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Aberrant: Mutant High - "Relax, We're The Good Guys"


Dave ST
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Manhattan, 12:07AM...

Somewhere in a stuffy unmarked van...

The glow of the screens lit of the faces of the three technicians as they stared at their instrument panels. A variety of tracking information displayed swiftly as the entire topography of the eastern seaboard was laid out for their research. Anther screen was separated into sixteen viewable areas each for one of the drones that patrolled a given area. Dark and cramped they sipped their coffee, waiting for something... anything.

*blip*

With the cup still tipped to her lips one of the technician's eyes slowly moved to either side before looking down at the console skeptically.

*blip* *blip*

She nearly spilled her coffee as she stumbled for the console, now assured that the blips were coming from hers. "Sir! Sir, I have a ping. Manhattan, one of the drones' scanners just got a genetic match! Pin pointing the location."

The man sitting in the driver's seat raised a radio. "We got him. Subject 117 is on the move. I want two units prepped and ready for deployment on my mark. Coordinates will be sent shortly... failure is not an option. We need this thing back in a cage by dawn."

Lawrence Hunt Academy, Director Drumm's office... just a bit sooner...

"I think you're out of your mind." Her flat tone was, as usual, devoid of anything resembling tact or personality. "Jericho, Morri is not ready for something like this. I urge you to seriously reconsider. You'll be placing other students in jeopardy if she has an episode."

"Duly noted, Denise," He replied to his Assistant Director. "In fact, I agree with you, but this is what Lawrence wants. He assures me that Morri can handle it, plus she's the only student that possesses senses keen enough for the task. Besides, she'll be able to sympathize."

"They're just high school kids, Jeri. I don't like them being 'used' like this." It was evident that she was stressed with the situation. Ms. Childs had a reputation for being the most ruthless faculty member of the Academy. She was cold, meticulous, and anything a student said to her was simply an excuse. She promoted honesty, responsibility and discipline, so as one could imagine she wasn't very popular with the students. "I trust Lawrence, I do, Lord knows he worked miracles for me, but I was older. They're," She paused and took a breath. "They're just kids. What is something happens?"

Director Drumm shared her anxiety for the situation yet still managed a professional, charming, and sympathetic smile. "Hopefully something will happen, Denise. Hopefully these kids will be the hope this world needs. For now, I trust Lawrence. He's never given us any reason to doubt his judgment, so I say we give this plan of his a chance."

With a sigh she caved. "Very well, I'll go wake them. But I want the record to show..."

With a smirk Jericho offered a bow from where he sat in his over stuffed desk chair. "Of course, the record shall so reflect. And, Denise," As she paused and spun back around to face him, her hand on the door knob. "Thank you for trusting Lawrence, and me. I love these children as much as anyone, especially you."

"I know..." With that she left the office.

Several very groggy minutes later...

As the students, still in their sleeping clothes, sat in the Director's office they couldn't help but yawn and rub their eyes. Curtis polished his glasses as the sleep faded from his thoughts. Glacia brushed her hair and Morri... well Morri seemed surprisingly awake. Bright eyed and bushy tailed as the expression went. The girl never ran out of energy it seemed.

"First of all, thank you for allowing us to inconvenience you this evening." It was amazing how Director Drumm made you feel like a person instead of just a student. "I do apologize, but this is a bit of an awkward situation. You see there is a boy, like you, out there tonight, alone and in trouble." He pointed at the window to emphasize that 'out there' could quite possibly mean way out there. "Simply put, I'd like you to find him." He paused for a moment then continued. "Now, I know it's late and I know that this is a faculty issue, but you three posses the skills and, well, to put it bluntly, your mutant abilities would be an incredible asset to the search. I'd like to remind you that you are here to learn, not for me to exploit your talents, so if you do not wish to help, I understand completely."

"Some very bad men are hunting a boy, a mutant boy and if they catch him, they'll hurt him." Jericho was looking at Morri now, speaking in a manner easiest for her to understand. "I would like your help Morri. Would you use your nose," He pointed to his own nose for emphasis. "To help us find the boy before the bad men do? We'd like to help him, but we need to find him."

Eileen is on hand to 'translate' for Morri. I know he talks fast and uses big words, but for the sake of argument Eileen helps her with that.

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As Drumm had spoken, Morri’s eyes had bored into him. It was also somewhat disconcerting for her to pay complete attention to you, because you were never quite sure what she was thinking. The only thing you knew for certain was that she was very intent on those thoughts. The effect should have been muted by the pink plaid flannel pajamas she wore, but it was rather like giving a gun a pink stock – it was still a dangerous weapon, no matter what color it was wrapped in.

Her intent thoughts revolved around someone being hunted and hurt. She knew both sensations and knew they weren’t nice. Part of her energy was spent avoiding both things, but she wanted to help others avoid that too. It was part of her growing awareness of other people, not as enemies or obstacles, but as living, feeling beings.

“Dr. Drumm, I’m not sure this is a good idea,” Eileen Gomez said softly. “Morri, you don’t have to go.”

“Morri find,” the red-eyed feral said.

“It will be dangerous,” Eileen said, putting a hand on Morri’s shoulder so the girl looked up at her. “Like Africa.”

That was a low blow, but Morri didn’t seem to notice. Fear flashed over her face as she gazed at Eileen, then she turned to Drumm. “Morri go. Save boy from Aff Rica.” Eileen had meant to scare her away, but instead had solidified Morri’s determination to save another mutant from Vyse. “Is… Vyse there? Where boy be?”

“No,” Dr. Drumm assured her. “Vyse is not behind this.”

“Morri go. Save boy.” She paused, her expression shifting from wary to hopeful. “Drumm go too?”

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My name is Drew Martin. I find it hard to raise my arms above shoulder level, I’ve been on the run for three days, and I’m probably about to be captured by government agents who intend to experiment me to death.

I’m not afraid.

I was scared. I think that happens when you’re going about your day, shitty as it is, and ten men with shotguns, black armour and riot shields turn up and start shooting you. They missed more than they hit the first time, but the time they did hit shut my arm down for an hour, just killed my bicep dead. They’re not firing bullets, though, so I knew they weren’t trying to kill me.

So I’m not afraid.

I know how this story goes. I’ll be taken to a facility, thrown into a cell which may or may not have a ton of other mutants in it, and they’ll periodically separate me to do tests which will probably involve a lot of screaming. It’s been my life for… some time. A couple of years, maybe three. Time sort of runs together when nobody bothers to tell you how much is passing.

There’s something about inevitability which takes the fear out of things. It’s like death. I’ve never been afraid of death because I know it’s coming. Yeah, it’s slightly scary that I don’t know when, but I know it’s there and I’m jogging towards it. This is the same.

I can’t avoid those guys for much longer. They’ve tagged me four times now, maybe five. I’m bruised from shoulder to thigh. Raising my arms hurts, and raising them high hurts like hell. I can’t get out of New York, either. Not on foot. I don’t even know how they’re chasing me but they are. Maybe they put a tag on me like in one of those movies I used to watch.

I groan as I sit up. It’s muffled by the blanket on top of me. It’s been two days since I got some sleep and I feel every second of it.

Down below, there’s a couple of drug addicts screwing. They were doing that when I went to sleep, too, and making more noise about it. If the men come for me they’ll make decent shields.

Jesus.

It all gets simple when people are after you. Everything is either stopping them catching you, or not. And if it’s not, I’ve got no use for it. Those two below aren’t much help, but they could slow down the government guys. I can probably duck behind them to break line of fire. Now I know they’re not using the sort of bullets that punch right through your body, I know they won’t go through them.

There are six windows on the bottom floor. I can be to and through one of those in a couple of seconds. There’s debris down there, too, nothing special, just rags and dirtied mattresses mixed in with old bloodied needles. A usual druggy’s dive.

I’m up high in the rafters. Since I… changed… high places haven’t been as dangerous as they were. My reaction times are so fast that I can catch myself if I fall without any difficulty, and my balance is so good that I never fall anyway.

It’s been a good six months now. Moving from dive to dive, ‘acquiring’ clothes from those too far out of their heads to realize the guy with the gold hair and eyes is even real. Maybe one of them did and that’s why the guys with the guns are here. I’ve managed a tight hooded top with a dragon on the back and a pair of shitty shades taken from someone who clearly thought he was cool but has about a month to live if that. Not that I know drugs much, but the way he was taking them can’t be safe.

The clothes help me go out and buy the odd hotdog when I can likewise steal some cash from the addicts or from other people who aren’t looking enough. I’m fast now, and nimble. My mother would have had my nuts for breakfast if she knew. But I guess she’d expect that of a dirty, filthy mutant. At least it means I can move around town without attracting any more attention that someone blatantly trying to hide their face would.

It burns, still, remembering the look on her face when they took me away. A lot of the pain’s dulled. I’ve had bigger things on my mind for too long.

Nobody cares and nobody’s coming. I’m on the run with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

How else could it end?

The funny thing is I think about my sister most often. I wonder how she is now. She’ll be going fourteen, the age when I changed. I wonder if she has a boyfriend. I wonder if she plays basketball like her brother did. I wonder if she’s well.

I hope she’s well.

She probably thinks about me from time to time. She has to be scared that she’s a mutant, too. The only thing she’ll know for sure is they took me away and she never saw me again. That’s got to be scary for a ten year old. And the kids at school… god they will have ridden her hard. She went to the same school I did. My years had some rough kids.

Not that I ever had to worry. I was the golden boy, the sports star, the basketball prodigy, or so coach loved to say. He looked on every three-pointer like a proud father. The game was good to me.

I shrug off the blanket and rub my eyes. My head’s still a bit fuzzy from sleep. I ache everywhere, including places that I’m sure aren’t meant to ache. Maybe they broke something the last time they shot me. God knows.

The one thing that’s of slight comfort is that I never really laid into mutants as a kid. Oh, I was scared. Aren’t we all? They’re all around us, they look like us, but they’re not like us.

I shiver despite myself. The old propaganda seems so… well, right, from the other side of the glass.

One day I was normal, the next day I wasn’t and they were sticking me in a van. That’s all it takes. One moment. Or maybe it happened overnight and I didn’t notice until that… until I was on the court.

I don’t playing any better, though. Just remember Hank Black blocking me again. Little shit thought he was better than me, he was going to take my crown, even said as much. I knew I was better than him, though. I knew he could never beat me on the court. He was fast but I had better technique. God, did I have better technique.

My hands flex as if they’ve got lives of their own, as if they’re remembering as I remember.

It was my right hand. My left was on the ball. Two fingers, my index and middle finger, they rode up while I turned. And they… tapped. Tapped Hank on the throat. I got my two-point dunk, sure enough.

Hank got a throat-full of blood and died right there on the court.

I’m a killer now. He wasn’t the last.

What the hell am I meant to do about that? What do I do? I try not to touch people. My hands know how to hurt and they’re eager to. And in that moment before I touch them I know what’s going to happen, how to hurt them, how to find those bits which shut the body down in ways most people couldn’t imagine. And it just… happens.

I lean back against one of the support beams that connect to the roof. The wood’s comforting against my back. It’s something solid in a world gone mad. Not much does make sense these days, and there’s even less to support me. Okay, this is an inanimate, fairly rotten bit of wood that doesn’t give a crap about me and if it had a voice might well object to being used in this manner…

It’ll do. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Outside I can hear the cars going by on the road. This dive’s a little away from the main roads so the noise is subdued, but the windows don’t have much glass so the noise gets in better.

One of those engine noises belongs to a van. That van has men in it that are after me. That van is coming.

I try and relax. I ate before I went to sleep and I’m hungry now, but the druggies will probably fall asleep eventually and I can rifle through their stuff. Might be they have something to drink at least.

My time’s running out, yes, but I’m not just going to sit around crying about it. I’ll at least be a pain in the ass for these bastards. They tortured me and experimented on me for years. If I can make them begrudge two solitary minutes of life, then at least I’m not just living. I’m fighting.

It might not be worth anything to anyone but me, but I’ve got nothing else.

Nobody’s coming and nobody cares. But I’m here already, and I care. So I’ll fight, for me if for nobody else, because when you’ve got nothing else left and no other options, you might as well be a pain in the ass.

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Icy, cold, calculating, those were some of the terms people used for the young mutant, though most people also had to admit she had a strong sense of will and purpose as well as considerable degree of integrity.. though those who had seen her around Daniel had to admit that she melted a bit for him and she was incredibly loyal to anyone she considered a friend, and even those who said she seems cold and calculating admitted she could be polite and charming if she felt that.

On another level, it was her powers, during the summer, or in deserts or tropical regions, her power over ice and cold was useful but had more weaknesses then during winter or in the artic regions, where her powers were more far reaching in consequence, which was both useful and meant she had to act with more care. All that taken in, what made her another good choice here, is that she had a degree of understanding about what it meant to be hunted or hated by others, and that could be useful at this point.

"Diana" Katherine, the art teacher and her mentor in the school, and one the people she trusted the most in the world, sense her family had died, started to speak up as she got ready to go on this mission.

"Your worried it could be dangerous? The Director wouldn't put us in a situation we can't handle, and if it does get rough, I'm fairly sure the lot of us can handle it."

"Just be careful, Diana."

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"I'm in too." Curtis might not have seemed the kind to simply stick out his neck for others, but though not hunted, he understood the fear and paranoia of such. During his slow and steady exodus to the Lawrence Hunt Academy, Curtis had taken more time than needed to keep eyes out for the police, any signs that he might be picked up for suspicious behavior or as a 'missing person.' As if someone would scream 'mutant' and that would be the beginning of the end.

He'd lost a sister too, to the government and the cruel fates they'd bestow on her. It shan't happen to another. "Can you give us the 5 Ws and the H." To Morri's questioning look, he explained. "The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, Morri."

Edited by Curtis Shane
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"No, Morri." Drumm said with a charming smirk while winking at the young woman to show his appreciation for her willingness to help. "I have to prepare for his arrival, so Mr. Childs will be your chaperone." He motioned to the entrance of his office.

Ms. Childs stood in the door way, arms folded. Her was pulled back tight and her thin wire framed glasses rested snugly on her nose. A black turtleneck sweater and matching denim pants were the break from her typical business attire- in fact, none of the students had ever seen her in anything resembling casual clothes before. The heels of her boots clacked on the floor as she entered and it was almost out of reflex that the students remained silent and began hoping they wouldn't say anything to her. She was mean, that much was a fact. When she approached the desk Jericho pulled out from a desk drawer a small, sealed plastic container that Curtis immediately recognized as containing a torn piece of clothing or some sort. A shirt perhaps, gray, possibly a large.

It dawned on them that this was how they were going to track him. No one but Curtis did the math to immediately wonder how Drumm could manage to find the shirt of a young mutant amidst all the possible shirts in the state (since they hadn't been handed plane tickets yet, he assumed it was rather nearby (Morri on a plane, HA!). "Alright," she said sternly. "If any of you have questions, ask them now. Bathroom breaks, special needs, do them now." She set the container on the desk and folded her arms.

A night out with Ms. Childs... lovely.

"We don't know his name," Drumm spoke up in reply to Curtis's question. "He's a, uh, mutant boy in Manhattan, because he's being hunted and by going and getting him." Such wisdom... it was obvious why 'they' made him director of the Academy. "But if everything is going in accordance with how I've been informed, finding him will be the easy part. Keeping him safe might prove a little dangerous, which is why I've chosen the three of you. Your abilities will compliment and protect one another."

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Morri blinked at Drumm, unaffected by a smirk that would have had half the girls in her class melting into the floor (one literally). His announcement that Childs would be coming instead deepened her frown. “Childs good?” she asked Drumm, ignoring the fact that Ms. Childs was right there.

“Yes, Morri, she is,” Eileen said quickly, shaking her head her co-worker who looked less than pleased.

“People say she bad,” Morri said plaintively, looking more and more nervous. “She strict. She mean. She tether bitch.”

“Morri!” Eileen squawked. “You shouldn’t use that word.”

“No use! Other use!” Morri protested her innocence.

“Enough, you can talk to her about this later,” Drumm said quickly, before it degenerated further. “Morri, do you want to change clothing?”

Morri looked down at herself, then twisted around to peek down her back. The pajamas were warm and comfortable, and they covered everything that Eileen had said she must cover. They were ‘decent’ clothing. “Morri dressed,” she said, confused. “Why change? Ready go now! Help boy!” Her mind definitely had one track and the train was gearing up to full-speed…

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Goddamn. Our beloved Director has quite the connections. Naturally, as the Academy's headmaster and keeping the school from being nuked to the ground, Curtis knew Drumn had to, but seriously, a shirt in these odds? At least they knew where and how to track this guy, and Curtis had no opinion that Morri couldn't get the right scent... the one part that did trip him up was the prospect of a real deal fight. And life or death combat was not something he eagerly anticipated.

He at least had some clearly wrinkled regular clothing on, which honestly was a cut above Morri's pajamas- well, it was her choice, and Childs either would or wouldn't allow her that. And given that Morri had let loose and called Childs a bitch- evasive maneuvers! No, questions were needing to be answered, focused on Director Drumm.

"About that protecting him part, sir. I'd rather NOT guess, who are we protecting him from precisely? Seeing as you've implied it may come down to a fight- I don't think we're dealing with some mob, are we?"

Edited by Curtis Shane
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"I'll be watchful, I promise." Diana didn't feel the cold, though she never really felt warm either, except with Daniel, his presence managed to cancel out the aura of freezing cold that she put out, the way that the air around her became ever colder, like a cold wave was going to be coming though. Of course, there were other ways to reduce that effect, making a room really hot could help, and she was sometimes sought out during the really hot periods of summer because of it. However, what was pertinent to the moment, was that she had put on jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt before showing up in the office, pretty much unaware of how lovely all of that looked on her.. not that she possess the shear superhuman beauty of some of the other girls at the academy, not yet anyway, but she was at the apex of human beauty.

"I'm good to go, is there anything in particular we should be on the lookout for?"

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Seriously? Did we just get regaled with an entire post about the temperature of the room and how pertinent it is that everyone knows how smoking hot your PC looks in jeans, just to get an "I'm good to go."

Dude... she's pretty, we get it.

Morri's observation and Eileen's response garnered them both a smirk from Miss Childs. For the most part she was aware of her reputation and she dared not sully it with an outburst. She remained upright and appeared to revel in her well earned title. She adjusted her wire-framed glasses, crossed her arms and waited.

Jericho took the opportunity to address both Glacia and Curtis at once. "Well, to answer both your questions, I honestly do not know. You see, in Manhattan, where he last turned up not long ago, there are several undesirable factions, both human and mutant. These factions are all radical in their approach to locating 'run away'; mutants and indoctrinating them into their ways. Take the Hellions for example," He sat on his desk, leaving on of his legs on the floor for balance. "An entire gang of mutants with no respect for humans or their laws. Individuals who believe that their powers were granted to them for the purpose of doing as they please upon this beautiful world around them. Wreaking havoc and terrorizing for no reason other than they want to."

He looked sternly at every student, even Morri. "My hope, is that we can find any such run aways before those others do. Here, I pray your wisdom will grow with your powers, and teach you that the less you use our powers the greater they will be. Between stimulus and response is your greatest power - the freedom to choose." He went on, well into his 'preaching' mode. "On those streets, often times that choice is removed by circumstance. Instinct gives way to reason, and that's exactly what predators like the Hellions prey on. To lure a mutant to a breaking point where they shed their morality and trade it for a place within the Hellion's ranks. Together, we here at the Academy, while we can't stop mutants like the Hellions, but we can get to the run aways before they do and save them from walking down a dark road."

Miss Childs cleared her throat.

With a clap of his hands everyone was startled out of his lesson for the night. "Miss Childs makes an interesting point, it's time for you to go. But remember, violence is only a last resort, if danger rears it's ugly head, running is the best option."

Miss Childs scooped up the plastic container and tucked it under her arm. She leaned her head toward the door. "Alright, move. Van's out front warming up. Morri, you sit up front with me."

One van drive to Inwood, Manhattan later...

Inwood... sure the neighborhood had a pretty high crime rate, but now that mutants were out in the open worldwide, places like Inwood had become a war zone between various human and mutants gangs all jockeying for position with the citizens all trapped in the middle. At this late hour, with the weather so cold, the streets were, thankfully, empty for the most part. Almost every block had a small congregation of homeless gathered around a fire crackling in a fifty gallon drum or public trash can. Brown slush adorned the streets and was splattered up and across any vehicle in the streets or upon some of the buildings.

Miss Childs looked at the GPS on the dashboard and slowed down, pulling the van into an alley way. "You're sure?" She asked, her cell phone up to her ear. She paused and listened. "Yes, we're here then, we just pulled in. Don't worry, we'll be fine," The measure of concern in her voice was almost touching. "They're smarter and tougher than they look, they'll do fine. I just hope Lawrence is right and we're not too late." She tucked the smart phone into the inside pocket of her leather coat.

"You do these rescue missions often?" Curtis asked out of curiosity.

"More often than you think, Curtis." She replied, unfastening her seat belt and picking up the plastic container. "How do you think we found Warren and saved him from the streets?"

"Oh," Curtis offered a sarcastic smirk and rolled his eyes. "At least now we know where that blame falls."

Everyone shivered in the cold of the New York night, except Glacia who wasn't even wearing a coat. "Rules are simple," Miss Childs looked to them. "Morri will try to locate the boy, we will follow her. Morri, do not run too far ahead. This is not a race, I do not want any of us getting hurt. This part of town is bad enough, let's take care of each other and our business and get home as soon as possible."

She lifted the container up to Morri and pried the seal apart thinly so she could get a good scent from the contents.

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Morri seemed to be taking her duties very seriously. She waited for Miss Childs, then when the box was presented to her, she eagerly stuck her nose into it and sniffed deeply. The scent of her prey washed over her: male and young, wary and tired. He hadn’t washed in a while, but the smell of sweaty boy didn’t deter her. She took another sniff, her mind picking out the particular blend of blood and bone and flesh and hair and a hundred other things that was this boy.

When she was sure she had the scent down, she turned and hunkered down. Bracing her hands on the ground, she began to sniff the alley. Hundreds of scents intruded, but she patiently picked through them, ignoring most of them and slowly finding the one she sought.

Red eyes gleamed in the dim alley as Morri swung her head around to Miss Childs. She gave the teacher a quick nod to let her know she’d found the path; then she swung into motion, trotting up the alley on all fours. Childs started to call after her to slow down, but Morri stopped at an intersection of two alleys and examined the scents again. By the time she’d found the boy’s, the others had caught up to her; she gave them a glance before moving to the next intersection.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The tracking continued for nearly a half a mile, Morri always several steps ahead of the main group. By the third intersection the ringing in Curtis's ear became almost unbearable and then it dawned on him.

[Curtis - Focus + Cyberkinesis = Success] "Spy drones." He mumbled softly.

"What?" Miss Childs asked.

"Spy drones." He said more casually, looking about the sky as they walked towards Morri's position. "TX-71's, I think, the background noise is hard to make out. That's impossible though."

"Why"? She asked again.

"Because they're still blueprints," He replied casually fingering his ear in some vain attempt to clear out the background static. "They're not slated for prototype for another six years."

"God bless the geeks." Denise said softly, praising in her own way Curtis's intel and in giving them precious information about what they might be up against. "So we could be facing a para-military group."

[Morri - Stealth = Success] When they rounded the corner, around and old rusted dumpster, Morri was sitting near three downed men, all in body armor with submachine guns and thick helmets. None of the three looked like they'd been sliced by her claws, but she had managed to dispatch them silently and without needless bloodshed. She understood all to well how to hunt, track, and most of all, how to take down prey as to not alert the rest of the herd.

All to easy.

Glacia looked down at the men dismissively, they were unconscious and harmless. "Looks like were close." Then she noticed in the building across from them, through the stairway windows she could see the beams of flashlights bouncing all round as the soldiers moved up the floors. "Real close."

Inside the building...

Gold was almost there. He had almost managed to fade into a relaxing sleep where his body finally gave out and just let him rest. The world dimmed and his vision blurred as he teetered on the edge of awareness. Outside his door a four man squad prepped for entry, submachine guns and shot guns at the ready. The command came and a heavy booted foot smashed through the door, nearly breaking it off the hinges. The holy bible spun though the air and smashed through the plastic shielding of the soldiers helmet and his head exploded into a well contained splatter of gore. Gold, rolled off the bed and took up a defensive position, kicking the bed towards the door and tripping up two more men as they attempted entry. Despite all his gusto though, he was trapped, and then the gunfire came. Although the bullets were rubber, they still stung like hell, a few even breaking the skin.

Scooping up one of the tripped soldiers he used the man as a human shield, his body convulsing with the constant barrage of gunfire. Seeing his opening he pushed them an forward and he fell into his companions, nearly pushing them all lout of the door at once and bending the kicked bed frame nearly enough to wedge itself in the door frame. Then the tell-tale sound of a shot gun cocking narrowed Gold's eyes as he zeroed in on the soldier outside the door who'd managed to avoid the incoming attack and he had a clear shot. Swiftly Gold snatched up the nightstand where his holy projectile was resting upon just a moment before. The fist shot missed, shredding the plaster and pocking the wall but the second would have hit Gold in the chest had the night stand not been in the way to block the impact of the rubber slug. The 'armor' splintered and broke up from the shot, pushing Gold back several steps in a weary stagger, but weariness be damned he wasn't going down without a fight. The third blast took its toll however and knocked Gold off his feet as the night stand shattered into splintered particle board. He was thrown back and when the chilly New York air greeted him after the sound of shattering glass he knew that a three story drop just had to be the final note of what could have been the shittiest symphony of life ever composed.

Oh well, at least it was over now.

His back slammed into the fire escape on the second story of the building opposite the one he was just thrown from, he think he felt a rib break but the sudden rush of blood into his mouth told him it might be a punctured lung instead. Instinctively as gravity still controlled his decent he reached out, gripping an unused clothes line but all that did was yank his shoulder out of the socket launching a searing pain through out his entire body and down he went until his back slammed hard onto the metal lid of a garbage dumpster. The impact echoed for blocks as Gold's body just rolled limply off of it and into the cold wet alley. He was dead he had to be.

Gritting his teeth his hand slid across the wet pavement, and despite the pain he still tried to push himself up... they'd be here soon. As long as he was breathing, he'd have to keep running...

Gold's fall happened just about 50 feet from you guys... better get a move on, guys with guns are looking for him. Gold, despite battering the shit out of you, you're still in relatively decent shape considering your above the human norm soak score. You are injured for two bashing boxes, and you have some pretty nasty injuries. Play it up proper-like and I promise I won't shoot you any more.

:)
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A smash, and Curtis and the rest found their eyes snapping around to follow the blond boys fall through the air, and a great gong noise of impact that didn't do jack diddly to the background noise of the spy drones. He winced and grimaced. The guy to save and pursuers both here- and the other guy seemed really hurt.

Almost in haste, Curtis ran to the crawling fellow teen mutie and Gold saw a blond teen his age with glasses. "C'mon, we can't help you if you die on us!"

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I curl up like a spider. It’s reflexive, trying to make myself small so the pain goes away a little, but that doesn’t work when it’s everywhere.

Well, come to think of it, my legs are okay. Most of the impact’s been soaked up on my upper torso and my shoulders. Right arm’s popped out of the shoulder joint. Can’t do much on that but I can fix it. I’ve taken injuries before.

Slowly, I uncurl and lie straight. There are clicks and pops all down my spine. I let out my breath in short, stuttering gasps. The pain dims a little bit, the way pain always does. The men are coming. Their bullets didn’t hit me as hard as they could’ve, but I still feel like I’ve been worked over by big angry men with bats. Again though, it’s mostly in the torso.

Which means I can still run.

Which means they haven’t got me yet.

I’ve still got my hoodie, and that means I can hide in the crowd. So far they’ve never come after me in public. Even if they do I’ll have enough people around me that they’ll end up causing mass damage trying to catch me. Not to mention, shopping malls have more hiding places than cash registers.

Someone I've never seen before looms over me, but I don't quite process what he's saying. He wants to help me. I could kill him, probably, but he doesn't have a gun and he's not trying to beat me up, so I avoid touching him. Maybe he thinks I'm a normal boy right now. That'll change soon enough.

With a long, drawn out groan of pain, I roll over and get to one knee. My arm needs to go through hell again if I’m going to do anything worthwhile. It probably won’t heal right, but I can probably get it back into the joint. I’m strong enough for sure. Later I can probably get painkillers and a sling. I don’t think a dislocation can get ‘infected’ or anything like that. Drew the one-armed bandit might only be a phase.

I grip the injured arm and rotate it away from my body, then slowly lift it toward my head. It feels like fire, I almost drop it, but I keep going because I know I have to or they’ll catch me for sure.

There’s a disgusting pop and it slides back into the socket.

Using willpower to resist the pain and Survival to do the quick-fix

It doesn’t hurt as much, but it sure doesn’t want to be doing much. By tomorrow it’ll be the colour of beetroot. I clutch that arm to my chest and start limping off down the alley back toward the civilization that hates me. If it’s going to keep on pissing on my breakfast, I might as well use it as cover in a time of need. Maybe I’ll get lucky and those fuckers will throw grenades.

That’ll be fun.

Or maybe this guy means something good coming my way, because I realize he's not alone, and that's very interesting. "I'm sorry," I say, leaning against the wall on my good shoulder, "but I'm having a very bad day. If you're planning to capture, arrest, or kill me, could you at least get in line?"

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She had been following Morri rather quietly and thoughtfully, when a body dropped from overhead and landed not that far from him, where as Curtis moved toward the boy, Glacia considered the situation slowly and carefully, and the air around her grew even more chillingly cold as she assessed the harm done to the young man, who, it seemed was the one who they were looking for and that he had been attacked, and that was something that made her slightly angry, moving closer to the two of them, she stopped a few feet away. "I know a bit about being hunted and hated, it's no fun for anyone.. we're not here to hurt you."

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“You come.” The imperious command was uttered by a dark-skinned nova with blood-red glowing eyes. She might have been terrifying or fearsome, but she was clad in a thick winter coat and thick flannel pajamas. She was still pretty scary even without all of that factored against her. The other were smiling or attempting to put him at ease, but she hunkered in a crouch with her fierce eyes and scowl as she repeated, “You come.”

Her head swiveled around to stare into the darkness. A low growl ripped out of her mouth, and she didn’t need words to communicate that they shouldn’t linger long.

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I can’t help but gasp as I straighten up. Shooting pains run down the length of my spine and put a twitch in my limbs. The first guy I saw reaches out but I pull away.

“Don’t touch me. I’m dangerous.”

I drop to one knee, still clutching my arm. It’s hard not to be paranoid. But on the other hand… it’s not like they’re likely to have evil plans in mind, and it’s not like I can fight either. So my options are fight and fail or don’t fight and… fail as well I guess.

Getting up hurts. Not getting up hurts. Everything hurts. I keep hold of my hurt arm. “Alright,” I say. “Lead on. I don’t really have any options anyway. Just… lead on. I’ll limp after you.”

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"Morri has a point, we should be going. The van is parked a few blocks away." At Miss Childs' words the small group made their way back to the parked van. They could all hear the sound of troops rushing down the steps and the rev of engines stopping at the mouths of the alley ways between their position and god knows how far down the road. Soon they'd be boxed in and cut off from their ride; they had to move.

Within seconds they heard the smashing of a window and full auto fire peppered the alley floor just a few feet away from them as they slipped around the alley way corner. The soldier who fired caught a glimpse of the bloody glow in Morri's eyes before she disappeared from his sight. "Ma'am, the target has other mutants working with him. Requesting authorization for live ammunition."

"Negative. I want Gold alive." A modulated feminine voice clicked over his ear piece. "If he's found allies on the outside this soon, I want to know who they are. Capture and interrogate, the Facility could use more research specimens."

"Roger that."

They seemed to swarm like rodents, nearly thirty men all armed and all chasing the students within a matter of moments through the mazes of the alley ways. Despite being in no condition to keep pace, Gold managed surprisingly well. The rubber bullets echoed and pinged off of scattered debris, dumpsters, fire escapes and rusting gutters. A storm of troops rushed from the west side alley entrance...

"Glacia!" Miss Childs bellowed, "Cut them off!"

Sliding to a halt Glacia, the mutant of ice was in her home element. The air was a frozen New York blessing and with out stretched hands she manipulated the wind and the air to do her bidding. Frost formed on either side of the alley way walls then into a sheet of thick rime until it finally it burst forth into a solid wall of ice several feet thick, blocking the western entrance. She wavered a bit, balanced by Morri who saw her starting to get dizzy. It was a big wall and Glacia, although proud she'd held them off, felt a bit queezy from stressing her powers to that extent. It paid off though and with only a small force left to chase them down, the students kept running towards the van.

The whir of blades became audible as two spy drones entered the alley from above highly advanced gravity induction cushions kept them hovering in place as propellers directed their flight path. A simple orb design with a lens in the center, matte black with a single barrel installed underneath rounded out its configuration. It looked like there was going to be a fight after all, the men were moving too fast, but the most of their forces were blocked by Glacia's ice prison in the western alley...

"I didn't expect this many." Miss Childs admitted nervously. She pointed at a dumsper off near one of the corners. "Alright, you kids go take cover, when the way is clear, run to the van. I'll hold them off." It was far more altruistic of a plan than any of them ever expected from Miss Childs whose reputation for being mean and bitchy had won her far too many profane accolades from the student body, Jaunt in particular. Since she'd yet to display any sort of mutant ability, the students had to wonder what, if anything, he hoped to do. (Morri just wondered what altruistic and accolade meant...)

"No," Morri's eyes were like deep red wisps as the steam from the city sewers seemed to wrap around the group, concealing them. She was nothing unlike a specter with eyes of death as the soldiers stormed from the southern alley way. She looked at the wounded Gold, bleeding and barely able to stand on his own. His pain, she knew, must have been immeasurable. A single shot from the southern soldiers was fired as a warning, it pierced the steam and tore into Morri's shoulder. It was just rubber, but it stung and bruised almost immediately. She winced from the pain, but barely moved, standing her ground as the bruise that was trying to form was halted by her mutant healing ability. All it did was piss her off. "No run."

"Lay down on the ground and keep your hands where we can see them. Do. It. Now!" One of the soldiers shouted at them.

Okay, sometimes I'm terrible at explaining this stuff, so bear with me.

The group is in a cross section of the alley ways, like a 4-way stop. To the north (where you picked up Gold about a block back) is a small group of soldiers on their way, if you go back, you'll have to deal with them. To the south (towards the van, about another block or two) is also a small group of soldiers running to join you. To east two spy drones are blocking the way, it's assumed they might be more heavily armed than the soldiers, but who knows. West is compeltely blocked by Glacia's wall of ice, which is holding the main force at bay for plot purposes. :)

Note that I've not given a specific number. The reason for this is because I don't want you to worry about numbers, just focus on the event itself. So, for example, if Morri wants to pull off some acrobatic embellishment that involves her out right slaying two soldiers in a cool and dramatic way while en route to her target, she can with out worrying that she just removed two guys without even rolling fairly for it. You, as the players, may go first and in order you chose, I'd like to just see how well we can manage a combat scene before we go all out and start doing all the initiative stuff.

First and most important rule guys: have fun with it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Curtis swallowed for a moment, sweat glistening on his forehead from the exertion- but not as bad. Hell, maybe the constant exercise on the track was paying off here. Fear, shock at getting into combat was there playing in his head alright, but something else set in- the instinctive defiance of a cornered animal that was going to fight its way out or go down trying.

Curtis' lips worked into a grim, twisted kind of grin. The ringing in his ears, though under control, was more vibrant and clear. Perfect, the drones were within range. A sudden overlay of data, electronic charges and code painted itself onto Curtis' vision, as he did the less practiced but still attainable method of careening down software corridors in his mind, before he reached the open gates of system control.

The first-person perspective Curtis used shot through those visual and metaphorical gates- and the whole sequence was not even a second or so. His authority established over the drones, the combat machines certainly well equipped for what he had in mind, Curtis didn't show any sign of what he'd accomplished. He simply whispered to the others, "You guys clear the van path." Then, louder for the soldiers, "I would suggest you guys get down."

The black orbs propelled forward to cover the southern entrance with sudden energy, and screaming missiles vomited from the barrels covering the southern entrance with fire, light, booming sounds and screams.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Morri didn’t get down. She knew what missiles where and how they worked from her time on the African battlefields. With a silent snarl, she dashed past the smoke and fiery tails of the missiles to charge one of the charging soldiers. Her blood blades were in her hands, one a long knife or short sword, the other a tiny knife with a wicked curve on the outside edge.

The soldier fired two shots; both went wide as Morri ducked under the barrels. When she straightened up, her wicked dagger came up in a violent arc that sliced under the helmeted soldier’s chin. The man staggered back, clutching at his neck, blood flowing between his fingers. The soldier behind him was faced with the sight of a girl-child in a fluffy pink coat and flannel pajamas staring at him with glowing blood-red eyes. “You run now.” The order was looking more and more like very good advice as the red liquid blades rose to a threatening position.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Muties! They're fucking muties!!" One of the soldiers shouted through the chaos. "Put the animals down!"

Gun fire ran out in the streets in retaliation to the barrage of micro-missle fire (which went off more like grenades than actual missiles). Curtis ducked behind a dumpster and a moment later rubber pellets 'tinged' off it's surface. Several of them froze in their tracks as the flash froze in place from a super chilled blast from Galcia's hand streaked through the alley way. She hunkered low a moment later as a shield of solid ice covered her other arm, protecting her from a barrage of gunfire. For a couple of students who'd never been in a real combat situation before they were holding their own incredibly well, like their powers ran off reflex...

"Bitch please..." Private Rooks grabbed the side arm on his thigh, which he loaded with live ammo, and raised it up swiftly. He squeezed one round off and it destroyed Morri's throat in a splatter of gore. The gun lowered and he squeezed off four more shots into her chest. Her pink coat spattered white feathers in a fluff all over as the impact recoiled her with a bit of shock (she wasn't expecting live ammo after that warning shot). "How's it feel you worthless genetic freak show? Die nameless mutie..." The Private stepped over her 'corpse', literally stomping on her chest as he did and moved into the fray.

"Someone one take out those damn drones, Delta-One I need an override on Dragon One and Dragon Two, muties got into the system!" The corporal tapped his ear piece and took a few pot shots at the dumpster Curtis was hiding behind. One clipped him in his collar bone and the sting was almost enough to cause him to black out from pain...

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For all the fact that Curtis had fended for himself during the few days it had taken to escape to the sanctuary of the Academy, it remained that, just a few days. His experiences with injury were far and few between, and minimal in scope, excepting the fateful car crash years back. So the bullet hurt like hell, and he dropped to his knees, hands mashing onto the pavement.

Even yet though, he heard the corporal somehow, and his face recovered with a grin and the relieving presence of intellectual contempt. Keeping his control locked on the drones, and unrelentingly directing their grenade-missiles onto the soldiers besetting them, Curtis could still know what electronic counter-measures were in effect, or lack thereof to be perfectly honest.

The overrides were just that, computer commands plus attempts to trace the IP address, pointless since a living being had no such thing. For that matter, Delta One could find no signs of improper function in the drones, making the corporal shout in a blistering rage- his men were being pounded from above, and the REMFs were saying nothing was wrong?!

Curtis, pitiless at the insults and treatment, couldn't care less other than mental condescension. The paramilitary techies were still unable to adjust, clearly even with these ahead of schedule advanced drones thinking still in terms of hacking with computers. Curtis COULD do that quite well, and there were some situational advantages to traditional ways, but sometimes, it was just bloody amusing (pun not intended under these circumstances) to flex muscles against which there was no equalizer.

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Morri had been shot before. That didn’t stop it from hurting, of course, but it did mean that the pain was not a surprise. It was bad enough that she didn’t react to being shot again as she collapsed, nor did she do more than twitch when the boot slammed into her chest.

The soldier stepped over her; behind him, Morri rolled onto her belly and pushed herself upright like a prettier version of Michael Myers. Rooks was unaware as Morri rose to her feet behind him; battle deadened the sounds of her movements. Blood flowed from her wounds to become weapons again, another short sword and a wickedly curved little knife. Rooks had only taken three feet when the sword pierced him from behind, splitting his Kevlar vest and slipping between two ribs. Blood, hot and thick, bubbled up in his mouth as his lung was opened to his blood vessels. He didn’t have long to worry about that as the curved dagger snaked around his neck and gave him a second smile.

“Tell you run.” The words were the last thing the soldier heard before he died. Morri had already forgotten about him, or at least about him personally, as she turned to the next target – another human who died only because he wouldn’t run. If he didn’t run, she would kill them. She was prepared to kill them all, if necessary.

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Glacia had been restraining herself initially, not really wanting to kill anyone, but with their lethal attack on her companions, she went from being restrained to a much more lethal response, but still calculated attack of her own, opening herself up to a greater measure of her power over ice and cold, she attempted to liquefy the very nitrogen in the air around their attackers, following up with a blast of ice shards intended to shatter whatever was frozen by the liquid nitrogen.

OOC: I'm not sure if she can actually do that, but she'll try, if it fails I guess she has a serious headache and whatever other penalities Rev want's to apply..

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m in the shit again. I really should have seen that one coming. Downside of being a mutie I guess. The guys with the guns are all shouty and abouty, and I’m hurt bad. My new friends turn out better than the last ones… ah who am I kiddin’? I’ve never had any other friends.

My new friends start fighting the guys with the guns. I shuffle into the shadows, find a corner I can shield behind. I’d love to fight – okay that’s a lie – but either way I’m in no condition to do it. Too many injuries, too much damage in the fall.

I wince and cover my head. Maybe they’re using live ammo now. I think I heard one of them say that. It sounds like live ammo. I really don’t want to get shot right now. That’d just make a bad day worse.

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  • 1 month later...

Miss Child's stepped out of the fray and simply observed the chaos as it unfolded around her. She watched her students all fight bravely but they all seemed to act on instinct and reflex, especially Morrigan. Not a single pang of regret slipped through her conscience as the military teams fell to their genetic superiors in a fashion far less violent than they deserved, but what she did feel fro were the children. Their instincts were brutal, reactionary impulses that brought out the darkness within the young mutants. She remembered that darkness and it's why she volunteered to work with Drumm at the Academy to try and do some good in the world.

Glacia launched a blast of arctic wind and a moment later the flash-frozen soldiers shattered into pieces. The Morrigan swept over her foes with a preternatural grace and feral 'mercy' that left those that survived her attacks pleading for death. With the anger of pain coursing through his injured shoulder Curtis' robotic onslaught mowed down opposition like they were papier-mache. And as all unfolded, she watched until she'd seen enough...

It was at that moment that their world stopped. Not in the figurative sense, but literally. Everything around them simply froze, them included. Soldiers paused in mid attack, some maintaining an impossible balance or frozen in mid air. Bullets simply sat there in air, small rivulets of energy wafting off them as the air they sliced through became visible and frozen in place. The drones simply hovered there, unmoving along a chilly backdrop, the steam from their cooling units halted it's flow, refusing to dissipate into the night. After a moment of looking at the paused world, each of the student simply 'fell' back into heir own muscle control and were able to move on their own again. Miss Childs stepped through the area where she could see them all. Morri was perplexed by what she was witnessing, Curtis astonished and partially amazed, Glacia looked on impressed and Gold... well, Gold sat there not giving a shit -this was just the icing on the cake of his messed up week.

"We can't affect them and they have no idea what is happening at the moment." Miss Childs said calmly. "And on this sort of a scale it takes a hall of a lot of concentration... so could we stop gawking and get a move on, please? Morri, please help Gold to his feet..."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Curtis felt himself regain control and stare for a moment, as Ms. Childs demonstrated yet another reason to be afraid of her. Then the scene and all that he had done caught up with him in a haze, a lump in his stomach - self-defense or not. Curtis disconnected from the drones.

"Actually, Gold said not to touch him, as a note." His feet pedaled him forward, as he was anxious to leave the scene now.

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I peer out of my little corner, at these people I don’t know but who’ve saved me. This is where I’m probably meant to start asking ‘who are you’ and dumb shit like that, but that’s just asking for more bullets. Heck, maybe they’re mutie gangbangers who want their way with me. That’d suck, but if I get let loose after I guess I can cope with it.

“Yeah,” I mutter, and try to stand. My ribs scream. I let out a long groan. “My touch is dangerous. It hurts.”

I crawl on hands and knees for a few feet, put a hand on the wall and manage to straighten my legs. “Lead on. I’ll follow.”

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  • 1 month later...

Morri stopped her movement toward Gold, eyeing him with a neutral dispassion. It was rather like a lion watching you at the zoo. In truth, it was pretty much exactly the same; that lion gave about much of a shit about Gold as Morri did. The fact that his touch hurt wasn’t exactly news to her; many mutants had touched her and hurt her.

With a grunt, she turned and began to weave her way out of the frozen forms. They had places to be, places where people weren’t trying to kill her. Those locations sounded like much better places to be.

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They carefully moved through the slippery alleyways the though of the condensed time bubble collapsing and leaving them once again with a fight. Some were itching for a fight, other simply wanted to be gone from this place. Curtis helped Miss Childs as best he could, giving her a shoulder to lean on for support when the strain of keeping the field became a bit too much for her but eventually she gave in and they knew it had collapsed.

The mutants piled into the van as swiftly as they could, Miss Childs cursing for a moment as her nervousness prevented her from accurately finding the key or getting it in the ignition. These men were trained killers and none of them really wanted to be around when they came looking for the team of mutants. With a glare from Curtis the van started up without the need for keys which prompted Miss Childs to simply toss her key ring on the dashboard.

"That'll work." she mused, shifting it into drive and slamming the gas. The tires whiled on the slick, wet pavement refusing to get traction at first before they were in motion with a sudden jerk as four tons of van sped down the nearly vacant New York street. Gun fire rang out through the night causing passer bys to flee in terror. The rubber ammunition thundered against the vehicle in a variety of 'pinks' and 'tinks' but none of them had the stopping power to pierce the van's factory 'armor'.

Later, in the school's infirmary, Miss Childs carefull attended to Gold's injuries. While most were superficial, a few compresses were needed to staunch the bleeding of the nasty fall he took. As it stood, he body looked like a road map of pain. Curtis tended to his own injury while the other students waited patiently to see how Gold turned out, to see if all their work and effort had saved a mutants life, or had been for nothing.

Director Drumm walked in with a concerned look on his face. The middle-aged man glanced to each of the student, seeing the condition they were in, and let out a sigh of relief mingled with apologetic regret for sending them into a war zone. He knew there'd be opposition, he also knew they'd have rubber bullets. He didn't know there'd be combat drones with missiles or that Morri would be shot by live ammo, point blank. He always knew there would be unknown variables, but Drumm loved his student like they were his own children so with a father's compassion he looked upon them all. "Please tell me all of you are okay? What happened out there?"

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Curtis looked at Drumm quietly, then at the others, and it didn't seem like Glacia wanted to talk about the events of the night, Ms. Childs was taking care of Gold, and Morri... that spelled clarity of communication issues right there. It left him to answer the Academy headmaster then.

"Well, we got to New York, when Ms. Childs had us exit the van, and she gave Morri the shirt piece. Morri got the scent, and we followed a short distance behind her. After a bit, I started detecting spy drones... the TX-71 model... which as I told Ms. Childs, is supposedly only blueprints - several years from prototyping, a decade at least from production."

He flushed at those words, Drumm would probably note Curtis' proclivities had taken a new direction for hacking... The geek genius went on though. "Anyway, after that we rounded the bend, Morri had taken out a few military, perhaps para-military soldiers. The flashlights in the building across the street suggested we were getting close."

"Gold going flying out the window of said building was confirmation. He got up, we got him to come with us... and then, helter-skelter run for the van. Except, Glacia had to block off the western end of the alley intersection, and soldiers started blocking the other ends. We had to fight out way out."

Curtis didn't really like to tell Drumm this, but... "I admit, we fought viciously, especially after Morri got shot with live ammo. Glacia was freezing up soldiers, Morri cutting through them... there were spy drones around, so I took control and had them fire missiles on the men in our way."

"Then Ms. Childs - she... froze time I guess, then, she let us out of the effect and told us to leave now. We all went for the van... and we managed to get out of there. That's it. I do want to talk to you privately after this, but... yeah."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Morri stared at Curtis, not really sure what he’d said. “Soldiers hurt,” she ventured, drawing Drumm’s attention.

“Did you have something to add?” The head of the school asked the question kindly without a hint of condescension.

“Kill soldiers.” Morri said the words like “ate broccoli”, with little understanding that what she’d done had moral consequences. “Soldiers hurt. Kill soldiers. Not listen. Found boy, but at Africa.”

As the others tried to translate Morri, Drumm just smiled and asked, “Do you know where he was?”

“He Hell. Now he there.” She pointed to Gold.

“Hell?” Drumm hadn’t been aware that Morri was familiar with the concept of Heaven or Hell.

Morri was utterly serious as she said, “Human place Hell.”

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"Oh, sweet Morri, I'm so sorry I sent you into that mess." Drumm sympathetically told her, running his hand through her hair. "It's my hope that we can change the way humans make their world. Being human myself Morri, please, don't think us all bad."

He looked to Curtis, nodding slightly in recognition of his statements. "Denise, uh, Miss Childs, she did that? Froze the whole area? Wow, didn't think she still had it in her. Look, Curtis, don't worry about how you faught, okay? I'm not judging you. If anything, Morri is right, I sent you into Hell, and you all did what you had to to come out of it alive. It was a poor judgement on my part, and I accept responsibility, I hope you kids can forgive me for that." He offered Morri a fatherly wink and placed a hand on Curtis's shoulder. "C'mon boy, we can talk in the hall."

They walked to the door and Drumm looked back for a second. "Morri, please help Miss Childs if she needs anything."

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Curtis nodded, with a little bit of weight taken off his shoulders. That didn't change that it had been Hell out there, and it would remain with him, all right. Stepping out with Doctor Drumm, Curtis was aware of how tired he was.

Still, his interest compelled him to get out this bit of conversation. In the hallway, he looked down, then met Drumm in the eye. "I'm just asking because I was curious, you don't have to answer, but... on the way to Innwood, Ms. Childs was talking on the phone, I think to you, about a 'Lawrence.' He's Lawrence Hunt, isn't he? I mean, someone is paying for this whole school, has connections to somehow get that essential shirt piece out of nowhere, and probably has that first name too. If so, is he a mutant like us?"

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The Director smiled, impressed at Crutis's intuition. He leaned against the wall and folded his arms, relaxing as he rest his head on the frame of the door. "Well done, Curtis. Yes, she was speaking to the Lawrence Hunt, the man who owns and funds all of this. Yes, he is a mutant, but that's all I can say for now, I'd hate to spill all of his secrets before you've had a chance to meet him."

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Curtis smiled, proud of his correct thinking, and also relieved. It just helped, to know at the end of the day, metaphorically, since morning was technically now, that the school would back you up, both Director Drumm, and that the guy being such a big benefactor was one of them as well.

Reminders that you weren't alone were comforting. Though one interesting tidbit left still. "Okay. But you're saying we will have a chance to meet him, eh?"

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"Chances are, Curtis," He smiled and rest his hand on the young shoulder. "You already have. Now," He clapped his hands together softly and rubbed them together. "You run off and get yourself cleaned up, alright? And let Morri and the others know they can do the same. We'll talk about this in the morning after you guys have had a good nights sleep and a decent breakfast. You've been through a lot, so lets not pile too much up on you at once. I'll stay here and help Miss Childs, don't worry about Gold, he's in good hands."

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"Uh, alright." Curtis nodded before going back into the room, immediately though his cerebral considerations were wondering what Drumm meant. Was Hunt masquerading as a student, or something else entirely? When he saw Morri and the others, he offered a tired smile, as reality caught up to his body. "We can go get some sleep now. Doctor Drumm said he'd watch Gold. I'm hitting the hay. Night all."

Turning and leaving again, his eyelids started growing heavy as Curtis plodded for his room. One rough night, and his shoulder still ached from the rubber bullets.

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Morri, on the other hand, was still wired. She wanted to do something about it, and after a moment of thinking, she hopped off her chair and darted into the hall after Curtis. The exhausted young man couldn’t quite believe his ears when he heard a rather plaintive “PIE?” follow him up the hall. When he turned, there was the feral, looking really hopeful. As Alex knew, it truly was like a venomous snake looking at you with pleading puppy-dog eyes. Glowing, eerie, hopeful, red eyes.

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Curtis' jaw dropped just a bit. Still active, still buzzing, and undoubtedly still capable of carving you up if upset. Curtis was getting batshit tired, but he wasn't prepared to say no. Fortunately, Curtis was absurdly intelligent. Curtis knew a middle way.

"Oh, sure, Morri. Listen, you know how to find the room where, we cooked the rabbit and birds last time?" She nodded eagerly, and Curtis went on, "I don't have the energy to go out and hunt with you, but I'll wait for you in that room so we can make Pie when you get back." Then he paused, faking the proverbial lightbulb going off. "Oh, I have it. Why don't you go get Alex, I mean, he loves Pie."

Morri actually looked less happy at that, and then Curtis then re-noted that Alex had scared Morri a bit ago on that aborted trip. "Kia, then?" Morri brightened up in that dangerous snake with puppy dog eyes and dashed off.

Curtis exhaled through his nose and smiled crookedly, turning to head for the Home Arts room with the oven. This would get him a little bit of sleep in the interim, and he could inflict his misery on someone else.

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