doctor of the last near seven years. "Yeah, well... it's not all on him, is it? You agreed to it. You shouldn't worry about learning to fire a gun because Clara might be fighting monsters. You should learn if you're going to fight monsters. Because right now, none of us really want you at our side, let alone guarding our backs." Giving him a pointed look, Sean went back into the trailer, slipping the pack off his shoulders, opening it up and pulling out the contents. The water and emergency foodstuffs went into the small fridge, something in case anyone ended up back here unexpectedly. The first aid supplies went on the counter of the tiny kitchen area. The backpack empty, Sean unplugged the weird radio and stuffed it into the pack. He wanted to study the blasted thing, and he wasn't going to always hike back up to the trailer to do it. Unless of course, the atomic generator and/or the Faraday cage integrated into the trailer had something to do with its functions. Slipping the backpack back over his shoulders, Sean hitched it up so it sat more comfortably, then headed out of the trailer and locked it back up, covering the key from Etienne with his body. Slipping his keys back into his satchel, he turned around and went down the three steps from the trailer more cautiously than he had first gone up them. "I think it's about time we, all of us, leave this place. Some of us need to recover, some of us need food, and all of us just need to go."
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