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  1. Revelations & Rivalries “I heard that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” - Either of the Jauntsen Twins moments after a break up Branch-9 Underground Facility: Annette Giles’ Office “Wyoming, Annette. Fucking Wyoming!” Taggert huffed behind the closed doors of Annette’s office. It was only the two of them in there as they often to speak freely and vent their numerous frustrations at the bureaucracy within their respective chains of command and myriad of small things that went wrong for them on an almost daily basis. “Who does that? I’ve calmed down, but I swear Annette, I could have rung that kid’s neck.” Annette laughed as the rim of her glass raised to her colored lips. She sipped her brandy and shook her head. “These kids are nothing if not impulsive, John.” Major John Taggart, the acting commanding officer of the Branch-9 Division sat comfortably in the large chair across from Annette who was behind her desk in her incredibly comfortable office chair. The two cubes clinked in his glass and sighed, shaking his head. “These kids are dangerous, Annette. They are impulsive, and out of control and… troubled. I won’t say they aren’t all incredible in a laundry list of amazing ways but are out efforts going to be worth the inevitable problems they are going to cause down the road. The Joint Chiefs are getting involved in this now. Children with, and I know you hate the term but, super-powers exist and… according to Devin Jauntsen’s testimony: ‘went upside the head, the side that looked like a cheese grater made love to it, of a dimensional horror from a realm where anuses were born.’ That’s a direct quote, by the way.” She laughed, craning her head back and setting her glass on her desk as she covered her expression of pure entertainment. These were the moments when her and John were allowed to drop the veil of professionalism and just be real with one another about all they had going on in their respective professional lives. “Oh god, I swear, if that kid was ten years older.” She mused as Taggart gave her judgmental, if teasing, look. “Fine, fifteen.” “I know that they’re difficult, John.” She started, composing herself and leaning forward onto her desk. “And you’re an Operator, single, military, and it’s all you’ve ever known, so dealing with this group of kids is and will remain, a daunting task. I sympathize, I do,” she chuckled. “But you and your men, when you signed that piece of paper you knew exactly what you were getting into. You trained, you worked hard, you studied and through it all you knew exactly what you were: the tip of the spear, and you were just waiting to be thrown at a threat to your nation and its people.” She steepled her hands and then separated them, blooming them out as her point expanded. “But these kids, John, didn’t sign up for this. Hell, we didn’t sign up for this. Other dimensions, worlds, supernatural powers and alien gods? They’re sixteen and from the methodical and cold Jason Bannon to the hyper-curious and inquisitive Cassandra, they are stumbling in the dark for answers and trying to make sense of nonsense. The Jauntsen twins’ home is a shambles, they feel unloved and lost. Cassandra’s family was splintered by loss of her father and now suddenly he’s alive? Autumn, despite her every attempt to find normalcy knowns in her heart of hearts that that side of the street is forever lost to her. They are lost, seeking answers, and they’re going to need men and women like you and me to mentor them and deal with all the set-backs along the way, and with Devin, I foresee many set-backs.” He sighed, heavily, shaking his head as his thoughts collected themselves. “I’m not good with kids. Hell, I went to my nephew’s birthday party in July, and I had nothing to talk about, with him or my sister and her husband. It’s all counter-terrorism stories and training and that’s when it dawned on me… Christ, Annette, I’m married to my job. I can hardly relate to my junior enlisted, let alone this gaggle of super-geniuses and professional troublemakers. I don’t even know where to begin with them half the time.” She grunted and raised her glass in solidarity. “I know the feeling. My niece is going through all manner of personal issues. She’s not much older than the kids we work with here, but I’ve been so wrapped up in projects here that I had no idea.” Reminded of something as she sipped her drink. “Oh, speaking of, I’ll be on leave here soon, I have to go to Brighton, I’m just waiting on the dates.” “Fair enough,” Taggart, nodded. He looked at his watch and sighed. “Shit. The twins are going to be here soon. Guess it’s back to being responsible adults.” ---===[***]===--- Branch-9 Underground Facility: Gym Throughout the gym soldiers and airmen performed their daily regimen of bench presses and squats. Devin had been here a couple times, but never really made use of the facilities since he had a gym at home. Also, like most military gyms, it was grossly over packed at almost all times of day, making it an absolute pain to keep a consistent workout going because he had to wait for several minutes for a machine to free up. Still, it was a great gym, with mirrored walls, two to three of the most standard machines in use for a full body work out and several treadmills and exercise bikes, including a large, matted vacancy in one corner of the room reserved for sparing and floor exercises. About twice the size of a standard boxing ring’s available space, it would, they hoped, provide more than enough room for today’s intended purpose. “Are you sure about this?” Devin asked as he and Aelwen walked through the gym, passing others involved in their workouts. They seemed a bit out of place amongst the larger, older men and women who’d made the military their career and the two of them were barely in the middle of their high-school years. Aelwen, or ‘Ellie’, as she had become known to those down in the facility, allowed an eyebrow to raise quizzically at the Earth-born male’s inquiry. “I offered, did I not? Why would I offer only to mean the complete of my intention?” As they passed by the others, she got a few looks from both the men and women; with her long, blonde hair pulled up, spandex shorts and sports bra on, they could see the numerous scars she sported on almost every curve of her body. Most looked like they had healed exceptionally well, but she had more just from her Teulu training than every soldier and airman in the gym combined from their entire lives. “I’m just saying, I’m fast. I’m not sure you’re ready for just how fast, though. This could be embarrassing.” He shrugged, not looking back at her as they approached. “Fast. Like… an arrow?” She asked. “Like a bullet.” He corrected her while tossing her a pair of padded sparing gloves. “I’m all aquiver.” She said in her typical, expressionless Teulu demeanor. Most of the military staff within Branch-9 were well aware of who Devin and the other ‘special kids’ were, but far less than most had ever seen what they could actually do, their skills and ‘powers’ were nothing more than scuttlebutt and watercooler rumors. When it came to the military, the Fellowship were lucky if they’d even get a ‘hello’ in the hallway as they passed them by. “Careful, kid.” Warned a deep voice belonging to Sergeant Thomas, a large black man at the peak physical readiness. He approached the boundary of the sparing area and slung a towel over the back of his neck. “She’s a lioness.” “Making friends, I see.” Devin quipped, allowing himself a grin. She hadn’t quite considered it that way until after Devin had said it out loud and offered Sergeant Thomas a look, who in turn offered her a polite and respectful nod. “I suppose I am. And you? Are you still hurting inside? Anger still gnawing away at your heart?” “Eh, not so much angry anymore as I am just depressed and over it.” He shrugged, strapping up his fingerless padded gloves. “She wasn’t my girlfriend before I poured my heart out to her, she’s not my girlfriend afterwards, either. I’ve lost nothing and gained nothing. Way I see it I broke even.” “Have you not lost a friend?” Ellie asked while pulling her ponytail up through her head guard. “For all the good those do,” scoffed while chuckling. “She’s with Jacob, so it’s not like she’ll have time to waste wondering about me or how I’m doing. The Fellowship doesn’t think all that highly of my sister and I, if they think of us at all. So that’s dead in the water. Honestly? I think I’m good just saving the world on my own.” “Well then,” Ellie craned her neck from side to side, limbering herself up as she walked to the center ring. “I threaten your world, ‘Jaunt’ of Earth. Come… save it from me.” She urged him forward, taunting him Morpheus-style, beckoning him with her outstretched hand. She clicked her mouthpiece into place. “Like a bullet.” He shook his head as if trying to ignore her taunting, chuckling at her trash talk. “I’m young. I’m handsome. I’m fast. I can’t possibly be beat. You know who said that? Muhammad Ali.” And he crossed the distance from his corner of the matts to the center in a single jaunt of violet streaks. The subquantum particles excited, giving a visible spectrum of violet energy that traced his short hop’s trajectory as he appeared in front of Ellie taking a wild swing at her. Still firmly planted she leaned to one side, raised her hand, took his wrist and twisted it downward while slamming the inside of his elbow with her other hand. In one swift motion she controlled all of Devin’s momentum and he flipped ass-over-head onto the matts. “Bullets miss.” She said as she knelt beside him. “If you ever dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize. Also, Muhammad Ali.” She patted him on the chest and stood up. Devin disappeared and reappeared exactly where he was lying down, except now he was on his feet, rolling the shoulders, he took a few steps back and forth to walk out the slam to the matt. “Alright, alright… you have game.” He nodded. His first teleportation towards Ellie had earned him a few head turns from those in the gym, as the sudden color caught their eye. Now, after his second, a few had stopped their work outs to see what was going on and if some of the rumors of the special kids were true. “I didn’t know the Teulu trash talked,” he smiled. “And Muhammad Ali, really? What are they letting you read in this place? I’m having a talk with Annette, that is way to advanced reading for your age, young lady.” She managed a smile, as Devin’s sense of humor was starting grow on her. As she had anticipated, the adrenaline was already cancelling out the negative feelings in his mind and heart. “I’m picking up numerous bad habits among your people,” she admitted. “My home does not have ‘pizza’, and I now find that fact to be unfortunate.” Before he knew she on him, two straight jabs sped past his field of vision as his spatial awareness kicked his perceptions into overdrive. A right-cross, another jab and finally a spinning kick that he ducked under before finally jaunting a few feet away from her to recompose himself rounded out her initial volley of attacks and there in front of the now growing crowd of gym goers Devin and Ellie were fully engaged in a brawl of parries, dodges and evasions.
  2. Marissa shrugged. "It's no big deal. They made their choice, but thank you anyways. It's nice to know someone can say it, and besides, lessons learned, right? As we work together we'll find ways that work and ways that don't. It's how teams get their vibe." "About Taggart," Devin interjected. "Yes," Annette nodded with a polite smile that bordered on sadistic. "He's still incredibly pissed about his car being sent to Winnipeg." "Wyoming!" He corrected. "See, this why he's so mad, because you guys are blowing it way out of proportion." "Devin could talk to Cassie about this, just so we don't blindside her later with it." Marissa added. "I can speak with Sean. At the very least, to let them know their talents might be needed in the foreseeable future." "Why do I have to talk to Cassie?" Devin asked his sister. "Because, lame-ass," She smirked and leaned in to tease her brother. "She wants to snog you." "You think?" Devin managed his first, honest grin in several hours. "Oh yeah," Marissa chuckled. "It's in her body language, her eyes, every time you're near her she just lights right up. I'll bet her cherry cola chap stick is just dying to meet you, so... you're the logical choice for the mission. Meanwhile, Sean is small and awkward and easily put off by my intimidating poise." She checked her makeup and hair in a nearby reflection on glass. "Plus, I love seeing nerds squirm." Devin didn't seem to need much more convincing, he was already on his way to look for Cassie by the time Marissa had looked away from her reflection. Annette grinned and stepped to meet Marissa, looking at her through the reflection in the glass pane. "Cassie's not a snogger, is she?" "Got me." Marissa shrugged, smiling evilly. "I have no idea what flavor chap stick she uses either, probably regular because she's boring and has only ever kissed skater burn-outs. My idiot brother, however, doesn't need to know that. He's guided by his most immediate want, and right now that is getting over Tawny, and the best way for him to do that, is to get into someone else." "It's art the way you turn caring into a malicious act, Marissa." Annette chuckled and shook her head. "It's nice to see you looking out for him at least." "Always," she said with a sigh as she watched him walk away. They were still fighting and had spent the last few days doing nothing but yelling and screaming at each other back home. Still, through all the confusion of the last few days she knew on things was true in all the lies of Shelly. "He's my brother." "I can tell something is off," she added. "Most times I'd at least half consider his cheesy attempts as coming onto me." "Seriously," Marissa looked at her doubtfully. "I said half-consider." She grinned at Marissa's almost accusatory look of Annette possibly going after her brother. "He's quite charming, your brother, but his routine attempt at winning my affects a moment ago seemed... I don't know, lazy? Half-hearted? Like he wasn't even trying." "Oh, you didn't hear? Oh, wow, okay," Marissa lit up as her 'share the gossip' flip was switched in he brain. "So, get this... apparently my brother is in love with Tawny and when he spilled his heart to her, after saving her from a hell dimension... so..." Marissa took Anette by the arm and proceeded to lure her away with promises of gossip for days.
  3. "More than we have time for at this party," Marissa's reply was factual but laced just the right measure topical sarcasm that is served as a decent enough icebreaker. Annette quickly took inventory of their body language. Marissa was almost impossible to read, but thankfully she spoke first and her tone told Annette more than words she could have used. Marissa was frustrated, bored, angry and, as always, spiteful. "The Fellowship has completely lost all trust in me thanks to my trusting the Project to protect Jason, so, thanks for that. Our parents fight constantly, and we're probably off to a boarding school, oh, and Autumn thinks I can teach her to walk in heels in one evening despite her having all the poise and grace of a epileptic gorilla being tased." "Coincidentally, also the name of her sex tape," Devin tossed in. "So, there's that." Marissa smirked at her brother. "The short version." Devin was edgy, more twitchy than the energetic teleporter usually was. He seemed confused, distracted and lost in uncomfortable in his own skin. His mind was everywhere but in the moment, which would not have seemed to out of the ordinary for him, except she could tell that this time, he seemed to have a specific topic on his mind, Annette just didn't know it was Tawny that he was an emotional wreck over. "We're not listening to our parents," Devin's tone was blunt and devoid of any manner of greeting. "So, we're going to need training and resources to take on whatever is out there and aligned with the Dark. You and Taggart can provide that." "While I appreciate your commitment, both of you, that puts the Project in a very dangerous position," she was attempting diplomacy first. "And we understand that," Marissa cut in. "But with or without you we will be fighting this fight. You built a secret military base under a hospital, you've spied on the community, you've made people 'disappear', covered up crimes and God only knows what else. I'm not judging, we understand why, but we find it hard to believe that after all that you're afraid of one loud Karen with opiate addiction and amazing hair. We're not trying to corner you into a commitment, Ms. Giles, only making you aware that we've given this a lot of thought." "The world needs us, Annette," Devin calmly said, sliding his hands into his pockets. "Not the other way around. We're bigger than our parents, the petty squabble of us being minors, and certainly whether or not we are ready to accept this. It's already been dropped in our lap. We already lost Charlie because we weren't prepared, it's not happening again. If we step quietly away, no one will notice nor care, but at what cost in innocent lives? Doing the exact opposite of what parents tell us is pretty the mission, nay, the duty, of every teenager on the planet. We consider ourselves patriots on that front."
  4. Teulu were certainly confusing. They weren't capable of experiencing fear, but they were... but not... it was too much for him to even try to wrap his head around. She didn't get humans, never would and no amount of waxing poetic about a rose's beauty would make her understand what blue looked like. "no, you go on ahead," he resigned solemnly as he reclined back on the bench. "There's nothing in there for me and I'm not particularly hungry at the moment. I'm just gonna collect my thoughts and probably go talk to Ms. Giles about something and then peace out." She sighed, not wanting that to be the answer she heard. "As you say, then. I will be on my way." A part of him did want to go with her, to spend some time and try to escape from the gloom hovering over his shoulders and the gloam smothering his radiance. Yet he stayed. It wasn't about him and his wants anymore, it was about the path that he had chosen and if the Fellowship couldn't take it seriously, then he would. Cassie's father was running out of time and he didn't have time for happiness and flirting. There was work to do. Quietly he sat there, alone in the light of the sun that did nothing to warm him or comfort his troubled soul. The soft lapping of the water along the edge of the pool was comforting, almost hypnotic, as he stared off into the abyss and silently hoped that nothing on the other side was looking back.
  5. “Oh, she was certainly being immature,” Devin chuckled, but it was hollow and empty, seemingly out of habit instead there being any mirth behind the expression. “I sort of envy you and Jase at the moment, you know?” She craned her head slightly, narrowing her vision in ponderance of what Devin could mean. “Why would you envy us?” “You don’t feel fear,” his reply was swift enough that it had to have been chambered and ready to fire before she even asked. “I mean… a life free of anxiety. You guys don’t know how good you have it. Love sucks, and when we feel it, the last thing we want to do is lose that or those we love. No fear of loss means never having to love, because you can’t truly love someone without fearing one day having to go through life without them.” He chuckled again, shaking his head he leaned forward and rest his elbows on his knees again. “We’re a mess Aelwen. An unadulterated, honest to god, mess.” He stared at the water for a moment, offering the crystalline pool a sigh before moving on. “Your stuff is at Site B, isn’t it? Plus we could use an actual soldier with us. The Fellowship can’t function without their abilities, me included we’ve no training in tactics or combat. You’d be a big help, but I can’t ask you to risk your life for us. If you want in, I certainly won’t turn you away and I’m sure Cassie’s dad would certainly appreciate it”.
  6. “What? No,” his voice cracked a bit as he replied to her question. “Of course not. Ellie I might be mad at her, but I don’t love her any less. I’m not even mad she’s dating Jacob, in fact I’m happy she’s happy. I’m mad because when I went to save her was when I finally realized how blind I was to how much I really cared about her and that I was ready to throw in the towel and give us a chance if she was, y’know?” “I mean, I can take rejection,” he scoffed. “I’m almost as good as Cade at this point. I get things were/are/have been messed up. If she just told me that she wasn’t ready, or that it wasn’t a good time I would have been okay with that. Hell, even if she said she wanted to see how things went with Jacob at Homecoming before deciding, I would have been okay with that, too.” He sighed, letting his head fall back to gaze up at the water shimmering on the glass above them. Ellie held his arm; he wasn’t sure if Teulu did subtly but her scooting closer and holding him seemed like she was trying to get close to her ‘crush’ without him realizing it under façade of concerned hot-bodied-illegal-alien-with- a-thirst-for-Jauntsen. He knew how she felt about him, but he was certainly not going to rebound from Lona to Tawny to giving a hot alien sex machine a baby. He may have been constantly horny since his first time with Lona, but he wasn’t desperate enough to make himself a dad just for a rebound slide. “She didn’t though,” he said to the ceiling. “She went off on me. Telling me I was immature and self-centered and selfish.” He snorted and scoffed at the same time, adding a ‘pfft’ huff for good measure. “Can you believe it, Ellie? Me, selfish! I risked my life to save hers. I let Sean and the others hang out with me. I lied so Jason wouldn’t get felony charges. If she was a friend and she truly cared and appreciated the sacrifices I made to rescue her, then she wouldn’t have treated me like she did. So, Jacob can protect her now. I can't be around someone who thinks of me that way.” “And speaking of,” Devin shifted hi weight, so he was facing Ellie a bit better. “It’s getting tiring listening to everyone talk like Jason is the victim. Poor Jason, mommy left him, now he gets to act out and treat the populace like his verbal and telekinetic punching bag. Woe is him.” He shook his head and huffed. “I don’t buy it. Teulu or not, Jason doesn’t get exonerated for everything he does because mommy didn’t hug him enough. He broke a person into pieces because he wasn’t man enough to look the guy in the eyes and punch him in the jaw. I don’t know what the Teulu call that, but on Earth, we call that a coward. I’m not feeling sorry for him. Not after how he treated Cora, or what he did to Liam, and especially for what he’s done to my sister.” He paused his tirade for a moment. Glistening white danced across her cheek as she looked up at him, making her hair sparkle and eyes twinkle in the reflected light. “Wow,” he said softly, his train of thought moving at the speed of Devin. “You really have gorgeous eyes, El."
  7. "Yeah," he mused, but never smiled. "A lot of that going around." "But you've never felt this, Ellie. You never will." The afternoon sun sent glittering light across the whole room and the shine danced and glimmered across his face. "Comprehension and recognition are not the same. You comprehend physical pain, sure, you've felt it, you can relate to it. Emotional pain? All of those nuances that you don't understand that make us humans, human. Trying to explain how I feel to you, and why would be like you being blind and me trying to explain the color blue." "You may know what color is," he shrugged and glanced at her, trying not to look for too long as she was incredibly hard to look away from. "But having never seen one, you have no reference. My weakness is, Ellie, that I love. I love too much and I'm competitive and when I'm not getting what I want or feel I've earned, I see it as not fair. I did the work, I put in the hours, I almost died... all Jacob did properly was get a concussion. Big fucking hero there." "But I'm immature, I guess," he chuckled dryly and devoid of emotional inflection. "Immature Devin, always cracking jokes and not taking anything seriously. Obviously too immature and stupid to 'get the girl'." He sighed, leaning over, resting his elbows on his knees as he stared out over the water. "So, I'll shed my immaturity. They want serious, no-nonsense Devin, then the world can have him. I'll handle Site B, with or without the Fellowship, because let's face it, Jason is a genius, but he's not a leader. His handling of Cora is the prime example of that." "Cora?" Ellie asked, craning her head to signify her curiosity. "I do not know Cora." "Before your time," he smiled at her, but she could see the vacancy in it. It lacked that light and mirth that made Devin... Devin. "The rest seem to feel as if they need any form of leadership or oversight, so... that's going to end in tears, and I don't have time for that. Cassie's dad doesn't have time for that." He grinned looked at her, a faint glimmer of the man she knew seemed to peek from behind his eyes for just a moment when he asked her: "You wanna come?"
  8. Under different circumstances Devin would have already made a million and one secret agents jokes. Similar to Ellie he opted for the suit look and there would be talk at school at how handsome Devin was and how he cleaned up nicely. Half the girls as school already had a crush him and if what those bearded guys said about a sharped dressed man was true, he could very well be facing a whole list of stalkers come the next school day. Still, from his crisp suit to his purple silk tie, there were no clothes that could make the man this evening, and his manners seemed wanting in practice as well. He motioned to the numerous benches poolside, his eyes reflecting the shimmering glimmer of the water’s surface. “Not my house. It’s free country, if you want to sit, sit. Not like I could stop you anyways, aren’t you guys like great warriors or something?” “Proficient.” She corrected him. “War is necessary, but it is never great. Do you wish to share what is troubles you?” “Earth problems.” He said. “Not really something Teulu are capable of understanding.”
  9. He wished it was raining. All those in attendance kept commenting on how gorgeous the days was and how God had cleared the skies so Charlie’s soul could find its way to heaven and all that nonsense. They kept saying how tragic it was and how such a bright light had been taken from the world far too soon. Okay, that part he could agree with. Charlie’s passing was too soon, and funerals weren’t for the departed, they were those left behind. Guilt ate away at his insides as he stood there, listening to the speaker, who obviously knew nothing about Charlie aside from what his parents had written on a few index cards. He hated that the most. Devin barely knew Charlie and yet still seemed to know more about him than this guy who was stammering and stuttering between kind words in a vain attempt to make parallels to bible verses and God’s word. It felt so disingenuous to Charlie’s memory. As stood, the sun in his face, he couldn’t recall where he was that night when was murdered. No matter how hard he thought about it, he just couldn’t remember. Was he with Tawny? At home drawing? The more he thought about it, less clear the events leading up to Charlie’s death became. He had tried to fill in the blanks so many times that now he didn’t know which his memories were accurate anymore and that just made him feel even more guilty for not being there. Logically he knew if he had been there, he’d more than likely be dead too, but he was grieving and felt like being there, even if he’d died too, would have been better than not being there at all. As the preacher preached, and the people cried, one by one he watched family and friends say a few words in remembrance, paralyzed by his guilt that he should have been there. He should have had Charlies back, they all should have, but how could they have known? That wasn’t what he wanted to tell himself. It was logical and there was no way any of them could have predicted that Charlie would be hurt; this wasn’t their fault. Inside though, he didn’t want to accept that answer either, not after last night. His fight with Tawny had left his world as bleak and dark, full of hopelessness and the harsh reality that dreams don’t come true. The angst and rage of teenage depression knew no bounds. Tawny had come to the funeral, too. Not far from him she stood silently next to Sophie. They’d been released from the hospital earlier that morning and as the whole would say, repeatedly for the next several weeks, they were so brave and courageous to drop everything and come to Charlie’s funeral so soon after all that had happened to them. Yeah, because they did so much, right? A war was raging across the cosmos, Devin now had the scars and bruises to prove it, but it was Tawny and Sophie and who were so brave because they managed to get kidnapped, cry and pass out. Great job ladies. She hadn’t put any effort into her appearance today, just a black summer-style dress that went to her knees and her long, blonde hair was worn loose over her shoulders brushed, but that was about it. Even while fuming mad at her Devin entertained more hot blonde goth fantasies than was healthy for any teenager, which he mentally blamed on her for looking so goddammed amazing. The poet in him blamed this perfect day on her, telling himself the world could never weep when a heart as warm and a smile as bright as hers could still bringing joy and warmth into the world. God, even mad at her she was still able to captivate and mesmerize him. It wasn’t fair. Nothing was fair, though, right? Life wasn’t fair. People weren’t fair. That’s why it was futile to waste time trying to make things better for everyone and he just needed to worry about himself. No one else cared, but since that was the case, he knew there was still a world to save, and he’d do it alone if he had to. He shook his mind from Tawny and straightened his jacket a bit as the last speaker finished. Devin stepped forward, approaching Charlie’s parents and silently asked them if he might go next. They both nodded, Charlie’s father seemed puzzled, knowing that Devin wasn’t apart of Charlie’s close friends. Still, neither saw the harm in it. He cleared his throat and again adjusted his jacket. The Jauntsens appeared at a formal event the way it was intended, not in jeans and boots like most of the mouth-breathing, ham-fisted residents of Shelly who showed up. Like everything in this small town, the Jauntsens made this funeral look good, classy, even. He stood and addressed those assembled. “I’m uh, Devin Jauntsen, although most of you know that already. I’ve never really lost anyone before, and this sort of thing is a new experience for me.” He took in a deep breath and sighed before continuing. “I’ve heard it said a lot today, that these services aren’t for the departed, that they’re for us. So, let’s make this about us for a moment.” Charlie’s father took a soft step, as if to ask Devin to not speak anymore and step down, fearing he might ruin the service in accordance with his reputation. Charlie’s mother, however, pinched the sleeve of his elbow, signaling to let the boy talk. “Look I, uh, I don’t really feel like I deserve to be here.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “In case some of you aren’t in the know, I picked on Charlie at school, a lot. For years I made his life at school difficult, and yet this summer he and I and some others all came together and started hanging out,” he looked shocked, like the thought of hanging out with Charlie was still something his mind couldn’t process. “None of us expected to become friends, but here we are, friends mourning a friend.” “Long and short of it, Charlie had every right and opportunity to call me out. To hate me with every fiber of his being, but… he didn’t. No matter what he was always in the moment and treated me like he wanted to be treated. He was kind, forgiving, respectful and he showed me how much of a better person he was, than I am. He set a bar that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to live up to.” Devin coughed into his hand, as he choked on those last few words. The moisture lining his eyes wasn’t acting or some prank. “It was like the past was never as important to him as the present. Now. What was happening then and there in that moment was all that mattered to him and if I was trying to not be a jerk, he made a bigger effort to see the person I was trying to be instead of the person I was, and sometimes still am.” He swallowed down the lump in his throat and stared at the coffin, closed because there was nothing more than a bucket of memories after Not-Cody got done with him. “I never had the chance to tell him that I considered him a friend after all our hang outs and debates and even our disagreements. He was great guy and he shined brightly enough that he burned some of our darkness away before he left us.” He looked to Charlie’s parents offered them a soft smile that pleaded of some measure of forgiveness and knew the Fellowship would get the reference. “He was a great guy, and I couldn’t be sorrier for your loss.” He stepped to the casket and his next words weren’t for the gathered, but for Charlie, wherever he might have been. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there, Chuck. See you on the other side, bro.” Clearing his throat, he composed himself before walking back to where his parents and sister were waiting for him in black within the sea of black that comprised all of those Charlie knew in life. His parents and sister hugged him gently. “Well said, son.” Carl haled him tightly with one arm, trying to comfort him as well as he was able.
  10. "Skateboarding, right," he nodded and looked to Autumn, then back to Cassie and they both knew that all manner of perversities were running through his mind and somewhere Courtney felt a porn level disturbance in the Force only to curl her lips into a grin and quietly say 'go on'. "Well if it devolves into lingerie and pillow fights-" "-because that's totally a skateboarding thing, yeah." Cassie's sarcastic smile was cross between 'oh yeah, totally' and 'who taught you math?' "-let me know." He smirked at Cassie's interruption. One of the things he liked about her was that she could give as well as she got. Her replies to his sarcasm and antics were, most of the time, just as entertaining to him as the ways he found to pester everyone else. "And uh, you ladies remember to hydrate." His fingertips rapped the table a few times before he stood to leave, pausing long enough to say "Hey, Beth," with a swift nod and a smile. Cassie recognized it for what it was though, the typical power move of making sure Beth was recognized the popular and infamous Devin Jauntsen, which would only whet the appetite more for juicy gossip and pestering Cassie on the tangible topic of 'WTF was going on in Shelly High when Devin Jauntsen was asking Cassandra Allen out and finally, after three years decided to recognize that Bethany Seaberry finally existed'. Okay, that was a rather long topic of discussion but thankfully Devin knew that was more Cassie's problem than his and Cassie could almost hear the villainous laughter in his head. Cassie's eyes narrowed as she recognized his masterful flirtations at weaponizing her own best friend, nothing with Devin was ever uninteresting, but all he did was smile at her and give her a wink as he walked back to his table and get something resembling studying done.
  11. "Well, of course as friends," he smiled and if the notion of being friends with her bothered him, he didn't show it. "That's what we agreed, right? Look, it's just we've not had the chance to hang out much lately so, I thought why not spend a little time together, catch up on things, actually show an interest in each other's lives for a few hours. You know, like friends do?" "C'mon, Blondie, we both know I'm out of your league," he teased her. Her unconvinced expression just made him smile wider. "I'm kidding, c'mon, lighten up people. Well, if you'll be most most of the day, how about just a bite to eat and... maybe a walk? My intentions are purely noble, I swear, I'll even spring for Plan B pill." "Such a gentleman." she offered with her eyes narrowed and obvious sarcasm in her retort. "I know, right?" He pressed on. "But c'mon, just food and a talk." His tone suddenly mellowed a bit and she noticed the way his light0hearted demeanor shifted slightly to serious. "Okay, fine, joking aside, a bit of conversation might do us good. It's not something I'm good at, and I kind of owe you at least that much, considering the last couple of days, you know?"
  12. Absently, as a cautionary measure to protect his art work, Devin took the stack and neatly bundled it together while Sean spoke to him. Like any artist, Sean could have handed them to him in tact and already neatly organized in a vacuum sealed folder and he probably would have still took them and in organized them himself. "Yeah, sure." He said without looking at Sean. It seemed he was still irritated with whatever him and his sister were going on about for what seemed like all day. "That's your computer game, or whatever, right?" "Yeah, it's about-" Sean started to explain to Devin, who up until now had never really seemed interested in his game or the work he did. While he spoke, Devin leaned to look past Sean, ignoring him completely, proving that he still didn't have any interest. He seemed to be eyeballing Cassie and in typical Devin fashion, was completely lost in the moment of staring at an attractive girl. "Yeah, cool," Devin said absently. "S'cuse me a sec, yeah?" "Haven't even said anyth-" Sean protested silently. "Sounds great, may it give you many baby goats or whatever you use for currency, I wish you the best with that," He stood and walked away, tapping the table with his finger tip as he did so in some Jauntsen language that signified that maybe he intended to be right back? Who could tell? Devin had money and good looks, which in a town like Shelly and being in America, was supposed to make up for one hundred percent of his personality flaws. To be fair, it did with the young rank and file women of Shelly Montana, even a few of the older women too. Cassie knew him better than most, she'd also almost died with him in a Hell dimension and sexually assaulted his abs late one evening, so there was that. So what that meant was unlike the other women in his school who would blindly throw themselves at him for an opportunity, Cassie wouldn't. No, she would have her eyes wide open and in order to get her to come around, she'd need to see where it was she needed to throw herself. At him, of course. Devin invited himself over to where the others were sitting, only managing to get a spot next to Bethany, although he didn't bother greeting anyone else, he looked to Cassie and nodded. "Hey," he said to her. "So, uh, I didn't want to text you this, figured that be a bit lame. So, do you you have plans tomorrow night? I was thinking we could go out."
  13. It shouldn't take long after Devin and Tawny's blow out on September 4th for the rumors to begin as to the reasons why. More than likely it will center around Tawny finally dating someone (which is in line with Marissa finally dating someone too), so there's no telling what the student body will come up with. Fellowship shouldn't have any trouble getting word that Devin and Tawny had an apocalyptic blow out and are no longer friends. Especially with Tawny currently dating Jacob, Autumn's life long friend. Whether they care or not, is on them.
  14. New Divide I remembered black skies The lightning all around me I remembered each flash As time began to blur Like a startling sign That fate had finally found me And your voice was all I heard Wednesday, September 4, 2019 Marias Medical Center. Evening. Hospital staff stood behind their stations and patrolled the halls on their rounds as Devin made his way through the white tiled passageway within Marias Medical Center. He recognized a few of the faces from the secret base in the sub-basement levels beneath the complex, the ‘security’ here were sometimes swapped out with military personnel to better keep an eye on everything going on both above and below ground in the strange town of Shelly, Montana. The plastic wrapping in his hand crinkled as he held the several flowers wrapped therein tightly. Roses, her favorite. White, pink and red petals offered a contrast to the bland white walls and doors and the ugly woodgrain handrail that split the hallways down their center. The familiar scent of all the sanitizers assaulted his senses while in the back if his mind he mused that with all the time he’d been spending here recently that they should give him a job. He tapped three times on her door before letting himself in. With a nudge of his shoulder, he rolled along the door and into the room Tawny had been calling home for the last few days since her abduction and assault by the Not-Cody creature. She was still in bed, IV running and heart monitor still beeping away despite her being in relatively good health. She was tapping something away on her phone as he entered and her face lit up, her smile a panacea for the all the negativity in his life lately. “Heeeeey,” she beamed as her phone dropped into the roiling folds of the fluffy blanket her parents had brought her from home. She leaned to face him, holding her arms out wide expectantly for the hug he owed her. Tightly he held onto her, the plastic crinkling like a bag of chips with a very low chance of surviving an upcoming movie night. “Are those for me?” She asked when they finally broke their embrace. She already knew the answer, but like most people, didn’t assume. “Um, y-yeah,” he replied almost breathlessly. He didn’t understand why he was so embarrassed or anxious to be delivering flowers to his best friend. “Hope you like them; I got your favorite. Figured some color…” he paused and looked around the room where a variety of floral arrangements from her own family and the families of the Fellowship along with what everyone at the school had sent her and realized that, maybe he thought too small. He hesitated with his next words, something uncommon for the normally flippant teenager. “Oh, uh...,” he chuckled. “Guess you kinda got the hook up on color. My bad.” “They’re beautiful, thank you.” She smiled back, punctuating his chuckle with one of her own. “Guess all it takes to get people to stop treating you like a bible thumping freakshow,” she gestured at all the arrangements. “Is to get kidnapped by a demon. Who would’ve thought, right?” Devin smiled, but he didn’t say anything. His eyes seemed lost in all the arrangements and as he looked at them, he seemed to look past them. “Hey, you okay? I know that face. What’s up?” “I uh,” he approached the other arrangements strewn all over the room in front of her bed. They covered the stand under her television, they were resting in the chair, on the windowsill, everywhere. “I just have a lot on my mind. Not sure how it all fits together or what I should do about it all.” He placed the roses with another arrangement, resting them gently alongside the one the PTA had sent her. He saw the small card his mother had signed with a few words of well wishes. His stomach tightened at the thought of dealing with his family after he’d left Marias. “But, it’ll work itself out or it won’t right?” “In time,” she said cheerfully. “Anything I can help with? I’ve been out of the drama for all of forty-eight hours, I’m famished. Oh, how’s Em?” “She’s okay, I guess.” He shrugged and approached the foot of her bed. “We visited you yesterday, but you were still pretty tired. We caught you sleeping. Look, um, I know Marissa can be a pain in the ass, Tee, but,” he paused, taking a breath to collect his thoughts. Here he was, fighting with his sister and the two of them weren’t talking and yet still, he couldn’t help but defend and protect her. “She really does care about you, you know? It broke her heart to see you hurt, Tee, like someone had gone after family. I just wanted you to know that… she does love you.” She gave him a confused look as if to say ‘why are you telling me this’ with nothing more than her expression. “Devin,” her voice wavered as her confusion found its way into her words. “I know that. Marissa’s mean girl act hasn’t worked on me since I told her about my Chris Evans dream and she told me about her Mathew Daddario, Zac Efron and Emeraude Toubia four-way fantasy.” Devin tilted his head slightly at that revelation. Tawny just shrugged, seeing the ‘WTH’ wrapped tightly in his expression. “I know, I know, the girl needs Jesus. Like, for real.” “No,” he shook his head, managing a half grin. “She’d probably sleep with him too.” A snort escaped Tawny before she covered her mouth and then face in mild embarrassment. “I shouldn’t laugh at that.” The corners of her wide smile were escaping along the edges of her delicate hands. Still, he hesitated, despite the ice breaker his mind was still wrapped up on all that had happened, how he felt, what he’d gone through and the revelations he’d discovered in his, and the Fellowship’s, venture to rescue her and Sophia from the Hellscape the Not-Cody was hiding in. Still though, how was he supposed to come to terms with feelings that he didn’t even understand. Last week he was telling Tawny, and getting yelled at for it, that he couldn’t or didn’t, rather, love her the way she loved him and now here he was… trying to tell her how he felt, and he couldn’t even get the first sentence out. Christ, dude, come on. Just tell her. He mentally chastised himself. “So, um, I came to realize something too,” nervously he picked at the footboard of her hospital bed. “I, uh… I uh, know that we kind of talked about this last week, but uhh…” She chuckled, finding his bashfulness to broach whatever subject he was trying to touch on. “Deej, come on. It’s me. You can tell me anything. We talked about a lot of things last week, be specific.” “I want to be with you.” He said with more conviction and honestly than any words he’d ever spoken in his life. “Something changed when I felt like I would never see you again Tee. My heart, I guess… realized I am wasting an opportunity to be with that someone.” “You loved Lona two weeks ago,” she countered in a tone that told him she was not finding this joke at all funny. “Yeah, I know, I know…” he raised his hands to his head, shaking them as if to clear his mind from a fog. “Look, Lona and I didn’t last long, and I care a lot about her. She opened my eyes to the fact that I could, maybe, possibly be wrong about overlooking people superficially when they are, in fact, truly wonderful on the inside. So, yes, she holds a very special place in my heart, no doubt.” He sighed deeply. Resting on the footboard of her bed he leaned in on the support of his arms and looked at her. “But when you were taken, something in me Tee, something in me just woke up. For you I could overcome any fear, fight when I have nothing left, for you I’ve literally walked through Hell and would do so a thousand more times.” She shook her head as the anxiety goblins began tying her gut up into knots. “Devin, no,” she said calmly. “Don’t. Don’t do this.” She’d just been told she could go home in the morning; she was looking to getting her life back in order, she’d been talking all morning and afternoon with Jacob: her new boyfriend. Her first boyfriend… and in came the whirling dramanado that was the Jauntsens. If she swore, then the Devil would be blushing with the thoughts in her mind that were swirling into storm clouds. “Do, what?” He shrugged. “So, we’re from ‘you can tell me anything’ to ‘anything… except that?’ I can’t help it Tee, it’s been eating me alive and with all the other crap going on in my life I just wanted to come and get it off my chest, to tell the one person in my life who understands me better than anyone that I get it now. I was an idiot, I know that, but you were right. I was blind and being stubborn and I was letting the greatest opportunity in my life get away from-” “Let.” She corrected him. When he stopped to process her reply, she looked at him with serious eyes. “You let me walk away. Deej, I’m sorry. I’m with Jacob.” “For Homecoming, yeah, I know. I’m taking Cassie. It’s no big. I’m not saying right now, Tee. You’ve been through a lot and I’m not trying to push or anything, we both have plans for Homecoming. To not make it weird we just go about our lives, and we can maybe talk later, after afterwards, you know?” He shrugged with a weak smile on his face. She’d never seen Devin unable to muster his iron-clad composure veiled behind quips and sarcasm, yet here he was, barely able to argue his way out of a hole he’d dug for himself. “Lord in Heaven, Deejay, you’re not listening. No. Not just for Homecoming,” her cheeks reddened as the blonde bit her lips and shook her head in frustration. She bordered on furious, and her day was going so well too. “You destroyed me that day, Devin. Ruined me.” The redness in her cheeks began to swell into moisture in her eyes. “I quit pining for a guy who was never emotionally or mentally available for me, let alone mature enough to think that maybe, just maybe that if he wanted to be loved he had to try and love me back. You don’t love me, Devin. You love the idea of me: pretty, fawning all over you, willing to just do anything and everything while I hang on your every word-” “No, Tee, it’s not like-” “No, you spoke, it’s my turn.” She practically snarled at him as the first tear ran down her cheek. “And now that I’m with someone, now that I’ve gotten over being that stupid obsessed girl who’s been in love with you since the day I met you, now… now you want to come in here and ruin that for me, too? How petty are you? You don’t want me Devin, you just don’t want me with him.” She’d not gotten over him and she knew it. The thought of Devin being in love with her and them being together was something she’d dreamt about for years, but there was just too much hurt now, too much drama. She knew the moment she ran to him it’d be great for a few weeks until he got bored and ran off to some new crush. It was Devin, after all. “No.” He argued. “I don’t care that you’re with him, I don’t. I dropped the ball, I get that. Tee, I’ve never been surer of anything in my life, and we have years of friendship. You’ve been seeing him for what? Less than a week? All I’m asking for is a chance, I swear to you I’m not the guy I was-” “A week ago?” Her lips pursed in doubt and she goose-necked like she was straight outta Harlem, were they pulling girls aside in school now and showing them how to scold dudes? “You managed to find some life affirming guru on a mountain summit who’s totally made you rethink how much of an unfaithful, immature, emotionally unavailable jerk of a man-slut you are who, after three frickin’ years still doesn’t even know my favorite flowers are daisies! Daisies, Devin! My best friend of three years would have known that, but I suppose it’s hard to hear me talk about my favorite things over the sound of your own inflated ego whistling one-liners and balloon-farting your ‘oh-so-cooler than everyone else’ macho bull crud at decibels only you can’t hear! You don’t care about anyone but your own selfish, arrogant self!” The words escaped her lips before she thought about what she was really saying. Maybe it was the pain meds she was on that had dampened her usual bright and cheerful filters or maybe, she was just mad at him, and the drugs helped her finally speak her mind to the man who’d kept breaking her heart and making her a love-drunk laughingstock. Either way, what she said wasn’t intended and she certainly felt, now that she’d heard it out loud, that it was far harsher than it needed to be. “Wow,” all he did was nod slowly nod his head. Sobriety came swiftly after words uttered behind anger and fear. She cupped her mouth briefly to collect her thoughts and finally, as she lowered her hands, calmly tried to make amends. “Devin, I didn’t mean it like tha-” “Like what?” He backed away from her bed, arms splayed out, putting himself on display for more judgements. “How many other ways can that be meant? What guru on the summit are you talking to that can make ‘you’re a shit human being, Devin’ come out sounding like ‘wow, I’m so glad we’re friends, bestie’.” Now it was Devin whose eyes seemed to moisten as anger and embarrassment mad their home behind his eyes. “It’s all good though, Theresa.” Like an angry parent, the use of her given name told her that he’d taken what she’d said really personal. “Better the truth is out there to avoid confusion later. So, you have Jacob, cool. Enjoy. Sorry to bother you with all this petty bullshit I call ‘my emotions’. It’s just me being immature, I guess, but don’t worry, it won’t happen again.” “Devin, I didn’t mean it like that.” Truer words were never spoken. Tawny loved Devin, she knew she always would and knew in her heart that she never wanted them to be apart. Even if they never ended up together, and realistically most high school friends didn’t, she just wanted him to always be in her life even years from now when they both had families of their own, meeting up for a weekend barbecue or horseback riding. She was not a hurtful person, she didn’t entertain negative thoughts about people but when it came to her best friend, the love of her life… well, he just got her so dang gum mad. He was everything she just said he was, but also wonderful and loving and compassionate… and the hospital drugs really weren’t helping. “I’m just angry and overwhelmed. They have me on som-” “No. You spoke. It’s my turn.” He tok’d that back at her with the skill and grace Serena Williams going for a gold. “You see me in the halls? Keep on walking to Jacob. You walk past my house? Keep walking to Jacobs’. I’m sorry to have bothered you with all my petty, immature bullshit.” He turned to walk away and made it three paces before he suddenly turned back to face her. “You know… I don’t even know why I bother with people anymore. You’re all the same. I’m done with you. All of you. You and Jason and Autumn, Marissa and my parents… I mean Jesus fuck! You think I don’t know how I am? You think I don’t know? I invented me, and I can reinvent me. So, keep on seeing whatever person gives you the best reason to make whatever excuses push you through the day just so long as you, and everyone else, do me a favor, Theresa… just keep. Fucking. Walking. I’m already tired of protecting a world that can’t even protect itself.” “Devin!” She raised her voice above his raising up to her knees in the hospital bed to assert a measure of control over the situation. “Lord in Heaven, calm down! I said I didn’t-” She winced, her eyes squinting at the sudden blast of violet energy and displaced atmosphere. She sighed and collapsed back into her bed, choking back tears as her best friend just literally broke up with her before teleporting away with the last word. “Oh…” she sniffled, wiping her cheek. “That is getting so dang annoying.” The night air was bitter and cold, but Devin didn’t feel it. He was numb from pain and emotional anguish. He shuffled down the residential street, he wasn’t sure which one and he didn’t rightly care, his arms slouched, and his head seem to hang lazily on his shoulders like it was too heavy to be supported by his lack of caring anymore. Cars were parked on either side of the road, shadowed by the dull white light of the streetlights that bleached the road in a slick sheen. His breath danced in the air as the Montana Autumn was swiftly gaining traction in the small northern town. The streets were empty and the silence in the air was almost deafening when one was left with nothing but their own thoughts. A thousand things danced through his mind like a parade of mad demons in the narrow hallways of his headspace, opening every door they passed screaming loudly and stepping in long enough to trash the place and then move on. His mother was a roving nightmare and anger and selfishness on par with his sister. All she wanted was control over her children and their abilities, possibly in some scheme to profit from the stardom that could come from them being some new manner of ‘super beings’. His father put up a good face in public and he’d play the good dad role for a few days at home, but soon it’d be right back to the bottle and not caring what his son or daughter was doing or whose lives they were ruining. Marissa was just typical Marissa, unwilling to accept her part in any of the fiasco around her but quick to remind everyone of their part. The Fellowship was a mess. They didn’t want leadership or oversight to make sure they were going to perform their duties of protecting the world responsibly, all they desired was the free reign to act with impunity on the off chance they screwed up and could shrug and pull a classic ‘my bad’ and go on through life ignoring that it ever happened. Yet he just couldn’t bring himself to care. Maybe Jason was right. Maybe life was just as easy as he made it out to be just do whatever you want, hurt whomever you please and just shrug and say ‘I did what I did, oh well’. After all, no matter what Devin did or how hard he tried no one was going to see him as anything more than the wise cracking, afraid of commitment, smart ass, right? Being tasked with protecting the world, seemed like a waste of time. Sure, Cassie deserved to have her father back and that… other kid deserved to be home with his family, but… why was he fighting to protect a world that didn’t want peace or happiness? All the people of the world just wanted to fight and judge and cast stones at everyone else. He should know, he did it all the time. Maybe Jason and the Fellowship were right: no leadership, no rules, just everyone doing as they please shrugging off the responsibility. He stopped and inhaled, letting his breath clear his thoughts. Yes, the world was a stupid place and didn’t make any sense. Yes, The Fellowship didn’t make any sense either, but they didn’t want leadership and oversight, so they weren’t his problem to deal with unless they threatened the world. It would have been so easy to simply pull a Joker and have a ‘wait til they get a load of me’ moment, but that just wasn’t him. Let the world and everyone in it see him as the selfish, quipping, smart ass. With a shrug he could remind them ‘yup, oh well’ and get onto important things. Let the Fellowship stay stoned and keep dealing all the drugs and sit about playing all the video games and doing airplanes in the yard until they were blue in the face. They weren’t his problem. He exhaled softly, relaxing. He’d told Tawny how he felt, and he meant it. They were done, sure, and just because he didn’t want anything more to do with her didn’t mean those words were hollow. Love didn’t die just because friendship did. He knew what she thought of him now, and that was fine, it was certainly her right to do so and he couldn’t say, honestly, that he was blameless. Whether he was at fault, in whole or in part, wasn’t the issue, the issue was: sometimes the hero didn’t get the girl, sometimes the hero didn’t get the happy ending he was hoping for, but he still had a job to do. She was with Jacob now, and Jacob would protect her while Devin protected the world and that’s just the way it would be. Let them stay stoned and wasted. Let them play their video games and waste away. Let them love and be happy. Let them be. Devin Jaunt had a job to do.
  15. Devin, Week of Labor Day/Ep. VI: Off-Camera: Devin will dedicate a lot of time to recovery, giving his self time for his injuries from the fight with Not-Cody to heal. He will continue his usual workouts, but at a lighter pace as to not aggravate any of his existing injuries. School and After-School Vignettes: Wednesday: School. After school he will go visit Tawny in the hospital. Thursday: No school. Charlie's funeral. If Cassie’s player is around and able to commit to the time, Devin and Cassie could get together later that evening. If Cassie’s player is not available, Devin disappears right after the funeral. Friday: Devin will be gone. Saturday: Devin will be gone. Sunday: Devin will be gone. TBD: Devin will approach Taggart about proper training. Devin will need more that +1 Harsh Language and Witty Quips to defeat The Dark and if the military isn't smart enough to realize that, then he'll come to accept that they are fucking retarded and seek out Cade's grandfathers in the hopes they will train him in the ways of Murder, Death, Kill. Get the plans for Site B and begin reviewing and memorizing the lay out and working with the other specialists and officers on a plan for breaching the facility. He will also perform distance recon to survey the site and understand it's exterior. Co-Op/Multiplayer with Marissa on the Library of Shadows side-quest.
  16. Devin had barely said two words to his sister after the arguments from the night before. Marissa and their mother were shouting at each other for a couple hours and when that was over the younger twin retired to the upstairs and started on her brother. It was probably the loudest they’d been with each other since they were, ten? Twelve, maybe? They didn’t fight often but when they did it was obvious in the telling behavior that both seemed ‘off’ in some way. The usual ‘synched’ nature by which they, as twins always seemed to move in, think in, talk in, just wasn’t there and they seemed like two totally different people let loose from a hive mind; confused and overwhelmed by the world around them, alone and exposed. That was how Devin felt now, alone and exposed as he walked down the halls of the school towards his locker taking in the gossip about the week’s events. He was a hero in one tale, Jason and Autumn were the hero in another and somewhere in it all he just stopped listening… or caring… he wasn’t sure which happened first but by the time he got to his locker he felt like the only person in the school, just alone and uncaring. “Wow,” Courtney’s voice broke the melancholy silence and deepening void of his empty locker. “So much hate and anger. Are you going all darkside, Devin? You would be so hot as a goth. I will personally buy you your first pair of leather pants and mesh shirt, I swear to God.” His shoulders slumped and he sighed, rolling his eyes as he turned to face her. “What’re you talking about?” She waved her palms in circles all around his space. “This, dude, woah. You are all kinds of out of whack. What the hell happened?” The lovely redhead meant his aura, the emotional state that she easily read from people that only her and an exceedingly rare few others could read. She saw emotions like colors and waves of heat or coolness that wafted from an individual. “Are you okay? C’mon, it’s Courtney, talk to me. I even have black eyeliner if you want to borrow it.” “Nothing to talk about, I’m fine.” He lied with the select choice of words that told the listener everything was far from fine. “And I don’t want any eyeliner, Christ. My parents had a meltdown after the meeting last night. Marissa and I are not to be involved in any thrilling heroics and can only,” he paused and looed around, noticing that they were really the only two in ear shot. Still, he lowered his voice and leaned closer to her. “Use the Project’s facilities to test our abilities to make sure there are not physical or mental drawbacks.” Courtney raised an eyebrow and looked at him like he was delusional. “Seriously?” “Yeah,” she thinks we’re going to teleport to Fiji and get cancer from the trip or something, I don’t know.” He turned back to his locker and began setting his things for the day inside. “I don’t know, she’s crazy, hon. Probably just looking for some way to turn royalties from us, who knows?” “Shit.” She curled her nose pouted her lips a bit. “Sorry, Deej. Wish there was something I could do. Hey, cuddle therapy later?” She gleefully giggled in his ear. “Always works for me.” “I’m not sleeping with you, Courtney,” he smirked, shaking his head at her persistence. She shrugged and backed away, grinning herself. “Today.” She corrected him. “I’ll wear you down.” She nudged him with her elbow. “Kidding… kinda, but hey if you need someone to talk to, I’m here. Where’s Em?” “Dunno,” he shrugged, still placing his books in his locker. “We’re not talking right now.” “Oh, shit,” she took a step back and placed her fingertip on her chest to express her shock. “God damn, what the hell is going on in this school? You two are thick as thieves.” “After the fight with our mom last night she came in and started on me. We fought.” He didn’t look at her but stopped his organizing of the day and shook his head. “Like, really had it out. We’ve only done it a few times in our lives, but we’re getting older. The words are harsher, the buttons we’re going for are easier to press. It was bad Courtney, I mean bad.” “You want me to go talk with her?” She showed more care and concern in her voice than usual. With the excising of the tree and the cancer that it brought to Shelly, she’d felt like a haze had been lifted, a weight from her shoulders, so to speak. She could think clearer, and generally had felt better about her mental health in the last forty-eight hours than she had in years. “No, it’s fine,” finally he turned to face her, his tone was still barely more than a groan. “She needs a day or so to calm down, I do too, I think. Things are just,” just then another redhead approached. Laurie Cassidy looked rather basic and plain by comparison to the fiery goddess of fashion and popularity that was Courtney Adams. Her jeans didn’t stack up to the expensive skirt Courtney wore and her tee shirt was laughable in the presence of the designer red top Shelly’s second-hottest student was wearing… and she wasn’t even going to consider the designer push-up lingerie underneath it all that made every curve of her body pop and got her into all the college parties. Devin offered the new arrival a nod to acknowledge her. “Messed up, right now, you know? Probably best to leave it be for now.” “As you say,” the beautiful redhead said with an uncaring shrug. She side-eyed Laurie and permitted herself an evil smirk at the sophomore’s expense. “Seems someone wants to talk to you, so I think I’ll go find your sister and do the exact opposite of what you suggested.” “Thaaanks,” he replied with a slow drawl. “Appreciate that.” “Cassidy,” Courtney smiled to Laurie after her acknowledgement and offered Devin a ‘mwah’ before strutting off. “Adams.” She shared her brother’s dislike of Courtney. After years of bullying and torment from Shelly’s equivalent of aristocracy, she harbored no positive opinions of her fellow redhead. Still, a part of her was anxious and even envious of the entitled little tart. She was good friends with Devin and was an example of the sorts of women he hung around with. Although she hated to admit it, over the last few weeks Laurie had found herself developing a small crush on Devin and despite knowing how ludicrous that sounded (even in her head), still, she knew what an attraction felt like, and this was it. It sucked too. Now she couldn’t help comparing herself to all the other women Devin hung around with and keep making comparisons of them to herself. Courtney was beautiful and although lacking in kindness possessed a link with Devin on flirtation level that made her uncomfortable just listening to. She knew they weren’t serious, but also knew she could never flirt with him, or any guy like they did, oh, and she was beautiful. Tawny? Although very down home like Laurie was also so beautiful and was so alive and had a connection with Devin on an emotional and personal level that seeing them together laughing and joking it was almost impossible to think they weren’t already dating. Autumn, Lilly, Cassie… the list went on and Devin always around attractive women and no matter the forum was always carefree and unphased; always capable of being himself and owning a room. He was handsome, charming, athletic (God was he athletic…) the list went on and, in the end, like most times she’d thought like this her brain eventually reminded her of the very simple truth: he was out of her league. Men weren’t the only ones who went through dating anxiety when is came to those were attracted to being ‘better than’ or ‘out of their league’, and when it came to Devin, he was on a level she couldn’t hope to reach, and, in part, some of that anxiety was the fault of her own insecurities. Laurie, however, wasn’t any of those things. She wasn’t beautiful by the standards Devin surrounded himself with, she certainly did not have superpowers, save being invisible to the guys she was attracted to, and didn’t possess that connection to him that the other women in his life did. Like his sister had pointed for the last several years: Laurie was a nobody. A saving grace in her favor was: it was Devin. Crush on him or not, attainable or not, Devin wanted to hook up with any woman who gave him more than half a second’s notice, making him not the sort of guy she should, or would want to date anyway. It would end horribly so it was fortunate that he was so far out of her league. Still… he was certainly good looking and being seen with him did wonders for her popularity at the school. Win, win. Hey, the Twins weren’t the only one’s who could play The Game at Shelly High. “S’up, Red?” Devin asked her. He’d noticed the way she seemed lost in thought in as Courtney was walking away and felt she needed a jostling into the present. He looked at Courtney as she walked away, her hips swaying in that practice manner Marissa taught her, and then looked back at Laurie. “She’s trying. I know that’s hard after all she’s done, but she’s trying.” “What?” She asked, suddenly realizing Devin was talking to her. “Oh, no, I’m not thinking about that. Still, it is kind of weird, her being decent to me and Sean now. Her and Marissa are trying, so I’m willing to be civil.” “I think Marissa is done with people for a while, so don’t expect too much.” She couldn’t help but notice his dispirited tone. “You okay?” “Not really,” he shrugged, blowing off her question with an answer that just begged for more questions. “But no amount of talking is going fix it. IT’s one of those things you just have to ‘get through’, you know?” “Yeah,” the sophomore nodded through pursed lips. “I won’t interrupt your brooding for too long then,” she managed an awkward smile that seemed bolstered slightly by Devin finding that amusing and smiling along with her, though it was short lived. “I just wanted to say thank you for the text last night. Sean filed me in everything, but still, it felt nice to be included. You guys have been really chill with me, letting me in on all the secrets and I appreciate it.” “No sweat,” Devin offered her a compassionate smirk. “I’m glad he filled you in too. Secrets are like cancer around here and all those older and wiser than us seem to think they’re protecting us from ourselves by making sure we’re kept in the dark about things we need to know to protect them. It makes no sense to me, honestly, but look, we’re all in this together so don’t ever hesitate to come to me if you need to, okay?” “Thanks,” mentally she scolded her brain, absolutely forbidding it from making her cheeks redden, but it didn’t listen, and she could feel warmth flush her freckled features. Why did he have to be the nicest jerk in the world? “Um, probably not my business… but, uh… things were pretty heated in there last night. You guys hash that out? You all cool with each other again, or…” she used ‘or’ as some used ‘so’ as punctuation, hoping he would fill in and end her sentence for her. “How many guys on the football team are you friends with?” he asked. “Uh,” taken off-guard by the question she simply shrugged out her first thought. “None, I guess. They’re all immature assholes. Compounded that my brother and I are kinda on their shitlist at the moment hasn’t help my opinion of them much either.” “But for an hour you’re legion. Dedication and motivated towards victory because you’re a team. Your personal issues are put aside because winning is more important than pettiness.” He stated. “That’s kinda EmJay and me with the Fellowship. All of us were chosen to do a job, so we’ll be there, we’ll be legion, and we’ll win, because what’s at stake is more important than our differences. That’s what a team is.” She frowned. That wasn’t exactly the answer she wanted, but she heard hope somewhere in all of that. “Sorry to hear that, but surprisingly deep coming from you. I’m impressed.” “Yeah,” he managed a smirk. “I’m…” “I know, I know,” she rolled her eyes, giggling. “’All kinds of impressive’. Legend in your own mind, more like.” She managed a laugh, but noticed he didn’t do more than smile and seem to silently agree with her jokes. He must have been in a bad place, she thought. Devin was supposed to be the happy, go-lucky, comic relief… how bad were the issues with the Fellowship, she had to wonder. “Hey, um… walk me to class?” “Yeah, sure.” Her crush’s morose tone didn’t instill much confidence in his willingness. “Come on,” Laurie huffed. “Quit being so glum. Walk with me, talk with me, and I’ll try to boost your popularity a bit. Y’know, given what I have to work with and all…,” she shot him a smirk. “Oh, well,” he swept his arm out for her to lead the way. He seemed accommodating and open to the humor, but his voice and body language told her that his heart really want into it. “By all means, lead the way. Whatever I can do to repay such a kindness, do let me know.” “Oh, I will, no worries.” Freckled cheeks flushed as the enamored sophomore led Devin down the hall. She did most of the talking while they talked and they did their best to ignore the inane rumors and hushed whispers of typical high school politics…
  17. "Always," Devin replied to Teresa. Again it wasn't that he said it was in the how he said it. Devin could make anything sound like he was any girls next Prince Charming. He turned his attention to Cassie, that million dollar, child-star actor, smile looking handsome as ever on his features. "I'll, um, give you a call or a text, kay? If you're up for it, I could really use a shoulder to vent on." Whish she knew he meant 'neck to hickey on', but it was Devin so you had to take it for what it was worth. "I uh, I gotta get going," he looked towards the door where his parents had already filtered out in pursuit of the furious Marissa. "I have a feeling things are about to go nuclear when we get home, so... y'know... if you've been saving some dank memes to lighten my mood, tonight would be a good time." "Keep us posted, okay?" His homecoming date asked with some concern in her voice. "Sorry again." "No, it's fine," he shrugged in an attempt to maybe shake off the invisible monkey on his back. "Had to happen eventually, so... sooner the better, right?" He smiled at them both. "G'night Mrs. Allen, Cass."
  18. As the Jauntsens stood they produced business cards, much like Annette. Why an administrator at a school would need a business card wasn't particularly clear, but then, the parents didn't know that Misti, despite being a total bitch, was a PhD in Behavioral Sciences with a Masters in Psychology. "We're going to make sure the rest of these people have our information since Mrs. Giles made it abundantly clear that her organization in completely inept at keeping its assets safe and incapable of providing us any measure protection, it appears we are all we have." "No, Mom," Marissa sneered as she collected her large designer bag and stuffed her phone and note pad back in it. "They are all you and dad have. We're done with you. And if you think for a second you're going to find some way to profit from our abilities, you're gravely mistaken." "Marissa," their mother glared at them, keeping her voice low. "You and your brother are already on thin ice tonight. Don't push your luck." "Or what?" Her daughter glared back. "You'll send me to a military academy? Do it. In eighteen months they have to let me go and I'll not only have my abilities, but I'll have the rest of my life to dedicate to ruining yours." Misti seemed taken off guard by the sudden hostility but was also fully aware that her own daughter was a borderline sociopath, after all, she (sort of) raised her. "I'll meet you at the house, let me know if I need to start packing." With that their daughter simply scooped up her bag, tossed it on her shoulder and stormed out like one would expect and angry teen to do, her heels thumping on the carpet before clacking loudly and echoing in the hall outside. Misti sighed. "Unreasonable, as always. Devin, talk to your sis-" "Nope." Devin chuckled and shook his head. "This is your mess. Like she said, we're done. We put up your bullshit all our lives. Controlling us, trying to profit from us. Never once letting us just be kids and now this? You clean it up. Excuse me, I have something I need to say to someone." He was still an obscene amount of pain, like every muscle was pulled and aching all at once, but he felt he could he might be able to pull off one good, short distance hop. Besides, all the parents were in the know now and Devin loved to show off. Before his mother could enact a reply his eyes shimmered purple and his form broke down into lavender and purple motes of millions of atoms and... he was gone. Popping out of sight of his mother and reappearing in front of Cassie and her mother in a violet shimmer and soft, audible *bamf*. Mrs. Allen jumped with a start, even Cassie flinched, closing her eyes and flexing her fists tightly until her nails were digging into her palm. All the parents, at least those who'd never seen what Devin was capable of, couldn't help but stop and just stare in silence for a moment, unsure of what to say or even do after seeing something like that. Fists clenched, Cassie took a breath and glared at Devin. "I hate when you do that." His shit-eating grin didn't calm her mood at all. "Just wanted to catch you before you left," he said, dismissing her complaint and dodging her being mad at him like he usually did. "Hey Mrs. Allen," he nodded and smiled at her. She didn't say anything, just awkwardly smiled and nodded back. "Look, Cassie... I know you're mad at me and you're right, you totally should be." The son-of-a-bitch went and turned on his charm, taking special care to make sure that anyone could hear him if they were interested in listening could hear him paint himself as the cavalier willing to swallow his pride and apologize to his Homecoming date without a care as what others thought about him. "Things got heated earlier and I was a complete jerk. I just wanted you to know that I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I was wrong and I'm sorry."
  19. “Well,” Misti’s voice rose after Lilly’s with that ever present, condescending sneer. “That’s a very impressive speech, young lady, but rest assured my husband and I will keep our own counsel as to what manner of activities our children will be participating in.” “Hostage rescue is best left to those with proper training and authorities,” she looked at Cassie’s mother without a single expression of compassion in her features. “It is regrettable that your family is going through this sort of experience, it truly is. As Ms. Giles already pointed out, these people already opened fire on soldiers, once. What do you think they’ll do when your daughter is in their sights?” She looked to the other parents and continued. “Or your son, Miyakko. Or your son,” she looked to the Cassidys. “Regardless of how confident they believe themselves to be they are still children. Whether they choose to accept that or not is not the issue. The actions of the Bannon kid alone and his blatant disregard for the law is proof enough that they are not responsible enough to bear the burden of these abilities. The boy is a high functioning psychopath, and you want to turn him lose on people? American people at that?” “This is, without a doubt the most difficult thing to process in all my years, and I’m not saying I don’t believe it. I’m saying that until Devin and Marissa are eighteen their welfare and well being are our responsibility, and I’m permitting them to run off into some dank mountain cave to fight demons or monsters or whatever the hell-“ she rolled her hand a bit, over and over, to express her uncertainty. “That we simply just cannot allow.” “Mom!” Devin protested. Marissa craned her head, fuming. “You can’t be serious! We’ve already-“ “Enough,” was all she said as her glare reminded everyone who Marissa’s mentor was in the Evil Queen department. They way the twins lost their fire in a heartbeat made it obvious that despite all their rule breaking and do-a-they-please mannerisms, they were still beholden to the rule of their parents. “This is bullshit.” Devin raged with enough attitude to remind his friends that he was the guy who tackled Chet and broke his nose for no apparent reason. “Another word,” she rose her finger to silence them. “And I will have you both in a military academy by weeks end.” Both of her children glared and squirmed like they wanted to burst with expletives. “Try me.” “That out of the way,” she composed herself and continued as her children stared daggers at her. “Mrs. Giles your facility seems to be the only in existence that specializes in these sorts of phenomenon and so I’m willing to let the past be the past, since it’s obvious no one really seems to be aware of their children are doing or where they are.” The slight jab she took at the competency of the other parents didn’t go unnoticed. “These abilities do need to be understood as well any possible detrimental effects they could have on their bodies in the long-term. We can arrange times for them to meet with your staff and assess their potential and an any possible side effects, but they are, under no circumstances, to take place in military, or para-military endeavors they may place their lives or the lives of others at risk.” “If you truly wish to help our children understand these strange new abilities, then prove it by helping them, not sending them off to be slaughtered.” Misti and Annette locked eyes and it felt like a comic book where both parties were shooting eye lasers and the strength of the beams just kept shifting slightly in the favor from one of them to the next, but neither said anything at first, they just stared and postured as they prepared their next argument.
  20. "Seriously?" Marissa head dipped in absolute wonderment that Sean waited until now to bring up the Todd information. "Christ Sean, that would have been nice to know around the same time we decided Site B needed to happen." She raised her hands up in surrender. "You know what? Fine. I-I don't even care. I can't even care at this point. We are going to end up dead, or worse at this rate. We're an absolute hot mess." Devin sighed deeply, obviously irritated (some more). He just shook his head and like his sister raised up his hands in absolute surrender. "Just tell us what your plans are for Todd and we'll work them into the rescue, I guess. Now, instead of infiltrating and locating one individual, we need to scour the facility for a second one, which Cassie could have been doing already, and hope we can make it to them. Great." He chuckled as he leaned back. "I give up. I just... I plain give up. Maybe I just don't comprehend the intricacies of your dizzying intellect, but you win. You guys officially win. I have given up."
  21. "Lilly," Marissa said calmly, her tone almost enchanting. "Enterich is a fear demon, he got to you and me as well. I know it couldn't have been easy, and we're all here for you, but there is no lack love within the Fellowship. I literally went to bat for these nerds and I'll do it again in a heartbeat. But we don't agree philosophically, morally-" "Ecumenically." Devin added. His turned to him and just shook her head. "Stop helping." "What?" He shrugged. "I thought you were doing a 'thing'. A pirates 'thing'. Fine... go ahead, whatever, man." She sighed and continued. "Look, we might like everyone the way you'd prefer we did, but that doesn't mean we're not a team. We have to be because we're the only ones who can do this. People don't like us because we're domineering and opinionated, we get that, but we're decisive and results driven. A few of you are about as useful as a glass hammer when it comes to getting things done in a manner that won't have us lying to authorities or racking up a series of felony charges. Like blowing up a bridge, for example. We're not directing our ire at a single individual, although a single individual is responsible for a majority of the poor life choices." "We are concerned about how other's actions reflect upon us," Devin chimed up, helping his sister out properly. "America is hardly the land of tolerance and understanding and we are freaks, mutants. Unlike some whose opinion is to burn and decimate anyone who comes at them, we'd prefer to not have the CIA, FBI or our neighbors trying to kill us because one of you decided to get retarded. You want freedom to do as you please, so we're giving you that freedom, go nuts. You're Annette's problem now, we don't know what else to do." "Uhh..." Carl raised his hand. "Smilodon? Implants?" The twins just sighed and shook their heads.
  22. "I've one, yes," Misti rested her arms on the table, allowing them to lend her support as she leaned in a bit in her chair. "Precisely how many times were our children used to perform covert raids on terrorist cells? That you or this Taggart are aware of, of course." Marissa rolled her eyes while shaking her head but went directly back to swiping on her phone. She didn't let is escape her that she'd left some finer details out, but that wasn't on Cassie. Devin noticed too, he just was done caring. The the teleporter rolled his eyes as well and allowed his head to collapse into his arms on the table. After a moment there was a 'thok', 'thok' sound as he tapped his forehead in frustration on the hard wood. "Christ, Mom," he complained. "Do we trust them? Not really. But no one made us do anything. We chose to go after Etienne on our own. These guys," she gestured to Annette, since she seemed to representing all the 'they's' this evening. "Couldn't have stopped us if they wanted to." Carl also leaned into the table, cradling one hand into his other. "Wait, wait, wait..." he shook his head. "This Etienne guy is who now?" Marissa didn't look up from her phone and the tone of her voice couldn't sound anymore bored than she actually was. "He's some Canadian guy, kinda hot, sexy accent. I guess he was some prodigy who graduated high school, got a degree and managed to get through spy school all in before he was twenty three, twenty four? Anyway, despite all those skill he decided to work for cook so he could sleep with high school girls." Her mother's gaze slowly panned and fell upon her. Marissa was unwavering thought and simply shrugged while meeting her mother's stare. "I know. I didn't understand it either." It was Carl's turn to roll his eyes and he exhaled softly while shaking his head. He plucked up his bottled water and smirked to Annette. "You wouldn't happen to have anything stronger, would you?"
  23. "Leapfrog ahead?" Devin said while Cassie reached for her water whet her throat after part one of the Fellowships epic tale. "You left out the part where you came to my house that evening and totally went all handsy on my abs." Cassie's cheeks swelled like a chipmunks when she choked on her water and her mother turned her head a shot her a look of pure 'excuse me young lady'? Devin flipped his finger about his mouth, calmly advising Cassie. "You got uh... a little something... um, yeah... you two hash that out..." He nodded to the ladies while Devin earned himself baleful glares that demanded blood and pain from Cassie while a few others from the Fellowship, well used to his antics by now, tried to suppress a grin. Devin may have been an irritating guy most times, but he was never short of entertaining, especially in these rather tense moments. He produced his phone and showed it to everyone then looked at Sean. "Dude, you mind?" He then slid his phone into the center of the massive table. "For those of you who don't know, I'm an artist-" "-and here we thought you were some punk who whose only talent was running his mouth and torturing our kids." Sean's father Jack interrupted him. Whatever temporary truce had been struck between them before the Not-Cody battle seemed to have dissipated at the news of Devin jaunting their daughter half way around the world to do God-knows-what, at God-knows-where. Through pursed lips Devin nodded and soaked it up. The Fellowship could tell, just form his poise and tensed nodding that Devin wanted to go balls deep and run a train on Jack's attitude, but instead, he composed himself and smiled politely. "Fair. I do talk a lot. So, I'm going to let that go because your daughter kinda has a thing for me-" "NoIdon't!" Laurie swiftly intercepted the conversation and then looked at her parents like she'd been accused of something she didn't do. She shook her head at her parents. "I don't." "-and," his glance across didn't go unnoticed. "Redheads are all the rage right now." There was an audible 'thump' from under the table as Marissa suddenly shifted, but never allowed her attention to be pulled away from the table. Devin grunted and tensed to one side, the side closest to his sister. "You were saying, Deej?" Marissa asked him, her lips curling into a smirk that falsely told how she was hanging on his every word. "Anyway," he grunted, collecting himself from the stabbing fist that met his side just moments prior. "Sean, you find it?" "I've found a lot, dude." Sean said, his eyes glossed over as a terabyte of data flowed through his mind in a series of 1s and 0s. "Is there any girl at school that hasn't sent you a selfie?" "There's a few I wish hadn't..." Devin added with a hint of sarcasm. "Me too. This whole phone needs to be set on fire and tossed into a volcano afterwards." Sean added with a grin of his own. "I think this is what you meant." From Devin's phone there was a brief upside down pyramid of light that encompassed nearly half of the the table itself. All the angles were visible, though see-thru as in its center Sean pulled the images from Devin's phone and in two dimensions, like large playing cards, the artwork Devin had drawn of all the monsters they'd faced rotated there in the center of the table. Sean's mind manipulated the data while simultaneously manipulating the light waves in the room to turn that data into floating holograms. "I've drawn dozens of them," he continued. He pointed to the one Sean was rotating, a blackened cloud of ink and tentacles with a gruesome jaw of sharp, stiletto-like teeth. "That's what came after us in the forest that night." The artwork scrolled and rotated, lingering long enough for all of them to see. It wasn't just the monsters that Devin had drawn, he'd illustrated entire scenes he was present for, providing a still frame visual of everything the Fellowship had gone through, like a story book others could follow along to as Cassie talked. Every argument was drawn in detail, the Fellowship around the table fighting like cats and dogs, Clara and Devin yelling from opposite sides of the room at one another as Lilly stormed out in frustration. The creature they battled not far from the old trailer, the one that nearly tore Devin's leg off, was brilliantly displayed in a scene where everyone was doing their best to not lose their shit as it's barbed and mouthed tongue was wrapped around Devin's leg as he screamed and frantically tried to crawl away. He'd captured the essence of The Dark wondrously with graphite and charcoal, a monochromatic testament to the visceral beauty of horror. "These are what keep me up at night, Mom, Dad. The night terrors, the insomnia, me spacing out and staring at nothing for minutes on end. We've asked all of you here today because despite our differences we've all managed to do what needs to be done to protect Shelly and it's people. Were you to ask me a month ago if I were to be hanging out with Sean, or Autumn? Hell no. I'd probably be beating up Sean in a bathroom or tipping Autumn's books out of her arms so I could watch her bend over to pick them up." Her glare told him that she was not ammused. "What? You might have been a pleb, but girl, you still got dat peach, hnnng." He flexed his fingers like he was squishing something soft. "Ah, the good ol' days," Marissa added with a smirk as she reminisced. "But we can't do this alone," he continued, shelfing his antics and soberly addressing everyone once again. "We can't carry this burden on our own, we need help and lying to all of you doesn't help us or anyone else. We need you to understand that a few weeks ago we were all punk kids, sure, but now... now we're friends." He chuckled. "Horrible friends who still don't trust each other, but we're getting there... slowly but surely, I think. So watch," he motioned to the pictures then to Cassie. "Listen. And while you may not trust us at first, I think we'll get there, slowly but surely." Annette surprised a smile behind her steepled fingers. There were times she wished she could bottle whatever it was the Jauntsen children had in their words. At only sixteen, they had a knack for working a crowd and she hoped that between Cassie, the twins and the testimony of the others, this night would end on a positive now.
  24. "Far as I know, ma'am," Devin answered Cade's mother with one of the first times any of them had heard him sound respectful to an adult. "Apparently, blindly opening a cross-dimensional portal and pulling nine people through it ruptures every blood vessel in my body." He shrugged nonchalantly and chuckled. "Who knew, right? I feel like went an entire practice against everyone on the football team without any pads on, but aside from that I think we're okay." "I'm not sure whether it's stubbornness, our powers or pure tenacity that keeps up all stitched together, Mrs. Allister," Marissa added, looking up from her phone. "Physically, it seems I'm healing faster than I should, so there's that. Mentally and emotionally, however... well, I was almost swallowed whole and torn to pieces by Lovecraft's illegitimate children. But respectfully, how does the medical profession define the term 'healing as it should' after one is almost torn apart by other-dimensional monsters?" "It's a bit stressful," Devin cut in, before his sister's words got to scathing or had a chance to be sharpened to a fine edge. "We've a lot on our plate right now and we've barely slept, let alone had a chance to rest or recuperate for days now. There's always something everyday we have to do or someone we have to save or somewhere we have to be..." "It's called growing up, dear," Misti happily cut in with a honed edge of matronly sarcasm. Marissa rolled her eyes as Devin's narrowed. "Is it?" Davin asked. "Just out of curiosity how many ancient dark gods have you and dad had to take on your professional, adult lives? Hmm?" He leaned in like he was listening for something he wasn't hearing. "Is that a 'none'? Yeah, don't confuse being in the bleachers with a lost of good play ideas for actually being on the field. We're not pulling down nine-to-fives, Mom-" "-we're almost being bitten in half. We're being shot at, we're damn near killing our selves every time we push our abilities because everything out there," Marissa pointed to the door. "Is ancient, powerful and evil and we're a bunch of high schoolers who by all accounts shouldn't even be out there having to do it... but we are," her words were hiding the growing flood of emotions she was keeping in check behind her robust levy of composure. "And we're doing it to keep you and everyone else safe. So please, stop with the patronizing 'growing up' crap." "It's not 'growing up', Mom," Devin's words were calm and compassionate as his voice emulated the caring tones of someone trying to make another understand. "It's duty. We were born for this. We're the only ones who can do it. We don't like it sometimes, sure, or even each other... but if we don't hold the line no one else can. There won't be anyone else who can protect you or Shelly or the rest of the world. It just," he shrugged. "Is what it is."
  25. The Juantsen family met at the medical center. The twins meeting up with their mother and father after they had spent some time speaking with Tawny and Sophia, both of which were still tired and frazzled from the previous day’s events. They didn’t press any issues with the two victims of Not-Cody’s violent kidnapping of them and were, thankfully, still unaware of the full extent of the suffering Sophia had endured. Still, they had an opportunity to at least make an appearance and remind them both that they were in their thoughts before leaving them to rest. They hadn’t spoken much to their parents about what powers they possessed or any of the Branch-9, Project/Crossroads, although they had given vague explanations, so they weren’t walking in blindly. Still, as they entered the room it seemed more like a setup for government head hunting than it did an opportunity for the families of the children to speak openly and honestly amongst themselves. The room was bugged, the government lap dog was sitting patiently and professionally at one end of the table, and she even offered false platitudes in her greeting and spouted the obvious ‘I’m just here to observe and mediate’ garbage. The problem Annette faced with the Jauntsens was that they were all very intelligent and proficient manipulators, and to them, this was seen for exactly what it was: an opportunity to observe, collect, and produce intelligence work on the families of the children who possessed extraordinary powers so that could disseminate across the various government agencies. “Thank you all for coming,” Annette said as the Jauntsen family took their seats. She noted how Misti, Devin, Marissa and then finally, Carl, sat, sandwiching their children in between them, a classic ploy to allow the to deliver looks, gestures or even a touch without having to move to far. They weren’t the best of parents, but they were here thinking of the best way to keep their children from saying of doing anything that might be used against them. “The others will be here shortly, I’ve word they’re on their way.” “So, this Proteus organization… you’re what?” Carl asked, craning his head a bit to imply a measure of distrust. “Research, Special Ops?” “Perhaps it would be best if we saved questions for me until the end, after the ‘Fellowship’ has had their opportunity to say their piece.” Annette’s smile was textbook, her words carefully chosen, and she noticed the way Misti seemed to be paying less attention to what she said so much as how she said it, reading micro expressions, measuring the flush in her cheeks, her pattern of eye movement. “Afterwards I’ll conclude with a few words to help alleviate any concerns.” Marissa sighed and rolled her eyes. “Christ. Crossroads and Proteus are essentially the same thing, they look for people like us, study us, find out what makes us tick and-“ “-essentially put a collar around our neck to make sure we’re jumping through the hoops that benefit their agenda.” Devin chimed up to finish his sister’s thought. “The difference is Proteus at least seems to have some manner of moral compass, so in the end, they’re not so much our allies as they are business associates and the lesser of two evils.” “That’s not entirely accurate,” the beautiful liaison said calmly but with still a hint of frustration in her voice. “And a bit unfair.” “From your point of view,” Marissa’s reply was like a swift razor blade seeking a throat to cut. “We did battle with an ancient demon who kidnapped our friends and where were you and Proteus and Branch-9? We had baseball bats and tire irons, where was Proteus and Branch-9? Jason was almost killed today in retaliation for my spying on Enterich at your request. Where was Proetus and Branch-9? We wanted to have a calm meeting of the families to sit and discuss everything that’s happened to us up to this point and tell our parents what we could do and how we wanted to apply these new found talents-“ “-oh, wait… here’s Proteus and Branch-9!” Devin expressively held out his hands placatively towards Annette, feigning trying to convince her of what he was saying. “‘Don’t have it in the comfort of your own homes, please, allow us to escort you to an isolated wing of the hospital by way of military escort and feel free to make use of our most-certainly observed meeting room. Please. All we want to do is help’.” The twins did not seem at all pleased with Branc-9 or Proteus and the hard gaze they both gave Anette spoke volumes beyond their initial appraisal. “I’ll tell you what unfair is, Ms. Giles: when it’s easy not to believe in gods and monsters until you wake up one day and realize you are one. Then spend two months trying to figure out which one you are all-the-while trying to piece together which of these factions wants to be buddy-buddy with you now simply because you can make their lives really complicated if you're not on their side." Annette sighed and cast a glance at their parents while trying not to say any more than she had to. “Don’t look at us, Ms. Giles,” Misti offered a cold smirk. “I assure you, we’re the least of your troubles this evening. Secret installations, meeting with our children without our consent while willfully placing them in danger… irresponsible at best, outright negligent at worst, but as you said, we’ll discuss that later.” “Wait,” Carl interjected, raising a hand while leaning to face his daughter. “Jason was almost killed today?” “Yuuup.” Marissa’s lips popped on the ‘p’, but she didn’t look up from her phone. “Huh.” He nodded. “Well, damn. Poor kid. Glad he’s okay.” Misti rolled her eyes and rubbed the bridge of her nose in frustration.
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