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Catherine 'Kat' Barras last won the day on May 6 2020

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  1. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK Kat's breathing was heavy as the SUV's door slammed, the noise akin to a prison door. One of her friends was dead? Phone. Fuck. She took a deep breath. Closed her eyes, focusing on her other senses. Anyone with two brain cells would know that a car is supplied in energy by the engine. If you simply removed the supply, then... She frowned. Turning the whole fuel tank into water suddenly didn't seem like a good idea. Kat was familiar with her powers, now. As she had told Courtney the day before, manipulating matter felt hard, whereas manipulating energy was but child's play. And she would've kind of felt bad for breaking that car. If she wanted to be able to reason her Dad, she needed subtlety. Not to break the engine. I guess I just need to tell the engine to fuck off for a moment. And subtly, the car signaled to its driver, with an annoyed rattle, that it would not move any further until ordered to, coming to a smooth stop after a moment. "We're not headed towards the Project facility." Her voice was cold, void of any hesitation. "We need to talk." Kat's heart was palpitating, but for some reason unknown to her, she was calm. A limpid truth shone in her mind, bright as day: if she wanted to stay alive, she had to be with her friends. And her mind was dead set on doing that. What could guns do against an entity able to walk dimensions? Her dad looked askance out of the window, then at the driver in front of them as the SUV came to a rolling stop, but at her words and, more importantly, the tone, he refocused on his petite daughter. "Kat?" he asked in a studiously calm tone. "Is this you?" He gestured towards the front of the car, where the driver was cussing under his breath and trying to restart the engine, getting nothing but clicking noises. "Won't start, captain." he reported after a moment. The other soldier was looking around, eyes on the outside of the stalled black car. "Kat?" Josh repeated. The French girl sighed. "Yes. It's me. I can't just follow you to the Project facility. Especially not today." She paused for a brief moment. "Who..." Repressing the urge to cry, scream, or whatever her dysfunctional brains wanted her to do, she bit her lip, and kept going. "Did they tell you which one of my friends died? Because I saw almost all of-" She stopped, thinking back. She did scan her surroundings earlier. It could be, as far as she knew, one out of three of her friends. And one of them did not show up at Bannon's farm. She pressed tense fingers on her closed eyes, nervous. "Point is, I'll be safer with my friends, you should know why. And... there's something else I need to tell you." "Kat-!" Her dad stopped, pausing as he took in what she had said, then sighed softly. "Okay... Okay. What's the thing you need to tell me?" She took another deep breath. "I have an idea of which one of my friends was killed, and not by who, but by what. It wasn't someone, it was something." She opened her eyes and looked at her Dad. "Tonight, we're dealing with that thing. Not negotiable." Before he could object, she went on. "Two reasons. One, conventional weapons won't work on it, we're the only ones able to get the job done. Two..." She looked at the soldiers in the car, then back at her Dad. "... you guys can't travel through dimensions like that thing. We can. And I can't tell you who exactly, because it's not my story to tell. But, yeah, that thing? Totally hiding under your nose." Did I say too much? She thought. Time would tell. He studied her for a moment. "Was it like... whatever was sending those things into the Project that day, last week?" As she nodded wordlessly, he chewed at the corner of his lip. "Shit." he muttered as he stared into space, then looked at her again. "And I've got a pretty good idea of who, Katherine." he said in a dry tone. "I do have a clearance, I've been briefed." He fell silent then, regarding her somberly. "You're just kids." he stated quietly. "You know what you're asking me to do?" Her mask cracked for a moment, fear painted on her features as clearly as her brushes would have on a canvas. Tears started rolling down her cheeks, her voice silent compared to the world around her. "I know." She wiped her humid cheeks. "I have to. We have to. What if everyone in town ends up dead tomorrow, ha? That would totally suck." Irony replaced fear in her voice. She couldn't waver now, that would be the worse thing to happen. "I have to be with my friends. I couldn't just watch them die knowing I could've actually helped, right?" She was talking to herself as much as she was talking to her Dad. She didn't want to go, but knew she would hate herself for the rest of her life if she didn't go. The rest of her life. It wouldn't mean much anyway if they failed. "Shhh, honey, honey, c'mere..." Aware that the two soldiers in the front were still there and paying attention, Josh felt more than a little awkward thrust into the role of nurturing parent. But Kat was his little girl, and though she was putting on a brave face he could see the strain it was causing. He slid across the seat, wrapping an arm around her and patting her back as he stroked her coral-red hair, hugging her tight. When he spoke again, it was quietly. "I've not been around much. Guess I was still seeing you as a child." he mused aloud. "If you really believe you have to... to go do this?" He looked down at her, and Kat nodded in response despite her teary eyes, despite wanting to cling to him. Josh took a deep breath, and let it out in a sigh. "Okay then..." He pulled her phone from his pocket and passed it to her, one arm still around her shoulders. "Just... is there anything I can do? The Project can do? To help I mean? Do you kids- guys need anything?" She sniffed, then grimaced. "I don't have a clue, to be honest with you." She paused, taking back the control of her voice, then: "First-aid kits for the after-party, maybe. Uh, yeah, no, scratch that. We got that part covered." She fell silent for a moment, considering the question more seriously. "I think it's best for the Project to not get involved right now. If I read the room correctly last time we talked about it, things are a bit... tense?" "Huh." Captain Williams grunted, looking at the other two Project personnel, both of whom were doing an admirable job of not appearing to pay attention. There were standing orders not to antagonise the bunch of superpowered kids. And his daughter was definitely one of them. He looked back at Kat. "Okay. I'll offer you a deal. I'm not going to have one of my men there tranq you, and I'm letting you go back to your 'Fellowship'. In exchange, you come back safe, and when you do, we sit and we talk about what you did, okay? A debrief." He forced a smile he didn't feel. "Over cocoa." She gave him a poor grin, and a clumsy hug. "Deal. Cocoa sounds great." She mentally sighed, glad of how it had turned out. She then checked her newly retrieved phone, her eyes narrowing at the messages she had missed, and swore under her breath, typing a short reply to the group chat. "I need to get back to the Carousel, fast." She wondered if she could run faster than a car. Probably faster than this one. Wait... She realized she was still holding a tight restraint on the engine's energy flow, and released it. "The engine should be able to start now." The driver tried the starter, the engine purred into life, and Josh nodded with some relief in his expression. He wasn't sure what Kat's powers entailed - it certainly wasn't as easily summed up as 'psychokinesis' or 'teleportation', but he was glad she hadn't permanently disabled a government vehicle. He was going to have a hard enough time explaining this snafu to Taggart as it was. Leaning past her, he opened the door. "We both better get going, pipsqueak." he told her, giving her hair a quick ruffle. "Be careful, and be smart, okay?" "Aye, aye, Captain." She replied with a smile, as she stepped out of the vehicle. She waved her hand in quick goodbyes, then closed the door and started running. Really fast. Her lungs quickly started burning, but it didn't really matter. Three hundred meters? That's nothing compared to my morning torture.
  2. "Well," the petite redhead mused, "if I told my mother over the phone, not only her, but also the NSA would freak out." She had a half-hearted snicker. "Jokes aside," she added, "my father doesn't know about tonight's showdown." She paused for a moment, winced, and kept going. "I don't know how or if I should tell him. I'd hate to see my house surrounded by the military to make sure I stay home..." The thought of her father calling Branch Nine operatives in to lock her up sent a chill down her spine. And what about Tess? Could she consider her as a friend? She really liked her. She hated the idea itself at first, but the pretty woman had had a way with her. Did she bribe my brains into liking her? Whatever, I guess that's what humans do... Could she tell Tess? Does she deserve to know I might not be there tomorrow morning? She bit her lower lip, unable to decide whether or not it would be a good idea. This whole thing sucked. Man, I really wanna tell her- The buzz of her phone interrupted her train of thoughts, and she reached for it, a deft thumb opening the group chat she had recently joined. A moment later, visibly confused, she glanced at Sean and asked: "Is this some code I should know of? Or... is it as crazy as I think it is?" Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Sean had been trying so hard to not think about the potentially mortal fight this evening and his own lethal genetics, he'd responded to the group text without thinking it through. He had locked down his and Jase's phones, but not everyone else's. He could claim it was done on purpose, a test to see who was listening in, to see if the Project would admit it, but it wasn't true. He quickly reached out for specific streams of electromagnetic fireflies he'd been watching and twisted them, so the signals would be unlikely to be found, let alone read. <<<Group Text>>> [From: Sean] ... I am now. So, cracks between dimensions that people can slide through. Somehow. Got it. Might be useful to find out where any are, in case any of us get stuck on one side or the other. Sean blinked his huge turquoise and jade eyes, tearing his gaze from the signals as his cheeks pinked. He shook his head, turning to face the slight girl, reaching out for his glass of lemonade. "It's as crazy as you think it is and I'm as stupid as it lo-fuck!" Sean began to say, when he spilled his glass. He hopped out and fumbled at his glass, righting it, avoiding most of the splash, but still getting some on his hoodie. He grabbed some napkins, soaking up the worst of it, then plunked himself back down, straddling the bench facing away from his parents and sister. He unzipped his hoodie halfway, using paper-towel to drying it as best he could. With his body turned towards Kat, she could see Sean was wearing a charcoal-grey, ribbed-knit shirt underneath. A definitely femininely cut shirt with a scoop neck. A scoop neck showing a modest amount of cleavage. Well, it was modest amount for someone with his abundant assets, at least. On most anyone else... Sean's face went from pink to red enough to do Autumn proud when he saw Kat noticed, a hand going to the zipper to conceal his embarrassment. The French girl rubbed the back of her head, a low chuckle escaping her throat. "Hey, it's fine. Nothing to be ashamed of. I see mine every morning in the mirror." She paused, suddenly frowning, as if a thought had escaped her. "Jase. Aliens.Void." A couple seconds later: "How ?" Sean didn't think his face could actually go any redder, but somehow, he could feel that it was. He'd worn the shirt under his hoodie, to see what it felt like. Baby steps. He hadn't meant anyone to see. And that was still far away the second thing he was embarrassed about currently. Though it seemed Kat hadn't minded what she'd seen... "I dunno," said, voice low as he righted himself on the picnic table bench, and finished zipping up his hoodie, with a covert glance to see if his parents were listening. Then he looked down, focusing too intently at drying off his hoodie and trying to prevent a stain. It was clear to Kat even without resorting to telepathy that Sean knew something. "You'll have to ask Jase. Okay? But we'll probably learn more from this girl Devin is talking to." He sighed, disposing of the napkins and paper towels, then leaned forward, crossing his forearms on the table. "As for 'Void', accepting that one of the multiverse theorems is true - a good bet considering where we are going tonight - if there is at least one, there's definitely more." He pursed his lips in thought. "Could be the basis the various myths and stories about Faerie realms, disappearing cities that show up only one day in a hundred years. Tir na Nog, the undersea realm Ryugu-jo of Japanese folklore, the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginals..." Sean knew he was rambling, but couldn't stop, trying to cover his gaff. "... the three worlds of the Mongolian Darkhad shamanistic cosmology don’t consist of a traditional upper, middle, and lower world but are instead overlapping dimensional realities, more in line with a holographic outlook. There are many stories from around the world about 'thin' spots between planes - Oh, God! Please stop me from talking!" Sean thumped his head down into his arms resting on the table with an audible thunk. Kat offered him a poor smile. "Hey, even if they did eavesdrop on that, they would've learned sooner or later, right? I mean-" [Hey, Kitty, you're gonna say hello or what?] [Aliens?] "Oh, hi!" Sean looked back at her in surprise. "What?" [What?] [Uh...] "Uh..." The petite redhead looked visibly confused. Sean's dark red brows furrowed quizzically. As he looked around. "Who are you talking to?" The French girl winced, massaging her closed eyes for a moment. "Aliens! I meant, aliens!" Sean gave her a firm look and a slight frown. When Carolyn turned towards the petite French girl, Sean flashed his mother a tight smile and waved a dismissive hand. "We're talking about one of my role-playing games." Carolyn Cassidy didn't seem convinced but let it go. Laurie huffed. Sean turned back to Kat, leaning close. "I can't say anything about... stuff. That's someone else's to talk about. But yes, there are aliens. We're essentially fighting one tonight. [Aliens? What are you talking about?] [Yeah, I got that r- fuck. Uh... nothing. How you doing?] A sigh escaped her lips as she replied. "Yeah.. at least that part I didn't forget about..." How would he take it if I told him I made more than friends with the person he probably hates most? [Same old. Trying to stop Chet drooling on my cleavage. Ugh. He's like a slobbery labrador without the charm.] She couldn't hold a nervous giggle. [So. Aliens. Spill.] [Uh... we're fighting an alien tonight, right? I mean, Cody isn't really Cody anymore, if I followed everything correctly?] "Yes, well, I wish I could forget about it," Sean muttered, his nose scrunching up as though he smelled something bad. [Kitty, I know you don't think I'm stupid. You were surprised when you blurted 'aliens'. Am I gonna have to come over there?] [Fine. I was having a chat with Sean, and what I was saying out loud kind of got mixed up with what I replied to you, and I ended up saying "Oh, hi!" out loud, and now I feel like my brains are gonna explode or hang themselves up out of embarassment. You ever try driving and texting at the same time? My brains just did and hit the truck on the left lane.] [It gets easier with practice, but I'd avoid talking about serious things in either channel if you don't want to blurt in the other one. Anywho, I thought the dude was some kind of zombie or monster from hell or something.] "I..." She took a deep breath. Blinked twice. How hard could it be to think two things at the same time? Focus. "Yeah, my bad..." "No worries. I just done fucked up, thinking about too much at once. Or rather, trying too hard not to think about it," Sean admitted. He cocked his head in thought, then held out his hand. "Here, pass me your phone. I'll set it up the way I set up my and Jase's phone. Super encrypted and secure. Plus, unlimited data, text, and calling, and no bill." "Sure," she replied, handing him her phone over. "Thanks," she added with a sorry smile. [Uh... I'll keep that in mind.... And about "the dude", what I understood is that a guy called Cody went missing and grew a pair of antlers or something... The Exorcist-style, maybe? No fucking idea.] After a moment to sort her thoughts out, she added, to Courtney: [Anyway, that Cody got possessed, is gone Big Bad Evil Guy, and we're putting him out of his misery tonight, which sounds awful, by the way, but I have no clue if there's still a real Cody to be saved in there...] Sean took the phone and focused on it, his Shine doing something from what Kat could tell, but that was all she could discern. [Ugh.] It was as much an emotional ripple of disgust as a non-vocalisation. [Cody was kind of a creep, and he was totally egging Todd and Chet to go after that Cora girl at the fair, but getting possessed ? I kind of feel bad for him. Wonder if it happened after Bannon scared him off, or if he was, y'know, infected before?] Kat watched the feminine boy in front of her work his magic on her phone with interest, unable to pick up anything meaningful on her internal quantic sensors. "How exactly do you... make them 'foolproof'?" She softly asked, making airquotes with her fingers. "Phones." [I have no clue. I feel like a bystander who's been given a gun during a war. Anyway, got any plans for the rest of the afternoon?] [None. I'm watching Gar Bannon chatting up the biology teacher, Ms Forster. Getting a weird lovey dovey vibe off them. Does Jason know his dad's dating a teacher, do you think?] [Oh, wow, no, I had no idea. The biology teacher?] She had a mental shrug. [I don't think I formally met Jase's dad yet...] [He's always been drunk when I've met him. Think this is the first time I've seen him sober and shaved. Anyway, how's it going over at Camp Cassidy?] Sean handed the phone back, smiling the smile of a craftsman done with good work. "There. That oughta do it." She looked at her phone, suspicious. "So, you're not telling me? Alright, then, keep your secrets." She replied with a grin. [Hm... Sean just voodoo-ed my phone so the CIA, NSA, FBI, DGSE and whatever don't spy with their little eyes.] "I... I'm gonna need to get my armband some time. Might come in handy for the party..." [Wow. Got to admit, that sounds pretty cool. So... Has anybody said anything to the Project yet about you guys potentially all going to your deaths fighting a demon thing?] "Yeah." Sean nodded. "I'll have to as well." Laurie perked up from where she was pretending not to listen, but stayed silent, though her brow furrowed a little with discontent. [I don't think so, and I have some serious doubts about doing that. I don't even know about telling my Dad... What if I do and Branch Nine ends up preventing us from doing something only people like us can do? I mean, I'd like to see them trying to nuke another dimension. Really.] She rolled her eyes by reflex. "I'll... get going. Thanks for the food, Mrs. Cassidy! See ya later, Sean!" She waved her hand, turning towards... where? She started wandering around, looking left and right, her eyes jumping from face to face. [You won't tell the Project, right? I mean, do you think it'd be a good idea, honestly?] [I'm no snitch, Kitty. But I'm gonna be really mad if you get killed.] She unlocked her phone, sending a quick message to the current owner of the bracelets. <<<Autumn Keane>>> [From: Kat] Hey, I'm omw to get one of your armbands [So am I...] She replied to the voice speaking in her head, hiding the tangible fear she actually had been feeling since she woke up this morning behind a mask of sad irony. She was convinced it would be Game Over if no one took care of Cody-not-Cody. Which meant everyone would most likely die. Including Courtney. If Kat could help in changing that, she was more than willing to brave that fear and just do it.
  3. The petite redhead shrugged. "You know, Devin, for a pair of fresh eyes, you're not that bad now. Still a massive swagger, but you're kinda nice." She offered him a genuine smile. "Not everyone's out there after the twins, just so you know." After giving it further thought, she added, "I have yet to really 'meet' Marissa though... Last time we had a talk we were..." She stopped there for a moment. "Busy." She glanced at Sean questioningly, unsure if his parents knew anything about them, but not willing to take the risk. Her hand mechanically travelled to the back of her head, a gesture she had stopped thinking about years ago. There was definitely something odd about her Shelly sherpa. One wouldn't meet those eyes every day in the street. Now if she compared with Devin's... It really was a nice day to be out. It was a big change from Brittany's inconsistent weather. Not as many squirrels over there too. She really liked the little critters. So she thought as she grabbed her glass of lemonade.
  4. Kat pinched her lips, thinking that she had already had two sandwiches before. "I'll take... a bit of everything, double size, with a side of more, please," she said with a grin. To Carolyn's surprised look, she chuckled and replied: "My 'religion' forbids me to not eat. Where I come from, there's butter involved in every meal. And lots of pork. And cider. And buckwheat pancakes. And salted butter caramel. Builds up a strong stomach, you know? Right now, I could eat a whole horse." She joined the others at the table with a full plate, listning to the banter while digging into her plate with heartfelt appetite, showing she didn't lie about her earlier words with Mrs. Cassidy. "You know," Kat said, turning to Devin with a grin, "my actual hair color isn't red." She took a sip of lemonade. Sean's head turned slowly, forkful of grilled peppers forgotten. "It isn't?" She shook her head. "I'm actually blonde, like my father." The fork completed the journey to Sean's mouth, and he chewed contemplatively for a moment. "Huh. I didn't expect that." He swallowed and took a sip of his Fresca, then regarded her with a tilted head and a half-smile. "Got any pics? I'd like to see what you look like as a blonde." "Sure." She fished out her phone from her jeans, and after a couple seconds of her fingers swiping on the screen, she showed him a picture of a younger, blonde Kat, standing on the beach by a cloudy day. Sean leaned over, eyes flicking down to the pic, up to Kat, and back. "Hmm." She was cute, either way. And Devin did have a point, sort of. The country with the highest percentage of redheads was Ireland at around 10%. For his own amusement, using Shelly High for a sample for the whole of Shelly, he'd calculated that Shelly was 13.5% redheads, making red hair far more common than the world average of about 2%. And blonde, people would less likely wonder if Kat was his sister. "I dig it." Kat lifted an eyebrow. "You do? This morning I thought I might stop dyeing them." She shrugged and put her phone down on the table, grabbing her fork but finding out her plate was already nearly empty.
  5. Champion's Field, after Noon. -ish Kat rose her eyes from her sandwich at the amused cough of her father, and her eyes followed Josh's, to Jason and Autumn's shameless embrace, and a faint smile pulled the corner of her lips. She laid back, lazily pressing her back against the tree she was sitting by, and deployed her mind web, scanning around while taking a bite of her sandwich. If Jason's here... Bingo! Sean was around too, standing next to Devin and someone who somehow felt familiar, but Kat couldn't quite put a name on that person. Devin's sister was here too, and Kat remembered Autumn's advice from last Thursday. She glanced at Tessa while her mind smoothly flew over Cassandra's presence. I guess we're missing Cade, Lilly, that guy Charlie and... Courtney's there actually... Kat frowned for a moment, setting aside the reminders of her nightmare, and her mind web broke up. "Hey, Tess." Said Tess turned to Kat at her inquiring tone. "What's up, honey?" She replied. "Think you could show me places to buy a nice dress?" That's it, Kat thought, focus on what happens after we hunt that man-stag down, and you'll be alright. Tess rose an eyebrow. "I know a couple shops in Great Falls, but why?" Kat could clearly hear what her Dad's girlfriend implied, and she grinned. Slightly. "Well," she started, "I've heard about Homecoming, and we don't have stuff like that in France, so I guess... I wanna try something new?" She paused for a moment, trying to read Tessa's expression. "Also, Sean asked me out for Homecoming. And I accepted. Least I can do for my Shelly sherpa." She took a sip off of her can of Ice Tea and stood up. "Speaking of, I'm gonna pretend I have a social life and go talk to my friends, I can see them around." Her father huffed a chuckle, amused, and handed her another sandwich before she left. "Thanks, Dad!" And she was gone. Choices, choices. Which one of her new friends was she going toward? She didn't really know. The sun felt pleasant on her face, her forearms, and there was this intermittent breeze, barely noticeable, but it was probably the best part of it. Her feet on auto-pilot brought here to where Sean and Devin stood at. From the looks of her, the third person could be no one else than Sean's sister. "Hey guys!" She said as she came around.
  6. Her phone vibrated in the pocket of her blue jeans, and she fished it out, hoping for... //My new number. For the Fellowship only, please. Jason// Kat's tongue clicked in her mouth and she shrugged, registering Jason's number in her contacts. She tucked the phone away on the backseat, her eyes wandering off to stare at the scenery behind the car's window, as they reached their destination. The car stopped in the parking lot, and Kat glared at her phone for a moment, and opened her hand, calling the phone to her, opening the car door once it slapped against her palm. At least that thing's still working. It was a nice day to celebrate the end of summer but somehow, Kat didn't feel like celebrating at all. Or rather, she felt like celebrating but for a different reason. Celebrating felt like a send-off to Hell. In truth, she was scared out of her wits, the untamed zoo of her thoughts more agitated than usual. If Kat had to describe how she felt today, she'd probably say her eye caught a lot of things, but she was unable to focus on a single one of them, her primal instincts, stirred by her recent nightmare, looking for threats everywhere. I wanna get back in the car. A strong hand squeezed her shoulder, and the French girl turned to her Dad, all thoughts interrupted by the low rumble of her stomach. A wide grin drew on Josh's features. "Let's find a place to fix that." He said, looking around for a nice spot to sit at under the trees. "You coming, honey?" Tess added after a moment, following her boyfriend, in her pastel summer dress, amidst the crowd of happy people oblivious of the darker events happening in their city. Kat rubbed a pensive hand on her stomach. Can't be helped. She took a deep breath and caught up to them, trying, for once today, to feel relaxed and actually appreciate the festive mood of the day.
  7. Morning Breathe in. Breathe out. Kat opens her eyes. The white paint on the ceiling reflects an orange, weak sunlight, quite a match for the blue and chocolate hues decorating her walls and woodwork. Through the open window can be heard the sounds of nocturnal wildlife yawning and stretching out before dusk, daring diurnal critters to an all-night party. Did I sleep all day? The teenager frowns, mechanically pushing a couple blonde hairlocks away from her eyes. --- The house is empty. Her Dad hasn't come home yet, and Tess probably went shopping. Suddenly, solitude feels oppressing, and the petite French girl opens the front door, going deep into the jungle. She has to find her friends. --- The sun has set. The wildlife overwhelms her sense with its screeches, groans, swish and rustle through exotic bushes bearing fruit never to be eaten by human beings. A bat flaps her wings above Kat's head, and for a split second, the teenager freezes, eyes darting to the obscure ceiling of branches and leaves, a shy and dim moonlight trying its best to pierce the rank foliage. The jungle bears a strong feeling of seclusion to the young and puny woman, carried by a wind of foul despair. Her heart races for a moment. --- She heard the cry. It had to be that way. As she rushes through the jungle, the complaint, definitely human, intensifies. A clearing. Ghastly spectacle. Blood. Mangled bodies surrounded by countless misshapen beasts, clad in black fur and dark, shining skin, as if covered in kerosene. Her heart stops at the sight of one of their victims, impaled on a branch, most likely the one whose cries she heard. Courtney bleeds as red as her hair. --- A thousand pairs of wicked eyes blink. It's all over now. The last offering presented itself. Kat's world is nothing but furious screeches begging for blood as the last thing she sees shines in the dim moonlight. Razorsharp fangs. --- Breathe in. Breathe out. Kat opened her eyes. The white paint on the ceiling reflected a rose, timid sunlight, quite a match for the blue and chocolate hues decorating her walls and woodwork. Through the open window could be heard the sounds of diurnal wildlife yawning and stretching out before dawn, daring nocturnal critters to an all-day party. Just a dream. The teenager frowned, mechanically pushing a couple red and coral hairlocks away from her wet eyes. She curled up under her blanket, clutching to her pillow in a desperate attempt to calm her heart down, muffling the sound of her heartbreak escaping a dry throat. --- Kat looked at her reflection in the dresser mirror, her eyes running across the celtic patterns on her naked skin. It had become a habit for the young woman, part in pride for a design she drew herself, part in wait to actually notice the changes her Dad's morning torture would eventually bring to her fragile shape. She was beginning to realize that, only now, her cheeks were losing that round shape characteristic of children, her oval features slowly growing into a brittle, thin heart-shape, most like her mother's. Talk about late puberty... Christ, I'm seventeen! It still wasn't enough for Kat. Maybe deep inside, she wanted to be marvelled at, to be noticed, and her looking like a prepubescent boy was a big obstacle only time could overcome. And she finally was getting there, as much as a couple glances at her Eve costume could tell. Her eyes caught a glimpse of gold in the pixie-ish sea of red and coral hair, still humid after her shower, framing her face under the morning sunlight. After a closer look, she let out a deep sigh. Guess I do take from both my Mom and Dad... Gonna have to dye those hair roots again, some day. --- Water paint splashed on the fabric, the brush, guided by a steady hand, lacing the colors one with another, singing in an upbeat fashion Kat's awe less than a day before. Her work was but a draft of what might take a couple weeks to picture, but the outlines were already set in discreet carbon, depicting what felt to Kat like one of the few most amazing moments in her life. Purple shimmer braving ice and fire. --- Around noon Josh quizzically glanced at his daughter in the inner rear mirror. Kat had been surprisingly silent today. "Something wrong, pumpkin?" Ugh... he knows I hate it when he calls me like that. And Tess' in here too, what's he thinking?" The petite redhead exhlaled loudly to show her discomfort at the name. Maybe I'll stay blonde... She thought. "Nothing's wrong... I..." She fell silent again. It was just a dream. "Wanna talk about your dream?" Tess chimed in. Kat realized she must have been thinking out loud. Her gaze met Tessa's chestnut eyes, watching her from the passenger seat. Kat's lips pinched into a pensive pout and she shook her head. The pretty brown-haired woman shrugged at her boyfriend as he drove the car towards the Labor Day Event.
  8. The cherry-red convertible was parked, a couple dozens steps away from the Williams' front door. Everything was silent, aside from the occasional cars driving around, and the sun wasn't so high in the sky, somewhat gliding down, above and behind the houses, to meet the horizon in a lazy fashion. The two girls were enjoying the last bits of sunlight caressing the car, leaning in the seats and sipping sodas bought on the way to Kat's place. There was no conversation going on between the two, each reflecting on how a crazy afternoon it had been. The petite redhead cast a glance at her friend, unsure about how to ask the question. The question that had been running around like crazy in her brains while Courtney drove her home. It felt good to spend some time alone with the pretty girl seated next to her. It seemed to involve a lot of sun and a lot of fun. It felt new, but not the scary new, the pleasant new. People sometimes shelter themselves within a barricade of familiar things, because familiar is good and easy to deal with. But what becomes of life when you stop making new experiences, new friends, when you stop getting surprised, hurt, amazed? Kat was starting to realize that her life had been dull, and it almost had driven her mad. Mad at herself for living such a bland life. Friends made it easier. Alice had been her anchor to the world. Alice had brought some new into her life. Some pleasant new. And now so did Courtney. And right now, Kat was confused about all this new. Where was it going to lead her? She couldn't process that much, constantly harassed that she was by the rebellious traffic of thoughts tainting her mind. The question she asked herself, and couldn't possibly ask Courtney right now, came back. Does she really like me back? Kat genuinely liked her friend. The sight of the pretty redhead rose some warm feelings of excitement, joy... and something else, much, much deeper into Kat's very guts. It's too soon. She thought. And still, Kat felt like there was more to her relationship with Courtney than just friendship. And she didn't want Courtney to answer that question, not right now. It scared her. At the same time, Kat was confused about her feelings toward Jason. Definitely not crushing on him. He's just intimidating, and I'm being shy. S'all. The lean teenager certainly had a way of creeping the French girl out. Even though what happened this afternoon was entirely Kat's fault, she still couldn't believe how discreet he had been. How could one walk so silently? The voice of her friend pulled her out of her reverie. "Hey, Kitty?" "Yeah?" Kat's unruly grey eyes lazilly travelled to her friend's face as a brief smile drew on her lips. "Not saying I don't enjoy your company, but I'm gonna need to drive myself home too..." Courtney said, a touch of dry humor easily recognizable in her voice. The French girl sniggered, grabbing the strap of her backpack. "Yeah, it's getting late... Thank you for driving me home." Her eyes met Courtney's. "It was a fun afternoon... I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then? At the Carousel?" She added, with the vivid hope of seeing her friend the next day. "Yeah, I'll be there." Her friend replied with a grin, her eyes levelled to Kat's. Yes! "Cool!" Then everything went too fast for her to compute it all at the same time. Kat had to give it a try. She leaned towards her friend, landing a soft peck on her lips, and for a fleeting moment it felt like time stopped, her heart missing a beat. And then she was already running away, toward the front door. "Byyyye!" Her brain was empty, or rather so filled with thoughts that she could not think, her heart pounding so hard in her chest it might as well have ripped itself out. The door slammed behind her, and she leaned against the solid wood, slowly slipping to the floor, her fairly pale cheeks painted in the same red she sported every other morning this week, right after the final sprint to the front door. She rose to her feet as her stomach, as well as some noise coming from the kitchen, told her it was about time she ate dinner, and she dropped her bag, all thoughts replaced by expectations of a real feast.
  9. The petite redhead raised a tentative hand and stood up. She still felt a little awkward towards the lean teenager, but the feeling couldn't beat her want, having seen her friends enjoying themselves so much. Jason briefly nodded and, an instant later, a surprised Kat began floating inches away from the ground, then farther, and farther, childish amazement quickly replacing her startled expression as she looked back at the other teenagers grinning at her. She began a very convincing moonwalk, followed by skating moves, and as Jason understood her intentions, she started accelerating, executing a perfect double Lutz followed by a death drop spin, then stopped mid-air, guided by Jason's invisible hands, to quickly dash around the spectators of her impromptu performance at a safe distance. As she began slowing down, Kat flashed the young psychokinetic a wide grin. "Oh, I wanna try something! Can you drop me?" Faint crinkles appeared at the corner of Jason's eyes, and a moment later, Kat was three feet above the ground, eyes wide in surprise. "Still wanna try something?" He asked, his voice sprinkled with dry humor. I hope no one's epileptic here... She thought for a moment. A nervous giggle was her answer, but she firmly nodded. And began falling. Rapidly. "Woooohoooo!" She yelled. And right before impact, she suddenly disappeared in a sudden burst of light, forcing everyone to cover their eyes. Her laugh rang like a trill when they opened confused eyes, staring at the delicate pixie standing with her hands on her hips and an impish smile on her face. "Okay, that was really cool!" She told Jason, still grinning wide after the adrenaline rush the fall had caused. "Thank you!" Her heart was beating loud in her ears, flushing her pale cheeks, full of dimples, with a faint pink of excitement. Again, that smile-not-smile that was, as Kat had noticed over the past few days, characteristic to the lean teenager. She couldn't quite see it on his lips, it all happened in his cold, green eyes. They simply got... warmer, and it somehow felt better than most of the smiles she had ever been given. "You're welcome," he simply replied, and so Kat returned next to her friends on light feet.
  10. "Preeeeeetty sure my Dad has a lot of these too..." The French girl nodded with a jaded pout. After all, her Dad was in the Army, he more than probably could help her with that kind of stuff. Speaking of bag... Kat had brought her backpack on the way inside, and now really felt like taking a shower. She didn't like that much smelling like grass and dirt. Her gaze wandered off to the pretty telepath standing in the room with the others, and she instinctively moistened her lips. The gorgeous redhead was quietly listening to the chatter while sipping on a soda. Kat ran a distracted hand through her hair, pensively scrutinizing the silhouette of her friend. Courtney was raising some feelings, the little pixie thought she had locked down, deep inside, a long time ago. Ugh, calm down, girl, right now you need a cold shower. "Hm, Jason, can I use your bathroom?" She asked, her backpack in hand. Cold, green eyes gazed upon her for a moment. "Upstairs, first door on the right." "Thank you!" Kat bursted out of the kitchen and started climbing the steps of the stairs when she suddenly came to a stop, realizing the sheer amount of books surrounding her. What had been culinary volumes was slowly giving place to some even more refined cultural chef-d'oeuvres her eyes could not have missed. That guy reads French? Le Misanthrope... Du Contrat Social... Les Fourberies de Scapin... Candide... La Henriade... Wait...Contes Libertins? Step by step, following a trail of books that, perhaps of all the teens gathered, except the actual owner of the books, only her French eye could have perceived, she reached the top of the staircase and kept following the crumbs of what was memories of French high school and long afternoons at the library for her. The amazing quantity of books seemed to be overflowing from a room, not far, on the left of the upstairs hall, and as she approached, the presence of books felt physically apparent, even when she closed her eyes. Her small hand grabbed the doorknob, and she entered the room, her eyes widening in amazement. There were no walls to speak off, only books, a closet, a window and a desk. A very cultured Spartan, she thought as she gazed upon what could not be a teenager's room. It was too clean. The way the sheets were arranged on the king size mattress lying at the center of the room, futon-style, would have made any maid in a five stars hotel drool with jealousy. "No way," she whispered to herself, approaching one of the gigantic shelves. Les 120 Journées de Sodome! Justine! Juliette! Zoloë! The Joy of Sex! Weird choice of porn, if you ask me... Ah! La Chute. L'Été. La Curée. La Prisonnière. Les Fleurs du Mal! Oh this is getting better and better... Les Litanies de Satan... L'Imaginaire... Bérénice... Poètes Saturniens... A childish grin drew on her lips as she read another title. Le Petit Prince! A joyful giggle escaped her throat. "It's customary to ask before entering another's bedroom." Jason's voice was neither angry nor particularly accusatory, in fact if anything carried an understated wry curiousity in it's tone as he watched the pixieish redhead from the doorway to his room. As usual, he had arrived with such a light tread the engrossed girl had not heard him. Kat looked at the lean frame of the teenager, standing in the door frame in his sleeveless teeshirt and grey sweatpants, with a fresh eye. He was full of surprises. Wait a minute... The realization of where she was standing suddenly rushed through her mind, setting her cheeks ablaze. "Oh shit..." There was no hole deep enough for her to hide in at that very moment. She just wanted to disappear, and be forgotten. Forever. This was way too embarassing. "I'm so sorry! I... I didn't realize... The..." She fell silent, her panicked eyes fluttering once more across the shelves. He just watched her for a long moment as she floundered, head tilting slightly to one side as he studied the flustered young woman with a level, intent green stare. A faint tug at one corner of his lips betokened a smile, and there might have been a flash of ancient humour in his gaze, but it was hard to be sure. "Something catch your eye?" he asked finally. She ran a trembling hand through her hair. This is so awkward... "Erm... A lot of things, actually... So... you read French?" she said in an uneasy voice as she slowly approached the door frame. "Depuis que j'ai dix ans, oui." he answered, watching her approach with his habitual calm, studying her expressions and body language intently. "Je parle plusieurs langages." "Okay, wow ! Sans mentir, c'est... surprenant !" she added, still getting closer to the door, a delicate and warm pink clearly visible on her cheeks. "Okay, c'est vraiment gênant... Je vais juste... prendre ma douche, okay? Encore une fois, je suis vraiment désolée d'être entrée dans ta chambre comme ça, je suis une terrible invitée..." She shrugged, as her unruly grey eyes, filled with shame, finally met his green. In fact, she was not ashamed of being caught in his bedroom. She had no idea until she saw him standing at the door. Then her brains had done the math. She was simply ashamed of not having realized sooner. "Mes livres ont piqué ton intérêt." he said quietly, smiling a little more, faint warmth touching his cold eyes. "C'est normal. Ce n'est pas comme si je t'avais attrapée en train de te fouiller mon tiroir à chaussettes ou en train de te rouler dans mes couvertures." He indicated the shelves, his hand brushing past her shoulder. "S'il y a un livre que tu aimerais emprunter, tu n'as qu'à demander." "Euh... Okay... J'y penserai, merci..." She swiftly slipped into the corridor, flashing him a brief smile of apology as he handed her fresh towels he apparently brought with him before catching her in his room, and made her way to the bathroom. She entered and quietly closed and locked the door, dropping her bag on the ground and leaning her back against a wall, her face on fire. I really need that cold shower...
  11. Kat Changes brought by the end of Episode 6, Act 1, validated by ST. +1 dot to Artistic Talent (Painting): new edge +1 dot to Energetics +1 dot to Transmutation
  12. Kat was sitting in the grass, not far from the barn, rewatching the movie of Jason and Devin's spar in her head. She actually had learned a lot once she had activated her super-duper Power-Vision. I probably need to come up with a better name for that... Since everyone had been so busy, she had decided to train on her own for a while, and things were going as smooth as they could be. Her field of view was darkened by the Power-Vision, but she could still see reality through the veil the hypothetic layer of subquantum was displaying under her eyes. She had disposed a wide but flat stone before her crossed legs, testing a wide variety of changes on innocent blades of grass, and analyzing her own powers by looking at her own hand. She had quickly reached the conclusion that converting energy demanded her but little effort if not none, whereas producing energy was quite tiring for her. Reshaping the stone to make it flat had helped her realize she was, or had, like a reservoir of Shine, a finite amount of energy to be spent on her powers. Reshaping objects and producing energy depleted it., converting energy did not, neither did her Power-Vision, nor her ability to know the composition of a material to a molecular level. That last one she just had discovered, while picking a stone large enough to be molded. She could hardly put names on it, but she knew what the stone she picked was made of. That stone was unique now, at least to her eyes. There were many others like it, but this one was hers. This is why the petite redhead focused solely on converting energy. She had had enough of one headache for the day, and had barely recovered from her battle of wits with the plough - thank God, at least she had had pizza! A blade of grass emitted a small column of smoke as it quickly dried, and finally took fire, while Kat turned gravity around it into heat. Funny. I have an endless reserve of gravity... She first chuckled at the thought, then literally burst out with laughter. She didn't quite know why. Was it the fact that owning gravity was a fairly stupid concept, or was it the exhilarating realization that she could do anything as long as gravity was there? She couldn't tell. "Someone's happy." Courtney sat down beside Kat, folding her legs elegantly to one side and smiling as she cocked her head at the petite girl. Her dark red hair fell almost artfully to one side as honey-brown eyes glanced around at the others, all involved in their own conversations, then back at Kat. "I've got to say, this is better than I thought it'd be. Nobody's giving me the stinkeye or even particularly thinking bad things about me. That I can tell, anyway." Crimson lips curved in a wry smirk. The French girl gave it a shrug. "Well, the way I see it, you were just part of the Project. you have as much right as Tawny has to be here. Besides, the only one you really gave hell to isn't here..." Devin's word from earlier suddenly rang through her mind. "Anyway, we're past that now." She quickly added. "Look." She grabbed a blade of grass, and dropped it on the stone. Then grabbed it again, and dropped it once more. But this time, the blade of grass was falling much slower, glowing with a faint light, until it reached the stone, drawing a genuine smile on Kat's features. "Uh." Courtney looked surprised as she watched. "You make grass glow? I mean, it's cool and stuff - pretty even - but..." Kat giggled, before explaining. "Not the point. I made it lighter! I turned the norm of the force pulling it down -it's called gravity, by the way, I read that in a book- into light! Think of the applications! I can turn it into heat, speed, sound, any kind of energy, you name it!" "I know what gravity is." Courtney smirked, laughing. "So you can affect it? That's pretty cool, alright. So can you turn sound into gravity? Or heat, then? Does it work mulitple ways?" "I... guess? I didn't try yet." She thought for a moment, then turned at her friend with an impish grin. "Try talking..." The gorgeous redhead lifted an eyebrow, and opened her mouth to speak. But instead it looked like Courtney was blowing a huge bubble of light, that flashed before disappearing. Instead, where light shone the air felt warmer, at least the way Courtney felt it on her lips. It suddenly grew colder as a loud bang resonated around them, followed by Kat's uncontrollable laughter, resonating like a trill across the fields. Courtney jumped at the sudden report, letting out a little shriek, then narrowing her eyes at the giggling little gamine. "Oh, very funny. Har de har." she huffed before laughing herself, shaking her head. "Okay, so what practical use is that trick? Scaring me out of my panties is not exactly..." she waved a hand at the place where Devin and Jason had had their epic battle. "You know?" "Well, I could produce enough decibels to kill anything that has a beating heart, if I convert enough... anything... at the same time. I could jump higher, even fly, if I do my mojo correctly." She pointed at tiny pile of ash on her stone. "I could heat something up, warm enough to make it burn. Not as spectacular as Jason's flame, but... I guess that works. I could also convert ambient heat into anything else, just to freeze something. I didn't try it yet, but I guess I could throw a rock and speed it up to the point it's as deadly as a bullet." She shrugged. "There's a ton of possibilities." "And you can also convert solid stuff, right? Like you did with the plough." Courtney's expression was thoughtful as she absently chewed on a lower lip, staring at where Lilly was practicing her free-running, eyes widening as the athletic teen went up the side of the barn like a cat up a tree. "Wow." Courtney was momentarily distracted, and both her and Kat watched the display for a moment or two. "Could you change, say, this rock into gold?" Courtney asked, returning to the topic at hand as Lilly jogged off to her pickup. Kat's lips formed a pensive pout. "I could. But I like my rock like that. Besides, converting energy doesn't ask me to even lift a finger. Repairing the plough gave me a bloody headache. Earlier I realized we have..." She squinted her eyes. "Do you play any video games? Like... World of Warcraft?" Courtney's stare was blankly uncomprehending. "Are you about to make a nerd analogy? Because it will go 'whoosh'" she motioned over her head. "Like that." The petite redhead rolled her eyes. "Fine. We have like, a reserve of Shine, and using our mojo depletes it. That's what I meant by 'not lifting a finger'. This rock didn't use to be flat. I made it flat. Now I have... less Shine? Point is, I'm pretty sure turning this stone into pure gold would take... I don't know... Are you ready to pay a whole month worth of pizza for a golden flat stone? 'Cause it's gonna make me as hungry as a marathon runner after he beat the World Record." "Kat." Courtney's tone was that of a patient adult explaining to a toddler why going potty on the lawn was not a good idea. "You turn a big enough rock into gold, and I will use it to buy you pizza for a month. With the change, I will go shopping in Milan. And maybe donate some to a worthy cause." "Okay... But I don't wanna. Last time I turned matter into something else, I didn't feel very good. Yesterday, I tried painting with my mojo. I managed to do it, but I felt like I had a bolt-on helmet afterwards." She wasn't smiling anymore. "It's like lifting a skyscraper with my own two arms. That's how difficult it feels." She stared at the stone for a while. "It's weird, isn't it? If it's energy, I can do whatever I like. But anything else, I'm almost powerless..." "Join the club." Courtney said blithely, leaning back on her hands and lifting her face to the late-summer sun. "I can read surface minds, and can link folks together, and I can read emotions and affect them a little - I mean, I can make someone less or more angry, but I can't create anger out of nothing, you know? And sometimes I can make someone do something by pushing them to obey me - but that's hard. Anything more than that and I get headaches and nosebleeds." She smiled, her eyes closed as she sunned her pale face. "I was Cookie's star pupil. His naughty schoolgirl telepath - not that he ever made use of the 'naughty schoolgirl' bit. I thought I was Queen Shit before I saw Bannon freeze a sink and the pipes in the walls, or heard that Lona could cure the sick with a touch, or Devin could teleport." The lovely redhead sighed. "I really thought I was special and better than them all, even the Jauntsens, because I had my secret power. And then Cook threw me under the bus as soon as shinier toys came along to study. And the worst part? I can't hate you guys for that. I tried. I wanted to fuck shit up for the 'Fellowship'. Even tried to get Bannon beaten up by a member of the football team once - I hoped he'd lose it and toast the guy and then everyone would tear themselves apart over it." Courtney opened her eyes, which glistened moistly as she blinked at Kat. "I'm a horrible person. And these guys? They're actually pretty cool. I'm glad they include me, even if I feel like phonier than a Chinese Louboutin." "Awww." Kat could not repress the urge to hug the pretty redhead sitting besides her, her arms sliding around Courtney's shoulders. "Don't say stuff like that. I mean... of course they're cool. But you're cool too. You're trying to change, and that's cool. I'd rather be friends with the real Courtney than with Queen Shit." Courtney sniffled, then let out a little sob as she turned in to rest her forehead on Kat's slender shoulder. "But what if the real Courtney is horrible?" she said in a tiny muffled voice. "I'm such a t-t-total bitch, all the t-time. An- an- and today I attuned to Devin and you and Cassie and people and I'm so small compared to it all." She straightened up a little, wiping her eyes and runny mascara with one hand. "I'm a senior. I always thought I'd go on to work as Cook's Girl Friday or something, but now? I don't know if I'll even live out the week." Warm brown eyes sought out Kat's. "I don't want to feel horrible, Kitty." she said, almost plaintively. "I didn't when you were with me the other day. Can we...? Can we... you know. Go somewhere out of sight and you make me feel not-horrible for a bit?" Kat's eyes widened with surprise. "Like, now?" A nervous chuckle escaped her lips, but there was softness in her eyes as she planted her gaze into Courtney's. "Listen. I'm all for fun naked stuff - hell, before Friday, it had been months since I had a good shag -" she said with a horrible grin, "but there's even better to fix your problem on the long term. I'm not gonna let you die to the hands of some weird magical murder hobo with antlers. So what, if you can only do telepathy? It's your thing, just become the best at it. Sure, maybe it's not as spectacular as teleporting or freezing water, but you heard Jason. You might be the key to us kicking that thing in the balls." She gently grabbed the pretty redhead by the shoulders and offered her a genuine smile. "You can feel emotions. If you'd just learn how to use it properly, you could be friends with anybody, just by being there for them and saying the right thing to them when they need it. Your Shine is probably the most beautiful of them all. I mean it." Courtney was speechless. She didn't say a word when the French girl grabbed her by the hand. A couple seconds later, and the flat stone was left alone with its sprinkle of burnt and not burnt grass. The two girls reappeared fifteen minutes later, the smaller one sporting a satisfied grin over pensive features. Kat turned to her friend. "You know, if you wanna... practice telepathy or... stuff, even vent a little, I'm here for you, okay?" She flashed her a brief smile and a wink, then suddenly jogged off towards Devin and Autumn, yelling: "ANY PIZZA LEFT? I'M FAMISHED!"
  13. They exploded into being in a purple flash as Devin's teleportation anchored them to one of his numerous familiar spots. It was a room, abandoned and empty. Plaster peeled from the walls and from the variety of discarded debris, several homeless had used it as a crash pad more than once. Kat hunkered down, resting her palms on her knees. She was winded and feeling like all her organs were out of place. Devin rubbed her back. "Yeah, it's like that for everyone the first time. It get easier, then fades completely... or so I'm told." "You?" She felt like she was going to hurl. "No, I think it's because it's my gift. I got the joy of waking up naked in the back yard, or in one instance Finland. Luckily, I was wearing my clothes." "Why Finland?" She stood, finally able to take in her surroundings. He shrugged. "You know, I still have no clue. This, however," he pointed to the floor they were standing on. "Is an abandoned orphanage, it's about two blocks from Tony's. C'mon." The French girl closed her eyes to prevent her world from spinning. She couldn't say her first ride had been smooth, but had to admit she had known far worse. Her eyes opened a moment later, and she cast a glance at the room around her. An abandonned orphanage, uh? "Did you ever... teleport somewhere random and end up in the middle of a crowd?" she asked as she followed him outside. They stepped out in to the busy streets of Manhattan, New York. They slid through a flimsy piece of ply wood covering a window and easily hopped the tall fence that surrounded the abandoned building. "Thankfully, no." He replied. "The random hops only lasted about a week or so, right around the time the vagisuarus tried to eat my leg. Kinda freaked me out a bit, so I think I was having dreams or nightmares... like when you're falling and you wake up with that sudden jerk of motion? Yeah, except I was jaunting out of danger... sometimes, sans clothes." "So," he said after they crossed West 138th street. "What's your story? How'd you get stuck with us?" Kat hid her grin behind a hand as she pictured the young teleporter warping around as naked as the day he was born. She remembered him showing the scar on his leg, a couple days ago, in the conference room, and realized not only him, but pretty much every other teen 'blessed' with Shine probably had a rougher two last weeks than she had. "Well," she started, "I got tatooed, but I guess pretty much everyone noticed by now. See, it's not just the arms and legs." She took a brief stop and spreaded her arms, down and to the sides. "Mom didn't quite like the idea of me spending money on a tatoo that size..." A shrug later and she was again walking by Devin's side. "She said she couldn't handle... both my bullshit and my grandma's declining health. I guess sending my grandma to the States wouldn't have been a good idea, eh?" "And then, I don't know... I don't know how I got the Shine, is it because Ms. Kyleson made Sean my Shelly sherpa? No idea... But I realized it's not that bad, I mean, I get to make new friends, I even get to visit New York!" She offered a bright smile to the young man at her side. The sights and sounds were sensory overload to the two teens. It was like night and compared to Shelly with so many people on the streets and traffic and so much going on. It was chaos incarnate and Devin seemed like he was in his natural element. The boy had not a drop of shyness to him and he managed to blend in almost seamlessly with any new environment and there was something about his outgoing personality that left a bit to be envious of for the French girl in a strange new country. "Well," he shrugged, looking down at her while also looking up at the crowd of people they were wading through. "I think it's because Coyote has a plan. He seems to be bringing those of us with gifts all to one place." He didn't seem to mind that there were so many people around that could hear him. It was New York, what Devin was saying didn't even ping on the radar as weird. "I know the Fellowship seems like a mess, but it's a lot of people really trying the best they can with a messed up situation." "My sister and I didn't treat them all very well, Courtney either. Jason is a little weird, and dangerous, Sean's a bit of shut in... Cade's got a lot going on and Cassie... well, she has this thing for being in everyone's business so you can imagine, not a lot of people are banging on her door wanting to be friends." They rounded the corner and she saw the sign that read 'Tony's Pizzaria'. “My point is, no matter how messed up things get, like my sister going all claws and fangs on Cassie or Jason folding people up like human lawn chairs... we seem to be the closest thing to family a few of us have. So, you know...” he shrugged. “If you need anything, don't be afraid to ask. Okay?” They walked in and Devin greeted the guy behind the counter with a wide smile, some humorous banter and a high five. A complete stranger and with a few words they were yammering on like they had been pals for years. He rejoined Kat and they began the wait for the pies. The petite redhead rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah... I had a talk with Sean yesterday..." She glanced at a couple clients who just entered the shop and wondered what it felt like to live in such a big city. It wasn't like Rennes was a small one, but New York... by far a bigger city than the one she grew up in. "I didn't get much detail, but sounds like Courtney gave him hell. Well, at least now it looks like she's trying to make up for it. A bit." She fell silent for a moment, her brains watching the movie of her Friday evening at Mach 3. "She's funny," Kat added after repressing the warm pink invading her cheeks. "I like her." The faint growl of her stomach cut short her reflexions as the delicious smell of pizza invaded her brains. "God, I could eat a whole horse right now..." "She's a nympho, so you're chances are pretty good," he nudged her in good humor and smirked. "Yeah, she was pretty awful to him, even before Marissa and me arrived. Then, it got worse for him, because we were like a tornado of torment in that school. Won't lie, it was kinda fun, but, ultimately, a poor choice." "Sean needs to quit being such a brat." He said flatly. "I get it, he was picked on. All I see now is the people who picked on him and the others, taking steps to mature, grow up and try and be different, if not better people. Where's he? At home, being spiteful and whiny." He mocked Sean's voice. "I don't wanna go, Courtney is mean! Wah!" "I ain't got time for shit like that," he shook his head. "We have more important things to prepare for than dealing with his crybaby bullshit. We got a world to save." She didn't like the way the conversation was turning, but had to admit he was kind of right. Well, she didn't consider facing a bully to be easy, but they sure had something way bigger going on, and not much time left to deal with it. "Sure... kill the bad guy first, then ice-cream..." Speaking of ice-cream... "How many people did Jason 'fold up like human lawn chairs'?" She wasn't sure herself if her question was serious or not, but it felt to her like the young psychokinetic was getting a bad rap. "Like... he said it himself, he's a psychopath, and I think I know how unsettling he can be... I mean, those eyes... but... what did he do to get your sister so... pissed about him?" "Just one. A guy named Liam. Don't get me wrong, the guy was human garbage, but," He raised a finger to accent his point. "That doesn't make it okay. We are not the law, and we certainly shouldn't be walking around folding people up like that. That dude is messed up for life, probably. Through Jason's own admission he is an unfeeling, uncaring, murder machine. It's not that he doesn't care, or can't, it's that he can, like he said, walk into a room and open everyone up like taun-tauns and just as casually go home and make dinner like nothing eventful happened that day." He shrugged. "Everyone is okay with that sort of behavior from someone, I guess they like the idea that he can murder without compunction, I don't know. I know my sister and I did some messed up things, but we never..." he paused, thinking of Liam. "Girl, we ain't never did shit like that, I can tell you that much. My sister is not comfortable around someone capable of those things. She's on edge, with this fear or worry that Jason is just one bad day from killing or harming one of us." He looked to Kat and offered a half smile that didn't really express much except he didn't know exactly what to say. "I mean, he says he won't, and never would, but his past actions and the things he's said have pretty much robbed him of any credibility. I keep an eye on him. I hope we're wrong and Jase is better than his actions, but I'm not really one to judge others. He did what he did, and like me, he has to live with the fallout of that. With him though, there's no remorse, no guilt, no anything... so he doesn't really feel sorry or pity for those he hurts, he just adjust his way of acting around them so he doesn't repeat the mistake. He's not sincere, he's just adjusting his act to suit a more positive outcome. Essentially, he's fake as fuck with the most sincerest of intentions." Kat didn't expect such an answer, and it did leave her confused for a while. "Okay, wow... So that makes us one big and fucked up family... what could go wrong?" She suddenly felt like changing topics. This conversation was getting too weird for her. - Well, you asked him, Kat. - I know, shut up, Kat. "Any hobbies? I like painting, playing the guitar. What about you?" She asked with a fair smile, then her gaze wandered over the shape of the young teleporter. "Sports?" Devin laughed. "Yeah, I know, that topic has 'fuck that', written all over it. No worries, and like I said, I hope I'm wrong. As for my sister, well, you'll have to ask her." He took a breath, inhaling while he thought about things. "Well, I'm a gymnast, free runner, and an artist. That's about the only things I do well besides annoy the hell out of people and deliver exotic food from around the world." They both laughed a bit. "My mom tried to get us to be child stars, so Emjay and me know a lot of little, useless skills, like we can dance, play an instrument or two," he raised a hand to amend his statement. "Not very well, I have to add. She sings, or she used to." He trailed off at that and quickly moved on. "And I also do some of the dumb shit others think is off the chain stupid. X-Games stuff, like high speed driving, snowboarding, rollerblading, the faster I'm going or the less I'm touching the ground, the better. A bit of an adrenaline junkie, I guess you could say." "That sounds like fun!" She said with a grin. "I was never much into sports... I mean, let's face it, I'm small, made school's physical education a bit of a pain in the arse, I won't lie. Well, harder target at dodgeball, but apart from that... volleyball? No thanks." She snickered, then noticed that pizza guy was waving at them, and she rubbed her hands together. "Looks like lunch is readyyyyyy!" As they approached the counter, she asked: "You said you were an artist. What kind of art do you do?" She turned to him and added with a wink: "Aside from, you know, your instrument skills?" They collected their four pies, three for the group, one for Marissa who was a human vacuum when it came to food, and they stepped out back into the street. "Mostly just pencil sketching, I can do charcoal but it's messy and my mom has a fit when she finds the dust all over, so I tend to save that for special projects." He tapped her on the small of her back. He tilted his head towards an alley way. "This way." "I thought we came from that way..." Kat leaned her head back towards the orphanage, unable to hold the two massive pizzas and still operate a single arm. "We did, but leaving is always easier than arriving." He pointed out as they walked off the busy street and into the vacant alleyway. "See arriving we don't know what's there, leaving, we can look around... and..." There was a sudden flash of purple that obscured her sight for the span of a blink, and they were back in the field, holding four pizzas. "Easy-peasy." He winked at her and the held the pies up triumphantly. "THIS! IS! PIZZAAAAAA!" Devin yelled like Leonidas.
  14. The petite redhead giggled as a thought striked her. "What's so funny?" asked Cade, next to her. "Well," Kat replied, "I need to tell Sean. I'm not entirely sure I can do it, but it looks to me like he couldn't keep up with that, if I were to use it to assemble a PC from scraps." Another giggle escaped her lips before she took a look around and realized most of the other teens were being... teens. Her gaze quickly darted back and forth between the laughing redhead, dripping with water, and the young man with green, cold eyes heading towards the cooler. And with a pout she realized she was a bit jealous. "You alright there?" The thought came from outside her head, and with a start she realised that Courtney was gazing at her from where she'd just been speaking with Jason. The petite redhead replied with a shrug and a mental groan. "I guess I arrived too late to even have a chance, eh?" There was a soft wave of sympathy and fellow-feeling from her friend. "No sense regretting what you can't change, kiddo. At least you're starting fresh. I've actually got to undo a shitload before I can even start over." Kat remembered the conversation she had with Sean the day before, and mechanically rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah, you're probably right... I still could use some ice-cream, right now..." As counterpoint to this mental exchange, her stomach suddenly produced a famished growl. "Heard that?" There was a soft ripple of mental laughter. "If you're hungry, Devin was talking about getting food. You should ask him." "Bless that guy." "I'm gonna grab something to eat." The French girl told Cade, and without further thought she wandered towards the teleporter.
  15. The petite redhead nodded to Jason's reply, her brains now working the answer out under all of its aspects. "Hey, that's funny. I can do telepathy stuff too. I mean... I don't know if I could set up a mind network yet, but I could try." Her eyes wandered off and down from his face, meeting the soft fabric of the white teeshirt, then lower, and lower, and - Oh cut the crap, stupid! - as her eyes ran away from what they were about to stare at, they fell on the tractor plough. She remembered the earlier exchange between Devin and Jason. They sure could try and repair it, scrub some rust off. It should be no ordeal with their powers - Wait a minute. "Wait a minute..." She whispered. The evening before, she had spent a couple hours trying to paint with her mojo, turning the very thin layer of air closest to her paper into an even thinner layer of paint. What if... "What if I could actually repair the tractor? Yesterday, with Sean, I tried painting with my... Okay, long story short, telepathy is a bit hard for me, but there's something else I can do that feels easier. When I talked to Sean about it, he said I was probably... manipulating fundamental forces and molecules, or even atoms. I know for a fact that I can alter how gravity applies to an object, I did it on my phone the first time, and also that I can... transmute? matter into something else. That's how I painted with my... mumbo-jumbo." She looked at the taller psychokinetic standing in front of her and flashed him a bold smile. "Maybe I could try and sweep some dust off the tractor..."
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