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Snow and Ice. Howling winds. The northern plains in December were not a hospitable place.

In the town of Shelly life startlingly went on it normal routine, after all the strangeness all the catastrophes and all the unacknowledged lies, Shelly was still Shelly and that meant that everyone was getting ready for The Winter Ball.

Another tradition in the states Christmas vacation and proceeding that the Winter Formal Dance or Ball.

This year the ball would be held on Saturday the 17th in the Town Civic Center instead of the School auditorium due to some weather damage the auditorium had suffered during the recent heavy snow fall.

As with most school events the whole town was looking forward to doing their part in making it a memorable Ball.

Tickets had been sold, Dates had been asked and all that awaited was for Saturday to arrive.



DECEMBER 12, 14:30 Hrs

Anhita rubbed the back of her neck, she needed a break or to be enhanced, if only that were possible. She stepped out of the elevator four stories below ground in what had once been the Beta Site of Project Stepping Stone and was now ground zero for that projects successor, Project Guardian Shield. The guard at the Titanium doors checked her badge as he did every time she came here, even though she had been coming everyday for the last six weeks, as he handed her the badge the door receded a half foot into the wall and slid aside. She stepped through and the door slid shut behind her.

She found herself in a nice accoutered office space complete with a young attractive airman serving as receptionist.

The Colonel and Dr. Mizuki are waiting inside ma'am.” The receptionist/guard said.

Thank you Peggy.” Anhita responded and meaning it even though she knew that Peggy Lake was a trained killer and amazed that that no longer seemed to bother her.

She went into Col. Pryor's office to talk to the only two people in the world she could talk too freely.

The three of them had been meeting almost everyday now for over two months ever since the first incursion. Unlike Pryor and Mizuki, Anhita had no family here at Bulwark, she was single and did not have much of a social life before Project Stepping Stone and less of one now. Her only living relatives were her Mother and sister living in Michigan. She still had blood relatives in Iran but had no connection to them both she and her sister had been born here in the united states they were American through and through He parents having fled as teenagers after the fall of the Shah so many years ago. Her father had died almost twenty years ago of cancer her mother never remarried. Now at the age of 37, Anhita was part of history unfolding.

I have the report on Enhanced. It is very detailed and isn't going to be understood by most of the people who read it.” She tosses a three inch thick Air Force Blue binder onto the desk then hands to flash drives, one each, to her companions.

So what's in it in a nutshell?” Asks Pryor.

Well, “Anhita Reshoud began, “we have cataloged everyone we think may have been exposed to the Quetrino responsible for the manifestation. This turned up three additional QEH's from the base incursion which raises the number to nineteen plus the Irregulars but does not include Devin Jauntsen. He is a QEH but we cannot reconcile where he may have been exposed although we do have some theories. But I'll get to that later.

She sips her tea.

DNA scans have been completed of all QEH's and we have established that all of them are still 100% human The manifestation did not mutate them or otherwise change their base genetic structure. The organ which absorbs and regulates the Quantum Energy flows, is a part of the endocrine system and when the organ transited from it's dormant stated it released a series of unknown but natural growth hormones which in turn activated preexisting segments of each individuals genetic code that we call Introns. These Introns which we, meaning the Genetic research community, have always thought were just junk DNA left over from evolution, in turn seem to code how each individual uses the energy the node supplies. Every human has these Introns millions of them in fact and every human also seems to have the node. But it is dormant until it is stimulated by an as yet unknown process. The stimulation causes the pineal gland to release hormones which causes a sudden growth in the node organ which in turn feeds on the Quantum energy allowing it to grow rapidly and release its Hormones and so on.”

Are you telling me that all of us can have these powers” Pryor asks startled by the information.

Dr. Mizuki answers. “No. the pineal gland has to be at it's most active which occurs in humans between the ages of about twelve to to twenty years of age when the body is experience it's most active growth.”

Dr. Mizuki is correct, that's why the children were effected most and why they are more powerful. While an older person can manifest under optimum circumstances, that person will not manifest to a high degree.

This has led us to make some codifying tables classifying the QEH's for our own use.

Currently we are classifying the QEH's into four classifications

Class I – which are the Irregulars and anyone displaying what we are terming Superpowers, like Flying, Shooting energy from hands or eyes, etc.

Class II – is a QEH who is displaying Psychic Abilities

and Class III – which are those QEHs who display only enhanced physical and mental enhancements. We are also classifying each individual by power level which is actually easier to quantify. For this we have five levers currently using the Greek alphabet with Alpha being the lowest power rating and following the sequence, Beta, Gamma, Delta and skipping to Omega as the highest. This allows us to insert additional levels as needed.”

And what do we have?”

The Irregulars are all class I with power levels ranging from Gamma to Omega. The rest are a mixture of Class IIs and IIIs with low Power level Alpha and a few Betas.”

Well at least we are getting somewhere.” muttered Col Pryor and while he didn't ask he knew that as soon as he could he would look up what was in this report about his daughter.



Power Level is directly related to Quantum score with Quantum 1 being an Alpha Level and 5 Being an Omega. If/when a Quantum 6 score is reached 6 will become the Omega Level and 5 will be come  Epsilon and so on.




DECEMBER 14, 08:45 Hrs

General Robinson's face peered out of the multiple screens set around the room, beside her on the split screen were two other faces. One belong to the outgoing Secretary of State the other to the Deputy Director of the NSA.

Sitting in the room were Col. Pryor, Capt. Mckeller, Doctors Mizuki and Rashoud. Standing in the center of the room everyone looking at her was a young woman slightly overweight, wearing unflattering spectacles, her light brown hair brushed back and tied in a french braid. She was dressed in a comfortable business pant suit and holding a customized tablet and a stylus. Her name was Carrie Green and she was one of a handful of NASA Specialists assigned to PROJECT GUARDIAN SHIELD.

As you can see on your pads,” she makes a couple of rapid circles on hers. Each person sitting her and those on the screens see two circles appear on their data pads which display a jumble of charts tables and other incomprehensible, to most of them, things, “this two indicators are irrefutable proof that the Chinese or at least someone or something in Northern China has activated a Transportal at least four times in the last three weeks”

Do you have a location?” General Robinson's voice came from all around the room.

Oh Yes ma'am, pin point,” the stylus flicks and the pads now display a map four stars appear as if by magic. “ Those are the four sites where our satellites recorded the Quetrino's..”

The what?” The Secretary of State asked with a lost look on his face.

Sorry sir, The Quantum Energized Neutrinos. That what we have taken to calling the set of charged particles, about four dozen different kinds, that are emitted when something passes through a portal. All of them are harmless and most decay within seconds...”

This time the interruption can from Gen Robinson, “How are we detecting this. The last brief I read said we couldn't detect these except at close proximity.”

If the interruptions bothered Green, she never let on simply sliding from one answer to the next.

The Brain Trust, what the QEH's are calling themselves in the labs, mainly Ms. Cassidy, developed some software with which we were able to up grade all of our existing geo and weather surveying sats. All of those are equipped to detect high energy particles but off by nuclear detonations and reactor accidents. It was never an issue of detecting them it was always in knowing what we were looking for. Now we can identify the Quetrino's we can pick up and sudden burst as long as we have a detector pointed that way.

Back to the location of detection, all four portals were opened in a single area about 4 kilometers square located in a remote mountain area in Burqin, Altay, Xinjiang the closest settlement is a small lumber/mining town called Hemukanasixiang. We don't have population figures for that town or the other town nearby.”


“How close to the population center were the portals opened?” Asked Dr Mizuki without taking his eyes from the pad.

“The area where the portals opened is located four kilometers north of Hemukanasixiang. The location is only accessible by foot. Even helicopters have a hard time due to winds and they can't land in the terrain.” Answered Green.

“What's worrying you Dr Mizuki?” the Col questioned his friend even though he already knew the answer.

“That is with in our supposition range for triggering of a QEH manifestation.While we have not yet identified the exact particle that cause the triggering we know that it is linked to the Portal ejecta. Even if the portals in question are not Chinese there is a possibility that some one has been enhanced there. I hate to sound paranoid but knowing what our QEH's are capable of. I shudder to think of what the Chinese will do if they discover them.” Said Mizuki a hint of worry in his voice.

“Do you have anything else Miss Green?” This from the NSA Deputy Director.

“Just the other data...” she started.

“I think I can handle that part Miss Green. Thank you very much for an excellent briefing.”

Dismissed the NASA rep left the office.



this is the teaser for Chapter three and the set up. There is more to follow



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The aroma and noise was familiar and to some degree welcoming to the Irregulars as they trickled in before classes were to start for the day. Almost everyone was discussing the upcoming ball and the vacation form school that would follow. Unlike many modern schools Shelly clung to tradition, so the hall was festooned with bright and cheery Christmas Decorations and there was even a large 10' tall Christmas Tree by the stage complete with colorfully wrapped (but empty) presents stacked underneath.

Sean and Sara came into the hall along with Laurie, they had, as was usual now, all rode together in LBF. Laurie gave her sister and Sara a little wave and turned to join her friends at the Cheerleaders table only to find herself face to face with Devin.

She was startled but smiled anyway, “Hi DeeJay.” She had taken to calling him that for no reason other than because.

Devin smiled back but noticed the look of death both Sara and Sean were giving him from behind Lauries's back and he cut a glance over to the gangs table where he had just been sitting trying not to puke listening to Kia be saccharin sweet to Abel and their plans for matching outfits for the dance. While replying to Laurie's greeting he gave a shrug at the two women glaring at him and shot a quick <Sorry> into guild chat.


Then the room turned upside down.

The rest of the team had experienced this before the sensation of the world being frozen in between a moment in time.

Sean felt the universe close in about her and at the same time expand to infinity. The amount of information which rolled into her mind sent waves of panic as she tried to catalog and track every moral.

Sara and Abel both felt the overwhelming pressure they each bore in the own way cease as the cacophony of voices and the turmoil of emotions quieted, and silence invaded their minds.

Laurie was still as a statue and Devin reeled, the world was gone. Ever since his powers manifest he was everywhere and it had taken him so long to except that as normal and now suddenly the world was gone. Not like before the power literally gone he could see the lunchroom see the people see his friends but but outside of this he could see...Nothing. He didn't know where he was.


The satchel on Lilly's chair moved as the teddy bear jumped out on to the table “Hello Lilly, Abel, Alec, Kia. Sorry to interrupt breakfast.” The bear swung his stubby arms up and everything on the table flew up in to the air where it floated as if sitting on an invisible table. The two limbs moved again in different directions from each and Sara and Sean were in their seats and Devin was now lying on his back on the table.


Devin couldn't move. There was a weight on his chest as if Thor had put his hammer there to hold him down. A tiny figure, a teddy bear stepped into his view.

A Teddy Bear


I do not know you.” the teddy bear said with a voice that sounded like a cross between Patrick Stewart and Sideshow Bob reading Shakespeare.

A Teddy Bear


Hooli looked to his left and to his right at the seated Irregulars on both sides. “This is a deviation. Would someone kindly explain to me who this is and how he came to be?”


We are live...welcome back to AWS. you may all post It is 7:50 am Thursday morning it is grey overcast day there is snow on the ground but it has not snowed today. temp outside is 22F, inside only the irregulars are animated and capable of movement and speaking except devin,  devin may speak and move his eyes but do nothing else including teleport


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Abel had been enjoying the general atmosphere of the table, listening to Kia mostly, before Hooli made his unannounced appearance.  "I believe that's because of me, Hooli, though I cannot say I fully understand the exact conditions necessary for me to duplicate what happened."  He looked around and shrugged.  "His Name is Devin, and he's one of us.  It's been awhile Hooli, what brings you here now?"


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Wh-what he said...” Devin managed to mutter. In the past few weeks his life, on a scale of one to ten had took a swift incline to somewhere in the range of fifty or so. But hey, teleportation right? Totes worth. “So, yeah... this is Abel's fault... uh... Hooti, so burn his soul for eternity, make him pay for his insolence,” He used the name he'd heard Abel say, still not sure what the hell was going on. “And let me go on to say that while most people thought it was career suicide, I've really enjoyed your country catalog so far. Mad props to ya bro, down with the naysayers.”

So,” He said aloud, still trying to get his senses from reeling. “Anyone got any input here, last time I saw a talking bear it was smoking a bowl with Mark Whalburg,” He took a moment and noticed Laurie standing not to far away completely still and frozen in time. Her red hair fell over her shoulders and her smile was locked in the moment dazzling the unknown dimension with her radiant glow and dimples to die for. “Y'know... she really is hot when she's quiet. Is she a natural redhead or does she use dye?”

Sara shot him a look.

Shutting up,” He said swiftly.

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Hooli loomed into Devin's Vision, "There was no one actually named Hooti in the 1980's band Hooti and the Blowfish. The individual I believe you are referring to was the lead vocalist of the group and was named Darious Rucker. I am not Darious Rucker and my name is Hooli."

The bear spins away and walks across Devin's chest to stand on his stomach facing Abel.

"I need you to explain what you mean, Abel, that he is your fault."


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"I have come to believe that under certain conditions, I can cause and in some fashion direct an individual's emergence as a quantum enhanced individual.   Consider the fact that my friends were the minds I was most comfortable in and around, drawn to for that if nothing else,  and that prolonged contact with my own enhanced brainwaves left tiny trace energy particles, which when exposed to an active quantum gateway caused them all to rapidly emerge and develop superhuman abilities.  This constant laid the foundation for the mental network that we all share, and why it is so strong.  Devin is an outlier, I cannot confess to know him well, like I do others, but during a blizzard Sean, Sara, and I were all there when Devin began to emerge.  I was in his mind, experiencing his memories and the entire process for him.  That act somehow has added him to our network in full, as well as enhanced him closer at the levels we are at compared to the other Enhanced we know of.   As i said, I am not certain of all this, and it's not something I can just go test randomly, most of it is simply theory at this point, but t least with regards to the network, and his inclusion into it,  the conclusions are supported by evidence and logic."

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"This is a deviation the visualization does not account for. You believe that your mental process in proximity to those of your companions has been responsible for their enhancement."

Hooli stares at Abel for seconds which stretch into centuries, then one by one he looks upon each of the Irregulars.

Each of them can feel and see the flows of the quantum flux weaving in and around them, through them, twined, binding, filling them.

"This visualization is no longer applicable. Your growth, individual and collective, have far exceeded the probability path."

He turns back to Abel "You must proceed cautiously, I will not be able to advise you until a new visualization can be compiled.

Each of you are beginning to display abilities that have not been seen in..."

Hooli spins and looks at Sean.

The weaves of Quantum flux move about her in odd patterns it seems that Hooli is manipulating them in some way none of you can recognize.

"Have the Deviants made any moves to interfere with you?

Any of you?"

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Lilly blinked and looked at the strange flows of energy, wondering if it was what Sean and Abel saw all the time.

Then she snapped back to the present.

"Hm? Not that we know of. At least not yet. They were at the football game, watching us, but they did not seem to actually do anything." Lilly answered and glanced around to the others. "Unless any of you have noticed anything."

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Never since being enhanced had Sean been so overwhelmed by the influx of stimulation and information her superhuman perceptions and intellect gathered and consumed, that her habitual collected equanimity lay shattered. Her breath came in tight gasps, heavy breasts straining at her shirt, as she desperately tried to understand and memorize all her senses were telling her even as she tried to restrict the flow of all she perceived so she wouldn't collapse under the onslaught.

Devin chasing her younger sister suddenly didn't seem nearly as infuriating.

It was terrifying and it was thrilling. She felt like she at the center of the universe - not in conceit or arrogance, but simply as the point of reference for all she could sense. And what lay before her, surrounded her, was the universe, the entirety of the universe, even universes beyond her own, if only she could encompass it all!

She wanted to, oh how she wanted to! But in the attempt, she would lose herself. Through hard earned experience and determined will, Sean started lowering her enhanced senses, locking them behind discrete compartments in the palace of her mind while the other Irregulars spoke with Hooli. They would continue to sense and catalogue what they were meant to perceive, but on a subconscious level for her to review later as she willed, while leaving her conscious mind capable of thought and decision.

Sean blinked, her breaths now slow and deep and controlled. She considered Hooli's comments about the band and needing to create a new 'visualization'. To her, Hooli was beginning to sound like an AI, Google given life, running or watching analytical simulations, looking for the iteration that would lead to answer to a problem or crisis it was facing. And the simulation - the 'visualization' - was not able to account for all that was happening, to them, by them.

Sean watched Hooli intently, watched the writhing flows of quetrinos about her it was manipulating, a faint frown coming to her perfect lips.

"What are you doing with the quantum flux, Hooli?" Sean asked with cool command. "How many visualizations have you... enacted, concerning us?" Haunting, turquoise eyes narrowed on the animated plush toy. "When last have you witnessed capabilities such as ours? Where?"

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The Teddy Bear smiles at Sean, as Sara takes her hand in hers and scowls at the little stuffed menace as she pools energy for a strike should it be necessary.

"No need for that Sara Hutchins. I would never harm any of you, ever. That is the truth.

Sean I am merely observing and cataloging the changes that have taken place with all of you the more data we have to more accurate the visualization."

He turns the smile on Kia encompassing Abel and Alec at he same time.

"A visualization the the mental projection of all outcomes based on the relevant facts and accumulated data both historical and concurrent. A visualization once committed to should account for any and all possibilities within a given framework and assign probabilities to those possibilities. Sadly that has not been the case. As improbable as it may be we must have made a mistake...

and , no, Sean, we are not an artificial intelligence merely a superior one. Although I am not so sure that will remain the case for much longer."

Hooli walks back up and stares into Devin's face again.

"The universe is vast and unending. as you are even now beginning to surmise. Your sciences and observations, and I mean the human race when I say you, have only begun to work at scratching the surface of all that is possible.

Only one other life-form in all the vastness of the this universe has risen to the level of power humanity is just now displaying with the coming of your existence."

He hops off Devins chest and as he lands on the table Devin finds himself standing beside the table in full control of his body once again.

"Your powers are growing at a rate that has never been seen, at least among you. I will have to observe the others.

But the reason I have come here today was to warn you that the entity you call Daisy, has gone missing.

She is like me and like all of my kind we are aware of one another regardless of where we may be and we are in constant communication, something like your guild chat but more advanced. The only way we would lose contact with one of our kind is through the ending of that  being. and we would know if this had happened.

Daisy still exists but we do not know where she is which means, we surmise, that she has left this universe.

She is operating on a different visualization than the consensual one we have followed.

You need to be aware that the Deviants may be inacting some plan."




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Devin was glad to be free of the crushing weight of the teddy bear.  Man, that doesn't even sound right... like, seriously... a teddy bear?!  Par for the course of weird lately, it would seem.  With his hands tucked in his pockets he moseyed around as they talked.  He'd given up trying to teleport away so while they all talked he listened and leaned down you look up Shawna Moore's skirt as she stood locked in time.  For a ditzy blonde she sure had the 'farmer's daughter' thing going on for her, save that her father was a local minister at a church.  She had a body that looked like it was molded from a Kardshian... which meant she was out of Devin's league.  Still, her fault for wearing a skirt in winter with a psycho quantum teddy bear Time Lord on the lose.

"I knew it," He said, cheerfully.  "Thong and a skit in the middle of winter.  Gotta love the preacher's daughter, eh?"  Everyone shot him an icy glare.  "What?!"  He sighed, convinced he'd done nothing wrong.  He approached the table while Sean made sure he didn't walk anywhere near Laurie.  "So, real talk for a second, who, or what exactly are these Deviant dudes?"

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"The Deviants are another group of mostly students, like us, who were enhanced.  Granted they are not at the level we are, but they have a different "Backer" I guess, Called Daisy.  She's already had them terminate two enhanced who didn't join them, and at least as of a few months ago, they were under orders not to interfere with us.   They definitely know of us, and at least some idea regarding our various abilities.   They've also shown the ability to disappear from all normal and metasensory search types, which is rather vexing."

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"Super villain dudes, got it."  He smacked his hands together excitedly and then paused.  "So, let's go kick their butts.  Lilly's super strong, Sara can nuke em' from orbit and I'll get get a victory dinner from somewhere exotic.Easy day, right?"

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Sean's look of exasperated disgust when Devin looked up Shawna's skirt turned into a satisfied nodded when he got a clue and didn't go anywhere near her equally frozen sister. Not for the first time, Sean had serious doubts about Laurie's judgment.

She arched a brow at Abel when he mentioned the Deviants having eliminated two potential recruits. "Do you know how they did it, Abel?" Sean asked before turning to face Devin... or as Devin would see it, turned so that her tits were staring him in the eyes. "This isn't a comic book, Devin, where we can just beat up the 'bad guys' and then shove them into a Super Prison or the Phantom Zone." She made a show of glancing around, her gaze lingering on her smiling sister "We're in a school right now. Collateral damage could be disastrous. While I believe we would win in a straight confrontation, we don't know all their capabilities either, so hard to predict what other damage they would cause."

Sean sighed through pursed lips, folding her arms beneath her breasts in irritation. D3@th 0Tt3r's threats still infuriated her with what damage they could cause. "There's also an element of the 'devil you know' effect, Devin. If we take them out, all of them, we may not have an idea of who their... 'patron' Daisy replaces them with until it's too late."

Sean nodded around the cafeteria at any of the known Deviants that were there. "The ones we know of aren't all here. There's Courtney Adams, Chet Walker, Gina Teller, and Dan Simonton. But we don't who Leon Travis is, beyond the name - at the moment anyway - and Allison Bigby-slash-" Sean's elegant jawline tightened with professional distaste, "-Death Otter or 'D3@th 0Tt3r' isn't here and seems able to jump about as easily as you can and is far more of an Agent of Chaos than you are."

She gave Devin a warning glare. "Don't go and prove me wrong on that last comment."

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"Courtney and Chet killed somebody!?!" Sara looked across the room to where the queen cheerleader sat and her eyes began to  smolder, her chair screech as she stood pushing it back away from the table where it fell over with a clatter.

Sean saw the tension and Abel felt the raw anger slipping toward rage.

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Kia was shocked too, but quickly tried to deal with the immediate situation.

"I can't believe they'd kill someone," she said, getting up to stand near Sara. "There's more of them than just Courtney and Chet. Lets just hear this out. Abel...what happened? How come this is the first we've heard of it?"

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"No it wasn't either of them that did the killing.  Death Otter ordered it, and Leon was the one who carried it out."  He shook his head.  "I told you all this after the game when it happened, remember when I warned you off going up to her, and then she disappeared?  This knowledge was why.   I didn't have alot of time to dig for anything more, as I didn't want you to be next by actually confronting her."

His voice didn't move much, though there was an undercurrent of frustration.

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"I remember you warning me not to go up to her..." Kia shakes her head. "Okay so it wasn't Chet or Courtney. It was one of the other ones. Even so, we're going to have to stop them if they're killing people, Abel. We can't just let that go on."

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Shooting a look at Abel she was about to say something about him never telling them any of that, when suddenly she did remember. Remembered vividly, the memories that Abel had lifted from Deathotter's mind at the first playoff game almost two months ago. "Shit!"

Dropping her eyes to the table she grabbed her chair and sat back down scooting closer to Sean. "I remember now," she whispered embarrassed.



to be fair I did relay the information to Abel in a pm and he did  "tell"  us, but only by writing that he shared the memories with us and never elaborating on the details of those memories. this is a perfect example of miscommunication  or lack of communication altogether.

The memories reveled that indeed Leon Travis was a soldier who manifested during the first incursion.... he was reported killed in action even though his body was not recovered. Deathotters memories of him are  that he is a some kind of shadow teleporter and a cold blooded killer. both enhanced that they have killed were found far away from any privious locations were enhanced are. one was a young girl of about 13 or 14 in michigan, the other a boy 18 or so in florida. Abel did not recover any details of the two other than that or how they found them.


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There was an awkward moment of cognitive silence as everyone was silently remembering the assorted memories.  There were all startled from their reverie with a sudden loud smack as Devin clapped his hands together loudly.  "Alright," he exclaimed loudly.  "Suit up super friends, we find these people, whoop up on them and send them packing.  That way Hulu can get back to, uh... scaring kids at the local Toys 'R' Us and we can get the time stream going again, because seriously, I'm never gonna get me some after dance make out time at this rate."

He scanned the room, then casually leaned up against Laurie like a pillar.  She was frozen in time and easily supported his weight.  "So, come on, let's pick us out some kick ass super hero code names, power up, and kick the baddies in the ding-ding."

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Lilly looks and Devin and gets up from her seat to walk over to him, the normally easy going girl looking more serious than normal.

"Dude. This isn't a fucking comic or game or a Netflix series. This is, admittedly bizarre, real life and serious stuff here. You do you, and all that, but you need to drop the clown act or whatever the heck it is, at least in regards to this. I'm serious. Right now we have to train, consolidate our power and prepare and NOT going picking needless fights. We can't just go around doing things slapdash and picking needless fights just because you get a wild hair up your butt. If the Deviants have killed people, then they will be dealt with, but running off half-cocked is not the way to do it. And like it or not, we are all in this together. You're not a loner anymore. You have to think about others and the huge ramifications of your actions." she told him, strangely seriously.

"And his name is Hooli. He is here helping us, so at least show him some respect and use his name." she added.

Lilly sighed, her demeanor softening greatly.

"Dude. Just... chill. Seriously." she said as she slapped Devin's shoulder with a smile.

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"I'm...kinda with Devin on this?" Kia offered, wincing a little at the words. "I mean, not necessarily about charging in right now, but...we've all been talking just about the aliens and not really worried at all about these other enhanced people. But now we know they're killing people, and could be up to just about anything. I think we have to take that way more seriously than we have been. The aliens could come any second, sure...but they have to come through those portals now. We can switch over to fighting them when portals open, but all this time in-between shouldn't be wasted."


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Devin sighed and seemed to chill a bit, Lilly's words were having a temporary sobering effect on him.  Then Kia took his side and his ego flared once again.  He palmed Laurie's head, rocking his hand back and forth.  Had she been capable of movement her head would have no doubt been uncomfortably wobbling along with his hand.  "Yes!  Thank you, Kia!  That's what I'm talking about!  Let's get it crackin'."

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Sitting close enough to Sara they were bumping hips, Sean glowered at the way Devin was... manhandling her sister. "Stop. That. Laurie isn't a plushie or a pet."

Sean's tone was clipped and precise, seemingly by passing Devin's brain to speak directly to his nervous system. Devin stopped rubbing Laurie's head like it was suppose to be a genie's lamp, but Sean sighed when he didn't actually remove his hand. I suppose I could kill him and make sure they never found the body, she mused with idle fantasy. Laurie might be sad for a while, but she's young, she'd get over it. But we seem to have two murderous teleporters on our hands, we might need one of our own... Devin, you survive - somehow - for another day.

"Look, I get it, I even agree with the both of you in many respects," Sean said to Kia and Jaunt. "It's not like we've done nothing. After Abel shared what he learned at the playoff game, I went to see what I could find on Leon online. Other than his public military file, nothing. Bigby might actually be better with computers than I am, and not surprisingly, she wiped anything on her and Leon from the net. And probably anything that proved their culpability from Courtney's and Chet's social media accounts."

She snorted, lips twisting in enmity as she glanced at Courtney across the cafeteria. "But honestly, if you were Bigby and Travis, would you tell Chetney anything? I have every intention of giving them hell, but from what we know, they are only guilty of being a bitch and an asshole, and whatever we may do to them is unlikely to make them change their natures. Bigby and Travis?"

Sean nodded decisively and held up a fist above the table. "I agree, they need to be stopped." She extended a finger. "But one, they both seem to be teleporters, and Bigby at least, is very skilled with computers and other electronic devices, making them notoriously hard to find." A second finger joined the first. "Two, I haven't managed to invent a super-power suppression unit yet. If and when we track them down, how to do keep them in place or keep them captured? Devin, you willing to be a guinea pig for any anti-teleportation rays we try to develop."

Sean leaned forward slightly, trying to impart the seriousness of what she said next, and extended a third finger. "And third, provided capture and restraint isn't feasible or poses to high of a risk, are you willing to take a human life? This isn't a video game and they are not pixels on a screen, nor are they aliens, completely foreign to us. They are flesh and blood, with their own wants and needs and desires. They are us. And I don't mean just in defense of you own life, when they fight back. I mean, getting the drop on them and taking them out before their have a chance to fight back, to keep the collateral damage minimized. Elimination. Assassination. Any of you?"

Sean sat back, crossing her arms as she looked around the table. She and Sara had spoken of it, and Sara and Abel to some degree, but she didn't know about the others. Lilly might - even likely, from her experience with the Lieutenant Colonel - have spoken of it with her father being in the military. But what about Kia and Devin? Would they freeze or hesitate if they found themselves in such a situation? Aliens were one thing. People were another, and people you have known for years something else entirely.

"This isn't a condemnation or a judgment, but something we all have to honestly ask ourselves, because it may very well come down to that."

Her eyes turned towards the animated felt-and-stuffing bear. "And in regards to Daisy, you're saying she has found a way to, hmm, avoid the... purview of you kind, meaning you don't have a clue as to her intentions, plans, or goals?"

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Sara looked down at the table again, shocked that Sean would bring that subject up in that way knowing what she knew.

Hooli blinks his button eyes regarding Sean then Devin and turns to regard Abel.

"You took the blame for him, you take the responsibility." With a gesture Devin finds himself again at the table this time in a chair that hadn't been there. "Make no mistake Abel is right about one thing. Your very existence will bring more enhanced into this world. Caution and care are needed. This is a perilous time, if you start down the road of division and war, then that is what you will have, a world at war with itself.

I hate the loss of life the deviant's actions have brought about. More than you can ever imagine. But the fact that those deaths have had no significant impact means that they were done in secret and the nature of those deaths have not become known."

He gives Sara a sombre look. "Public opinion must be on your side, you must be looked upon with hope, not fear."

He hops off the table into Lilly's satchel. "Move cautiously, I have to find Daisy, find out what she knows about this.

I shall return...I hope."

The noise and chaos of the cafeteria returns in a blink as if it had never been gone and for all but those seven at the Irregular table, it hadn't.

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Abel scowled, and then his face became an unreadable mask.  <"We're not going hunting, or killing our own kind.   If they come after us, then yes, we fight back and we take them down, hard.   No one knows what they're doing, but I aim to find out. Devin, trust the rest of us, we can't go off half cocked.  Once we know what they can do, we can plan around it, and then we'll be fully ready should they come after us.   I am not wholly convinced that they actually mean us harm.  If they did Daisy could have killed all of us by now.  They could have unleashed DeathOtter on our friends, families, and anyone remotely associated with us.   Given what I can infer regarding her abilities, She could ruin all of our mundane lives, or at the very least, make things quite messy for all of us.   Since this hasn't happened, we wait, we plan, and we train."  >

His mental voice had carried a darker menace than normal.  He wasn't happy, and he knew well the answer to Sean's question.  Sara definitely could, and being honest with himself, he could too, especially to protect others.  His read of Sean showed that She was capable of this too, and a part of him hated that, that their powers had so changed them, that they could kill others.   Still, it was the last option.  <Hooli obviously wants us to be seen as iconic heroes when our existence is fully revealed to the world.   I don't look forward to that due to the increased scrutiny of everything, and the fact it will end our chances of ever having a simple life.  Still, It is coming, I just have this feeling that we will not be able to hide things for too much longer.>

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"Dude," Devin said softly.  Still, for some odd reason, he refused to used to the Guild Chat.  They'd been trying to train him on it for days and through it all he refused to use it.  He actively fought the link, it did him absolutely no good, but he still he persisted.  It was obvious that Devin didn't trust his new friends and didn't like them in his head.  They'd reassured him a thousand times that it was just a communications link, but it did little to settle his nerves.  "Life is as complicated as we make it.  I know you like to think that you're some bad ass super smart guy, but those guys are killing people and you're big solution is to let them keep doing it while we go to the gym?"

"That doesn't sit with me."  He paused, still keeping his voice low.  "Look, I know I'm the new guy and you guys have seen action and I haven't, but did you hear what 'Lulu' said?  That bear was pretty clear, we have a calling and sitting on our asses while there are murderers around is not living up to the standards that have been placed on us."  He sighed softly.  "'Don't do anything stupid', I get it.  But none of you are as fast as me, 'instantaneously' is always faster that 'miles per hour'.  Let me check this out.  Let me investigate.  I can cover more ground than anyone and I can do it quietly."

"I can't just sit here knowing these guys are out there because the next person they hurt could be someone I care about."  None of them missed the way he looked past them and at the table across the way where Marissa and Laurie we sitting laughing and comparing ideas for then next big cheer thingie.  Whether it was Marissa, Laurie, or both he was looking at was left to interpretation.  "Because if more people get hurt Abel, then the blood's on your hands, and then what?  Do we then have an obligation to take you down too for letting happen?  This isn't about good and evil, guys.  It's action and reaction, cause and effect.  If we do not react to their actions, then more people will get hurt, or die.  Knowing we could have prevented it and choosing to do nothing makes us just as guilty."

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Abel's scowl intensified.  "Devin, Leave them be.  That will just have to be one more thing i have to shoulder and deal with then.  Don't go after the others.  The training we do is necessary, there is so much else going right now, so much worse threats than the Deviants."


It was all he would say aloud, and abruptly, Abel packed away his things, got up, and left the table, heading out for some fresh air.  

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"Chet and Courtney might not even know," Kia starts by saying. "What if we tell them? Maybe we can get them to leave...come over to our side. Then...Abel?"

She trailed off as Abel just...left.

Kia sighed and rubbed her temple for a second, then said to Devin, "Whatever we do, we need to be together with it. All of us. Otherwise someone could get hurt."

Then she gets up and hurries after Abel.


Outside, she found him rushing away and caught up.

"Hey. Are you okay?"

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"One more thing you have to shoulder?"  Devin muttered softly as Abel left the table in all his drama queen glory.  Devin stood up glaring at Abel as he walked away.  He was no longer quiet.  "Because it's all about you, right Abel?!  Screw everyone else as long a poor little Abel gets his way..."

He was livid and it showed.  "Man, this is bullshit.  You guys have fun at the gym.  I'm out."  Devin stormed off to his first class, ignoring that the entirety of the cafeteria was all glaring at him, their eyes following him as he stormed out of the room.

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Abel sighed when Kia caught up to him.   He offered her a thin smile and nodded.  "Yeah, just needed some air."   

How he actually felt was completely different, and he told her so over their private link.  <He doesn't know how much damage they could do if we provoked them.  Yes they've killed people and that is a problem.   I have to live every day knowing that this has happened, and have no power to actually stop them, short of actually killing them, Or destroying their minds completely.  I do not like those options, because I don't know if they're all party to it, or is it just the leadership and a pet assassin.  I've been reluctant to poke about too much, both due to the warning I received, and fear of provoking a disproportionate reaction without the proper preparations.  Some times the hardest part of waging war is knowing when not to fight, and to simply prepare.>

His look softened and he took a deep breath and then wrapped his arms around her, savoring the feel of her in his arms.  "Much better now."  <I do agree that we have to all work together, and we've all come a long way from the kids we were when this started.   I just want us to be ready for whatever's next.>

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Kia returns the hug and says, "We'll figure it out...but it won't just happen on its own. We don't have to go attack them, but...I'm sure between you and Sean we can work out a way to find out more about them, and their...whatever they are...and what they want. I'm not saying we should get into a fight right away, but we've been kind of letting them do whatever they want, and I think that has to stop."

"So lets be careful, but lets start really making them a priority. Because if they mess up, and people find out about them FIRST, it'll come down on us too, later. Everyone will be asking...where were we? What did we do? We need to have good answers."

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Sara leaned over and kissed Sean, <I'll talk to you later i'm going after Devin, lord know why. You guys have fun> She took off after the angry bad boy.

Devin had just closed his locker when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Indulge me." Was all Sara said as she led him out the west side fire exit to where she used to conduct most of her business.

"I hated when i found out Abel could read my mind. I'm the one who forced him to teach all of us how to shut him out. except i can't. He's had these powers for two years Devin, and he cant shut them off. so he's always reading everyone's thoughts. Everyone's. Cut him some slack."

"He wants to let those guys get away with murder.." Devin started.

Sara stopped him with a raised hand. "No he doesn't. You haven't seen us in battle, training isn't the same. We can't afford a battle with them where we don't control the whole situation."

Sara stands and holds out her hand. " I want to show you something, Come with me?"

Devin looked at the offered hand but took it. She stepped closer to him and wrapped her other arm around him. "Take a deep breath and watch where you put your hands."

Sara launched them in to the air faster than anything Devin had ever seen. He almost teleported away but the vertigo of movement was too much. Then they were still and on the ground. Sara stepped away from him.

"Not quite as fast as your teleport but it more fun."

Devin looked around they were in a desert it was still the same time of day if he read the sun's position right so they hadn't gone far. "Where are we?" He asked, in th e near distance he could see some mountains.

"Nevada. Where they used to test nukes. The original Stepping Stone project used to be somewhere around here. See those rocks over there?" Sara points to a group of boulders about 500 meters away. Devin nods, "Yeah what about them?"

"Just watch them. I have not shown this to anyone not even Sean. But you need to see this I think."

Taking a deep breath Sara raises her hands waist high palms open and pointing toward the distant rocks. Suddenly the air at the rocks seems to ripple as if from intense heat. and then the very air turns to fire, the blast expands rapidly as temperatures soar reaching the levels found in small nuclear bombs or the surface of the sun. the shock wave hit them and passed over them leaving the two of them unharmed but flattening everything else.

Then the fire was gone. the distant rocks were slumped and molten the ground scorched. Devin could see the glitter of glass in the sand.

"Imagine if that happened at school, or down town. We have to be sure when we go after them. But trust me we will go after them if they are guilty. It's what I do."

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"Well, I'd probably not open with that one," Devin said.  He was still pretty livid about the whole Abel thing and was trying not to be impressed.  Still though, his inner child was was practically doing back flips at the sight of such an awesome power.  There was a long pause and he wasn't sure how to open the next part of the dialogue.  "So, secrets from Sean... does this mean we're like... going out or something?  I mean, you like girls, I like girls... I think I pretty much got that alphabet thing down with my tongue..."

She flexed on him, her lips pursed in a fury towards him not taking the moment seriously.  He jaunted several feet away from her, his hands up in the defensive, a large smile on his face.  "Chill!  Christ, Pixie, I'm just kidding."

"You're such an asshole," she glared.  "And stop calling my that.  I'm trying to be serious, here..."

"I am too," he replied.  "Look, I get it, believe me, I may be an insufferable tool sometimes..."

"Most of the time," Sara interrupted.

"...fair enough," He shrugged, her logic was sound enough.  "But I keep hearing from you guys is I and me.  Abel is so wrapped up in 'what I say goes' and we're in the middle of Nevada while you show you me, and I quote, that's what i do.  You drug me all the way out here to show off.  Don't tell me you brought me out here to teach some lesson about what could happen if super's got into a fight in the middle of Shelly, because if you did then that would be the most patronizing and insulting thing one team member could do to another.  You guys think I'm just some kind of idiot, don't you?"

He jaunted from in front of her to behind her, then to her left side, he jaunted as he spoke, the same way ordinary people might pace back and forth.  "Well, I'm not.  I don't have super strength like Lilly, or the ability to turn into a gold fish, or your flair for wrecking shit, Abel's superhuman ability to whine and talk like a robot are certainly impressive, and Sean?  She used to be a he... and she's smoking hot, and I'm kind of in this grey area of whether that makes me gay or not..."  He wobbled his hand to a fro like he was finding a balance.  "I'm still on the fence."

"My point, Sara, is that I'm not an idiot.  I was never planning on kicking down the doors to their evil lair and start pissing in their Cheerios.  I'm a part of this team and I want to use my ability, my only ability to move quietly and instantly to gather intel.  Intel that we'll need for the plan Abel somehow thinks is going to miraculously appear in our minds while we're all at the gym sparring and blowing shit up instead of collecting intel..."

He sighed and clapped his hands and pursed his lips.  "And no, Abel doesn't get any slack.  You don't, I don't, none of us get any slack because this our life now.  I've done competitive sports my whole life Sara, and there is no slack on a team.  This is what we were chosen to do, and if he wants to cry and whine about it, then don't let the door hit him on the way out.  If it were me, you'd tell me to sac up and quit my bitching.  He deserves no less than the same courtesy."

"I'm new, I get it.  I'm an ass hat and impulsive, but really... you're a dope dealer, Sean's a tranny, Abel's a robotic cry baby... dude, we all have problems, none of us are really in a position to be judging others, so putting all that behind us, Sara, I'm asking you guys to trust me.  Al I'm asking is that you guys let me do some snooping, some undercover work and hopefully I can find something we can use.  When war comes to us, and we both know it will, we'll be more than just in good shape when it arrives."

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Sara sighs. "Courtney and Chet and the the others in Shelly aren't the problem, Devin. You would have to find deathotter or the other guy.

And how exactly would you do that?" She crossed her arms under her breasts and gave the teleporter  a questioning look.

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"Got me." Devin shrugged.  "But police don't arrive at a crime scene and say 'oh, well, in order to solve this we'll need to find the killer, oh crap, it could be anyone, screw it, we give up'.  No, they look, which seems to be more than you guys are willing to do.  Maybe we'll find nothing, maybe we'll find nothing at all, but at least we didn't sit idle."

"And Courtney and Chet are a problem, because they're associate with these guys.  You guys are going to be so wrapped up in Killerchicken, or whatever his name is that you aren't going to be paying attention when one of those two stick a knife in our back.  It's classic Jurassic Park, your looking at one while the others are flanking us.  If they aren't willing to step up to plate, especially after helping DeathChuppacabra, then they are as much our enemy as the invisible threat."

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"Ok," Sara's eyes narrow as she thinks about what Devin was saying, "for the sake of argument, lets say I agree with you. My dad may be a super cop but I'm not. How do we..." 

She pauses, looks around and up into the sky.

"You better take us back to Shelly."

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"Wha?" He asked, a bit shocked.  "Why?"

"Devin, Shelly... now."

"Alright, chill..." He stepped up to her with a smirk cupped her butt with one hand, while wrapping his other arm around her.  "Huh, frim... do you workout?"  And just like that Sara's world faded away like a soda straw effect.  The iris of her vision swirled to a close only to instantly reopen like a camera shutter.  They were in a supply closet somewhere in the school.  They opened the door and Devin followed Sara.

"So, fill me in, what's up?"

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She used a move Sgt Merkes had taught them slamming Devin against the lockers "If you ever touch my ass again I will kill you." She hissed through gritted teeth.

<Why the fuck did you bring us back to school?> her thought sailed into his mind through the link she opened.

< I think they picked up the blast and were looking at us with a satellite> She answered his question before going on with her early train of thought.

<Back to what i was saying...How do we go about this investigation?>

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