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  1. Julie still felt weird wearing a suit. Her sister had helped her pick it out. A smart 'business' style suit with black blazer and knee-length skirt, white shirt underneath. Simple and elegant, with a fit that announced she was female without making a spectacle of it. Wearing it, Julie felt as if she was demanding a kind of authority she had yet to earn. She was just out of freaking high school for God's sake. What gave her the right to wear this? Jennifer had already called Julie on her 'imposter syndrome.' Jen loved waving her psyche degree around, even if that hadn't been what got her into the CIA. No one ever feels like they earn what they get at first, she'd explained. It was normal. You'll get over it. Julie hoped that would come soon. She felt incredibly conspicuous as she strolled across the tiled floors of the lobby on the Baxter Building. Everyone seemed to be watching her go, nodding to themselves and thinking 'Yep, definitely a spy, that one. I can tell by the suit.' You got this, Jules. If you lived through the interviews and background checks, you can live through a briefing. In the elevator she pressed the button for the 13th floor, twice in rapid succession, then three times with a longer delay between each press. For a dry-mouthed moment, nothing happened. Then there was a sharp metallic clank, and the elevator started moving. Down. She wanted to lean against the wall in relief, but knowing there were cameras watching inhibited. Of course, she could do her thing...erase herself from the camera's eyes...but that felt like kind of an antagonistic thing to do on her first big case. The elevator came to a halt and the doors opened. Julie wasn't sure what she'd been expecting...some kind of sleek, futuristic thing of bright lights and bland white panels like a hospital maybe. But no, the walls were bare concrete, the lights were long florescent strips that buzzed in low frequencies on the edge of hearing. Two armed guards watched her narrowly as she stepped out. "Kestrel," she said with a confidence she didn't entirely feel, "Two oh four oh three two one." One of the guards looked at the tablet he was holding and nodded. "Left hall, room eight." Julie nodded and went past the guards on the left side. She could hear sounds from ahead...keyboards being tapped, the low murmur of conversations being conducted in hushed tones. Some guy in shirtsleeves was at a copier. He glanced around at her, nodded and looked back at the paper reeling out from the machine. He looked to be in his mid-forties. There weren't many youngsters like her in Padlock. Not yet. Room eight was just past the copier, on the left. It looked more like an interrogation room than a briefing room. A table and three chairs, two of which had people in them. Doctor Brant, who had been one of her interviewers, and...Jesus. Who was that? Sitting at the table was an intense looking man who wore a perpetual “I am tired as fuck” look. He projected scary and...power and not the KEY kins. She paused where she stood, eyes widening. What was the protocol again? Salute? Curtsy? Shit! "Agent Kestrel," the man said in a surprisingly pleasant voice. He gestured at the empty seat and smiled a surprisingly nice smile. "Have a seat. We haven't met before, I am Mr. Phelps and I have the privileged of running things here. You work for me.” "Mr. Phelps, I...wasn't expecting to be briefed by..." she searched her memory for any recollection of who the Boss was or what his title might be with no result. “by the Director?” She sat down. Her eyes flicked to Doctor Brant, who's expression was pensive. Phelps looked at her his smile gone. "Just Mr Phelps. Normally I wouldn't. In this case though...we have a situation uniquely suited to your talents. The operation we'd planned to assign you is being routed to another agent. What you're about to be told is not to be discussed with anyone, including in the initiative, not in this room right now. No one" Holy shit. This is happening. "Understood." Doctor Brant produced a manila folder and pushed it over the table at Julie. She opened it. Inside was a map, some documents, and a dossier. She didn't focus on it immediately though, listening instead as Mr Phelps spoke. "You're going to Shelly, Montana," he said. "The belly of the beast." A chill ran down Julie's spine. "That's where they live." "Which is why you're the only one we can send. We've obtained fresh reliable intel, that one of the 'irregulars,' has suffered a complete remission." Julie found herself staring blankly and quickly forced herself to look at something, anything. The dossier in the file. "That's not... I don't understand. When you say 'remission...'" "Reversion to baseline human status," Phelps pressed on. His face had become stern, his eyes were grey and unflinching. He reminded her of her father...or how her father might have become, if he'd lived long enough. "Chimera is no more." "How is that possible?" "That's what we need you to find out." He gestured at the file. "Those documents establish you as a military researcher at Shelly AFB. They're a rush job, so try not to lean on them too hard. They'll pass most civilian muster, but if the base does a real investigation they will blow your cover. You have two objectives. The first is gain access to any research they already have on the phenomena, the second is to interview Chimera and take some biometrics with one of the toys Rand's come up with...most likely posing as legitimate research, but I'll leave the 'how' of all this up to you. Be as discreet as possible. The ideal outcome is they never know anyone but them sees this. Top priority is getting the data though." The implications already had Julie's head spinning. There might be a cure. Still. "What about them? The Irregulars." "Avoid contact with any of them but Chimera. You may be a hot-shit key, but they're on another level. If contact is unavoidable, stick to your story and disengage as fast as possible. You're not expendable, so trust your instincts. Abort if you have to. You'll have to re-establish contact with us after this op, by the way. Due to possible contact with the telepath. It's a pain, but necessary for preserving security. All information you've been given thus far will be considered potentially compromised." She nodded, pushing the documents back into the folder. "Out of curiosity, is this all going to self-destruct or anything? Why the paperwork?" Phelps looked at her with no expression. Dr Brant replied, "Electronic security has been...an issue. At the moment, paper documentation is considered more secure than digital. Rest assured that these are accompanied by the necessary changes to relevant, uh, databases and so on. We do insist however that no information from or about the Padlock Initiative be reproduced on anything that has wired or wireless connectivity. That will all be in the orientation which, uh..." he glanced at his watch. "If there's no questions, get moving," Mr Phelps grumped. "Get oriented, then get changed and get on your flight. Tickets are in the file. On this assignment you report directly to me. By the time you're done, we'll have a handler set up for you." Julie got to her feet and before she knew what she was saying, said, "Yes sir." She wasn't military, and Padlock wasn't military...Phelps just had a certain way of speaking that made it seem like an appropriate response. As she was opening the door, he said, "Oh, Agent, one other thing." She paused and looked back. Phelps grinned. "Nice suit." God dammit. --- On the plane to Montana, Julie went over the files. They didn't self-destruct, but there were instructions on the minimum measures necessary to dispose of them when she was finished. There had been a time, not even very long ago, when memorizing the documents would have been impossible for her. Now she only had to graze them once before she could imagine them in her mind's eye, exactly as they had been. She tested it several times, making sure that the memory was the same. Once she was sure, Julie locked them back up in her little briefcase. The assignment was dividing into three different objectives in her head, ordered by expected difficulty. The first was infiltrating the air force base to see what information had been shared by Irregular Solutions. The second was the interview with Chimera. The third was to infiltrate Irregular Solutions to find out what data they'd already collected. Of those three, the first seemed almost like a waste of time. Notes in the margins indicated that Irregular Solutions had almost entirely broken off from the military. They now employed most of the civilian scientists who'd been working on Keys before. They simply didn't need to share information. It was a bit of a stroke of luck that PI had even found out about Chimera in the first place. Old lines of communication between military and civilian staying intact...friends talking to friends after hours. Julie thought going to the air force base would be more of a fallback position if her attempt to get to Irregular Solutions failed. A last ditch hope that maybe more had been shared. Which meant that step one would be to interview the...ex-Key? The girl who was codenamed Chimera. Julie went over her dossier over and over, taking up the lion's share of the flight. Frustratingly, it was largely a tactical and strategic assessment. Not much time or consideration was given to the more human touches. Here were her parents, a brief paragraph summarizing her school records with a note on extracurriculars, and then three pages about her powers in exhaustive detail. None of it mattered anymore, if the reports were right. ... Back when the Padlock Initiative was still just Project Padlock, it had mostly been made of government employed scientists working in connection with the military. Those scientists were still with Padlock in what was called 'Rand,' which Julie discovered was just a corruption of 'R&D;' the department that was now dedicated to their craft. Those scientists had done what they could to analyze some of her powers, and determined that she seemed able to generate a kind of 'broad spectrum interference pattern' that they had trouble explaining the properties of. She could sort of...edit herself out of pictures, it seemed. Cameras. Photographs (while they were being taken; once she was in the photo it was too late). Even mirrors. The 'energy' or 'interference' she made should also undermine the powers of other Keys, especially powers revolving around detection. They'd managed to do some cursory tests with a low-grade telepathic Key in custody, and it had worked just fine. That was a far cry from what she was walking into now though. Julie focused on her power as she crossed the airport to the baggage claim. Though people could see her just fine, there'd be no trace of her on security cameras. People taking selfies and getting her in frame wouldn't see her in the image later. And...if all went to plan...the telepathic Irregular wouldn't be able to sense any anomalous thought patterns. It was nerve-wracking. The upward potential of the Irregulars was an unknown quantity. Since going underground and self-funding, Padlock had lost much of its effective intel-gathering potential on them...a problem only worsened when the Irregulars themselves cut official ties with the government and started their own organization. Field observations confirmed however that they had continued to grow and change...and their estimates based on those observations, along with the last reliable data they had from when everyone was part of the same military...were sobering. It was entirely possible that she'd never feel it coming. That the telepath Abel would sense strange thoughts, focus in, and discover the truth immediately. He'd then be free to kill her, or worse...change her...sending her back with false reports, or even as an unwitting double agent. She might not even know it herself if that happened. From what she gathered, Padlock had some ways to tell if that happened, which they had for obvious reasons not shared with her. But who really knew? Julie forced those thoughts, and the fears they spawned, to the back of her mind, where even she could barely feel them. It was too late not to risk that. She had to focus on making sure this risk was worth it. For now she could focus on the clear, pretty Montana day it was. Even though Shelly was starting to swell a bit as Irregular Solutions grew, and the notoriety of the town grew with it, the place was still mostly a quiet, pleasant little town. Mostly. She drove out to the house where Chimera was listed as still living with her parents...a factoid that brought a chortle to Julie when she'd read it. So easy to forget the Irregulars were still just kids. Not much older than Julie herself. Under other circumstances, they could have gone to school together. It was a weird thought to imagine being buddies with someone who could, by some estimates, destroy all human life on the planet within a week. And she wasn't even the most dangerous. As Julie trotted up the walk, she reviewed the information from the dossier and her plan to engage. Persona, backstory, objective; the building blocks of a character. Ideally a good character. Julie really didn't want to gamble her life on the intel about Chimera having lost her powers being correct. No, not Chimera. Kia. Kia. She rang the doorbell. Kia opened the door to see a young woman standing there. Pleasant looking without being intimidating, with dark eyes and dark hair done in a slicked-back ponytail, wearing a slightly rumpled suit jacket over T-shirt and jeans. The woman smiled and held a hand out, which Kia shook without really thinking about it. "Hi, Miss Mizuki. I'm Harmony Gold, from...ah..." she patted her pocket and pulled out a little leather case which flipped open to show a badge, "...I'm a civilian scientific attache from the base. We've been working with Irregular Solutions on, ah...your situation. Can I come in?" "Oh, hi!" replied Kia with a smile. "Sure! Please, call me Kia. What are you doing out here though? I'm going in for a full exam already today." Harmony sighed and rolled her eyes. "I know, I know. Except you're going to Irregular Solutions, and they don't have this over there." She reached into her purse and produced a small device that looked a little like the thingy that supermarkets used to use to print price labels on. A pistol grip with a complicated little disc on top. "This is just to scan you and your house for residual energy traces. They also want me to ask you a few questions if that's ok." Kia stared at the gizmo, impressed despite all the things she'd already seen. "Wow," she said appreciatively. "Yeah, come on in." -- From behind the 'mask' of Harmony, Julie Foster, the 'Kestrel,' watched Kia carefully...and not just with her eyes. One of the most valuable abilities she had was the power to sense Keys and their powers. She and the Japanese teenager exchanged pleasantries while Julie scanned her head to foot. It was true. Chimera was no more. There wasn't even a 'residue' left. It was as if she'd never unlocked at all. Something about that gave Julie a little chill. Could it happen again? Was Chimera still a Key, just now locked again? She didn't think she'd be able to tell, if so. Best to avoid any stress, just to be sure. --- That night in her motel room, wrapped in a terrycloth bathrobe while her hair air-dried, Julie went over her notes and recorded footage of the interview she'd had with Kia. The device Rand had given her was back in her briefcase...she had no idea how to read, or even access, what it had discovered. Based on her own senses, she suspected it hadn't discovered much. "...I was talking with one of the new guys," Kia said, her miniature face on the screen of Julie's tablet. "Pete. He's super chill about stuff, and he could tell I was having a hard time so he just asked me to talk to him. Then he said I should talk to the spirits and tell them what I wanted." Her smile was infectious, even in the video two hours later. "I don't believe in spirits, you know? But...it felt good to just let it all out anyway." Julie jotted down 'New Key at Irregular Solutions: Pete - interacted with subject day before remission event' on her notepad. The tablet data would never see Padlock...they were incredibly paranoid about any kind of transfer of computer information. She'd taken the video for her own use, and it would all be deleted when she was done with it. Kia's testimony had also been helpful in other ways. For one, she'd let Julie know that Irregular Solutions hadn't yet started its tests on her in earnest. Going and infiltrating the place now would be a lot of risk for not much reward. Abel had been up front with his girlfriend about what they'd found so far...and it hadn't been much according to Kia. "Is everything okay?" Julie's recorded voice asked. Kia nodded and smiled apologetically. "Abel and Sean are just taking it hard. I think this has them really scared." "Scared? They're two of the, ah, most capable people on the planet." "I know. They're just worried this could be made into a weapon I think." The former Key shrugged. Julie had leaned forward, and the view of the video changed slightly. "You're not afraid of that?" She shook her head. "No. It's like I told Abel. This was all about a choice." The pen moved over Julie's notepad again. Kia's opinion had no scientific weight, but Julie wasn't discounting it. The girl had really, genuinely wanted to be rid of her powers. After a moment of thought, she jumped the video to the last bookmark. "So this happened because you chose for it to?" Kia nodded primly. "I, ah, this isn't part of the questions I'm supposed to ask, but...why? You were Chimera. One of the most powerful beings in the world. Why did you want to give that up?" The erstwhile Irregular considered that for a moment, then smiled ruefully. "I wasn't in the world. I was...on the world, but just standing on it. Everything felt like...a movie set? Kind of? Plastic and cardboard. Nothing real. Not to me. As long as there was a fight...against something only Chimera could fight...I could roll with it. But then the fight was over. I can be me again." "Some would say that there's always another fight," Julie pointed out. "Yeah, but...size matters you know? You don't need me as Chimera to deal with...riots or terrorists. That'd be like trying to shoot an apple off of someone's head with a bazooka or something." Kia hesitated, thinking. "I can't USE those powers. Not for normal things. Not around normal people. It's too much." Julie found herself asking something that genuinely was off the cuff then. "Do you think that there might be other Keys out there that feel that way? Like their powers have a cost they don't want to pay? Do you think you could...help them? Do what you've done?" Kia gazed at her for so long that Julie felt a stab of fear. Had she said something wrong? Was Kia onto her? But then the pretty young asian girl just said, "I don't know. All I could tell them is what Pete told me. It's not something that anyone did to me...it was between me and...whatever these powers are from." "Whatever they're from?" "Yeah. Like...whatever chooses what our powers are when we unlock. It's not random, you know. It's more like...like a genie, kinda. You make a wish. Only it's not as conscious. It's this really strong, emotional, instinctive choice. What do you want? So it doesn't always come out the way you might want it to consciously. And even if it does, sometimes it's complicated and has problems you don't know about until later." "Like yours." Kia started to nod, then thought about it and shook her head. "Not really. My powers were fine. If I was a little different, I could have kept them and it would have been fine. But I felt like I was being pulled away from other people, and away from the world...and that's the opposite of what I wanted. But just because it wasn't what I wanted wasn't a 'problem.' It was just..." She sighed. "It's a choice I made. I decided it wasn't worth it." Julie nodded, making the camera bob a little. "Well...welcome back to the human race, Kia. I hope it's worth it for you." She just smiled. "It already is." There was something in that smile...an easy, unforced contentment...that called to Julie as she watched the video freeze at the end. She wanted to have that 'everything's cool' smile. She wanted to feel the way she'd have to feel to have that smile. Maybe tomorrow.
  2. Grace nodded and gave Patrick a squeeze on the shoulder. "Yeah, about that. I was going in a little hot. Lets find our people before we start opening cans of beatdown. Alright, lets regroup here." When everyone was together, rather than split up on either side of a doorway, she looked at the others and added, "Whatever anyone may think about this situation, we're playing it straight. Maybe you think it's an exercise...doesn't matter. We have the book, we're going by it." "Alright, can't do an area mind scan...what about vitakinetics? We're looking for the only large living things around here that aren't us. What about scent? Tracking. What have we got in the toolbox?"
  3. Ah, quite so! I shall post asap Monday. Thanks for the boot to the butt!
  4. Peeking just a little around the corner when the 'flashlights' vanished, Grace saw the clanks starting to lumber away. The urge to take them by surprise was strong. There were hostages to consider though. As much as she might want to mix things up, once the first shot was fired it couldn't be unfired. The frames might not execute hostages at the first sign of difficulty, but then again...they might. Once they knew shit was going down, the power was in their hands. Not ideal. As long as the AIs didn't know there were people in the area, the people had the power. If they could find hostages first, that was the time to strike. They had to keep looking. Goddamnit. Grace looked at Zoe and tapped her temple. When she felt the telepathic presence she sent, Have Patrick get clear, get back to us. We're trying to find hostages before we make our move. It was risky this way too. The longer they took poking around, the bigger the chance they'd get caught. A call had to be made though and this was it. They'd keep looking.
  5. Ah! I had the impression Patrick went through a door farther down the hall, and we were clear of it. Thanks for the warning!
  6. Grace nodded at Zoe's message and looked around. No other movement in the hallway. That was something at least. The operation was delicate, but they couldn't just sit around all day. Three frames were bad news...three frames with no hostages to recover was even worse. All right. Review the parameters of the op. Eleven hostages, unknown frames...amend that to at least three. It wasn't specified that the frames holding the hostages would execute them immediately, but it wasn't specified they wouldn't. Assume worst case scenario, but don't freeze up. We have firearms. I have a rifle. If it's suicide to use them, that makes no sense. She looked at Zoe. <Have him sit tight, don't move. Everyone else, clear the door, weapons out.> She demonstrated by getting to one side of the door way and crouching down with her rifle ready to fire. <Vasquez, you've got my back. Zoe and the doctor go next and Shaw has rearguard. We're giving the frames five minutes to see if they cycle out of scan mode so Patrick can get clear. If they stay scanning, or look like they're getting too close to him, we take our chances and rush the frames.>
  7. Grace held up a closed fist suddenly, without even thinking about it, to signal all stop. The lights shining through the little viewport...moving around like searchlights. Shit. She looked back and held a finger to her lips, shaking her head. It was impossible to know how sensitive their hearing would be, but when they were scanning they'd be much more alert to any kind of disturbance, not just visual. If they hadn't already started signaling others, or shooting, they hadn't found Patrick. If he kept cool, and they didn't find him, they should return to whatever they'd been doing before fairly quickly. Multiple frames, can't really tell how many just from the lights. Patrick may need a distraction if things get hotter. Grace turned around and locked eyes with the redhead, Zoe. She tapped her temple, then made a circular gesture, indicating the group. They needed some silent communication here that couldn't be tapped into by a machine-mind.
  8. Grace watched the drama between the doctor and Vasquez unfold with skepticism written plainly on her face. Combat enhancer drugs were risky in this kind of situation to her way of thinking. Usually they revolved around kickstarting adrenalin or aggression until someone couldn't feel pain or fear...but by then they couldn't necessarily plan more than two steps out, or stick to a plan either. Not really what you wanted on an op like this, test or no test. But then again, doctors were crafty as fuck, and Machiavellian in their manipulations. Especially combat docs. "Alright. Patrick. Scouting. Find us targets."
  9. Grace gave Patrick a gimlet eye for a second, then nodded at the others. "Shaw. Vasquez. Patrick. Like she said, I'm Grace. Four years in the Fifth Legion." She looked up and down the hallway and went on, "What we have here is what I'd call a critical lack of intel. No clue where the hostages are, or where the frames are. If we start kicking doors in, we're going to get people killed." "Patrick, you're an 'intrusion expert.' Can you do us some scouting without being seen, and without your biokinetics?"
  10. Grace looked around, taking in the nightmarish hallway. Red lights, debris...doors lining each side. Wires dangling from ripped out light fixtures. Compared to the rooms they'd woken up in, it was night and day. She shook her head. "Not really. Lets stay on task. Eleven hostages. Unknown number of frames. What kind of combat experience do you have? Have you seen anyone else yet?"
  11. "Quantum resonators?" Grace frowned at that. AI-tech...but then again they were talking about AI frames here so all right. "Good thing I didn't try to break the mirror, I guess." She leaned down and offered Zoe a hand up. "Nice staff. Didn't catch your name."
  12. "Shit!" Grace looked around, immediately bringing her rifle back to firing position, then hurried to Zoe's side. "Look at me," she said, trying to get eye contact. "Focus on me. Are you hurt? You've got to bite down on that shit. We aren't secure here."
  13. Grace backed up from the mirror a step, then looked up and around as the voice boomed out, outlining the parameters. There were a lot of levels none of this made sense on, but on another level it was perfectly clear. Take out the AI frames, prevent civilian casualties. The specifics could be dealt with later. The sound of a panel opening attracts Grace's eye to the spot between the two doors where a supply closet is now being revealed. Carbon-fiber reinforced plate armor, rifle and sidearm. Ammo. A knife. She chuckled to herself as she went over to collect the gear. Christos, it was one of these. The armor fit awkwardly over the hospitalwear, but she made sure no cloth was sticking out in a way that'd prevent her from moving, or catch on something. It had a sort of built-in holster suitable for the pistol...vanilla Banji model. Rifle was conventional slugthrower too. A little irritating. Grace preferred laser weapons. She could use those to fire through her own barrier. But the first rule any soldier in a combat situation learned was that you grab what was at hand and thank fuck you had anything at all. Spare ammo fit into loops on the waist of the armor. Knife sheath had buckles she could attach pretty much anywhere...she chose her forearm. Then she walked out the lone door and into the hallway beyond, rifle at the ready. Almost immediately Grace saw movement up the hall and crouched down, bringing her weapon up to aim. Human-looking. Redhead. Pistol in one hand, a long rod in the other like a staff. Looked scared. Civilian? "Ma'am, stand down," Grace said calmly. She slowly let the rifle down from aiming position, the barrel sliding away from the redhead. "I'm human, on your side. My name's Grace." Though she was still holding the rifle with one hand, it was no longer pointing at Zoe, and Grace's other hand was up with the fingers spread to show it was empty.
  14. wake up Grace's eyes opened, and saw only white. She winced a little and, moving her head as subtly as possible, looked around. There were variations in brightness...corners between walls and ceiling. She wasn't blind. A good start. Her eyes kept roving around as she sat up. No one else in the room. Three doors. Mirror. Bed. What was this? There was fear. Confusion. Grace stuffed those dissonants into the back of her head with all the training the Legion had seen fit to bestow on her. Focus on the things happening now. What could you see now? What were you feeling with your body now? What could you do now? Fear wanted to dredge up old memories, or imagine wildly horrible possibilities. Stapling yourself to now defanged it, at least for awhile. She felt a little stiff, but there was no pain, no sign of injury. The gown she had on seemed like the sort of thing a hospital would provide. Grace frowned a little as she probed her memories. Walking home, she thought. Walking somewhere. Daylight. Had there been trouble? Grace didn't think so, but if she'd been drugged then memory would be a frail and tattered thing to trust. Her bare feet made no sound as she slipped off of the bed and made her way across towards the mirror. A long ways, really. The room was way too big for a prison cell or a hospital room. The 'clearance required' signs seemed military to her, or maybe paramilitary. So...laboratory? Research? She pressed her face to the mirror, cupping her hands around her eyes to block the light out, in hopes she might be able to see through the one-way glass.
  15. Real Name: Grace Reyes Nature: Survivor Origin: Outsider Marital Status: Single Known Relatives: Date of Birth: March 19th Nationality: Colombian Occupation: Soldier Allegiance(s): Aeon Proteus Physical Traits Gender: Female Ethnic Background: Latina (South American) Age: 25 Height: 5' 7" Weight: 140lbs Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown Handedness: Right Appearance: Grace is a young latina woman with dark eyes and a mocha complexion. She has deep chestnut-brown hair that she lets grow out to her shoulders when she lets it grow at all...she's equally fond of shaving some or most of it. Grace often wears hats and clothes that conceal her face and figure from casual spotting like scarves and coats and similar, and she's fond of darker-toned neutral colors...eschewing clothes that would make her stand out, or be easily visible in a crowd. Personality: Direct, and greatly favoring the 'KISS' principle, Grace's persona was born out of a life of struggle and honed in the pragmatic practices of the Legions. She understands the need for diplomacy and intrigue, but hasn't got the patience for such subtleties herself. Give and demand respect when it's earned, honor your loyalties, and never back down from your responsibilities. Grace is impulsive and a bit of a hothead so she doesn't always live up to her own ideals, but she always takes responsibility for her shit when it happens. She has a soft spot for downtrodden folks who are genuinely trying to make their way through a world that's not giving them a chance, for children and for animals that won't try to eat her, and for music played by the human hand. That synth shit can go fuck itself. Background: Grace was born in Cartagena, on the Colombian coast. Her father, Mateo Reyes, served in the national military until he was honorably discharged after suffering crippling injuries in the line of duty. It was hard for him to find work after that, and his wife Carla tried to pick up the slack by looking to the Norca for work. Grace grew up in the slums, learned to be quick and quiet and fast with her hands. She loved and respected her parents, but they simply couldn't be there for her very often. At first she tried helping out with money through a combination of odd jobs and petty theft. When her mom finally sought the Norca out, Grace followed suit taking on runner and courier work around the city. It was when making a delivery to one of the Biokinetics that she was discovered to be latent. At first, it seemed like a good thing. It all got complicated quickly though. For one, the Norca biokinetic who 'discovered' her, a European expatriate who took the name Dante, took a liking to Grace. As he introduced her to the Norca in Cartegena and took charge of her pre-dunking instruction, Dante also started up a kind of breathless whirlwind romance with the young latent. Grace was so caught up in all the change, all the novelty, all the overwhelming attention, that she barely noticed any of the warning signs. So what if he always wanted to know where she was? Cartegena was a dangerous town, he was looking out for her. So what if he seemed really jealous? That just meant he had real feelings for her. Grace's latency was confirmed, but there was a blow dealt at the same time. Her psychic affinity was for psychokinetics, not biokinetics. She could be triggered for biokinesis, but it would squander a significant portion of her strength to overcome that predisposition. As far as the official Norca authorities went, it was Grace's choice. They had no issues if she wanted to pursue her gift elsewhere. As far as Dante went, that was simply unacceptable. He exerted tremendous pressure on Grace, trying to convince her to trigger her gift to Biokinesis and stay in Colombia with him. She seriously considered it too. Just to make sure she knew what she was giving up though, Grace went to the local Legion recruiting center to talk to them and let them test her as well. Dante, who was having her followed, found out about it and things took a sharp turn downward. He found Grace's mother and had her moved to the drug-testing duty, personally making sure that she was a subject in one of the more dangerous studies. When she succumbed to a semi-catatonic state from the effects, Dante used her condition to try to tie Grace down. He lied and said she'd elected it freely without telling anyone because the pay was better, and that she now needed constant care that only the Norca could provide. And if she was gone, and her mom was invalid, who would look after her father? It very nearly worked. Someone working for Dante, Grace still doesn't know exactly who, tipped her off though. She did some nosing around, caught her tail and beat some information out of him, then went to find Dante. When she found him all the accumulated venom of the past several months came spilling out. What started out as a screaming match devolved into violence...and while Grace had overpowered the blank Dante had sent to keep an eye on her, she was no match for a trained biokinetic. However, Dante wasn't the only one keeping an eye on Grace. Her former lover, bruised but with plenty of fight left in him, had Grace by the hair. She was dazed, semi-conscious, unable to defend herself as he mulled over what her fate should be. Suddenly the door burst open as the guards Dante had posted were hurled bodily through it. Three men stepped through, grim-faced, and demanded that Dante stop immediately. It wasn't his inclination to obey, but he found his arms restrained by something invisible. Grace was saved. And then the Norca arrived, and things got complicated again. After a tense stand-off, Grace had a chance to explain what had happened in front of Del Fuego himself. He listened impassively, then asked Dante for his version. Dante launched into an impassioned speech about Grace being an innocent who belonged to the Norca, being misled by foreigners who wanted to abduct someone who should be in the family. He didn't specifically refute any of Grace's story however, knowing better than to lie to the Proxy. The judgement was rendered. The Legion, though acting to protect Grace, had attacked the Norca. They would close their recruiting office in Cartegena and vacate the city until further notice. Grace was free to go, and could take her parents as well...that was between her and the Legion at this point. Dante, in many ways the focal point of the entire mess, needed some 'counseling,' before he could resume his duties for the family. And that was that. Grace did take her family to Australia at the Legion's invitation. Mateo got some training and found work, and now takes care of his wife...while Grace takes care of both of them, as best she can. She joined the Legion and served her first term in the Fifth Legion, mostly in the constant conflict raging in Central America between Honduras and El Salvador.
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