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Cassandra Allen last won the day on January 26

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  1. "Okay," Cassandra said and scooted over to get closer. She held a hand out. "When Jase and I tried it, we had to touch, so take my hand." Devin opened his mouth, and Cassandra...with perfect prescience...repeated herself sternly, in time to cut him off, "Take my hand." With a long suffering sigh, Devin plopped his hand over Cassandra's and aimed a smirk at Ms Giles, intending to tell her that this meant nothing, he was still saving himself for her...but those words never found their way out of his mouth. The room was too busy exploding around him. It took a second, a heartbeat, an eternal indrawn breath, for him to realize that the room wasn't blowing up. His awareness was. He was already no stranger to being able to sense time and space around him, but focused through the lens of Cassandra's Shine it felt as if that sense suddenly had no limits. The curvature of the Earth spread under him, and the ceiling above was where the air scraped the edge of vacuum. Shelly wasn't even a speck on his mental map, yet he could feel the town in excruciating detail, a livid map of psychic connections forged by his own emotions and the emotions of those he was familiar with. Cassandra was there with him, astride the world. She was, he realized, as surprised as he was...their concert extending her own senses well beyond their usual scope. Stay focused. The imperative she conveyed was not a voice, it was more like a memory he'd just recalled, almost indistinguishable from his own thoughts. Shelly. The prison. It was there, squat and stony and oppressive. As Devin focused his awareness, the fidelity of it increased until every crack in the concrete and every creeping lichen stood out to him. Then he realized there was more. A sense of presence, someone known to him, an echo or reverberation of a song he'd heard before. He knew the title. Etienne. He was below the ground, and here again the information from Cassie was refined by Devin's acute sense of distance and space. The room peeled open, limited by the momentary psychic glimpse she'd gotten. White ceiling with strips of light. Checkered floor. A hint of cabinet. The bed-chair with the unconscious Etienne. Anyone else in there? Devin's question occurred to Cassandra, and he felt it through her in a weird kind of feedback loop. I don't know. I didn't get a good look. I thought you were supposed to be all seeing? Somehow the tinge of snideness was conveyed even in that voiceless communion. Their connection shivered as Cassandra tugged slightly away. It was harder working through an object...this is still new to me. Do you have what you need? Devin considered. Teleporting blindly into a room he'd never seen before wasn't normally his favorite thing to do...but Cassandra's vision was enough to give him the location of safe spaces to appear in. Or the location of Etienne himself, if it came to that. In the conference room, Cassandra and Devin stood silently for a couple of minutes, his hand loosely grasping hers on the tabletop. It was perhaps the longest period of time anyone had ever seen Devin keep his mouth shut. Then he wrecked it. "Yeah. I got it."
  2. Cassandra worked her shoulders a little as Devin vanished and Kat had her say. "We don't even know where we're going yet," she said. "Prison just seems like a good place to hide mercenaries. But we can find out." She looked at Dr Cook, cowering across the table. "Did you take anything off of Etienne?" The scientist shook his head dolefully. "No. Kline's men would have done anything along those lines." Then, with a touch of suspicion, "Why?" "I need something that belonged to him. Or, like a comb or something would be ideal." He sat back in his chair for a moment, then said, "His office is upstairs in the Imaging Department." With that Cassie was up out of her seat. "Okay, which office?" Major Taggert spoke up at that point, pointing at one of the two armed men that had escorted him and Giles in. "Airman, escort her to that office and back here when she has what she needs." Then he turned his gimlet gaze on Cassandra. "No side trips, and stick with your escort. He's there for your safety." And to make sure I don't do any more snooping, thought Cassie with a wry smile...but she nodded. "Won't take but a minute." Then they were off, following Dr Cook's hasty directions, with his passcard in her hand. When they arrived and beeped in, Cass found the office looking like it had barely ever been used. Fitting, since his 'job' in Imaging was certainly just a cover. Even so, he HAD been there before. Cassandra closed her eyes, 'feeling' around the room for echoes of his presence. In one of the drawers was a pack of playing cards...but no...the trash can. She hunkered down a bit. The bin was empty, but on the floor under it was a bit of dust and grit...probably spilled by accident the last time it had been taken out. In that was a little white half-moon shape. A fingernail clipping. Cass scraped it up off the floor and gave the airman a smile. "That'll do." He gave her a disgruntled, somewhat grossed out look. "All this for that?" "I know. It's mysterious. Imagine what I could do with a whole finger." The airman frowned, then waved her ahead of him. "All right, lets move it." They arrived back in the conference room with everyone else in it and Cassandra put her prize on the table. Everyone else leaned forward a little to get a better look. The Sheriff asked, in a tone clearly communicating that he hated that he had to ask this, "Is that a fingernail?" Cassandra shook her head. "It's Etienne. I mean, okay it's his fingernail, yes, but until pretty recently, it was him. It's still kind of him. I can use it to find the rest of him." "You realize that made absolutely no sense," replied the lawman, his bushy brows beetled together. "Yeah, pretty much." Cassie leaned over the clipping and cupped her hands around it. There was a sudden feeling of vertigo sweeping over her, and she swayed precariously for a second. The conference room fell away and the town whickered past, then the countryside, until she was hovering over familiar terrain...the Crossroads prison facility. She let out a started 'eep' as the ground rushed up at her, concrete walls and inmates and guards all rising around her then vanishing as she plunged straight down past the paved courtyard and the dirt beneath...to where stone replaced dirt and suddenly she was in a cold white room lit by a buzzing florescent bulb. In the room there was a chair...the kind of full-body chair you saw in dentist's offices. Creepy dentist's offices. And in the chair was Etienne. His eyes were closed, his breathing regular and slow. There was a little metal stand by the bed with a plastic bag full of clear fluid at the top, connected to his arm with a tube. She let her breath out with a gasp and opened her eyes. "Jesus Christ, this thing..." Cass muttered. "It's like a fucking roller coaster in my head." She cleared her throat. "Okay, I got him. He's under the prison, in a room...very clean, maybe a lab? He's alive, in like a surgical bed? With an IV in his arm." Getting her phone out, she started putting Devin's numbers in. "I'll let Dev know. I think maybe we can get there if we work together."
  3. Cassandra wanted to try to wring more out of him. She wanted to explain the whole 'social contract' thing more, get him on board with it more...but really didn't know how to do that. She only had a kind of vague idea of how it was all supposed to work herself. It was endlessly frustrating to her that someone who seemed as smart as Jase couldn't seem to grasp something that was so easy for most other people. She was tired of fighting though. "All right. Okay. So... You want to tell Ms Giles about it, Dr. Cook? Let me set the stage for you, just so we're on the same page. Etienne and you in your office. You're talking. You get in a fight. He's upset with you, with the Project, with what you're having him do. He tells you he's done." She jabs a finger towards the scientist. "You realize that you can't just let him go. He knows too much, and if you lose track of him who knows who he'll talk to." At this, Cass glanced at Giles. "Or who it'll get back to." "You take him down your super-cool little office elevator. Oh, at gunpoint, I should add. A while later you come back up. Alone. With the gun still in your hand. The same one that's in your desk drawer right now." Cassie sat back in her chair and gestured at him. "You want to fill in the missing time there? Might go easier on you if you do it yourself."
  4. "Jesus, Jase," Cassandra muttered, burying her face in her hands. Then she looked up and held her hands out. "Okay, everyone...just calm down for a second." She threw a glare at Jason. "And before you tell me that 'you are calm,' let me just say that that isn't what calm people do. Okay? Yeah, he called you a liar...because he's a liar and that's what people do. They...accuse other people of doing the things they do. But you have to get a fucking grip, man. Someone trash talks you doesn't mean you get to go Hannibal Lecter on their ass." She waved a hand at Dr Cook. "And don't you go thinking I'm on your side either, because I know what you did to Etienne. You're not getting off that hook. I'm just...ugh." Cass abruptly turned and pointed at Jase. "You have to promise me no powers. No matter what, in this room right now, or...against Dr Cook. Because otherwise I won't say anything more and he'll get away with it, and it'll be your fault."
  5. "We talked about it," Cass clarifies quickly, shooting Devin a glare. "We haven't done anything." "And a lot's happened since that discussion," she adds to Devin. "Stuff we didn't plan on. So...yeah, we still need to do that. The, uh, reservation, I mean. Not the prison." She nods at the Sheriff. "We are definitely not going to do the prison thing."
  6. "We saw Courtney with Dr. Cook," Cassie said, glancing at Autumn. "Just before everything went to hell. I didn't know about the others though. Huh." She looks around at the rest of the Fellowship, then at Giles. "Cody was one too. That...doesn't surprise me, I guess. But he's a perfect example of why we need to know. Those kids, all of them...they're in danger. Us too, but we're stronger and we tend to stay in groups. Which reminds me." Cassandra dug her phone out and swiped through her photos until she got to the one Autumn had sent her. The one of the man dressed in black. The one that had come for her and Cade again later on. Holding it out so Giles and the others at the table could see it, she asked, "Any of you know who this is?"
  7. "More questionable than mass surveillance and human...genetic stuff?" Cassandra asked skeptically. "I'm gonna need sources for that." She paused, then the word she'd been hunting for popped into her head. "Eugenics!" Her cheeks colored. "I mean, not 'genetic stuff.' Eugenics. Like the Nazis." As much to distract from the slip as anything, Cass pressed Ms Giles then. "Anyway, Crossroads owns the prison. What kind of 'questionable activities' have they done before then? And...hang on, how can they be a surprise? You guys were operating in Shelly before they opened the prison, right?"
  8. Cassandra shook her head. "All I know is what anyone who keeps even moderately well-informed can tell you." She started ticking off fingers. "It's crooked as shit. It's cruel and inhumane. It has a criminally bad safety record. And..." Here Cass paused. "...and it's a Dark factory. Okay, one thing that not anyone would know. The point, though, is that you just started talking very carefully, and you're trying to bounce my questions back at me which is prime evasion tactics and it's not working." "So one more time from the top. What do you know about it?"
  9. "Okay sure, but one thing first," Cassandra interrupted. She'd been keeping quiet, hoping no one thought to ask her how she and Autumn had gotten down into the underground area, or how long they'd been there, or if she'd had her phone. But this was an opportunity she couldn't pass up. "The prison. Crossroads. Do you guys run that too? Because there's only two really weird things...sort of, industrially speaking...about Shelly. There's the Medical Center, which is super-overbuilt for this town, and there's the prison which seems like it's way bigger and closer to town than that kind of thing should be." "So, is it yours? And if it's not, what do you know about it?"
  10. "Oh shit!" Cassandra hurried over to where Autumn had fallen and leaned over where she was sitting. "Hey," she said, waving a hand in front of her face. Autumn's eyes were open, which was a relief. "Hey, are you okay? Say something...count my fingers...I dunno, something."
  11. "No one's saying we just rush in," Cassandra replied, still annoyed, even if not exactly with Cade. She looked back at Devin. "Look, we went to the hospital when Jase did. We were pretty much done, and it occurred to me, lets have a look around. This is like the one time no one will be surprised to see us here. I figured we'd just do a little snooping, maybe get eyes on Cook's office. Which we did, by the way. We didn't know we'd wind up taking a secret elevator to Conspiracy Central or we'd definitely have called first." She sighed. "I get it. You're...concerned, and that's good. I really appreciate it. But sometimes opportunities come fast and furious, and we won't always have a chance to call. Like this time, things went from 'is the heat on' to 'boiling hot' in like ten seconds flat. We took some serious risks, but it paid off. Speaking of which..." Her eyes went to Sean, and she asked, "Can you copy the videos and photos off my phone? Just in case someone around here comes to their senses and realizes I've had it all this time?"
  12. "There's a lot going on," Cass said. "Autumn and me, for example, got down into the lower level of the medical center." She sighed. "Unfortunately, the minute we did, there was the Darksplosion, and everything went to shit. But the elevator...is in Cook's office. And we did find some stuff there." She leaned back in her chair to look up at the ceiling. "I don't know what to make of most of it, but maybe Jase or Sean will. First things first though, we hafta get out of here before we do anything. Then I think we have to start learning to combine our powers so we can head to the Town Hall. There's other stuff I want to do too, like investigate the prison and find out what the hell they did here that caused the Darksplosion, but those are like..." Cassie paused thoughtfully. "...like side quests, you know? Getting ready to go to the Tree is the main plan." "I think we should get started on that right away. Like tonight even."
  13. "So we start small," suggests Cass. "Try simple things first. Practice. Get better." She nods. "Then when we can handle it...we go in."
  14. "I mean, kind of potato potahto?" Cassie suggested. "I just meant they let the Dark in here. To us. This world. Out of its world, into this one. That's what got everything all fucked up. The bigger creature seemed like it kind of...stabilized it or something, I don't know. I could see the energy, but I don't know exactly what they did here, or why it all started going away when the big one died. It just all started unraveling and fading away." She shrugged. "But I did, definitely see the Tree. There was a big sort of...like a knot in it, while it was here. Right smack in the middle of town. I think the Dark energy was drawn to it, even on this side. Even though it's still on the other side."
  15. Cass barely even noticed the interplay between the others. She was eying her sandwich warily, her stomach daring her brain to try it...then she realized there was more important stuff going on. More important than any of this. "You guys," she said, "I know where the Tree is. We have to check it out. As soon as we're done with all this bullshit here." That got people's attention, so she added, "The old town hall building. It's not even very far from here. Whatever they're doing downstairs poked some kind of...hole or something that let all the Dark in, but the source of the Dark is the Tree. That's where we have to go."
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