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  1. Cook had been regarding the consternation and acrimony between the powered teens with a watchful eye, one hand still absently rubbing at his throat. With Autumn's words and Devin's affirmation, however, he swallowed as he once more became the focus of unfriendly eyes. His gaze flicked to Jason, who was possibly the only person in the room not looking at him right now, instead staring into the middle-distance expressionlessly, the gleam of his eyes dim and his focus apparently turned inward. "Doctor?" Annette's voice did not have the same inhuman iciness as the silent youth, but her tone and gaze were definitely frosty, as was Taggart's. "What is this about seducing a sixteen year old girl, and who is Etienne?" "He wasn't supposed to seduce her." Cook protested. "He was supposed to become close, but he was posing as a Senior when she was a Sophomore, for crying out loud. The idea was for him to act as a mentor figure for her... Dammit." He sighed, massaging his neck. "I should start at the beginning." "Do so." "Right. So, it was a couple of years ago. We found out that the Doctors Wright - both brilliant scientists in the field of genetics - were doing some work on and around the Blackfoot reservation. Some digging revealed they had obtained a grant and permission from the state health board to do an in-depth analysis of genes in the native American population and how those transferred through intermingled families with roots in Montana, with a focus on isolating genes associated with congenital defects, cancer, and the like." Doctor Cook glanced at the folders in front of him, obviously collecting his thoughts. "Doctor Kline, though, suspected they might have other motives and be perhaps trying to analyse the same thing we had theorised - a predisposition for paranormal gifts genetically present in the local populace. So he tasked me to gather intelligence covertly." "Tasked you?" Taggart asked sharply. "Intelligence and counter-intelligence was my responsibility. Why was the Branch not informed of this operation?" "Or the Society, for that matter." Annette Giles stared levelly at the now-sweating Cook. "Doctor Kline was very insistent that the intelligence be gathered covertly. He claimed that the Wrights may have friends connected to the Society, and be tipped off if proper channels were employed." The doctor stammered. "And you believed him?" Giles' raised eyebrow spoke volumes of her skepticism - apparently well-founded skepticism, as Cook said nothing and just looked down uncomfortably at his papers. "Totally fucking busted." Devin sneered, then "Pardon my French, of course." as Annette glanced his way with an air of patient reproof. She smiled slightly then looked back at Cook, her lips once more forming a straight line. "So... I hired a corporate intelligence specialist." Cook admitted, straightening his shoulders. "A civilian asset." Taggart said levelly. "An uncleared, unvetted civilian asset." "He knows nothing about the involvement of Aeon or Branch Nine. And his resume was solid!" The doctor said defensively. "Several jobs in Canada and the U.S, recently downsized, looking for work. And he looked like he could pass for seventeen to eighteen. So we cooked up a cover, inserted him into the school as a senior finishing his education in Shelly prior to interning at the medical center, and tasked him with getting close to the Wrights." "Specifically Clara." Marissa 's dark eyes were hard as she found a fresher target for her ire than the still unresponsive Jason. "A girl so lonely and buttoned-up she would qualify as vulnerable even if she wasn't a minor." "No statutory laws were broken-" Cook began, but was cut off by Cassandra. "Age of consent might be sixteen, but I'm pretty sure even if he didn't do the nasty with her before that, it still counts as 'grooming'." She shook her head in disapproval, even as several others present, the sheriff included, nodded in agreement. "And as I said, he wasn't supposed to get that close." Cook protested. "Jesus. He was supposed to be a star student that she would look up to, then become friends with. But something went wrong. He developed actual feelings for her. At first we decided-" "'We' being you and Doctor Kline?" Taggart's face was stony, but his fingers tapping on the table's surface betrayed his anger. "Yes. At first we decided that, so long as Etienne would still go through with the mission, that it could be a benefit. He snuck into the Wright's property several times, tried to break into their private lab building, but claimed he was unable to bypass their security. Then he and the girl broke off the relationship" Cook shrugged. "The mission was pretty much a bust, then. Kline gave the order to terminate his contract, and I was about to when everything changed, and he attended a party thrown by the high schoolers on Reservation ground and witnessed strange things happening. That, plus his rekindled closeness with the Wright girl, made him of use again... until his cover was blown and these kids found out he was a spy." "We have our ways." Sean's girlish features were somber as he regarded the doctor he'd trusted most of his life. "Yes, you do." Cook sighed, rubbing his hand over his face, glancing Sean then at Ms Giles. "That was last week. Late last night, he comes into my office without knocking, wild-eyed and loudly telling me he quits, he's not going to do it anymore, and that we'd better leave Clara and the other teens alone. I didn't have a choice, then. I had to contain him." "Contain him how?" Taggart demanded. Cook shifted in his seat, and the Major leaned forward. "What did you do, Doctor?" "I... handed him off to Kline's men." Cook stammered, then spoke in a rush. "I didn't know what to do at first. So I pulled out the gun I had in my desk for - uh - protection." He glanced at at the still-motionless, inward-turned Jason for a moment, who didn't even appear to hear the words. "And brought him down here. I called Kline, told him what had happened, and he sent some people." "What people? Whose people were they?" "Some private security force. Uh... Doctor Kline has used them a couple of times for, um, off the books things. They bundled Etienne into an armored van and took him away." "Mercenaries. Doctor Kline is employing goddamn mercenaries on American soil as part of a black project." Taggart looked like he was fit to spit nails. "Where did they take him?!" "I don't know!" Cook nearly wailed. "I didn't want any of this. You have to believe me." "I should call my superiors and have you renditioned to a black site in goddamn Siberia for the rest of your natural life, you-" Taggart bit back a stream of profanity with some effort backed by solid professionalism. "Think. Did they say anything to each other?" Cook screwed up his face in thought, starting to shake his head negatively... then paused. "Wait... Wait! One of them had a blue shirt on under his jacket. It looked like the uniform shirts the guards wear at the prison!" He looked from Taggart to Ms Giles, desperate hope in his eyes that he'd bought a reprieve. "That's all I can think of, I swear!"
  2. In which Eddy, Dixie, and Matthew (with inadvertant guest host Danielle Lauzon) talk with some loyal Pathcast listeners! Eddy continues to breath Our audio quality is different from usual Danielle’s water pressure People getting kicked during the recording (Update: Turns out it’s a bug in the iOS version of the app, which we’ve brought up to Podbean.) Night Horrors: Spilled Blood is out! Navar is happy for Geist and Exalted Essence, and Dixie talks about Essence Adam is a long-time listener, first-time caller talking about the PAX Trinity pre-generated characters Hunter: The Vigil 2e on Kickstarter Occultists Anonymous asked about (non-existent) Mage book drama The realities of scheduling issues Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook reception TC: Aberrant status update The new Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC! We need to play Mario Kart Altered Carbon Kickstarter 6 Underground, John Wick, Hobbs & Shaw, and Saint’s Row Lisa Thomas is amazing V5 Chicago Folios out to backers soon Contagion Chronicle update Lyshote called in to tell us they appreciate the podcast Post-episode stinger of banter from our pre-show LINKS Night Horrors: Spilled Blood: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/303157/Night-Horrors-Spilled-Blood?affiliate_id=548232 Hunter: The Vigil 2e Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339646881/hunter-the-vigil-second-edition-tabletop-roleplaying-game Occultists Anonymous Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/occultists-anonymous/id1464410461 Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/260788/Trinity-Continuum-Core-Rulebook?affiliate_id=548232 Trinity Continuum: Aeon: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/260833/Trinity-Continuum-Aeon?affiliate_id=548232 Altered Carbon Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/huntersbooks/altered-carbon-the-role-playing-game Eclipse Phase Second Edition: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/284022/Eclipse-Phase-Second-Edition?affiliate_id=548232 6 Underground: https://www.netflix.com/title/81001887
  3. Type: Features Author: Greg Tito and Shelly Mazzanoble Subtitle: Dragon Talk Banner: Text: This week, we're joined by Extra Life donor and Dungeon Master Nick Roth for news and introductions! Later In Lore You Should Know, we are joined by Chris Perkins to discuss the geography of Wildemount! Our special interview guest this week is Bill Allan (along with two of his students, Jordan & Jennie), a teacher at Lyons Township High School where he leads the media program, produces D&D with High School Students and is the official video crew (along with his students) at Gen Con & Gary Con! Dragon Talk is executively produced by Greg Tito, Shelly Mazzanoble & Wizards of the Coast. Show production by Lisa Carr & Ryan Marth of Siren Sound. Podcast recording, editing, mixing and mastering by Ryan Marth & Siren Sound. Dragon Talk: Bill Allan & LYSK on Geography of Wildemount Dragon Talk - 02/13/2020 By Greg Tito, Shelly Mazzanoble SEE MORE PODCASTS Podcast/Notes Here’s a guide to when each segment on the podcast begins: 00:00: Intro and news with Greg Tito, Shelly Mazzanoble & Nick Roth 12:06: Lore you Should Know with Chris Perkins 31:31: Interview with Bill Allan 1:29:13: Outro Stay Informed More Ways to Tune-In: Subscribe to the Official D&D Podcast on iTunes, on Google Play, or wherever you get podcasts. Watch Dragon Talk recordings live on twitch.tv/dnd Fridays at 12pm PT! More Ways to Play: Learn more about the Adventurers League here. More Ways to Become Involved: Find out more about the Guild Adept program here. If you’re interested in submitting your artwork to be considered for use with D&D, send five images to artdrop@wizards.com. About the Guest: Bill Allan Bill Allan is a teacher at Lyons Township High School for the media program. He produces "D&D with High School Students", and he and his students have also been the official video crew at Gen Con and Gary Con (where they produced the Dragon Talk livestreams with Greg and Shelly). They also have their own convention, Lyon Con, which is entering its 3rd year, and will be held February 22-23, 2020. You can find Bill on: YouTube: @billallanworld Your Podcast Hosts Greg Tito Greg Tito has had weird and long career as an Off Broadway stage manager, a playwright, a theater carpenter, a secretary, an RPG designer, a games journalist, and now a PR/Marketing person. He has loved Dungeons & Dragons ever since 1985 when he found an old copy of the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide on his brother’s bookshelf and he honed that love of fantasy storytelling in the dark streets of Sasserine by way of the Upper West Side gaming group he joined in 2004. He moved his family (wife + two young kids) to Seattle in 2015 to work on D&D and he’s never looked back. Twitter: @Gregtito Shelly Mazzanoble Shelly Mazzanoble will always play a magic-user. There. She said it. Enough pretending to want to break out of her comfort zone. She’s a magic-user. She’s also the brand lead for Avalon Hill and loves talking about that one time she played Diplomacy and SOMEONE (okay, it was Ben Petrisor) stabbed her in the back and took over her beloved Russia. If you enjoy tales of sorcery, board game upheavals, and reasons her 3 year-old is crying (HINT: She tried to make him eat a Nutella crepe), find Shelly on Twitter and Facebook. Facebook: shellymazzanoblewriter Twitter: @shellymoo Publication date: 02/13/2020 Tags: Features Podcast Texture banner: Show Black text:
  4. The effect on Ms Giles was sudden as it was noticeable. The air of ease even when discussing serious matters disappeared and she leaned forwards, hand outstretched. "Can I take a closer look, please?" Cassie stood, moving to lean closer and holding her phone out. If the Aeon woman took note of the caution, she didn't show it, her eyes widening as she stared at the smirking face of the Man in Black before she sat back in her chair, looking as though she had seen a ghost. "You recognise him?" Cassie stated rather than asked, even as Taggart looked at the face on the phone with no recognition in his own expression. Annette Giles nodded silently, appearing to be processing some chain of thought, then spoke. "When was this taken?" "Friday night." Cassie replied. "Here in Shelly, outside the diner." put in Autumn helpfully. "What the hell does it mean?" Ms Giles asked no-one in particular. She seemed visibly agitated, pushing away from the table and standing, pacing a few steps, then turning and pacing back. "Have any of you spoken to him?" "What do you know about him?" Jason asked, eyes narrowing as they regarded Ms Giles. "That he's a harbinger." The woman said as she sat down again, recovering some level of composure. "So far as we know, he's not what we would call 'evil', but his appearance does herald change, upset, and chaos. He's popped up here and there throughout Aeon's records, and his appearance is always considered to be a sign that things are about to get very weird and very dangerous. Which is not to say he himself is malevolent - the few times he's ever deigned to speak with members of Aeon he's been civil, if cryptic in the extreme." "Does he have a name?" Jason pressed quietly. Ms Giles shook her head slowly. "Only false ones. Marquis d'Ys is the oldest one we've found, linked to a description from records of one of the Society's ancestors - records made in the 17th century. Since then he's shown up in records as 'Monsignor Tatterdemalion' during an incident in Italy. 'The Ragged Man' during the 19th century in Spain. One of our members called him 'Mr Crow' during a sighting in Depression era Chicago, and he was seen in several places in short order during World War 2. He then popped up again in Dallas right after JFK was shot. He's our oldest unsolved mystery." "I aim to cause upset to the established order." Jason quoted. "That's what he said to me when I asked him what he wanted." "But which order?" Annette asked rhetorically. "Kline's? Crossroads? What game is he playing?" She picked up the coffee Devin had procured for her and took a sip, frowning in thought.
  5. "The last photograph we have of him is about ten years old, and I don't have a copy with me. Major?" She looked at Taggart, who shook his head. "I've never even met him, only spoken to him on the phone. He spends most of his time at Site B. To the best of my knowledge, he's not left that compound in years." The major plainly wasn't happy with what he was hearing. "Under the arrangement we have, my personnel aren't allowed here or at Site B unless there is an alert." "Yes. Site B. It does seem to keep coming back to that, doesn't it?" Giles looked thoughtful, then glanced at Charlie. "The other experiment we were running was at Site B - which is the thing I think you should know about, and want to tell you about, but need to get approval to discuss with you. Even for me, there are boundaries to my remit." Her lips thinned in mild frustration. "What I can say is that - from what I know - it shouldn't have had the effect it did." "You may speak with Dr Cook if you wish." Annette nodded at Sean. "I understand that you have a lot to discuss with him personally. As for the identities of the test group..." she frowned. "You understand I am not happy with divulging that. These other young people are, I believe, unaware of you and are likewise entitled to their privacy. They are also considerably less advanced than all of you in terms of ability." "That as may be." Jason stated, speaking up from the end of the table. "But the Dark feeds off Shine - what we call our powers - which is why it attacked us here. If these other kids Shine too, they are in danger, and their deaths will strengthen that which we're fighting against." She considered for a moment, bright eyes on Jason's face, then regarding the others similarly before sighing. "So far as I am aware, there are four 'successes' for Project Proteus. A telekinetic called Tawny Roberts, a cyber-empath called Todd Asper, a psychometrist called Cody Sikes and a telepath called Courtney Adams." "Do they know of each other?" Jason asked immediately as several of the Fellowship muttered and exchanged looks. Annette shook her head. "According to the reports filed, they are unaware of anything except their own limited ability. The Adams girl is the strongest amongst them - Cook reports she's capable of reading and influencing emotions, as well as scanning thoughts and even accessing and changing memories, though doing so is difficult and causes her pain. Its possible that she knows more simply by reading Cook's mind, though. The Roberts girl is the least developed - she regards her gifts as frightening and tries not to use them, resisting cooperation with Cook's tests."
  6. "Aeon took over funding the overall Project in the 90's, following the discovery of... the thing I can't yet tell you about but really want to." Ms Giles smiled a little ruefully. "Before that, it was being sponsored solely by Branch Nine and U.S. tax dollars. Please understand, our primary interest was not the eugenics aspect of the Project. In fact, one of the conditions for our sponsorship was that element of the project to cease expansion - which again makes it even more puzzling how those of you here gained powers. We were content to allow Kline and Cook to observe what they had set in motion, and to act as damage control to limit the scope of their interference. Simply exposing them and shutting things down would have done nobody any favors, so we tried to maximise the good that could come of what had already been done." She exchanged a meaningful glance with Taggart. "Major Taggart here replaced the old head of security at our insistence some years ago. We don't always see eye to eye with Branch Nine's way of doing things, but in this they have been largely cooperative. The mass surveillance was deemed 'necessary' due to the fact that any random person might generate paranormal abilities, and so left in place." She made a face. "Distasteful, but not un-useful. If it hadn't been for that, the Project would not have learned of you all, which means the Society would not have learned of you either." "You realise we're not really considering that a bonus." Jason said in a soft tone that sent warning tingles down the backs of his friends, one or two of whom glanced at his cold gaze and expressionless face and wondered if that tone had been what Liam Day had heard. Annette seemed to catch the hint of unvoiced menace, nodding soberly at the lean youth. "I assure you, we don't want to control or poke and prod you. We are fascinated by the sheer level of what we've seen, far beyond anything in the Society's records, but that does not overrule our regard for your personhoods. As I said, as of today we simply want to help you deal with the menace that seems to haunt Shelly, and then we shall observe from a distance and otherwise leave you alone - at least until you graduate high school." "What happens then?" Cassie asked. Annette smiled warmly in answer. "Probably an extended hand to join the Society, if I know my people. What I can say is that, at the most basic level, the Society will fund your way through college or such further education as you wish to undertake, pay you a stipend, and largely allow you to live your own lives in exchange for, once in a while, being alerted to something strange that might suit your talents and personalities." She glanced at the Major. "Branch Nine will likely make you an offer too. The point is that you can choose either or neither, as you wish. We will protect your autonomy in that regard." Her tone was firm on that point. "Returning to the matter of Crossroads - we've tentatively linked them to human trafficking, organ-legging, blood diamonds, cutting-edge high-tech weapons research, custom pharmaceutical research into mind-altering substances, several ethically questionable PMCs, and even fomenting civil unrest in third world nations." She sighed a little in frustration. "All very tentative, all very nebulous, nothing we can prove. Everything illegal usually done through shell companies and several layers of cut-outs protecting the main body of the corporation. The last time we got close to something they were doing in Bangladesh, they wiped out an entire R&D building using some kind of seismic device to trigger a localised earthquake. Everyone inside died, along with a couple of hundred in the surrounding neighbourhood. Are they capable of immoral and illegal genetic research? Definitely. Which makes me suspicious that Doctor Kline has two paymasters." Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "When was the prison built?" "1999." It was Sheriff Allister who spoke up, his face somber as he did so. "Over the on-record protestations of many of the city councillors and the then-sheriff. But the state government rubber-stamped it." "Hmm. So roughly five to six years after we took over and started restricting the scope of Kline's activities." Annette Giles' eyes were flinty now. "That seems an unlikely coincidence."
  7. Rather than looking guilty or annoyed, Ms Giles looked pleased, smiling a little at Cassandra. "The prison, nothing. But you said 'Crossroads', which is a name I've come across before. Would that be Crossroads Incorporated?" "Yeah." Cassie said, nodding. "You've heard of them?" "I know of them. Safe to say that they are of interest to the Aeon Society. We've bumped into them tangentially in other parts of the world, always up to morally questionable activities - yes, more morally questionable than what we're doing here, before you ask - and always close to strange goings on. We're still not entirely sure what their aims are. We've also lost several associates who have tried to infiltrate their upper echelons." Ms Giles frowned a little, taking another sip of coffee. "I confess their presence here is a little surprising. I am curious now whether Dr Kline might have been playing the pipes for two masters."
  8. "The prison?" Ms Giles looked at Cassandra askance for a moment, then threw a questioning look at Taggart, who shrugged and shook his head. She looked back at Cassie. "It doesn't seem the prison is anything to do with our presence here." Nobody missed the emphasis of the word 'seem', or the way the woman's perfectly manicured fingernails tapped thoughtfully on the Starbucks cup, her gaze curious. "But I've been an associate - not 'employee', thank you - of the Society long enough not to dismiss strange things as coincidences." Her gaze refocused on Cass again. "Other than its location, what is drawing your attention to the prison?"
  9. Ms Giles raised a petite hand, asking for forbearance. "Please, Mr Jauntsen, isn't it? I will answer questions about the Project as much as I have the leeway to do - and I assure you, that is a lot of leeway. The unfortunate business with the dimension incursion earlier might have been the result of something we were doing - but it was entirely in the wrong place, as the only experiment that might trigger a dimensional upset was taking place nearly one hundred miles away. From what I understand, something commandeered the energy of that experiment and moved the focal point from there to here, as well as resizing said focal point from twenty square feet to encompass half of this town." "They phreaked you?" Sean spoke up, his eyes narrowing. As multiple sets of eyes turned his way, he explained. "With a 'ph'. It's when you spoof a network to ride along and make a call on someone else's bandwidth." He sat down at the table roughly at the mid-way point, keeping his composure though inwardly shaking his head at the combative, hostile tone that the Jauntsens and Bannon were taking with the Project people. Surely they must know something about what they were doing and what was afoot, and even if they didn't they could still be useful, dammit. "Exactly, yes. The energy of our experiment was 'phreaked' and used to create this dimensional incursion. At least, that's the best guess of a team of quantum physicists. From Dr Cook's reports, it seems you all have some experience with who or what is capable of such a feat. We do not, however we do have roughly a century's worth of experience with all manner of strange phenomena." "And who is we?" Cassie piped up, settling in next to Autumn. "Miss Allen, isn't it? Off the record, please." Ms Giles smiled a little to soften her words. "The Project started as a Pentagon initiative to create enhanced human beings, initially at least, but over the last three decades has come to be a joint operation being carried out by a directorate branch of the U.S government and a private foundation - the Aeon Society, with the Society taking the leading role in financing and providing expertise and Branch Nine providing security and official sanction to operate on U.S. soil." She glanced at the Major. "Major Taggart here heads up that that arm of the Project, whereas I speak for the Aeon Society. As to what we are doing..." She pursed her lips, regarding them all. "The Aeon Society was formed to explore, seek out, and catalog the weird, the wonderful, the bizarre and the strange. Sometimes said strange is too dangerous for the world, in which case we work to contain it, lock it away, or keep knowledge of it from the hands of short-sighted individuals who will see only the opportunity for power and not heed the dangers. For a century now, we've helped advance humanity by those discoveries which we have shared, and protected humanity from annihilation a couple of dozen times at least." "Bold claim." Marissa said, staring hard at the woman, who shrugged slightly and smiled, her manner not condescending so much as warmly self-assured. "And utterly true. I hope to be able to prove it, but that can come later. Branch Nine was created after the second World War for much the same purpose, only with less of a focus on study and more of a focus on containment and elimination of threats." She sipped her coffee, made a face and then set it to one side. "The strange, bizarre and weird the Society encounters falls into two categories. The first is more mundane - at least on the surface - ancient texts, hidden histories, ciphers inscribed on tablets thousands of years old, scientific advancements that are tantamount to massive leaps, secretive cults: things which can be termed 'human mysteries'. The second category..." she spread her hands, indicating the assembled teens "...falls under the heading of what the Society's scientist types term 'aether manifestations'. People with talents that go beyond unusual into straight out unbelievable. Dimensional and temporal anomalies. Strange creatures from legend or nightmare. Signs of alien visits-" she held up a hand again. "-as hard as it is to believe, yes." "Not really." Jason said with his habitual unruffled tone. "No harder to believe than monsters and mind powers." "Quite." Annette smiled at him, the pleasant expression bouncing off his immobile countenance and cold gaze. Undeterred, she carried on. "The Society made a report on this area of Montana over eight decades ago, noting an unusual quality to the place - an aether fluctuation much higher than normal. A follow-up was planned, but then the second World War happened, then the Cold War, and other things became more important like preventing nuclear armageddon. Until the 80's, at least, when a scientist named Dr Kline also discovered Shelly's strange qualities." "That would be the 'Doctor' that Dr Cook was talking about?" Sean asked, receiving a nod from Ms Giles. "Okay, fine. So what is 'aether'?" "It's what our scientists call the fifth fundamental force. As I understand it, conventional scientific wisdom allows that there are four quantum forces: gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces, which together go towards making everything that exists. The Society's scientists discovered early in the 20th century that there was a fifth such force, and termed it aether. It exists along with the others, but stands out either very rarely in certain artifacts with strange properties or, more usually, in pockets dotted here and there around the globe. These pockets are usually tiny, at the largest perhaps half a mile in diameter." She paused for effect. "The one here is much larger and more extensive, at least a hundred miles across, stretching from Shelly across the Blackfoot Reservation all the way to Glacier National Park. The level of aether fluctuation is also much, much higher than anywhere else that we know of on the planet. Anyway, back to the story." Privately Jason, Sean and a few others mused that 'aether' would be what they had termed subquantum energy, or Shine. It seemed that the Aeon Society's scientists had not yet considered that there might be another layer of reality beneath the quantum. "Doctor Kline was a scientist attached to Branch Nine, but he also worked for the Pentagon. He was loosely tied to the MK-Ultra programs of the 60's, but his particular project was not shut down when the rest of the highly questionable experiments were stopped. Firstly, because his experiments were not inhumane, and secondly because it was ruled that his project was in the national interest." "He wanted to make super-people?" Cassie guessed. "He wanted to create the genetic conditions whereby enhanced humans could be naturally born and reared, rather than try to crudely force such evolution through similar means to the shut-down projects. The Kline Project really started with the grandparents of the test group, most of whom did not even know that they were part of the experiment." She paused for a moment. "I should say at this juncture that no-one in this room is part of the test group. None of you were supposed to turn out different, and how you did is something we are still working to figure out." "Anyway, somehow Kline stumbled across the discovery of aether- Wait, that's not altogether fair. Kline is a brilliant scientist, but his background is in genetics, not quantum physics. How he discovered aether and found this place is something of an accident to hear him tell it: A series of eureka moments. He noted that perhaps this environment as well as the hereditary traits he was cultivating would trigger the evolution he was seeking." Ms Giles spread her hands in a 'and there you have it' gesture. "And so Project Proteus was formed, initially under the direction of Branch Nine. Until the 90's, when black budget funding cuts threatened the whole endeavour. The director of Branch Nine reached out to the Society, with whom they have a tentative alliance, revealed what was afoot, and asked for help." "We agreed, not least because of our records of Shelly and the area being anomalous. We also wanted to see if Kline's theories, which seemed sound, would bear fruit. Which they did, after a fashion - even if it was by accident." She smiled at the Fellowship. "We also made another discovery within the high-aether area, which quickly became a separate project - more on that later: I do need to get extra clearance to discuss it but I think, perhaps, you might be able to help us with it. Focusing on Proteus, though..." "You young people are not part of the test group, and yet exhibit power and ability far beyond those who are. I understand that trust is scant right now, and won't ask for any leaps of faith. You know now the history of the project, and I also believe you know more about the strangeness around Shelly than we do. So I'm making an offer of aid. You mentioned horrible dangers and face-eating peril." Her lips twitched in a smile at that. "I want to better understand, so perhaps Aeon can give you the tools you need to deal with the threat if, as you say, you are the only ones who can. Before we get to talking seriously about the exchange of information and aid, though, I'd like to give those present a chance to speak, ask questions and so on." She sat back, bright dark eyes watching everyone's faces. "I got a question." Devin grinned slowly. "What restaurant do you want to go eat at when we go out on Friday?" Annette tilted her head slightly, smiling sweetly at him. "Oh, that rakish assurance and charm must have the girls flocking to you, Mr Jauntsen-" "Devin, please." The teleporter interjected, placing his hand over his heart in a courtly fashion. Marissa rolled her eyes so hard there should have been a rattling noise. "Devin." Annette Giles nodded. "The first problem being, Devin, that your charming sister distinctly mentioned you having a girlfriend-" "Who, her? Whatshername? I dumped her by text like five minutes ago." "Which leads me to the second problem." Annette looked sorrowful, though a spark of mirth danced in her eyes. "I don't go for fickle men." "Oh, Lona!" Devin nodded, a soulful expression in his eyes. "We're like two halves of the same being. I could never see myself with anyone else. She's the only one for me. Not even looking at other women in porn, and lemme tell you that gets weird." Ms Giles laughed, a warm pleasant bubbling up of good humor before she composed herself and glanced at the others present. "Does anyone else have any questions?"
  10. "Jauntsen." Sheriff Allister was no stranger to being irritated with Devin, but never had anyone seen him angry. It was not a comfortable sight, especially as all six feet and change of him was sufficient to make Cade look slender by comparison. "If you think for one second that I had anything to do with the utter... fuckery I've witnessed today, you're even dumber than you look." He took a deep breath, calming himself with some effort. "My deputies have all had their damned minds scrambled-" "Just their memories of the last couple of hours restructured." Cook put in with a certain level of aplomb that bordered on smug. Allister whirled on him, pointing a finger. "You said I was being left alone due to my son. You've still not explained what the hell is going on! Or why he was covered in ice, or he changed shape, or why he was throwing lasers around, or what the hell those creatures were!" "That's what we're here to do." Taggart said with a certain level of discomfort, plainly not happy about anything to do with this situation. "If everyone would just sit down and calm down-" "Have you been doing experiments on these kids?" Gar Bannon asked, coming up behind the chair Jase was seated in to stand beside him, Hank Graskle in tow. "Did you do something to my son?" Hank was studying the two Airmen at the door, then Taggart, then the other two at the head of the table with a professionally assessing air. "Gentlemen!" Cook raised his hands placatingly. "And ladies. Please. Sit down and we shall answer as many questions as we reasonably can." The strange woman was silent and composed, ignoring the adults speaking and instead watching the antics of Devin with what seemed to be faint amusement, then regarding the other teens, and then finally the jade-eyed, silent youth still sitting still in the chair at the far end of the conference table, his gaze steady as a laser beam as he watched the trio across from him. Sheriff Allister stared at Cook for a moment, then at the door, then at the others present. Finally, with a muttered 'Fuck' he pulled out a chair and sat at the table. Gar and Hank likewise pulled out seats and sat flanking Jason, their gazes distrustful and wary. Cook glanced at the other teens present, obviously waiting to see if any of them were likewise going to sit.
  11. "Wstgphrl." Autumn murmured as she squinted slightly at Cassie's waggling digits. Aware even in her dizzy state that this was not the most scintillant of dialogue, she licked dry lips and tried again: "I would if they'd stay still long enough." As enough strength returned for her to move her head, she turned it to watch Jason stand, seeming to unfold endlessly upward from the couch to tower above her as he turned and looked down, twisting his torso and leaning this way and that, a smile curving his lips at not just the absence of pain, but the presence of enormous well-being and energy, as though he'd slept a solid eight hours and gotten a massage. His emerald eyes seemed to glow from within as they met hers, and the lean shape of him bent to rest a slender hand on her pale brow. "Is she okay?" Cassie repeated, looking at Jase, whose eyes were narrowed slightly in concentration as he examined Autumn, taking her pulse for a count of fifteen before he nodded slightly. "She pushed herself a little." he replied, glancing around and calling a couple of sandwiches, a candy bar, a can of soda and a packet of chips over, the foodstuffs floating across the room and coming to rest on the redhead's lap. He felt good, full of restless life, as though the boundless vitality of the girl had somehow been shared with him. He took the soda, popping the tab and placing it in her hand. "Drink and eat." he urged her quietly, his gaze calm as it examined her face. She obeyed, raising the can of Dr Pepper and taking a sip before making a face. "Blegh, warm." she complained. Jason exchanged an amused glance with Cassie, who smiled a little despite the worry etching her brow. "She'll be fine." he said, reaching out and tapping the can's rim. Autumn was aware of the metal cooling in her hand, water condensing out of the air onto the side of the can as its temperature lowered to refrigerated levels. She took another swallow, sighing contentedly this time. "You could have just taken the pain away, you know." he told her. It wasn't an admonition, she grasped. Merely an observation, laced with a hint of a question. "We're better off if you're at your best." she murmured back, smiling a little as she noted the pink line where his lip had been split bloody. "And besides, I wanted to see if I could." "Good enough." he replied with a grin that crinkled the corners of his eyes and warmed their glacial centers, nodding slowly in answer. He straightened up, turning to the others as Autumn took a bite of a sandwich. "Marissa and Devin are right." he said, pacing over to the conference table and pulling out a chair at one end, seating himself there. "We have to be ruthless when it comes to the Project or indeed any outside authority figures. I'm not suggesting we stab them in the back just to do it, but we should force the people we work with to earn trust and loyalty, the hard way, and never trust the organisation as a whole. This is a black ops rogue government operation - we don't know how much blood is on their hands from people who have trusted them. So long as they are of use and don't get in our way, we can work with them so far as I'm concerned." "I like Sean's refinement of Devin's plan, too. Allude to weaknesses, then let them scramble to find them. Play below par, to use a golfing term - don't let them see what we're fully capable of." Jase went on, appropriating another can of soda, chilling it, then popping the tab. "You froze a monster the size of a horse solid." Charlie put in. "That's a pretty big demonstration." "And not even close to what I'm capable of." Jason responded immediately with such composed certainty that Charlie blinked, remembering the flash of insight he'd had the day before. Sophia squeezed his hand, frowning at the lean youth's apparent arrogance. She opened her mouth, wanting to say something to prick his bubble- And then the doors swung inwards and people bustled in. First were two Airmen, dressed in fatigues but armed only with sidearms, currently holstered. They scanned the room and then moved to either side of the doors, obviously mounting guard. They were followed by two more Airmen, also armed, only these were also carrying pots of coffee and fresh plates of sandwiches, pastries and snacks which they set down, along with a stack of styrofoam cups and packets of sugar, before heading back outside. Next to enter was Sheriff Allister, his gun, radio and hat removed and eyes snapping with annoyance in his otherwise composed face. Spotting Cade, who was standing as he recognised his father, the big man crossed the room in three strides and pulled his son into a hug before stepping back, his hands on Cade's shoulders. "You okay?" he asked, regarding the tall athlete with stoic concern. "I'm fine, Dad." Cade replied, only a little embarrassed by the paternal affection and more relieved that his father seemed well. "We're all fine too, bee-tee-dubs." Devin piped up from where he was sitting slouched in a chair, still texting with Lona. It said something about the moment that not even the Sheriff looked exasperated at the usual Jaunt-isms, instead just nodding as he looked around the room at the others present. His eyes narrowed a little at the sight of Graskle, then narrowed further at the sight of Jason calmly sitting at the bottom end of the conference table, watching the goings-on with his usual expressionless mien, but the burly sheriff said nothing for now. Finally Doctor Cook, Major Taggart - now in just fatigues and with his nameplate showing, and a brunette woman wearing a dark blue suit that Marissa's expert eye judged as being worth the annual salary of a middle manager entered the room. The two men seemed to hang back for a moment as they reached the other end of the table from where Jason was seated, glancing at the dark-haired woman, who calmly took a seat to the left of the 'head'. Taggart took the seat to the right, leaving Cook to settle (somewhat uncomfortably judging by the look on his face) at the head of the table, facing Jason Bannon's green stare. "Doctor." Jase said with a trace of wryness in his tone. "It seems we're a little late for our four o'clock meeting." Cook smiled wanly before busying himself with the files he'd brought with him, waiting for the Airmen standing guard to shut the door. When they had, taking up positions against the wall either side of it once more, he cleared his throat. "Ahem. First, to reassure all of you: Your parents have been told you are fine, and are just being screened for bio-contaminants before we release you. Which should be soon." He said with a quick smile, glancing at Taggart and the dark-haired woman. Taggart merely nodded brusquely, the woman on the other hand seemed to be intently studying the teens, her expression one of pleasant blandness under an arched eyebrow. Cook gestured to the coffee on the table. "Please, everyone, help yourselves to coffee and donuts. We do have a lot to discuss, after all. So we might as well be comfortable." "On that note," Taggart interjected. "It's probably one of you that is responsible for the music currently flooding our surveillance system, so I'd be grateful if you could stop that. It's not like you need the privacy now."
  12. We’ve launched the Kickstarter for Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition, the final Chronicles of Darkness game line to be updated to 2nd Edition rules! The scales have fallen from your eyes. A fire is lit — is it a lamp perched over the inscription on an ancient blade or a roaring conflagration consuming the house in which the howling fiends wait? Things will never be the same after this. You’ve set forth on a damning path. Carry the Vigil. Fight back the shadows. In Hunter: The Vigil, you play out stories following a core cast of characters as they fight their way through the Chronicles of Darkness, a version of our own everyday world filled with monsters. It’s a lot like a TV drama, something like The Walking Dead or The X-Files. Individual gaming sessions, generally running two-to-four hours, are like weekly episodes. Secrets will be revealed, relationships will be tested, and blood will be spilled. This Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Kickstarter is designed to enable us to create a hardcover edition designed to match the look and feel of our other Chronicles of Darkness core rulebooks such as Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Forsaken, and Changeling: The Lost. We want to create an 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover with a beautifully designed, striking cover image printed on a metallic under layer, and featuring an emboss/deboss of the logo. We estimate the book to be more than 250 pages, with a two-color interior and endpapers on high-quality paper stock. Exceptional funding may allow us to add Stretch Goals that further develop the setting and provide additional materials for play! We also want to get at least one print run into traditional distribution and available for sale at game and hobby stores. Join the Vigil on the Kickstarter now!
  13. You don’t have to be evil to own this book. But it helps. Some say the Nightside is evil, but that’s a misunderstanding. The post The Nightside appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  14. Perfect storing, displaying, or transporting your Invisible Sun corebooks! The slipcase that comes with Book M is perfect for your copy of that title, along with Teratology, Secrets of Silent Streets, and The Threshold. But did you know that it also holds the four hardcovers from the Invisible Sun Black Cube perfectly? The post Invisible Sun Slipcase appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  15. Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck Even as Autumn digested that, and the Major was gazing at both teens with eyes narrowed, trying to assess what the hell they were talking about, the elevator emitted a soft chime to indicate they had arrived, and the soldier's inside readied themselves before, with a nod from the Major, thumbing the door release and immediately deploying into the red-limned gloom beyond, which seemed to be some manner of laundry room. Moving past the bulky shapes of the machines and shelving, the advance team scanned the area carefully before giving back the terse 'clear' that prompted the rest of the party to leave the elevator. "Where are your friends?" the Major asked Cassie, who closed her eyes briefly, then nodded at the door. "Out there. About fifty feet ahead and maybe ten to the left." she replied, opening her eyes once more and shrugging. "Sorry. It's not like I have an exact map of this place in my head." "What about the hostiles?" "They're..." Cassie frowned. "Fading. Like the shadow over the med center is fading now the big one is dead. Not completely gone, but it's like the fog is lifting and the creatures are becoming... I dunno, less somehow." Cody Sikes / The Horned Man He screamed as he felt the larger creature die and the smaller ones get snuffed out, a scream of inchoate rage and fear that was shared between the two Selves inhabiting the body. Gibbering, drooling, he lurched from his makeshift throne and kicked at one of the piles of bones stacked nearby. The humans had shut off their key-machine, and without the larger divergent to anchor the projected shadow of the Void, it was dissipating and with it the lesser hunters. And it was children who had done this! Freaks and outcasts and losers and pampered rich kids. "So strong! So bright!" he/they moaned, clutching at the sides of his head, clawlike fingers digging into his scalp through the greasy remnants of his hair. It should not be possible. Could not be possible. This world was not capable of producing such Radiance. The usurpers had seen to that. Even close proximity to the shiftship only produced weak, random manifestations in the millennia that had gone before - enough to slowly feed the Tree, not enough to be a threat. Until now. Something was wrong with the order of things. Cody didn't feel that, but the Horned Man did. He had a sense for the ebb and flow of Radiance in this place. He knew what humanity was capable of unaided, and this was beyond that. Someone had tampered, but who, and how-? "Howdy. Kids did well, din't they? Gotta say, I'm as proud as a daddy could be right now. Guess you ain't sharing that warm fuzzy feelin', but that's always the way - our kids are always most special to us." He/they whirled, glaring at the slender figure that now sat on the grisly throne, hands on the bone armrests, mouth set in a moue of fastidiousness as he flicked a beetle from the yellowed surface. Cody was confused. He didn't know this man, or why he seemed so unafraid. But the Horned Man did. "You!? You are dead!" the guttural voice came from his throat. The black-clad man smiled, dark eyes gleaming with an inner light as he stood. "'Fraid not. Greatest trick I ever pulled and all that. Not fooling the world, mind you. That was just a side-effect. I was fooling the old fella inside you." His eyes bored into Cody's, his voice becoming strangely gentle. "It's almost over now, boy. For you, for him, and hopefully soon for me." Cody had no idea what he was talking about, the possessed teen's mind awhirl with memories and images not his own. Strange shining towers, and stars, and this mans face, smiling as they talked atop a tower once, long ago... "We should be allies!" The language was strange, the meaning coming to Cody through his bond with his passenger, the words almost shrieked through a raw throat. "We want the same things!" "I want freedom. You just want to be the last thing to die." The man in black corrected absently in English as he stepped around piles of gory remains. "But you died millennia ago, Araun - you just don't know it. Rest easy - my kids will be along to clean you up." "I will kill them! I will devour their marrow! I will tear the Radiance from them and feed their souls shrieking to the Great Maggot!" The Horned Man raged, frothing at the mouth, starting towards the interloper, who laughed and disappeared between steps, his last words coming back mockingly. "That's the spirit." Cody / Araun gibbered curses in a mixture of tongues both earthly and otherwise, tugging at the horns growing from his scalp. His own horns, now. The skull was where it belonged, on the effigy facing his throne. He didn't need that anymore - he was becoming the Horned Man in truth. The Horned Man had told him so. He would kill them. Kill them all. And the Tree would feed. Marias Medical Center - The Fellowship "The creatures. I can't feel them anymore." Kat said suddenly as the group moved along the hall to the T--junction ahead. Those with psionic gifts paused, also unable to feel the oily presence of the things, as the strangeness began to fade from their surroundings. The black patches on the walls began to fade, the light lost it's eerie quality. The emergency lighting was still on, but the sickly sweet smell and oppressive sense of corruption, of the Dark's realm, faded as swiftly as the black mold-like stains on the surfaces. "Thank fuck." Charlie muttered, a sentiment echoed by everyone behind him as they all relaxed a little. Marissa let out a heartfelt sigh, repressing the urge to hug everyone and settling for linking arms with Cade, leaning her head against his shoulder. "Let's get out of here before it decides on round two?" suggested Devin, drawing nods from the others. The teleporter could feel normal spatial laws reasserting themselves and felt his own warm glow of relief. The group rounded the corner - to stare into a sudden constellation of flashlights. "Contact, 12 o'clock." Someone shouted ahead of Charlie. "Some kind of weird bug thing!" The shapeshifter had a vision of himself as a giant bullet-pinata and unthinkingly raised his hands as he heard a bunch of click-clacking noises of weapons being readied. "Wait!" Cassie pushed past the Major, Autumn in tow. "That's Charlie! Uh, friendly! Friendly!" "Weapons secure!" the Major ordered above the hubbub as the two girls moved towards their friends, the soldiers re-safeing their guns and moving forward more slowly. "What the fuck is that?!" came from behind Jason, who glanced over one frozen shoulder to see four deputies and the sheriff advancing from the other corner of the t-junction, shotguns leveled at him. Immediately the soldiers went into crouches, their own rifles raised. Everyone started yelling at each other, two groups of armed men and the teens between them. "Lower your weapons!" shouted the Major. "Identify yourselves!" yelled Sheriff Allister. "Major Taggart, US Air Force, Sheriff. And I am in command here. Lower your weapons!" "Cade?" The Sheriff stared at his son. Hank kept his own sidearm down, watching tensely. "Uh, hi dad." Cade replied, lowering the fire-ax and aware of Marissa hanging onto his free arm. Charlie took the opportunity to de-Shrimp and look as harmless as possible. "Sheriff?" one of the deputies asked, looking nervously at the soldiers and the still ice-encased Jason who was utterly still, staring at the law enforcement posse with an intent, calculating air. Hank went to put a restraining hand on his shoulder and paused, realising that to do so would possibly mean losing a finger or two to frostbite. "Everyone calm down!" Marissa spoke up, her voice carrying authoritatively over the chaos. "You're both pointing guns at each other with kids in the way, damn it." Something about her tone carried her faint scorn and strong disapproval to both armed groups, who slowly relaxed. "We're going to put our weapons down, because we don't need them now, with you all here to protect us. Right?" Taggart and the sheriff exchanged glances past the teens, then nodded, signalling their men to lower their weapons. Marissa nodded to the Fellowship members who unclenched a little, Sean allowing his laser discs to fade out, Cade setting the ax down, Devin resting his broom handle against the wall. "Jason?" Marissa slipped her arm from Cade's and went to stand between him and the deputies. He didn't seem tense to her, even past the icy sheath covering his body and features. He rather seemed to be assessing something as he looked over one shoulder at Taggart's men, then back at the sheriff's group. "Jason?" she repeated softly, getting his attention. His gaze was even paler than usual, blue tinging the green. "Whatever calculus you're doing, we need you to not be doing it right now." "You're happy with this exposure?" he replied in a murmur, confirming Marissa's suspicions. She met his eyes and nodded slightly. "Happier than I would be with you being a murderer." she said quietly, keeping her gaze on his and feeling the chill he emanated fade as the ice coating him began to dissipate into vapour, boiling away into the air and leaving warm flesh behind. Marissa smiled at him as he shrugged, his manner shifting from calculating predatory intensity to relaxed predatory intensity - which was ground-note Jason. "Thank you." she said simply, before stepping around him in a puff of hibiscus and jasmine, going back to Cade's side. The Project Facility - The Fellowship It was later. Not much later, but later. The medical center was currently under quarantine - at least that was the public story. Something about biohazard containment - no deaths but everyone on the premises having to be thoroughly checked and decontaminated before they could be released. The Fellowship, Hank, Gar and Sophia were all sitting in a large meeting room with a central table and couches along the walls. A holo-screen was playing the local news, showing the medical center from outside - or rather, showing a large white tent from outside, with official looking men and women in biohazard suits moving in and out of an airlock carrying large crates. The teens had been assured that their parents would be notified of their safety, but 'containment' needed to be performed before they could let them all go. Conspicuously absent were the sheriff and deputies, who'd been led elsewhere. Snacks and sodas had been provided, but none of the Fellowship trusted their captors, and so the drinks and food remained untouched. Jason had changed into the new clothes that Sean had brought now, and sat in the grey sweatpants and Rangers jersey talking quietly with his father in one corner, Hank sitting nearby having been relieved of his pistol. Gar seemed to be taking the revelations well, perhaps taking on some of the calm with which his son was relaying them. The others were arrayed around the room, attempting to relax until Sophia, who'd been keeping a distance from Charlie and watching him intently, rose and moved to sit beside him. "Sooo." she said after taking a deep breath. "You're a mutant? Or an alien? What?"
  16. Kaiju, old maps, new GMs, and a peek at the Nightside. Here in this week’s Cypher Chronicles! You can get Cypher Chronicles, and other MCG news, delivered right to your inbox! The post Cypher Chronicles, vol. 5-2020 appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  17. Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck The Major, his name-tag currently invisible under the body armor he was wearing, regarded both girls with an stone-faced expression that could be considered daunting - except that both of them knew Jason Effing Bannon, who redefined the unblinkingly focused intense gaze to new levels of vivisection-like discomfort. They waited a heartbeat or two, then the Major looked over at Cook, who was busy at the console talking to someone, and back at them, appearing to make up his mind. "Come with me." he said with quiet authority, turning and moving towards the large elevator at the back of the room. Autumn and Cassie glanced at each other and hustled after him, having to almost trot to keep up. "I'm probably going to catch hell for this, but never mind that." The Major stopped at some lockers next to the elevator and pulled out a couple of tactical armor jackets. A hand signal to his waiting men caused two of them to step forward and, without undue fuss, start helping the two girls into the garb, cinching straps and ensuring they were secure as the Major continued talking. "You girls can sense those things. You're also known to your friends. Both facts make my job easier." He handed them each a helmet, which the attendant Airmen helped them strap on. "Now I'm going to tell you how not to make my job harder." Giving them both a once-over, he smiled wryly and motioned for the teens to follow him into the elevator. His men bundled in also, the elevator obviously meant for the moving of freight or large numbers. A button was pressed, then a brief code entered, and the elevator started moving up. "You do as you're told. No running off, no getting between my guns and the enemy. These two men will be your protection, and ensure you move and stop when you're supposed to move and stop." Pale blue eyes fixed on both girls. "Pay attention to them as if they were the word of God, ladies. Now, if you sense an enemy, you talk to me. Call out the o'clock and roughly how far, if you can. We're going to try and catch up with your friends and ensure they are safe, but we need you to smooth that over - I can't afford to take chances that some gifted kid is going to panic and start throwing my guys around. My men have dart guns and tasers and will subdue any kids who get aggressive." "Yeah, probably best not to lead with that." Cassie piped up somewhat absently, her attention on the sense of what was playing out overhead. "A bunch of the creatures close to our friends just died, like fast." She wondered how the Dark monstrosities had bought it: Jason's flames, Sean's laser trick, Charlie turning into an armored killing machine, maybe even Devin teleporting them into a wall or something? The Shine flashed and strobed around her friends in a way that, were it visual, would be seizure-inducing. But her attention was drawn further afield: beyond the 'light' show there was something else, just outside the edge of the Dark zone being projected onto Shelly... A foul, deeper knot of darkness - no, of Dark-ness, somewhere to the southwest of the medical center, near the center of Shelly. It was thick, tarry, and just brushing her senses over it made a fresh wave of nausea rise in the clairvoyant's stomach. It pulsed and beat like a powerful black heart, and some intuition - or perhaps the Shine itself - told Cassandra that this was where the Dark made it's home. If the Tree was a literal tree, this place was it's main taproot.
  18. Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked Hank had been in some shit and hellfire situations, but even given Jason's candid talk with him on Sunday morning this whole FUBAR scenario seemed surreal. Jason hadn't told him about the other's abilities, so the sight of kids controlling lasers, teleporting, changing into armored killing machines... not to mention the hellbeast back there beyond the freezing wall and these bendy, Gumby-looking fuckers shrieking and whistling to each other was enough to overload the strongest of minds. Fortunately, he had a maxim for situations like this, born of training and experience: hold onto your shit, and focus on the opportunity for doing some damage. The opportunity came when the Allister kid, with a swing that'd do his coach proud, slammed one of the demonic looking shitstains a few meters through the air and into a wall, where it slumped to the floor, bonelessly flailing to get to it's feet. Hank stepped up, careful to avoid the thrashing limbs, and put two what he hoped was the thing's brainpan. Goop sprayed along the wall and the rubbery mass of it's body gave a heave, then stopped moving. Hank grunted to himself, lowering his weapon and glancing quickly around to assess the rest of the situation. Looked like they died just fine, at least.
  19. Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked The buzzing sound of whatever hellish swarm the large creature had spawned died off to the accompaniment of a hail-like rattle that was almost as deafening, as hundreds of tiny bodies froze solid as they hit the wall of ice blocking their path then shattered from the force of their impacts, falling in pieces to the ground. The mutated beast shrieked in frustration, slammed into the barrier, then screamed in discomfort as the chill of the wall, clearly felt to those on the other side of it even from a few feet away, bit into it's rubbery slick hide, freezing sections solid and forcing the beast to rip it's own skin off to free itself. Jason emanated the same heat-sapping, nerve-numbing chill as the wall, a fact which stopped his father from grabbing his ice-encased son in a hug and caused Sophia to step wide around the lanky form that trailed chilly vapor as he motioned to everyone to follow Devin. "Questions later." he said in a tone that wasn't quite as cold as the rest of him, but nevertheless seemed far too collected for the situation they found themselves in. "This is so fucking unreal." Sophia muttered as she hurried after Devin, aware that Graskle and Jason's dad were following her, with Jason bringing up the rear. Up ahead she could see the large form of Cade outlined against the emergency lighting and beyond that- A monster of chitin and spiked, scythe-like limbs. Fighting other monsters that seemed made of oily rubber. Moving beams of light in three different colours, zipping through the air, coming back to rest next to Sean Cassidy like playful hounds coming to heel. Marissa Jauntsen, one arm around the shoulders of that new girl and standing tall for all the world like Joan of Arc sounding the charge. And- Then the ceiling tiles fell in, four more of the reeking creatures dropping onto everyone's heads as two of the three ahead of the party attempted to rush the chitinous creature and the third, running along the walls, leapt for Sean, who stepped aside and ducked at the last moment, his reaction speed just ahead of even the blindingly swift pounce of the oily-skinned hunter, it's tooth-studded hands narrowly missing his head. Charlie hunched and braced as the shark-like grippers of the things scraped at his chitinous hide, unable to find purchase. One of the ambushers from above dropped on Marissa, rubbery arms reaching out for the lithe girl who, still with her arm around Kat's shoulders as though the smaller girl were a dance partner, twisted and backstepped out of the way of the flailing attack with a smirk. "Sorry, sweetie. There's not enough liquor in the world." she snarked, even as her nose wrinkled at the stench of the thing up close. Another dropped on Devin, only to find it's prey wasn't where he had been as the agile youth rolled neatly aside, coming up balanced on the balls of his feet, ready to move again. And the last two from above dropped on the trailing member of the party who was making no effort to resist. The creatures dogpiled Jason, wrapping their arms around his form, the rubbery tentacle limbs constricting his chest and throat, clawed/toothed grasping ends of their limbs seeking vulnerable flesh - and finding only solid ice and searing cold that was beyond any natural chill. Both recoiled, screaming high-pitched whistling screams of pain, portions of their limbs and torsos covered in biting frost that blackened the flesh beneath, leaving chunks of their flesh attached to Bannon who, in an oddly fastidious gesture, brushed the blackened shards of frozen flesh from his clothing to shatter into particles on the floor.
  20. Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck The team that had been making ready to follow the Captain to the labs paused as their leader held up a closed fist, then looked at his superior. "Major?" The hard-faced older man squinted down the hallway, then at Autumn with a gaze that, whilst not hostile, indicated urgency despite his calm demeanor. "Alright, miss. Talk to me. Did you see them?" "Felt them." Autumn replied, repressing a shiver at the wrongness she'd felt. "They're the size of large dogs, fast, and maybe thirty meters from the fire doors by his elevator." She indicated Cook. "They felt wrong, too." "Felt wrong?" The Captain interjected. "Alive, but all twisted up." Autumn's blue eyes were wide with the effects of adrenaline and fear, but her voice was steady. She needed them to take her seriously - perhaps it would keep them alive. The Major regarded her for a moment longer, then nodded to the Captain. "Proceed with caution. Don't be afraid to fall back, and stay on comms." As the ten-man section hurried off down the corridor five to a wall, weapons raised and moving with that peculiar smooth gait, the Major glanced at Doctor Cook as he motioned for the section escorting the civilians to proceed down the other hall. "Doc, these girls yours?" Cook was staring hard at Autumn, as though he was seeing her for the first time. Courtney, likewise, was giving the less-glamorous redhead a keen-eyed glance. The Major repeated "Doc?" at which point the man in the white coat shook his head. "No. Allen is, but not this one. She's not one of mine. She wasn't even marked down as part of the control group." "Seems she should have been." The major remarked tersely, then with an air of dismissing Cook looked at Autumn and Cassie again. "I'm gonna be straight. One or both of you has sensory and perhaps other abilities. If you can help me do my job, which is to clean up the mess upstairs right now, speak up. Otherwise keep quiet, behave and I won't have to tranq you and lock you down on a gurney." They moved at a hustle through the double doors at the far end of the hall, emerging into a many-screened operations center, men and women in a mixture of Air Force uniforms and civilian attire buzzing back and forth like bees when the hive had been disturbed whilst others sat at holographic screens and spoke urgently into their microphones. "Lieutenant, report!" The Major rapped out, and a woman wearing the insignia of a Lieutenant turned from a screen and hurried over. "Still collating data sir. First glance is that there is some kind of dimensional overlap, like a shadow being cast over half of Shelly. Satellite and cellular comms are slowed, imagery from above makes it look like a sudden storm." The L.T's eyes were wide and her face pale - she had the air of a woman focusing on the job at hand so she could live to fall apart later. Autumn and Cassie could relate. "We've got an indeterminate number of hostiles both down here and upstairs in the medical center. Infrared doesn't track them well, so we're having to rely on visual cameras and motion trackers." On the large screen behind her, both Autumn and Cassandra could see a split-screen camera view of the hallway outside the ICU and the waiting room. They saw Devin running, tugging Sophia Fingleman along as Hank Graskle and Gar Bannon raced up the corridor, the amorphous bulk of the screeching fish-monster behind them. They saw Jason coming around the corner ahead of the fleeing people, his body coated with ice that shimmered in the lights like frost in the sun. There was a flare of red, green and yellow from the other screen, streaks of brilliant color that streaked past fast-moving shapes - and then the lights went out in the medical center above, the cameras going dark. "Sir!" A technician yelled. "Power's out upstairs. Emergency is coming online but we've lost most of the cameras!" "Is the personnel elevator still working?" The major asked. Another screen-jockey peered at their display. "Yes sir. We still have power down here. We're trying to re-route the power upstairs now but will need time. Some sort of surge fried everything." "Bravo team, elevator." The major ordered. Cook looked at him askance. "What about us?" The doctor asked. The major regarded him for a moment, then indicated the armed guards in the operations center. "You'll be as safe here as anywhere." He said curtly, then motioned for his men to proceed to the large elevator at the back of the room, pausing to issue a couple of orders to the lieutenant. Cook frowned, and headed over to vacant console with Courtney in tow, picking up the headset with the apparent aim of talking to someone. It dawned on Cassie and Autumn at that moment that the powers that be seemed to have forgotten about them...
  21. Under Marias Medical Center - Team Pluck The hallway was broad, well-lit despite the weird effect of the Dark's dimensional overlap, and lined with pipes and cables along the ceiling. Doorways, some with doors, others without, opened onto the hallway in both directions from the T-junction. The corridor went roughly thirty feet in both directions, ending in double doors at each end. Cassie took all this in with a glance as Autumn kept a watchful blue eye back the way they had come, swallowing back her nerves as the screams had ended. The siren still hooted overhead, blue lights flashing at intervals along the walls. Of more immediate import than any of this was the twenty armed Airmen in full combat gear following a grizzled, hard-faced man similarly outfitted down the corridor towards the t-junction. Cassie shrank back, but there was really nowhere to go - the hallway she and Autumn were in was empty of hiding places. She could hear the guy in charge issuing orders as he came closer. "Captain, you take your section and head to the bio-labs. Seems the incursion has come both above and below ground. Sweep everywhere. Bravo section you're with me. We're headed topside to splash that ugly critter before it can eat any more civilians. And remember-" Whatever he had been about to admonish his men to remember went unsaid as they stopped at the junction, the leader's eyes widening, sharing the astonishment of his men's expressions as they saw the two girls. A couple of guns came up, but the guy in charge - a Major, if Cassie remembered her ranks right, made a hand signal and the weapons were lowered as fast as they had been readied. "And what the hell are you two doing down here?" The major rapped out. "Identify yourselves. Now." Even as he issued that order, the doors to the lab that Cassie and Autumn had recently been in burst open and disgorged Courtney and Dr Cook, both looking somewhat wild eyed as they hurried along the corridor towards the group at the junction. "Major!" Cook called. "Thank god. Something has gone-" he registered the presence of Cassie and Autumn then. "What the hell?" Beside him, Courtney scowled. "Fucking Cassandra Allen." she said with some disgust. "Figures you'd be neck deep in shit going south. Oh, and it's the plain redhead of Shelly High, too." Crimson lips smirked at Autumn. "Nice work on Curtis's leg. I'm sure your new psycho boyfriend will love that you put a guy in hospital for him. What, was steak and a blowjob too basic?" "Courtney, please." Cook said with a weary tone, despite his wide-eyed demeanour. "Ladies, you shouldn't be down here." "Beg pardon, Doc, but none of you should be here right now." The Major gestured, and several of his men moved to flank Cook, Courtney, Autumn and Cassie. "This is a Level Five lockdown. You'll all need to come with me. Captain Williams? Proceed to the labs." As one section of ten men followed the captain back the way Cassie and Autumn had come, the major looked at the civilians with the air of a man who wished he could lock them all up somewhere. Instead he motioned up the corridor from the junction. "Let's get moving."
  22. Current scene is Episode V: Rainbow Weave. Post Initiative results below please, along with location / group tag and your pre-combat action with dice rolls and results. Don't post these in the main thread until it's your go-time. Team Fucked Initiatives Monsters: 1 NPCs: 0 (Complication: shock and fear) Kat - 3 Sean - 3 Charlie - 2 Bannon - 2 Devin - 2 Marissa - 2 Cade - 0
  23. Marias Medical Center - Team Fucked As Bannon started away the others glanced at each other for a moment, Marissa's mouth setting in a grim line, Sean looking as though he was tempted to go after his friend and only the fact he had also taken it on himself to guard Kat was keeping him with the others. Cade looked likewise torn, as did Charlie, who glanced back from his position at the head of the group. None of them said anything for a moment - even Marissa at that moment unable to fault Jase being concerned for his flesh and blood. She chewed her lower lip, weighing one life against the other five in this corridor. "We should-" she started, but what she had decided remained a mystery as Charlie's head snapped round to face the way they had been travelling. He'd felt something... a few somethings, perhaps as many as half a dozen. The size of dogs, maybe, but their size was not what troubled him. The twisted, corrupt energies of the realm of the Dark seethed in these creatures the same way as they did in the Coochisaurus, and they moved rapidly. And they were coming from the direction the group had been headed towards, from the side entrance to the medical center. "Guys." he said urgently. "We've got company ahead." He peered down the corridor, the weird quality of the light playing tricks on his eyes. There. Something had skittered across the corridor, moving in a fluid low crouch, which would have been disturbing enough if it wasn't for the fact that it had skittered across the corridor on the ceiling. He'd gotten an impression of a child-sized body with over-long limbs, and greasy skin that gleamed weirdly in the light. Then another one appeared, this time creeping around the corner thirty feet ahead, clinging to the wall. It was a misshapen parody of a humanoid form with a torso not much larger than Kat's, but with arms and legs more resembling tentacles ending in many-toothed appendages, it's mouth a raw, open hole lined with inward curving teeth, and it sniffed the air as it slunk along the wall, then stopped moving when it spotted the teens. The tableau froze for a moment, then the creature let out a whistling, warbling cry of triumph and hunger, and three more came scuttling and slithering around the corner. One moving low along the shiny tiled floor, one on the ceiling, and the third on the opposite wall of the corridor. They paused for half a heartbeat, then charged, moving with an unnatural, boneless gait that seemed almost languorous - until you realised that they were covering the distance with terrifying efficiency. Meanwhile, in the Waiting Area As Devin tugged Sophia along in his wake, he threw a glance back over his shoulder. The fishasaurus was limping badly compared to the brutal speed with which it had moved last time he'd seen it, but it was keeping pace with the four people running ahead of it. He recognised Jase's dad and Hank now, and mentally groaned. This kept getting better - the way Gar Bannon was yelling, Jason would probably hear him and... Yep. Up ahead, he saw Jase come into view around the corner. There were days Devin would happily trade being right all the time, and this was one of them. The creature recognised another of it's tormentors from Friday as well, letting out another bloodcurdling shriek. Casting another look back, Devin saw some of the warty, bulbous growths on it's body swell, pulse and... burst in a gross squelching noise and sprays of black oily substance as clouds of buzzing, chittering things that he was pretty sure he didn't want to get a closer look at boiled into the air above their monstrous progenitor's head - then came swarming after the fleeing humans.
  24. Autumn and Cassandra The elevator dropped rapidly, but smoothly so. It was sleek and sterile inside the tiny moving room, barely big enough for three adults to squeeze into - obviously a personal conveyance rather than one used for transporting cargo or large numbers of people. The control panel had two buttons arranged vertically - their arrows making their purpose plain - and a red button set further down and to one side, un-emblazoned. Mentally, both girls were ticking off seconds as the elevator travelled - how long for Cook to get into the room, perhaps banter some more with Courtney, and then call for the elevator himsel- The doors hissed open almost before the two of them registered that they had come to a smooth stop. Beyond the doors was a short corridor, a double fire-door at one end and another, single door situated about halfway along. They stared for a moment, then Autumn firmly took hold of Cassie's arm and propelled both girls from the elevator as a soft chime sounded and the door began to close. They looked back at the door closing behind them, then at each other. Someone above had pressed the call code. They had maybe thirty seconds, now. Nowhere to go but forward. They moved along the corridor, Cassie trying the side door and finding it open as Autumn quickly paced up to the double doors and glanced through them in turn. Beyond the single door was another office, only this one had no regular computer monitors on a wood-finish desk as the one above had possessed. The desk here was smooth, glossy and black, the surface underscored with tiny scintillating lights that changed colour in lazy accordance with the holographic displays being projected into the air above. Across the office, on the opposite wall, was another door, currently closed. Autumn, meanwhile, peered through the panels of the double doors at a large, brightly lit hallway beyond. She heard machinery, and voices., and ducked out of sight as two uniformed men walked past. They appeared to be wearing U.S. Air Force BDUs, and though were only carrying sidearms looked tough and competent. The two Airmen turned a corner and went out of sight, and Autumn looked back to catch Cassandra's eye, each girl silently asking the other "Which way now?" Project Argo - Elsewhere "We're ready to go again." a woman in Air Force fatigues reported in a crisp tone. "It took some doing, but the wave-form oscillation matrix has been stabilised. This time the Argo's interference shouldn't throw off the projector and cause a breach elsewhere." Though the woman, a Captain with a double PhD in Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics, privately mused that she wasn't entirely sure how it had happened last time. It was as though something had reached out and redirected the focal point of the machine - how or why was still a mystery. "Excellent." came the digitised voice of the Doctor from over the speakers. "Proceed with the startup sequencing." "Yes, sir." The Captain said automatically, turning to give orders to the Airmen at the consoles. Beyond the control center's massive observation pane she could see the cavern beyond, containing the Key - the cyclotron-like device which she had helped design and build , currently swarming with techs in radiation suits and, beyond them... A shimmering, white surface that made up one wall of the cavern. A material that defied drills, explosives, or any other means of entry that they had tried over the last decades since it's discovery, it curved slightly between floor and ceiling, continuing into the rock that embraced it. It was just a glimpse, she knew. The thing was larger than the cavern, easily as large as the lake over their heads. No, she corrected herself. Not a 'thing'. A vessel. Caught in some manner of phased-state between the atoms around it, preserved like a fly in amber, outside of normal space and time. The Argo. Cody Sikes / The Horned Man They were trying again. He/they could feel the ripples in the cosmic foundations washing across his consciousness. Good. he/they thought, rising from the grisly remnants of his last meal and staring around in the dark cave-like place which sheltered him, hid him from those who would harm him. The air was redolent with filth and the reek of decomposing meat, buzzing with flies, but Cody paid it no head as he breathed in deeply. When he'd first come to this place, drawn by the Tree in his dreams, he'd been weak, and vomited at the scent of ancient death. But now he was strong, the Horned Man told him. Now he was the Horned Man, and he had to bring home the harvest, water the Tree. He had been chosen, and should be proud of that. The Horned Man had set his eyes on other candidates, but they were blinded by the light that emanated from their own souls and were worthless because of it. No he, Cody was perfect, and strong, and without Light. The Light shone brightly in his minds-eye, a gathering of the brightest currently at the hospital. His pawns had failed, as the Horned Man had thought they might do, but the Horned Man was subtle. The Light that drew them together, the bond they shared, was a weakness. Injure one, and others would come running... And a cluster of stalks of grain were easily reaped and threshed. That was why he had let Cody try his scheme - all ways led to the End of the Path, after all. He felt the ripples strengthen and the Horned Man joined with him - or was he already joined with him, or was he already the Horned Man? It was confusing, but what wasn't confusing was the power. The men in uniform were making a key to a door they ill-understood, but that key could be used... differently. Marias Medical Center - Above AND Below They all felt it at the same time. Cassandra and Devin the most severely, then Kat. But all of them felt it to one degree or another. There was a subtle wrenching in the Shine, the subquantum as Jason and Sean called it. Space from elsewhere was being folded over itself, like a shroud being pulled over a corpse - an apt description as the sensation was accompanied by a bone-deep cold that lasted forever and an instant. The air turned stale within the medical center, the radiance from various light sources seeming... wrong somehow. Muted, throwing odd shadows. The Fellowship looked at each other. "Oh, hell to the fuck no." Devin vocalised what they were all thinking, feeling his stomach dip and roil as space became twisted. Marissa glanced out of the window, noting that the sky seemed to be entirely formed of black, billowing clouds, the leaves and bark on the trees outside taking on a withered look. Charlie glanced out into the hospital lobby, spotting Sophia coming to her feet, looking alarmed. People were milling around uncertainly, looking up at the sky, wondering if this was a storm or a sudden tornado. Dark patches began to appear on the walls, growing from the floor upwards, glistening like oil slicks as they stained the pristine hospital paintwork. Jason pulled off the monitor electrodes he was wearing and sat up, swinging his legs out of bed and grabbing his boots, pulling them on and heedless of his lack of shirt. "We're the target of this." he said tersely. "The Dark wants to kill those with Shine, feed off them somehow." "How do-?" Sean began, but Jase cut him off, his manner curt but calm. "Mr Black told me. Let's move, hmm?" Below ground, for Cassie and Autumn, the effect was much the same, and they quickly realised they were not the only one to notice it. An alarm began to sound in the complex in which they had found themselves. Cassandra clutched at her head for a moment, feeling cold hatred so intense that it made her gasp. Autumn felt a wrongness to the quality of the air, like the air itself was sick, and fought down a feeling of nausea. The sudden change had taken only moments, and the elevator carrying Courtney and probably Dr Cook was likely still on it's way down. That was when the screams started. For Autumn and Cassandra, the first was a high-pitched yell of a man in pain and mortal terror, suddenly cut off, from beyond the double doors Autumn was standing at. For the Fellowship in the medical center's ICU, the screams were of fright, accompanied by a crash of glass from the front of the building and finally, as though punctuating the whole horrible cacophony with an exclamation point, a gargling, shrieking roar that all remembered from the previous Friday.
  25. ICU Room - Everyone except Autumn and Cassie "You're sweet." Marissa took the soda from Cade with a soft smile. "Thank you." she murmured as Devin set the can bought for Jase close at hand after popping the tab. Everyone else seemed to stop discussing what they had been discussing, which Sean had been expecting as he pushed forward and set the bag of clothing down by Jason. "Sweatpants, shirt, socks and boxers." he noted in response to his friend's raised brow. Jase smiled a little, the uninjured corner of his mouth lifting gently. "Thank you." he replied, picking up the soda and taking a sip. "I think they burned my old shirt." he said with a wry gleam in his eyes, a statement which caused Marissa to snort. "They should torch the rest of your wardrobe while they're at it." she snarked with an expressive quirk of her maroon lips. "Do you even have anything other than grey, white and army green shirts in there?" Jason didn't reply, just smiled a little as he took another drink, Devin chuckling agreement with his sister's assessment of their friend's dress sense. "When do you think they'll let you out?" Sean asked, pondering the nicely flowering bruises on Jason's torso. Ouch. He looked back at Kat, who was being unobtrusive at the moment near the door, and gave her a reassuring smile. He knew first hand that being in a room with this crowd was daunting - hell, being in a room with just Marissa was daunting. Kat wasn't really experiencing that, though there was the usual sense of 'oh hey, strange people. Don't mind me!' in her manner. That seemed secondary to her, though, as she got a feel for the room and it's occupants. There was something else here, a harmonic that seemed to fill the available spaces around the room's inhabitants. Like... Jason, who seemed to have a personal space that took up the whole room, as though no matter where you stood you were in arm's reach. Sean, who seemed to buzz on the cusp of hearing with the activities of his thoughts. Marissa seemed to draw all the light in the room to her, as though moving in her own personal spotlight as she smiled devastatingly at the big guy - Cade - and tossed her hair over one shoulder. And her brother, who seemed never at rest, even while sitting down stuffing his face with what looked like jerky from a bag and chatting to Jason about how someone called 'Lona' would be by later. The sensations weren't intrusive or overwhelming, but there were there nonetheless - and they were definitely sensations, not opinions. Like all of the traits she noted were registering on a sixth sense of hers. It was strange, and so she remained quiet for now as she watched and tried to make sense of this new thing. Dr Cook's Office - Autumn and Cassie The words were breathed rather than spoken, and the tone of them as much as the shocking import of the words themselves was what drew Autumn's attention back from the corridor outside, her blue eyes widening as what Cassandra had said hit home. "Fffuuuck." she said in a similar low tone. "Are you sure? I mean, really sure?" To think that Dr Cook, who was a pillar of the community, had murdered someone... "Etienne came here, he was angry and telling Cook he wasn't going to spy no more. Cook got mad and scared, and pulled the gun on him, taking him back there." Cassie pointed at the secret door, then looking at Autumn's curious expression. "It's a secret elevator. Anyway, when he came back he was alone." "Fuck." Autumn said quietly, less drawn out but more emphatically this time. "What now?" "Now I'm going to try and get into the computer here-" Cassie said, her lovely features still a little pale at the prospect of investigating a murderer's office. Autumn raised a hand suddenly, cutting her friend off. She had heard something, and turned back to the slightly-ajar door. Doctor Cook was walking down the corridor towards the office, and by his side was Courtney, both of them walking purposefully. The pair of them were talking in low voices which carried to Autumn's ears. "...get you back to the school." Cook was saying. "They'll be looking for you at cheer practice, yes?" "Yep. Wouldn't do for the beloved cheer captain to miss practice." Courtney said. "Especially since everyone thinks I'm still there." "Take the underground transit." Cook told her. "Just make sure no-one's hanging around the egress point when you get to the other end." "Gee, thanks." Courtney's crimson lips spread in a smile. "Can I borrow your carkeys next, daddy? I promise I'll be careful handling the stick." It seemed to be an old game between them, Cook rolling his eyes slightly at her blatancy. "Just get back to school, and keep an eye on things." he told her firmly. "This attack wasn't your doing, or so you say. But both young men aren't even sure why they were angry with young Mr Bannon." "They caught the other one, then?" Courtney asked, attentively. Cook nodded. "His mother drove him to the sheriff's office herself. Seems he's remorseful and confused." The doctor grabbed Courtney's arm just as they got to the office door, turning her to face him. Thus far, neither had noticed the door was ajar. "This better not have been you, Courtney. The Doctor was livid when he got the report about you pushing a cheerleader and one of the football players instigate an incident with the Bannon boy. No more games - all of them are hands-off until further notice." The expensively dressed redhead pouted, her dark eyes sullen. "Fine. I got the message. Just so you know, when they're hands-on again, I want in on that action. I know just how I'd tackle it." Cook released her, and the two turned back towards the door...
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