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

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About Catherine 'Kat' Barras

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. [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]
  9. 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!
  10. That's nothing. T'is but a drop. See? Nothing to be scared of. Just a tiny drop of blood in the crimson ocean I'm sitting in. Now that's a- "Wha-" She mentally sighed and stood back up, slowly making her way to the Throne through the surreal plains of bones, her eyes wide open. The Tree agitated itself, and the world seemed to buzz like a feverish anthill around her, her brains lighting every red alarm they could find and urging her to speed up. She frowned and followed the order. [Hey, it's Kat.] The petite French girl poked at Autumn. In truth, she couldn't go much faster, her tentative show of strength a minute ago having left her mildly exhausted. [Yup. Talking in your head. What'd you need me for? Oh, and try to think your answer.] "Ohgod! How do-?" [Ohgod! How do-? Uh, okay, this is fucking weird. Um, hi? Also, we, uh, can't damage the skull. Cassie had a vision that showed her the plow you rebuilt at the Bannon farm. I think you have to do whatever the opposite of that is, maybe? Probably.] [I got you.] Great. There she stood, staring at the grinning skull. She climbed the small hillock of bones on which the Throne was set, her Shine brushing against the grisly figure staring back at her. Goosebumps. Her head visibly recoiled, the 'stench' of the skull unmistakeable to her. The opposite of what I did to the plow, uh? Guess I'll just turn it into dust. Despite what her other senses told her, the skull was but plain old bone. Since what happened at the Bannons' farm, there was no use in wondering if she could do it. She took a deep breath and tapped once more into that reservoir of hers, sharpening her focus as the tip of a spear. At first sight, nothing happened. But the skull seemed to grow smaller, second by second, as specks of dust started coming off. Then she fell to her knees, her hands meeting the bones, and a bright flash of pain piercing her brains. Plick. Plock. Her hazed eyes watched the droplets of blood falling from her nose, their impact on the ground echoing into her ears in a strange, disconnected way. But she couldn't stop. Not now, when her friends needed her. It was working. She was turning the skull into dust. But it was too slow. It demanded too much. Suddenly, she wasn't alone anymore. A familiar, ice-cold presence stood by her the same way it had but a day ago. It wasn't there, but it was there. Her mind accepted it, leaned on that sturdy wall, and it gave her the edge she needed. Ignoring the dancing stars in front of her eyes, she closed them, and the skull decayed, falling to pieces from either side of the Throne's back, crumbling till there was nothing left but thin, pale powder. She rested her rear on her heels, face down, moaning plaintively. "Uuuuuuugh, I don't feel so good..." It felt as if her heart itself was beating inside her own skull. Not the greatest feeling of all. Somewhere, inside, a distant wailing echoed, as if vibrating through her bones - and outside, much like Kat on the ground, the branches of the Tree curled slowly, its receding tendrils thrashing around in a fit of rage.
  11. Unlike her friends, the petite French girl didn't have much to say. No, between the ghastly spectacle the Dark had made of this place and the rancid, putrefacted corruption insidiously poking at her shield, Kat was pretty alarmed. Although it only had taken the monstrous imitation of the boy Cody once used to be, rushing at them, to shake her stupefaction off, she didn't know what to do. Rather, her brains were too busy assimilating the overload of information thrown at her. Her hands were empty. The two girls holding them had run off towards the Throne. The limp, naked shape of Sophia was in trouble, as Kat noticed. Her shield couldn't be extended any further and the girl was out of reach, corruption clawing at her minute by minute. How long has she been in there? Bright flashes of light, followed by a detonation, brought her attention back to the closest of their problems. What am I gonna do? She took a few steps towards the Throne, towards Sophia, watching as the soft outline of her Shine wrapped itself again around the five distant shapes of her friends. Good enough. She sighed, and focused her senses on Devin's mind. [Devin! Tawny and Sophia, especially Sophia, are in bad shape. We need Autumn to see what she can do. I moved to get them under my shield, but this place... the air... I don't know! Something is not doing them any good.] Understatement of the century. Good job, Kat. [Oh, by the way, it's Kat.] She was short on breath. In fact, she was short on time, and turned towards the towering, menacing monster screaming its discontent. The swiftness at which it had moved from the throne, to there, was absurd. She realized that if she could kill one thing, it would be its speed. True, Kat didn't like manipulating matter, but it would probably be the most efficient way to do it. Her Shine quickly scanned the ground on which Cody was standing. Bones. Rotten flesh. Blood. The knot in her throat tightened. Great. She took a laborious breath and began tapping into that reserve, that chest filled with wonders, hidden deep inside of her. Her field of vision narrowed, blood loud in her temples as Cody's feet began sinking into the ground, bones turned liquid mixing in with the flesh and blood. Kat fell to her knees, hardly coping with the mental strain. Holy shit. You can't stop there, girl. Bones can be used as cement, right? Heat it. Just heat it. She reached once more for her reserve of Shine and extended her hand, propelling a steady stream of blazing heat towards Cody's feet. Sunk ankle deep into a mixture of nightmare, the odd mortar turned solid around them. A victorious grin stretched the girl's lips. Speed killed. Weary, she wiped the blood off her nostrils and sniffed. Blood?
  12. "Right." The French girl replied, or tried to, but the sound remained stuck inside her throat, as she looked in horror around her. Eyes... Everything about this place reminded her of that day at the hospital, when- Eyes... right. If I'm half as stupid as I'm supposed to be, this should help... And suddenly, sight. She looked at what Jason gave them, understood how it worked, appreciated its shining halo, wrapped around them in a protective manner. And she came to wonder if she could do the same. "What are you staring at me for?" The blonde reporter asked, raising an eyebrow. "Uh... I got an idea." Kat replied, closing her eyes, reeling in strands of thoughts usually wandering about the mess her mind was. She was convinced there was a way for her to act against the Dark herself. If what Sean had told her about his theories with Jase was true, then- Click. She had done something, that she was sure of, her shoulders dropping under the weight of the effort as she sat on the ground, but she wasn't quite sure what. She glanced at her arm and it became clear, her jaw dropping as she followed the thin aura expanding from her, shrouding her two friends as it reached them. "Okay, that's cool!" Her lips stretched in an excited grin for a short moment, only for her expression to darken again as her eyes fell on the portal. It gave her goosebumps. She stood back up, rubbing the back of her head. No use in delaying it any further. "Let's go." She almost whispered, tightening her grip on the slings of her backpack, and approached the portal. Clad in Shine, pure will and fear, she looked back at her friends and extended a trembling hand. No way I step through that thing alone. "Help?"
  13. The metallic bracelet clasped around her wrist with a noise akin to the slam of the Gates of Hell sealing her fate. But who was she fooling, aside from her? They all knew it would come to this in the end, and were but delaying the inevitable confrontation. The Dark hadn't even shown its hand yet. To her, what they knew of the Land of Upside-Down Thunder, was little. Too little to be planning a rescue mission. Any military strategic leader would advise against invading unknown territory without having had scouts report to him. Alas, they didn't have the luxury, as the lives of their friends were in the hands of some degenerate monster. The petite French sighed, her shoulders suddenly feeling heavy, her throat tight, a strange but familiar knot making her breathing difficult. Fear. She had felt it at the hospital, but at that time, she also had adrenaline. Now she didn't, and the feeling was becoming unbearable. She glanced at her friends and took a deep breath. Her eyes were still red from her conversation with her Dad, and her cheeks still showing signs of her running back to the Carousel, but most of the post-effort shaking in her limbs was gone. Her throat felt parched and she couldn't see any bottle of water in her surroundings. Fuck it. "So..." she started, clearing her throat, "my Dad tried to yank me out to the Project, but I talked him out of it. I also asked that the Project didn't get involved, and I hope they'll do just that and stay comfy in their base." She rubbed the back of her head. "What now?"
  14. 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.
  15. "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.
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