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WEIRDER STUFF
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Weirder Stuff - Session IV - CHASING RAINBOWS

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"Jeez, Sophia," Cassandra couldn't help but remark. "It's a school play, relax. I don't think Charlie's even casting it."

Then she glanced at Charlie curiously. "Are you?"

Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Cade and became even more curious. What would distract a teenage boy from ginormous boobies being bobbled in his vicinity?

"Cade? Everything okay?"

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Cade nodded.  "I think so, but there's something I'd like to check out when we leave here.  You may know more about it, so If you don't mind much, would you come along with me?  it won't take long."

 

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Bannon

Earlier in the Principles Office


 

On 11/1/2019 at 10:50 AM, Bannon said:

After all I've done for them, it sucks."  Jason seemed frustrated, gesturing with his hands.  "I step up and risk my life against monsters, stand between them and death, work to make sure we're understanding our gifts.  I invite them into my personal sanctum, my private space.  I punish those who would violate or take from them.  I trust them by letting them closer than anyone else has ever gotten.  My reward?  Petty ingratitude and fear."  He let his head fall back and stared at the ceiling as if lost and seeking answers.

"Everything I've done to try and bond, and I feel more isolated than ever." he said quietly.

 

Cook opened his mouth to speak but then something Jason said caused him to pause. He smiled, which Jason was quickly coming to see was a nervous tic, the older man had, then with a barely noticeable shake of his head, continued. “It's an understandable reaction on your friends part, “ he smiled again, “their kids, even if some of them have displayed remarkable abilities, still kids. But your reaction to everything and to the reaction of your friends is not usual.

Look Jason , I'm a scientist, I am interested in all of this on an academic level. Especially now when everything we have been working for , for almost fifty years, is starting to show results, real result, but results that on the surface make little or no sense.

For instance, you. You have developed an incredible level of psychokinetic ability and you were never even in the active program. Sure you received the same nutritional injections and supplements and such that all the kids in Shelly have for years. But you came to town at what ten or so, that was too old and there isn't a link to the program so you were put in the Control group. That you have seemingly developed greater ability over the rest of the test group is marvelous.

It is going to take me some time to track down the information on your mother, so Why don't you come to the hospital tomorrow and let me run some tests and I should have something for you by then?”

 

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The boy's head tilted forward from his contemplation of the ceiling, his gaze considering Doctor Cook with apparent suspicion.  Then he leaned forward a little, interested.

"I'm a scientist as well, Doctor.  I'd like to help - and not just as a test subject."  His brow furrowed as he considered the doctor's words.  "The fact that I was a control, and not one of the active test subjects and yet appear to be ahead of the others is an anomaly - and like you I don't believe in coincidences."  He smiled at the older man.  "It's obvious that despite the careful processes you've been using, and the control you've exerted, there's random elements at play, something a fresh perspective might be able to trace."

"And how could you help?"  Doctor Cook asked.  His tone was not sneering or condescending, but curious.  Jason met his gaze, his voice calm as he explained.

"My psychokinetic abilities are not the sum of my talents.  I'm not going to indulge in false modesty, Doctor.  That wastes both our time, so consider this a job application - I am right at the top of the measurable scale of human intelligence.  I absorb and process information, calculate parameters, analyse and extrapolate better than anyone I know, even Sean.  I teach myself languages for amusement - I currently speak five, including Ancient Greek and Latin.  I learned Russian in under two weeks and am currently studying Italian.  I taught myself graduate level math, chemistry, biology and physics from textbooks and practical observation and experimentation before Junior year even started."  Jason's attitude was not that of a braggart - there was no boasting or hyperbole in his tone, merely a cold matter-of-fact recounting.  "I could teach most of the classes I am currently required to take,  but take them because I will need the paper qualifications and grades... plus they help me with my social skills which, as we've noted, are not the best.  Needless to say, though, I am bored." 

The last word was said with quiet force, and the good doctor blinked a little as he considered the lean figure sitting across from him, smiling his nervous tic smile once more.

"I want to know as much as you do how my powers work and interact with my surroundings.  I also want answers, Doctor, and unlike my fellows I don't have any particular moral outrage about what you're doing here.  Don't just use me as a test subject - let me assist you."  Jason leaned back in his chair once more.  "Give me that challenge, let me work with you, and I will cooperate as a test subject."

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On 11/9/2019 at 7:25 PM, Cade said:

Cade nodded.  "I think so, but there's something I'd like to check out when we leave here.  You may know more about it, so If you don't mind much, would you come along with me?  it won't take long."

 

With a shrug, Cassie nodded. "Actually, I need to check something out after school...and I'd really like some company while I do it, because it feels kind of, um...trappy? So if you come with me on mine, I'll go with you on yours. How's that sound?"

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"Sure, that sounds good.   Fair is fair, after all."  he went back to finishing his meal, much like the others had been, and once he was done, offered to take the trays of those who were also done and take care of them.   Returning from that, he noted the time, and Looked to the window, to see if the Cat was still there.

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Bannon

Earlier

"I want to know as much as you do how my powers work and interact with my surroundings.  I also want answers, Doctor, and unlike my fellows I don't have any particular moral outrage about what you're doing here.  Don't just use me as a test subject - let me assist you."  Jason leaned back in his chair once more.  "Give me that challenge, let me work with you, and I will cooperate as a test subject."

That smile again, “Well that may not be the best idea, there are legal ramifications, you’re a minor, and well it might not be safe for you. Look let me see what I can find about your mother and then you come down to the hospital tomorrow after school and we can talk some more.”

Cook had stood while speaking and motioned for Jase to stand. It didn’t take a genius to realize that that was all he was going to get form the doctor this morning, so Jason nodded and let himself be led out of the office.

 

Sean, Sara, and Laurie

Earlier

Sean flicked through the nearby surveillance feeds and found an empty classroom that usually wasn't used the first period after lunch. Sean nodded, and lead Dr. Cook, Laurie, and Sara across the hall and down two doors to the classroom. When they were all inside, he locked the door, then turned to face his doctor. The only doctor who hadn't sees his condition as something to be fixed, an error to be corrected. Was that because it was something he had done? Side effects in the pursuit of psionic activity? Was Jase's psychopathy another side effect? Lilly being a bloody amazon, or was that a different vein of research?

"What did you do to us?" Sean hissed with pleading intensity.

Cook had let the unusual group of kids lead him to the empty classroom but once inside he decided to stand firm, his earlier encounter with Jason Bannon had unnerved him a bit but now faced with three more his old defensive stubbornness was coming back.

“Sean, I completely understand your concerns, but this really isn’t the time or place. Why don’t you come to the hospital tomorrow and we can talk in private,” Cook said with a eyes-only glance at the other two teenagers present.

Sean began to respond with a demand for answers now, when a smooth thought entered his mind from Sara <Don’t push him I have what you want>

“Okay Doctor Cook, I’ll come by about 4:00 tomorrow,” the boy said holding in his emotions.

“Better make it 5:00. See you tomorrow Sean.”

 

Cafeteria

End of Lunch

Lilly and Jason were almost to the cafeteria when the bell rang, they stopped short when kids started piling out of the lunchroom, they shrugged and headed to their lockers, along the way the met up or passed several other members of the fellowship, exchanged brief greetings and comments then headed to class

In the lunchroom as the bell was ringing, Sophia leaned in close to Charlie,  "You know me charlie we have both had drama classes and debate since middle school I am as good as any of the other girls who do these things all the time, and, " Sophia straitend up in her seat thrusting her ample bosom in Charlies direction, "I fit the part.  I'll see you in class." With that she stands and turning away sashays out of the lunchroom.

Before the bell the fellowship’s phones buzzed and the eye-opening text from Mari appeared for all to see…

//Girl, who do you think run this school?  I have your back.  Watch after my idiot other half and I'll make sure we cover you here on the battlefield.  Look in my dresser, bottom drawer, right hand side, all the way back... be safe.  And for the love of God, enjoy it.  You need it.//

 

The rest of the day went about as could be expected…

Sara either telepathically or verbally spoke to each of the Fellowship and asked to meet with all of them after school to discuss the network.

 

Spoiler

Ok it is now after lunch same day. i am leaving it here in case anyone has anything they want to post before the end of day.

let me know if you need to post anymore during school if  i get nothing by the end of the day i will move to after school.

 

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After lunch, Cade explained the whole situation to Cassandra, from finding the Cat, to Lona's healing, and the very human way it hugged the both of them afterwards.   Having seen it watching him at lunch, well he wanted to check on it, and since Cassandra's abilities may be able to tell abit more about it, he wanted her to come with him to see if the cat was there.   

Sure enough, they approached where he'd seen it watching him quietly, and it was still there, ears moving like veritable radar dishes, and it watched them draw near.    He looked to Cassandra.  "There's alot of differences with this cat.  She's bigger than any I've seen that wasn't a mountain lion or Lynx, and she's far more intelligent than any other...  Do you think there's anything more?"  He'd kept the tone of his voice even and low so as to not alarm the feline, who hadn't moved as the two of them approached.

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Cassandra stopped on seeing the cat there, catting about like it owned the place. She'd been mentally poo-pooing Cade's words about how big it was, so seeing it was...shocking. And weirdest of all was that it looked like a housecat, really, just scaled up. A mountain lion had a distinctive body shape, it couldn't be confused for a domestic cat no matter how much you might zoom out. Wheras this...this cat could have been anyone's pet, except that it was bigger than Bacon, her dog. And Bacon was not a small dog.

"Holy hell, that...okay...that is not what I was expecting," she said, giving Cade a nervous glance. "It hugged you?"

At Cade's solemn nod, Cassie looked back at the feline, who was simply observing them warily.

"So...yes, obviously there's more," she said after a second. "It's a giant cat that hugs people. Jesus. Uh, let me...let me try something."

Cass inched closer to the cat, holding one hand out with her palm down, speaking gently in what she hoped was placating terms. "Hey there...hey big guy, just want to meet you is all...I'm Cassie, a friend of Cade's. No need to hug me or anything, I'm good, just wanting to say hi..."

The moment she saw any tension in the cat though, she stopped. Hopefully that was close enough.

She then closed her eyes and concentrated, seeing the cat in her mind and swaying a little as it sort of stretched into a cone...spraying forward in time in a dizzying array of possible futures. But its past...that was stable, a winding line that she could follow. She pried at it, opening it into a river of images showing where it had been before, who it had been near...

Area Insight on Catticus Rex, looking to see where it's been in the past 3 days. Got 2 successes on the roll in Discord.

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Cass watched as the path stretched images began to form only to shred away like smoke in a wind. She could only get fragments of images and all of them were confusing and Cass wasn't sure what she was seeing...

A pyramid a half built sphinx beyond it spins into...

A snow filled pass several wood wagons like the settlers used to use caught trapped dead and frozen horses...

A field of trenches the explosions and gun fire men dying screaming smoke and yellow gas...

The ice of an immense glacier at night a star streaks across the sky growing bigger and bigger until it slams into the ice with a cataclysmic explosion...

The blast looked so real like Cass was actually there that it shocked her out of her trance to find the cat had moved an was now standing right in front of her.

Cade had been quietly observing when the cat suddenly moved right up to Cass and sat on it haunches, then Cass flinched out of her trance.

The cat gazed into Cass's eyes and leaned forward until its head touched Cass's

\IMPOLITE/

Spoiler

the cat did not speak or use telepathy but Cass understands the cat emotion/thought in her head 

 

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Cass, wide-eyed both from the visions and the cat's response, gasped and said, "I'm...I'm sorry. I didn't know you could..." she frowned a little and shook her head. "Communicate?"

It wasn't speech exactly, and it wasn't what Sara did. She didn't know what it was. It was...weird.

"I'm Cassandra. This is Cade and...we're just trying to figure all this out. Can you help us?"

It wasn't lost on her that she was talking to a cat...but it was a really big cat. And, from what she'd seen, an old one. Like...really old. Egypt old. Maybe dinosaur old.

Which...there weren't even cats around during the dinosaurs were there? She was pretty sure there hadn't been. But here one was, smelling like asteroid extinction event.

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Charlie watched Sophia go. Had she suddenly found a passion for drama and a desire to be the leading lady, or was this a form of the Dark being a plain troll? One mental side, one that sounded like Jason said: "Don't compromise your integrity over her flirtations." The other side, that sounded like Marissa, replied, "Dude, the pool's not that large and it's not really going to make a difference who gets the role. Bang her."

Charlie needed something to clear his mind... and the text he received from Mari wasn't. One, it probably was directed at Lona, two, he really didn't want to think about what she was referring to there.

Cassie and Cade staring at a cat. Yes, that would kill an incipient boner. "What are you doing?"

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Cade looked at Cass and the Cat and smiled  "You were able to communicate with her?"  he seemed surprised, but pleasantly so.  "That's awesome."  He had no idea about the visions, and was feeling pretty fortunate that he had friends who'd both been able to heal this cat and now understand it.   It sucked he couldn't do it himself, but he knew he wasn't like the others were.   

Hearing Charlie speak, Cade turned slowly to him, and smiled.  "Hey Charlie, didn't expect you to follow us.   Earlier today, I found this cat more than half dead in a small clearing over the track fence.   I text Lona and she was able to heal it, and it hugged the two of us.   Later while we were at lunch, I noticed it watching me, and decided to ask Cass to come and see if maybe she could help find out more about it."  

He looked sidelong to Cass.  "That was evidently the right move, as she was able to communicate with it."

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The cat looked up at Cade and the newcomer, the with a long very cat like stretch moved around cass rubbing up against her onto cade where she lingered a moment and meowed the even went up to Charlies and rubbed around his legs. Then went back into the bushes and laid down and began cleaning herself and gave the human not another glance.

“That is one weird looking cat,” said Charlie, and freaking big. Come on guys we are going to be late for class.”

 

It was in the hall before last period when Sara finally caught up with Clara, with whom she shared few classes, it was a bit surprising to find Marissa and Clara together, but Sara respected their privacy and didn’t scan either of them.

“Hey Clara, Marissa, sorry to interrupt…”

“Then why are you,” snarked Marissa out of habit.

Sara smiled and gave the pretty, no beautiful, girl her the best ‘I can break you in two’ look she had. “We’re getting together after school, the fellowship, I need to talk about the network and maybe a couple of other things before we start these investigations. If you want to be part of the network, I need you to be there.” She looks at Marissa, “You too, Marissa your part of this and we need you. Devin too but I don’t think he will want anything to do with it, but you can ask him if you see him.”

She glances back at Lona as the bell sounds. “I haven’t seen Lona either since the storage room, you might want to let her know.”

Mari and Clara exchange glances as they head to their seats.

After School

One by one the Fellowship made their way to the Track field and into the bleachers.

“Is this going to take long,” asked Lilly looking at her watch? “I have to get to practice.”

Sara shook her head and once everyone who had been invited and was coming had arrived, she began.

“Thanks for coming. The main reason I wanted all of you here was, well mainly because of this morning in the cafeteria. I think we need to be careful, more careful, with who we reveal ourselves too. That was made even more apparent when Sean confronted Dr. Cook this morning after Cook had spoken with Jason.

I want to make the network permanent.”

Spoiler

everyone except lona and devin are caught up and in the same time now. if anyone alerted either of them to the meeting please do so in a post in demons if no one does then they don't know about the meeting.

 

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"So, you know Cook spoke to me."  Jason said from where he sat, legs folded Indian-fashion, on a bench.  "That implies you read him, so tell me, what did you see in there?"

"Wait, Cook spoke to you?"  Lilly looked at Jason.  "This morning?  You didn't say anything."

"Nobody asked."  Jason replied evenly, his expression composed.

"What did you speak about?"  Cassie inquired, eyeing the lanky genius curiously.  The answer was a shrug of his bony shoulders.

"I am certain Sara can tell you.  What I want to know is what was going through Cook's head when she dipped her trawl-net in there, and why it means I should subject myself to being 'on-call'.  I don't even like the idea of having a cell-phone - what makes you think I'd be any more sanguine about having people knocking on my mental door at whim?"  There was no particular animosity in Jason's tone - he wasn't being snarky or hostile, rather matter-of-fact as he held up a fore-stalling hand.  "I know, the network allows for private communication as well as amongst the group.  It is not mind-reading, rather mind-speaking.  The advantages are many, moreso for those of us with psionic gifts.  We found that we can 'tune in' to each other, boosting each other through your link on Sunday, remember?  That's a powerful tool."

"Then what's the problem?"  Sean asked.

"Simply my own preference."  Jase shrugged again.  "I'm happy to use the network as a tool when needed.  But to be permanently linked to others?  I need a really, really good reason to agree to that.  At least one."

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Cade looked over to Bannon, and nodded.  "I understand where you're coming from.  One of the better arguments is safety.   Will we always have our phones, will we always even have service?  The Network doesn't rely on anything more than our minds, letting us get ahold of each other, whenever there's a need.  It won't be like we're in each other's heads, seeing memories and thoughts."

He shrugged.  "That said, there is a concern I'd like to voice.   With a permanent network in place, who's to say the Dark couldn't affect one of us, and through the network, get to all of us?  Has us all in one swoop sort of thing?  I mean we don't know exactly how the Dark's doing what it does, so I think that should be considered."

He lacked powers in the same sense as the others, but he had been able to be linked in the network.  He looked to Sara, and smiled  "Will making it permanent reduce the burden on you?  I mean having to set it up each time we need it seems like hassle, when time can be a factor, but having it already in place and dormant seems like it would reduce the load on you some."

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"The Dark is an unknown quantity. If we don't do things because '...the Dark might...,' then we're never going to do anything," Clara said to Cade, not with rancor or harshness, just the truth as she saw it. She gave Jase a look, running her thoughts through the filter of what she knew of him. "So far as we know, Sara's link can't be hacked, doesn't leave a paper trail, doesn't cost money, is truly instant, and allows us to communicate as a whole group as well as providing a link to each other's Shine-boost over distance. In short, it allows us to act as a single unit no matter how spread out we are. In short, it is giving up being isolated for advantages that could likely save your life and the lives of the Fellowship, as well as advancing our ability to fight the Dark. That tactical advantage alone is worth having us mentally at your front door, I would hope."

"If Devin is willing to be a part of the link as well, his ability to 'port around gives us even more mobility when he can be told when and where we need him or something else." She gave Marissa a questioning look. "Do you know if he would be up for that? And if he can move other people? I know he can do Athenian pizza." 

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"I don't know exactly what my brother is capable of.  I do know he can take people, because we went skydiving yesterday evening.  Pretty fun."  The Diva said nonchalantly.  "I know he can take objects too, he warped, or beamed, or whatever his schtick is, his whole bike into the garage.  He's so lazy.  As for whether or not he'd be up for it, you'll need to ask him, and good luck, since you and him aren't exactly on speaking terms."

"As for permanently having people in my head?  Yeah, no thanks.  I don't like you guys enough to offer you a ride to school, let alone trust you to be talking in my mind.  Last thin I need to be infected with Jason's special brand of bat-shit crazy, and while I hate to say it,"  she sighed and rolled her eyes.  "Cade is right.  I think Sara's ability make a great tool, not a utility.  Using it when we need it means we can lower the risk of someone else like her tapping in or The Dark assaulting us all.  We don't know what these monsters are capable of, if they can track us or 'smell' our powers, but don't you think it's weird that they always know where we are?"

"As Queen of Communication, Sara is our biggest asset.  Nothing is more important than communication, but we need to be more cognizant of our enemies capabilities before we start opening up mental networks.  These powers are cool, but let's not get out of hand.  That said," she cooed mischievously.  "If Sara feels like sharing all your dirty little secrets with me... that's different."

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"Seconded."  Jase said from where he was sitting.  "The network is something I would be willing to use as a tactical resource, not a strategic utility."  He didn't visibly react to Marissa's 'bat-shit crazy' comment.  "I'm in favor of setting it up when we're aware it's needed, not having it in place in case it's needed."  He leaned forwards, regarding them all.

"Because here's how I see the situation devolving.  At first, it's great.  People only use it for emergencies.  It saves lives, even.  And then people get cozy and start to use it instead of talking face to face on matters other than critical.  It will be filled with chatter about the play, or sports, or people asking me for help with their homework. If left in place, we will become a collective."  He paused, then shook his head.  "So my answer to that is 'no'.  My autonomy is sacred to me and means more to me than anyone's safety or convenience.  Even my own."  He sat back.

"If the rest of you wish to do it, then by all means go ahead.  Now, what was on Cook's mind earlier, Sara?"

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"First, I am not any body's tool. the network is part of me as are the rest of these abilities, as are the abilities each of us, well most of us, have developed. Erecting the network for so many takes effort and isn't some thing I can do in an instant or in an emergency not for all of us. This is something i thought to put out there but it takes commitment.

With Clara's help I think I can erect the network for everyone and make it virtually permanent, but if your not in the net work when I do it, well your not in the net work and can't be added not without going through he whole process again for everyone."

Sara pause to let everyone mull that over before continuing.

"Second, and this pertains to your very demanding question Jason. We all have abilities now which have a moral and ethical impact on how we behave and perceive ourselves and others. Clara you were appalled when i told you that i could scan Ettein earlier today that that would be an invasion of privacy. And yes I suppose it would but being able to do that is now a part of me. Just like Lona's ability to see if some one is healthy, or Cassandra's ability to see where we have been or where we are. Even you Clara have the ability to see if someone has a power or is using it and who knows what else. What I am saying is these things are a part of who we are now.

Do we only use these powers when we need to or absolutely have too, or do we use them for everything. For instance like Jason uses his Telekinesis, or Devin flitting all over the place on a whim. Or even myself scanning people because I can. It will make each of you uncomfortable but you need to know I can scan each and everyone of you and there is little any of you could do to keep me from doing it, out side of developing your own Telepathy. In most cases you wouldn't even know I had done it."

 

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"Are we really on a morality bend, still?"  Marissa fumed.  "None of you have any right at all to be appalled or put off by the use of powers being used amorally.  Jason almost killed a guy and not a single one of you seemed at all put off by it.  Etienne is working for Cook, and Cook is spying on us, invading our privacy.  Etienne and Cook are both amoral and I don't give a damn about their rights.  For all I care, Sara could leave him a drooling wreck the rest of his life, and I hope she does."

"I'm not my brother, I'm not full of inspirational speeches on how to heroically use your powers.  I'm the bitch that doesn't care what you do, but will damn sure remind you that you have no place to be pissed when that same treatment comes back on you full circle.  You knew what Jase did, and none of you cared.  That blood is on your hands, and yes, I'm judging you for it."  She smirked evilly.  "We need to understand that Cook and The Dark are not playing by our rules, they're playing by theirs.  So we need to do the same.  If Cook messes with us, we drop Etienne from a cliff.  We burn his lab.  We break his legs... hell, I don't care at this point.  We visit every piece of twisted, mind fuck torment back on him that he's been putting us through.  We're fighting The Dark, and he's in our way, Etienne too.  I say snap them both like twigs."

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"Well, I am glad I took time out of my day for this."  Jase stood, shouldering his satchel.

"Where-?"  several people began to ask.

"I gave my answer on the network issue.  I then asked a question.  Twice.  I got no answer.  I'm pretty much done here."  Jason stated curtly, then glanced at Sara.  "The morality question is irrelevant to me - Just as with my mind, and my loyalty, the use of my powers is mine to decide on.  You can of course do likewise.  Just bear in mind that if anyone sees fit to use their powers on me without my consent and I do find out about it, I will consider myself similarly unrestrained should it prove convenient for me.  Causality - choice and consequence.  As Marissa says, things have a tendency to come full circle.  And yes, I'm well aware I am not excluded from that - but I'm perfectly content to deal with my own consequences."  He indicated Mari with a faint smile.  "Case in point."

He turned, putting a cigarette between his lips and flicking the end to life with a fingertip.  "Etienne is a cockroach to me, as much as Liam is.  But his ultimate fate isn't mine to decide so long as he stays away from me.  Cook, I have use for.  At least for now, I would consider it a favor to be repaid if Cook were left alone."  He exhaled a twin jet of smoke from his nostrils, then glanced at them all once more.  "At least for now.  Up to you, though."

With that he strode off towards the parking lot.  "Good talk.  I miss these little get-togethers.  Sometimes I forget why I prefer my own company."   he said without looking back.

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Sara spoke to Bannon's retreating back, "No Bannon you didn't ask a question you made a demand, twice, and I don't do demands. You haven't earned that.

You aren't the center of the universe for anyone but yourself, so go ahead run away and be the lone cowboy, it's what your best at."

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Charlie let out an exasperated noise and went after Jason. This was getting a bit ridiculous. "Jase, please. I get it, you and Sara have some significant disagreements. But we're not going to get anywhere with people storming out of meetings. Is it really too hard for you to show some forbearance and agree to disagree on the subject of ethics and focus on the practical. I get it, Sara could just have said she doesn't prefer to intrude into people's minds. But please, this is getting tiresome."

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"What's tiresome is how oblivious you are."  Jason didn't slow down his stride, forcing Charlie to hurry to keep up or else be left behind.  "She knew I met with Cook.  The only way she could know that is by reading his mind or mine, so spare me the 'delicate feelings' excuse."  He drew on his cigarette, then snorted smoke like a particularly scornful dragon.

"I was trying to focus on the practical.  I asked - not demanded - to know what Sara saw or read or heard that led her to suggest a permanent surrender of my mental autonomy.  She ignored me, and when called on it decided to tell me I hadn't earned it rather than address the practical issue at hand."  He glanced sideways at Charlie as he walked.  "I've saved her life.  And others.  I have given a lot of focus to ensuring that my friends-" and now the word dripped ice. "-were informed and safe.  I have even been honest about myself.  Have not earned.  Indeed?  Then we shall see what has been earned, and to each their due."  The last word was almost a quiet snarl.

They reached his car, the sleek dark shape of the Charger gleaming in the late afternoon sun as Jase finally stopped and turned, facing Charlie and meeting his eyes, his tone becoming calm once more.  "She was right about one thing.  I'm the center of no-one's universe save my own.  She meant it as a slight - but it's not, because you see I do not need to reflect the light of others.  I shine with my own light, and that is all I need to see by."  He gestured back towards the bleachers, the lock on the drivers side popping up behind him.  "Now leave me alone." he said, turning to climb into his car.

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Charlie Cole was an excellent actor. That required understanding, not simply how to emote, to bring those emotions into a fully convincing persona, but to recognize them, and recognize from people's expressions, voice, tone, and the totality of it all what might be beneath the surface. But the truth was that Jason, though a friend, had always been a hard read. Charlie had simply attributed it to Jason's extremely standoffish nature.

Hearing Jason admit he was a high-functioning sociopath had been a bit of a shock. But Charlie realized he hadn't fully understood what that meant. Difficulty with emotions perhaps. Not wanting to let this end there, Charlie semi-consciously reached out and rapped on the car. Jason whirled around, locking Charlie with his own gaze - a flash of freezing cold. And now Charlie saw.

Jason truly meant what he said. Arrogance? Extreme self-confidence and reliance? It all blended together in so potent a mixture Charlie couldn't guess where one part started and left off. Jason was brilliant. Jason was determined. Jason had psychokinetic powers. Jason didn't have shame, uncertainty or hesitation. It did remind him of the classic media portrayal of sociopaths, ala Lecter. It made you wonder why Jason bothered with their company.

Jason saw the world so differently, and Charlie was frightened, unsure of how to deal with him.

"You've earned more than enough, Jase. Safe travels." A brief pause, because there was something else there. If Bannon was a normal person, Charlie could say this with certainty. Instead this was a guess, but Charlie would go with it. "When you want to talk about what happened today, I'm here to talk."

"What happened?" Jason asked with that calm, impassive tone.

Charlie looked back at him with a sad smile. "Something happened, something that hurt you. Something that helped push you towards snapping at Sara. I don't need to read your mind to tell that."

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Those cold eyes narrowed slightly, and for a brief terrifying moment Charlie wondered if he had overstepped some mark, let on that he had seen too much.  He wondered if Sophia Fingleman would wear a low cut top and weep over his closed casket or clasp the urn with his pre-cremated ashes in it to her bosom...  And then Jason smiled.  It was a faint smile, but it reached the lanky boy's eyes.  With a faint ripple of relief, Charlie realised that the predatory stare was studying him as if seeing him anew.

Jason understood, at least on some level, what was being offered.  And though his outlook was indeed quite removed from any definition of 'normal', the odd teen did respect insight and bravery: Charlie was nervous, but had gone ahead and offered a hand of friendship anyway.  Still outwardly expressionless, apart from the faint smile and slight warming of his gaze, Jason slowly nodded to the young actor.

"Maybe I'll take you up on that sometime." he said quietly.  "Appreciated."

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Sara watched Bannon's retreating back and then Charlie's as he went after him, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath before turning back to the stares which she imagined were condemning.

"All I am saying is that these powers we have are part of us and not using them is well,  like forcing yourself to walk around blindfolded with  your arms tied. And I don't think that any of us should be judging the way someone is using their power unless they have that power as well. And even then you shouldn't.

That's all I have to say."

The rest looked at each other questions and statements forming

"What about Cook," asked Cade?

"What?"

"What about Dr. Cook? Did you read him or what ever you call it."

"Yes briefly Like I said when Sean was talking to him.

He isn't THE DOCTOR, he is  the face of the project. He doesn't really have anything to do with the science and other stuff about us. Everything is told to him via that pad he always has. He reports to Dr Ryan, that the guy who runs the hospital but he isn't THE DOCTOR either. The project is bigger than we guess there is a whole other hospital underneath the one we see. most of the people in the main hospital don't have any clue.

I was only in his mind for a few seconds before I got out. Cook has a lot of memories and some of what I saw were contradictory. different memories of the same thing. Like maybe his mind had been tampered with. By a Telepath.

By the way the project has a name ... Proteus"

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Clara had smacked her forehead with her palm so many times in her mind, a bruise was forming from sheer frustration. Snapping at Jase for being too inflexible or Marissa for being hypocritical wasn't going to help, so for today she just ignored it. "Sara, even if it's not all of us, those willing to be in a mindlink can at least help create a bit of a safety net. At the least, if I'm connected to you, I can provide a boost for you if you need to broadcast to someone that isn't in the link. I don't know if Jase is going to be up for our plan after this now, but if Etienne does check out, perhaps he could be in the link. We could get realtime updates on what Cook is doing or whatever Etienne might be able to dig up on this 'Project Proteus'."

She bit her lip, looking nervous and keyed up. "If they've also got people like us, do you think being in the link might keep people safer from being messed with by another telepath?"

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Cassandra, having watched the drama play out while feeling unsure about how to intervene...or even if she had the right to...finally piped up when Clara mentioned 'people like us.' Here was something that plugged into something else she'd seen today.

"What if it's not just people like us?" she suggested. "Scientists test these kinds of things out on animals first, right? What if there's...super...animals out there?"

At the looks she got, Cassandra scowled and looked at the sky for a second.

"Okay, let me rephrase. There are super animals out there. Me and Cade met one. I don't know if it's because of this Proteus thing though."

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"You could always-"  Charlie started, then immediately thought better of it.  No, he couldn't.

"No, I couldn't."  Jason said, as if echoing Charlie's thoughts as the smile faded from his face.  "You should probably go and find out what she's telling everyone, though if you want my advice you'll avoid asking her to repeat herself.  Or indeed to pass the salt.  No telling what'll light her fuse."

"It might be important for you too."  Charlie ventured as Jason ducked into the driver's seat of his car and glanced up at him.

"It probably is, if she read Cook's mind.  But she didn't want to tell me - she wanted to have a tedious discussion about ethical use of power first, which would have started a prolonged debate with everyone expressing their views, and I would be sitting there listening to my brain cells dying while people scored oh-so-sassy snark points against a backdrop of the philosophical equivalent of 'I like the orange crayons' filling the air before anything of real import was discussed."  He gave Charlie a narrow smile.  "I'll get the Cliff Notes assuming anyone cares to share with me.  See you tomorrow."

With that, he pulled the door closed and started up the engine.  Music roaring through the windows as the MP3 player flared to life, the Charger growled once like an angry beast before peeling out of the parking lot.

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The squeal of Bannon’s wheels as he tore out of the school parking lot signaled the end of the meeting for all intents and purposes. Sara apologized and told them she was too wound up to make the network tonight, that everyone should think about it and that she would may  do it tomorrow. One by one they started to drift away to do their own things. As Sara left the bleachers, she passed Charlie who gave her a look that she interpreted to be blaming her for Jason leaving. She shrugged lowered her head and started the long walk home.

 

Charlie

Charlie saw Lilly and was going to go ask her for a ride when a car horn sounded behind him and when he looked, he saw Sophia Fingleman in her blue ’17 mustang that her wealthy daddy had given her on her 16th birthday. “Hey! Cole! You need a ride?” She called from the rumbling car as the passenger side window slid down. With a glance Charlie could see she was alone in the car there was no sign of her sister who usually rode with the buxom red head.

Charlie knew, better but with a glance back over his shoulder to where Lilly was still talking with Clara, and with the stupid crap that just happened between his friend and Sara, he thought what the fuck.

“Sure,” He called back and jogged through the fence and got into the tight little sports car.

 

Cass and Cade

“Well that was peachy,” Said Cass as the group broke apart, “Hey Cade you still up fo going with me on my errand?”

Cade followed Sara with his eyes but Cass’s question brought his attention back to her .”Yes of course,” he said with a smile.

As they were coming down from the bleachers discussing which car to take they ran into Beth who was holding a cat in her arms. A cat that looked remarkably like the cat from lunch but the size of a house cat instead of a Doberman.

Cass and Cade looked at each other. And almost in unison “Where did you get that cat?” “Is that your cat?”

“No, mom would never allow that but isn’t she adorable? Or he, maybe,” she giggled, ”I was looking for you  to see if you wanted to go to Bunnees and saw her by your car. She was so pretty I mean look at her ears.”

It was about then she realized that she was gushing about a cat in front of Cade Alistair, and then it dawned on her that Cade and Cass had been up in the bleachers after school. Suddenly she blushed and looked down not wanting to embarrass herself further. “Or later if your busy.”

 

Marissa, Lilly and Clara

“Well that’s great,” said Clara

“What?”

“Sara and Jason were supposed to help me get the truth out of Ettie at Bunee’s this evening but doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now.”

Lilly looked off at where Sara was just now leaving the fenced in field and noticed that Marissa was texting again. “Who are you texting?

Mari looked up and was about to cut like a razor but stopped herself. “Autumn, she just texted me she was going to be late to the meeting. I told her not to bother the drama train done left the station.

We can help with the traitor creep, sorry I mean Ettie,“ she smiled like a barracuda. “What you need us to do?”

Clara considered a second then looked questioning at Lilly, her muscles would be just as good as Jason’s powers if push came to shove. “Lilly?”

Lilly nodded “Sure.”

“Good. Lets catch Sara.”

Marissa looked annoyed. “Why do we need Sara?”

Clara “To make sure he is telling the truth or to let us know if he is lying.”

“Please I can do that.”

Still they caught up with Sara before she left the school grounds and after briefly explaining the change in plans Sara nodded.

“I’ll be there, just get him there, and we will find out everything he knows.”

 

Sean and Laurie

Everything had gone by so fast. Neither of them had the time to really form a question or make a remark before everyone seemed to say fuck it and left.

Laurie looked at her big shorter brother “We are doomed.”

Sean shook his head, “It isn’t that bad,” he held up his keys, “I have a jeep we can escape in when it all goes to shit.”

The hyper intelligent brother and sister bumped shoulders and left the bleachers to go find the jeep that would save them all.

 

Bannon

Bannon stared straight ahead out the windshield as the car sped out onto the highway, music blasting wind tossing his hair from the rolled down windows, occasionally his eyes would flicker to his mirrors. It was during one of those flickers that he saw something. It wasn’t yet night so the headlights barreling up behind him wouldn’t have normally stood out but these were bright, not bright like those godforsaken blue things the assholes put on their 4X4s that blinded everyone, but bright like a flaming rocket.

He put his foot down a bit and his speed edged up, still those lights closed the distance separating them. He edged his speed up more and now he could make out the car a big black beast with eyes of fire.

The black caddy ate up the distance and seemed like it was going to slam into his rear. Jason hadn’t realized it but he was doing almost a hundred and the caddy was keeping pace easily. Suddenly it whipped into the other lane and pulled up beside him and Jason looked across at the man in black.

 

 

Spoiler

Liberties have been taken just go with it. 

 

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Jase & The Man In Black

If Jason felt any kind of shock, it didn't register in his cold green eyes as they looked across at the smirking man behind the wheel of the Hell-Cadillac, his own lips twisting in a lopsided smile.  The smooth-shaven features of the Caddy's driver were as composed as his own, the eyes every bit as cold as he inclined his head to the teen in a gesture that was somewhere between acknowledgement and challenge.  Without even seeming to hesitate, Jason mimicked the gesture, then mouthed "Love the car."  The Man In Black laughed, flashing white teeth, then inclined his head once more.  No more words needed to be exchanged, not that conversation was really possible over the roars of the engines.  Jase flicked his finger, silencing the blaring music from his MP3 player, and focused on the task at hand.

Whatever advantages the hellish vehicle and Mr Dark had, he was in no mood to be cowed, or to surrender.  Both cars were currently doing an easy hundred miles per hour down the two lane road, side by side.  Jase figured his Charger had perhaps another eighty before it ran out of horsepower, and he had no idea if Mr Dark's car even used horsepower, recalling the atomic generator small enough to fit inside a chest freezer and the nanobots Devin had been injected with.  What the fuck ever - the so-called 'team' meeting had left him in a mood to kick in the teeth of God if given a chance.

His eyes gleamed now, losing their cold luster and taking on a feral, wild balefire sheen as Jason pressed his foot down on the gas, feeling rather than hearing the roar of the Charger's V8 as the speedometer crept up past one-twenty...

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