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Catherine 'Kat' Barras last won the day on May 21

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  1. Someone was shoving needles into her brain. It didn't hurt - but she could feel the cold, sterile metal probing through the soft tissue, seeking the right spots for them to do their work. Auditory, droning tones rose and fell in the background, like a muted dentist's drill that changed pitch and speed radically. Lights, of different colours and intensities, flashed on and off in front of her eyes. Nearby, a voice was speaking, coldly clinical. "At this time, roughly eighty percent of Leviathan's labour force, fifty percent of Leviathan paramilitary forces, and twenty percent of Leviathan field intelligence assets have undergone the procedure..." She could remember who she was. Remember her friends back in France, remember her mother, remember the heated kisses she'd shared with Courtney and the terrifying battle against an antlered demonic being. But she could feel the emotional import of those things being stripped from her pre-frontal cortex under the weight of the droning, the lights, the chemical fog from the needle in her arm. "...These are for the most part stable, but are of course observed..." The speaker was right next to her, their voice in her ear. She could remember everything about being Kat Barras, but all of the old connections, the old emotional ties were being severed, cruelly ripped away. She existed now in order to serve Leviathan. To play her part in bringing in the Great Order. She would kill on command, steal, seduce, betray all trust placed in her, at the behest of her new masters. She saw Courtney, tied to a chair, the white cloth covering her eyes complementing the white formal dress she was wearing. Bright red hair tumbled around pale shoulders, and Kat looked down at the knife in her hand as she walked, slowly, towards the bound girl. The knife came up, a crimson line was drawn across the throat she'd kissed adoringly not three days ago. More crimson fountained out, splashing over the white gown, washing around Kat's feet. She felt no horror at her act. On the contrary, she felt calm. Those she served had ordained the action. The voice spoke up again from behind her. "Hail the Great Beast." Yes, Kat thought. Hail the Great Beast. Beep. Beep. Beep. Her alarm rang in the early morning. Kat sat in her bed, mouth open in a silent scream, bathed by the coral light of the sunrise peeking through the window. Her breath was heavy, and so felt the air in the room. She yanked aside the crumpled sheets, drenched in sweat, as the nightmare came back to her, her brains playing the video tape at a high speed. Suddenly, she didn't feel so good. The petite French girl rushed to the bathroom in her pajamas, her stomach all cramped up threatening to splatter gastric acid everywhere. She knelt there for a couple minutes, face looking down at the throne till the nausea disappeared. Just a bad dream. Fifteen minutes later, she was running down the stairs like teenagers do, in sports clothes, in a morose mood but "ready" for her morning torture. Forty-five minutes later, her muscles feeling like limp rubber after the workout with her dad, Kat tore herself out of the shower with an effort of will and, getting dressed, made it downstairs just in time to say goodbye to her father as he headed out for work. Tess was in the kitchen, yawning and sleep-tousled as she poured herself a large mug of coffee. Seeing Kat slump into the chair at the breakfast table, she smiled wryly and poured a second mug, sliding it over to the petite girl. "Thanks." Kat groaned as she stretched out her hand to get the cream and sugar. Tess shook her head, chuckling. "Kudos for trying to keep up with your dad." she said, saluting Kat with her mug. "He invited me to go running with him once. Never again, girlfriend. I'm sticking to yoga and tennis." Concern warred with amusement on the lovely older woman's face as she sat down across from her boyfriend's daughter. "Seriously, though: you okay?" The petite French girl took a long sip, and the mug remained on her lips for a while, the brown liquid reflecting the ceiling lights, olive onto her pale skin. "Nightmare," she told her mug, the sound of her voice, muffled and amplified at the same time, bouncing off the porcelain as if in a miniature stairwell. "Mixture of Brave New world and Silence of The Lambs, with white robes and knives to spice things up... kind of nightmare." She added, setting her coffee back on the table. "I..." Her head had sunk into her hands. She could feel the welcome warmth of caffeinated liquid running down her oesophagus. "Leviathan..." She muttered for herself. The name felt familiar somehow. The overwhelmingly dark red flowing over bright white came back to her mind, and she shook her head in disgust, drowning the remnants of the nightmare in cream brown. "I'll be okay. I guess." She shot her Dad's girlfriend a half-smile. Tess nodded a slightly dishevelled head, when her eyes caught sight of the kitchen clock. "Alright, honey. Eat up, don't wanna miss school." 8AM Kat waved goodbye to her dark-haired friend as the car drove away, leaving her to another day at school. Her shoulders dropped as she turned toward the building. At least she didn't feel as banged up as the day before. She grabbed her earphones and made her way to the lockers, Anthony Kiedis taming her wandering thoughts enough for her not to get lost in the crowd of students roaming around the corridors, but not enough for her not to almost literally bump into Sean. "Oh, hey, Sean!" She said, removing her earphones.
  2. Kat was conflicted on how to react to what he just been said, or rather, to the whole situation. Apart from Sean - and even that might've been a stretch - she barely knew anyone in the room. The only thing she knew was that they lived through a quite shitty predicament the day just before, together - That has to count for something, right? she thought. And now everything was turning to shit. Shit. Why was this happening now? The room was flooded with this white-hot emotional white noise, a mixture of fearful and angry, unhealthy suspicion. And it worried her, as much as the others were concerned, for themselves, for each other. Even then, she wasn't that much scared by the hurting emotional landscape rocking like a tumultuous sea over her telepathic senses. It rather was the overwhelmingly violent, unceasing war the colors were waging- Oh God, the bubbles are back! "I need some air," she suddenly said as she rushed to the door. Once outside, she gasped for air, flipping the damn switch off on the bubbles, and sat on the white walk. "It's gotta stop doing that..." She thought out loud, her voice hoarse as she fumbled her jeans for her smokes. She planted one between her lips, and a flick of will later, the air was quivering and the end smoldering red, the heat blast dissipating along the smoke as swiftly as it had appeared. The petite French girl took a long draft, noticing the lean shape of Jason against his car, and got on her feet, approaching him. His mind felt like a freezing, impenetrable diamond, not letting anything out aside from its own existence and in a sense, it was soothing. Calm. Different. "<Funny how things are quieter around you, uh?>" She smiled poorly at the statement, her agitation tangible in the message from her mind. “Hadn’t considered it that way.” He replied after a micro-second pause at the ‘hearing’ of her thought-voice. A cigarette dangled between his index and middle fingers, the end glowing briefly as he lifted it to his lips and took a pull. That light reflected momentarily in the green ice of his stare as he studied the petite girl, the glimmer of ancient wry amusement in his expression . “Usually people are upset around me.” She chuckled, exhaling a puff of amused smoke. "<That's what makes it funny. I still don't understand why.>" After a brief pause, she added. "<Why they're upset. Is it because of what you did, do, will or could do, or what you are?>" She took another long draft, looking at her feet. "<It's a fucking mess of emotions in their head - and in mine, for that matter. I get it, you're scary, but I too can burn someone alive.>" She waved her cigarette, looking back at him. "<I could freeze them, crush them under their own weight, blow their brains out with sound. And I'm much more mentally unstable.>" Amusement was starting to seep through the silent words. "<I should be much more scarier than they make you out to be. Everything about this is crazy. I'm crazy.>" "You don't seem crazy to me. You act and speak, when you speak, in a consistent framework. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of psychosis in you. You merely seem unfocused." His lips quirked at one corner as he considered her words. "Perhaps it is it is simply that you have not yet acted in a way that upsets them." Twin streamers of smoke trailed from his nostrils as he spoke. "Emotional instability might make a person unpredictable, but it also makes them vulnerable in a way that their fellow human beings can understand, accept and adapt to - or exploit." "<But not you. Empathy isn't your strong suit, right?>" Her unruly grey eyes locked onto his icy jade, and she tilted her head, her puff of smoke playing with the sunlight before dissipating in the slight breeze. "<You ever get curious of what it feels like?>" "Sometimes." Lean shoulders shrugged as the unkempt-looking genius took another lungful of smoke. "For me, empathy becomes behaviourism. I study how people act and react, and attempt to analyse their behaviour by means of intellect. It has it's pros and cons - my own emotions or desires seldom colour my analysis, but then I also don't have direct experience of anything like fear. Regret becomes simply an acknowledgement of an action which leads to negative consequence. Shame is unknown, save perhaps vestigially - a sense of my own failing with a resolve to do better, but that tends to be more aligned with practical or tactical errors than moral failings." "I am, mostly, a creature of primal urges- hunger, rage, will, aggression, desire - not nuanced emotionality. Do I envy you your finer emotions?" His lips quirked in amusement. "No. They seem largely inconvenient and self-sabotaging." He exhaled a soft plume of smoke, head tilting slightly as his brilliant, cold eyes dissected her. "Do I watch you all, in your fears and laughter and happiness and jealousy and wildly unpredictable hormonal moods, and wonder what it would feel like? Yes. It is an ongoing goal of mine to understand such things, even if I can never experience them." The petite French girl pondered, her brows furrowing for a moment. The end of the cigarette sizzled as she drew on it. "<What if...>" She paused, trying to decrypt his features. "<What if I could help with that? Would you let me?>" "Through telepathy?" Jase paused, radiating stillness as he considered. It seemed even the faint bluish smoke hanging in the air around him ceased it's motion in that moment. His eyes narrowed further, scrutinising Kat intently. "You could, perhaps, show me how such things feel to you..." he said slowly, musingly. "I still wouldn't experience them directly - but I might understand better. I might be able to draw better parallels with my own experiences. Right now I am a blind man being told what colour and shape is and then being expected to comprehend the concept of an abstract work of art - with someone frustratedly yelling at me and stamping their feet when their explanation contains no meaning to me." He snorted slightly, one hand waving the thought aside, his eyes never leaving Kat's face. "Or, perhaps, such understanding could foster contempt. Certainly, a lot of baser human emotions seem very... petty, at least from the outside. Petty fears, petty envy, petty frustrations, petty cruelty, petty spite. It all seems so very... small." He said with the manner of one musing aloud as he considered her, his eyes seeming to stare into the back of her skull, giving Kat the unbearable urge to blink, look away, or shuffle her feet. There was no mockery or amusement, but there was an air of ageless, alien scrutiny in that almost reptilian emerald gaze, something Other looking out at the world from behind a human-seeming mask. "What do you think, Catherine?" Kat looked down at her feet, her cheeks flushed with a soft pink at the mention of her full name. "Everyone's petty." She said, finally voicing her reply in a low, hoarse tone. "It's in the human nature to care when something affects them. You could call it a consequence of basic survival instincts meeting the comfort of the 21st century. Whether or not this pettiness leads to action, words, or nothing, is really up to the individual's temper." She raised her eyes once more, her composure barely intact. "But I don't know many people born with telepathy, in fact, nobody is. We all grow up learning how to decipher someone's emotions. Some are better at it than others. And we manage to do it because we have our own emotions to compare it to." She took a deep breath. "What I'm saying is, I'm offering to help you getting a gauge, something to help you understand what it feels like. Telepathy isn't only about reading minds, Jason. It's also about sensing, experiencing someone else's emotions as your own. It nearly swallowed me whole in Great Falls. Five minutes ago, the kitchen was so full of them I just wanted- no, needed to run away." She rubbed the back of her head, looking towards the Jauntsens', a bleak expression on her features. "Are you in?" “How do you see it working?” Jase’s tone was one of clinical curiosity. “Do I need to let you into my mind, that manner of thing? If I open my window, will you be able to come in and roll in my bedsheets? So to speak.” She chuckled at the thought. "Not really, it's the same as when I'm talking to you in there. If you refuse the... Link? You won't get the message. At least that's what I learned from Courtney." She rubbed the back of her head once more. "Picture it as a text chat where everything has spoiler tags, but you can send more than actual text. Images, concepts, feelings..." The pink on her cheeks, almost fleeting, suddenly reddened, and she shook her head to chase whatever she was thinking about away. His head inclined slightly at the sudden deepening of the pink in her cheeks, but there was no expression other than that to indicate he'd even noted anything awry as he nodded slowly. "All right. Do you wish to try this experiment here and now, or some other time?" he asked, casting a glance at their surroundings, then back at the petite girl. "Whenever is fine, really. It's not like people are able to stop feeling something on command." Kat pointed her chin at the Jauntsens'. "Right now it's still bubbling raw in there." She added, her head instinctively retracting between her shoulders. "Shock, confusion, anger, fear, suspicion, worry, it's like a fucking salad. Have your pick." He considered that, his eyes following the indication she'd made with her head movement before returning to her features. "Perhaps later." he said with the air of one weighing an issue. "In a less volatile situation, one that would be easier for you. After all, you are out here because of that mess." He smiled, very faintly, but the crinkle at the edges of his eyes loaned the expression it's sincerity. "Also, given the nature of the experiment, perhaps one or two volunteers would be more acceptable ethically than simply eavesdropping. That way, perhaps all who take part can learn." She slowly nodded and sighed. With a couple beers and a game of Truth or Dare, this could actually be a blast. "Okay, that sounds like a good idea." She offered him a genuine smile and added: "Thanks for listening!" She rubbed the butt of her cigarette against the ground and began heading towards the house, still without a clue on how to process the whole mess their situation was properly. Maybe there wasn't any correct way. "Catherine." His voice was quiet, but stopped her for a moment as she turned and looked over her shoulder at the slender figure leaned against the muscle car. "Thank you, for talking."
  3. Kat finished her coke, hopping to her feet to throw the can in the bin, mulling on her thoughts, then cleared her throat. "You know what? I don't really care about whatever feud you guys have going on. Unlike what I've heard about her, Marissa actually has been kinda nice to me since I arrived. I'm not saying her saying she'd throw any of us under the bus if she thought we'd dodge the wheels and duck the bumper is fine, hell, I hate the idea. But I don't even know what I would've done in her situation. She also said she'd be more communicative about it if it were to happen again, that's already something, right? And yes, her definition of trust sucks, absolutely, I realize that now that things have been said. But what can we do about it that would be helpful, uh?" She took a brief pause to moisten her lips, her annoyed stare going back and forth between Devin and Jason, to finally stick to the latter. "You said it yourself, Enterich's goal might be to put a huge strain on our bond as a group. Marissa said she was willing to be more communicative, and that's helpful. That's the opposite of compar- com- fuck, you get it. I don't care that people think you're some sort of monster snacking on hikers every Thursday afternoon as a ritual to summon the Dark Lord and send impending doom our way, you showed me different so far. You're... nice? Okay, that thing you got going on with your eyes, definitely creeping me out a bit, I mean, every time I wonder if I should stop moving, set myself on fire, run away or stare back, but I feel like I'd lose the contest anyway-" She stopped for a moment, blinking twice. "Where was I going... Ah..." She shrugged and exhaled, showing the stairs in a vague motion. "Just... way to go, dude."
  4. Kat's head sunk into her hands, and she screamed internally as the host of the meeting went on her dramatic exit. The petite French girl wished really hard she wouldn't have checked the group chat today. This is a lot to take in. An agent of the Dark had information on her, which meant the fight wasn't over, which probably meant more morbid horrors to throw hands with, which meant... This is bad. "Well, that was a shit-show." Her quiet voice, muffled by her hands, was a spiteful mixture of anger and fear. The whole affair didn't feel quite as a knife in the back, Kat being a fresh arrival in town, but it still hurt, and scared her, her imagination fueled by fresh, gore memories of a previous, recent, other shit-show she would do anything to avoid the likes of. She raised her head, looking around for some - hopefully - helpful advice. "What do we do about it?"
  5. The petite French girl chuckled behind her hand. "Yeah, sure, please." She turned around, unable to not admire the interior, so different to what she was used to. Her own mother had always been a woman of simple tastes, even though she had the means to live a very comfortable life. Spending money on shiny things wasn't the way Kat had been raised - her Mom's outraged reaction at the cost of Kat's tattoo still a vivid memory in the petite redhead's mind. "By the way, you doing okay?" She turned toward Marissa with a raised brow. "Courtney told me about..." She grimaced and mimicked fainting, unsure of how to word her question.
  6. Kat glared at her computer screen, slumped on her desk, her bare feet moving back and forth above the floor, on their own. For the first time in a long time, she wasn't really feeling like doing anything in peculiar, aside maybe from shenanigans with an attractive telepath friend of hers, sunbathing with a side of gentle, possibly love-or-like treatment. I feel like I'm forgetting something... The petite French girl grabbed her phone and stared at the group text notification, and it stared back at her. Shit, shit, shit, she thought as she read through the exchange of texts in the conversation. Well, there goes my date... She quickly sent Courtney an apologetic text, then checked the clock on her phone. "Shit." She was going to be late if she had to walk to the Jauntsens'... Wait a minute. I don't even know where they live! Luckily for her, Courtney was kind enough to send her the address after Kat had asked her, and not long after, the petite redhead was riding Tessa's bike, in her every day school clothes. She had given up on making the healing process of her scratches feel any better, and decided to just bear through the unbearable itching with clenched teeth and a long, spicy list of cusses. Outside the Jauntsens' - 15:45 The ride wasn't so bad, given the sunny weather and pleasant temperature, although it wasn't exactly how she had pictured her late afternoon would turn out to be. Blood was pumping a healthy pink into the petite French girl's pale features as her bike came to a stop, right outside the address Courtney had given her. It had to be the place. The lawn was impeccable, smoother than Bruce Willis' head on chemo, the white walk fitting perfecly, red carpet to an Oscar ceremony. The whole picture looked like one of these realtor advertisements on TV, except this house wasn't for sale. People lived in it. She shook her head, putting an end to her dazzled contemplation, and went to ring the bell, unsure yet of where to set her bike at. It wasn't long before the front door opened, Devin greeting her with a "Hey, New Girl!" She leaned her bike against the house before coming in, her jaw slightly dropped as she took in how the house looked like inside. "This really is a realtor advertisement..." She thought out loud.
  7. This really is a strange place to be in, after what happened. What happened? She can't say for sure. She can't... remember? Oh whatever. The music is at least decent. In fact she can't really help tapping her foot to the beat. It's her birthday party. Again. Erwann and Alice did this. Very sweet of them. Now she can remember. "'Cause I'm going to live my life" But something feels... amiss. There is a very odd noise every time she taps her foot. Now that she's looking at it, it makes sense. Rotten flesh, mingled with dirt, and blood, and bone. And she taps her foot. Of course the sound would be weird. She raises her eyes, staring at the horde of chitinous, ravenous monsters charging her. Of course something would feel wrong. She closes her eyes, not able to watch her friends, swallowed by the crowd. It'll be over soon. And the music keeps on going. She opens her eyes, facing an impressive row of teeth, and- If you wanna live your life Live it all the way and don't you waste it Every feelin' every beat Can be so very sweet you gotta taste it Life's a party, make it hot Dance don't ever stop, whatever rhythm Every minute, every day Take them all the way you gotta live 'em You gotta do it, you gotta do it your way You gotta prove it You gotta mean what you say You gotta do it, you gotta do it your way You gotta prove it Let's get loud, let's get loud Turn the music up to hear that sound Let's get loud- Squeaked, sitting straight in her bed. The sun was much higher than before, so high she couldn't see it through the window anymore. It was probably noon. Her heart was drumming fast in her chest, faster than Johnny Rabb on steroids. Her trembling hand grabbed her phone on the nightstand. Almost 1PM. That was enough sleeping for today. She breathed, very slowly, for a couple minutes. I hate nightmares. After staring at her phone for a moment, she remembered. She still didn't get a reply from Courtney. She quickly tapped on the tactile screen. She deployed her mind web, scanning the surrounding of her house. Everything was rather quiet. She sat there for a couple minutes, watching the minature stars moving around. Birds, rodents, even insects. Without her Shine, she probably would've never noticed how crowded the world is. She was busy reflecting on this when her phone dinged. It was Courtney. Kat exhaled heavily, at ease. Ten minutes later, she jumped out of bed, in a rather happy mood. So happy, in fact, that she almost forgot to get dressed on the way out of her room, closing the door she'd just opened, red-cheeked at the thought. Should she have breakfast, or lunch? Now that was a rather hard question to answer. Or rather simple really. She technically had breakfast with her father. Lunch it is. She looked down at her phone while going down the stairs, an excited grin crossing her features. "Ow." Maybe she should check the wound on her cheek first. The house was empty. At this hour it made sense. Of course both the adults are busy adulting. Did that come out wrong? The petite French girl shook her head, setting the sterile compresses, strips and disinfectant on the kitchen table, along with a small mirror she'd found in the bathroom. She sat down and began removing the padded rectangle stuck to her sensitive face, grimacing. The cut was oblique, about one inch long and not so deep now that she took a good look at it, running accross her jawline to the left of her chin, chilling reminder of how close that pointy bone had been to her external jugular vein. She grabbed a compress, spraying it with the antiseptic, and began dabbing the cut, making sure it remained clean. She strapped a couple strips on it, closing the minuscule gap between the edges of the wound. There was no real need to groom it further, she'd read online that a cut of this size was best kept uncovered if you wanted it to heal properly. Kat stared at her reflection for a minute, uncertain of what she was thinking about. Her stomach growled. Right. Lunch.
  8. Kat yawned as she left the medical center, and began making her way home. The only bright thing in her day was the sun. She was tired, her body was a sack of small, countless itching sores, she couldn't have a proper sleep-in, and now people were shooting at her friends, which wasn't making her feel any safe now. She paced up. I need a distraction. She fished her headphones out of her vest and plugged them in to her phone, music blaring into her ears after she pressed the Play button. Unconsciously, she adjusted her steps to the beat and already, the walk back home didn't feel as long. Why would two guys with badges try and shoot Jason? From what she heard, he wasn't especially a saint, but he certainly wasn't evil incarnate either. And then there was the problem of finding a decent dress for Homecoming. She had less than a week to do so. She still couldn't decide which of Tess or Marissa to ask about that. Or maybe she had asked one of them already. She was too sleepy to remember. Sleeping in the grass wouldn't be too bad, given the temperature and the sun. One thought leading to another, she found herself in front of her front door - That's funny. Or not, she thought - asking herself whether she'd go on a quest for croissants or actually make some pancakes herself when she'd wake up Surely someone would sell croissants in Great Falls. But how am I going to get to Great Falls? Before she knew it, the damn skirt - and the rest of her god damned hooker outfit - were on her room's floor, and she tucked herself into bed, counting her thoughts like sheeps passing in the night till it bored her into slumber.
  9. Finally, the Medical Center was in sight. The whole walk had just been her bearing with the itching of the myriad of sores, spread out and healing accross her skin. After twenty minutes of walking, she had concluded that clothes would actually not change anything to her condition. She sighed and passed through the parking lot, dismissing the -odd?- glares of the few people getting in and out of their cars. She wasn't even in the mood for conflict. She just wanted to know what happened, see with her own two eyes that her friend was alright, and then, go straight back to bed. On second thought, that last part might be harder than I thought. Shouldn't have gone for a walk in the first place. She was, in fact, rather awake now, even if a glass of OJ, or even a cup of coffee, might have made the morning brighter. The waking sun was already getting higher above the horizon, rays of groping warmth reflecting on the walls of the large edifice she was headed to. Bet that motherfucker already had coffee to be so bright an hour outta bed. She wasn't going to glare at the sun though. She at least knew better. Then she freezed, a couple steps away from the glass door. Her own reflection was staring at her in the glass, bewildered. God, I look like the argument I had last afternoon was with my pimp and not a bi-dimensional entity of Evil. She swore under her breath, and quickly folded back her vest around herself to hide as best as she could the atrocity she had committed. Fucking skirt. That's what I get for caring about people. The automatic door opened, and entered the small, disheveled, underaged, street-worker look-alike. Kat went straight for the reception, and cleared her throat. "Hey, I'm looking for a, uh, Jason Bannon, please." Two pairs of eyes blinked and stared at her for a moment. Fuck, I could use some advice from this girl with the whole camouflage-the-dark-circles thingie. Mine are still as obvious as a nose on the face... "Uh sorry? Didn't catch that." A couple moments after the receptionist had repeated the directions she gave to the petite and absent-minded French girl, Kat was hurrying through the corridors, to finally reach the room and peak her head in. Yuuuup. That's Jason. In a bed. With Autumn. Not in the bed. Good job, Kat. She mentally nodded, and took a couple steps in, dangling arms suddenly reminded of their duty to keep the vest wrapped around its owner like cellophane. "Hey, guys. What'd I miss?" I really look like shit.
  10. Most of this exercise felt a tad hard, and I struggled to see these values as something else than an intricate mess impossible to decrypt. It felt like I was back in Junior Year for the French exams of my bachelor's degree. Anyway, here's my take. Core Values Here's what I referred to. Those first three 'A's are core to Kat, and I feel like they work very well together. Which makes it harder to me to explain them without doing a sort of back and forth between them. Achievement, Aesthetic and Autonomy For convenience's sake, we'll call them Ach, Aes and Aut. That last one does sound Latin. Those three also work well with a fourth, not as important value, and it took me a good minute to decide if I wanted that fourth one in bold or not. I decided not to, else this whole exercise would've become impossible to write for me, and impossible for you to understand. Ach: Despite her mostly obvious condition, her ADHD, and despite her not necessarily being a hard worker, Kat's sense of Ach is very important to her. She does not appreciate half-assed work at all. Be it hers, it would make her feel bad about herself. Be it someone else's, it would make her twitch. One could call it perfectionism, with its upsides and downsides. She's actually grateful for the training session that happened at Bannon's farm. It gave her the means to appreciate her capacities as a psion, would she be to simply try! This also influences her perception of Aes and Aut. More on that after I make it look like I tried to organize this... thing. Aes: Kat is bound to seek and marvel at Nature's beauty, this is perhaps the central concept around which I imagined the character to begin with. This, is what I somehow try to get to with her ADHD, even if I'm doing so subtly - which is another way of saying I'm not really good at it. The Ride sidefiction with Courtney contains what qualifies as my attempt to show this. Looking back, I feel like it was clumsy -eh, spoiler thingie was right after all- but I don't necessarily regret it. Gotta start somewhere. When the human brain receives an overload of information it struggles to decrypt, to understand, it'll take a shortcut and say "Oh well, I understand it this way, deal with it". That's the beauty of recreational drugs. I'm not saying you should do drugs. I'm saying that, for Kat, there's a definite upside to them, even if she struggles to, or won't, put it into words. It gives her another way to see the world around her. A fantastic way to her. Aut: Kat likes to do things her way. It feels more Authentic (see what I did there?). That's all I have to say on that value, really, because most of its applications revolve around Ach and Aes. And, to be honest with myself, all the other values too. Maybe I can develop a tiny bit here. When Kat entered her teens and started not so much growing up as other teens would, she was sort of left alone. Everyone was changing around her, and she might have felt excluded from this huge thing in life. Apart from a couple friends, Alice and Erwann, Kat spent her teens mostly alone, her father only visiting a couple times a year, and learned to do things by herself rather than relying too much on others. What is Art? The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. That's something I found on Google. While it somewhat rings with my own definition, I like to go deeper. Nowadays, a large portion of thinking individuals called humans consider Art as something with a value, that value being currency. Call it dollars, euros, rubles, whatever. When Art is so much more than a pile of expensive pigments, or rocks, or shit thrown onto a canvas. Art is all about an individual giving shape to their vision, appreciation of what they see as beautiful. It does not necessarily need to be shared to others to still be Art. In my book, making Art is an art itself, one does not simply throw shit onto a canvas and call it Art. Else I'd be stomping over Art all day on Paris' sidewalks. Art requires effort, reflexion, sometimes even, pain and suffering. It requires one to ask themselves questions, because that is how we humans put things in perspective, how we assess the value of something, a value foreign to any form of currency. That value is how much a thing matters to us, and it is hardly quantified in any way. It can be the work of one, or several individuals. Music is a good example. Mozart was but one man. Muse is a band composed of three men. Both Mozart and Muse were/are artists. Both put some time and effort into their music. Why this long ass paragraph? Simply because I see Kat as an artist. I want her to be. I wanted you to understand my own way of seeing Art. And how much work there is to me behind a three letters word. Ach and Aut are important values in life when you want to get things done. The former gives you the tools, the latter gives you the drive. This applies to Kat. It is the reason why she's not shutting herself in completely. As long as she relies on the tools and the drive she's got, whatever she wants to do, she will do it, or at least try to. And Aes benefits from it a lot. Although as for all things, there is a catch. Kat is a fast learner and has a very good memory. Which is why she sees no point in reading the same book twice. Doing so would achieve nothing to her. On the short-term, she might be right. But knowledge left alone for too long tends to be forgotten if not called upon regularly, that is the way the human brains work. Kat has yet to experience the displeasure of this truth first-hand. But one day she will. And she will be left with no other choice than to ask for help/open that book she decided not to read again, ever. Integrity I see Kat as a sincere, honest person, blunt even, sometimes. "Filters" does not appear in her dictionnary. "Tact" does, but using this thing won't get her into Valhalla. If someone asks her opinion about something, she'll flatly reply what she thinks of this something. It doesn't mean she won't care about how what she said will affect the person who asked her, but she would rather tell them than lie to them. I sort of failed to really illustrate that well in Ep. VI, when comes the time to explain Tessa what happened during Labor Day, but I think this line sums it up decently: "But it wasn't so much lying as telling a half-truth, was it?" You can laugh about anything, just not with anyone. I feel like it works the same way with being sincere. Sometimes the truth hurts. But lies can do so much more damage. This is Kat's way of seeing the big picture: "Better to hurt you with the truth than to make the truth hurt you more once you understand I lied." Pleasure Of course, everybody likes to enjoy themselves. Even masochistic people. Because they get some fun out of something that hurts. Kat especially, likes to have fun, and if she has to do something unpleasant, she will try and find a way of having some fun with it. However in some cases, there is nothing you can do about the unpleasantness. Labor Day was a terrible day for her. First, because there's "Labor" in it. Second, because a lot of unfun things happened. But when she thought about what needed to be done, it did need to be done, because otherwise a lot more of unfun things would have happened. That day, she was a hero to her own desire to make her own life enjoyable. You might think I seriously thought about this stuff, but if I did there would've been no fun in it. No thought process behind it, I'm just rolling with it. Enjoyment is not something we should think about. We should experience it. Feel it. Enjoyment is about living a moment to its fullest. Once again, I feel like The Ride sidefiction with Courtney makes a good example. What is it about? Two girls having some fun, and they do it damn well. And there really is nothing more to enjoyment. Other Values Leisure At the moment, the main part of Kat's life revolves around school, and as I've explained earlier in this post -I hope I did well enough- Kat does not like to drag on the process of learning. And school does just that. For good reasons of course, ensuring you definitely have learned something for good and will be able to use it later in your life being one. But Kat would really like to use time she sees as wasted to do something else. Something fun. Like watching those squirrels fool around in the foliage just outside of the classroom. Playing some music. Video games. Painting. Asking Courtney what she's doing with the panties she's not wearing at the moment. She's like most kids around her age. School is a drag. Why'd they have to put her in Junior anyway? She should be in Senior Year. This is even worse. Time freedom A value that goes hand in hand with Leisure. Kat is mostly dissatisfied with the lack of control she has on her life right now. The time she spends in school spreads out on a huge part of her day, and she doesn't get to do as much of what she likes to do as she wants to. She doesn't really know what she wants to do with her life after school, but one thing she knows for sure is that it needs to give her that ability to control the time she spends during each day, doing things. To stop wasting time. I haven't got much else to say on that. Friendship Friends are important. Being by yourself isn't fun sometimes. Friends can be a reliable source of fun, and it goes both ways. Friends make life a lot more enjoyable, and Kat sees that. I already feel like I've said enough, but I have to develop or this will feel incomplete two days later when I read it again. Having friends is about more than just having fun. Being friends with someone is making the choice to share a part of your life, however small it may be, with them. And that part contains an equal measure of good and bad things, fun and unfun, joyful and sad, simple and complicated. Friends make our great moments in life greater, and they help lessen the burden of the worse ones. Alice was that friend to Kat, and Kat was that friend to Alice, though I haven't really had, or created, any occasion to show that. And again, it goes both ways. I might make it sound like everyone is selfish, but keeping a good relationship with friends ensures they won't let you down. And that is why not letting your friends down is so important. Human beings thrive in society, and sometimes, alone, we're not able to do much in our lives. That is why our friends are here for us, and why we're here for them. Because otherwise life sucks, for everyone. Creativity A value I struggled with at first. Should I put it with the core ones? Should I not? Here it is. If Kat cannot really figure out how to deal with her ADHD, she can at least capitalize on one of its upsides: brainstorming is easier. Or not. Kat being an artist meant, to me, that this value had to make it into this post. Of course, artists can struggle to come up with ideas, but it does not necessarily mean they don't value the ability to come up with ideas, and there lies the difference. Innovation does not need to come from oneself, you can always ask a friend for some help if you're really having a hard time with something. If you really value creativity, you appreciate it in everyone, not just yourself. Do you now understand what I meant by 'intricate mess impossible to decrypt'? Here goes Friendship. Knowledge Kat is naturally curious, and -thank you Vivi!- curiosity is an expression of a desire for knowledge. I completely forgot where, but I did mention Kat owning anatomy books for example, not in any way because she pursues a medical career, only because it piqued her interest, to know how the human body works. Also helps with drawing/painting human beings, to be fair. Another example would be when she asked Sean some help to build her gaming PC. You can be certain she memorized everything that was explained to her, will cross-reference it, and expand her knowledge of computers based on that. Because she peered into something new to her and wants to know MOAR about it. This is also where her ADHD kicks in. Distractions are not so harmless when they make you want to expand your knowledge on everything. We only have one life to do things with and Kat struggles not to get lost in the middle of all these interesting things she would need several lives to learn all at once. Distractions also make it harder to focus on that one book you're reading, that has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but at the same time she should really watch that bird building a nest in the tree before it flies away.
  11. Tuesday, 3rd September, 05:00 She turned around in her sheets. It wasn't that she hadn't had any sleep. In fact, some might say she had slept a decent amount. Eight hours can be considered a decent amount. No, that bird outside her window was just really loud. Although she was feeling much less tired than the evening before, she wished she'd have had just a tiny bit more of heavy, dreamless sleep. Well, actually, a lot more. No gore. No fear. No violence. Relaxing nothingness. Kat sighed and yanked the sheets aside. That simple gesture caused her to rethink her whole attitude, her left arm immediately protesting against such a harsh treatment. Now that she thought about it, the bloody thing was indeed covered in bruises and small, itching scratches yet to have fully healed. And not just the bloody arm. Rolling around in bones, dirt and blood did have its downsides. She glanced at the pajamas thrown to the floor last evening, and shivered at the thought of having to put clothes on. Now that she was sitting, she was indeed feeling like shit. 05:30 She carefully stepped down the stairs, bare feet not taking any risks on the way down. She had elected a simple skirt and a very ample T-shirt as wise choices, and while she was pretty happy with the latter, she now regretted the former, wishing she wasn't actually wearing any top and resisting the urge to scratch herself all over, as the fabric brushed against her maltreated skin at her every motion. Her father was waiting for her in the kitchen. "Hey, baby girl." He took a glance at his watch. "Feeling better?" She stared at him for an instant, her lips a tight pout. "Yes. And no." She rubbed the back of her head, sluggish, then grabbed the soft bread, butter and jam and sat at the kitchen table. A minute later her father joined her, setting a hot chocolate mug in front of her. Kat's shoulders dropped. "Smooth." She took a deep breath, and then began talking. Emptying her bag. It was not the concise, accurate debriefing he would have expected from a soldier under his command, no. It wasn't a grand, glorious tale portraying friendship, courage and heroic deeds either, no. It was the crude, horrid truth about everything his daughter had seen, lived and felt after she had left the car, the afternoon before. "Fuck..." He muttered under his breath. 07:00 The skirt, and especially the very ample shirt, joined the pajamas on the floor as the petite French girl slipped under her sheets, while her father called the school off. Cocoa helping, she closed her eyes, falling into a dark, yearned for sleep. 08:11 Bzzzzt Bzzzzt 08:13 Bzzzzt 08:14 Bzzzzt Bzzz-Bzzzzt Bzzt Sigh 08:15 Bzzzzzzzzt "All fucking right! Got it! Great." She grabbed her phone and unlocked it. Her sleepy eyes, deciphering the characters on the screen, grew wider with surprise. She took a minute to consider what she was going to do. Her fingers fluttered accross the digital keyboard. She sat in her bed, gathering her thoughts. Skirt was good. Ample T-shirt wasn't. What about a tank top? Surely it wouldn't be as bad right? And on the go makeup. She definitely was not going out looking like a zombie on a bad day. 08:20 She stepped outside and closed the main door, taking a deep breath of fresh morning air. The dark knee-high boots she'd ordered a week ago with Tess, along with the coral red skirt, did a pretty good job at hiding most of her legs, a long black vest completing the outfit over a black tank top. She grimaced and closed her eyes, dark circles barely concealed under a faint layer of peach and foundation, taking a moment to appreciate the sun. Then, she entered the street, and began walking towards Maria's Medical Center. "Who the hell invented clothes anyway?" She muttered to herself, pulling her pack from the pocket of her vest and grabbing a cigarette. A flick of will, and the end began glowing red. She took a long draft and winced, scratching her damn left arm. She then realized she hadn't even touched her hair. This is going to be a long ass walk.
  12. Josh cleared his throat, pulling Kat out of her reverie. She had been staring at everything -or nothing- for a while now. At the small slice of pizza, at the wall, at her hands, at her friends, at her Dad, at the corridor tiles, at the parking lot, at the car, at the passenger seat, at the moving scenery behind the window. The small teen turned to her father in the driver's seat. "What is it?" "I said," he replied with an amused grin, "we can't tell Tess what actually happened. Official story is, you guys tracked down a dangerous kidnapper. We stick to that story." That answered the question she'd asked fifteen minutes ago. She noticed how he spoke for the both of them. "Okay..." She didn't really like the idea of concealing the truth to Tess, whom she was beginning to consider as a good friend. But it wasn't so much lying as telling a half-truth, was it? "How am I gonna explain my Disney princess looks, then?" Her father huffed, focused on the road. They were almost arrived, his eyes already scanning the street for the modest gate in front of his house. "Mud." He said, laconic. "Shower, ASAP." He added a moment after, reversing gear to park the car. --------------------- It was all rushing back to her as she cowered under the boiling hot stream of water pouring out of the shower, her face pressed against her knees. Flashes of morbid horror, burning pains, ghastly, uneasy feelings, bygone echoes of the aberrant Blight bearing down on her brazen Radiant bulwark, salted tears over disillusioned laughter mixed with her sobs. Although it was fine. Nobody was here to see her. Just her, alone in the shower, letting go. Alive. The strange mixture of feelings washed down the drain, along with the remnants of what caused them to bubble up inside her. Filth made way to cleanliness. Kat certainly didn't have it as bad as most of her friends, physically speaking, that is. Bruises all over the place, mainly caused by the impact with whatever sent her flying, and her crashing to the bloody, dirty, flesh-y and bone-y ground. All her muscles aching from the tension, the stress, the exertion. And that nasty cut on her jaw. Mentally speaking, it was something else entirely. She couldn't, wouldn't, didn't want to come any close to whatever the Dark was, anymore. There was nothing and so much more to it. --------------------- Kat could hear Tessa's worried voice, pressing her boyfriend with questions, as she came down the stairs in clean, ample clothes, her socks softly brushing against the wooden floor. Standing in the frame of the kitchen door, she cleared her throat, two pairs of eyes converging on her. And suddenly Tessa's arms were around her. Josh's eyes narrowed on the cut to her jaw as she held her bandage high. "I'm gonna need a new one." "You had me worried you know. Suddenly, there was a killer out there-" "I'm fine!" "And I couldn't find you or Josh-" "Everything's alright." "What's that on your cheek?" "T'is but a flesh wound." "What happened?" "..." "..." "I'm hungry." Gargl
  13. Kat's arm instinctively went up as she turned hungry eyes to Jase. "Thanks!" her weary voice chimed in as a small package floated toward her. "Bloody brilliant!" she added, after opening the pack and smelling the contents, a blissful expression on her features. She carefully extracted the square of pizza from its enveloppe, holding it much like a zealot would a relic of his faith. In fact, it was clear to anyone in the room that food might have been Kat's religion from the beginning. She was completely oblivious of the world around her, captivated by the tasteful promises in the palm of her hand, treat her stomach loudly showed it had been expecting. She moistened her lips and took a bite, ignoring the faint, distant pull of the pain in her bandaged, disinfected cheek. The cut was but long gone from her thoughts, Kat entirely focused on what she was tasting as she leaned, eyes closed, on the chair back. She let out a deep sigh. What if... Thump. She glanced at Devin rubbing the back of his head and held a giggle in, the last twenty seconds of conversation surrounding her finally kicking open the door of her social awareness. She looked at her pizza, held it in front of her and dropped it. Or rather, left it to float in front of her while she turned gravity applied to the pizza into heat. Ding. Her internal microwave timer chimed in. The pizza, warm to the touch, fell into her palm as heat dissipated. She took another bite and rolled her eyes. "Guys!" she articulated around a mouthful of warm tasty tasties. "Who wants their pizza warm? It's. Awesome." The happy growl of her stomach agreed heartily. "Warm?" Autumn blinked at the petite French girl, then peered speculatively at the pizza-ish rectangle in her hand. "Yeah, sure," she grinned, shrugging a little. At this point everything was kind of out in the open anyway, and heated pizza was always better than room temperature. Kat grinned back, leaving her chair to approach her friend. "Can you lower your hand when you feel the heat?" She asked, mimicking the motion, "I don't wanna cook it too." And so did Autumn, her hand leaving the slice to float by half a dozen inches, heat radiating around for a moment. Ding. Flop. The MRE pizza fell back into the redhead's hand, warm enough to smell appetizing, but not enough to hurt to the touch. The French girl smiled. "Bon appétit!" "Anyone else-" Her voice died out as she noticed her father, standing in the door frame with worry in his eyes. The fledgling pizza warmer remained silent as she approached and gave him a one-armed hug, burying her face in his chest while sparing his vest some pepperoni and cheese stains. At ease knowing his daughter was in one piece, Josh returned the embrace and ruffled her not-so-clean hair, only to look back at his own hand and ask: "Gosh, honey, where have you been? Are you alright? How are you feeling?" "I feel... like I've been trampled on by a bunch of sumo wrestlers." Her reply came out muffled. He raised an amused eyebrow, casting a glance at the other teens, taking in the blood, dirt and bandages. "That place was more than gross..." She added, raising her head. It was clear in her expression she was glad to be back, alive. "What's that?" He asked, concerned, his chin motionning at her cheek. "Uh... nothing. God... I don't even know what I'm gonna tell Tess." Josh rubbed the back of his head - much like his daughter would have - with his clean hand, pretty much convinced they weren't supposed to tell Tess anything remotely close to the truth as it was. "Oh, remember the cocoa?" She asked, taking a step back and another bite in her slice of pizza. Her father nodded, remembering their conversation in the car. "I do." He grinned. "I'm glad you're safe." "Mr. Jauntsen was talking about something like that, like... a group meeting, tomorrow evening. I'm just..." She pointed at her chair. "Gonna be over here, enjoying my pizza." Adding motion to her words, she stole back to her chair and sat gracelessly and teenagerly, resuming her dinner. "You do that," he replied with a smile, slightly furrowed brows, and glancing, inquisitive, at the twins' father.
  14. [Intro music plays] JH: Welcome back, everyone, to the next of our E! exclusive cast interviews! I am Julia Hernandez, and this afternoon, we managed to get a hold of the latest addition to Weirder Stuff's main cast. She comes from France, she's adorable, some of the fans even started calling her the [airquote] Pocket Powerhouse [airquote]. Let me introduce you to Catherine 'Kat' Barras! KB: [from offstage] Is this when I'm supposed to go on stage and say hi- oh. OH! Mic's on... Here we go! [as she arrives on stage, dressed in skinny jeans, a pink Paul Smith shirt and a pair of black knee-high boots] Hi everyone! [looks at the cameras and raises a hand to her chest] Boy! I'm barely starting to get used to these! [giggles] Hi Julia! How are you doing? JH: [chuckles] I'm doing great, thank you! How about you? KB: [sits down and winces comically] I'm nervous. I've never done these before! Thanks for having me, by the way. I'm a big fan, I've watched the show from the start and, oh, that epic battle in the last episode, would never, ever, have seen it coming! [laughs] JH: [laughs] Right! I have been told your first appearance on screen is in Weider Stuff. Is that your first role? KB: Yes. At first, I had an internship with the team, pulled some strings back in France so I could get my free trip to the States, and one day they told me to put the coffee down, dragged me to the makeup artist and stuffed a script into my hands. Aaaaand, it worked. I didn't really see myself as an actor, but, not to throw flowers at myself or anything, [grins] I apparently do a decent job. My first scene never made it to the screen, but it is probably what convinced the producers to offer me a contract. JH: Really? What happened in that scene? KB: [zips lips and winks] Can't say, I kind of forgot everything about it. Wait for the deleted scenes to be leaked or something. JH: [smiles] Fine, I'll have to be patient then. You never really saw yourself as an actor, you say, but what exactly did you see yourself as, before [motions vaguely] Weirder Stuff happened? KB: Originally, I wanted to be a comedian. I did work on some jokes back in France, and exhibitionned myself to immense crowds of, like, fourty people? To be honest, acting for a screen really feels different. The good - or bad - part, I never know, of a live crowd, is that I get to see the people's reactions and work with them. Right now, when I'm on stage, I never know if the fans will like what I do until the episode is out and people start lighting up gasoline all over social media. It's kind of scary. [pauses] But totally worth it, don't get me wrong! It's like really wanting for some ice-cream, not knowing if you'll get some, and finally getting ice-cream. An exciting... sort of... scary. JH: An interesting comparison, to say the least. KB: [nods] I really like ice-cream. JH: [chuckles] Speaking of gasoline on social media, your character is the only openly bisexual character on show, and is starting to grow as an icon in some circles, how are you feeling about that? KB: Oh, that's one tricky question. [ponders] I've never really got into these kinds of conversation. All I can say is that the character is almost a tailor-made fit for me - I can't thank the writers enough for that, they're doing a great job - and, if you're saying I'm inspiring people through the way I act Kat, the teenage girl, well, I'm flattered. Really. And yes, I'm bisexual. [mimics crowd ovation] Go crazy, Internet. JH: Another sensitive topic about your character is ADHD. In the show, Kat suffers from undiagnosed ADHD and it's been made quite apparent on screen. How important is this part of the character to you? KB: Oh, very. My Dad has ADHD - my real Dad, not Josh, who is adorable by the way. Such a nice guy. So yeah, I grew up with one, and sort of spreading awareness about it is important to me. There's a lot of people out there with some minor Attention Deficits, who don't know they have these and don't know how to deal with it, and I know it can be real hard for some. My Dad only got diagnosed when I was thirteen. That's seven years ago! And understanding what it was, and ways to live through, or with it, actually helped him and improved his, our life! At first, Kat wasn't supposed to have ADHD, and the subject came up during a chat with the writers, and they loved the idea! JH: It really hits home to you. KB: It does! [blows kiss at the camera] Love you, Dad! JH: [nods] Alright, onto the less serious, but as important part. Kat and Courtney, Kat and Sean, Kat and Jase question mark, what's happening? The fans deserve to know! KB: [winces] I don't knoooooow what's happening either. Okay, okay, okay. We can talk about what has already happened. Uh, last first, Kat and Jase, nothing is happening so far, right? All we've seen is a strange girl in a strange town getting red-cheeked whenever she makes eye-contact with the local predator. Maybe she has a crush on him, maybe she hasn't. I'm... not... saying nothing will happen at all, they're teens, but... Gah! Nothing is written in stone for teens. Now, Kat and Sean, Kat and Courtney, well, she obviously likes both, spends a lot of time with Sean but would? like to spend some more with Courtney - and we all saw why, but Courtney and Sean sort of hate each other, so there is this sort of love-hate triangle? I don't really know how to describe that. But yeah, definitely a relationship I'm happy to explore because it is so interesting to develop. Sean and Courtney are amazing actors and I'm really glad to be there with them. JH: What about the rest of the teens? KB: Oh, everyone's been so nice to me since I arrived. Sometimes I feel like I'm the lost puppy of the crew... which would not be that far from the truth, to be fair. They always pick me up when I'm feeling down. These guys know how to relax after a few thousands of takes. I love every single one of them as equally as the others, only some more equally than others. [chuckles] Recently there's been this running joke about squirrels... JH: Does it have anything to do with Cade's little friends? KB. Yes! They're so cute! It's part of my routine now, they're the firsts I visit every morning. And every now and then, between takes, Devin or Autumn stalks up to me and yells "SQUIRREL!" [laughs] while pointing at the ceiling, and every single time, they make me look. [shakes her head] JH: [laughs] It does sound like they adopted you! Well, I believe we're running out of time, fan questions will have to wait for next round. Thank you for being here, Kat, it's been very nice to finally meet you! KB: [a wide grin full of dimples] Yes! It's been very fun, sign me up for round two! [waves to the cameras] Bye bye! JH: This was our E! exclusive cast interview for Weirder Stuff, with Catherine Barras. Thank you for watching, and see you next week! [Screen blurs, outro music plays as they both continue their conversation while heading offstage]
  15. Kat dropped her go-bag to the ground and lied down on the grass, seastar in an ocean of green, and stared at the stars, as weariness slowly seeped inside her body. Even though she was there, covered in blood mostly not hers, she still could barely realize what had just happened. And there was this headache. She reached for the side pocket of her bag, pulling her cigarettes out - thankfully, the pack was dry, if not a little battered. She wiped her mouth with her forearm, rather adding to the filth than removing it, then stuck a cigarette between her lips, lighting it up with a flick of will. One could see the heat around the further end, distorting the air surrounding it for a short moment before it started glowing red against the darkening shroud of the sky. She took a draft, closing her eyes and savoring the moment as she felt smoke rushing into her lungs, satisfaction running through her blood. I need to call Dad. Bet he's worried sick. She fished her phone out of her bag and dialed the number, staring at the screen for a while. A puff later, she pressed the 'Call' button and brought the device to her ear. "Hey, Dad. Yes, it me." Puff. "Yes. Threat neutralized and all that." Puff. "No, I'm fine, really. Yes. We-" Puff. "The Jauntsens are gonna bring us to the Medical center. Yes." Puff. Puff. "Love you too. See you there." She sighed, the phone slipping from her grasp and falling flat next to her head. She watched as the smoke slowly dissipated in the coming night, along with the surge of adrenaline that had been coursing through her veins for a while. All she wanted was to rest. Cuddling her pillow, maybe crying a bit. She grabbed her phone once again. Started typing a text. [To: Courtney] We win!
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