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Charlie Cole last won the day on December 9 2019

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  1. Charlie absorbed the conversation along with Sophia, who seemed to be trying to make sense of it all. Made sense, this was getting into extremely complicated territory. But the course was clear. Yes, going after the Dark was a tremendous risk. But Cassie's observations made it clear they were on a time limit before another atrocity happened. And besides, there was one thing nobody had directly addressed before. "I agree. Besides, Devin, you went in alone and unprepared. We won't do either of those things. And we aren't going to die." He turned and kissed Sophia on the cheek. "Well, I'm not going to die. I just got a girlfriend." "It so doesn't work like that." Devin scoffed. Charlie gave him a look that said, 'says the one without a girlfriend now.' "It does." Marissa agreed, with a look that contended Charlie's principle was perfectly sound and since she was the best (fake) girlfriend possible, Cade would be immortal.
  2. Charlie did not sleep that well over the night. Enterich and the thoughts about his dad and himself danced through his head like warped Jase-faeries (because Jase never cackled evilly. Whatever else he might be, he didn't cackle.) Learning about the meeting actually helped, since for once Dark monsters were a happy distraction from familial issues. At least until he mentioned his dad was in Crossroad's pocket. The day passed by in a bit of a blur. Sophia snuggled up to him as he was heading out for lunch, but when he explained he had to meet with the Fellowship, she asked to tag along. Charlie agreed. It would help with her getting more grasp of the situation as she requested, and if the others objected, they would say so. "Dare I ask about the Sheriff?" Charlie arrived with Sophia in tow, and there were rings denoting lack of sleep about his eyes.
  3. The event proceeded apace. Fancy food, speeches, and the works. Somehow it passed like a blur. Somewhere along the line it came to pass that two people were in the woman's restroom, uninterrupted... Sophia was washing her hands when Susanna came in. The older woman walked over to the adjacent sink and leaned against it as Sophia finished. "Can we talk?" Sophia looked over at her. "What about?" Susanna gave her an inquiring, expectant look. "What do you honestly think of me?" Sophia paused, not really sure what to say. All she knew was what little Charlie described of her. Words that others had cruelly used to describe her, because Sophia had really big tits. So she was reluctant to throw those around, let alone to Susanna. Susanna nodded, recognizing Sophia's reticence. "You don't really know. Nobody here does. I get it. Hannah and Charlie are angry, but they're angry at Lucius, and projecting their thoughts about him onto me. Now, the whole town thinks I'm some gold-digging bimbo. A trophy wife-to-be." She sighed. "Truthfully, Lucius said he was divorced when I met him. He's charming, exuberant, the kind of man who you fall for quickly. I didn't learn the truth until much later." "And you stuck with him, even though he lied to you and a married man?" Sophia asked, not condemnatory, but wondering. "What can I say?" Susanna said. "I love him." Sophia nodded, understanding. "For better or worse, I'm going to be with Lucius, whatever happens." Susanna explained, placing a hand on Sophia's shoulder. "I just want someone in this situation who actually understands. A friendly face, if not a friend yourself." Sophia nodded, then hugged her. "I'll try to talk Charlie around. I think he's beginning to reconsider getting so dug-in." "Thank you."
  4. It was a really good thing that Charlie was an actor. Otherwise he'd have given away a sign of shock or dismay the moment after Enterich's introduction. Bad enough to know your father was a cheating asshole. But this? Sophia really thought this all through better than he had. "Ordinances?" Charlie asked, quite confused. "Since when did you have that kind of pull, Dad?" Because that too, was something. The country club provided Lucius Cole with wealth and perhaps some influence, but before the club even started? Well, this was practically before Charlie was born, and he hadn't really though about what his parents were before then. Lucius smiled at his son's puzzlement. "Ah, yes. You were just a glimmer in my eye when I worked in the State land registry office, weren't you?" He nodded reflectively, as though recalling. "That's right - I'd just popped the question to your mom, and was looking for a sideways move out of the civil service. It was worthy work, mind you. Taught me a lot. But you take after your old man in this, Charlie - I like the stage lights too. Working away in an office somewhere on the second floor of a civil service building wasn't where I felt my destiny lay." He spread his arms in a theatrical gesture. "So I decided to trade up." "Trade up?" Charlie turned his attention to Mr. Enterich. "Prison people have that kind of money?" This time the curiosity was a tad more feigned. Giles and Major Taggart had been pretty clear about how Crossroads made its money. But digging the story out would help. "'Prison people!" Enterich laughed, nodding at Charlie. "I like that. Private prisons are just the latest venture for Crossroad Incorporated, of course. We are a very diverse family - both in terms of projects and holdings and, of course, in our employment demographics. All we ask is excellence." It was a perfect corporate sound-bite, but even so there was a ring of truth to the man's tone. "If you're interested in an internship, young man, by all means look us up online. If you're a chip off the old block as Lucius suggests, you'd do rather well with us." Charlie gave Enterich a sour, offended look. "I don't cheat on my significant others." He moved his arm around Sophia's waist and pulled her in. A bit of intentional petulance, but Charlie really was uneasy about that comparison. "Charlie!" Lucius protested, but Enterich smiled, a slight curve of the lips that bespoke of wry amusement at the elder Cole's expense. "The moral certainty of youth." The Crossroads Inc. representative inclined his head. "It makes mockery of our adult pretensions to gravitas, eh Lucius?" "And to the idea of good manners." Lucius snapped, huffing as he turned away, obviously hurt as well as angry. Enterich watched him go, then turned that sardonic amused stare back on Charlie. And for a moment, the young thespian could see past the mask, and as he had with Jason the other day, felt a thrill of cold terror run up his spine. The mask was better - a lot better. If it hadn't been for the amusement at Lucius Cole's expense, Charlie doubted he could have readily pierced it. But the type of intelligence behind those light brown eyes was something the empathic young man had only ever felt once, and that was two days ago when he'd looked an angry Jason in the eye and understood him better than he ever wanted to. Enterich was a predator, a wolf in very expensive and well-made sheep's clothing who regarded those around him as interesting specimens, sources of amusement and expendable pawns at best, and prey at worst. It was like Jason Bannon, grown up and with his fangs fully developed. "Your sense of loyalty to your mother does you credit, Charles." Enterich smiled, the mask slipping neatly back into place - so neatly that Charlie could have doubted what he'd seen... if he hadn't seen it before. "I hope you will also learn to empathize with your father, though. Not to judge a man before walking a mile in his shoes, and all that." "W-well." The stutter here was completely genuine. Because Charlie was freaked. Jason was Jason, a friend. Even when frightened, Charlie was prepared to try. This? Enterich didn't have the capacity to care, that however hidden, Jason did possess. "You saw what it did to our family. He made a choice." "That is true. A rash, emotional choice, it seems." Enterich inclined his head again. "Apologies - it is not my place to step into family squabbles. I do admire your candor, however. Such a rare quality in the circles I move in." He smiled, a warm expression that Charlie knew must have been coached and practiced over and over again, because it conveyed a sincere bonhomie that he knew the being underneath the person-suit was not capable of. "And if you will forgive me, I am required to go and speak to Governor Bullock before he becomes entangled by others. Charles, Sophia - it has been a genuine delight." He nodded to them both and turned, moving away into the thronging socialites. Charlie stepped back and sat on the stairs. "Fuck!" Truthfully, the idea of his dad tangled up in Crossroad's web disturbed him too. Adultery was one thing, but to get in bed with Crossroads, even unaware of their true nature? "Stage lights." He muttered. "A rash emotional choice." Like the utterly crazy one Sophia had talked him out of. But it was for a good cause, not selfishness - in either of Lucius' decisions. Right?
  5. "Sophia Fingleman." Sophia politely extended a hand forward to Lucius, who seemed to perform a sudden release of Charlie, turn and upright shaking Sophia's hand that somehow was swift and seemed natural. "It's a pleasure, Sophia. I've heard so much about you." "Yes." The crooning voice made Charlie grit his teeth, as a blond bombshell in a little black, backless dress sauntered over and pulled Charlie into a sudden hug, much to his chagrin. "Susanna." Charlie got out, on the right edge of polite when he wanted of course to say bimbo. "Mmm." Susanna cooed, before doing the same to Sophia, much to her surprise. "You two are so adorable. Susanna Chavel, Lucius' girlfriend, at least for now." That little reminder and dig about Hannah being divorced, well, Charlie had to hold back from grinding his teeth. "I hope you enjoy tonight's festivities and telling your friends you met the Governor." She stepped back and looked at Lucius. "Oliver wants to speak with you ASAP, Luce." "Well, then don't let us delay you!" Charlie responded, tugging Sophia along and wanting to clear away from them. Sophia followed along, recognizing her boyfriend was reaching his limit. They skirted their way down the left, Sophia having the presence of mind to grab a schedule of the event along the way. Charlie ended up stopping at a spot next to a stairwell heading up, and flashed Sophia an apologetic look. "Sorry, but they just got on my nerves. Him and that trophy ho." "She didn't seem that bad." Sophia disagreed, "though she definitely came on a bit too strong." Charlie snorted derisively. "There's nothing worthwhile about her except eye candy and the willingness to sleep with a married man." Charlie let out a huff, breathing to calm down. And as he did, something Susanna said did click in his mind, and as Charlie chilled out, he started considering this idea forming more. There is a time for the script - most times really. But the stage still allowed for ad lib and improv, and some of the best, most memorable elements in film and television came from when the actor decided to throw that in. Harrison Ford shooting the swordsman. Robert Downey Junior declaring that yes, he was Iron Man. Now Charlie thought he might just have that moment. But it probably would be good to get a second opinion just to be safe. "Sophia? Can I bounce an idea off you?" "Yes?" Sophia asked, wondering what shift Charlie was taking. Charlie checked quickly. Nope, no one around to eavesdrop. And there didn't look like there were any cameras here. The Project (and Crossroads possibly since Dr. Klein was working with them) may have gone Big Brother on Shelly, but the odds of their having a reason to focus on the country club seemed unlikely. "Right. So this is something I'm gonna explain more about Date Night, but in our previous investigations, Cassie dug up dirt on the prison and shady stuff going on there. At the meeting yesterday, the Sheriff said the state government approved the prison's construction. Atop of course, their utterly illegal and wrong lab." Charlie explained. "I can get Dad to give me a chance to meet Governor Bullock in private. Tell him about the covered up riots, mysteriously dying inmate, name drop Major Taggart so there's a convenient adult in authority who can back us up. Convince the Governor to investigate the prison - and Crossroads is going to have to waste time and connections trying to cover their butts. Sure, they'll probably bounce it in the end, but it's not something they'll expect to see coming. So... good crazy or just crazy?"
  6. "Yeah, oh course!" Charlie quickly chipped in, with a moment of embarrassment like he was half his age and did something silly. "I'm sure she'll say yes." "Good." Hannah's good mood and voice seemed to suddenly turn impish again, and Charlie felt the back of his neck tingle like a warning signal. "Because I plan on having her over for dinner soooon!" "Mom!" Charlie groaned, as any teenager did at those dreaded, awkward parental words. As a law of the universe, whenever parents want to meet their teenage offspring's boy-or-girlfriend, it's always too soon. The conversation didn't last much longer after that. Charlie and Hannah said their farewells and Charlie hung up. He exited and Sophia joined him, hand tangling up with his. "Everything go alright then?" "Ish." Charlie waggled his hand. "Apparently, in the interest of not getting stuck with the philandering butthole," Charlie paused on reflex, somehow still expecting his mom to pop up and chide him, "I need to play nice and go to this event of his tonight at the Marias country club. Will you be my plus one and bear the slings and arrows of cruel fate with me?" Sophia giggled, and Charlie had to work at keeping his eyes up, despite the jiggling. "My dramatic Romeo. I suppose I will." "Excellent." Charlie beamed in relief. "And now to call it in." His smile disappeared, or perhaps looked suddenly fake, as Charlie dialed up his dad. "Hey kiddo." Charlie sighed. "Well, I'm coming to your fancy party tonight." "That's great-" "And I'm bringing Sophia." Charlie cut in, before that man could get his hopes foolishly up. "I was thinking it would be more of a father-son thing." Lucius replied, trying to wiggle around where Charlie was going with this. "You've got how many dozen guests." Charlie shot back, not planning to relinquish the conversational momentum. "Wasn't going to be one to begin with. Sophia's my plus one. Non-negotiable." "Well, I was looking forward to meeting her." Lucius mused, trying to rewrite the conversational outcome into one he'd desired all along. "Great." Charlie said, not meaning it at all. "Time and dress code?"
  7. Charlie and Sophia had the chance to catch up together, hug, kiss (with unwanted commentary from Devin), and Charlie promised to secure that reservation within the next few days, before they split. Other members of the Fellowship and their families had straightforward, happy reunion scenes. Charlie of course, came out to a waiting Lucius Cole, trying to look somehow like he was taking the high road, and a glowering Hannah Fuhrman, whose expression bespoke of an inner voice that wanted to bellow 'Cad, scoundrel, ruffian!' at her ex-husband. They stood apart several feet, despite giving the impression they were divided by a canyon. At least Susanna did not inflict her existence onto this moment, which was a blessing at least for Charlie. Hannah was quickest off the mark, swooping in to enfold Charlie in a tight hug, with a stream of "Oh, my baby boy" and "What the hell are they doing in that hospital?" Charlie, who did know what was going on in this town, patted her on the back and offered his best reassuring smile. "False alarm, Mom. Nothing to worry about." "Makes me wonder what our taxes are going towards," declared Lucius, ignoring the disapproving looks of Hannah and Charlie to come over and clap a hand on his son's shoulder. "We can gripe at dinner. All three of us. My treat." He raised his hands defensively. "Not gonna be petty after something like this. Besides," he added with a grin, "I think your mother would like to hear about your new girlfriend." How did he find out about that!? Worse, Hannah looked like she was willing to take that temporary olive branch. Exeunt a deeply curious mother, smug father and embarrassed Charlie.
  8. Charlie was a kindly, empathetic person. All who knew him knew this was beyond question. At the same time, the Fellowship knew that he, just like the rest of them, had been made to learn how to deal with the new reality thrust upon them. A reality of unearthly powers, literal entities of malice, and corrupt quasi-governmental and corporate organizations. They'd already seen him turn into a thing of shells and spikes and mercilessly butcher alien hell-creatures. Unlike those things, these were human beings, and Charlie, being the kindly, empathetic person he was, respected human life. Yet, the various mercenaries, guards and staff had demonstrated they did not respect human life in the slightest, by the work going on here. Even if they were unaware of the specifics going on in this underground complex, the men and women could easily have discerned that these activities were illegal, immoral, unethical, totally wrong. The men at his back trying to shoot him had chosen to help aid and uphold Crossroad's crimes, as were the four mercs in front, raising their guns ever so slowly in Charlie's vision. Charlie had innate control, enough to ensure that nobody was going to die... ...But after the armored blur finished his work, the scene was not pretty. One left an imprint in the wall, another had been struck in the gut so hard he appeared to be trying to remember how to breath. A third's legs were projecting at the wrong angles. The last was reducing to a slow crawl on his stomach, and his ears were bleeding. None of them would likely walk normal again, if at all. That was plenty punishment enough. Charlie turned and raced back to rejoin the others. Maybe this would unnerve Crossroads enough to make them hesitate, or at least wait to collect a bigger force, giving Devin the time to port everyone out.
  9. Autumn was following Devin in like it was practically a requirement. Jase was entering too, though he at least had the sense to keep a 'hand' so to speak on the door to keep it open. Charlie was about to protest, before his life-sense pinged two more people coming around the corner. Both of them guards, whom paused as their attention shifted from chatting to the figures down the hallway - the chitinous form hurtling at them... Charlie slammed both into the floor hard, sending them out cold. Nobody else coming, but that was close. Huffing, he began dragging the two - with Cade's help as Cade caught up - into the open room. Charlie sighed as he saw the sabertooth tiger and ocelots. "Guys, yes this is interesting but we're on a time limit and you're lucky I got these two before they could call the alarm. We can break in another time." Well, not until Devin learned how to make those long-distance jumps less explosive and painful. But Devin didn't need to know that right now.
  10. Charlie found his head was throbbing like crazy, there was a severe ache in his leg, and his throat felt like it was coated in a combination of phlegm, acid, and the essence of 'noxiousness'. No, wait, that was the bottle of cleaning agents. Somehow, by freak chance, the bottle had a sharp tear in it, and everything was positioned just so that a portion of its contents had gotten into Charlie's mouth and throat. Already, the autonomic portions of his psionic powers had kicked in to prevent it from actually harming him, but now Charlie went ahead and hocked it up. The terrible mixture of fluids arced and landing on the shaking form of Devin. Equally purely by chance. Nothing to do with Charlie considering the merits of the humble camel. Then those processes clamped down on the nervous system, so Charlie could move to sitting, then on his knees, and then push up off the floor. "All my hate right now."
  11. Charlie walked over to Sophia and gestured to a far corner in the room. "Come on, let's talk." Sophia followed him, but it was very clear she was getting to the bursting point. So in the corner there, they could get some semblance of privacy - or at least a respectful lack of eavesdropping (maybe). The question was how to go about this. Devin would probably make some grand, crass gesture. Of course, that was Devin Jauntsen, who shared 50% of the DNA of Marissa, so that was right out. Yes, Lona was dating him, but that still didn't make his suggestions sound ones, considering he'd labeled Charlie's new, unexpected girlfriend as 'Fingerbang.' Charlie ended up pulling Sophia into a deep hug, resting his head on her shoulder. "I get it." He softly whispered into her ear. "It''s ridiculous, it's crazy, and you got tossed in at the deep end. We'd probably all be like you - except Jase - if we'd gotten thrown in the same way. What happened is we wound up getting drip-fed in, bit by bit. And I didn't tell you any of this, because I didn't want to freak you out. But trust me Sophia: we know what we can do. Crossroads doesn't. We're gonna go in, laugh at what Crossroad tries to do, come back, and then I'm going to take you out on a date. Your favorite food, the movie you want to see most and I'll explain to you how this all happened." Charlie finished it up with a deep kiss on the lips and then pulled his head back. "How does that sound?" Ok, a dramatic gesture then. But Charlie was an actor. How could he do less?
  12. While the twins were placing down the rules to Jason - which Charlie was secretly unsure of whether Jason would follow or circumvent in a rules-lawyering fashion (he still was trying to get a handle on Jason's psychology), Charlie got up and joined Sean, placing his hand on Sean's other shoulder. "You'll need the boost." Charlie softly said, focusing his Shine into a pulsing rhythm, giving Sean a sudden sense of the sheer life around, even in such a sterile environment. Charlie caught the look on Sophia's face, weirded out and still overwhelmed, and he winced. I am so gonna make it up to you.
  13. Charlie had taken his seat and listened thoughtfully. And watched thoughtfully too. Cook definitely was in the hot seat - the spot of Pepto-Bismol - indicated the obvious stomach upsets the Fellowship had been causing him. Jason felt a mental link curl out and politely offer to metaphorically shake his hand. Surprisingly, he recognized it as Charlie's. *If it helps to throw Cook off-balance, allude to his stomach aches.* Charlie's attention drifted away though, absorbed by the thrust of question and reveal - and Cook had left the room at Giles' orders anyway. Giles was calm, composed and very high fashion. She certainly seemed the example of a mysterious weirdness-investigating society that had seen it all - so to speak. Contrary to Marissa, Devin and Jason's pre-meeting assumptions, the Aeon Society sounded like people the Fellowship could work with. Sounded, yes, but the point was that the group wasn't dealing with a monolithic Project, with multiple different viewpoints and goals. But she had skipped over something that drew Charlie's interest. After she answered Cade, Charlie jumped in. "Moving back in the discussion, what was that experiment you were working on?" Because if the Dark had interfered, well, was it just for the energy or did it have an interest there too?
  14. Charlie turned his head to Sophia. "Psychic, actually." She gave him a disbelieving look - since psychics generally didn't turn into giant killing machines - but Charlie met hers back. "Hey, the others got the more classic powers. Wasn't like we got to vote." Then the conversation turned to the Dark with Sophia's confusion. "Evil force of evil." Charlie whispered to her. "But I'll never let it hurt you." Cheesy or not, it worked enough for Sophia to squeeze his hand and smile.
  15. Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked Charlie paused and waited as the last spike-handed creature flailed ineffectually, because smashing it apart with a brisk one-two of the piercers. Casually kicking the guts and gore over to the side, the teen's armored form turned around to see if there was anyone else in need of assistance. Jason - for all that he might be an abrasive friend - was very often right. The mantis shrimp had been a great idea.
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