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Lilly Pryor last won the day on August 2 2021

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Rising Star (9/16)

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  1. ( Collab w/ Dave) Lilly stood at her locker, having parted ways with Sean as they each made their way to their lockers to get ready for class. The athletic brunette stood there, looking at the text books leaning against one another in her locker, and for a moment could not remember which she needed to grab. It had been a long night, one which she would not care to remember, and she was certainly tired for the lack of sleep for a few days now. She certainly could have stayed home today, but a small part of her was determined to not let Enterich 'win', as it were, and hide in bed all day. Finally she remembered which books to grab and slipped them into her pack, closing the locker door with a sigh. As the door closed she caught sight of Marissa walking town the hall, strangely alone and... quiet? Subdued? Lilly managed a weary smile and a small, wave to Mari. Lily's brunette counterpart, the evil to Lily's purity, the dark to her light, certainly appeared to care less today than she ever had previously. Still, instead of just passing Lily by in the hall she opted to instead, narrow her eyes and then roll them in either frustration or irritation. Marissa didn't wave back at the sheepish attempt Lily had made to greet her. Instead she walked up to her and simply curled an eyebrow upward in her usual mocking appraisal. Still, she said nothing. Finally, she reached out and grabbed Lily by her arm and pulled her along, cueing her to follow. "Wow." She said lazily. "You look like hell." Lilly blinked in surprise as Marissa pulled on her arm, leading her by it. Be it the lack of sleep, the anxiety, mental fatigue or any other factors of combination of thing, Lilly's usual more friendly and diplomatic speech was nowhere to be found. "No shit. I haven't haven't slept, no real sleep, for days." she replied, her initial indignant tone quickly fading. "My head's still so messed up." "Seeing my sarcasm and raising me sass," the evil brunette almost grinned, but she wasn't in the mood for it, not today. "I like you better without sleep." She led her into one of the female restrooms where a few of their classmates has chosen to get ready for classes in front of the large mirror. There was a pause the two ladies entered, like it must be some manner of prank for Shelly High's star athlete and it's Goddess of Cruelty to be both be blessing their rest room at exactly the same time. After a slight pause to allow them a moment to marvel at the blessing of their presence, Marissa tightened her jaw line and authoritatively demanded. "Vacate plebs." "Now," she demanded a forcefully a moment later and the two watched as lower classmates practically stumbled over one another to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, some letting their faces remain half finished of makeup, and filtered passed them in a hurried line that refused to make any more eye contact than was humanly possible. "You didn't have to be mean to them," Lily added, he voice echoing slightly in the newly emptied school restroom acoustics. She led her over to the mirror and set her bag on the surface by on one of the sinks. "No, I didn't." She admitted. "Nor do you have to look like you just rolled out of bed without sleeping a wink for several night, yet here we are." She produced some concealer, a soft brush and a neutral colored headband and without asking simply began dabbing the dark rings under Lily's eyes. "People are always looking for weaknesses, Lily. No matter how defeated we appear, always look like you're winning." She dabbed away, prepping the concealment of her weariness with a light application. "This might take a second," She said after a few moments of silence. "It's not much but it will help, for today, anyway." "Thanks." Lilly simply sighed in unfiltered sincerity. She was caught off guard by the random act of kindness from Mari, not because she could not be kind though, a Lilly had seen that Marissa could be kind and was kind, her her own way, more often than it seemed the others recognized. In this case it was simply so unexpected. Here she was in the bathroom with Mari doing her makeup to try to help her look better. Some would say it was just Mari protecting her own image by making sure those she was around looked their best, or at least 'good' as it were, and to be be fair, that probably was a small part of it, but in the moment it just felt more like a genuine act kindness shared between the two young women. Lilly glanced at the mirror and then did a double take. "That's.. You're really good." Lilly said as she leaned close to check her seemingly refreshed eyes. "I mean, I shouldn't be surprised. Just look at you, not that you need makeup though." "More than you think," she replied coldly. She still, for all intents and purposes was dealing with her own issues and wasn't much for going into soul-searching with Lily in the freshman bathroom. "From the makeup to the work outs, beauty is not a maintenance-free gift. Like athleticism, neglect it and it neglects you. Still, my brother hasn't been getting much sleep either. He's still randomly jaunting about the house in panicked fits in his sleep trying to escape whatever it was that chased him for hours in that... place. I sympathize, I suppose. It messed him up pretty bad, and Enterich has been in my head too, to a lighter degree, I suppose as most things that make you revile in horror probably turn me on." Lily wasn't sure if that was humor or not, as Marissa's deadpan tone and expression were currently impossible to read. She handed her the brush and slid the hairband to her. "Fix yourself." As Lily began grooming Marissa placed the other items back in her bag. "I know it's just words, Lily, and I won't claim to understand what you went through, that's yours and yours alone to come to terms with, but everyday people are looking for weaknesses. In you. In me. Your problems? Twenty percent don't care, and eighty percent are glad they're yours, so no matter how bad it gets in your head always carry yourself like you're winning." "Get a boyfriend or something," she added suddenly, allowing herself a devilish smirk as personal topics like who Lily was dating she knew would make the prudish athlete flush in all manner of roses. "What about that guy you're going to homecoming with? He might cheer you up. Get you some, girl. Can't say 'happiness' without saying 'penis'. "Will?" Lilly asked as she stopped for a moment and turned from the mirror to Marissa, he cheeks flushed. "He's a decent guy I guess," she said with a shrug, "but there's just nothing there." Lilly turned back to the mirror as as she continued talking, "and besides, there's not exactly a line to date me, not after all rumors and crap that's been spread. I mean, yeah, they cheer me when i bring home a win on the football field, but it's like, I dunno, only because I'm useful to them. at least, that's part of what Enterich said, and to be honest, there's more than a little truth to it." Lilly lowered her hand with the brush and looked at herself in the mirror for a moment, meeting her own gaze before shaking her head, not wanting to dwell on it if she could avoid it. "Anyways," she sighed, "there's only a people I have any interest in, and the girl's bathroom is not the place to be sharing it." "Of course there is some truth to them, Lily," she rest her hip against the counter top, arms folded in constant appraisal of Lilly both physically and mentally. She'd read all of her mother's books on psychology and scarily understood more of how the the mind worked than most young women her age ever should. "If there wasn't then they wouldn't have any power over you." She didn't didn't preach the topic, she knew Lilly was smart enough to understand how her own head worked. She'd trained for the Olympics and more than anyone in Shelly knew the power of self-discipline and the mantra of 'just one more'. Still, like Autumn, a handful of Lilly's were born from Marissa's cruel pranks and selfish desires. "This, however, is high school, Lilly. Popularity and public opinion are mercurial, at best. I suppose a portion of that is my fault." Lilly knew that probably as close to an apology as she was going to get. "I can handle the rumors for you, I can squash the public option and fix your reputation by week's end." "The rest is on you, girlfriend." She was silent for a moment before narrowing her eyes and finally saying. "You know what? My afternoon schedule cleared up. Jacob would rather play twenty questions instead of coming to have a burger with me, so why don't you fill his place. Getting out might do you some good. Talking, even if it's about nothing in particular, might help. We will find Enterich, we will beat him, and we will show him why they name storms after women, but until that time comes we need to eat and talk shit about boys, so burger later?" "Well then he sounds like a dumbass." Lilly said with a faint hint of a smile tugging at the corners of her lips for the first time all morning. "Sure. These last couple of weeks have been..." she said, her voice trailing off a bit as she thought about things, but then shook her head, as if she were tossing them from her mind. "Chillin' with you over burgers and fries sounds great." Lilly looked at herself in the mirror and nodded. "And thanks for this too. What you said, the help, all of it. It really helps. Seriously." "Idiocy is not something this town lack in," she dismissively shrugged. "I'm friends with Jacob's friends and it's obvious he doesn't like me at all. I figured us getting to know each other better might help to clear the air. Oh, well. We miss a hundred percent of the shots we don't take, and he blew his." Lilly finished her hair and slid the band in place to keep her bangs out of her eyes. Marissa drooped the brush back in her bag as her athletic counterpart handed it to her. "I've only told you what you already know, but," she seemed to hesitant to express the next piece of her mind, but after a moment of hesitation she continued on. "You're welcome." She glanced at her phone and slid several messages aside. "We're going to be late." “What are you talking about? Marissa Jauntsen is never late, nor is she early. She arrives precisely when she means to.” Lilly said with a faint smile, looking for any sign of recognition of the quote she played off of from Marissa and then reached down, slung her bag over her shoulder and gave herself one last look over in the mirror with an exhale, as if she were steeling herself to step back out into a battle once more. Lilly wanted to say a little more, but with time being an issue, she set it aside for not. At the moment, there other things she needed to try and focus on to make it through the school day and make up for her prior absence. "Shall we?" Lilly asked as she walked over toward the door to open it for Marissa.
  2. The grey of predawn was broken by a pale sun rising above the horizon, a faint breeze keeping the morning cool still. Despite the chill, Sean's rich red hair had already darkened with effort, sweat stains beginning to spread at the small of his back and the pits of his shirt. Sean's huffing breath was the only sound beyond the rustling of the leaves behind the Barn as he strained to finish one last push-up. He could barely remember the last time he'd done a push-up, but he'd certainly been carrying less weight on his chest then. Lilly had told him to just do as many as he comfortably could, and while having no illusions about how athletic he was - or nonathletic, rather - he didn't want to come across as a complete wuss. Slim arms trembling, he finished one more. Gasping, heavy chest heaving, Sean sat back on his heels and shook out his arms before grasping a water bottle and chugging it, wishing it was coffee or an energy drink. It was way too early to be this active. He looked up at the taller, far more physically gifted teen. "I... lost... count. How many was that? Twenty-nine? Thirty?" He dumped some of the water on his head, brushing it through his damp hair with his fingers. "Just tell me whatever's next doesn't need my arms." It had been another difficult night for Lilly. For the last couple of nights she had actually begun to dread falling asleep, because sleep did not offer the, restful, peaceful respite it usually did and instead would drag her back down into a pit of her fears which Mr. Enterich had so expertly drawn to the surface and magnified. Eventually though the long fingers of fatigue would grip Lilly and she and drag her back down until she inevitably would startle awake once again, heart racing, body covered in sweat, tears racing down her cheeks, or some combination there of. Finally, early in the morning, she showered, packed her backpack, dressed and waited for her mother who, after she had instead on going to school today, relented but only if she drove Lilly herself. Begrudgingly, Lilly had agreed and eventually the pair had made there way into town to Sean's house, after Lilly had explained she had agreed to help him improve his fitness. Now she was here, at least physically, if not all together mentally. She was much more subdued as well, her usual smile gone for now, replaced with an almost passionless mask. "Eleven." she stated simply as she brought her full attention back to the present and her friend. At Sean's frown she shook her head and raised her hand. "Relax. We all start somewhere, so don't concern yourself with what others can do or feel bad about where you are. You've already taken the biggest step, and that's deciding to address your personal fitness. So you run your own race and don't concern yourself with others." she reassured him before continuing, "The goal for now is to just get you functionally fit, so nothing crazy to worry about. Most of that will be simple circuit training. Essentially simple cardio and exercises in small reps, and no real equipment is even needed, so you can do it here or anywhere. And nothing I am gonna give you is gonna to destroy you, but it will be a workout." "For example, Sprint here to there," Lilly said as she pointed a fence post a distance off, "and come back, plank for fifteen seconds, then do fifteen squats, then sprint there and come back again, then fifteen crunches and fifteen push ups. That is one full circuit. Try to do the fifteen of each exercise, but if you can't, then don't kill yourself trying. Just move on to the next one and keep going. With time and reps you will do better and better." Sean nodded his understanding, though with the distant look in his eyes as he recovered from his push-ups, Lilly at first wasn't sure if he had heard her. But he had, and was all for not needing any extra equipment and being able to to do the workout and exercises pretty much anywhere. "Okay, I got it," he said, nodding again and steadying his ragged breathing. If he noticed Laurie giving him a long pointed look as she walked to the Corolla with their mother, he gave no sign of it. Sean looked up at Lilly, arching a put upon brow. "And I'm suppose to do this every day?" Lilly lips curved minutely with wryness. "Well, sure, you can have a cheat day here or there, or a regular rest day, but yeah, pretty much every day, Sean. Look, how often do you write code, software, any kind?" "Every day," Sean admitted. "Some, at least, barring any sort of exceptional circumstance." "This is the same. You just need to make it into a routine. It'll get easier, you'll get better at it, and eventually, it'll just be a part of your day. But until then..." The superhuman athlete nodded towards the fence post. "... it starts as hard work. Now run." Sean gave a shirt straining sigh. "I hate the running the most." But gamely, he sprinted towards the post and back, and worked his way through the circuit. His form started out rather terrible, Lilly giving him suggestions and sometimes using a hand to correct him. He couldn't quite prevent himself from stiffening when she touched him, despite knowing she was helping him, especially when she was still working through her own troubles. Asking her to demonstrate was way more enlightening, even if it was blindingly obvious he'd never be in Lilly's league no matter how much he worked at it. He wouldn't even reach Teagan's level, and maybe not Laurie's - not without out a lot of chemical aid and perhaps psionic cheating, perhaps. But being able to see the bioelectric activity through Lilly's nervous system, that awareness seeming to expand to better understand the play of muscle and tendon, certainly helped. He had to adapt of course, his body just couldn't move the way Lilly's did, it was basic mechanics. But by the time he finished his circuit to Lilly's satisfaction, he didn't feel like a fish flopping around on land anymore. He didn't push himself as much as he had at first, just getting the hang of the movements and exercises, keeping his sets balanced and planning on gradually increasing them. Still, when he was done, he was tired, and they were almost running late. Sean barely had time to clean up a little, change his clothes, fill a thermos of coffee and offer Lilly one,, and grab a banana for breakfast before they had to go. Loose and leaden limbed, it took more effort than usual to climb up behind the wheel of his Grand Cherokee. The pair of unlikely friends were quiet on the drive to school, Sean glancing at Lilly covertly from the corner of his eye as he pushed the speed limit. She'd been uncharacteristically somber this morning. He understood way, some, and felt another pang of guilt. "I never thought you had abandoned us, Lilly," Sean said when the silence became too overbearing. "I just figured something came up that you believed needed your attention more. And I never thought you might have been in trouble, like, real trouble. I mean, you're... you. Even before all this..." He waved an encompassing hand, "it seemed like you could handle anything." Sean frowned in contemplation and self-recrimination. "But after Charlie, and now what happened with Jase, and Enterich, any of us are vulnerable. We - I - should have checked on you. Even to just say hi and see if you could make it to gaming. And I'm sorry for that." He exhaled tiredly. "Dunno if our weekly gaming sessions are even going to continue now, with everything that's going on." Lilly, who had been looking out the passenger side window as they drove, turned to look at Sean for a moment. "What could've possibly just 'come up' that was more important than a battle against the Darkness for the soul of Shelly, or reality, or whatever, that I wouldn't call or text one of you to let you know what came up and why I wouldn't be there, and that I could handle by myself? Like, seriously dude." Lilly let that question soak in for a moment and shook her head. "I'm not angry with you or the others. At least, I don't think I am, but right now I'm so worn out that almost don't know if I am coming or going, so who knows? It just... hurt. I mean, we all kinda thought the same about Charlie. None of us really checked up on him either, me included." she explained, adding, "But we also hadn't just heard about one of being killed right before either." Lilly sighed. "Anyways..." Lilly said, refocuses her thoughts as best she could. "I believe you. It's fine. It was a mistake. They happen." she said to ease her friend's fears. "We just need to do better, all of us, me included. So don't worry about it. We'll do better."
  3. Lilly had been listening to the conversation, if it could be called that, off and on a bit as she tried to push certain thoughts from her mind with varying degrees of effort. The talk of saving Cassie's dad brought things into focus more clearly in her head, giving her something to latch onto and push the rest of her feats, thoughts and questions aside. Finally she lifted her head that had been resting on her hand and opened her eyes. Her expression was calm, even thoughtful for a moment, but there was a glimmer of intensity in her eyes as she finally spoke up, her gaze shifting around the table, making eye contact with friends and parents alike, each for a moment, before moving to the next, "When we are ready, be that in minutes, hours, days or weeks, we are going to Site B. We're not going as some act of teenage rebellion, to be defiant of any of you, either. We are going because we are really the ones that can go. We know this. We are going to go and do this for Cassie's dad and Todd, just like we would go and do it for any of you at this table, and others. They need our help and we have been given the ability to help them, in ways some of you don't even grasp right now." "Yes, we're your daughters and sons, and your worries, concerns, even fears are valid, and nobody is discounting that. We know it's dangerous. We've know that every time any or all of us have faced the the Dark or it's avatars, or corrupted minions, or whatever. We've been given these gifts though, weather on purpose by Coyote, or by accident, or by fate, or some combination thereof, and so, like it or not, we have the best chance of success with the least amount of risk. So we are going." Lilly sighed and then sat back in her chair, giving a single shrug as she continued, "Yeah, maybe it's not fair for this, I dunno, responsibility I guess, to be thrust upon the shoulders of teens, but I think we all pretty much made peace with that some time ago. Your sons and daughters have stepped up, time and again, and done it on our own in secret, more or less. With your support... your trust... your faith... we can do, and be, sooo much more." "So as hard as it might be right now, please just try to have faith in us. Faith that we are the people you've raised us to be, or even better." Lilly sighed softly... somberly to herself, "...even if we haven't always been in the past."
  4. Lilly's brow furrowed slightly at Mr. Keane's mentioning that "one of the kids was killed in his own home by some monster." To any who were looking at her instead of the 'discussion' going on could see her gaze drift down to the table as she began thinking about who Mr. Keane was speaking about. Yeah, Charlie and his parents weren't there, but this meeting was option, right? And besides, to call the task for getting both of his parents here at the same time "difficult" would be an understatement. That left her to idly wonder who else he might have been talking about. Lona's attempted rapist and Jase was the 'monster'? That didn't jive. So who the hell was he talking abo- Her gaze snapped up from the table and right the Sheriff when she heard him say that "they avenged Charlie Cole." She stared at him as she finished speaking and then Annette spoke about the felines, her mind wrestling with she had heard, not wanting to accept it, but she could not help the statement reconciled with the fact at hand. She Sheriff was not one to joke, at least in her experience, and it was incredibly unlikely that he would be lying about something so serious. "Charlie's dead?" Lilly asked nobody in particular, drawing the attention of several as she finally spoke up for the first time. Her eyes shifted down to the large table once more, but she was not really looking at it, or anything, for that matter. The observant could see her bottom eyelids tremble slightly as tears threatened her vision and her right hand, resting atop the table trembled slightly. They had lost people before, by moving, being driven away or a mixture of both in retrospect, but they had never lost somebody.. one of their own. Lilly knew that with the battle they were planning on Labor Day night, that it was possible, if not likely, that they would not all return. She had even talked to Hank about it and how to handle it and the fear, but here it was. Charlie was dead. Charlie was dead and here they all were, still bickering with the twins just like they had however many times before. Lilly's fingers slowly began to curl clench into a fist and her eyes narrowed ever so slightly for a moment before her fist unclenched and her face relaxed. "You know, I'd love to say some great, speech about all this..." Lilly had to think for a moment, search for the right word but had to settle on what she could come up with on such short notice, "...stuff..." she sighed and shrugged, relenting to frazzled, overloaded brain, "to bring us together and get us to set aside our difference and cut through the bullshit...but I can't. I just.. can't, because I just found out Charlie was killed and, for me, at least right now... that's...." Lilly closed her eyes and shook her head slowly, fighting to keep a mask of composure and not break down at the table. "But wait. There's more." she said weakly joked. Lilly opened her eyes and looked around the table as she continued to speak, "I missed the battle the other night. I would say "as I'm sure you all noticed", but, unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case, because you see, at the picnic Mr. Cole introduced me to a business partner of his. I was having a hard time remembering his name, or even what he looked liked other than 'average', but..." Lilly said and closed her eyes, not really wanting to remember the meeting or the last several days, "...hearing about Charlie made me remember about meeting Mr. Cole and his 'business partner'... Mr. Enterich." Resting her elbow on the table, Lilly rested her head against her hand on the side of her face and continued, "You see, I was introduced to... him.. at the Labor Day picnic thing and he..." Lilly's words caught in her throat and she shut her eyes tighter. Lt. Col. Pryor placed his hand on her back and began to rub in an attempt to sooth and comfort her as she tried to hide the worry on his own face. Cassandra Pryor reached out and too Lilly's free hand resting on the table into her own, interlocking fingers and wrapping her hand hand around, giving Lilly's hand a small squeeze. Lilly swallowed hard and took in a deep breath which she slowly exhaled before she managed to continue. "He.. He said things. Stuff he had no business knowing. Thing that nobody outside of the fellowship knew and some things that I've never told anybody. But, somehow, he knew. And he said them... used them against me.. and brought up all this stuff in my mind, stuff in the back of my head, stuff I buried deep down or did not even know I had. He.." once again Lilly's word caught in her throat. Her eyes shut tighter causing her brow to furrow, and she clenched her jaw and gripped her mother's hand tightly. "He.. somehow he put me in my own personal hell for the last few days. Every worry and fear dredged up, and I dunno, magnified, until I was drowning in them. I'm not even sure how I got home." she explained with effort, which caused her mother and father to nod in agreement as their own gazes shifted back forth from their daughter to the others at the table. "We didn't even know she had left. I got a call from the front gate of the base that she was.. in a state." Lt. Col. Pryor politely put it. "We rushed home, got her, and have been trying to help her ever since." Cassandra Pryor added. "It was only today, not that long ago, that she finally seemed to at least start to come out of it. And when she did, she insisted we come here, for this. We weren't going to though... until she lifted her truck off the ground with one arm, that is." "Mom.. That's not..." Lilly weakly protested, shaking her hands with her eyes still closed. "I knew we had to come because of Mr. Graskle said to me. I needed you to know all of this and why you found me like that. Why I am stil-" the athletic brunette shook her head. "So I spent the last few days in my personal hell, maybe I am still in it even, and so I miss the battle. Charlie is killed, and I am not sure when you found out about that, but apparently not right know, like me, and I miss the battle after promi-" Lilly cut her own words short and took a deep breath which she slowly exhaled. "And only one of you showed and concern and tried to check on..." Lilly lifted her head and used her now freed hand to wipe at her closed eyes. "So there's some dirty laundry. Want some more?" "We call ourselves 'The Fellowship', but I'm not so sure it's so accurate. I mean, like, just look at you two. You speak of yourselves and the Fellowship like you are not even part of it. I dunno. Hell, I guess it is probably just reflex to distance yourselves, exaggerate and divert all blame and attention onto others, trying to paint everybody else and bloodthirsty, idiotic, rampaging psychopaths who want to blow shit up, so you can look like angles, but it's just divisive. And frankly, really, really old. I thought we were past this, but I guess not. Maybe it is just a long, slow process. People who have been hurt and alone are slow to trust, and sometimes people do not cherish and nurture that small kernel of trust that they have earned, but how long this takes is on us. ALL of us. Yeah, it's probably been you vs them or you vs the world or whatever most of your lives, but it doesn't have to be. You have friends if you want them. And I am not saying that you haven't been trying. I know you have, everybody, in your own ways. But this is... one of us died.. and this shit... it.." Lilly said, or arguably babbled, as she looked around the table, meeting the gazes of the other teens as her own eyes glistened and she lifted her hand to wipe them from time to time. "Fuck it. That was a mess. I'm just too worn out..." she finally let out with a sigh and then looked to Devin and Marissa, "Sorry if it sounded like I was putting you on blast. I didn't mean... I just... Enterich... Charlie... I dunno." she said weakly and then rested her free arm on the table to lay her forehead on it.
  5. "I think you should start talking." Bill Pryor said as he glanced at his daughter in the rear view mirror while telephone posts slid past the car rhythmically. "It's, I dunno. It's a lot and right now things are still kinda fuzzy." Lilly said, rubbing her head. "How about you try to start from the beginning?" Cassandra Pryor chimed in, putting an arm around her daughter in a side hug. Lilly sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. "From the beginning? You mean, like, the beginning beginning?" she asked. "Wherever you are comfortable from. We just- This is a lot to take in, honey, and I'm still not sure what to make of it." Cassandra offered. Lilly rested her forehead in her hands and signed once more. "It's kind of a long story. and you're not gonna to believe it until you meet the others, I'm sure." she semi-protested, but at the silence from both of her parents, she relented and continued. "Fine. I and my friends we all have... abilities." "There are more like you? How did you get these abilities and why didn't you tell us?" Cassandra asked with some concern. "I'm not entirely sure on the 'how' part, but I didn't tell you, partly, because I think it was due to the exposure to the interdimensional portal or whatever at the secret bonfire party thing we had on the reservation. And, for the record, they are not like me. They go things that I'll never do, like move things with their mind. Conjure fire and ice, teleport, read minds..." "You are not serious." Cassandra said with her voice tinged with more than a hint of disbelief. "As a heart attack." Lilly chimed back. "Oh, and that guy that went AWOL? Captain Cooper? He was there too.. sort of. He was looking almost like some zombie, but we found his uniform and stuff in the trailer we found there. Oh, and there was a saber-toothed tiger and the... monster-thing in the woods. They almost ate some of us." Lilly said with a nod, catching a glimpse of her father's eyes looking at her in the rear-view mirror, though she was unsure what to make of his gaze. "Lilly. Honey. This is jus-" was all her mother got out before her father cut her off, "Let her talk." he said, his once again and coldly calm, making Lilly feel a little more like she was the subject of an investigation than his daughter right now. "That was back in July, and I didn't tell you because what would I say? 'Hey mom and dad, I got these powers from the interdimensional portal that was at the secret bonfire party we threw on the reservation. Thankfully the zombie guy, saber-toothed tiger and monster thing didn't kill any of us.'? You would've though I was high or out of my mind." Lilly explained somewhat matter of factly, which prompted Cassandra to give a faint shrug of her shoulders and roll of her eyes in a 'well, that's true' gesture. "So we found this fortified trailer out there with an interdimensional radio or something," Lilly continued, "...and Captain Cooper's uniform and all these photos of a Cessna's tail. So we go looking into things as best we can and, along with some of us getting temporarily stuck in this really bad dimension, we learn some stuff, like every twenty-seven years Shelly collectively loses its mind. Seriously. Go look in the papers and stuff. It is this cycle of this thing that we call The Dark. It like feeds off of bad emotions and pain and stuff, and it is trying to get from where it is trapped and into our world, and we realize that we are the only ones who have a chance at stopping it. And again, I think you can see why we didn't exactly go telling our parents." "So yeah, we go doing more research and start learning to use our abilities and stuff and that's when I realize that me competing at the Olympics wouldn't be fair. I mean, I could probably beat this car in a foot race and I can run hurdles with high jump bars. It just wouldn't be fair and any victory would be hollow. I still want to go, and wish I could, but it's something I had to let go of. Other things are more important. So, like, I want's lying when I told you why I sandbagged, at least not fully. I just didn't think I could you everything behind it. So I'm sorry for that too. For what it's worth though, I was going to tell you yesterday, after the picnic." "I kept playing football because it would draw more attention if I were to just up and quit, and it seems that, like positive emotions, like hope and happiness work against the dark. So yeah, I kept playing, but I held back a lot and try to not use my abilities, so help bring the town some hope and excitement, and the others have been helping with it too, trying to change the towns attitude and make it better and brighter. "Cody, he got possessed by The Dark or gave into it or something, we found out, and it seems The Dark noticed us too and started coming after us." Lilly said as she turned to look at her mother. "Like the thing at the hospital the other day while we were out of town? That was actually an attack by The Dark, or Cody, or both. The other were there to fight it and now some government agency or something is involved and covering it up to help us. Oh yeah, some of the staff at the medical center are part of it too and had been experimenting on the population of Shelly for, like, decades and using a girl in school, who's a telepath, to help them. Hooray medical ethics." she said sarcastically and then sighed. "Anyways, we had found Cody's like lair, or whatever, and last night we were meeting up and going to go there and face Cody and the Dark head on. It seems we won, or at least everybody survived, so that's good. But I was supposed to be there. I already let them down by not being there to help at the hospital, and then last night too." Lilly said, her voice trailing off a bit. "It's like what he said is true. Why do I even bother? They clearly don't need me." she said in a bout of self pity. "If it's true, then why are we going to this meeting?" Bill asked. "Because their are my friends and I'm not going to abandon them." Lilly replied without so much as a thought. "Exactly. You said that this 'Dark' feeds on stuff like that, so are you going to make your enemy stronger and your side weaker? So you end your little personal pity party." Bill said, his tone firm, but not harsh, as he spoke to his daughter like he knew she needed. "Self pity lies to you about who are and steals from you who you can be. You're stronger than that, and I don't mean physically. Just look at what happened. If all you are saying is true, no matter how hard it is to believe, then you were asked to grow up quite a bit and do the mature and moral thing, and you did. You were asked to put something down so you could pick up something greater... and you did. And for that, we're am proud of you." Bill told his daughter, looking at her in the rear-view mirror again as the car sped down the thankfully straight and low traffic road. "...even if we aren't too thrilled about bonfires with underage drinking and being lied to." Cassandra added, resting her hand on Lilly's knee, giving it pat. Lilly lifted her head, looking to her mother's eyes and then her father's in the mirror as she gave a small nod. It as nice to hear her father say what he did, really nice even, but the faint, momentary smile quickly faded. It was hard to take in what he said, to truly believe it after what she had been through the last twenty-four hours, but she would try. Several minutes later... The meeting room doors opened and in walked Lilly with her parents. Lt. Col. Bill Pryor was calm, neither smiling nor pensive, and gave the room a quick scan, interested in exactly who was at this meeting, as well the usual concerns his training taught him to be aware of, while Cassandra Pryor, who had worked as a head nurse in this very building for years, had a much warmer demeanor, smiling politely and nodding to any of the parents or kids who made eye contact. Lilly, for her part, looked a bit rough. Her eyes were tired and to a keen eye like Marissa's, a bit puffy, even if it had gone down considerably already. Her long, dark, hair was up in a crude bun to try and hide its non-brushed state and she wore dark grey leggings and an oversized, black t-shirt. She smiled, though it was not hard to tell that it was at least somewhat forced, and gave a small wave as she looked to each of her friends, hoping not to find any visible injuries. After a quick exchange of handshakes and simple pleasantries with Ms. Giles, the Pryors took the last remaining seats at the table, filling in the space between Annette and Kat, with Bill nodding to any of the other parents who made eye contact as he looked around the table, while Lilly glanced back over to Devin and brushes a few errant hairs from her face as she give him a less forced smile and softly mouthed, "Thanks." It was not lost on her that he was the only one to try and check on her when she did not show up the previous night.
  6. Ever so slowly Lilly managed to claw back some degree of control over herself and fought to open her eyes. She noticed that sitting beside her bed was her mother, holding her hand with both of her own, her eyes closed tight nd her head down as if in prayer. The same mother she had lied to and made waste precious vacation days because she could not be honest with her, or anything even approaching honesty. Time, money, effort wasted because of her own shortcomings. The thoughts brought tears to her eyes once again as she shut them tight, like she was trying to hide from the truth. "Lilly?" her mother asked in a soft tone tinged heavily with concern. "Honey?" she asked again with her concern growing, but all Lilly could manage was a weak nod. A moment later she could feel her mother's arms around her in a tight, some might say smothering, hug. She could feel the small convulsions of her mother's chest as she tried to silently hide her sobs from her daughter, which only made Lilly feel even worse. She wrapped her arms around her mother, resting her forehead against her mother's neck as she tried to bury her face. "I'm sorry." is all she could sob out, which was immediately met by a soft, tender, "Shhhhhhh" as she felt her mother's hand rest on the back of her head, holding her daughter close. "It's okay, honey. We don't know what happened, but right now all that matters is that you are alright. We can talk about the rest later, whenever you are up to it. Are you okay?" her mother replied, turning her head to kiss to the top of her daughter's head in concern. Lilly nodded weakly, her teary eyes still shut tight. "I'm not hurt." she said, trying to assuage some of her mother's fears. "Not physically, anyway." added without thinking. How much had passed Lilly was unsure of, but it certainly felt like she spent weeks, or even months, engulfed with the questions and sceneries that Mr. Enterich had posed to her, always coming seeming to find the truth of his words, that she was just a ball of inadequacy hidden behind some facade of morals and athletic perfection and her friends simply humored. Her memory was fuzzy in places, especially after speaking to that... guy. She fought to remember where she was right before meeting him, which was strange to her, as even she, and her teachers, had noticed a marked improvement in her memory. In a way it was like the fears and other thoughts were fighting to hold her back as she strained against them as her eyes shut tighter and her brow furrowed, which even her mother noticed in their embrace. "Lilly? Is something wrong?" Cassandra asked her daughter, pulling her head away a bit to turn and look at her Lilly. "Whatever it is, you do not have to face it alone. Your father and I love you and are here for you." she said to her daughter. The sincere words were strangely reassuring to Lilly. The fears and thoughts of inadequacy that had engulfed Lilly were beginning to recede achingly slowly as she was reassured. Then she remembered where she had been just before her world came crashing down; she was talking to Hank Graskle about fear, of all things. 'First thing you've got to realize is that most of the people you're in the shit with are just as scared as you are.' Her friends were just as scared as she was. Her friends were... Her friends... "Oh shit!" Lilly said, releasing her mother and sitting straight up as she wiped the tears from her face. "What time is it?" she asked as her eyes began scouring the room, looking for her phone frantically. "I'm not sure. Five thirty or so. Why?" her mother replied, quite confused. "I.. I got a thing I need to do. It's hard to explain." Lilly said back as she finally found her phone. Then the words of Hank hit her again. 'Think on this - if you die tonight, your folks will never know what happened to you. They'll never know how dangerous things are here. And you won't be able to help them after the fact. Don't they deserve to know? No matter how hard it is?' Mentally Lilly cursed at herself and could not help but begin to fall back into the pit she was barely starting to claw her way out of as she realized yet another thing she had failed to do, and now there really was not time to do. At least not well. "I ne-"was all Lilly got out before her mother cut her off. "You are in no shape to go anywhere right now." said her mother, her voice taking a more firm tone. "You don't understand. I.." Lilly stopped speaking as she looked down at her phone in a bit of horror, her eyes transfixed on the date shown on the lock screen. "Oh my god! It's Tuesday?" she asked in shock. "They went t- I was suppos- I failed them... again." she murmmured as her shoulders slumped and she closed her eyes. "Who knows how many survived." "Survived? What are you talking about? Some big thingy in your D&D game?" Cassandra asked. "No it's not that. It more.. serious." Lilly sighed as she looked down at her phone through blurry eyes and unlocked it. "Lilly. I don't think you need to be concerned with that right now." said her mother as she reached for Lilly's phone, only for her daughter to move it away. "No!" she barked at her mother. "This is serious. Like, life and death serious and I was not there to help protect them." Lilly half-explained to her other as she began to look through her phone. She had, indeed, missed the fight. She was not there for her friends, again, even if it meant she would not be coming back. She was a failure once more. Bleary eyed she flipped through the group text messages. At least it seemed they had survived, which was a relief to Lilly, but she could not help but think about it confirmed what the man, Mr... Enterich? had said to her. Then she came to the most recent text, one from Devin, along with a voicemail from him not that long ago, "Hey, Lills. Haven't heard from you since Sunday, just worried. Hey, uh, look, if you get this, we're uh, meeting up at Marias tonight, seven o'clock. Everyone's a little worried, so, uh, don't be a stranger, yeah? Bring your mom and dad, it's kind of a confession thing... letting all parents know what's up. Neutral ground, no secrets or judgments. Hope to, uh-, hope to see you." She had to tell her parents now if she was going to go on with this, with her friends, no matter how useless she might seem. "Mom, you need to get Dad and we need to go to the hospital." Cassandra Pryor's eyes widened considerably. "No. It's not what you think. I'm not hurt or pregnant or anything. It's... there are some things you need to hear." "Wha?" Lilly sighed. This was it. The point of no return. If she told them everything and took them to the meeting, then they would be exposed and a part of what she had fallen into. But at least they would know. After everything she had done, they deserved that much at the very least. "Come on. I'll show you." Lilly say, flipping the covered off of her bare legs and slipping to her feet. "Lilly. What are you doing?" her mother asked as she hopped to her feet, trying to keep up with Lilly as she made her way briskly to the garage, passing her father who was downstairs on the phone. He hung up the phone and followed the pair in confusion and a bit of concern and relief for his old child. "Lilly. What are you doing?" he asked as she walked into the garage. Lilly had went to garage looking for something else, but there she found her pickup. One of her parents must have backed it in for her. Regardless of how it got there, it ought to do the trick. "I'm not like other people." she said as she walked to the back of her truck, squatted down and reached under the truck with one arm and stood up, lifting the back wheels of the truck several feet off of the ground. Her parents stood there, staring, their minds trying to understand what they were seeing. "My truck is over a ton and a half." she said with a sigh, lowering the truck back down. "I am not like other people, not anymore. And there are others too, and what I can do is nothing compared to what they can do." Lilly set the truck down and walks toward her parents, her hand filthy from the undercarriage of the truck. "I know it's a lot to take in, and this is just the surface. I.. We were supposed to do something last night, something big that was gonna save a lot of people. I guess they managed to do it, without me, but there is still a meeting tonight with these other people. It's for us and our parents, to ask and answer questions." "What? You're? Huh?" Cassandra asked, still confused by it all. "And where is this special meeting supposed to take place?" her father asked. "At the medical center. Well, kinda. We just need to go and you'll see." Lilly sighed. "Lilly, this is... and awful lot and it does not make any sense. You're asking us to-" her father said, somewhat more calm, at least outwardly, than his wife, before Lilly cut him off. "I know! I know it's a lot. They might even know what happened to me yesterday. I dunno, but you just have to believe me. Please." she said, ended with a plea as she looked to her father, letting him look into her bleary eyes. William Pryor looked deed into his daughter's eyes and then down at her hand before bringing his gaze to meet her once more. "Okay." he said calmly, almost emotionless. "Bill? What?" his wife asked in surprise as she took his hand. "We'll go. And then afterwards we are going to have a long talk, little lady." he clarified for his wife though he spoke to Lilly, his voce calm and controlled.
  7. Lilly stared at the man as he spoke, her eyes slowly growing ever wider as his words burrowed into her mind, finding that deep, down place where she buried her fears. A few had come near the surface when she had spoken with Hank, but they too had been sinking back into the depths, only to be dragged back into the light by Mr. Enterich. How he could know of the other things, the fears she had kept buried and never expressed to anybody, was not even a concern to her as the rest of the crowed seemed to fall away, darkened and desaturated into the background leaving just her and Mr. Enterich. "Wha-" was all she managed to stammer before she seemed to choke on her own words. She could call plays over the sounds of the crowds and the other teams' shouting on the field, but now her voice had left her, seeming much to the amusement of Mr. Enterich. She tried to lift her hands to cover her mouth, her face, but she couldn't. Her prodigious strength was stripped from her, Leaving her arms feeling like they were made of lead, while beneath her feet the ground began to feel like quicksand, making her feel ever smaller... weak... insignificant. Somehow she managed to stagger back a step from Mr. Enterich, her legs weak and shaky, but the space seemed to provide a hint of breathing room. She had to get away. Get away from him, from the crowd, from their eyes. She could see it now, how they looked at her and secretly judged her. Sure, they liked the football team winning, and if that meant they had to tolerate her for a couple of years, then they would, and once she had graduated, if she would even graduate, then they could stop giving her polite, forced smiles and fake support, because that is all they did... tolerate her... humor her. Nobody wanted here there, not really, but the backwater, redneck hicks were so obsessed with their stupid teenage football game, then they would bit their tongues for now and deal with the girl who acted like boy and probably wanted to be a boy. Who hadn't heard the steroid rumors? She had to get away. Forcing another backwards step, Lilly backed away a little more, only this time, instead of her foot finding more quicksand, she found solid ground. Wet, slippery, solid ground causing he foot to slip, sending her landing on her backside. A few people looked over, curious at what had happened, but could only see Lilly scrambling back to her feet and walk away briskly, on the verge of running, pushing her way through the people. Once she slipped past the outermost picnickers she scanned the area off to the horizon searching for some bastion of safety or escape route. The faded blue paint of her rusty, '57 Chevy pickup caught her eye almost instantly, even through the blurry wetness that was begging to set in. She found some more strength in her legs and propelled herself toward the tuck. Sliding to a stop beside the pickup, Lilly swung open the door and hopped in here she fumbled in the pockets of her short overalls for her keys and finally fished them out, stuck them in the ignition and brought the truck to life. With a jerk of the stick and a stomp of the gas pedal, the engine revved and the truck sped away. And the truck pulled on the road the usual rattling and bouncing was even more noticeable due to due to the silence coming from the old speakers of what passed for the sounds system in the pickup. Lilly glanced down at the tape deck through her blurriness encroaching her vision. She reached down and twisted with the volume knob to no avail. She ejected the tape and shoved it back in, but it has no effect. Lilly needed the music, or anything else for that matter, to try and distract her, to keep her from dwelling on the thoughts that were swelling in her head, breaking her down bit by bit, moment by moment. Frantically she fiddled the virtually antique tape deck, her panic frustration growing by the second, even resorting to hitting it with her fist, but nothing changed the unending silence that poured from the speakers which only made her own sobs and sniffles that much more pronounced. The lack of perpetually blaring 80's rock and metal made the silence more intense and made the cab of the truck feel even smaller, making her feel even more alone... or more alone than usual if she were honest with herself. Ever since she and her friends got their abilities it seems like they drifted farther and farther from her. Was it because she simply was not on their level and was, instead, more like dead weight to them? When they can red minds and teleport across the world and conjure ice and fire... what use was she to them? Even tonight, what could she really do? Punch The Dark in the face? No. That was ridiculous. The best she could hope for would be to take a hit for one of her friends, to die protecting the actually useful ones. Her abilities were nowhere on par with theirs. Fully exerting to lift a plough is nothing compared to Jase casually lifting his entire car with his mind just to tinker with it. So really, what good was she to them? They would give forced smiles and talk to her when she approached them, but when was the last one of her 'friends' called her to even hang out? She hear of them getting together for things, hanging out a Jase's, or the Jauntsen's, or wherever. But that was the thing. She always heard about later... The more she thought about them, the more Mr. Enterich's words seemed to ring true. The rest of the drive, even the day for that matter, all seemed to blur together. The silence of the drive back to the base made her feel even more isolated and alone and allowed her mind to dwell ever more intensely on Mr. Enterich's words, so that by the time she managed to reach the front gate of the base, she was a sobbing mess with tear streaked cheeks. She could remember the surprised and concern on the guard's face, parking by the shack, sitting in a little waiting room all alone, always alone as a guard made a call...
  8. Lilly noted Mr Enterich's cool, almost clammy hand as she shook it, but it he very well could have been holding a cold beverage and just recently put it down, so it was not all that strange. She smiled and nodded as Mr. Cole stepped away to take his call, leaving her with his business partner. "Oh, there's no special story or anything. Coach Meyers saw me at track practices and he said he was impressed, so he floated the idea of me trying out for the football team. I mean, as you can see, Shelly high does not have a huge student body to draw talent from so Coach thought out of the box a little by trying to recruit me." Lilly explained with a small, polite smile and shrug of her shoulders as she lifted her sunglasses to let them set on on her head. "I was resistant at first, but, I dunno, I know my dad loves football so I guess I finally decided to do it a bit for him too. We would already watch the games together on Sunday and I think he takes a bit of pride saying his daughter is the quarterback. And he loves doing drills with me at home." she mused, almost laughing at the end with a playful roll of her eyes. "Coach Meyers kept at me, and when I finally agreed there was the stuff one would expect, like concern about 'a girl' getting hurt and, of course, no boy wants to be shown up by a girl, especially at such a 'manly' sport as football." she said, making air quotes with her fingers, "but I am pretty tough, can run faster than any boy on the field and have a good arm, so it took some time, but they've mostly came around. The boosters got behind the idea too, and they sell these "Throw Like A Girl" shirts at the game to help raise money for the team. No surprise that my dad bought several and sent them to the rest of his family. And, of course, I hear the other teams joking on the field about the team needing a girl quarterback, but my play shuts them up pretty quick." Lilly said with a bit of a rare, prideful grin. Lilly glanced over at Mr. Cole through the crowd and chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, wondering when he would be back. She did not want to be rude, but she had other, more important things to do and not all that long to do them. She was not some novelty to be shown off to Mr Enterich and entertain him while Mr. Cole took his calls. Turning her attention back to Mr Enterich, she shrugged. "Anyways, this year more girls tried out and several made it too, so that's really cool, and it sure makes the locker room a lot less lonely. And it's not a bad thing to have a college application too. I mean, I have no illusions that I would be playing on a college level, but it is still something that makes you stand out in the admissions process, which doesn't hurt."
  9. The following takes place during the Labor Day celebration... Lilly watched the exchange between Marissa and the adults at the table and sighed to herself. Things were clearly not well between Marissa and Jase, and did have a point, even if it was not brought up in the most tactful of ways. 'It's often not what you, but how you say it.' appeared to be a lesson that Marissa had never learned, or was choosing to ignore for any number of reasons. In the end, just Lilly and Hank were let at 'Camp Bannon' as it were as Lilly watched Marissa walk off. "She means well, even if she does not show it in the best of ways. I think she's just not used to caring about people so she gets a bit overly protective or something. I dunno." Lilly said to Hank. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Hank responded, to which Lilly nodded. "Yeah. I know. We all have issues. I just hope we can get some of them worked out before it's too late." she replied. "You mean like you and throwing your tryouts?" Hank asked. "Yeah, that's one, at least." Lilly said, lifting up her sunglasses to sit on her forehead, holding her hair back and out of her face. "I just didn't know how to tell them. I mean, yeah, it's been weeks since we started getting these... abilities, but it's still happened really fast, you know?" she said, almost looking for some agreement. "And before I knew it, it was time to leave for the tryouts and I still didn't know how to talk to them. It's like, I didn't want to disappoint them for giving up or whatever." "But you didn't give up, did you? I don't know too much about you, but from what I do know it's pretty clear that you're no quitter." Hank said as his calm, some might say cold or calculating, eyes looked her over. "Yeah, I guess, but I couldn't tell my parents that I am dropping a dream I've had, and worked so hard toward, for years because it's nowhere near a level playing field anymore because I can... because of what I can do , you know, now. It's cheating." Lilly said and then added, "Or at least it is to me." with a shrug. "Probably not a fair competition, no." Hank drawled, shrugging. "Cheating might be a strong word - there's people at the top of their game who can go into a competition pretty much guaranteed to win. Are they cheating because they started with an edge, then worked hard to improve it? Like that Phelps guy, the swimmer who won all those gold medals. I read that the dude was something of a freak of nature even before all his hard work. Something about his bones or some shit. I dunno. For what it's worth, I agree that you did the right thing not competing. If it was a life-or-death matter, then things would be different - screw the other guy. But in a sport?" He shrugged his shoulders again. "I think you made the right call." "Thanks." Lilly said, finding at least some solace in his evaluation of her choice. "But yeah, I tanked them because I didn't know how to talk to my mom and dad about everything. I knew I should, and I even wanted to, but I didn't know how to or where to start. I didn't want to disappoint them, which I guess I did anyways, though they took it better than I expected when I finally did." "But that is totally different from tell them about the other stuff. I mean, my dad is a Lt. Col. and head of base security. His reaction... Like, I don't think he is in on anything that's been going on, but I suppose there is a slight chance that he could be. I dunno. And even if he is not, I really, really, really doubt he would be on board with, uh, our plans for the evening, and I don't what to have to defy him. I tell myself that it is best to just do what we planed and then ask for forgiveness later rather than permission now, but even that doesn't sit too well with me. Sometimes you just got to suck it up, I guess." Lilly said with a shrug. "Part of growing up." Hank took a swig from his beer, then gave Lilly a serious look. "And kid, some advice from one who knows. Don't go tellin' all and sundry who your daddy is and what he does. People who know, know. People who don't, don't need to. Hell, even some of those who do know don't need to. Now sure, I'm just friendly ol' Hank, your buddy's dad's buddy. But there's people with no sense of humor who'd pitch a shit fit if they knew you were talking to me, let alone talking about who your dad is. When you're dealing with O5's and base security issues, there's no such thing as innocent conversation. You could cost your father his clearance, get him transferred to some career-killing out of the way posting where it doesn't matter what his big-mouthed daughter says." He sighed. "Look, I'm not being a hardass for the hell of it. You're still a kid, but with all this secret conspiracy stuff you've got to grow up fast. Grown-ups rules. People get killed or get their lives ruined for this shit. Like little Miss Sunshine there threatening to burn down the village if people won't play her games. Pretty sure she's just blowing air because she's pissed Jase shacked up with Red - if she was really scared of him she'd run a mile, not sit down across from him, eat lunch and talk shit, let alone want him to talk to her. But if she gets pissy enough to actually start trying to blow things up in the press - that's escalation. And she won't control where the shrapnel lands." "As for your problem?" He sighed again, checking his bottle and finding it empty. With a grunt, he tossed it into the trash, then fixed Lilly with a stare. "Think on this - if you die tonight, your folks will never know what happened to you. They'll never know how dangerous things are here. And you won't be able to help them after the fact." He spread his hands. "Don't they deserve to know? No matter how hard it is?" "And if he forbids me to go? Or even worse, goes sticking his nose into things and draws the attention of the wrong people? Because of his position he has a much greater chance of doing so. I mean, he's a very smart guy, but judgment has a way of being clouded when it comes to family and I don't think he'd take well to his little girl being experimented on." Lilly said, shaking her head. "And even if he is cool and takes and well and all of that, I'm not so sure I even want to bring my parents into this. I 'm not sure any of us should, to be honest. Telling them changes things and, I dunno, exposes them... pulls them into something so much bigger... ugh. The whole thing is just a big damned mess." Lilly groaned in frustration as she lifted her hand to run her fingers through her hair, but found the sunglasses that she had forgotten about on her forehead, which she promptly pulled off and tossed onto the table. Lilly closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair, pushing it back from her face as she sighed. Her brow then furrowed for a moment and she looked up at Hank. "And Mr. Graskle, My father already told talked to me about security and all of that. I don't go telling everybody who my dad is and what he does. I know better than that. I told you to give you a better since of my situation, and only because you are a marine, since 'there's no such thing as a former marine', right? And you are 'in the know' with us and, on top of all of that, Jase seems to trust you and, for whatever reason, he's always seemed to been a pretty good judge of character." "But I do honestly appreciate you looking out for me though." she said as she looked up at him. "There's just not many people I can to about all this. Like, there are some things I wanted to ask my dad, but it would have seemed really odd, so I didn't" she sighed. "Dunno about Jase being a good judge of character." Hank snorted with a smile. "Look, Lilly. I'm not sayin' you don't have reasons for keeping this from your parents. Seems you have thought about it. I don't agree with your reasons, but it's not my parents or my life. You think none of the other dads or moms are going to try and forbid these kids from going? You think that'll stop them? The way Jase tells it, you guys have a duty. You are literally the only ones who can do what needs done. You can't control what your dad does." He pointed at her. "You can only control what you do, and trust that if you give him the right information he'll make the right choice and not be a dumbass. You know: treat him like an adult." "And if you can't trust him to be that way... Maybe you're right in a practical sense not to tell him. But it's still not right in a moral sense, kid." Hank sighed. "Or at least, I don't think so. Look. If I had all the answers to all of life's hard questions I wouldn't be living alone in the woods." He grinned wryly. "Treat him like an adult? But he's my dad." Lilly said with a roll of her eyes and a small grin peeking through, which faded quickly. "No seriously. I get what you are saying. I do. I just... I dunno." she sighed. Lilly picked up her sunglasses and fiddled with them a bit idly, looking down at the them for a moment as she thought to herself. "I'm gonna go with them tonight. That's non-negotiable." Lilly said with conviction. "I just don't want to have to do it in defiance of my parents. And yeah, I guess that is a bit selfish, probably in several ways. Call duty or whatever, but I'm gonna be there for my friends and do what needs to be done." Lilly looked up at Hank, regarding him as she chewed on the corner of her bottom lip for a moment before speaking again. "But even that kinda bring up other stuff. Like... I assume you have seen some action on deployments. I mean, you got that look and demeanor. It's that or a front, and I doubt Jase would be big on somebody frontin' like that. So, like, if it's okay, and you don't might talking about it, like, in generalities or whatever, not anything about any actual specifics or operation stuff, do you mind if I ask you question about it?" she asked, somewhat pensively. When she mentioned action and deployments, Hank's expression of jovial, folksy humour altered somewhat, the grin fading away to a smile as his eyes took on a wary expression she knew well. Her dad used to get a similar look when she was a little girl, whenever father-daughter conversations strayed towards active service he'd seen, before gently and deftly changing the subject or insinuating that some topics were better saved for when she was older. Hank's eyes were flintier and more guarded, and the teen suddenly got an intense feeling that the hard, calculating look in the dark eyes was closer to the 'real' Hank, not at all softened by however many years he'd been out of the Corps. It wasn't a mean stare, or cruel. But there was a clinical coldness to the look that reminded Lilly keenly of Jase, measuring and weighing her in some balance. But the smile was still on his lips as he shrugged, eyes not wavering from hers. Whatever calculation was performed behind the rough-hewn features was evidently in her favor, for when he spoke his tone was calm. "Generalities, perhaps I can help with, for someone standing shoulder to shoulder with a kid who's practically my nephew. So have at it, Lilly. I don't mind you asking the questions, so long as you don't mind me picking and choosing which ones I answer." "Well, there's really only one, really. Or to start, I guess." Lilly said as she fiddled with her sunglasses again, looking down at them as she worked to give a voice to her concerns. Screw it, just ask. "How do you handle the fear?" she asked, looking back up at Hank again. "I mean, it's always got to be there right? Because you know that you are heading into mortal danger. And, like I said, I'm going to be there tonight and do my part, regardless, but how do you handle it?" "Like, what you and Mr. Bannon saw was bad enough. But we're going into the lion's den, to pick a fight on it's turf. I'm not sure if the others have thought much about what we're going to do. You know, like really thought it through... or maybe they have and they just try not to think about it... or maybe it is just the 'invulnerability of youth' or whatever. Hell, maybe I am overthinking it. I dunno. It just seems... I dunno." Lilly sighed, looking back down at the sunglasses she was fidgeting with in her hands. "You're overthinking it, alright." Hank held up a knife. "Pie?" At Lilly's mute nod, he cut a slice, plated it, and slid it across the table to her. "First thing you've got to realise is that most of the people you're in the shit with are just as scared as you are. You think Marissa's not even more tightly wound than normal? Shit - her being a raging bitch just now could be at least fifty percent cope. That Cassie girl? She focusing on her mom to push her personal fears out of the spotlight. Pretty sure same applies to all of you. Well, almost all." he amended with a shrug. "Soldiers drill to counteract the effects of fear and panic. They're still scared, but they've done the actions over and over so much in training that the body knows what to do even while the brain is flipping out. You don't have that luxury, not really. So you're going to have to be more intuitive about it." Hank leaned back and fished himself out another beer. "Talk about your fear to your friends. They ain't gonna laugh at you. It doesn't need to be a group therapy session: just bring it up over a drink or in a quiet moment during a card game. Fear is worse when everyone thinks they're the only one feeling it. Dark jokes are good, too. Gallows humor, they call it. Sitting with some guys I knew waiting for the green light, the talk would raise the hairs on your head. Laughter kills fear." "Sounds a bit..." "Sociopathic?" Hank grinned mirthlessly. "Yeah. A bit. Fluffy sensitive feelings don't win battles or wars, though. Being able to drive down the fear, to face it and laugh at it, and then focus on what you are doing in the moment: that's what keeps you alive longer. Final piece of advice, though..." He raised a finger. "Right before the action starts, take a moment and breathe deep, in and out, nice and slow. Your heart will be racing - slow it down, steady your nerves. It helps prevent the panic from too much adrenaline at the wrong moment." Lilly slowly pressed the tines of the fork into the edge of the slice of pie as she watched the crust flake and crumble beneath the pressure and thought about what Hank said until the fork finally separated the narrow corner from the rest of the slice. "I understand what you are saying. I'm sure it'll help." she said with a nod as she slipped the pie-clad fork into her mouth and tasted it, letting the flavors roll over her tongue, picking up on small nuances that most would miss. "We'll just have to play it by ear, kinda like a busted play in football." she added through the corner of her mouth with another nod. as she thought about it. "Like you said, we don't have the benefit of training and repetition to develop muscle memory, as it were. The thing we do have though, is each other. We've know each other for years, and some of us all of our lives, so as long as we can stay together, unified in task and purpose, the team will be greater than the sum of it's parts." Lilly said as she broke off another piece of pie with the side of the fork. "Though that also... I mean, I have another question, but I totally understand if you don't want to ans-" Lilly said, stopping herself mid sentence. She had already soured Hank's at least somewhat jovial mood somewhat, and did not want to do anymore damage for the time being. "You know what? Nevermind." she said, shaking her head with a pleasant, if subtly forced, smile. "So now I have, what? ..a few hours to figure out how and where to tell my parents about me and this stuff, sneak out of needed, and finish my prep?" she thought aloud and took another bite of the pie. "Do you have any advice on any that, or anything else for that matter?" she asked, looking up from the pie to Hank. "Everything's easier with backup. Teamwork has many uses." Hank pointed out. "Getting grounded shouldn't slow down a girl who has a friend who can teleport. Demonstration of strange powers is a good way to cut through the disbelief. Corroboration from a second source helps add weight to what you tell them." He smirked. "High school teens can arrange a party under the parents radar with less notice than a few hours. Technically, this ain't much different." Lilly could not help but grin a little at Hank's comment. "Actually, throwing together a party under their noses is kinda how all of this started in the first place." she mused and took another, larger bite of the pie. "But I see what you saying." she sighed with a nod. "So I guess I need to go find them and figure out how to tell them and who is free to help. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to it, but I guess it will also be a weight lifted from my shoulders too, and they might help tonight too." she added, nodding to herself as she stood up and finished the pie with a couple of rather un-ladylike bites before tossing the paper plate and plastic fork into the trash. "Thanks Mr. Graskle, for the pie and the advice. It's really helped." she said to Hank with a wave and strode off back into the crowd to find her parents or any of the Fellowship who might be able to help with her 'talk'.
  10. Lilly watched the exchange between Marissa and the adults at the table and sighed to herself. Things were clearly not well between Marissa and Jase, and did have a point, even if it was not brought up in the most tactful of ways. 'It's often not what you, but how you say it.' appeared to be a lesson that Marissa had never learned, or was choosing to ignore for any number of reasons. In the end, just Lilly and Hank were let at 'Camp Bannon' as it were as Lilly watched Marissa walk off. "She means well, even if she not show it in the best of ways. I think she's just not used to caring about people so she gets a bit overly protective or something. I dunno." Lilly said to Hank. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Hank responded, to which Lilly nodded. "Yeah. I know. We all have issues. I just hope we can get some of them worked out before it's too late." she replied. "You mean like you and throwing your tryouts?" Hank asked. "Yeah, that's one, at least." Lilly said, lifting up her sunglasses to sit on her forehead, holding her hair back and out of her face. "I just didn't know how to tell them. I mean, yeah, it's been weeks since we started getting these... abilities, but it's still happened really fast, you know?" she said, almost looking for some agreement. "And before I knew it, it was time to leave for the tryouts and I still didn't know how to talk to them. It's like, I didn't want to disappoint them for giving up or whatever." "But you didn't give up, did you? I don't know too much about you, but from what I do know it's pretty clear that you're no quitter." Hank said as his calm, some might say cold or calculating, eyes looked her over. "Yeah, I guess, but I couldn't tell my parents that I and dropping a dream I've had and worked so hard toward for years because it's nowhere near a level playing field anymore because I can... because of what I can do , you know, now. It's cheating." Lilly said and then added, "Or at least it is to me." with a shrug.
  11. -< Previous Night >- Lilly stepped off the porch and headed, the dirt and gravel crunching with each step she took. Her strides were neither meandering nor purposeful as she headed toward her truck, thinking about the day and the one to come. Reaching her truck, Lilly tossed her iPod and gloves onto the passenger seat and then opened the the door which, as usual, protested at the motion. She took a seat and pulled it shut, slipping the key into the ignition and giving it twist causing the old engine to roar (or maybe cough) to life. The old pickup headed down the long driveway of the Bannon farm as Lilly thought to herself about the life, especially that since the night of the bonfire when their lives were irrevocably changed. Since then they had discovered the strangeness of Shelly and it's cycle and everything that came with it, from secret government experimentation to the presence of other... entities... with a vested interest in Shelly. And now it was on them to take care of Cody, or the Horned Man or whatever he was now and The Dark or whatever, breaking the cycle. They were just teens, teens with amazing abilities right out the MCU movies, but still just teens, and upon their shoulders a lot was resting. Before she knew it, Lilly's truck was heading down the long, stretch of road cutting through the countryside to connect Shelly proper and Bullwark AFB. She had been lost in thought, driving more or less on autopilot, but the buildings, or lack thereof, pulled her focus back to the moment. She clicked off what passed for the sound system in the pickup. The old, crackling speakers, which were not helped by the usual volume she listened to her music at, fell silent as she drove down the solitary road, the rhythm of the engine and the whistling of the wind through the rolled down windows replacing her usual music for the rest of the trip as she thought about tomorrow night. As usual she pulled up to the gate, pulled out her military I.D. and held it out for the guard with a smile. It was barely even a formality seeing as she was Lt. Col. Pryor's daughter and she had, over the course of a few years, met most, if not all, of the security personnel under her dad's command. That, combined with the fact that there were very few spouses or children on base made her stand out. Still though, they did take their job seriously, so protocols had to be followed. "You have a good night, Lilly." the guard said as he handed the card back to her, waving her through. "Thanks. You too, Roy. You going to the Labor Day thing at Champion Fields tomorrow?" she asked as she tucked her I.D. in her pocket. "Is there anything else to do around here?" he replied with a grin. Lilly let out a small laugh and shrugged. "Touche." she responded adding some flare to the pronunciation and then put her truck in gear, driving through the gate and following the familiar route to her home. "I'm hooome." Lilly announced as she came in the door and jogged up the stairs to her bathroom. After a quick shower, she reappeared downstairs to find her parents watching the late game and eating some dinner with a plate waiting for her. "Thanks mom." Lilly said as she grabbed the plate from the kitchen counter and walked over to join them, plopping down on the sofa and folding her legs to cradle the plate as she cut off a bit of the lemon pepper chicken. The trio watched the game, riding the ups and downs of it as they ate their dinner and caught up in between. It was a fun time with her parents, and made Lilly realize just how little time she had been spending with them as she got older. Yeah, that was only natural, she figured, but reflecting on it now, it was not something she liked. Bill Pryor glanced over and could see the faint expression on his daughter's face and, like usual, decided to just rip the band-aid off. "So why'd you sandbag at the tryouts." Bill asked simply. The question caught Lilly by surprise, her gaze snapping to her father who was still watching the game. "What?" she asked. "Come on Lilly. Don't play games with me. I know your times and distances. You under-performed. I want to know why. Was it the pressure?" he replied, meeting her gaze as he spoke. "It wasn't the pressure." Lilly sighed, her shoulders slumping as she looked at the floor. "Okay. Then what's his name? Is it that Jason we met at the game?" her father asked. "There's no boy, dad." she answered as she rolled her eyes and looked at her dad with smirk. "Okay. Okay. Her name then?" he asked unsure, prompting Lilly to throw one of the small pillows on the sofa at him. "There's nobody, okay?" "Is that the problem then?" he asked cautiously. Lilly rolled her eyes in the overly dramatic fashion common to teenagers. "I would rather not sit here and discuss my love life, or lack thereof, with my parents on the living room sofa, especially when it had nothing to do with the tryouts." Lilly sighed. "Okay, then what happened?" he asked again, then time pausing the game. Lilly set her plate aside on the coffee table and pulled her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and frowned. "I just... I dunno. I guess it's not what I want anymore." she finally let out. "For months know I've been feeling this way, but, I dunno. I didn't know how to tell you. I mean, at one time I really did want it, but now, not so much. I just, I dunno, kept doing it and going through the motions because it's what I've done for so long and what was expected of me, what I was supposed to do and be. I needed some time to figure how to and then BAM! there was the tryouts and I still didn't know how to tell you." "Soooo you just made the whole trip a waste of time and money?" he asked, his expression a bit more serious now. Lilly clutched her legs a little more tightly to her chest as she tried to hide behind them. Despite all her newfound abilities, nothing was a match for the disappointment in her parent's voice. Lilly nodded and looked at her knees, feeling rather small and powerless at the moment. "I didn't want to do it, I just didn't know to tell you that it's what I wanted anymore. I didn't want to disappoint you. But I guess that's what I ended up doing anyways." she finally said, letting out. In a way it felt good to finally say it, but that was small solace in comparison to what she said. "I'm sorry. I really am." she said, almost sobbing as she closed her eyes and rested her forehead on her knees. Cassandra scooted closer on the sofa and slipped her arms around her daughter, holding her close. "Honey, changing your your mind it not a disappointment to us. Feeling like you couldn't tell us is a bit disappointing, I'm not gonna lie, but we're your parents. We want the best for you, and we love and will support you in whatever you do, whenever you figure out what that is." Cassandra explained as she gave her daughter a squeeze with her hug, feeling some of the tension leave Lilly as she did so. "You can always talk to us. Always." Bill added as he got up and sat on the arm of the sofa, reaching down to rub Lilly's back. "Take some time and figure out what you want to do. But, you know, being the first woman NCAA quarterback would not exactly a bad thing. Just saying." he added, finishing with a bit of humor. Lilly could not help but let out a laugh. "Yeah, no pressure." she said as she lifted her head, resting it again her mother's as she looked up at her dad. "Of course. No pressure." he reaffirmed with a faint grin tugging at the corners of his lips. -< Labor Day, 2:30-ish >- Lilly's pickup pulled in not long behind her parents' car, parking beside it. She hopped out and walked around the back, lowering the tailgate and hopped up into the bed, sliding the small grill, cooler and other things the family had brought to the tailgate for easier access,. Bill took the loaded cooler, Cassandra gathered the umbrella and large bag while Lilly grabbed the small grill. Thankfully it did not take them long to find a decent spot to set up in the large field. "I'll go get the chairs." Lilly offered, not particularly waiting for a response from her parents as she took off back toward the truck at a jog and grabbed the folding, aluminum chairs. Cradling the chairs in her arms she headed back toward her parents, catching sight of Coach Meyers who nodded to her as she passed by. "Hey Coach." she greeted with a smile as she jogged past. "Have a good day, Pryor." he responded. Lilly turned around, jogging backwards to face Coach Meyers. "Sure thing, Coach. You too!" she said as she turned around and barely caught the glimpse of a couple walking across her path behind her, causing her to spin to avoid them as she continued on, turning back around and never slowing. Coach Meyers watched the teen's evasive action with some interest, totally avoiding the couple, the small scene bringing some ideas to mind... Lilly trotted up and set down the chairs as her parents were busy setting up the grill and doing a little bit of last minute prep to some of the food to be grilled. One by one she unfolded the chairs and set them out in a semi-circle under the shade of the umbrella. "So how long till the food's ready?" Lilly asked half jokingly, already teasing her dad a bit. "Grilling is an art, and art cannot be rushed." Bill retorted, causing Cassandra to roll her eyes. "Yeah. Well we're getting a late start thanks to the breakdown and we haven't eaten, so step on it, Picasso." Cassandra said walking up behind her husband, resting her hands on his shoulders and giving him a peck on the cheek. "So a little less 'Picasso' and a little more 'paint by numbers', eh?" Lilly quipped causing her mother to laugh. "Exactly. See? She gets it." Cassandra said with a grin to Bill, who just shook his head. "Everybody's a critic." he muttered. "Love you, Dad!" Lilly said, giving Bill a quick hug. "I'm gonna go scope out the vendors real quick as we can work out a plan of attack." "Okay. Don't take long." Lilly moved through the crowd, waving or offering a quick hug to friends and teammates here or there, occasionally getting tips on some of the best vendors and generally carousing. It was a beautiful day, the atmosphere was vibrant and jovial so Lilly was doing her best to soak it all in while she could. She finally spotted Cass, Marissa, Jase and his dad along with his friend, Hank. Lilly bit the side of her bottom lip for a moment as she thought about he Fellowship's plan for that night. She had wanted to ask her dad some things, but it would have been more than a little odd and she was not ready to raise suspicions, much less lay everything out on the table to her parents right now, despite what they had told her the night before and did not want to deal with her dad's reaction to the plan to walk into the lion's den. Hank though, was a veteran, and from what she gather, had seen and been through some shit. Not only that, but he was 'in the know' when it came to the Fellowship, so he could probably offer the best advice. Gar was in on it too, for that matter, maybe he could help out too. With a nod to herself, as if making up her mind, Lilly stepped out from the crowd and approached the small group. For her part she had her long, brunette hair down and was wearing sunglasses, short, denim overalls which showed off her legs rather well, with a black crop top underneath and her feet were her seldom seen Chuck's. Lilly smiled and waved as she walked up."Hey guys." she said, greeting her friends and then lifted up her sunglasses to look to the two adults. "Mr. Bannon. Mr. Graskle." she said, greeting each of them with a respectful nod as well, as she was taught. "Happy Labor Day everybody."
  12. Lilly and Cade had been tossing the football back and forth talking when Cade heard Jase's offer and tossed the ball back to Lilly before departing to take Jase up on the offer to freshen up. Lilly looked over behind herself, whipping her ponytail around her shoulders and saw Jase leading the way to the farmhouse, floating cooler in tow behind him and turned to follow herself. As Lilly headed toward the house she spotted Kat and Courtney up ahead and considered them for a moment. She still had not particularly met Kat yet, but she certainly knew Courtney, and she had managed to bury the hatchet (or at least it *seemed* that way) with the twins, so she figured why not go for broke? Courtney had been a terror at the school, especially to Sean, but if the Jauntsens could make a change, then Courtney should be afforded the same chance too. That did not mean it would be easy, but anything worthwhile rarely is. "Hey Courtney. Wait up a sec." she called to the redhead as she squeezed the football in her hand and, with a skip, started casually jogging to catch Courtney, who had slowed her pace and was giving Lilly a look that was a mixture of surprise and confusion. "Yeah?" she asked almost curtly as Lilly drew near. "Hey." Lilly greeted as she slowed to a walk alongside Courtney. "I just wanted to say that I can't necessarily speak for others, but I wanted you do know that I don't really care about what you did in the past, at least before the attack at the hospital. You threw your lot in with the rest of us, are here now, and are probably gonna be risking your ass with us Monday night, so that's all that matters to me. Anything from before, as far as I am concerned, is water under the bridge. Cool?" Lilly's mind was virtually impenetrable to the young telepath, but she could still get a sense of her emotions and she at least didn't sense any deception from Lilly. There was still a faint shadow of irritation there, to be sure, probably just from seeing Courtney's after all she had done to the Fellowship in the past, but there was now a kernel of posivity there now that could be nurtured. One would never totally let go or forget past slights, but is was certainly possible to move past them, and for her part, Lilly seemed to be honestly trying to let go of their past. Courtney was slightly taken aback at first. She knew that Devin and Marissa had been accepted, or forgiven, or whatever, by the Fellowship, but hearing those words from Lilly Pryor the first time they had spoken (which was never friendly in the past) in weeks was not something she had expected. The corners of Courtney's lips were slowly tugged up as she smiled at Lilly with an odd mix of thankfulness and irony in her smile. "You don't know everything I did... But thanks." she replied. "Everything? I'm sure I don't." Lilly acknowledged with a shrug. "Maybe you can fill me in some time?" she said, leaving the offer out there and then continued, "But until then, I do know what you did last week, and you're here now, so that's good enough for me. People change, and yeah, maybe not always for the better, but they should at least be given a chance to do so, and to be accepted for who they are instead of who they were.. or who you thought they were." she said with a warm smile and small wink as she strolled alongside the redhead with the farmhouse growing ever larger before them as they drew ever closer to the old structure. "Thanks." Courtney said sincerely. It was kind of odd to hear Courtney Adams being friendly and sincere after they way she had talked to, well, pretty much everybody at the school for years. At the same time though, Lilly could also see a bit of the how and why she behaved like she had with Cook's influence and simply being a telepathic teen. People all wore masks and thought things privately in the sanctuary of their own minds that they would never say aloud due to politeness, fear and a multitude of other restricting factors. But to hear that from everybody, to know how people truly thought about you, others, and everything would have to make a person cynical at the very least. Navigating high school while doing so, had to be even worse. "No problem." Lilly said to Courtney with a small smile and nod as they set foot on the porch. The teens gradually made their way to the farmhouse, trickling in here and there as they finished their own activities, conversations or simply finally noticed that the others had gone inside. The nine teens filled the small kitchen, some sitting at the table while others leaned against the counters. Occasionally one or two would slip out to commandeer a bathroom to change or freshen up while more snacks and beverages were distributed among them. Jason opened the refrigerator door and several cans of Coke floated out, moving from person to person until each as accepted. With a nod Lilly shifted the football she had been idly toying with in both hands to her left and accepted a proffered can of Coke with her right, holding the can near the top with her thumb and middle finger as she used her forefinger to pop the tab. "You know, I've been thinking about Monday night." the brunette teen said and then took a swig from the can. "Like, so far every time any of us have crossed over to the Land of the Upside Down Thunder, they've gotten stuck there for a time. So I'm thinking it might be a good idea for us to bring some supplies, like water, snacks, power bars, first aid kits. You know, just in case. We never know what might happen or who might be hurt or drained or whatever. Hopefully we won't need of it, but best to be prepared." she suggested and took another large swig from the can of Coke.
  13. Lilly had lain on the ground by the plough for a bit, laughing to herself and catching her breath as considered what she had just done. Not but a few weeks ago she would have considered it unbelievable, but now the teens lived in interesting times. Their paradigms were expanded in remarkable ways with the addition of psionics, alien or extra-dimensional entities, malevolent forces and secret groups and conspiracies seeking to use or control them. Compared to what most of the rest of the Fellowship could do, the lifting of the plough was not less believable. Staring up and blue sky and the faint wisps of clouds that occasionally drifted by, Lilly began to consider what she and the others might truly be capable of. They were a handful of teens upon whom's shoulders the possible fate of their world, or reality, or whatever rested. Now they were, for the first time, be proactive and take the fight to Cody and The Dark, and though optimistic because, like, how could one not be after seeing what they could do when they actually got on the same page and worked together, Lilly also had some doubts about everybody returning. If they were going to do this, then she needed to know who was going and plan accordingly. 'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst' she remembered her dad saying on more than one occasion. It seemed like good advice now. After a bit of thinking and consideration of several things, Lilly finally rose and looked around. Spotting Tawny, Lilly approached and, unfastened the velcro on the back of her weightlifting gloves, slipping them off. "Hey Tawny." she said with an upwards nod of the head as she got close to the beautiful blonde and held her gloves in her teeth for a moment as she bushed herself off. Taking the gloves back into her hand she smiled and continued. "I was a little surprised to get back into town and see you here, but I am glad you are." "Heya!" She squeaked with delight with the prospect of meeting someone new, the pure hearted blonde offered a pearly smile and a wave. "Yeah, me too! A lot been happening, a week ago I thought we were the only ones with powers, and now you guys have had them this whole time and... like, wow with them." Tawny knew of Lilly Pryor, just had never really met her. She didn't play sports, and mostly kept to herself but over the last couple of years they'd seen each other plenty in classes. Her being a strong advocate of Team Devin didn't earn her much in the way for credibility, but despite people's reactions she never quit stating how wonderful of a guy he was if people asked (they usually didn't). "I saw you lift the thingie," she smiled. "Wow. I would have cheered and clapped but with all the craziness going on between fire and magic gates and mind reading... I don't know what I'm supposed to be impressed by. Is super strength your power?" She covered her mouth gently, like she's something wrong. "Sorry... is it okay to ask? Devin said the Fellowship can sometimes be like a dysfunctional prison yard and I read you can get 'shanked'," she air quoted. "Whatever that is, if you ask people how they got sent there. Do you guys have like, a rule book or something?" Lilly's smile grew into a small laugh as she shook her head at Tawny's question. She was a bit refreshing, after dealing with the others. Yeah, Cassandra has pluck, but Tawny was sweet and perky and almost innocent. "There's no rule book, and Devin can, let's say exaggerate a bit at times. Yeah, sometimes there is difficulty getting everybody going in the same direction, but no, nobody has been violent with each other, aside from sparring or whatever in training. As far as my powers, I am not entirely sure. It's like.. well, kind of a long story. But I guess the short of it is that it seems while pretty much everybody else's shine gave them mind powers, mine seems to have internalized into my body. I am still discovering what I can do, honestly. I mean, I've felt stronger and faster and stuff, but it took a while before I realized I might be able to do that." she said, nodding toward the plough, "or run as fast as a car, or hop six foot fences like they were hurdles on the track, or run up the side of a building. Today was the first time I really had a chance to let loose some. And there's other stuff too, like all of my senses are better, which makes eating pretty awesome, but locker rooms and restrooms... not so much." she laughed. "We thought we were the only ones too, and kinda freaked out at first since we did not know about the study or anything and the way we found was a bit, disturbing. Anyways, finding out there's others is kinda like, I dunno, finding relatives you didn't know about. I mean, we're all different, but we all share this experience, and that is somebody that nobody else will ever be able to really relate to or understand. And yeah," Lilly aid as she glanced around at the others thoughtfully for a moment, "we might argue and bicker some, but we are like a family and families do that. We always know that we get each other's back though, and that includes you too." Lilly said elbowed Tawny playfully in the arm. "Yeah, the, um, 'study'," her cheerful tone slowed some. "It wasn't a great place to learn things. Dr. Cook wasn't a very nice man." Her smile faded but then quickly returned. "Yeah," she recovered. "Deej said you guys were all really great and that if I needed something I could just bug the heck out of you all until you gave in and gave me my way." She giggled. "Well, he didn't say 'heck', but, you know," she twirled her finger to move forward with the conversation. "So, um, you had to give up on the Olympics, huh?" Suddenly aware that it might be a touchy subject she extended her hand to silence Lilly before she could reply. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not trying to pry. You don't have to answer that, of course. The twins were talking about it earlier." Lilly's smiles faded a good bit at the question and she nodded as it returned a bit. "Yeah." she said with a sigh. "I mean, for a few reasons. I couldn't leave everybody with all this stuff still out there, threatening my friends. Besides that, I feel like it would be cheating. I suppose there is some sort of arguments that 'it's not cheating, just superior genetics like any star athlete' or whatever, but I feel like it would be cheating." Lilly looked away and off to the distance at nothing and no one in particular for a moment as she thought it. She was not happy about what she had done, or at least what she had to do to get it done. "Yeah, it sucked to watch my mom's face each time. Disappointing her was, well, rough. I mean, she was not disappointed in me, because she knew I would do my best, but more like disappointed for me. And I hated doing that. My mom and dad have been nothing but supportive and now it's all for nothing and that money is wasted, even just the money for the trip. It's like-- I dunno. They just saw me go and fail. They would be fine with that though, as long as I did my best, but I didn't It's just-- They don't even know truth of why, you know?" she said, blinking a few times to clear her eyes of some tears that were threatening and then finally bought her gaze back to Tawny. It did not take Marissa's intuitive eyes to tell how deeply it affected Lilly, and yeah, most of the rest of the Fellowship knew she threw it and gave up on her dream, but probably did not grasp how it affected her fully. Lilly took in a breath and forced a smile. "What fun is it anyways when you know it's not even contest?" she asked with a weak grin, giving Tawny another playful elbow. "Anyways, Cook is an ass. Don't worry about him. We got you and we'll help you as much as we can. You can do the same stuff as Jason, right? Move stuff and make it hot and cold or whatever?" she asked. "Hey," in came a surprise Tawny hug. "There is a time for all of that." She broke off the hug and stepped back. "They don't know now, and sure, maybe there is some small measure of disappointment, I mean, they're human, right? They have feels and they love you and totes wanted you to have your dream. Remember though, there will come a time when you can tell them, and then they will understand. It's sort our curse, I guess, a bunch of broken teenagers stumbling to figure out how to save a small town from fairy tales and Netflix critters." She paused and shrugged, offering Lilly an unassailable smile. "You know what though? I like being broken. You know all those cracks? I like to think that how the light gets in." "I, um... I can." She didn't seem confident in her answer. "Can move things. Fire I can only stationary things, like little fire sculptures, I can't um... 'fwoosh'," she spread her hands about and moved them around like she was casting a spell while making fire noises. "Like he does. And, cold only happens when I have an outburst... like freeze a water bottle or the, um," she seemed really embarrassed and her cheeks flushed crimson. She silently mumbled. "Pipes at our house. Jason said he could help me learn to control it, so, we'll see." "Well, Jason can help you with that. Honestly, all of can probably, at least somewhat, even me. Like, I might not know how to exactly guide you to do what you do, but I can, like, help you practice control and stuff buy trying to throw stuff at me or something. I dunno. We can all help, but Jason probably the most. Just- Just keep it, I dunno, professional, I guess. Feels and stuff are not his forte." Lilly explained and then looked around at the rest of the Fellowship doing their various training, sitting or horsing around. "As for the cracks, well, that's just wabi-sabi." Lilly said with a nod. "Huh? Did you lip go numb?" Tawny asked, somewhat confused. "No, no. Wabi-sabi. It's, like, a philosophical ideal. Beauty in imperfection, essentially. Like, it's the crack in the Liberty Bell that makes it special. I never thought of us that way, really, but I guess you described us pretty well. We're all cracked, or even somewhat broken, but that is what makes us special and beautiful too, I guess." "I thought that was the green stuff they give you with Sushi?" She asked with an adorable sincerity. "Maybe we can figure something out, sure. Right now I'm plum tuckered, Cassie was throwing things at me for a good ten minutes already. She has a good arm, let me tell you." "Oh!" She blurted and reached out grasping Lilly's arm. "You're still going to Homecoming, right? Jacob Crocker asked me on Friday to go to with him, can you believe it? Please tell me all this stuff that's going hasn't made you reconsider. I won't lie, it's awesome to finally have friends, and the secret society of powered teenagers is way cool... I was hoping I could, um," she went all bouncy-flouncy for a moment trying to build the will up to finish her thought. "I could maybe be show off a few of my new friends at Homecoming, maybe kind of show the school that I'm not some super awkward perky Christian girl? It's been a little dry for me in the 'people who like me' department since I started having outbursts and setting things on fire. Granted Marissa destroying me socially didn't help either, but... it's her way. I don't begrudge her." Lilly blinked, a little surprised by Tawny's small outburst. She had always known Tawny, or at least what little she knew of her, as being fairly quiet and reserved, so seeing her so animated was something new. "Yeah. I'll be going. I mean, I got a few things I need to do first, but yeah, I should be there. It should be fun. And if the football team keeps winning, I could even make Homecoming Queen. I promise to be a benevolent Queen, should I be so honored." she laughed with a fake, haughty demeanor. Slowly though her smile faded as she took on a more serious mein, considering things to come. "Actually... I wanted to talk to you about Monday night. Are you going to be there? I mean, don't get me wrong, you absolutely do not need to go or feel pressured or anything. Nobody will say or think a thing if you sit it out, so don't feel obliged or anything at all. I mean that. Seriously." she stressed firmly. "Honestly? I'm not sure. Deej and I got into a big fight about it already. He doesn't think I need to be there, but I know he's just trying to play the Knight." She somberly sighed and shook her head. Her animations slipped away and soon she was fiddling with her nails. "I feel I need to be. We've been chosen for something, to protect lives and help people. I wouldn't feel right walking away from that. He feels that I'm not ready, and I think he also wants to protect me." "And I appreciate it, I do, but, my heart says I need to stand my ground and be there. So, you know what? Let him be mad. He's young, pleeeeeenty of time to get over it, believe me." She offered Lilly a smile. "Besides, I'm the back up. No playing hero for me." "Really, the only person who can ever say if you are truly ready or not is you." Lilly offered, returning the smile. "And honestly, even if you can;t do much on your own, I am pretty sure you can still link up with other's to boost or help them or whatever, so there is always that." she added with a small shrug. Lilly thought for a moment, considering what they were planning on, her gaze once again on nothing it particular for a moment before to looked Tawny in the eyes once again, resting her hands on the blonde's shoulders. "Seriously though, I am not telling you to stay or go. We each have to make that decision ourselves. This will be dangerous, though, so just don't make a decision out of guilt or some feeling of obligation. If you decode to come though, just know that we got your back." Lilly reassured, slipping her hands away only to offer a fist bump with a warm smile. "Oh, I know." She smiled and shifted her weight a bit, no longer fiddling with her nails as she bumped her fist to Lilly's with a shy, yet broad grin. "How about you? If you want to talk or anything, I mean, I know this is not really normal, for, like... any of us, but... we're all we have to talk to. I'm a great listener. With all that going on you're carry quite a bit of mental and emotional stress. If you need to vent...," she pursed her lips. "Y'know... vent." "I've just never really been one much to vent at people, you know?" she added with a shrug of her strong shoulders. "I'm an only child, and kept to myself a lot before we moved here, so I learned to let stuff out on the track or field. A good workout and the natural release of endorphins can do a lot. And so can a great piece of baklava." she said with her crooked, half grin. "Baklava? Those Russian face mask thingies for cold weather?" Tawny asked, confused, prompting Lilly to let out a small, good natured laugh "That's a balaclava. Baklava is a dish. I think it's actually from Turkey, the place, not the bird, but it has spread around most of the Mediterranean and beyond. It's like a dessert lasagna, but with layers of crisp, puff pastry instead of pasta, and with honey and chopped nuts in between instead of sauce, meat, cheese or whatever. It's sooo and my yaiyai-" Lilly explained, getting another confused look from Tawny indicating that she had lost her again. "Sorry. 'Yaiyai' is a common Greek term for grandmother. You see, I'm Greek and Spanish on my mom's side, but I can speak German, go figure." she said with a shrug and continued, "Anyways, she makes the best baklava. It is, like, life affirming." the brunette teen explained, almost drooling as she thought about the dish for a moment before pulling herself out of her reverie. "But yeah, maybe sometime I might need to vent. I mean, we all change." Lilly replied with a smile, appreciating the generous offer from Tawny and didn't want he to feel like she had dismissed it, which she hadn't. "Holy shikaka! I just had the greatest idea!" The young blonde had a sudden burst of excitement. "The next time we do one of these things, why don't we make it, like, a barbeque or something and we can all bring a dish. We don't have much time of summer left, but Jason has a barn and the loft, we could all get together and celebrate after we, you know...," the excitement faded from her voice as the topic of battling the Dark once again seemed to linger in the air. "...well, providing it doesn't turn into a massive clusterfluff." "So, German, huh?" It was an obvious ploy to change the topic away from anything Dark related. "I speak horse. Our ranch has been in my dad's family for a few generations now, I guess. I like them. They're noble and strong and love big... but *ooohhh *are they ornery if you're not treating them right. We currently are taking of ten, we have eight, and two are visiting for, uh," her demeanor took on the smirk of a fourth grader, but the chagrin of teen not comfortable with saying something out loud. "...'study hall' purposes. It's a weird situation, because usually the owners would have come and picked them up by now, but they couldn't make the trip and probably won't be until around Christmas, but by then with the snow and whatnot." As the talk of horses arose, Lilly had to smirk slightly at the Montana drawl that Tawny worked so well at concealing came out in full. "We'll probably have them until spring. What with boarding costs and 'study hall' it looks like we'll be okay this winter." She laughed as she caught her drawl. "Sorry, I'm rambling. You're dad is military, right? I think I saw him at school once, in uniform." "Yeah. He is head of security for Bulwark. There are good and bad things about being the Lieutenant Colonel's daughter on base." she chuckled and then stopped as something occurred to her. "What is it?" the blonde asked, looking quizzically at Lilly. "You know, knowing what he know now, it certainly makes the fact that the base was named 'Bulwark' have a lot more meaning. Huh. I wonder..." Lilly replied, letting her voice and thoughts trail off for a moment as she considered the name and just how like various groups had known about The Dark and Site B and all of it. Lilly shook her head, dismissing the thoughts for now as a small smile came back across her face. "Anyways. Yeah, a pot luck sounds cool. We should run that by Jase. He's prolly go for it. And we should go get a burger or something sometime. "Oh yeah! That would be great!" the Tawny agreed perkily. "Cool." Lilly replied as the pair drifted back over toward the others.
  14. Slipped her earbuds back in and turned on her playlist again. The next song queued, starting soft at first as she shook out her limbs and did a couple of quick stretches while glancing around the farm and makeshift training area, taking in the terrain. She bobbed her head for a few moments as the track began to shift. She started at a normal jog and began to accelerate to what was easily a sprinter's pace, but for her it was a casual effort. She made a lap around the area, getting used to the speed and into the music, seeking escape in the sweat and exertion. Her conscious thinking stepped back and she began to just move and react to the terrain and improvised obstacles. She approached the barn and shifted her balance and footing, running horizontally along the wall in defiance of gravity almost to the end to change her direction before foot touched ground again. She slider under and dove, flipped, tumbled and hurdled over obstacles easily 6' tall. She almost looked like liquid, moving with such fluidity through the terrain, never stopping and barely slowing for the briefest of moments, getting more and more bold with each obstacles as her confidence in her abilities grew. Lilly used walls, trees and farm equipment to push off of to change direction, keeping her speed to around 20 mph at first, but gradually pressed on the gas, keeping it conservative out of safety for the others and respect for the farm. Finally she found herself running right at the barn again, only this time as she drew near she pushed off with a foot, her leg flexing to propel her up at an angle toward the wall, changing the direction of her inertia. Step after step came in rapid succession on the old barnwood, her toned legs pushing her farther and father up the wall until she nearly crested it. At the top Lilly slapped the roof before running back down the wall to land safely on the ground. The entire display looked almost effortless, like the young athlete was hardly even trying, and judging by the speed she had when she started up the wall, almost any onlooker could have guessed that she could have gone much higher had there been enough wall. With a smile, and even more confidence in her abilities, Lilly jogged to her truck at a normal jogging pace and grabbed the gym bag that perpetually lived there. She jogged back to the plough and dropped her bag by it, unzipping and fetching her weightlifting gloves and chalk bag from it. Casually she walked around the huge metal farming implement, slipping on her gloves and strapping them tightly as she looked for good places to place her hands. Once she completed a circuit around the plough she grabbed her chalk bag withdrew a small handful of the powder, rubbing it between her hands as the excess drifted away in a small cloud. Lilly approached one end of the plough and shook out her arms and carefully placed her hands. With a grunting of effort Lilly lifted the end of the plough, breaking it free of the dirt that had accumulated and hardened around it. Lilly shot one foot out behind her, shifting her stance, her tight rear flexing as she lifting the plough higher and higher. Shifting her grip in it in a flash, she stepped under it and lifted the end over her head, holding it there for a moment with a smile as some of her friends stared on. With some more effort, the end plough was once again on the ground. Lifting the end too some effort, but she knew she could do better. Chalking her hands again, and this time slapping them together to remove any excess in a cloud in front of her, Lilly moved to the middle of the plough. She took a few deep breaths and placed her gloved hands on the sun-warmed metal. Digging her feet into the ground, the young athlete exhaled, her amazonian physique flexing and her face contorting into a mask of exertion and her gaze intense as the teen began to life the two ton piece of farm equipment from the earth, quickly stepping under and then lifting it higher in a 'clean and jerk' weightlifting motion. She led it for a few seconds and then let out another, louder grunt of exertion as she lowered it, more or less safely, to the ground once again and then fell on her back, laying there, sports bra clad breasts and bare, washboard abdomen riding and falling quickly as she caught her breath with a huge on her face and began laughing.
  15. Lilly watched Devin and Jason spar with a mixture of surprise and awe. It had been barely six weeks since the bonfire, and now some of the Fellowship seemed to have mastered their abilities or nearly so, apparently even discovering new abilities just now. It was pretty amazing. Cassandra came back over to Lilly from where she'd been razzing the boys, and Autumn, after their match. She had a big grin of the 'shit-eating' variety on her face and offered up her hands in a supplicating gesture. "Sorry about that," she said, "Some things just have to happen. Uh, so...where were...oh yeah, you were asking about Aeon and Annette." Cassie frowned and thought for a second, then shrugged. "I don't super duper trust them? Like, I think Annette believes what she was telling us. Her heart seemed like it was in the right place. Buuuuuut...I mean, look what happened. It seems to me like this Aeon outfit is at best not very competent, because when they took over, they obviously left a lot of bugs under a lot of rocks. At worst?" She shrugged again. "I don't know. It sounded like they're a scientific think tank. Maybe they just wanted to see what would happen with some deniability." "Either way, I'm not letting them off the hook. Once we know what they knew and when they knew it, we'll know if they're guilty of conspiracy or just negligence." Cassie worked her shoulders then and tilted her head slightly, gazing at Lilly thoughtfully. "So...I remember you were pretty good with like, martial arts and stuff. Think you could show me some pointers? I feel like, if I'm going to be hanging out with this crowd, I'm going to need to know at least the basics." Lilly listened intently and taking Cassandra's opinion to heart. Cass had always had pretty a pretty good gut, even before her powers, so Lilly gave her intuition a good bit of weight, nodding at her plucky friend's answers. When the talk shifted to some hand to hand pointers, Lilly looked a little surprised. "Whoa. Really? Yeah, sure." she said with a smile and nod, moving out from where they had been sitting to get some more room and motioning Cass to follow. Lilly stretched her arms a bit as she walked, pulling one and then then other behind her head with elbow up, swinging them around and in front of her and so on until she finally reached and good stop and stopped, turning to face Cassandra as she followed. "Okay, a few things. First, you should stretch and limber up so you don't hurt yourself, even if just training a bit or doing drills." Lilly explained as she began to show Cass some stretches, helping her friend as needed. "Second, third and fourth is conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. The better it is, the better off you are. I'm not saying to you need to be a workout nut like me, but start jogging, maybe some light weights, because the worst feeling is seeing that your opponent has more gas in their tank than you do. I jog every morning and you are welcome to join. Aside from that, if you every want a jogging or workout buddy, just give me a call. I got your back." she said with a grin and wink. "Fifth is practice, especially sparring, because the biggest mistake people make is losing their cool. They panic or fight out of anger and those are good ways to make mistakes and ware yourself out. It's not as easy to stay calm as many people think." Lilly said and then grinned again, adding, "I mean, barring some psionic shenanigans or something." she laughed. "You need to keep your head in a fight, and the best way to prepare for that is to simulate it as much as you can in a safe environment, hence sparring. It's not quite the same as a real fight, but it is as close as you can safely get and it will help you out." she explained. "Next is know you limits. You need to fight your fight, not theirs. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You'll learn to play to your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses." Lilly took in a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. "Now, all that aside, let's have some fun and see if we can't make give you a few surprises to bust out on darklings or mercs or something." Lilly said with a grin. "Lesson one, defense. Make fists and hold your arms up like this..." Lilly said, showing Cass a basic boxing guard. Once she hands her hands up, Lilly threw a few slow motion punches, showing her friend proper technique and how effect the guard could be when used effectively. Lilly then dropped her guard and held up a hand. "Now keep your hands up and punch my hand. Technique first, then you can start hitting harder." she instructed, holding up her hands to be targets for Cass to practice on. As she pair began to train, Lilly glanced over at the others and said, "So Jase and Autumn, eh? That's... yeah. And then Marissa and Cade? I never would have seen that coming." she mused. "And then Lona is moving? That's gotta suck for Devin. They seemed happy together. Or at least what I saw of them." she said with a bit of a frown. "I would say we should at least throw Lona and Clara a going away party, but that might be pouring salt in the wound. I dunno." she pondered, punctuating her frown with a small shrug. "Yeah," Cassandra agreed as she threw punches at Lilly's hand, trying to imitate what she'd seen in movies and TV shows. Lilly could immediately tell that Cassie had probably never thrown an actual punch before her entire life just from how she stood 'normally' with her feet together rather than with a wider stance, and in how she was using her arms instead of her back to try to convey force. "It's kind of weird really. Everyone leaving more or less at the same time...I need to look into that. Maybe someone's trying to break the group up," she shook her head. "Devin's feeling it though. You know him...he doesn't really show it, but you can see what's hurting him in what he doesn't talk about, you know? As for Jase and Autumn, I'm like ninety percent sure it was Autumn that kicked that off, and Marissa wasn't happy about it." She glanced behind her, verifying that Marissa and Cade weren't anywhere nearby before adding, "I'm kind of wondering if Cade's a rebound...but it does seem like they're genuinely into each other too, so..." Her fist socked into Lilly's hand again and Cass winced a little and shook it out as she pulled it back. "Anyone ever tell you that your hands are really...solid?" "Thank you?" Lilly said with an expression that was a mix of confusion and a grin. "Anyways, stop trying to hit hard for now. This is about technique, not power. You got to get the foundation of technique first." she explained and then moved behind Cassandra. "First of all, your stance needs work." she pointed out as she used her own foot to move Cass' foot a bit, adjusting her stance. "Don't that feel better now?" she asked and then stood beside her friend before she even answered. "And thrown the punch like this..." she said, throwing a few slow-mo punches while standing beside Cass she could better see the technique. Once Lilly was satisfied after watching a few of Cassandra's improved punches, she moved back in front of her and held up her hands again for targets. "Technique, not power. Do not worry about hitting hard right now, just do it right. Power will come in time." she explained as she glanced at her hands and shrugged a bit. "Since I got my shine, I've noticed I am stronger. Like... much stronger. So far, I have not been able to get enough weight on the bar that I could not lift it. I mean, I have to be careful about putting that much weight on a bar so that nobody sees, but yeah. You guys' shine gave you mind powrz, and mine seemed to have internalized into my body in various ways." Lilly said with a shrug. "Anyways... So it sounds like Devin and Mari have been playing relatively nice, or at least trying to? And I guess Jase, I dunno how to put it. I guess Autumn has done him some good?" she asked, glancing over at the twins and then Jase and Autumn before returning her attention to Cass. Cassie rocked herself backwards and forwards with her feet wider apart, and shrugged, then resumed punching. Her form WAS better, but mostly in comparison to how bad it had been before. "Don't get me wrong, Devin is still basically an eleven year old, emotionally...and Marissa is still a seventeen-year bitch," she said. "But yeah. They're on board with the program. Courtney too, even though she was working for Cook before. Just...watch your brain around her. I'm pretty sure she likes to eavesdrop." She took a deep breath. "As for Jase...he's had some shaky moments, but I think Autumn is doing him good. If nothing else, she's giving him a very good, tangible reason to try to play nicer with people. Even if it's just because he doesn't want to gross her out, or scare her off." Cass paused then to push her increasingly sweaty hair up out of her eyes. "It's weird how tiring this is even though I feel like I'm barely moving," she complained lightly. "I mean, I think I'm in decent shape. I bike or skateboard practically everywhere. I go jogging sometimes. I'm in PE class. Sheesh. Okay, lets...can we mix it up a little? Teach me some wax on wax off stuff." "Well, yeah. You are using muscles in different ways than you are used to, so yeah, it's gonna get tiring quick. Just holding your fists up does it pretty quick." she spoke from experience and then glanced back over to Marissa and then Devin, biting her bottom lip slightly with a wistful sigh. "Yeah. I really need to apologize to them though. I was too caught up in what they had done that- Well. You know. They are trying and risking their lives, just like the rest of us. I mean, yeah, it's probably just gonna be ignored or whatever, but that's not the point. I owe them an apology." Lilly said somewhat thoughtfully as she considered the twins for a moment and then brought her attention back to the task at hand with a small shrug. "Anyways.. Okay, for now one of the better things you can do is trips. It sounds kinda cheap, but a kevlar vest or chitinous hide or whatever doesn't do jack to help you stay on your feet, and it is hard to shoot or fight from your back." Lilly explained as she lowered her hands and moved closer to Cass. "Probably the easiest way is to just step in and push, using their own weight against them." Lilly pointed out as she stepped closer to her friend, repositioning her foot behind Cass' with just a flick of her ankle and then pushed slowly while holding onto her friend's arms, letting her feel the trip. At no time though did Cass have any fear of Lilly dropping her after feeling her taller friend's steady grip and her arms barely flexing, easily controlling Cass' weight. With a causal exertion, Lilly pulled Cass back to her feet and said, "Now you try. And go ahead and knock me down. Don't worry about it. I get worse on the football field." she instructed. As the pair got closer while practicing, Lilly asked, "What about Tawny and the new girl, Kat, you said?" After the momentary shock of the 'trip' demonstration, Cassandra managed to grin for a second, absorbing the irony that she, of all people, was now some kind of gossip-engine. But hey, maybe that wasn't all bad. Gossip was kind of like news? For teens? And she had already given Lilly the rundown on all the important stuff, why not do the human interest stuff too? "As far as I can gather, Tawny's been a friend of Devin's since they were kids, and she's got a massive crush on him," she says. "Kat's pretty new to the gang, and I don't have a read on her yet. She's French, I think. Or maybe Canadian? I'm fuzzy on that." She took a stab at trying to duplicate Lilly's move, but after a few tries it became abundantly obvious that Lilly was still helping her a great deal by letting herself be tripped. She hadn't quite gotten it down from a single demonstration, and Lilly was just so much stronger that it was like trying to wrestle a statue. Frustrated, Cassandra backed off a few steps, then said, "What about blocking a punch or something? Or...or what about kicks? I wanna do that thing where you spin-kick so fast you sort of helicopter fly." "Well, that guard is really the most effective block. Most of the stuff you see in the movies is not all that actual effective in a real, true fight." Lilly said as she mulled over what Cassandra had shared with her for a moment and then shrugged. She would introduce herself and get a read on Kat on her own anyways. "As far as flying helicopter kicks and stuff? Yeah. No. Without some psychokinetic fuckery, those aren't happening. I mean, I don't even bother with turning kicks most of the time. They tend to be telegraphed." she explained as she took a step back and took a stance. "If you want to kick, you need to remember that you kick with other to top of your foot or the heel, depending on the kick and NOT you toes. That a good way to break them. I mean, yeah, granted, you will probably have shoes, but still, you are generally not going to get the kinetic energy transfer with your toes." Lilly instructed as she demonstrated a few kick slowly,, showing which part of the foot made contact with each. "Unless you have good flexibility, your kicks are going to striking the waist down, and since this is self defense crash course, and I hate to say it, but probably the most effective kick for you will be to straight up kick a guy in his junk. Yeah, kinda of a bitch move, but if your life is on the line, then you'll learn to live with some dirty fighting." Lilly laughed, demonstrating a basic groin kick. "Aside from that, kicks have more power, yeah, but if it gets caught, then you're pretty well screwed. A low kick might be able to trip or unbalance and opponent though, especially if it unexpected." Lilly pointed out as she lightly demonstrated a low kick to Cass' calf, letting her just feel a bit how much even a fairly weak kick could affect her balance and reached out to grasp her friend's hand when she stumbled a little, catching her easily. "Seriously though, at this very moment, you are probably best off getting up your guard and going for a trip or groin shot. It could legitimately save your life." Lilly pulled Cass back to her feet casually and gave her a pat on her upper arm. "Now, let's see if you can get any combinations going. Just try at like twenty or thirty percent power. Technique and repetition is your friend. If you want to keep training after this, I do a weekly lesson on the weekend, or just give me a call and we can train." Lilly offered as she moved very slowly, putting up only minimal resistance to let Cass practice on her. "So, how open do you think the twins and Jase would be to me talking to them, and you know, an apology? I mean, Jase seems at least somewhat willing, but those took seem to be avoiding me, which is about a good as could expected, I guess." taking the time to talk a little more, seeing if Cassandra could keep her head and focus on her striking while also answering questions. Cassandra pursed her lips as she considered that question. "Jase would be fine with it," she decided. "I think as long as you're clear about saying what your mistake was, and sincere about being sorry for it, he'd go with it unless he decides you can't be trusted. Devin and Marissa..." Cass frowns, "...I think they'd test you. Like, they'd let you apologize, and then they'd try to provoke you or piss you off or something. And then if you get pissed off, it's sort of confirmation that the apology isn't sincere." She shook her head. "And if you don't...they might still not accept it. Maybe Devin would. Here's the thing though...I think you should still do it. For one, it'll make you feel better. You know? Clear the conscience. For another, I think they need to see people being sincere towards them. I get the feeling they haven't had a lot of that." Cassie shrugged. "Okay. Combination. So like..." She threw a couple of punches, then tried to trip Lilly, then started to try to kick but realized she was a bit too close after the trip and broke it off. "Ugh. Give it to me straight Kung Fu Doctor. This is going to take me, like...fifty years isn't it?" Lilly could not help but laugh Cass' question. She had tried to stifle it, but failed and shook her head, giving her blonde friend a pat on the shoulder. "How long it takes depends on how much time and effort you put into it. We can train whenever you like. I'd suggest at least once a week and maybe step up your cardio. Lighting some light weights would not hurt either. But honestly, it comes down to technique and repetition, repetition, repetition. Just work on the few things I showed and we can go from there." Lilly suggested. "It's like dancing or sports. It looks easy enough until you get out and try to do it yourself. It's all the time and hard work that makes it look easy though. You did good though, for your first time. Honestly. High five." she says with a smile, holding her hand up for Cassie. Lilly's smile faded slowly and she let out a faint sight as her thoughts turned to the twins and Jase. "Well, I decided I was going to apologize days ago, so that it happening. Them accepting it or not is kinda moot. it is something I should do regardless. I owe them that." "I had a lot of time to think as I sat there, watching the other heats at the Olympic trials between throwing my own. Think about myself, all of us, the situation we are in. All of it. I was.. I mean, they still did what they did, for years, but I was too caught up that to see that they were making and effort... or at least their version of it. And that's my bad. I think I was just looking for a chance to show that they were not really on board, just like they probably look for proof that nobody is really their friends. So it was like irresistible force meeting unmovable object. And because of that, we all suffered in various ways. We did not work together as well as we could have. Friendships were stressed or never got to form and on and on. I own my part in it, and I'm sorry." she said to Cassandra sincerely. "Right, well...if you're looking for an editor, I give it a thumbs up," Cassandra said, lowering her fists and smiling. "Go tell them." Lilly motioned at Cassie to put her hands back up. "You're not done yet. Try another combo." The high school journalist sighed and pushed her hair back. "It's just...one of the things I want to do is not just learn how to use my fists...I want to use my powers too. No amount of preschool remedial Bruce Lee moves will impress a giant Evil Tree, or Cody when he's all hopped up on Darkballs. I need to figure out how to use what I can do to help me." She put her hands on her hips and looked away. "The only way I can think of to do that is take it less safe." "Then we could always do the Inspector Clouseau thing." Lilly offered. "Say what now?" Cassie asked. "Inspector Clouseau, in those old Pink Panther movie. He walks around and has this guy randomly ambush him, never knowing when or where he might strike! It will force you to use your powers. Every door, cupboard, box or hamper could contain a parcel from paaaaaain... and the postage is duuuue!" Lilly explained with a grin, hoarse, mockingly evil voice, and clearly fake karate chop. Cass couldn't hold it together and the pair fell out laughing for a moment as Lilly's silly, over exaggerated theatrics, taking a few moment to compose themselves until they were finally laying in grass, chuckling occasionally as they caught their breath. "Seriously though, we can train sometime and I can come at you hard, or at least harder, and we can see if that helps inspire you to use your powers in new and inventive ways. They say that necessity is the mother of invention." she offered to her plucky friend as they sat up in the grass and calmed down further. "Just think about it and give me a call later. We can work something out if you. Until then..." she said as she rose to her feet, "I'm gonna get some water. Want one?" "Nah. I'm good. And yeah, I'll think about it."
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