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A Boy and his Dog

It felt damn good to have Blitz at his side.     This was like before, back before his powers, except that it wasn't.   Aside from Sean, Blitz was probably one of the only intellect's around that could hold higher conversations of science with Abel.   At the same time, he was still a canine, the same dog Abel had worked hard to earn;  the pet he'd missed, and never replaced after his disappearance.     The two were walking through the woods, and while Abel did have a rifle, he really did not need it.    

He smiled, and Blitz looked up at him intently.   "A penny for your thoughts."   "You left the pocketed Harness back on base Blitz."   

"Guess I'll have to owe you then."  

Abel chuckled and shook his head.  "nah, we're old friends.   But to your concern, I was just thinking how good this feels, nostalgia for the old days, while knowing there's simply no going back to that."

"Remembering is good, but moving forward as time does is for the best Abel.  We don't  have that luxury.   They are coming, Abel, believe it."

"I know Blitz, and I know we're just not anywhere close to being ready.   But we have to win, so we will."    

It was Blitz's turn to give what passed for a chuckle from him.  "That heroic spirit from all those shows we watched is still present, that's good to see.   You've been abit too timid lately."

Abel looked over at him and quirked an eyebrow.  "Timid?"   

"I may be a dog, Abel, but you know better than most how to read others, and I could tell even when young, that you thought of me as family, and you knew I did the same.  Your family is my pack, thought I guess now the Irregulars are certainly part of it too.   As for you being timid, you work in the background, and I've watched you, aside from your shield, and flight, you seldom use your powers, instead you use mundane means.  That's not going to win the fights you have ahead Abel.  Your powers are like a muscle, the more you use them, the stronger they will become.  Not using them lets them atrophy.   I realize that for the last 2 years, you've hidden your gifts from everyone.  It's time you stopped.  I realize some of them might bother you, and others, but they're not the limits of what you can do.   You've shown me what you can do, And I know you understand the ramifications of the abilities, but that doesn't mean fear is the answer. "

"So what is Blitz?"

"Master your gifts.   Your powers can give you an Absolute advantage, if you train them.  Do not fear them, or your friends.  They will keep you honest."  Abel nodded, wondering exactly how Blitz became such an expert on this sort of thing.   

"Also, I understand you and Kia are "official" now.  Congratulations.  I knew one day you'd find a proper partner and mate."

Abel grew flustered and sputtered "Mate?  We're nowhere near that yet Blitz."    

Blitz gave another canine chuckle and smiled "I know,  canine sense of smell remember?"

Abel sighed,  "Yeah.  but still, we're still developing our bonds, there's no mating involved.  "


With that Blitz shot off into the woods, chasing a raccoon, treeing it and barking for Abel to come to him.  "So you still bark and tree raccoons.."  
"I need my exercise and to practice being a regular dog too you know.   At the base is one thing, but around our family, Well they still don't know "ALL" about us do they?"

Abel looked down and nodded.  "No they don't.  It's safer that way."

"While I do agree, isn't it lonely keeping so much to yourself?"

"Exceptionally Blitz, exceptionally."   From the long Silence on his partner's part, Abel sensed this while true, wasn't the correct answer here.   "You aren't alone Abel. Don't think you have to take up these burdens alone.   Spend time with your friends, Spend time with family.   We don't know how much we have.    Yes training, research, and preparations are vastly important, but if your motivation is lacking, if your resolve falters, then there will be no victory."  
"I won't falter Blitz."

Show me then Abel.  Show me."   With those words, the link between them slammed shut, and Blitz turned from the tree, his ears laying back against his head and his mouth open revealing razor edged fangs.  In an instant, he lunged for Abel, who was only just able to avoid the surprise attack.  "Not funny, quit playing Blitz."

Do I look like I'm playing with you Abel?" The Doberman growled out.    He lunged at him again, catching his arm with his claws, drawing blood and surprising him.


 "How the hell.   What are you thinking?"

"Since I came back Abel all you've done is whine about the burden of your powers, content to hide in the background, letting others be proactive.   You say you won't falter, that your Resolve will hold, Show me.  Or I promise You won't escape these woods.  I need you to be strong, to become who you were meant to be, but if you're going to keep wasting everyone's time, then we're going to have problems."

Abel's field came up with a hum and snap of air, but he remained defensive.   "They won't hold back, there won't be mercy. "  Blitz came in again and Abel's shield didn't stop the blow, though it did prevent all put the most superficial cuts.   The impact sent him back into a large tree, which hurt.

 "Dammit Stop Blitz."

"Fight me Abel."  

"No goddammit!"   Without thinking Abel's mind sent out a blast of invisible force which left what looked like a fist print in one of the trees by Blitz.


 "Yes.  use your powers, the ones you hide."

They traded blows, with Abel missing constantly, and Blitz getting through time and time again.  Even when Abel did land something, it was often in passing as Blitz struck him, and totally ineffectual.   


I'm so disappointed Abel, so very disappointed.   Sadly your blows only show your fear.  When you counter, you fear being killed, and when you attack you fear killing.  When you're trying to protect others you fear you might let them die.   At this point, all your heart shows is senseless fear.   If you're going to fight, if you're going to win, what you do not need is Fear, nothing  good will come of it.   When you counter, you let nothing and no one touch you.  When you protect someone, you don't let them die.  When you attack, you Kill.  Can't you see, can't you understand?   My own resolve to kill you is evident in every blow we've exchanged."

Abel's eyes narrowed as he looked into Blitz's, saw his blood on his claws, smelled it.   He was serious, this wasn't play.   He nodded, and instantly one of the trees next to him sprung from the ground, and hurled itself at the enhanced canine at astounding speed.  Dodging easily the Canine seemed to smile  "That's better."   Abel rose from the ground, and began to fire off blasts of telekinetic force which  pummeled the area around Blitz, all narrow misses to be sure.   They didn't stop him, as his jaws opened and he leaped up for Abel's exposed neck, Only to have Abel look down as Blitz left the ground.   Abel's eyes blazed with a flare of quantum power and he unleashed the power he feared the most, Geas.  "SIT."   Immediately Blitz's body folded up, into what a canine's trained position was, mouth closed, and now hopelessly off-balance.  Before he could fall back to Earth, potentially snapping his spine, he was enveloped by Abel's telekinetic hand, and lowered to the ground as Abel himself touched down a ways away, not yet releasing him.   

Abel's eyes returned to normal, and Blitz could feel himself nominally under his own control again.  "There we go.  Now I'm seeing it, your Resolve.  I knew it was there, you just had to find it yourself."

Abel looked at him and could feel his end of the link open, Blitz was his friend, always, and like any good friend, he knew he had to be pushed  and wanted to help.   At the same time, he could see how Abel's attack were orchestrated to bring Blitz to him, so he could use Geas and keep Blitz from being hurt at the same time.

"That's the Resolve you need to win this.   Protect yourself, your friends, your world, no matter what.   If you don't have enough power grow stronger.  If you plateau, work with others to move forward again.  Never lose hope, Never give Despair a hold over you.   I will always be here for you Abel, and you will surpass me, You already have in many ways.  You and your friends are the Future, it's a heavy burden but none of you will shoulder it alone. "   He began to wag his tail, and then something almost as surprising began to happen.   Blitz began to shimmer, and the hologram faded.  "I guess I used up too much of my power to push you.   When I went through the portal, well there was just too much power.   Some of me had to be replaced.  Of course when they sent me back through, they knew I would never be accepted in my actual form, so they developed the projector to fool even the best senses as to my true nature.  So long as it's all i have running, I can have it on indefinitely, but my reserves are small, since I was never meant to become fully enhanced as you are.  I can take small amounts through contact with enhanced, and very slowly restore my supply on my own, which is why i rest almost like a cat."  All of Blitz's limbs were metal, as was his entire spine.   His ears  were artificial, and he could see the circuitry within his eyes.    Despite the physical changes, Blitz was still his dog, and always would be.  

Abel beheld his dog, not with pity, but with concern, and knelt down to hug him.   "Any time you need a charge, come see me buddy."   

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Natural Selection

Iteration 1

So, Staff Sgt Merkes thought to himself, this is as fucked up as things can get.

The gymnasium had been cleared for this 'special training session,' and the floor covered with thicker padding than usual. He was 'on loan' in the words of the officers back home, to assist the Air Force in training new recruits pursuant to a classified project. This was not strange to Merkes. The Air Force was not known as a bastion of hand-to-hand combat experts. He was a Marine, and a brawler. Even before he'd enlisted, he'd fought in rings both legit and not-legit. He'd been down dark paths, and it'd taken years of having his ass kicked to straighten him out.

Now it was feeling like he was back in that underground fighting circuit though. He could almost feel the heat from cheap klieg lights overhead, hear the scuffle of feet on unpadded concrete floors and the murmur of the men in the crowd as they exchanged bets on who was going to win, and how bad they'd come off in the end.

She was a kid, for fuck's sake. Not even a BIG kid. Skinny little asian girl, probably no more than a year or two older than his own son. Sure, she knew how to hold her feet and hands...Merkes could tell she'd had some lessons before...but you don't put someone like that in a ring with someone like HIM. Not even for training.

The Staff Sergeant was over six feet tall, and looked wide enough to fit two of his opponents inside his body, side by side. He probably weighed almost three times what she did.

He looked over at the three other men in the room. The Colonel was one of them, along with one of the civilian labcoats, Japanese name he still didn't remember right. The Colonel gave him a grim-faced nod, acknowledging the irregularity of it all, then said, "Before you begin, I remind you that everything you experience as part of the Project is classified to the highest degree. Everything."

Merkes returned the nod and rolled his eyes when he wasn't looking at him. He'd been bombarded with that stipulation. It was on all the papers he'd had to sign. On the orientation materials. In his initial briefing.

He went up to the girl and held a hand out. It looked big enough to just crush her head in its fist. She beamed up at him and took hold of the side of his palm and sort of waggled it awkwardly up and down. "Hi. Thanks for coming here like this. I know it must seem pretty weird, but I need to learn this fast so...please don't hold back."

The Marine felt a sick anger uncoiling in the pit of his belly, but he didn't let it out at her. "Yeah, look...lets...start with where you are now. You've got some foot placement. How much training have you had?"

The girl shrugged. "I took karate and tae kwon do a little before coming here, and I guess since I was in the Project I've had about a month of practice with some of the soldiers here?" she offered with a sort of adorable timidity...as if she understood exactly how unimpressive those credentials were.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Kia? Um, it's short for Hikialani, but..."

"Alright, Kia. Listen up." His jaw felt like it was made of lead when he talked to her. He had to force it to move. Was this how people felt staring at a kitten they intended to tie a rock to and throw it into a pond? Was that what he was doing? "I'm not a karate instructor. I'm not someone who's going to give you BT hand-to-hand lessons."

The girl's eyes widened a little...but not with fear, he saw, just a dawning sort of interest.

"I've been an instructor for SEALs and Marine SpecOps teams for just about ten years now. Before that, I was Special Operations myself. I teach soldiers to kill people."

Merck looked back at the Colonel. "So I'm waiting for someone to tell me this is a fucking joke, please."

"It's not."

The towering soldier looked back at Kia, who'd stepped closer and reached out to take a gentle hold on the sleeve of his fatigues. "It's really not," she repeated earnestly. "I need to learn...to learn to do that."

"Kid. If you can't say it, you can't learn it," Merck gritted.

She winced. "Right, I know...I know, I'm sorry. I need to learn...to kill."

Now the Colonel spoke up, "Staff Sergeant, is there a problem?"

"Of course there's a fu..." Merck bit back the sudden anger just before it could explode. "Yes, sir! My training is intense, sir. It results in injuries in full grown, battle-hardened men. No disrespect sir, but I didn't come here to kill a teenager..."

"Kia. Show him." Colonel Pryor cut him off with a sharp phrase.

And then Merck was flying through the air.

Even caught off-guard...fuck that, even completely sucker punched...he had the presence of mind to shift his weight and hit the mat rolling, back on his feet almost immediately. The girl, Kia was already halfway towards him, wincing and reaching out.

"Omigod, are you okay?" she asked. "That looked like you hit really hard..."

He held out a hand, and she stopped where she was. "Did you just...hit me?" Merck's head was still spinning a little from surprise and the disorientation of having tumbled through the air.

"Threw you? A little?" Kia answered, sounding guilty.

Staff Sergeant Merck stared at her for a moment. There were a lot of rumors that buzzed around in the military. Most of them were total bullshit. No one bullshitted like a bored soldier, and everyone wanted to one-up the last guy's story. The Air Force men were the worst though, because they knew they had the support of the tabloid media. Listening to them talk, you'd think every single Airman had at one point or another been posted to Area-Fucking-Fifty-One and had seen 'skunkworks' and 'black tech' and all that shit. Sometimes you'd talk to someone who'd MP'ed over at DARPA and had some stories to tell that could have come from cheesy sci-fi TV reruns.

But sometimes...sometimes it was harder to tell. Combat drugs that worked like adrenaline but were ten times more powerful. Robot arms and legs that looked real but were super strong. Genetic shit, lifted from Chinese bio-labs where they didn't care about humanitarian laws or rules.

Jesus shit what was he getting involved with?

"Alright, speck," Merck said slowly and he turned edge-on to her, spacing his feet more apart. "You proved you can sucker-punch someone like a fucking coward. Lets see if you can actually fight."

"Speck?" asked Kia, her brows furrowing a little in confusion.

"That's your new name, until you show me different."

"Ohhhh...right!" She quickly imitated his stance, and even did her best to imitate his thousand-yard glare...though it just wound up looking hilarious and adorable on her features. "All right, get ready!"

She came rushing at him...and ate a fist straight in her face. He could swear he heard her nose crunch, and she flew back, twisting around as she went and fell on her face.

The labcoat behind up exclaimed something, but the Colonel shushed him. Merck, in the meantime, cursed under his breath. He'd actually bought it. All this time, he'd prided himself on knowing real from fake. There was no color in reality, no magic, no mystery. There was just gunmetal grey, and hardness, and the struggle to keep on struggling.

Fuck the Pope's hat, please someone tell him he hadn't just killed a little girl.

But then she propped herself up on her elbows and shook her head, and got back to her feet. When she turned around to look at him her nose was not exploded and purple. Her face was not a pulpy bruise from forehead to chin. Her teeth and jaws were fine. She didn't even have a black eye.

"Okay," she said, working her shoulders. "I asked for that. I didn't have my hands up. I was...moving too fast."

Merck realized she was reciting things other instructors had told her in the past.

"No, fuck all that," he said. "There's two things. My fist. Your face." He stepped closer and balled his fist, moving it towards her in a slow-motion punch. "What do you do?"

She blinked and her eyes went from that fist, to his face, then to the fist. "I, uh..."

Merck hit her again, knocking her sideways, though not with as much force since it'd had less windup.

"That's why you got hit. You saw the fist, coming at your face, and you let it hit it. It doesn't matter how fast, or how slow, or where your hands are. Fuck all that. We're not there yet. That's level one, and you're at level fucking zero. Got that, speck? Level zero is just this. Don't let the fist. Hit your face."

Kia stood upright again, then looked up at him. Her eyes were deep and dark, and he saw a little anger in them. Thank god.

"You're holding back," she said.

He snorted. "Speck, I just laid you out twice."

"You're USED to laying out people who weigh TWICE what I do," she retorted. "I should be hitting the other WALL."


"I'm hitting you as hard..."

"No, I asked you not to hold back." Kia came over and stood right in front of him, feet side by side and arms hanging loose. "Hit me. With everything."

Well...she'd taken the other hits a lot better than he'd expected.

So Merck pulled an arm nearly as big around as one of Kia's legs back, and let it rip.

She got up even faster than she had the first time, and looked...again, she looked like the punch had never landed. Merck just stared at her as she took a position in front of him again and glared defiantly up at him. "Again," she said.

"I get it," the Marine said, almost sullenly.


This time he hit her like he meant it. And he KNEW he felt bone crunch. But when she stood up, there was no evidence of any crunching. The girl came back to him and said firmly, "I need to learn. You can't hurt me. Don't hold back."

Merck felt a stab of something wholly new then, and entirely unpleasant. A stab of real fear. Not the dull, muted fear that he'd hurt someone innocent...but a sharper-edged fear. Not just that somehow science had invented someone who was indestructible...but that they wanted him to teach it to kill.

Please God, let there be a bar at this backwater flytrap of a base.

The first session was two hours long, and Merck felt like he'd been running a marathon by the end. Hand to hand combat, even against a much less skilled foe, was gruelling. Hell, even just beating someone who wasn't moving took it out of you! You used a lot of muscles, moved a lot.

Kia hadn't even worked up a sweat. When it was apparent the sparring was done, the Colonel gave Merck an approving nod, then left. The labcoat waved the girl over, and they exchanged a few words in Japanese, he thought. At least it wasn't Chinese. God help the USA if the Chinese were growing an army of those.


Iteration 2

Abel, burning some midnight oil at the secured research wing in the base, got a text from Kia.

*Hi! Bringing snacks! Stay put!*

Just a few minutes later he heard the elevator down the hall ding. She'd probably sent the text after she was already on her way. The cardlock on the door beeped, and there was a little puff of air as the lock cycled and let her in. It wasn't a clean room in this lab, but negative pressure was maintained to reduce the risks of contamination.

Kia had a white midriff shirt with little yellow smiley-cat faces on, and a pair of denim cutoffs. Her hair was in a ponytail...maybe she'd been running or something before she came over. In her hand was a plastic grocery bag that had a couple of tupperware containers in it. It didn't take quantum enhanced senses to detect the aroma of sugar and bread and frosting wafting out. Cinnamon rolls maybe?

She came hurrying over and put the bag down on Abel's desk and wrapped her arms around him from behind, squeezing ever so carefully as she planted a kiss on the top of his head.

"Hey, I'm here! What are you working on?"

Abel smiled as he beheld his girlfriend a thought that always made him smile in and of itself, and gestured to the sample from one of the aliens, stored within a a secure sealed plastic container with several surgical and testing tools within, on metallic arms. He lightly kissed her hand as it rested on his chest and nodded. "I am trying to come to a full understanding of their method of communication. I suspect it involves a form of telepathy, as they seem to operate as a sort of hive mind. I have actually scanned their minds, but the thoughts are virtually impossible to decipher and totally alien, as you might expect. At best i could determine whatever urge was driving them, but nothing more than that. This might go better with a live sample, but that is something we simply don't have access to."

Sensing that he was droning on abit he stopped there and sighed. "Just as our group project is their power source and weapons technology, If they can communicate through the portal, that gives intergalactic communications range, something that would greatly benefit humanity when we decide it's time to go back out into space, beyond orbit and our unmanned probes."

He stroked her hand softly "How about you? Looks like you've had an enjoyable day. Probably far moreso than what i've been doing at any rate."

She laughed and rested her chin on his right shoulder.

"Oh, you love this," Kia chided him teasingly. "You can't fool me."

Standing up again, she came around to stand alongside Abel's chair and get a better look at what was in front of him.

"If they're dead, how are you scanning their memories though?"

He chuckled softly "Not half as much as I enjoy present company." He looked at her. "As to how I'm scanning them, I'm not.they're inert, kept as they are and from disintegrating like they did in the cabin the first night by being in the secure box they're in. I am looking for the structures used for the communication, the part of their brain, if you will, using residual psychic energy from their communications. I scanned their minds during our first encounter, and again on the island, before other things took my attention away. Because I have a perfect memory, I remember what the mental scan felt like and I am actively pinging the sample with the same signal to illicit a response and locate where the signal is received."

It would work better with a live one, but that poses risks, as I would rather not clue them in to the direction of our research. End game, I'd like to find some way to jam the signal, so we take away their single-minded unity."

"It sounds a little like what we do," Kia observed innocently. "I wonder if they're kind of like us."

She opened the bag and fished out a pair of translucent green plastic containers.

"Mom made some cookies. Junk food helps you think. I didn't bring anything to drink though...I can do a vending machine run?"

He smiled, and reached beneath his desk, producing a small ice chest with several soft drinks and a bottle of water inside. There had been more to start, and he smiled "I've been here most of the day, so I learned to come prepared."

"As to being like us, I don't think it's exactly like that. We have no central hub. Our network is cellular, in that you can take one of us out, and the network doesn't crash. With these things, I think it's the other way, One centralized control. If that's the case we have a great advantage in disrupting that control's ability to communicate with the workers and soldiers."


"Cookies sound great. I ran out of food three hours ago."

Kia beamed at that and undid one of the seals on the container. "There's coconut sugar and lemon."

Then she leaned over the desk to peer at one of the containers full of alien flesh.

"Even if they have a center control, they could have it anywhere though, right? It wouldn't have to be where the fight is, would it?"

Curiously, she reached out and tapped the case...as if she expected something inside to move or react.

"That's true. It could even be on the other side of the portals, which is what think is also the case, though the trio we fought could also be field commanders. I wanted to start with the small ones before I looked at the larger ones, in case I trigger some sort of failsafe." There was no reaction from the sample which was partially dissected, and Abel sampled each of the types of cookie. "These are really good, my mother would be really jealous." He definitely enjoyed the coconut more, but the lemon was very good too.



Kia beamed at Abel, then waited for a moment when his hands weren't in the way, and squeezed in to sit on his lap. It wasn't her fault there wasn't another chair around!

"So what happens if we open the box they're in? Are they afraid it's poison?"

"Well the primary problem is that once they were killed, the little ones, which this is part of mostly sort of self destructed, dissolving away. I don't know how they came by these samples because of this, but that's the main reason it's in the box like it is." Having her sit on his lap was the mother of all distractions, and he was glad he had deep wells of self-control. He had a feeling he was going to need them.

"It isn't toxic to us, but we don't know about others, so we've taken the cautious and likely very expensive route."

"Sooooo, if we open the box, everything inside just disappears?"

She looped an arm around Abel's shoulder, sitting 'sidesaddle' across his lap, so to speak. Kia seemed engrossed in the conversation, but Abel could see in her mind that she was aware of his situation and was rather pleased by how she was distracting him.

"That must make things really hard, studying them. You can't cut things open or use a microscope or anything. It'd be like trying to figure out a frog just by looking at it."

Science wasn't really Kia's thing overall, but her ambitions in marine biology meant she had biology classes that she was doing reasonably well in. She had no innate gift for the study, but was a hard worker and was motivated.

So she felt like she she had SOME idea of what was going on here, even if most of it was really way over her head.

"What if we could rig up a whole room to be like the inside of the box?" Kia asks. "Like...whatever about the box keeps it from dissolving, we could somehow make a room like that? Then we could work on the pieces without worrying about them coming apart."

"That would be nice." She was definitely teasing him in her own way, and he had to admit, he definitely liked it. "We could try to rig something like that up. I know they're keeping the bigger remains refrigerated to keep them from being destroyed, but most people cannot tolerate those conditions. Same goes for the equipment. Since it's not just us doing the research they go with what everyone else needs, but allow some of us more leeway. I'd be up for setting up a cold research room."

"As for a microscope, i don't really need one. Sean's not the only one with expanded senses."

"Cold doesn't bother me," Kia points out excitedly. "I could help!"


He nodded. "Alright. An extra set of hands would be nice, especially hands that aren't shaking due to the cold."


"And you can use your mind powers to see through my eyes and tell me what to do and I can do it!" she exults, bouncing gleefully, then hopping off his lap.

"Where do I go?"

Thinking about the communications and scans he'd made that first night brought to mind his scan of Deathotter, and the startling similarities. While not identical, he was able to quickly dissect the signals, and realized Deathotter's were binary code, like all computers, and the alien thought code was quinary. "Holy crap." He looked at her. "Their thoughts are encoded."

He looked back to her. "What I need you to do is to speak with your father, get permission and we can set up the cold room to start our joint project. I want to take a little bit to see if I can break the coding on these signals, If I can do that, so I actually know what I'm sending, I might have better luck figuring out where what I'm looking for is."

There wasn't much more to do that night. Kia sat with Abel, chatting amiably as he tried to work and eating cookies until he was ready to call it good enough.

The next morning Abel got a text from her that said, "dad said ok! meet you at the lab after practice!"

When Abel got into the lab, Dr Mizuki was overseeing some techs as they were making some modifications to one of the freezers. A long counter shelf was being installed to hold the samples, and a small workbench and chair were being wheeled in.

Hitoshi looked over at Abel, his expression as hard to read as ever. Fortunately Abel was not limited to such mundane methods of understanding people's moods. He could sense the scientist's growing disquiet with the militarization of the Project, and most especially of the 'Irregulars.' Flashes of Kia's combat training kept popping up in his surface thoughts, no matter how hard he pushed them away. Even though Kia hadn't been hurt, the image of a big burly Marine hitting her had been burned into him.

He nodded at the freezer. "It will be ready soon. See that you are as well. Kia will have a monitor, and you will be able to see her heart rate and body temperature. If anything goes wrong, you must bring her out. Freezing...people do not always feel when it is happening to them."

"Um, actually Doctor, I plan to be in here as well. That will make things much better, and in case there's an issue, two heads are better than one."  He offered him a sincere smile. He knew the Doctor was concerned for Kia, for them all really, given how they were being trained. "We will be fine though. It's not like we're dealing with live aliens."

He looked over to where she was getting ready then back to her father. "We'll both have monitors on, and one of the medical staff, nurse Thompson will be out here, monitoring us. Don't worry nothing should happen in these conditions."

Dr Mizuki nodded slowly, then put a hand on Abel's shoulder.

"Be careful then. My daughter can adapt to cold. Your powers are considerable, but less physical in nature. I will trust you to know your limits."

An expression of concern and a declaration of trust were high marks from the scientist. With that said, he withdrew from the cold lab to get back to his own projects, leaving Abel in charge of the finishing touches.

Kia got in from her practice about twenty minutes later, not long after the monitoring stations were tested and online.

She went up to Abel and gave him a hug...as effortlessly demonstrative in her affection as her father was reserved...then looked over at the metal door of the new 'cold lab' and bounced on her toes a few times.

"This is so exciting," the cheerleader enthused. "I always wanted to help you guys out with this stuff."

"Well here's your chance. We're going to be working directly with alien Tissue, which is nothing new to either of us, save this time it's not trying to kill us." He hugged her back, not caring who saw. He looked to the door and nodded. "Let's do it."

With that he led her to the cold lab, and they quickly made their way inside, finding all the instruments he'd asked for set out as he'd asked, and a large metallic sample case with the alien tissue within. When he ehaled it a stream of frozen vapor, making him look almost like a dragon. He could feel the cold, but with the strength of his mind, he reinforced his flesh against it. He was master of himself in all ways, and he turned to check on Kia. "You okay?"

Kia looked at her arms and swung them around a little, testing the air. It was odd. She could feel that it was cold, but she didn't feel cold. Maybe her body was drawing on this mysterious energy to help heat itself, or had changed in some other way, or just didn't need to be as warm to function.

"I'm fine," she said bemusedly.

It was kind of nice, thinking she wouldn't have to bundle up for next winter. Coming from tropical islands, she hadn't been looking forward to snow and ice.

Once the laboratory was sealed up, she went over to where the boxes of monster 'pieces' were laid out, each one neatly labeled.

"If you're going to be in here...doesn't that mean you don't really need me?"

"I only have one set of hands, and if need be you could probably have more than that. Aside that, you did say you wanted to work together, so here we are." He smiled.

He moved to open the case, and opened it as it let out a hiss. Insider were several samples, including an intact head from one of the bug-like workers. "We'll start with the head, as it's the most promising sample." Wear laboratory gloves, he deftly removed the head and set it on the work table, before closing and resealing the box. Given that they didn't know how their own bodyheat might affect the temperatures, it was wise to preserve the rest in case there was some sort of reaction. He turned to put on a headband with a small focused light on it, and nodded. What I want you to do is handle the actual surgery as it were." In simple terms he quickly described the series of cuts he wanted her to make, and pointed to the laser-sharp scalpel. For his part, he held the sample with both hands, already starting to scan the tissue for any residual psychic energy or response.

Kia exhaled in a little sigh...her breath didn't even make a plume in the air...and took a seat. She picked up the scalpel, then remembered belatedly to put gloves on. Whew, that was close...didn't want to get contaminated or anything.

It wasn't, she thought, that he was wrong that she wanted to help. It just didn't seem like she was helping because he really needed her. Just because he knew she wanted to. And that wasn't BAD exactly? It just...wasn't what she'd been hoping for.

The first two cuts went fine, and she was getting a little complacent and into her thoughts when she heard Abel say, "Wait, not there..."

It was a little too late though, and she cut into a little sac instead of alongside it. A little squirt of slime or something jetted out and smacked into Kia's cheek.

Immediately Kia exclaimed, "ew!" and reached for one of the disinfectant wipes in a plastic container near at hand. But Abel, already reaching out to wipe it off, saw a curious thing. The skin of her cheek sort of rippled, and the slime seemed to sink into it and vanish!

She paused, her hand already retrieving the towelette, and frowned with a puzzled expression.


...the tickle on her face, the strange phantom 'smell' or 'taste' was something new happening; perhaps the alien tissue had tried to infect her, or perhaps it was instigated by Kia's own body, but the mad riot of cells constantly dividing and dying and eating and being reborn had latched onto the alien's cells and dragged them into the mix and now they were torn apart; their bizarre organelles spilled out, their nuclei disassembled and laid bare and the 'helper' cells that Kia had developed, the ones that somehow spread the genetic information that let her change forms, were now taking in that inhuman DNA, but it wasn't enough!

With that look on her face...that slightly squinted, slightly-head-tilted look that Kia got when she was really trying to concentrate on something, Kia peeled a glove off and touched her fingertip to the disembodied head.

...the song of chemistry found a new chord, a new echo, a new voice...'helper' cells cultivated new nerves, stimulated new cell development in her brain, found new paths to string synapses into so that she would have ears to hear...

Abel felt the change in Kia's mind...not a change in her personality or memories, but a new sense unfolding. It felt to him like some combination of feeling a texture and smelling a scent...but it was hard to pin down. Like dipping a finger into a cookpot and realizing from the smell and thickness that it was stew in there. But more. It started from those existing senses, then grew and became its own thing.

And Kia inhaled sharply. She knew what this creature was, what it had been.

Concern was evident on his face, and in his voice. "Kia, are you alright?" he had watched the whole thing happen, her body taking in the foreign liquid, her contact with the alien tissue, and while there wasn't fear, he knew something had happened. He knew his answer before wasn't what she wanted to hear exactly but he wasn't going to lie.

Even with his expanded senses, he'd need her to tell him what happened.

"Yeah," she replied, nodding her head fervently. "I..."

Abruptly the words snapped together in her head, and Kia whirled around to look at Abel with wide eyes.

"They're...these things...they're like robots, Abel! I mean, they're made of living things, but...they're like robots made of living things. And it's not even just one thing! Look!"

She took hold of the head and tilted it so the dissected section could be seen easily. Then she pointed to a discolored little polyp.

"This isn't even PART of it! I mean, it kind of is, but it wasn't originally! It was grown separately and then put in!" Kia frowned and searched a little more, then indicated another spot. "This too! It's like...most of this creature is like an empty car body...it's grown just to have spots to put things into. Then they grow other bits and fit them in. So you could have a centaur like we fought, or another centaur that does totally different things, depending on what they put in! It doesn't even really have a BRAIN! There's this thing...but it's not really a brain? It's more like a radio. It just picks up commands and translates them into these...ugh, these things are kind of like nerves I guess."

"It's not even 'mind' control. It doesn't have a mind of it's own. This is more like a drone than a soldier."

Abel was memorizing everything she was showing him, and he smiled. "This is amazing Kia. How do you know all of this?" He didn't question if it was true, he knew every word she said was, and in truth it made alot of sense. "So they're drones, and they can be customized with organic add ons depending on whatever task they are assigned."

He was paying attention to the nerves and the organ that she indicated approximated its brain or control center.

"I don't know!" she gleefully chirped. "It's...I can...feel it? It's like...almost like a taste. On my fingers. Only it's not really taste, maybe like Braille! All this stuff is just on them, and I can touch it."

Kia paused for a second, trying to make sense of things.

"They're not like us at all." As if to reassure herself of that, she reaches out to touch Abel's arm...thankfully not with the hand she'd been poking at the alien head with. Abel felt the point of contact tingle a little.

"No," she said softly, closing her eyes. "Totally different. Even if one could do something exactly like one of us, it would look completely different under a microscope. And...there's something else..."

Abel felt something else then. A tingle not on his skin, but in something he hadn't even been consciously aware of before; that subtle 'field' of energy permeating his body. A tug. A ripple.

Is this...you? Kia's voice was in his mind, but not on the weird psychic 'teamspeak' that had evolved between them. It was loud and ungentle...a true telepathic contact, like he himself was capable of, if infinitely clumsier.

She opened her eyes and stared at Abel. He felt the intensity of her attention, not just in her eyes but from the pressure of her consciousness pressing in on him, trying to understand him, though nowhere near strong enough to overcome his defenses.

This is really weird! Can you hear me? Omigod you CAN! I can...it's like...you hearing me is making little waves on you!

Abel looked at her and blinked. <This is unexpected, did you just copy my telepathy?>

His eyes met hers and he smiled. <That is somewhat different than my own perceptions of my ability, but I can certainly see how it might. This is really incredible Kia.>

Kia brightened, and grabbed Abel into a tight hug, pressing the side of her face against his chest and starting to squeeze WAY too hard for just a second before she noticed his discomfort and remembered her new strength.

Her mind, to Abel's senses, was a like a weird jellyfish or something, wildly pulsing with light and color and sending out streams randomly to brush against other minds that lurked nearby. Had he ever been as undisciplined as this? Maybe, when he was younger perhaps?

I think I did! The guy outside in the booth is kind of embarrassed because he doesn't know if we're going to make out or not! Her mental laughter was still too loud; a symptom not of too much strength but of too little control. Any other telepath within a mile would be hearing her.

She pulled away a little and beamed up at him; a little girl proud of her first drawing on the fridge. I wanted to compare how a person felt to how the centaur did...and I could feel the difference, but there was something else. Almost like a noise. A bell. And I sort of pushed closer, to try to hear...and you know how when a bell is ringing, you can touch it to another bell, and it'll ring too?

"It was kind of like that."

Kia finished by speaking aloud, her smile turning almost shy.

"This is going to help, isn't it?"

"Immensely Kia, everything you discovered here is going to help us all."  he smiled brightly, excitement creeping into his voice.

<I can think of so many better places to make out than inside a locked freezer where everything we say and do is being recorded.> It was rare for him to be so blunt, or teasing, but only Kia now got to see this side of him.

"While the expiriment we set out to do is a bust, I've got nothing, no energy, no response, you found out far more than I could have. "

<I think we'd best wait until we speak with the others before revealing you can copy abilities, at least for now.>

Kia's joy was a radiant tidal wave of pinks and violets and blues, spilling out of her and over Abel and washing out of the laboratory. Propelled by her newfound telepathic ability, it got as far as the breakroom halfway across the building, where a couple of people microwaving coffee spent a good five minutes laughing for no reason that either of them could figure out.

Her eyes narrowed into little slits, and she tiptoed up to playfully, and very gently, bite Abel's chin. I don't care who's watching.

Then she let go and turned back to the workbench.

"You know...I can't be totally sure? But I feel like if I had more to work with, and some more time, I might be able to figure out how they work well enough that I could do it too. It's like a different language, kind of. I think I can learn it. Learn to do the things they can do."

"I'd be up to help you in that however I can, though I would advise some caution in case inadvertantly we end up sending a message through their network." He looked at her and his eyes said a different message, her teasing was playful and one of the few things that could draw him out from behind the wall of calm reserved behavior he normally had. <I may hold you to that later. Right now , you need to focus your thoughts, on me if you can, narrow the field, and try to control the information flow, in and out. We certainly don't want them panicking and thinking you developed telepathy too.>

His own eyes held all sorts of mischief, a promise that later wouldn't be long in coming.

"I think you're right. We need something alive," Kia says, unable to keep herself from giggling a little.

It's really hard to control! I think...maybe...

And then the light of her mind seemed to wink out abruptly. A blink of adjustment, and Abel realized it hadn't gone out...it had just changed to how it had been before, without any telepathic ability to make it shine out.

"I should try this on the other alien parts we have though. I dunno if it'll be enough to let me learn their 'language,' but it won't hurt. And I can already kind of tell what part of them does what, so that might be useful. I could make a little chart or something?"

He nodded, and went to the case. "Alright, let's start with other tissue samples, I've memorized the parts you identified already, and later on we can fully diagram them out. We can proceed whenever you're ready." He unlocked the case so they could test the next sample, and smiled. This whole turn of events was amazing, in and of itself, while not what he wanted at the start, indeed this was actually better.


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Sara stood in the Cassidy residence, glancing at herself in the mirror as she waited for Sean to make her entrance. Halloween wasn't really her thing - not since she was a little kid - but Sean enjoyed it - save for last year, thanks to the machinations of her sisters - so she figured she could endure it for a couple of hours for her sake.

Besides, she did look good in the costume Sean had made for her. Donna Troy, some superhero she hadn't listened to the details of. The costume consisted of a black, sleeveless bodysuit speckled with silvery, glittering points like the night sky with a matching wig of black hair, chrome bracers, and silvery-white belt and heeled boots. It was snug and surprisingly comfortable, and very flattering.



Sara turned this way and that, smiling a bit at the sight.  She was quite taken with the theme, considering the heights she had flown to and it was hard resisting the urge to break free of the bonds of Earth's gravity.

"That looks amazing on you, Sara," Laurie commented, giving herself a once-over in the mirror.

"Thanks, Laurie," Sara replied. "You look very... dead."

"I know, right!"

Laurie grinned - it was a terrifying sight. Sean had proven to be remarkably adept at movie make-up and Laurie now looked like a rather realistically decaying corpse that didn't know it was dead yet, half her face seeming to be sloughing off.

"Do you know what Sean is dressing up as?" Sara asked. "She's been keeping it a secret from me."

"From me, too," Laurelei admitted, miffed. "Another comic-book character, I guess." The rehead pouted. "Probably not Harley Quinn. But could you imagine--"

"No, not Harley Quinn."

It was Sean's voice, but it sounded deeper, more resonant and commanding, with a hint of an exotic accent. Sara and Laurelei turned to look and then stared in open-mouthed astonishment at the sight, stunned.

"Wonder Woman."

Sean looked like Wonder Woman come to life, statuesque and imposing, regal and imperious. Her costume was based on the one seen in Batman vs. Superman, but Gal Gadot seemed like the imposter while Sean was the real deal. Sean looked even taller than usual, more muscular, with an almost Mediterranean cast to her skin and her turquoise eyes looked particularly blue.  Her hair was now a glorious sable mane held back with the iconic tiara.

Her outfit of stiffened leather and metal  was made with meticulous detail. It not only looked functional, it looked... used, worn. As did the sword and shield in her hands. Sean had finished off the outfit with a thick red cape that gave her a Grecian, Spartan air.

"This felt more... appropriate than Harley Quinn. And dressing up like Black Widow would feel like being at work," Sean said, her pleased grin fierce and amused and very Wonder Woman-esque. "You like?"

Sara had to swallow hard before she could speak. "I like. I like a lot."

Laurelei could only nod. She couldn't help but feel a stab of jealousy, but it wasn't a deep one. Sean was more like another species than a woman she could compare herself to. To be honest, it was hard to even remember Sean used to be her smaller, older brother instead of this impossible, incredible woman.

"Well, then!" Sean flourished her sword then sheathed it. "Come, fellow Amazons! Let us liberate candy from the hands of those less worthy than us!"


They liberated a lot of candy, despite two of them being on the older side for Trick-or-Treating and the other being on the cusp. But the girls had superb costumes and the excitement and enjoyment for Halloween was palpable.

And then there was the fact Sean looked the way she did. With the commanding presence she was effecting in her role as Wonder Woman, she could probably have outright demanded their entire stock of Halloween candy at each door they stopped at.

One boy answering the door for Halloween hadn't been able to take his eyes of her boobs and had simply dumped his bowl of candy into Sean's pillowcase.  Sean laughed, amused, flashed the boy a heart-stopping smile and then shared the candy - or at least a good portion of it - with the kids in line behind her, Sara, and Laurelei.


"Hey! Pick on someone your own size!" Sean boomed, stepping forward quickly with long strides.

Two teenagers were harassing a trio of little girls, trying to steal their candy. It took Sean a moment to find the girls' chaperone, a woman yakking into her cellphone a block away. Sean felt a cold, simmering fury. She well knew what it felt like to be picked on, just because you were small.

The little girls, eight or nine years old, were adorable, dressed up as a Rei, Leia, and Captain Phasma, respectively, their costumes obviously handcrafted with care. The boys were Chet's flunkies. Sean smiled again, but this time, it was far from friendly.

The boys gawked, but their pride wouldn't let them back down so easily.

"Little shit Sean's cousin, Tits Cassidy," one leered. "Don't think there's any chick as big as you, but if you insist, we'll man up."

Sara bristled, but Sean laughed mockingly. "I'd hardly call anything you two could manage as 'manning' up. Besides, I'd break you both. I'm an Amazon from Themyscira. Takes a woman to stand with up with me."

Sean ostentatiously turned her back on them to give Sara a deep, passionate kiss. Then she turned back to them, drawing her sword. Her blue eyes were glacial and unforgiving. "Now, give the girls your candy in apology, and I won't have to give you guys a beating."

The boys looked startled, even shaken, but still had enough bravado to not back down from some chick that looked like Battle Babe Barbie. The one dressed up like a baseball player scoffed. "Ooh! We're so scared of a prop sword."  He shook his bat at her. "Here's a real weapon."

There was a blurring flash and the top of the bat fell to the ground. The boy suddenly found the woman right in front of him, glaring down at him. The grin on her lips was terrifying.

"Mine's real too," Sean said with sibilant, sinister promise. She grabbed the front of his jersey and hauled him half a foot up in the air to eye level with her. The boy felt himself losing control of his bladder as the point of Wonder Woman's sword pricked him in the ribs. "And here's what I'm going to do with it."

Sean leaned forward to whisper in his ear, just loud enough that his fellow flunky could follow the gist of what she was saying. Sara and Laurie were too far to hear Sean's words, but whatever she said turned their faces pale, with a faint greenish tinge.

"Now, get the hell out of here," Sean demanded, dropping the boy in her grasp to the ground and sheathing her sword. The boys scrambled to get away, but before their had gone three steps, her voice cracked out like a whip. "Stop!"

They stopped as if they had run into a wall. "Give the girls your candy and say you are sorry. And mean it!"

They boys dumped their hauls, likely mostly stolen, into the little girls' bags, gave them their profuse apologies, then looked back towards Sean. Sean paused for a moment, then nodded and gestured imperiously. The boys rans.

"That. Was. Awesome!" Rei-ling squealed excitedly, running over to hug Sean's thigh. "Can you come to my birthday party? It's in three, no four, months."

"Hmm, I'm pretty busy," Sean demurred, "but I can walk you girls to a couple of doors and get you back your mother."

"Okay, Wonder Woman!" the three Star Wars-lings chorused.

Sean, Sara, and Laurie took the girls trick-or-treating down the block. Laurie looked up at her former brother while the girls were at a door.

"You wouldn't really have stabbed them, right, Sean?" Laurie asked softly. Sara glanced over

"Them?" Sean said.  She pursed her lips wryly. "No. But I made them believe I would." Her eyes darkened on the adorable little geeklings chaperone, who had finally glanced away from her phone and noticed her charges. "There's others I'd much rather stab."

Sara looked back the way the assholes had run off, "I would have," she whispered under her breath barley audible, but Sean heard.


They were back at the Cassidy Residence,  Sean and Sara in the Barn, disposing of their sugary loot. Sean couldn't help herself in organizing and cataloguing her haul with anal-retentive precision. Sara watched her, frowning slightly. Of anyone, she was the most familiar with the new Sean, physically at least.

"You are taller," she accused.

Sean smirked, standing up and rolling her shoulders. "You know how I described my vision/dream thing when I changed?" Sara was the only one she had told, in detail, about what she had seen as she had transformed. "Well, seems like I can unlike the sliders for appearance, to a limited degree and for a limited time, at least. Found that out when I wondering what I'd look like with different hair and suddenly, I was a platinum blonde with hair down to my ass."

Sean flashed Sara a salacious grin as she slinked over to her girlfriend. For a moment, Sean's armored Wonder Woman corset looked dangerously overburdened. "There's a lot of possibilities I'm considering."

Sara blinked, then grinned back, twining her arms around Sean's neck. "Me too." She kissed her. "Did you still want to crash Courtney's party? Because I'm having other ideas."

The idea of crashing Courtney's party and stealing the limelight from her was a pleasant one. It also seemed rather... small. To be sure, she hadn't forgiven Courtney, and they definitely seemed to be working at cross-purposes, and had every intention of getting payback for every torment Courtney had inflicted on her.

But Halloween was for fun, and fun was what she wanted. "Who gives a shit about Courtney? I have a girlfriend who can fly us anywhere i n the US in an hour." Sean laughed, her ravishing, melodious laughter and Sara joined her. "I'm sure we can find a better Halloween party somewhere else than in Shelly."

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Sara flew through the chill air of Halloween night, her arms around Sean's trim waist, tight against the undersides of her girlfriend's fulsome breasts. Flying was a thrill, a need, that cigs or weed just couldn't fulfill for her anymore. With her girlfriend, her lover, in her arms, it felt better than anything, better than sex.

Well... maybe not sex, Sara amended with a wistful smile. While Sean had claimed to be a virgin the first time they had lain together, and the awe and wonder on her face had proven the truth of her claims, the living fantasy woman had shown herself to be as masterful in bed as she was in seemingly nearly everything else. And their mental link let them share the intimacy and pleasure on a whole other level, without any awkward teenaged fumbling.

So, if flying wasn't better than sex, it was the next thing to it.

Sean could see the quantum energy emanating from Sara and enfolding them, preventing them from being ripped apart by air friction. The wind against her sensitive flesh felt like they were in a convertible driving down the interstate, instead of hanging off the wings of a jet fighter. It took her no more than a glance at the passing scenery and an instant's thought to ascertain Sara's velocity.

8347.66 km/h. Sara was getting faster, much faster. Sean grinned into the wind, holding her crimson cloak close. She could feel Sara's delight and it was good for her part too. It meant she wouldn't have to endure the thin, cold air in the upper reaches of the stratosphere as long if they took an extended trip. She wasn't as inured to the lack of atmosphere and extremes of temperature as Sara was. Sean already began considering other destinations to visit as she watched the mountains below streak by.

She had plotted the course to their destination to avoid as many  eyes as possible, and was using her own enhanced senses to make any corrections to their route. But under the growing gloom of dusk and their sheer speed, the super powered women were nearly invisible.

And while helping Sara to learn how to divorce unintentional use of her powers from her emotions, Sean had come up with a unique use for Sara's mastery over elemental air to negate the propagating sonic booms of her hypersonic speed. It let them fly lower - where it was easier for Sean to endure their flight - without causing incidental damage and made their passage less obtrusive, though it was power intensive

It was mere minutes before the lights of the city where Sean had suggested they spend Halloween came into view.

Las Vegas.

Sean always wanted to visit Las Vegas, just to say she had and for curiosity's sake, and now she was. And Halloween seemed like a perfect time for it, wityh everything that was Vegas amped up to eleven. Sean hadn't really been to a big city before and Vegas was a city unlike any other. It had been trying to come across as a more family-friendly destination the last few years, but on Halloween Night, the real Las Vegas, the old Vegas, was shiny on display. It felt more like an amusement park, an amusement park for adults, than a city.

It was almost laughably easy for the two of them to slip into the pressing crowds on The Strip. Sean stood there, breathing deep, taking it all in, her senses assaulted by an overabundance of sensation and stimuli. Even with her prior experience and mental exercises so she wouldn't be overwhelmed by her heightened acuity, Sean was finding it taking hard not to be over-saturated with stimuli

She could smell exhaust, cigarette smoke, cigars, and pot - and other substances of dubious - liberally in the air. Sweat and perfume, cologne and aftershave, and yes, more than once, the clinging musk of sex. Electricity hummed in elaborate neon signs in dozens of colours. She eyes glided along the contours of the towering casino-hotels lining the strip, windows reflecting the glaring lights, resolving their exact dimensions, instinctively calculating volume and mass.

And the people! They oscillated and surged about her, in a panoply of ethnicities and costumes, like subatomic particles inside the atom that was Las Vegas. It was almost blinding and it was beautiful and exciting.

A single night would hardly scratch the surface of what Las Vegas had to offer, but it would be a start. Sean laughed in delight. Even in the chaotic melange on the strip Sean stood out and people turned to look at the source of the mellifluous sound.

"Let's see what the night brings, baby," Sean purred.

Sara looked up at her glorious girlfriend, nipples stiffening with arousal and desire. Sean shone. It was easy to call Sean the sexiest and more attractive woman in the world when they were in Shelly. But in Las Vegas, where every other person made their living off their sex appeal and looks, it became abundantly clear that Sean was a woman on another level, a burning sun among candles.

"Let's!" Sara agreed, twining her fingers with Sean's as they began walking down The Strip, a space opening around them despite the press.


Sean had heard that a pretty woman could visit Las Vegas without having to spend a dime other than for a plane ticket. That night, she proved it was possible, and she didn't even have to buy a plane ticket when she had a girlfriend who could fly. A wink, a smile, a gesture, some witty banter, and men - and not a few women - fell over themselves to offer her favors or gifts.

Sara had noticed the subtle change in Sean after they had first started sleeping together. Sean was aware of her looks and presence of course, how could she not when she was aware of so much, and had taken efforts to downplay the innate sexuality, sensuality, that came very naturally to her now. Since then, she had started to accept it as a part of herself and was not quite as reticent about revealing, and even reveling, and that side of herself.

That night in Vegas, Sean embraced it. Sara might have been disturbed by the display, maybe even jealous, if Sean hadn't made it clear that she was with Sara. Sean never let Sara feel like she was trailing in her wake, but rather that she was at her side, an equal partner.

It didn't matter. Whether it was just trying to impress the impossibly beautiful woman and her girlfriend, behaving under the delusion the woman dressed up as Wonder Woman's better looking sister just needed to find the 'right man' or bending under the weight of Sean's charm and charisma, Sean and Sara found themselves not needing to pay for a thing, at least not during this raucous and decadent bacchanalia in Vegas.

They swanned into the hottest clubs like celebrities, places like nothing in Shelly and Great Falls, without having to wait in line or pay a cover charge, and they actually had to turn down drinks they were offered so many. Both of them had superb fake Ids, but they were never asked to show them. One guy did end up with a broken rib from a precisely pressed thumb when he offered Sean a drugged drink, which she had noticed after taking her first sip. She might have done worse, but didn't want one asshole ruining her whole Halloween with Sara. She satisfied herself with destroying the rest of his roofies, then giving his balls a hard enough squeeze he feared she'd rip them off, and would be able to get it up for at least a week. Wonder Woman could be a stone-cold bitch.

They even got into attractions that were sold out, either offered tickets or waved through under an enticing smile or imploring glance from Sean. While Sean admired the craftsmanship that went into making the haunted houses at Circus Circus, there was a vague disappointment as well, since her senses wouldn't let her experience any jump-scares.

They had an excellent dinner at a renowned chef's exclusive restaurant, sharing a truly amazing steak and duck fat fries, and went to a few other nightclubs and attractions. Sean even won a costume contest, winning  five thousand dollars. They even gambled a bit, though Sean avoided the slot machines, not wanting to spend the time to analyze the algorithms operating them to find a winning machine.

Cards were more fun, and she even managed to resist looking through the cards to the ink on their far sides. Though she had no compunctions about counting cards or reading the other players' tells or feigning her own. One game of poker somehow ended up all being played by comic book characters. She was there as Wonder Woman, but there was also a Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Captain America, Batman, Superman, Deathstroke, and others. Spider-Man and Batman may or may not have actually been Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck.

But the guy dressed up as Deathstroke was the one who turned the game from something fun and easy going into something serious. Sara had recognized him, though Sean hadn't. He was the lead in a metal band and he'd been hitting on Sean the entire game, though Sean had been deflecting his interests graciously.

Until he had started badmouthing Sara, spewing snide homophobic slurs, claiming she wasn't worthy of a goddess like Sean, that  a warrior goddess was a better fit for a Rock God like him. Sean put a calming hand on Sara's arm, less she do something they would all regret, though Sara could feel Sean's own fury.

Sean subtly urged him on in his betting, teasing that she'd relent, losing a hand or there to keep him interested and then destroyed him at the Poker table. By the end, she had his entire pot, his watch, his room key to an expensive penthouse suite at the MGM Grand, and even his rented limo. She blew him a kiss as she strode off with her winnings with an extra swing to her hips, her hand on Sara's ass, but her eyes threatened dire consequences if he tried anything else.

The most fun Sean and Sara had that night was attending the Fetish and Fantasy Halloween Ball and Lifestyles Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel. Sexual, sensual, and salacious, it was something Sean wouldn't have ever considered going to before. But having a girlfriend now, being a woman herself and sexually active, and with an intense curiosity and far more confidence and self-possession, when the opportunity offered itself, she took it.

It was an eye opener for them both, a learning experience, and Sean unabashedly enjoyed herself, even if she had to suppress the occasional blush. And though she - and Sara - were propositioned with all sorts of offers while there, for the most part, the attendees were far more gracious when they declined.

Sean couldn't help herself - well she could have, but decided not to - and picked up a few racy and risqué items from the expo, fun for herself and her girlfriend, if she was so inclined.


Sara lay in bed with Sean in the high-scale, expensive hotel room, listening to Sean's soft, sleeping breath, feeling the warmth of her body and the beating of her heart as she caressed her full curves and silky skin. Sean had dropped the Wonder Woman look, going back to her shorter, multi-coloured hair and sleeker tone, but she was every bit as beautiful and enticing.

Sunlight began filtering into the room, glinting of the infinity pool on the terrace and the marble of the raised tub, causing Sean to stir, if not wake. While Sara didn't need to sleep anymore, Sean still did, if only an hour or two a night, though she was capable of staying awake for days on end, if necessary.

Sara was almost sad they had to leave today. While they would probably skip school today, they couldn't just drop their obligations in Project Stepping Stone on a whim. But she had every intention of coming back, and visiting other places in the world.

It was something they both felt intensely. They were willing to risk themselves to save the world, but they would see more of the world they were saving than just their small corner of it.

Sean had rolled over and was smiling lazily at her, her turquoise eyes bright and clear and satiated. Their exertions last night in bed would have killed an unenhanced man through sheer exertion or lack of athletic flexibility.

"Happy Halloween, baby."

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Space was crowded. Lots and lots of junk fill the low and mid orbital bands. But even with all of the satellites and garbage up there, there was still a lot of room and Sara could always find a place away from the eyes she didn't want to see her.

She floated, still, her body soaking up the energy of the distant sun. below her the earth turned and sang to her


The soft tones of the guitar filled the room with a sweet ambient noise, not too loud so that Sean and the boys couldn't hear themselves, but loud enough that it made a peaceful backdrop while they worked.

It was Thursday morning about 3:30 am. They had finished training hours ago, Lilly had taken off right after to spend time with Sandy, Talena wasn't allowed to stay out past 9:00pm on week nights so Alec was here with Abel and Sean working on projects. Kia was there as well she had been sort of helping the brain trust but was curled up in the corner on a borrowed fighting mat covered with Abel's coat now. Sara didn't understand why she slept so much or even if she really did sleep. Lord know she didn't herself, there was too much pain in the world, and she couldn't keep it out when she slept.

Her thoughts had drifted, Sara looked up and right into Abel's concerned eyes. Shit, she thought silently, she started thinking about homework and the running argument she had been having with her dad about Sean which made her think of other things concerning Sean...

Abel had felt the shift in the mental tenor of the room, it was late and outside a a couple of security troops at the entrance it was just him and his friends. It was easy from practice to tune them out of his thoughts and even better now that they had learned how to make their own shields. All except Sara. Even after spending several day just the two of them she still couldn't erect a mental block that could keep a fly out much less him. So he had done his best to not read her mind and after years and years of practice it wasn't hard. Usually.

But tonight it was just them and that meant that the one set of thoughts that intruded into his was hers. It wasn't so bad while she was playing her thoughts were about the music in a way it was like listening to the stuff she was playing on an incredibly intimate level he felt where it was coming from as well as heard the actual sound. But then her mind went dark and she thought of things that bothered her tragedies and sadness and anger. Abel had looked up and watched her from across the room, he almost did what he tried so hard not to he almost really read her mind. Then Sara had looked up and she started juggling her thoughts and then she thought about Sean and the two of them together.

Abel coughed and looked back at the computer screen at what Sean was doing there, sending a thought to the girl trying to keep him out, <So do you want to actually talk?>

He looked back at her over Sean's shoulder, his eyes communicating the same concern his mental voice did, not the cold and clinical voice he used while lecturing.   If there was going to be some movement between the two of them, beyond her immense dislike of his power and his hiding it, well he could only apologize so much, and when her thoughts were so powerful he couldn't help but hear them over those of everyone else, well they'd both have to come to terms with that.   Still, it was going to be up to her to open up to him, he still thought of himself as her friend, but she had to decide Abel could actually be trusted.   

Sara quickly looked away from meeting Abel's eyes, as if that would keep him out. <I can't, it's late I have a test tomorrow.>

Her thoughts were jumbled, Abel was picking up a sense of urgency as well as anger but not at him.

For her part Sara knew that she couldn't keep him out and she needed to talk to someone about this but not tonight, not now, there wasn't time.

<Look,Um I have to head out I have a test tomorrow if you want to talk, maybe we could do that just the two of us. I do have some things I need to talk to someone about. Someone who can keep a secret>


<Alright, we can talk whenever you're ready.  I'll be available.  It'd do me some good to get out and get some flying in, and I know you enjoy it too.>  The concern was still there but she could get the sense that he was smiling that friendly genuine smile.  He avoided the cliche of saying she could trust him, but it was implied nonetheless.  Few in the group had the experience keeping secrets that Abel did, even from himself he'd learned.

Sara stopped playing and stood setting the instrument in its battered case, Sean looked back at her girlfriend.

“I'm think I'm gonna head on home. I have an algebra test tomorrow, I mean today.”

She walked over to Sean as the statuesque goddess stood, “No reason for you to stop working babe. I'll see you at school.”

Sean smiled and they kissed. “Goodnight baby.”

Sara said her good byes to the boys and shouldering the guitar headed out of the building.

Sean watched her go noting the tenseness, but not wanting to push things she sat back down.

Abel watched his two friends say their good byes and frowned, Sara's was lying.



Men fell some pierced by unseen projectiles, some slammed by rocks, or picked up and flung like rag dolls by savage whirlwinds, all the while they ran yelling, cursing and firing their Kalashnikov's at targets they couldn't see. They saw the movement out of the corner of their eyes, heard the sounds of men moving all around them but they never saw anyone, never heard any gunfire, never had a chance.

No one who saw anything survived.

The captives, all young girls, aged eight to thirteen, seventy eight of them total, had covered themselves in their communal cells crouched together praying they didn't catch a stray bullet or worse fall into the hands of someone worse than the Boko Haram slavers who currently had them now. None of those girls saw anything clearly when the doors to their cages were ripped off, they saw nothing when they went outside the bodies were gone. There was no blood on the ground no evidence that anyone but them had ever been there. The girls found food and waited not leaving because they didn't know really where they were. A few hours later the aid arrived, the call that had summoned them had come from a phone in Israel. All the caller had said, an unidentified woman speaking English, was where to find the girls.

The authorities never found the slavers. It was as if the earth had swallowed them up.


Nigeria, Belgium, Chechnya, Philippines, India, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, and Somalia from mid November into December eleven different criminal or terrorist organizations suffered extreme actions against them. In Afghanistan, 21 girls and their teacher were saved from Taliban when those threatening them were “taken by the wind” as one child put it. In Libya a terrorist taring camp was obliterated by a massive explosion which left no evidence whatsoever only sand turned to glass. In each case the perpetrators were either killed or simply vanished. Official news reports were either incredible vague or non-existent.

Various national intelligence agencies were perplexed and on alert looking for clues.


Sara and Sean had taken to skipping school most days after lunch unless they had tests, no one seemed to care or if they did they didn't say anything. They usually took off and went shopping or some other activity that was just the two of them before going to their mandatory Training and finally the Brain Trust' lab. This Friday was different. Sara had told Sean that she had some errands to run for her dad and that she would meet up with Sean for Training later that evening.

Once away from school Sara sent a thought to Abel through the Private link they shared. <Hey, I'm going to be waiting at the Town Pump if you really want to talk. I could use a friendly ear.>

Abel who had gotten the message smiled.  <I'll be there.>  He could cut class, and did, since this was obviously important.  He soon arrived at the meeting place and smiled, seeing her waiting there.  He imagined it was fairly surprising that he had actually cut class to be there, but he did offer to help however he could.

<So, do you want to talk here, or somewhere else?>

Sara popped the last Funyun into her mouth and chewed and swallowed then washed it down with a long drink from her diet Dr Pepper which killed that. She tossed the bag and plastic bottle into the trash and climbed into Abel's jeep.

She waited until she was belted in before saying anything and when she did she spoke instead of using telepathy. "It's not safe to fly around here unless you can go really fast so if you want to fly need to find someplace a bit more remote where the planes and choppers from the base don't fly. If you don't want to fly anywhere is cool but we probably should go where we won't be seen."

"We'll be seen no matter where we go Sara, I can imagine they have more than one satellite focused on this whole area now, simply to keep tabs on things.  If nothing else, we can head to the northwest, there's really nothing out there besides animals and the plains."

He set out to drive that way, even as he waited,  it was nothing to turn around.

She gave him that look that spoke volumes. Sometimes it was hard to remember how much of a geek Abel had been, and how obtuse he could be.

"I meant by any kids from school or people who really know us. Probably not a good idea to have the dyke who is dating the bombshell, seen out and about with a pretty boy. North is fine.

And no they actually don't have a bunch of satellite focused on us. I know the paths and flight time pretty well now and while we do get surveillance they don't have enough sats to dedicate one too watching us.

Anyway i want to keep this between us. And I mean only us."

The look she gave him was a very serious one and the thoughts and mood he was reading were thoughts of worry and fear coupled with anxiety

"Anything either of us says is only going to be between us Sara, you can count on that."  He drove on, wondering exactly what had her so anxious.  He'd soon know, so he found them a good spot, well away from the town, and everything else to be honest.  "I can't feel anyone else around aside from us, so we ought to be fine out here."   He pulled off the road, and took his keys, placing them in the zipper pocket on his pants.   "So what brings us both out here to the middle of nowhere?"

Sara got out of the jeep and walked around to the front, Abel followed her they both leaned against the vehicle, Sara actually jumping up onto the bumper and sitting on the hood. She stared off across the plain toward the distant mountains silently, nervously rubbing her hands. Then she spoke,  "I've been killing people."

"What?"   Of course, surprise was his first response, but he didn't delve into her mind.  She needed to speak these words, to tell someone what was going on.   "Why would you do that Sara?"  

"It started after Halloween," her voice was low, she didn't look at him, "You know I fly a lot, I get angry a lot and flying seems to calm me like smoking a joint used to do."

Her hands still fidgeted, he could feel how badly she wanted a cigarette. "And when I say fly I'm not talking about toddling around down, here I mean I fly, really fly. I'm the genuine Rocketgurl."

She hopped off the jeep and paced back and forth a couple of times before stopping and facing him.

"I float up there free of everything. No noise, no air, just me alone the earth stretched out below me turning. Sometimes I would feel like the earth was speaking to me. It's the most incredible feeling in the world, Abel!" Her voice was full of excitement and awe, so was he mind.

"It sounds very peaceful, and Isolating."   He speared her with his own steel grey gaze.   He had no idea her flight capabilities were so superior to his, though he did know she was much faster.    "That doesn't answer the question of why you kill people Sara."

She let out a little chuckle, "Yeah it does. It will.

Some nights when you guys are glued to your screens in the lab I would go and fly ou tthere. Sean knows that I do it I've even taken her up for a few minutes...”

Her thoughts drift off to her lover, the mental images that come into Abels mind can't help but be...distracting even as they are calming for the emotional girl before him.

“Then one night while I was floating up there alone I... I just grew so melancholy I watched the world turning and I felt so much pain and anger. The next thing I knew I was rocketing through the sky faster than I had ever flown before I knew where I was going but had no idea where that was. Then I was there.

Some island, I found out it was in the Philippines later, I was too late. Some crazy Islamist or whatever it doesn't matter, had kidnapped a bunch of people and they had just killed them. Hacked their heads off.

The earth was crying I felt it, felt it's pain. Felt it demanding justice.

So I killed them. I unleashed all that anger. It was so easy. and when it was done all I felt was relief that the earth had stopped crying.

But it didn't stay quiet long. It happened again. Then again and again. Some times I got there in time some times I didn't. I have saved so many lives but I have taken so many as well. And i don't feel bad about that I'm happy when I save someone but i don't care about the ones I killed they deserve it.

But i don't know if I'm crazy or if the earth is really talking to me.

If it isn't how do I find these people?  How do I know when I'm needed?"

He looked at her, his eyes narrowing slightly.   "So you're actually moonlighting as a real Life Avenger.  I'd say that's pretty cool in its own right, though the fact you feel good at killing them does give me cause for concern.   Even my own Telepathy has limits in terms or range, at least for now, so I can't accurately say how you can perceive these "Needs" for you to be someplace.  Perhaps it's the isolation from low orbit and interaction with the Quantum field you possess and the Earth synching up.  It could even be like Sean's visions, where he sees something about to happen, and we have time to avert it, or not, like the mushroom clouds over the lake."

"Don't get me wrong, I am concerned here, and I'd never ask this in other situations, but will you show me everything.   Let me live your memories through your senses. And if possible I'll see if I hear the earth as well."   He didn't need to ask he could certainly do it without permission, but she wanted help, for someone to understand, and that would be made all the easier by her willingly allowing him in, to do this.

She looked long at her friend of all the Irregulars, she had known Abel the longest, even if they hadn't really been friends or anything, but it was so hard for her to trust. After a moment she nodded.

Sara opened her mind and Abel saw a troubled young girl, haunted and scarred by her mothers abandonment, her fathers indifference, and her communities misunderstanding of who she was. He saw the joy of finding love for the first time and the pain when that lover abandoned her like her mother had. Found himself in her memories of falling in love with Sean and how she holds back from revealing that to her for fear of that abandonment. And then he was with her in space. The memory of the earth speaking the emotion, the urgency. Her memories of battle all very one sided the men... terrorist, criminals she ruthlessly destroys either as punishment for what they were about to do, or as vengeance for what they had done. Those she saves she never reveals herself to but she watches to make sure they are rescued. She feels no remorse, which worries him somewhat, and while he can live her memories of what she calls the earth speaking to her he can't feel it or hear it himself.

He has never been so deep into a persons mind. Never had one opened to him bearing all of the secrets a person holds, even things they don't know themselves. It is emotionally overwhemling yet he takes it instride revealing nothing of the emotions he himself is feeling now.

"Well at least you're not leaving a trail of bodies for them to find.  That's something at least."  He watched her fight and save the people, the feeling of roiling emotion preceding each incident, all the killings.

"The problem with this sort of thing is it sets so many dangerous precedents, violates the rule of law, and so many other social conventions.   This is a can of worms that so far we've largely avoided by hiding our abilities, but soon this will get out, someone will catch you on video, and then we'll have to answer for it."

He picked up  a stone and tossed it up and down, only it didn't ever touch his hand, turning end over end in the air suspended as it were and touching only the air and force of his mind.    "What happens when you ignore it?  Have you even tried ignoring these "Feelings?"   I can't hear the voice as you do, though I do feel something.   Whether it's the world, or simply spikes in humanity's overall mental imprint, well I just don't know.   The whole field of science  is brand new effectively.  

Sara watched the stone moving up and down above Abel's hand, we are all so different now, she thought, from each other as much as from the rest of the world.

Abel picked the thought out even though it wasn't directed at him, then Sara spoke again out loud.

"I don't regret doing any of it, not even killing those men and except in a couple of cases they were all men," She scowled, "I don't enjoy it, the killing, i don't feel anything. But those assholes were going to kill innocent people mostly women and children, or civilians, people who had never done anything to them, who were defenseless.

To answer your question, yes I have had to ignore it several time. And I hate it when I do.  I think this is what I am supposed to be doing. Why have this power, why know all this stuff is going to happen if I am not going to do anything about it. It makes me angry.

If we weren't in hiding If the world knew what i had done maybe these animals,” she pauses, Abel can feel her sudden anger, “no they aren't animals that's unfair to animals, these savage filth, would think twice before committing the atrocities they were thinking of doing."

She picks up a fist sized rock and Able watches in amazement as the rock flows and shifts into the perfect likeness of Sean's face and head.

"What is she going to think about all of this, about me being some kind of ... I don't even know what to call myself. Heh, maybe what you said, Maybe I am an Avenger."

Abel knows that when she says that she is thinking more in biblical terms than about the comics characters.

"She'd probably caution you, as I do, about getting caught doing this, at least for now, As it violates so many laws and treaties.  Granted, none of them were made with beings like us in mind, and much will likely be amended once this all comes out.”

Abel gives a thoughtful sigh “ I won't tell you to stop, but I want you to remember something.   You touch more lives than those you save, and those you slay.   All of them have others in their lives, and you touch their lives as well."

Another trio of rocks joined the first, rotating seemingly at random even as they moved in a juggler's circle.  "You have to decide how far you wish to go, what you wish to risk.   I do believe Sean will accept that you do this, when you decide to share this with her.  You are her first Girlfriend after all.   I don't need my powers to know how much Sean likes you, how much she did before you all became enhanced.  I doubt this will change that, though i can imagine she'll be concerned too.   Thing is, is fighting all you want to use your powers for?  Look at what you just did with that rock.  You have a gift for the arts, though your music is what I remember best about you from before.  I can do so many things, but I'd honestly rather work on my research than fight, but I know that one day the aliens will return, so I have to be ready to fight.  So I train, with all of you, and on my own, to master the abilities I have too."

Sara slips the Sean rock into her coat pocket. and steps away from Abel and his jeep.

"Remember you  promised this is between you and me. Thanks for listening."

Bending the air around her to mask the disturbance of her passing Sara rockets into the sky moving so fast Abel can barely track her with his eye.

He nodded.  <Of course Sara, as I said, when you decide to share this with Sean, and everyone else.>

Much as he wanted to fly. Sara had left him, removing his real reason for being here.   Still he took a little time to actually fly around, though his was more for fun and what maneuvers he could manage, as opposed to sheer speed like hers.


Sara floated space letting the sun warm her, charge her with it's life giving rays, the world turning below her. She thought about all that Abel had said. One thing in particular about if this was all she wanted to do.

It was apart of her now...the anger, the need for justice and vengeance. There was just too much injustice in the world and the world knew it but there were other things as well.


The rains had been unending it seemed and now the village was threatened with the rising waters of the nearby rivers. Already water had filled the muddied streets so that villagers had to wade from house to house many had fled. The State had given no aid no relief from the disaster which would destroy so many home and lives when the rivers overflowed.

Those that remained had nowhere to go.

Cheng herd the bleating of goats. Her heard no rain on the tin roof he slid from the bed where his wife and three young children slept on. He had expected to stepintot water but the floor was dry. He moved in the darkness to the door of the hovel he called home and opening it looked outside.

The street was full of goats!

The water was gone and even the mud was dry. He rushed out and pushing through the animals looking at all of the dirt streets which had been knee deep in water when he had gone to bed and now stood dry as if the flood had never come.

In a short time he came to the end of the village close to where the river flowed. Other men had woken and joined him. And all looked on and many fell to their knees and prayed to the gods of their ancestors.

Cheng was dumbfounded, but he did not stop, instead he continued on to the very banks of the roaring river. But he did not walk down the slop where the banks were usually,  no now to reach the river it was up that he had to climb.

The river raged swollen from the rainfall but on both sides of the river the banks which and run down from the villages now rose high like dikes funneling the deep flowing water away from the fields and villages.

The gods had saved them.


Sean looked up when Sara arrived late she had been worried especially when Sara hadn't responded to her mental calls.

Sara was smiling no she was beaming everyone paused in what they were doing It was a hand to hand combat class and Marine SSgt Merkes was not happy at being interrupted nor at having his students show up late.

He was about to start chewing the blonde a new one but before he could get started Sara had walked right past him to Sean and swept her into a very tight embrace and a passionate kiss more suitable to a bedroom than a gym.

Everyone started, Kia grinned, Able was reading strong emotions.

The kiss end and a bit breathless and very much aroused Sean looked at Sara with a question in her eyes.

Sara smiled at the woman in her arms and said “I love you, Sean Cassidy!”


Portions of this were written with Justin


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It smelled like all gyms do, that stale scent of plastic mats, floor wax and sweat. The lights were dim and it was empty. Shelly High didn't have a gymnastic program, in fact, Devin would have been surprised if the backwater people here even knew how to spell the word. Back home in California he was on the team at his old high school. He made state champion twice and was well on his way to being able to skate through school into a scholarship, possibly the Olympics. He had it all planned out, until his dad got the promotion that brought them here... to Shelly, Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana.

Needless to say he attempted his tumbling skills a few times upon his arrival, and if he had a dollar for every time the males of Shelly called it 'gay' or asked him about his tights, he could have bought a plane ticket out of that Hellhole. Their cheerleaders were barely talented, at least by his experienced standards and when he pitched the idea of helping with coaching their tumbling skills, he was rebuffed. It was explained that they didn't need good gymnastics since people came to see the game, not the cheerleaders. Cheer leading competitions were apparently not a big thing here in Montana. After that he gave up. He resigned himself that this place, Shell, was not a good fit and he was just going to either go with the flow until he could leave, or swallow a bullet. Thus was born Devin Jauntsen, anonymous high school student.

He looked down the length of the gym, sizing up the distance, how many strides he'd need, and then he was gone. With barley breaking his stride he flew into a no handed cartwheel only to spiral into one from the opposite direction then he leapt backwards into a series of back handsprings. He finished off with a double flip that sent him soaring into the air. The sounds of someone applauding him echoed through the spacious gym before he landed.

Marissa, or Mari, Devin's twin sister was slowly applauding his skills as she walked to the far end of the mats. She'd dyed her hair for Halloween and decided to keep it that way for awhile so today her black hair was pulled into a ponytail. Her school bag was slipped over one shoulder. Tight jeans complimented her frame and she wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the emblem of the high schools football team. Her makeup was light today, apparently, like her brother, she was in a hurry this morning.

“Woo! Encore!” She shouted with an impressed smile.

“Sorry,” He smiled back, wrapping a towel around his neck. His own school bag was just against the wall where he'd ended his floor show. “First show is free, you want more you have shove dollar bills in my thong, and since your my sister... that'd be hella weird.”

“Yeah, I agree,” She replied, sarcasm dripping from her tone. “But only for the first ten minutes or so. Besides, then we could flee to the south and live in the mountains and stalk lonely hikers and rate their oral hygiene.”

Dev laughed. Maybe it was that odd bond they claim twins have, or perhaps it was because they shared so much in common from sense of humor to taste in movies, but Mari made things bearable in his new life in Montana. She'd taken to it a lot easier than he had. She was popular, had friends, was on the cheer squad and participated in after school activities. Where Devin had done his absolute best to see nothing but the negative aspects about their move to Montana, Mari had embraced the change in scenery and people and made the most of it. These days, she was his only friend. “What's up?” He finally asked.

“Mom's offering a ride home,” she thumbed towards the door. “Didn't think you wanted to walk home in the snow, soooo...”

He patted his shoulders and the back of his neck. His workouts barely made him sweat anymore, which caused him to just push himself harder. He sighed at the thought of spending time in a car with his mother. She always used the time for nagging him about his attitude, or prod him about why he didn't have any friends or, his favorite, ask him if he was on drugs and grill him about all the things she read on the internet about kids his age loved 'the pot'. His expression fell from jovial to sour. “Nah,” he said softly. Mari barely heard him. “I'm good. You two go on ahead. I still have do my core.”

She glared for a moment, reading her twin like an open book. “I call bull, but que'eves. You can't avoid mom and dad forever, Dev. You certainly can't hate them forever, either.”

He threw his towel towards his bag as he was approaching it. “Can and I will.”

“Hate them or avoid them?” Mari asked, as irritation with her brother slowly crept into her tone.

“Take your pick.”

She turned and walked away. Fighting with her sibling was an art form for the both of them so she decided she was going to cut her losses today and try and enjoy her evening with friends instead of dealing with her brother's angsty B.S.. “You wanna be pissed, be pissed, but seriously, quit blaming mom and dad for doing what they had to do for the sake of,” she spun on a dime and turned to face he brother. The gym was empty. Devin, his bag, it was just gone. He was as nowhere in sight. “...the family...”

She looked around, confused how he managed to exit the gym without making any noise, she'd have heard the doors get pushed open, and even then, he could have gone that far that fast, not in the span of a single sentence. Could he?

“Devin,” she called out but her voice just echoed in the open gym. “Devin?!”



The gang was all assembled for... whatever the gang assembled for. It was Devin's first real invite into their secret clubhouse, otherwise known as it's more ominous comic book title: Sean's Barn. Yeah, so it wasn't exactly Platinum Membership into the Legion of Doom material, but it was certainly quite the hook up.

“You did invite him, right?” Lilly asked Sean while she grabbed something to drink from the fridge.

Sean was relaxing on the couch but sat up to reply. “Yeah, I told him he was welcome to come by.”

The heat suddenly spiked and then Devin was there, carrying three huge flat, but thick boxes. “And here I am,” he said calmly. Like that guest who didn't feel like he belonged. “Brought pizza.”

“You didn't have to do that, but thank you.” Sean tilted her head, not recognizing the boxes as being local. “We could have called for delivery.”

“From Greece?” Devin added as he set them on the table.

“You're kidding,” Abel asked, already on his way toward the table to sample actual Greek pizza.

Sean smiled warmly at Devin. “Thanks for coming by.”

“Didn't really think I had a choice.” He retorted. “If I had said no you'd have just batted your eyelashes and made me do it anyway, right?  Nice digs, so what do you guys do here?"

Sean rolled her gorgeous, expressive eyes, but had the grace to look abashed... or at least feigned it very well. "I wouldn't use your own hormones against you just to get you to come to gaming night," she claimed, uncoiling herself from the couch and sashaying over to the table and pizza. Her lips quirked wryly as she gave him a glance in passing. "Though you might deserve worse for the crude ogling at Bunnee's. Devin, I honestly believe that having a talk at Bulwark was for the best, so you could make an informed decision in whatever you are going to do, now that you can... Jaunt about as you will."

She pulled out paper plates for everyone from a stack on top of the fridge, along with paper towel, then unstacked the pizza boxes and opened them, inhaling the international aromas. She always had an interest in cooking and since her sense of taste and smell had increased - as had all her other senses - along with oversea trips with Sara, that interest had only heightened.

"We mostly have a gaming night sometime on the weekends," Sean explained, "Roleplaying games, like D&D, Shadowrun, stuff like that, D&D currently. Other times, for those of us who like video games, we have LAN parties or play on the consoles." She nodded towards the tower unit holding several current and older gen consoles and the wall of video games behind it, then to her computer area. There was one set-up with three curved monitors almost forming a perfect semi-circle, centered on a rather elaborate, almost throne-like gaming chair, along with several other PCs set up down a long table. "I got a couple of sweet rigs. You won't find anything better in Montana - they'll run anything at Ultramax settings at 144 fps without trouble."

The tall woman smirked self-deprecatingly. "Appearances to the contrary, we're all a bit nerdy here." She waved a hand towards the fridge, a full-sized one with a bottom freezer that had replaced the mini-fridge recently. "Feel free to help yourself to anything in the fridge, as long as there is at least one Dew or Jolt left, and you occasionally bring stock to fill it back up. Though..." Sean tapped the closest pizza box. "... bringing Greek 'Za, you're good for a few weeks."

Sean took a piece from each pizza and then settled into the seat she regularly took when DM-ing and gave Devin a politely inquiring look. "You interested in RPGs or Video Games at all or have any other hobbies you're willing to share? Preferably ones that aren't felonies."

"That's your set up?"  Devin scoped the hardware and tried to hide his being impressed.  He gave her a glance then a shrewd look to Sara as if to say 'watch your back'.  A woman as cool and hot as Sean was fair game when the other honey wasn't around.  "Christ, looks like it pays well to me a military lapdog.  Besides, I keep to myself.  I hate Montana, I doubly hate Shelly.  My sister thinks all you one horse town natives are just ducky... I personally would rather be home in Cali."

Despite his rather hostile jabs, he was offered a slice of pizza anyway, but he refused.  "No thanks.  I had Thai.  At least, I think it was Thai... I didn't speak the language.  Was good though.  I'm kinda getting the hang of this.  Sometimes my distances are off, but practice and all that..."  He meandered bout, taking it all in.  "So, D&D huh?  I have a 4th level Sorcerer I've been playing in a play by post game... I could convert him if you guys were planning any games sometime."

He gave off the air of a man not wanting to really like these guys, but the truth was he was happy to somewhere other then his house.  He had been trying to practice with his abilities lately, but he was having a hard time focusing.  Devin was the victim of his own self-imposed exile... he pushed everyone away for the last three years and now the realization had hit him in recent days that he had no one to really turn to when he had questions, or just someone to talk to.  That didn't mean he trusted these guys, hell no.  But they were better than nothing.  "And for the record, Leggy VonCarpetshark, your girlfriend is a drug dealer, so you worry about her, and I'll worry about me."

Oh yeah... this guy was great at making friends...

"There's a Thai place in Shelly?!" Kia blurted, suddenly interested. She leaned forward and gave the boy a wave and a smile.

"I'm actually from Hawaii, but Mari thinks I'm ducky too, so it's fine."

"No," he said calmly.  "I went to Thailand.  For about twenty minutes or so, I keep trying to check these places out that I see on the internet.  Sometimes I hit them, other times I can't.  It's weird.  Anyway, hi Kia."  Devin knew Kia.  She was a friend of his sisters so she'd been by the house on many occasions to coordinate cheers, work on homework, and look at fashion stuff online since they had to order it because Shelly was in the middle of nowhere!

"So how does this work, is it like prison?  We don't talk about our powers or what?  Can I ask what you guys can do, or is there some code against it?"


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The following was wrtten by Sean and Nina

Sean parked in front of her barn/apartment killed the engine of the heavily customized Challenger/Cherokee crossbreed she had built with the help of Alec and Abel over the course of the last month and a half. She listened to the turbine whir slow and die as Little Bigfoot went to sleep. She smiled at the name Sara had given the strange vehicle the first time she saw it the memory giving her a tickle. The light from the kitchen at the family house flicked on and she glanced at the clock, 5AM, dad getting up for coffee before heading to what ever job he had going today. 5Am just enough time to catch a little sleep before school.

School, what a monumental waste of her time or as Sara would say, a Fucking Monumental waste of their time. She slipped from the comfortable bucket seat and quietly closed LBF's door so as not to alert her dad to how late she was getting home and headed toward the barn.

As she approached the door she slowed and stopped. It was too dark. There should have been some glow from her electronics bu there was nothing. Sean went into heightened alert mode and approached the door her senses operating on full, she felt no threat could sense no danger.

She didn't need to open the door to get a sense of what was waiting inside. The interior had been rearranged and Sara was here sitting on the bed, their bed, which was now in the center of the main room. All of her electronics and the gaming table had been moved. Wondering what was going on she opened the door and caught the scent of lavender and rose. She could see Sara sitting in the center of the bed dressed in a simple halter top and shorts her legs tucked up under her.

With a gentle push Sean shut the door and as the lock clicked light sprung up all around the room as hundreds of scented candles all simultaneously lit. The floor was covered in rose petals

Sara smiled at Sean, “Welcome home baby.” she said in a low breathy voice.

Sean casually slipped her satchel from her shoulder and threw it onto the couch pushed against one wall as she took in the scene with a sweeping, penetrating glance. To almost anyone else, it would seem as though the spectacular woman had expected nothing else, but Sara knew the woman Sean now was better than most.

There was pleased surprise in the subtle arch of Sean's brow and the tilt of her head, delight in the slight curve to her full lips. Sara could see Sean taking in every detail with her intoxicating, turquoise eyes and locking it inside the impenetrable, flawless vault of her mind. Sean took off her leather coat and tossed it after her purse and Sara could see her nipples stiffen through her bra and the scoop necked, striped shirt that showed a tasteful amount of heaving cleavage.

Scent was the sense that triggered emotion and memory the most vividly and with her heightened acuity, Sean found scent adding an entirely new dimension to her perceptions. The rose petals were fresh and not local and she could detect the different varieties of lavender mixing into a heady collage.

It took not more than a fraction of a second for Sean to consider why Sara had decided to surprise her. Was there some anniversary she missed? She flicked through dozens, then hundreds of possibilities. Unless this was the anniversary of the Christmas pageant when they had been in grade five and six respectively, this surprise was on Sara's initiative entirely. Sean's grin widened.

Sean was the only woman Sara had ever seen who was able to make taking off her boots and socks only using her toes look sexy, as she glided gracefully across the floor to Sara on their bed. The rose petals tickled the bare flesh of her feet as the pressured release a new wave of flowery aroma into the air.

The tall woman knelt on the bed in front of Sara, pressing her forehead against her girlfriend's for a moment, breathing deep, taking in the scent of the candles, of the rose petals, and the scent that belong to Sara alone.

Then Sean tilted her head and kissed Sara on the lips, soft and gentle and lingering. The barn was still just an oversized room, a bedroom, den, and tiny workshop rolled into one, though Sean had plans for it. But Sara made if feel like home. Hers. Theirs.

"I feel more than welcomed, AirHeart*" Sean murmured melodiously. "You have no idea how sweet it is to be surprised, and with such a pleasant one." She chuckled, joyous and wicked. "Did I do anything in particular to deserve it?"

Sara fell into the kiss the taste of Sean's mouth, the soft tickle of her sweet breath when she spoke lips brushing hers as the words came out. “Yes,” Sara leaned back pulling Sean with her until the were lying together Sean on top, “you wake up every day beautiful and mine.

Sara twisted throwing Sean gentle over on her back then Sara rolled over straddling her, their positions switched. The stared into each others eyes then the mouths were together, kissing passionately , bodies touching, heat building, several minutes passed.

“I love you, Sean.” Sara whispered as she sat up still straddling the breathless woman beneath her.

She took a deep breath, butterflies tumbling through her stomach. Sean could read the tension feel the shift in mood something was wrong.

“There's something I need to tell, and before I do I just want you to know that I love you. I don't know when it happened, I think it was that first time you kissed me, then in the old Chem lab. Then things got so crazy and all this.” She shakes her hands indicating them and Sean knew she meant the changes.

I don't know how your going to feel, how your going to take what I'm going to tell you. But I don't want there to be secrets between us I don't want to hide things or lie to you anymore.

You don't do that the the one you love.”

"I love you too, Sara," Sean replied simply, but the truth of her words rang loudly in the tone of her rich, silken voice.

It was a question she had asked herself more than once, whether she actually loved this girl, so different from herself, or was just in teenaged lust. Able to perceive her own hormone levels and physiological chemistry, she was more than adequately equipped to tell the physical difference between lust and love.

And it was love, a habit rather than an addiction, if still the early stages of it, where love was inextricably entwined with lust. Who knew how long it would last? She could have correlated statistics and calculated probabilities to determine the approximate duration of their relationship, but she lived for their relationship in the now, even as she considered various paths they might take together in the future.

She couldn't be sure exactly when lust had shifted to love - her senses hadn't been acute enough to translate the chemical changes in her brain - but it may have been the first time Sara had taken her flying, or when she had heard the sheer joy in Sara's mental voice when she had broken free of Earth's atmosphere for the first time.

Being in love didn't mean always agreeing though. While Sean understood Sara's sentiments, and considered herself a relatively honest person, she didn't agree with them as an absolute. She hadn't lied knowingly to Sara, and if she had omitted telling her anything, it was only because Sara hadn't asked. But that didn't mean she never would, given a particular circumstance.

Then again, there was lying and then there was lying.

Her hands looped around Sara's hips, Sean kneaded her lower back with strong, deft fingers. She had noted the tension in Sara, something almost... furtive, but hadn't wanted to challenge her on it, trusting her to bring up whatever was troubling her in her own time. She was pleased and content that Sara was.

She was pleased and content in general. She was used to weight of her full breasts pressing down on her chest when she lay on her back, used to the weight of Sara, when she straddled her or nestled in her arms when they were watching TV or a movie, and delighted in it. Worry about how much she was changing - had changed - had shifted into a greater sense of self, of completion, and Sara was a large part of that transformative acceptance.

"I'm listening, luv," Sean said, a faint, playful curve to her oh so enticing lips, but her turquoise eyes were intent with polite inquiry. She hadn't missed the comment about lying 'anymore,' even if she hadn't called it out. "And only tell me what you feel you need to. I'm not going anywhere - we have all the time we want. Only..."

Sean's grin widened slightly, teasing, and her eyes twinkled. "... what you have to say, it's not wanting a threesome with a dude, is it? Because while I won't deny having a vague, academic interest in finding out what being with a guy might actually feel like, I'm so totally not ready for the disappointment."

“Eww, no Sean, the only guy I would have ever consider sleeping with was you so there.”

Sara rolled off her girlfriend onto her back beside the gorgeous creature who had become a center of her existence. She held up their hands, fingers entwined and opened her link to Sean, a link she used sparingly but right now she needed the intimacy and the openness. She needed Sean to know everything.

<Sean I have been keeping this from you from everyone, the only other person who knows is Abel and I only told him because I can't do that goddamned shield thing.> Her guards dropped and Sean could see and feel everything it was the most open Sara had ever been aside from when they had sex perhaps but then the openness was narrow and more directed toward what was happening in the moment, this was memory and more.

<It started after we got back from Halloween...>

Sara revealed everything to Sean, the Earth speaking to her, the emotions,  her attacks on the terrorists and criminals across the world, those she killed, and those she saved. Sean witnessed all of it through Sara's memory.

Sean rolled onto her side, pillowing her head on an arm, watching Sara as her girlfriend shared her experiences with life and death. Her breasts pressed together, lengthening and deepening the line of glorious cleavage, peeking out the scoop neck of her shirt.

Her exquisite face was smooth showing, no surprise, no judgment nor condemnation, as she listened. She watched Sara intently, but her eyes flicked minutely side to side, taking in all the details of the memories Sara was sharing with her, analyzing them and locking them into her own infallible mind-vault.

Sean let Sara talk and invoke her memories into her mind with diligent attention, occasionally smoothly interjecting to ask an incisive question here and there to expand on the details. Some of her questions concerned her victims, but most focused on Sara herself, her emotions and how she felt about them. She had known there was something up with Sara, something troubling, but it hadn't precisely been this.

Though she had known it had something to do with Sara flying far afield. Sean had noted the occasional anomalous bit of dirt caught in the treads of her shoes, or sand or burr in the fold of her clothes, and the like, stuff that didn't come from Montana.

When Sara was done, Sean silent for a long moment, parsing what she had learned, as with their fingers still entwines, she rubbed the back of Sara's hand with her thumb. Finally she nodded and said a single word.


Sara turned her head to give Sean a puzzled look, her brows furrowing in a way Sean found adorable. "What?"

"Noosphere," Sean repeated with a faint smile, before expanding on the concept. " It is a concept developed by a French Jesuit Priest and philosopher and a Russian geochemist in the first third of the 1900s. It's the sphere of human thought, possibly encompassing global consciousness." Sara looked doubtful, but Sean was warming to the idea as she considered it.

"Okay, think of it this way. There's the geosphere, which encompasses inanimate matter on earth. Then there is the biosphere, biological life, which emerged later and fundamentally transformed the geosphere as it developed. And now, there's the noosphere, human cognition, altering the development of the biosphere. Like the atmosphere or the hydrophere, it encircles the earth, emerging through evolution as a consequence of the growth in complexity / consciousness, in evolution.

"You say it's the Earth speaking to you, but what if the voice of Earth is really the subconscious voice of everyone living on it?"

<After all, we can communicate like this. What if everyone, or mostly everyone has the potential for a far more limited form that nonetheless forms a greater whole? Honestly, that has always been my belief, that if there are indeed gods, then they were created by their own believers.> Sara could feel Sean's wry amusement. <It would explain why the Judeo-Christian God is such a prick.>

"Terrorists and criminals, they aren't really hurting the Earth in any meaningful way. But they are hurting the people on it, hurting society. They are cancers of varying malignancy, and you have become the immune system, the antibody, excising them."

Sean sat up, then rolled over so this time, she was straddling Sara. Her eyes were bright and direct. "But all that is just conceptual and hypothesis, what matters is what you feel about what you are doing. If you are concerned about how I feel about what you are doing, don't. Don't baby."

Sean leaned forward, brushing the hair from Sara's face, then caressing her cheek with intimate gentleness. "It's a burden on you, but from what I know and what I can determine, your actions have been a positive for the world, even if not everyone would agree or can see it. But be careful, and try not to be caught, especially on video."

Sean was surprised she wasn't bothered that Sara was actually killing people. Then again, she didn't know her victims in the slightest and from she knew, they were the dregs of humanity. Also, there were things she was learning about herself.

She joked that she was essentially Black Widow (and bits of a few other Avengers), but Black Widow had originally been an assassin. Sean believed she could kill a man, but it wouldn't be from a sense of rightness or righteousness.

It would come from cold logic and rationalism, even if the initial impulse was due to someone or something harming her sisters, her parents. Sara. It would be math, calculating the formula of someone's existence after causing harm to her and hers, and how to most efficiently eliminate the remainder.

Sean took a deep breath and nodded decisively. "I'll share the burden with you, if I can. You shouldn't be alone in this, even if you just need someone to talk to without reservation or judgment."

Tears pooled in Sara's eyes as she looked up at this incredible woman who loved her. She reached up and ran her fingers through Sean's hair, then cupped her face and gently pulled her down to kiss her deeply. Sara's hands ran down Sean's back where she grasped the bottom of her shirt and tugged it up and off breaking their kiss. Sean sat up a wicked smile curving her luscious lips as Sara tossed the shirt away and brought her hands back to Sean's full aroused breasts. With a body twist Sara was back on to with Sean underneath her again. Deftly she pulled her own shirt off and tossed it the lay fully on her lover breast to breast flesh touching flesh. Mouths together Kissing passionately hands roaming, the rest of the clothes coming off...

There would be no school today



The screen showed space, a few flickers of what were probably satellites not stars dotted the black background, the left side of the screen showed a sliver of the curve of the earth while the right side showed a deeper black. Someone used to looking at these sorts of images would know that they were looking at a display showing an image, either live or video of low earth orbit. This was video and the persons looking at it were indeed used to such images.

The image shifted the sliver of planet vanish the center of the screen showed a oddly flickering star. The image shifted again the star grew bigger but also dimmer. Another shift and another and another. The star became a small object the object became... a person

On the screen Sara Hutchins floated serenely her eyes closed, she was dressed in the costume Sean had made for their Halloween trip sans the black wig.

The picture was grainy and obviously enhanced it must have been taken from a long long distance, but there was no mistaking it the person in the video was Sara and she was unaware she was being observed.

"When was this taken?"

"November 8th, it wasn't transmitted, just recorded and stored. We received the data dump day before yesterday, found the...anomaly this morning."

"Who all has seen this?"

"Just us sir." a whisper of fear enters the voice.

"This is classified Ultra. You two now work directly for me and answer only to me and talk only  to me. Understand?"

"Yes sir." voices respond in unison.

"Go through everything from the last month and I mean everything, if she, or any other anomalies, are up there I want to know"


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The Notebook

Friday morning, 09DEC16


The halls of Shelly High were pack from end to end, side to side with local students moving between classes, pausing to talk at their lockers or stopped to spread rumors at the drinking fountain. Laurie offered a few smiles to those who greeted her as she waded through the throngs of teenagers. She saw Marissa at her locker selecting the book and notebook she'd need for her next class and approached unnoticed considering the level of noise all around them in the hall. As a freshman this year it was juniors like Marissa that had a really made the transition to high school smooth and stress free. She gave Mari a worried look and cocked her eye brows as if to ask: “Well?”


Marissa's expression gave away the news before she spoke. “Sorry, Laurie. Tyler's going with Morgan.” Laurie closed her eyes and sighed, allowing her head to collapse into the locker. “Not to twist the knife, but why'd you wait so long to ask someone, hun?”


Been busy,” she said with feigned sorrow in her voice. She bounced her head again the locker again. “I took on project after project. Helping you, Kia... I don't know, before I knew it, it was today.”


I understand, trust me,” Mari offered her a comforting half-smile. “Uh, George Welch I don't think has a date yet.”


She turned her head slowly at Mari, as if her raven haired friend had just mentioned the unmentionable. “The guy with the lazy eye? Didn't he spend three days in the hospital last summer for drinking detergent while trying to bleach his teeth? No, just no, Mari. Besides, George is not a sexy name. George is like what you name your teddy bear, not the name you wanna scream out during climax.”


LAURIE!” Mari yelled louder than she intended as her cheeks flushed. Laurie, however, offered nothing but a mischievous grin. The two broke down into laughter a moment later. “Um,” Mari hesitantly added afterward. “DeeJay doesn't have a date. He hasn't been to any of the school dances in the last three years... guaranteed availability.” Maybe it was familial loyalty, but Mari always tried to help get her brother more involved with school events, hell she'd settle for anything other than spending all his time at Bunnee's working to save up money to escape Shelly.


Sorry,” Laurie said, grimacing at the thought of Devin. “I know he's your brother, but he's a world class jerk. You're awesome for thinking about him though, major sis points.”


Mari sighed, smiling through pursed lips. At this point in Devin's high school career she doubted she could give him to the bullies as a punching bag. “Was worth a shot.”


DeeJay?” Laurie asked.


Yeah, Devin Jauntsen, DeeJay...” She smiled. “EmJay, Marissa Jauntsen, it's a sibling thing.” Laurie and Mari walked to class as the halls slowly cleared of loud students and bored teenagers. Aside from the typical stragglers the halls of Shelly High faded softly into silence.


I'm going to kill him.” Sean said quietly. “I've watched enough CSI, I'm pretty sure I could get away with it, besides, it's Devin... would anyone really miss him?”


Abel laughed a bit as he, Sean and Sara promenaded through the school's hallway. “What was it this time? Rome? Bangladesh?”


Science,” Sean replied, massaging her temples to relieve her fury. “I said he could copy my notes for the test, and he was there, took my notes and left all night. He took practically everything worth eating and left the place an absolute mess, and I swear, if loses those notes...”


Say the word, I'll drop him,” Sara offered with a tone of excited desire that bordered on sociopathy. “His little taunts are really pissing me off, it's like he wants his jaw broke. What do you need notes for anyway?”


We have to turn in our notebooks to be graded, worth a hefty portion. This class is Dora the Explorer level in terms of teaching me anything, but a grade is a grade. I have to admit, I liked him better when he was quiet and broody,” Sean stopped at her locker and was already working the combo.


Abel nodded in agreement. “And if I hear 'Like a Boss' one more time...”


They all groaned in agreement.


S'up peeps!” Devin greeted them, loudly. His smartphone was at the ready, prepared to display the pictures he took with half naked woman on a beach somewhere none of them had heard of. “Man, I am tired as hell. I never thought motor boating cleavage in Kamalame Cay would be so tiring. Eh, I can sleep in science.”


Speaking of,” Sean glared at him, hardly amused by his declaration of activities. “My notes?”


Devin's chewing slowed as he snapped into a Slim Jim. His jaw made the lazy motion of chewing while one thinks. “What notes?”


You had better be joking.” Sean's glare could have melted the snow outside for miles around. “Devin, that's my grade. Where, are my notes?” The glare of the others were enough to freeze it all over again and then melt it a second time.


Uh. I was copying them on the beach, and this gorgeous honey starts giving me the eye, right?” Devin realized he was in a pickle, but he still tried to pierce Sean's armor of rage like he was armed with a high powered rifle and he was loading it with pure bullshit. “So she starts talking to me, right? So we start talking, right, and...”


I'm going to stop you right there.” Sean interjected, raising her perfectly manicured hand to silence him. “Please, just stop, stop talking. Let me simplify so you understand with crystal clarity where I'm coming from. If you do not have my notebook in the next hour, I will make sure this entire school will see your browsing history.”


Devin swallowed hard. He wasn't ready for the world to see his browsing history. The three walked on down the hall, Sara slamming Sean's locker to symbolically remind him of how Sean could shift Devin's reputation from 'broody jerk' to 'desperate God of Porn'. “C'mon Sean... that's not cool,” He protested. “It's just a note-”


Fifty-nine minutes!” Sara shouted back, cutting him off again. Her grin was pure evil.


Devin angrily bit off more of his processed meat stick and brooded in the mess he now found himself in. Then, like a bolt, he ran down the hall. When he spotted her he smiled wide and increased his speed, by the time he made it to her she was already closing her locker. “Lilly! Oh, Lilly, heeey.... how are ya. I ever tell you that you have the loveliest eyes?”


She was doing a terrible job of hiding her smirk while Devin was laying it on thick. “Fifty-seven minutes.”


Damn guild chat.” Devin mumbled just loud enough for the both of them. “Cmon, Lils, help a brutha out. Sean is going to kill me!”


No, Sara is going to kill you, after Sean makes you wish you were dead.” Lilly tilted her head with a nonchalant half grin. “This is your bed, Devin, you made it,” She leaned in whispered in his ear. “Maybe you'll think about this the next time you're using your ESP to see in the women's locker room.” With that she patted his shoulder and walked past him. “G'luck!”


An hour later Sean was fuming in her seat. No Devin. Mr. Klaers had already started his walk down the rows to check the student's notebooks. Sure, Sean could recite the notebook from memory, but putting all that information to a notebook in only hour... she was good, but not that good. The moment of dread ticked closer and Sean was fully prepared to wittingly charm her way out of not having her notebook when Devin suddenly burst into the class room. “He shoots... he scores!” He said in a voice that was never meant for the inside.


He meandered over like a peacock showing off his feathers or a victory lap that only went as far as Sean's desk. Mr Klaers was only two desks from hers when Devin interrupted. “Woah, slow your roll, big guy. I got her notes. Right here.” He slapped the notebook down into Mr. Klaers hands.


The poor book looked like Devin and a gaggle of beach bunnies had spent all night dancing on it right before they fed it to a goat. Every page was frayed or torn, the cover was barely even legible anymore, and the worst part was the sand. Sand seemed to hiding in between every page and when he tossed it down granules of it went everywhere. He was walking backwards from the room, Mr. Klaers was still silent with the insanity of the moment not fully having caught up with him yet. With a snap of his fingers he pointed to Sean. “All's well. I got you fam!”


Mr. Klaers sent the book gently down on her desk. “After class, please Miss Cassidy.”


Her day wasn't going the greatest, certainly better than Devin's was, okay leaps and bounds better than Devin's was but still the day was over and Laurie was wandering the halls of the school trying to see if she could pull one more name from the student roster that seemed a stable date choice. She'd crossed off all the budding sociopaths and aspiring potheads. A few of the nerds had promise but the only ones not taken were the over the edge ones who would grow up to lick the windows of their mom's basement and marry the cartoon character they had printed on their pillowcase. Defeated, she leaned up against the wall, and sighed. The loud echo of a of a locker being opened pulled her from her thoughts.


She rounded the corner not far from where she was and there was Devin engaged in a futile war to remove his gym bag from his locker without causing everything else he had piled in there from falling out. A broken tikki torch, a pamphlet from somewhere in Korea, the ripped and poorly folded Chinese lantern, and finally a ushanka hat all rolled out from his locker as he gave his bag one final pull. “Damn it!” He shouted as he gave the locker a swift kick.


She quietly approached. The confused expression mingled with amused as she began to make out all the weird things that he kept in his locker. Non of those things were something you'd find anywhere near Shelly. They must be decorations he'd brought form home or trinkets he'd ordered online she reasoned as she came to a stop and cleared her throat. He didn't seem to hear he with all the cussing and his head stuffed into his own locker in an attempt to organize his chaos. “DeeJay,” she finally said, this catching his attention.


BeeJay?” He stood up swiftly, already prepared to launch a salvo at whomever it was that called him by a nickname that only his sister used for him. He knew Mari's voice, and this person was not her. His day was going terribly and this poor soul was about to get both barrels of his frustration. “Sure, I'd love one. Here, or do you have a stall in the bathroom that's your favorite?”


Laurie's jaw stiffened and her lips pursed. A part of her really hated Devin with every fiber of her being but the rest of her absolutely adored how awesome Marissa was to her and great of person she was, it hurt her to think these two were related. The rest of her, mostly the simpler parts of her mind couldn't get over good looking Devin was, if only he would just shut up, he'd be the perfect arm candy. She took a deep breath and collected her thoughts before doing the most natural thing she could think of: she slapped him. Her hand stung, he was slapping a wall, but he still felt it and a part of her felt great.


Ow!” Devin gripped his face and looked at her shocked. “What the hell ginger, chill! Fine, fine... look I don't know what you heard but that clip with the ewoks, someone sent that to me, I didn't go searching for it! I'm the victim here!”


It was Laurie's turn to be shocked, mostly because she had no idea what he was talking about. “Wh-,” she had a hard time forming words after Devin's out of nowhere proclamation. “What the hell? I didn't slap you over ewoks, you ass, I slapped you because you never stop acting like a jerk! I was just looking for my cousin, but oh, no... you have to start being... ugh, I don't know, being... YOU!”


Well, you're outta luck because she's not here,” he hissed back with as much venom as he could muster but still on his guard for another right hook. “Did you check the sub levels? I think her and Franken-bitchy are starting a meth lab down there.”


You never stop do you?” She shook her head. Amazed that at this point she didn't think he realized he was doing it. “You just can't quit being obnoxious, can you? I don't know how Marissa puts up with you, she's the patience of a saint.”


Devin fell against his locker and just himself slide to the floor. Emotionally he was exhausted. He never would have admitted it to Sean, but he was deeply sorry for messing up her notebook, and now he felt like she hated him. He hadn't had friends in so long, plus the power to go anywhere in the world with a thought... he was spread thin with both excitement and paranoia that it was only a matter of time before he screwed it up. Like a self fulfilling prophecy, here he was. “Look, whatever, just go away.”


You're not going to start crying are you?” She asked, a bit concerned but not really. “Because that is going to make this really weird. I have seriously no idea how to handle a dude crying in the hall so I'll probably mock concern, maybe slowly start to walk away and turn back like I really want to console you but in the end we both know I wont. Then it's the awkwardness of seeing each other in the halls everyday...”


Devin started to laugh. “I'm not going to cry, I've just... I'm tired and I've gotta figure out someway to get Sean unpissed at me.”


Laurie slid down the locker next to him. She pulled her red hair out of her eyes and let it cascade down her right shoulder so I didn't block her view of him. “Okay, I know I'm going to regret this, but... how pissed is she? Scale of one to ten.”


About a fifteen.”


She whistled and then groaned, coming up with an idea. “It's probably best I don't know what you did, but let me just softball a few ideas to you here, swing when you're confident. Have you tried just being honest with her? Did you even attempt to apologize?”


Devin quirked an eyebrow at her, honestly perplexed. “Why would I do that?”


And you wonder why people wanna hit you.”


Eat me.” He grumbled, letting his head fall hard against his locker.


Laurie sat quiet for many moments and didn't seem to her that Devin had much else to offer to the conversation. In silence they sat, not quite sure what else to say to one another until the worst thought sprang to life in Laurie's mind. She pondered it for a few minutes, not wanting to disturb Devin in whatever passed for passive thought for him. Finally she built up the confidence to speak her mind. “Okay, what I'm about to say goes against all my better judgment, but here goes. I will help you get right with Sean if you do something for me. Deal?”


The enhanced teen glared at the lovely redhead incredulously for a moment. “Depends,” he started, wanting to hear what he'd be in for. “What's the favor?”


The Winter Formal.” She took a deep breath, not believing what she was going to ask of him. At this point bleaching her teeth with George was starting to look like a great idea. “You go with me to the Winter Formal. No jokes, no games, and you, at the very least, pretend like you're having a good time. In short, you have to act like a person, not the troll you are now.”


He looked at her and she at him. Their eyes met and locked for several moments, each weighing the others expression like two gamblers waiting to call a bluff. He took a deep breath and extended his hand, smiling soflty as he did, sealing the truce. “Fuck it.”


She smiled and shook his hand. “Fuck it.”


Sean pushed her perfect frame away from her desk, setting her headset to the side. She'd ran out of gaming fuel and that just wouldn't do. She swayed her way through the barn, stopping at the fridge to get another one to knock back. She closed the door, stopping to answer a few texts when she noticed, sitting on the table, was a notebook tied shut with a ribbon on it the same color as her eyes. Tucked in the ribbon was a tri-folded letter with 'Sean' neatly written on it. She unfolded it and began reading:



First, let me start by saying that I screwed up and I'm sorry. I knew how important those notes were for you grade and I was both irresponsible and selfish with them. Truth is, I did intend to work on my notes, got distracted and left them behind because I was almost late for school. Luckily they were in the sand where I left them. I'm not really good at this whole 'friend' thing and when I finally get a few they turn out to be super friends. Even without your powers you guys/gals are all amazing in your own way, even Sara (I will deny ever saying that!). I've spent so many years being pissed at my family and this town that I'm not quite sure how be a good friend. I'm rusty, I know that, which is why I'm writing this because I can't say this to in person.

I hope you understand and know how how sorry I am that I screwed up your grade. It was never my intention to screw up so completely, but I did, and I own that.

I'm sorry.



P.S. - If Laurie mentions anything about ewoks, just ignore it. The cold weather's been giving her hella sniffles and head congestion, it's been making her say weird things.


With a slight smile she set the letter on the table and reached down gently opening the new notebook. “He's still a jerk.” She said softly.

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  • 2 months later...

With training over for the night, the Brain Trust as they were calling themselves gathered to work, leaving the rest of the irregulars to their own devices. It was then that Sara received an unexpected message.

<Hey Sara. Do you think we can talk sometime? I mean, I know it might sound odd, but you are the best person I think to talk to about something that's kinda... personal. I know we can 'talk' here, in Guild Chat, but it is just not.. I don't know... I'd rather actually talk-talk than think-talk. Ya know? > Lilly thought to Sara in a private channel, though which some her unease, nervousness and even confusion could be felt by Sara, which was odd for the normally vary self-confident Lilly.

It was odd for Lilly to contact Sara directly, out of the blue. Lilly had welcomed Sara into the Irregulars, as had the others, but the pair had, at times, been somewhat at odds with one another as well. Neither certainly bared any ill will toward the other, but they were far from BFFs too.

<Uhh, sure.> Sara replied somewhat cautiously.

Sara and Lilly were both Irregulars, but they had never really done anything together except as a group with everybody else, so this was unusual to be sure.

<Cool. Just let me know when your free.>

<I'm good now.>

<Oh! Hmm. I kinda don't wanna talk here on base though. You mind going someplace out of the way. Like, Stark's Pond or something? I can give you a ride.>

<You head over there. I'll been there in a few.>

<Cool. See you then.>



Lilly made the drive off base and to the small, out of the way pond, backing her pickup toward the pond, face the trees across the water. She hopped out and grabbed a blanket from behind the seat and then dropped the tailgate of the truck, which she covered with the blanket. Cold didn't really bother Lilly anymore, but sitting on a blanket was still more comfortable than cold steel.

She sat there, looking at the water, trying to make sense of her thought and composed what she was going to say, but it wasn't much use. Her thoughts were a mess, so she would just have to wing it.

A moment later, Sara touched down beside the truck.

"Hey. Thanks for coming." Lilly greeted her as Sara walked over.

"I know this is weird. I get that, but, to be honest, you are the only person I trust to talk to about this." she explained.

"About what?" Sara asked, her curiosity rising.

"Well... Like, I've been.. I don't know..." she sighed.

Sara stood there in stoic silence.

"I've had, like, thoughts and stuff and, like..." Lilly babbled a bit as she looked down and fiddled with the corners of her open jacket.

Lilly then looked up, with an odd expression. It was not quite fear or confusion, but almost like the latter with a hint of the former.

"How did you know, or I guess, does one know if they are, like.... gay?" she asked, almost hesitantly.

"Or, uh, bi, I guess." she added quickly. 

This was a surprise the second tonight.

The first had been when she was getting ready to go do...her thing and Lilly stopped and asked if they could talk. For the life of her Sara couldn't fathom what the two of them could possibly talk about. She had flown over after saying good night to Sean and the rest of the Irregulars When she landed she noticed the way Lilly had parked  which seemed odd to her and now this.

She looked at the truck and the way Lilly was sitting and her first bitch instinct was to laugh but then she recalled the emotional sense she had felt through the link and realized she could feel it even now, without the link being active.

"Ok, not what I was expecting," she shook her head and pushed her hands into her jacket pockets. She didn't wear the jacket because of the cold but because it was expected part of the disguise, part of the lie.

"First, I am not a fucking guidance counselor so don't take anything I say as gospel or anything. Second, I'm pretty sure everyone has that same question at some point, especially if they are in a relationship that isn't maybe all it's supposed to be and your frustrated and surrounded by others who are very... you know desirable."

Sara frowns shakes her head and sits down beside Lilly on the tailgate. She fishes out her cigarette pack and pulls out a tightly rolled joint while talking.

"Ok, so you have questions,"She lights the joint takes a long toke and holds it for several seconds, "With me it was just meeting the right person but I was pretty much fucked up back then so that might not mean much. I never found myself attracted to boys and I met Sam, Samantha, Talena's sister when I was at a real low. She helped me find myself."

She takes another toke then offers the joint to Lilly.

"I fell in love with her.

Maybe if I knew what made you ask this. I mean I thought you and Sandy, well it looks like you and Sandy are going pretty strong."

"Huh? Oh! Yeah. We're good. Like, really good. I'm not questioning being with him or unhappy or anything. " Lilly quickly replied.

"I know you're not some counselor, but you are the only gay, or I guess bi maybe, I dunno, person I know and trust. There's not many around here, and I know we're not BFFs, but I trust you though too."

"Nothing like a life or death battle with aliens to build trust, eh?" 

"I just. I don't know. I think there's kind been something there for a long time, and like, seeing you and Sean, girl Sean, I mean. I mean, I know it's still Sean and everything. I mean..."

Lilly sighs.

"Seeing you two kiss, like, right in front of me, it kinda.. I don't know." she explained.

"And, like, I'm attracted to Sandy, and boys in general, but I think I am to girl's as well. I mean, I'm not like coming onto you or anything. Okay. That sounds worse than I meant it. I didn't mean it like that."


"It's just been.. I don't, on my mind more. But like I said, it's not that I am unhappy with Sandy or anything, and this doesn't change that. I just.. well.. I'm not trying to get gross here, or anything, but like, I've even had, like, dreams. Vivid ones.. where I am with a girl and stuff." Lilly blushed deeply, like the first time Sara, or most anybody, had see her do so, "But we're just kissing and caressing and stuff." she quickly added, almost as if that somehow made it better.

"Sorry. TMI, I'm sure." she sighed.

Seeing that Lilly didn't take the proffered puff Sara took another toke, then blew off the ash and snubbed the fire with her fingers She slipped the roach into her pocket. "So who?"


"Who were you dreaming about? What girl has caught your attention. I mean I see guys and girls kissing all the time don't mean I want to snog with any guys. I mean if it's like your seeing it in porn, getting turned on watching sex is natural, straight, gay whatever. The body responds to stimuli, it don't mean nothing. But if your not attracted to someone then It probably just like I said. Everyone has those thoughts guys girls, everyone.

If, on the other hand, your attracted to someone, having thoughts about someone specific, dreams and all. Then it may be something." She thinks quietly for a second. "Do you think some one has been ...you know, giving you signals, coming on to you?"

"Who? well usually I cannot tell who it is in the dreams. like, it is nobody specific. If it is somebody specific, then I think I know who. And no, nobody has been giving me signals, Or at least I have not noticed any, or even been looking, for that matter."

Lilly sighed, as if relenting.

"In fact, one morning, after a dream, I woke up with a girl in my bed. Like, snuggling and stuff... With me... In my actual bed."

"Wait..what!?! Who?"

If Sara hadn't been sitting she would have fallen down in shock.

Lilly tugged on her earlobe somewhat nervously as she blushed crimson again.

"It was me. I mean, I wasn't cuddling myself. Well, I guess I sort of was, but it's wasn't me-me."

Lilly sighed and closed her eyes, focusing and for a few seconds the air around them kicked up, swirling bits of dirt and blowing the straggling grass and weeds around before it blew out from her, causing the air to visibly ripple for a moment, akin to the heat distortion of a mirage, leaving another, identically dressed Lilly standing beside the sitting Lilly.

"I can.. Well, she can," she gestures toward Lilly sitting next to Sara, ", make duplicates of herself. Like me." the standing Lilly said.

"I woke up and she was there. I mean, it was probably not actually her, but it was myself, that I made, with my powers." the sitting Lilly explained. 

"Fuck me!" Sara exclaimed. 

Out of everything, Sean becoming a girl, her hearing the earth, a fucking talking dog, Aliens even a living teddy bear none of it was as weird as this.

"Okay," Sara nodded slowly, " So you can make copies of yourself. This time, when you woke up with her, I mean with yourself, A copy of yourself... Shit, you know what I mean. Ok did you know you could do that?" She gestures at the copy.

"No I never imagined it before, never." Lilly said quickly.

"Ok, Abel said our powers come from our subconscious so ...maybe you were having a wet-dream and it was so intense... I don't know Lilly this is fucking weird.

But I don't think it makes you gay.

Wait you don't... you haven't ...you know?" she gestures at the clone again and at Lilly.

"I.. I don't know." Lilly sighed, "I mean... the copies are temporary. And I have had some vivid dreams... Like.... really vivid.. Like... so vivid that they might not have been dreams.. or, not entirely dreams..."

"And I, or I guess she, can make more. Like, a half dozen or so. And we're all identical. Same clothing, memories, even phones and stuff. We all have the same abilities too. Strength, toughness, even Guild Chat, except only she can make the copies." said the standing Lilly, who looked no less nervous and uncomfortable than the sitting Lilly.

"So I guess good thing there hasn't been some dream of a harem or something yet."

"Oh yeah lets just throw that into the mix." Sara hops down and steps closer to the clone Lilly.

She walks around her comparing her with the original.

"You haven't told anyone about this have you?" She shakes her head and chuckles.

"Never mind of course you haven't."

Sara steps back tot he truck and look Lilly in the eye.

"Okay this is neat and weird and and I hate to say it but kinda hot too.

But back to the original question. I don't know,  and really Lilly, it doesn't matter. If your attracted to someone, girl, guy, yourself. Who cares as long as you love them and want to be with them. When I fell for Sean, she was a guy. I had no idea in my wildest fantasies that she would turn into a girl. But I fell for him. And believe it or not I wanted to be with him. And I want to be with her still.

All that matters is being in love. Being happy. Everything else is just a label.

So if you like someone, Lilly, don't worry about what they are, who they are is all that matters"



Written by Nina and myself some time ago and I TOTALLY forgot to post it. My bad!


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