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The Story Guide last won the day on June 8 2015

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  1. "We don't really have an animal to do that with. I can see if we have any volunteers, but there's also just a monitoring period that's going to have to pass before they give an all-clear." There was a pause and Wendy came back with, "I mean, unless one of you could make an animal? That might work and then we could also test the animal to see if it has higher levels of the radiation." There were several more rounds of brainstorming between Deezy, Wendy and several of the other people sitting bored in quarantine. Eventually she called it for the day and promised to ask if a test animal could be procured. The next day the group was endowed with a miniature pig and asked to keep their ability-usage to a minimum, preferably none at all. At lunch, the pig was removed and tested for radiation levels, then returned to the quarantine area - this time the group was asked to use their powers in some way while the pig wandered around curiously around them. At dinner it was taken again; Wendy got back on the speaker a little after 9. "Good news, guys! There was no higher radiation levels detected at either time today. No one on the base has tested for higher radiation levels this entire time, either, so tomorrow we're going to take down the bubble and do some larger power tests outside. Dr. Ballard still wants 72 hours with regular blood draws from those of us that are going to be around you before he'll give a clear call. If it all goes well, though, you'll be completely out of CDC quarantine at that point." True to her word, the next morning after breakfast the group was ushered out of the rooms, with soldiers going in after them to start pulling the plastic shell down. The super-powered people were pulled outside into dazzling sunlight; they were in a large fenced off area that had tire tracks in the sand all over it - likely what they usually used for a parking lot. Soldiers were strung out along the edges of the field watching the group with interest and a touch of fear from at least a few of them. Two older men, one in a lab coat and one in fatigues with an air of tense disapproval, stood with a woman in a wide-brimmed hat and pantsuit; she waved them over, calling out in Wendy's voice. "Good morning everyone! I hope you slept well. Who wants to go first?"
  2. Good training and the warning they'd gotten before the 'copter landed kept the soldiers moving on their assigned tasks, but few could keep from openly staring at the pair. Kyria received the lion's share of heated gazes while the response to Steve was one of complete hero worship by those lucky enough to actually get to be near him. Amongst the soldiers heroism certainly carried more weight than just the inhuman beauty of the mercurial red squirrel, as Steve had dubbed her. A steel-haired woman in warm pants and a plush sweater stepped forward; she held a hand out to the pair and introduced herself: "Dr. Grace Jordan. I'm leading the team out here and will be coordinating the tests we're doing here." "Doctor." Steve said formally as he took her hand for a brief shake. Though a little discomfited by the attention and plainly unused to celebrity, the large Marine handled it well, his demeanour businesslike and focused. He missed being 'one of the lads', though the relaxed authoritative manner the Colonel displayed towards him, as well as the PT instructor's humorous 'punishment' were somewhat reassuring that he was still considered a soldier, at least. It had only hit him recently how important that was to his sense of self. He gestured to the slender beauty beside him as the handshake ended. "This is Kyria." he said by way of polite introduction. Dr. Jordan gave Kyria a clinical once-over, impressing Colonel Hatcher with her ability to completely ignore Kyria's heightened appearance. The woman nodded to her and then gestured over to the Nant Ddu Lodge. "We have the Lodge and the soldiers are over in the campgrounds. There's a bedroom put aside for you in the Lodge if you don't mind that we'll all be discussing the two of you and your abilities over breakfast like coffee-fueled high-schoolers with a new crush. Otherwise, the soldiers are bunking in at the Coed Owen Bunkhouse." Her expression was bland as she offered their choices, but the two could feel the keen intellect behind her warm brown eyes. Even this was a data-point to be collected and added to their files. Kyria arched a brow at Steve, a small smirk on lips. "Well..." Steve collected his thoughts, wondering what an 'Einherjar' was (it was familiar, but he couldn't remember what it meant) and why someone had labelled him that. Unless he was the 'Valkyrie', but even with his hazy grasp on Norse mythology he was pretty sure that was Kyria. It even kind of fit, name-wise. "I'm tougher. More tireless, less prone to fatigue and pain. It seems to take a scalpel and a bit of pushing to get through my skin." He reported, thinking as he spoke. "The toughness isn't just skin deep, either. Going by the evidence, I think it goes all the way to the bones and internal organs." The evidence was the fact that Kyria's grip was, in the throes of climax, sufficient to splinter wood and bend metal, and yet her legs squeezing around his midsection did not pulp his internals or bruise him. He declined to explain the source of that finding, though. "Also sharper. My senses are all better. My manual dexterity and balance are better, as is my running speed. I don't know if I could race a car on a flat surface, but I was able to outrun the SAS troopers at morning PT." He took a deep breath as he came to the last 'detail'. "I can manipulate the weather. Not sure how, or to what extent. During the fight with the ice giant I was able to fly - rudimentarily - though manipulating the wind. I also called down lightning, like I was taking energy from the Storm and hitting the thing with it. Finally I was able to cause a tornado, with updrafts strong enough to lift the thing from the ground so Kyria and I could slam it back down and shatter it." "The other stuff, it's pretty straightforward, at least to me. The only ability I've not had cause to use while in quarantine was the weather control." he looked over the banks of screens, then back at the Doctor. "Guess that's what we're here for today?" She nodded. "That's what the array of monitors on the peaks are for." She quirked a brow at Kyria, waiting for the flame-haired woman to give her own self-report. "I can fly," she said with an uncomfortable shrug. It was strange to Steve - he'd not actually seen her uncomfortable before. Bored, horned, manic, and utterly stir crazy, but never self-conscious before. "I break things easily." Another uneasy shrug and she finished with, "That's it, as far as I know, as far as powers." Dr. Jordan kept her eyes on the woman for a few beats longer, impassive expression giving no impression of the reason for the pause. "Alright," she finally said, "on to the tests, then. The tests they did in quarantine gave us a physiological baseline, so this set is meant to be of your more energetic expressions, shall we say. Kyria, we would like to take some footage and readings of you flying first. Then, Mr. Nord, we would like to see your control of the weather. Depending on how that goes, we may ask for examples of your lightning control and tornado creation, but we'll be going a bit slowly to make sure we're not starting a heatwave in London or somesuch. Understood?" The two nodded. Kyria was fitted with an armband that would measure heart-rate, body temperature and surely a dozen other things, and then sent to fly up and down the road at varying heights and speeds for the next hour. She was calm and focused, something Steve hadn't been sure she could do for extended periods of time, but her smile was missing, too. Finally she touched back down after the last "run;" she was waved to chair while the crew of scientists finished collating data and printing off summaries to tuck into the "Valkyrie" file. Dr. Jordan had fitted Steve with another armband during Kyria's last run; now she motioned to the sky. "Mr. Nord, call us a storm, please." He nodded at the doctor, then excused himself for a moment and went to crouch by Kyria's chair, his expression one of concern. He knew there was more to her than her strength and flying - and knew that she knew that too. But he'd kept quiet on the matter, figuring that it wasn't his choice what to say about Kyria abilities unless ordered to give a report on what he knew - at which point he knew he'd find his loyalties tested. Whatever reason she'd had for concealment, she was a private citizen and therefore had the right to do so. "You okay, love?" he asked quietly, pitching his voice below the hum and chatter of the scientists and their radios as they told the various listening posts to stand by. He cupped her cheek in his palm, reassured when she nestled against his touch and met his eyes. It wasn't fair, he realized, for her to be put through this rigmarole. He had signed up for - well, not this, but to be considered subject to the Crown and it's duly appointed officers. "You just relax now, duck. You don't have to do anything else unless you want to." He told her calmly. "We'll go for a walk once I've given the eggheads plenty of numbers to crunch, right?" She gave him a little smile, turning her head and kissing his palm. Whatever was causing her smile to vanish was still there, he saw, but her spirits seemed somewhat buoyed. "Mr Nord?" Dr. Jordan called. "We're ready for the test now." She was polite enough, but the subtext was clear. 'Time to perform'. Steve gave Kyria a solemn wink and straightened up, turning to regard the scientists with eyes that glowed a steady electric blue. "Mr Nord is my dad, Doc." he said as he moved towards the entrance to the pavilion. Sparks started to dance between his teeth as he spoke, lightning crawling across his exposed arms as he shucked his fleece jersey, revealing a t-shirt beneath. From overhead, there was a rumble that came in time with his words. Steve was annoyed - not for himself but for Kyria. They had bonded in more than one way over the last week or two, and he was so used to her smile that it's absence seemed to indicate a wrongness in the world. "It's Colour Sergeant Nord." his voice rumbled - or was it the thunder overhead speaking? The scientists looked at him, at the lightning now coruscating over his form as he strode out of the pavilion, then looked at their monitors. The storm rolled in from all points of the compass, the leading edges surging over the monitoring posts. Satellite imaging saw the Brecon National Park and a large part of Wales and the West Midlands quickly become covered in thick impenetrable cloud. Standing on the edge of the reservoir, wreathed in lightning and looking up at the sky, Steve could feel the clouds struggling, like horses tugging futilely at reins being held by a giant - him. He could feel the winds driving the clouds whipping at the surface of the reservoir, causing white foam to form in tiny crests. It felt good. He laughed, the sound echoed by a crash of thunder from overheard, and raised a hand to the sky as if bidding the clouds to halt their roiling, surging struggle. They did, building up into layers as the outlying area of the stormfront shrank, contracting so that just the National Park now lay under thick, slow-moving thunderclouds. They wanted a storm. He narrowed his incandescent blue eyes. The next roll of thunder split the sky as the ripping tear of lightning danced in the clouds so brightly that even inside the pavilion the colour was leached from everything for a second. The winds struck next, howling down the mountain passes, whipping the surface of the reservoir into a frenzy and whistling eerily as it made the pavilion's guy-ropes hum. Then came the rains, a torrent driven by gale-force winds strong enough to make grown men stagger and seek shelter. But not him. The winds ruffled his hair and clothing, but did not cause him to stagger. The rain soaked him, but he did not care, nor did the drops sting on his face. He felt the storm leap and bound, obedient to his wishes, and knew that if he wished he could blow the pavilion away, cause lightning to dance among the peaks of the Beacons, uproot trees and topple buildings... If he wished. He laughed again, sparks jumping from his tongue to his teeth, and the thunder crashed once more like the percussion of an angry god. He wryly wondered if the scientists were getting the data they needed. Inside the tent there was a mad scramble to lower the clear plastic walls as the storm came in quick and heavy. They'd prepared for something like this, but actually experiencing had the room buzzing with amazed excitement; as the storm kept intensifying the chatter died down as they by turns watched readouts or stared at the monitors showing the sheer size of the weather alteration. Even Dr. Jordan finally succumbed to frighten awe, crossing herself and muttering, "Good Lord, that's covering half the country." Kyria chuckled at that and pushed open the tent walls at a corner. She pushed through the wind and wet, grinning now at the effort he had to put into just walking forward. When she finally made it to him she threw her arms around him and clung to him; she laid her cheek against his so she could speak directly into his ear - it was the only way to be heard over the roar of thunder and rain. "That all you have, 'Einherjar'?" she teased, back to the Kyria he'd known for the past two weeks. She glanced back at the pavilion where Dr. Jordan was peering out with a dozen people crowded behind her. "She said it was only half the island." Dr. Jordan snorted and shrugged. "There are no laws governing the movement of weather," she pointed out. "Welcome to a new world. Let's see how far he can push this before the politicians write those laws." Colonel Hatcher narrowed his eyes at Jordan. "International incident isn't the only concern here, doctor. That's dangerous weather out there. People could get injured or die. The panic from the public is going to be real and justified. He can stretch his powers after we've posted a general warning and coordinated with any countries that are likely to be affected by it. At this point, we don't know if he's just knocked the entire planet's weather system out of whack. Shut it down." The doctor gestured to the tent wall, indicating the fog. "You're welcome to go tell him to stop. I'd recommend locating some infrared goggles first." She snorted at his deadpan look. "Didn't bring any, eh? Well, pity - next time, then. We're at his mercy right now. I would get used to it, that's functionally going to be the truth from now, if he's an indication of what the affected people can do." "A bit of good news," a timid meteorologist cut in, knowing Dr. Jordan enough by reputation to want to diffuse the confrontation. "Everywhere the storm wasn't, the weather didn't react. The way it would next to a supercell like that. We should have seen some reactions on the satellites - other clouds getting pushed around, for one. There's been nothing. It's like to the planet, the storm doesn't actually exist." "Fog?" Kyria peered at the dim shape of her storm god, aware that even hugging him and feeling his body's warmth could not completely ameliorate the odd sensation of not being able to see him clearly. Even her words came forth flat in the oppressive blanket of swirling vapour. "Freezing fog." Einherjar (and didn't that name seem somehow more appropriate to her now) glanced down at her, his eyes twin orbs of electric blue radiance that matched the dance of ghostly lightning in his aura that didn't seem to hurt her as she embraced him. "A huge bank of it, rolling over the world. Extending thousands of kilometers in every direction. It will be covering Europe, reaching most of the way to Moscow. It will be in North Africa. It will be coming close to the United States' east coast." His deep voice seemed to carry through the fog, thrumming through their touching forms. "I could blanket the world in it. Or a polar storm. Or a hurricane, or something like the Storm that made me this way..." He raised a hand and waved it abruptly - and the fog lifted with such suddenness that the radiance of unfiltered daylight was momentarily dazzling. One moment a stifling, freezing blanket of mist, the next moment tattered wisps remained that dissipated before their very eyes. "This is way too much power for a man to have." Steve breathed, the glow of his eyes subsiding and the flicker of his aura fading out. The god receded, the man emerged. He blinked, looking at Kyria, then back at the tent. "Shit, this is too much power for anyone to have." Colonel Hatcher stepped outside the tent, looking fit to chew nails. His expression shifted into something more neutral when he took in Steve's contemplative look. "Sergeant," he said, his tone serious, "no more testing that particular power today. In fact, I think we're done completely for the day. Why don't the two of you head back to Nant Ddu and spend the evening in the spa? There isn't staff, but the pool and hot tub are available." He motioned the two of them to one of the Humvee's that had brought them there and gestured at a few soldiers to accompany them back. It might have been phrased as a suggestion, but Steve knew an order when heard one. "Sir." he saluted, one arm still around Kyria, and headed for the jeep. Hatcher watched them go, a considering look in his eyes, then turned back to regard Dr. Jordan as she emerged from the tent, looking askance at the two enhanced as they left. "Where are they going? We've got more tests to-" "Doctor." Colonel Hatcher's voice was calm, but underscored with years of authority. "You've got plenty of data to crunch. I, on the other hand, as the ranking officer here have to manage the morale of a man, not a test monkey. A good man, might I add. A decorated soldier who is bright enough to know that what he did today has global ramifications. No more tests until further notice, which will be when I decide it's wise. Let them relax for the rest of the day. We're not in a rush." Jordan drew herself up, clearly aggravated at being balked at. Her jaw twitched as she weighed the cost and benefit of having this power struggle out with the Colonel here and now. Coming to a decision, she shrugged. "That'll be up to Parliament, no doubt," she said with the air of someone commiserating over a sad state of affairs. She ducked back into the tent without another word. Hatcher could hear her giving orders like the best of drill sergeants with unruly recruits. For today at least, she was packing up as directed. There would be other days. Other tests. Either under her purview or because the only thing this world would deny it's new demigods would be an unremarkable life.
  3. In Sebastian's ER room the nurse shook his head, still looking pale and quite freaked out. "He's been doing things," he said in a scared whisper. "Things that aren't possible. He won't stop. We can't sedate him. He just....just...." The young man slid down to the floor, his back to the wall. He was shuddering and tears started rolling down his cheeks. The sound coming across the speakers wailed louder and Jael and Zac could hear rushing steps outside the ER doors. Dr. Foster frowned and said in a clipped voice, "One of our other patients. We're not sure how he's doing it. Now, please stay here." As she pushed open the doors out into the hospital, the howling on the speakers lowered down to a background static and a chorus of voices spoke over it. "Come to meeeee. I can feeeeeeel you. I know you're heeeeeere. Strong man, gone man, little wolf. Come to meeeeeee-" Abruptly the chorus cut out except for one man's voice, shrill and clearly insane, "Or I'll eat them all! Hahahaha! So little, so fragile, so base. They're nothing at all!"
  4. "Careful," Wendy said with an amused tease. "Jensen - our rather cheeky pathologist - has already started giving all of you codenames. Give me a minute to get ahold of Dr. Ballard." After that, things moved quickly. Deezy was asked first to duplicate HIPPA releases for everyone so that medical information could be collected by those in quarantine, and then she was sent the specs for nearly a dozen different pieces of medical equipment. The large barracks room went from 'socializing space' to 'medical lab'. Samples were taken from everyone but Sebastion - they just couldn't figure out how for anything beyond hair and nail clippings and weren't willing to try anything too likely to actually injure him. Machines hummed and whirred and eventually spit out gigs of information for the CDC scientists to pour over. The poking and prodding had eaten up most of the day and the group eventually dispersed back to their rooms for sleep. Which again Sebastian noted he didn't seem to really need as much anymore. Not that the squints needed to know that. The next morning medical reports were handed through the airlock, along with a massive food shipment that included the requested food. Even a bag of blue-only M&Ms. The medical reports were detailed on each person's current general health, observed abilities, and a score next to a listing that was marked "Radiation ν" or "Radiation ψ". Over the speaker Wendy said, "The good news is that the tests we did yesterday have given us more information on the changes with you all and it appears that everyone's radiation levels are dropping steadily. We've manage to differentiate the radiation out into two kinds, which also seems linked to some shared changes between around one half of the group or the other. Those of you with the n-radiation also have cell clusters throughout your body that seems to interact with the n-radiation. Like process it instead of being harmed by it. Those of you with the psi-radiation instead, well, your brain is different. Just a small part of it, but like with the others it seems to process the psi-radiation. We're not sure why there's this split. These tests are what showed us that there were two distinctly different energies at play. Before that it was just considered all one new type of radiation. Anyways, if the radiation drop-off continues, you guys will be down to the new background level of this radiation in four or five days. At that point we'll want to take some measurements why you're actively using your abilities, just to check for spikes and make sure the use of the abilities aren't cause your body or mind problems. That will probably only take a few days itself. If everything checks out fine, the CDC will have no reason to continue the quarantine at that point."
  5. "What are you suggesting, Ms. Klatta? Making equipment inside the quarantine? Do you have any medical training?" Wendy sounded intrigued by the idea and maybe a little relieved at a suggestion that might prevent people from fleeing the base. "I'll have to run things by by Dr. Ballard, but anything that gives the CDC more data - well, I can't imaging that being seen as anything other than good." Deliah, Emily's roommate in quarantine, piped up with, "I'm not a doctor, but I know my way around most medical equipment. I'm all for whatever will get us out of here faster." She gave Bastion a glance that said yeah, I don't believe her either. "I've got kids to get home to."
  6. "The HAZMAT suits the doctors have been wearing do have badges built into them, Mr. Stone." Wendy said. "It's how the differing level of radiation was detected initially, according to the report. I can ask for more information in it, if you would like. I have what's effectively a synopsis of what they've discovered or theorize right now. It's only been two days since the Storm - everyone's scrambling to try to figure this all out. If you'd like to write a letter to your folks, Ms. Klatta has made clipboards and pen and papers. I can get a letter taken out tomorrow morning when the shipments come in."
  7. Hey, for those in Peers & Pressures, this first part was mostly meant to be for characters to talk with each other and start forming bonds. If people are bored at this point, I can move us forward a week to the point where the main quarantine has been lifted. There's still a "populated areas" quarantine in effect until they make sure that using your powers doesn't spike your radiation levels, make you go nuts/mutate, or the powers themselves don't cause others to go nuts/mutate. That would be montage scenes of people showing off with their powers and seeing how they work with each other. There isn't meant to be deep plot here other than some of the push-pull of people being awed by the super-humans, wanting to control them, and figuring everyone would be better off if you all just disappeared permanently. The game seems to have slowed down and I just want to make sure that's not because the social quarantine thread is just boring everyone. Let me know what you guys would prefer, because I can also just wrap up Peers & Pressures and move everyone to the three month jump so you're all loosed on the world and can go from there. For those in Angels & Demons: Do you need anything from me? I can add to my last post if there isn't enough actionable info there, or you can just tell me life's swallowed you for a bit and everything is elsewise fine. Ein: I promise, I'm getting to you!
  8. The sound of paper flipping came over the speaker. "They're not entirely sure where it's coming from. They want to take some more samples and have apparently ordered an MRI to be flown in, along with a list of a lot of other medical equipment. As for the radiation, it's the same that came with the Storm. Everyone's got some of it now, but you all have just more." She made a small sound as a thought occurred to her. "Some of you talked about having better sense or just different new ones. Can any of you sense things about each other? Or different from the soldiers at the doors? More information gets the science done faster and the quarantine lifted sooner." Several notes to some random song sang out over the speaker and Wendy sighed. "I've got to step out for a minute, everyone. If you all think of anything else, please let me know when I get back." The speaker clicked off and this time the Latino man didn't squint it back into life. He was standing with his arms crossed, a pensive and distracted look on his face.
  9. Over the speaker, Wendy's voice came again just as Emily reached the hallway down to the rooms. "The quarantine is for two reasons, Ms. Thompson. The first is that those of you here represent a very very very small number of people that have been altered by the Storm and didn't start attacking others or wreaking havoc on the landscape. We want to make sure you're going to be okay, psychologically. You all do have superhuman powers. Second to that-" There was a sound in the background, a deeper voice, interrupted her with murmuring. The speaker clicked off, but the Latino boy squinted at the speaker and it flickered back to life. Wendy's response to the intruder carried over the microphone, "Withholding medical information from them is not a good idea, Colonel. Not if you want them to trust you or stay put here when most of them certainly could leave." The male voice said something again and Wendy's voice carried over again. "Well, this is quarantine, not prison. The CDC has jurisdiction, not the military. I don't work for you. Bring it up with the Congressmen you've been complaining about. These people haven't been charged with a crime and Thompson is right, most of them are heroes. They're confused and getting angry. Understanding the situation will help them calm down and not fight their way out." They could hear the door slam and then the click of a button as Wendy though she was turning the speaker back on. "Sorry about that, everyone. As I was saying, the other reason quarantine is not 'bullshit' is because you're all still some sort of radioactive. You don't seem to be getting sick, but we need to make sure you aren't going to make others sick. So, please bear with us. I promise I will keep you updated with whatever the CDC doctors discover as I get reports from them. For now, perhaps try to get to know each other? You all belong to a rather unique and small club. Even after you leave here, I think it'd be good to keep in contact with others that can empathize with what you've been through and how your lives have changed."
  10. Jael & Zac The sirens of the ambulance made normal conversation inside the vehicle nearly impossible. The EMT checked Sezja's pupils several times and asked her to follow a finger or say her name or the date. When Sezja kept slipping back into Russian to answer, he gave Jael and Zac a pleading look to translate. Despite her linguistic confusion, Sezja seemed mostly okay. At the hospital - the Marias Medical Center, they could read from the brightly lit signage outside the ER entrance - all three were swiftly moved through triage and bedded down in the ER rooms. They didn't even protest with Jael insisted on staying in the room with Sezja instead of moving to one of the other rooms to be seen separately. The level of accommodation set her on edge. She hadn't been in the American medical system since she was a child, but she didn't remember anything about it being so cavalier with normal procedures. The ER doctor appeared just as unusually swiftly - a steel-haired middle-aged woman with a badge that read "Dr. Foster" and two nurses in tow - and set to working on Zac first. His ear was stitched up and he was given a cold pack and several hospital-strength painkillers. Once he was settled back in, Sezja was seen to with similar efficiency: several cuts were stitched up, others bandaged, she was run through quick basic tests for a concussion, and one of the nurses was sent off to arrange x-rays on her shoulder and right arm and to get a full body MRI. "Just a precaution," Dr. Foster said in that way that's supposed to make you feel better but just ends up sending you down the rabbit hill of 'what if?' Finally, she turned to Jael and smiled. "The EMTs tell you me you seemed to come through pretty unscathed. You're a very lucky young woman. I'd still like to look you over." There were sounds in the ER room as someone else was walked back; Dr. Foster waved her nurse off in the direction of the newly occupied room. As the young man left Jael caught the unmistakable look of a deep bruise form along his jaw and the slight hitch of someone trying not to limp. Bastion Sebastian's mother did in fact fuss at him all the way to the hospital. When his parents had arrived at the wreckage she'd pushed through any of the feeble attempts by the deputies to maintain a 'do not cross' line and had done a quick check of him before hugging him tightly enough to make his father wince. He'd barely been able to convince her to let him sit in the back seat of the car alone; his father had looked to the plane, looked to his son, and given him a wordless nod of approval. The elder Stone knew he'd get the full story from his son at some point and right now was more about making the woman of the family feel secure than about either of of the men. At the hospital, the ER was nearly silent, only the triage nurse on duty. Sebastian went though triage and was settled into one of the three ER rooms in less than ten minutes. A haggard young nurse stepped into the room with Sebastian and his parents with a clip-board; a large red mark along his jaw showed where he'd have a deep bruise in the next day or so. "Uh, so, you were at the crash?" He glanced over Sebastian and asked, "Are you having any trouble breathing? And feeling of weakness in limbs or dizziness or naus-" Everyone The hospital began to howl. It was the only way to explain the sound screaming out over the speaker system - unmistakably human but seemingly drawn from the pits of Hell. Dr. Foster frowned and stood up. "Stay here," she said firmly before quickly making her way to the ER entrance into the hospital at large. The nurse in with Sebastian nearly jumped out of his skin, flinching away from the speaker and whimpering, "Oh God please, not again."
  11. Bastion Jael nodded to him, her eyes still on the unconscious woman next to her. Suzanne Summers was checking the woman over. She was a good EMT and the town expected her to eventually get over her fear of success and actually go to medical school; either that or get pregnant and marry the sheriff’s eldest son instead of living in sin with him. There was a clear generational gap on who thought which path was better for the stocky brunette. She waved to the ambulance, calling over two more EMTs and their stretcher. Jael followed after, her pretty face set in a pinched frown. Suzanne turned her gaze on Bastion. She crossed her arms and considered the sooty teen. “You should go to the hospital. You might have smoke inhalation.” She glanced over at the plane and ruined stretch of highway. “You really rescued all of them?” she asked with more than a touch of awe in her voice. Zac The storm still raged above them, sending out lightning bolts and thunder with ear-splitting regularity. The only thing it wasn't doing was raining, which wouldn't have put out the oil fires from the plane but would have mitigating the heat some at least. Zac was sitting near Sezja, Jael and Bastion; his head was starting to pound in time with the storm above. Each pulse brought with it weird feelings and then snatching of light and sound, but they quickly escalated to full-on hallucinations. A river, dark and swift, running into the sky, forking in three directions just at the horizon: In one direction the branch is small but deep. The water churns as rapids that scatters drops into the night sky where they become stars - bright but burning too fast and exploding across the sky. The largest of the water-suns collapse in one themselves to become massive black holes, swallowing up everything near them and dragging the last of that water into their cores. In the opposite direction the branch is wider than the first but more shallow. It unfurls into the sky like a river delta that has found the ocean. It pulled at him, an inviting beach on a summer day where you know each wave by heart and the current holds only a friendly invitation. This water flows through the universe, creating paths that connect all that is with all else that is. The middle direction, widest of three running steady and quiet but splitting and rejoining itself like an intricate braid. This water flows into the sky but also falls back to the horizon, creating new rivers on the Earth and seeking every living place in the infinite Multiverse. Zac blinks and shakes his head. There’s just too much there to chase down, the possibilities too truly endless. He knows in that moment to look there again would be powerful but lead to madness. “Not yet,” his own voice whispers to him with an echo heard in time. “-know where you are?” a voice broke past his fugue. A young man, an EMT by uniform and looking concerned was talking to him. “Sir? Sir!” Jael Jael’s attention was nowhere on Zac as Sezja was being loaded into the ambulance; she was making little noises of distress each time the stretcher jostled. At the look on Jael’s face the older EMT with them said, “That’s a good sign, miss.” He smiled at Jael, trying to set the girl at ease. “She’s starting to wake up. We can give her pain meds once we finish checking her over. There’s room in the back for you, if you want to come to the hospital with us.”
  12. The speaker came to life again. "That's a good point, Major Hawke," the woman said and you could hear the grin in her voice. "I'll talk to the base commander about it. Also..." there was a slight pause and the sound of paper moving, "uh, Mr. Wallace, you're not under arrest. You're in quarantine, completely different set of rules. I don't know how long you guys are going to be here. The CDC people are doing their thing, but it's up to them first when you get let out of quarantine. Name's Wendy, if that helps, and I'll be doing a lot of the day-time observations. A little weird, I know, but if you need something or want to ask if you can have something, just let me know. I may not be able to get it, but I'll do my best. Leave your lists by the air-lock when you're all done and I'll have instructions for whomever brings breakfast to pick them up."
  13. Several others had wandered over, listening curiously. The space around Karrie slowly widened as people found reason to edge away or just blatantly walk to the other side of the group. A young Latino man started to say something, but the speakers in the room squawked to life over him. "Sorry for barging into the conversation," the woman on the other end said with a kindly sigh, "but HAZMAT suits are annoying to put on for a quick statement. We're honestly starting to run out of food from what we had stocked. We've got more being air-lifted in, but it's mostly MRE's until tomorrow morning. If you want to make lists of foods you guys like, we can make that part of the next order. We can't do restaurant food out here, but we can make something close. Ms. Klatta, could you gather a list for the quartermaster?"
  14. Time: 8:48 PM, September 19th, 2019 Sebastion Even on a Saturday, the town of Shelby, Montana was small enough that there was little to do once the sun set. Most businesses closed, most families were home watching tv after dinner, young kids tucked in bed so they'd not be cranky through early church services the next morning. Sebastian and a half-dozen of his friends were exercising their teenage privilege to ignore social conventions and were taking up space on the stairs at the Exxon shopping strip on the edge of town, the closest Shelby got to an outdoor hangout spot. A storm has rolled in on the town in only minutes - not an unknown phenomenon, but the clouds looked angry and lightning chased through them like frenzied sprites. "Uh, guys?" Jeremiah Cross, one of the running backs for the JV team, was staring at the sky. He pointed to what looked like a silver shooting star against the deep purples and blacks of the clouds. Several people gasped as the realized what it was, Annalise stating in horror, "It's a plane. On fire." Lightning flashed brightly in their eyes and the plane wobbled down in it's descent. A little quicker on the uptake, Dennis started down the stairs, calling back over his shoulder, "It's too big! It's gonna crash near here." It was getting larger and very fast. Everyone scattered down the stairs and into the parking lot. Another lightning flash arced along the body of the plane, reaching out in ball of little tendrils - landing on the roof of the building, the roof of the pumps, and down to the ground of the parking lot. The air around them filled with static and power as the plane passed close over the strip mall, trailing molten debris as it went. A few seconds later the boom of impact only a few hundred feet away inside the circle of a highway off-ramp, knocking everyone to their feet. Everyone except Sebastian, who felt the push against him but simply pushed back with an unyielding strength he'd never known before. He felt powerful - amazing. Like he could do anything in this moment. Another small boom echoed from the direction of the plane and the smell of burnt metal and jet fuel spread across the area. Jael and Zac They were in fly-over country, and true to form, they were flying over it. Ritzy hotels and even private home rentals just didn't have the same security as being thousands of feet up in the air in a privately-owned jet. Other than having to pop her ears several times, the ride had been mostly uneventful: Sezja was employee Zac again, this time to take out the legs (and warehouses) of a cousin that thought he could set up a side operation outside of family approval or cut. The first was annoying, the second was treasonous. This was the polite warning to shape up do right by his kin. The second warning would be far more direct and leave nothing for Ulian to do ever again. Sezja believed in second chances, but not thirds. Jael had spent the flight fleecing the wallets of Igor and Anton, which seemed to fair to her since they were being paid to look like Sezja's guards while Jael was the one actually doing that. She glanced towards the cockpit when the pilot's voice crackled over the speakers. "Мисс Буторин, мы идем в шторм. Мы не можем идти вокруг, и будет турбулентность. Каждый должен пристегнуть ремни безопасности." Everyone sighed and Sezja rolled her eyes. Jael gave her a pointed look and the incredibly fashionably dressed woman pulled her seatbelt into place while giving Jael a look that translated perfectly into "Alright, you overprotective wolf." Their employer following the captain's instructions meant everyone else did, too. Thunder rolled around them and lightning flashed in the darkness outside. Then flashed again. And again. Brighter and closer each time. "Оставайтесь на линии!" the captains voice called over the speakers. Then the plane swerved, dipping down and hard to the right. Lightning flashed again, still bright but not brighter. The drinks slid and crashed onto the plush carpet of the luxury aircraft and Anton grunted as his seat-belt dug harshly into his side. Igor looked like a dog run through a centrifuge, trying to figure out what was going while also needing all his attention not to add lunch and stomach acids to the alcohol staining the white carpet. Jael and Zac felt the strike that set the right wing on fire just a few milliseconds before it actually hit. Jael's vision had blurred as her eyes tracked out the window and she saw a dozen different bolts of lightening: some were faint and missed the wing entirely, others struck the engine itself or arc into the cabin and her mind screamed NO!. In the end, the strike that Zac saw hit the tip of the wing and arced like a fairy dancer over the plane before dissipating. Mere seconds later, another bolt hit along the other wing and Jael's vision swam again, but the plane held. The nose dipped down more sharply in a left turn this time as the pilot looked to bring them under this impossible storm and find somewhere to make an emergency landing. Catching hell from Pakhan Butorin was better than dying in the sky - or surviving when Butorin's daughter didn't. Lightning found it's way to the plane again, but this time it was the tail. Jael's vision didn't distort and the plane gave a great shudder as the lightning, finding it's mark, hit over and over again. The back of the plane was slagging and the light from above and behind them took on an orange tinge instead of the blue-white of lightning. The pilot tried to course-correct again, but the plane was responding sluggishly at best. The nose pulled up slightly, but not enough. They weren't in free fall, but they were falling. The ground rushed up as the pilot kept pulling and the nose moved a bit more, but not enough. When metal met earth, everything went dark for those inside.
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