ARC Dawn

Discussion in 'NEVER NORMAL' started by CloudyBlueDay, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. h a n g \\ d a o

    After having been pulled into the room, Hang had set up shop behind the pillar closest to Victor, a thrum of adrenaline and excitement flowing through her. It was the same shiver of a thrill she remembered feeling while on the gun range, sending small pieces of metal screaming out of a pistol, that sensation of anticipation once a challenge was presented. Her body seemed to react in kind, but this time, rather than allow her skin to get away from her, she directed it.

    She had been practicing these past few days, trying to get a handle on this odd feeling that her whole body was not just alive, but pliable, and while it took a lot more effort to change things below the skin, she found that messing with just the surface level of her body was easy enough. Victor moved the walls of the whole place, and she stumbled momentarily as she tried to keep close to cover. Her eyes glowed blue as she stared up at the jovial man on his pedestal.

    The plan was to have her keep him occupied for the time being. He was going to be the real problem, especially with such a versatile ability. It really frickin' figures, that the last guy we come up against us can smash us flat with a piece of concrete. The fact that this was just an 'exercise' made her skin crawl in a literal sense. For some reason, she got the feeling any other group would have no problem being much, much less forgiving.

    The skin around her arms, shoulders, and neck began to change, growing out into scales of keratin that quickly turned black. Organic armor spread across, her fingers artificially lengthened by claws that enclosed the entirety of each digit. She experimentally opened and closed her hands as she darted towards the pedestal that Victor happened to occupy, and without further thought, she let her body go.

    She scurried up the walls, finding it somewhat easier with claws, and she launched off immediately for the platform, clutching it with her claws and beginning a climbing lope towards the top.
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  2. Joan Ardent || Protector's Base, Poolside

    Joan crouched behind one of the walls closer to the door, clutching the megaphone tightly in one hand and the bar she had picked up in the other. Before she could formulate a plan of attack, the walls suddenly went back into the ground before being replaced by new ones. Her eyes widened, and she stumbled back into cover before casting a shocked glance Victor's direction. Shit, he's powerful. I hope you know what you're doing, Hang...

    As Hang transformed and launched herself towards Victor, Joan crouched a moment longer, trying to figure out the fastest way to get to the back of the pool while staying behind cover. Once a route was mapped out in her head, she moved, sprinting along the wall and making her way around the pool. She noted the plants in the corners of the room and allowed a faint smile to creep onto her face before turning and making her way around to the back of the pool. I can definitely use those if I need to. Maybe Victor's earth walls can even help...

    She reached the back of the pool without incident. She crouched behind a nearby earth wall--it was cover, after all--and glanced down into the pool, trying to make out what lay within. She kept the megaphone pointed at the pool, with the end of the bar hovering over the blue button, just in case.

    While the water made it difficult to make out specific details, she could see one of Koa's forcefields covering somebody with long dark hair, another person with blue hair, and several life size-dummies. A quick count revealed that there was roughly one dummy for each of them, although it was hard to tell anything exact. Joan spoke quietly and quickly into her comm, keeping the megaphone aimed at what was almost certainly Koa and Sapphire.

    "Koa and Sapphire are in the pool under a shield, maybe four dummies for hostages. Alex, can you get us through the shield, or does anybody have other ideas?"
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  3. Patrick O’Malley
    “I hate sand.”

    Burdened as both he and Evan were with Leo, Patrick had been unable to react in similar manner to Parker and Mason. But his lack of ready mobility did nothing to stem a stream of violent curses.

    “Muthafucka!” he growled through clenched teeth, his grip tightening on Leo’s wrist a bit too strongly in a fear bred by inaction. The walls. The water. Shite. They had to get out of there. Furrowing his brow, he extended a hand toward the increasingly waterlogged group, using it as a focus to summon a Gate for them to escape by. It was like searching in the dark for something that wasn’t terribly familiar, and it took a brief moment, but he felt it.

    “I’ve got a plan!” He raised his voice, trying to be heard above the cascade and managing to not hear Parker’s own cries. “Cass, ya-“

    The grinding of machinery from above cut him off, and the Irishman looked up just in time to received a torrent of sand in his face. Sputtering and blinking furiously, he stepped aside, putting Leo and himself out of immediate suffocation. He shook his head, trying to get his bearings. A spared glance showed him that no one was free of the promise of death. So. Each partition faced a threat. So much for pulling Cassia and friends to safety. His eyes shifted in a panic from one hazard to the next, mind at complete loss as to action to take.

    At least in the sand, they were beside the main door. Those under the torrent of water didn’t even have that faint hope. Two Gates popped into existence, the discs solid gold circles on opposite sides of the dividing wall. Water began to pour in, but he didn’t dare close the pathway until the others had passed through.

    “Cass! Everyone! Run! Get yer arses through!” The Gates were too big, and too much water was coming in; it was already to their ankles. Patrick shifted Leo’s arm to get a better grip, hoping he and Evan didn’t need to lift him entirely. “Hurry!

    @Shizuochan @Eru @Elle Joyner @CloudyBlueDay @rissa
    #143 Red Thunder, Feb 5, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
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  4. Hedieh Redding and Willow // A James Bond Trap
    Collab with @CloudyBlueDay

    Of all the ways to die, Hedieh was fairly certain being crushed was one of the worst. Gruesome, fast enough to incite panic but slow enough to draw it out. Horrifying, and it was happening to her now, because she decided to follow the others instead of staying put. If she had just done nothing, she might've been fine. Might've been allowed to continue to drift indefinitely, occasionally being poked at by the scientists.

    Then again, the scientists had proven they could deny them their powers. If they were truly worried about escape, they would simply close the partition and render them helpless until guards arrived. No reason to waste specimens. No reason, Hedieh told herself, attempting to shove away thoughts of casual cruelty.

    Willow could still do... portals, it looked like, and a quick test showed Hedieh that she could still turn herself intangible. Taking a deep breath, she let her hand and forearm wink out, and shoved it through the partitioning leading into the section filling with sand. To her mild surprise, it worked.

    Turning to Willow, she reached out to grab the other girl's shoulder, the hesitancy of her actions bellied by the strain in her voice and the pressure of the situation. "Listen. Get on my back, I can make the things around me intangible as well, but only to a short distance - like a little under two feet or so - so you'll have to hug yourself to me tight, okay?"

    "Are you crazy?!" Willow shouted, gaze flickering wildly around their small section of the room that only kept getting smaller, watching sand and water fill the other two. "It's not gonna work. No way. They're more careful then that, you think because you shoved your hand in everything's fine and dandy?!" She flinched at Hedieh's hand upon her shoulder, but couldn't bring herself to tear the girl away.

    "Why go through all this trouble to kill us?" Hedieh retorted, flinching almost as much as Willow did and drawing her hand back. To prove that everything was alright, Hedieh went fully intangible except for her back foot, and stepped forward through the partition.

    "H-hey!" Willow cried, watching Hedieh immerse herself in the partition that separated them, until there was nothing but her foot. Though Willow had paled (considerably more than her already porcelain skin tone) she saw that Hedieh was able to go fairly deep through, so maybe.. maybe there was hope.

    "Alright!" She called out to her. "Fine. We'll try it."

    Though Hedieh missed the start of Willow's agreement, reappearing with a pop in their shrinking partition mid-sentence, she caught enough to understand the intent. Crouching, Hedieh gestured for Willow to climb on her back. "Remember, hold tight and close. Arms and legs inside the vehicle." What? Hedieh berated herself. Why was she trying to make jokes now?

    With a look of disgust on her face, Willow slowly brought her hand's to Hedieh's shoulders and with a sharp inhale, hoisted her legs up. "Don't kill us, please." She croaked, gripping on tight as she glanced into the partition in front of them, turning her head the other way and squeezing her eyes shut.

    "Okay," Hedieh answered, and jumped through. Popping back into reality was accompanied by an uncomfortable prickling sensation, as stray particles of sand not blown back by the air displacement suddenly became stuck underneath Hedieh's skin and flesh, but nothing serious.

    Grimacing at the sensation, Hedieh let Willow down before shaking herself. Pointless, but cathartic. Hedieh's feet shifted as she surveyed their new death trap, the sand already starting to rise over her toes before she readjusted her footing. There was no way she'd be able to piggy back everyone out in time before it filled up; and that without even considering that it wouldn't be long before she'd be unable to re-enter without merging with the pile of sand rather than individual grains.

    Sloughing her way over to the door leading back to the living room, Hedieh had no choice but to try something new, and hope for the best. Leaving only her feet and head tangible - the former for keeping herself in place and the latter for breathing - Hedieh pressed herself against the door and tried to take it into her area of intangibility; hopefully creating a doorway for the others to escape through. Or at least to drain the sand. After a moment's thought, she also reached with one hand to do the same - albeit much smaller - to the partition between them and the water in the hopes that it would drain as well.
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  5. with all the grace of an angelic hairball

    a collab between @CloudyBlueDay and @Doctor Jax

    “Oh, my!” Came the excited reply from Victor as Hang shifted into a terrifying picture, watching excitedly from up on his perch. He waited, patiently, as she drove up the side of the pedestal. Perhaps even waiting too long, waiting until she nearly reached him, to jump off the platform, one foot forward, as another one shot up to greet him. This platform morphed into a slab, one that cascaded across the room, levitating mid air.

    A few other slabs pulled themselves up with a flick of his wrist, offering Hang a path to her target, inviting her along.

    The Vietnamese teenager righted herself somewhat clumsily, her claws digging into the rock as she tracked Victor. I just have to keep him occupied. Those losers better not screw this up. My tracksuit’s ruined, and it better not be for nothing.

    However, she hesitated at the sight of the path of platforms in the air, her eyes squinting suspiciously. With a leap, she headed straight for one anyway, her shoes half-torn-apart as her claws sheathed her feet as well as her hands.

    “I fear you might get a bit tired from this.” Victor called, pulling the floating slab that he rested upon far away from the next, one that would give her a hell of a jump to reach for. “But, you’re hoping I’ll get tired too, no?”

    His platform swiveled tauntingly in the air, begging her to come forward. “You did good, having Silas keep them in. They won’t stay like that long.”

    “Can it,” Hang growled, eying the gap between her and Victor. Too far - he’ll just yank it back, she thought, with a corresponding mental image of him laughing politely, moving the platform at the last minute as if he were Lucy with the proverbial football. How could she close the gap without taking on air--

    Her eyes glanced upwards.

    Oh yes.

    Backing up and tensing her legs, she jumped - and twisted parallel to the ceiling only six feet above her, digging in both hands and feet into the concrete to propel her forward towards Victor.

    He was fully ready for another jump, to pull away and to catch her on another slab, just to avoid an untimely descent. Things like these were simple for him.. simple, but not without a cost. He would play with her long enough to make her feel accomplished, and then..

    And then she clung to the ceiling, the first look of raw surprise on Victor’s face, instantly pushing his slab back as she tore up the concrete on the ceiling beneath her. Astounding. In such a short time she had learned quite a lot, and he beamed at the prospect. Such were the wonders of a training exercise!

    “What are you going to do if you catch me?” He proposed, keeping a steady distance.

    Hang faltered momentarily, stuck to the ceiling. Hell, that’s a good point.

    Realizing she was losing traction, she quickly scurried across until she was close enough to jump, pushing off the ceiling with a final leap.

    And she would land, perfectly. Victor extended the slab to make it roomier for the both of them, providing ample room to fall, even if she didn’t do it right. And so, Victor sat cross legged, elbow on his knee and chin in his hand, staring at her with a small smile.

    “Congrats?” He spoke. It did not feel like a congratulation at all.

    Hang stood from her three-point-landing with the languidity of a feral cat. No. Too easy. She stood to her full height - a not-too-intimidating 5’4” - and twitched her hands experimentally, the scaled claws on her hands clacking. What is he waiting for?! He’s letting me win at this point. No fact could get under her skin more than someone throwing her a bone. She waited, drumming her fingers.

    After a little bit, Victor folded his hands in his lap. “I’ve got nothing else for you,” He hummed. “It’s not worth my effort if you’re not stealing the hostages. So we can sit it out, if you like.” His smile was ever present, but it seemed relaxed. “How’s your day been?”

    Hang’s expression very suddenly turned to one of almost naive confusion. She glanced left, then right. Is… is this happening right now? She snorted, the scales on her hands and feet rattling with discontent. Yet, her job was to keep Victor busy.

    Screw it.

    “Could be better,” Hang muttered, rolling her shoulders and looking down into the pool. “I did nearly get poisoned.”

    “Ah, Casey.” He said apologetically. “Quite volatile. Don’t worry. If you had, it wouldn’tve lasted long.” He said gently. “We’ve all got to play to win, no?”

    Hang stared at Victor sidelong, still obviously suspicious. During her time with the Protectors, she’d been standoffish, but almost skittishly so, like a beaten cat suddenly finding itself in a warm, safe place with food and others to socialize with.

    “What’s this really about?” Hang muttered. “What’s your game?”

    All her life, it’d been shoot-to-kill. The world was dog-eat-dog. Mercy… leniency… those did not exist in Hang’s universe.

    He scratched his chin curiously. “What’s what really about?” He echoed. “Just this exercise? Oh, I don’t know. I’m winging it.”

    “I thought you all said the world out there was kill or be killed?” Hang scoffed, fists balled up as well as she could manage with her scaled hands. “You’re all giddy we managed to get in, you’re all sunshine that I got up here - what the hell is your deal?”

    Her voice nearly squeaked in exasperation.

    “Is this a joke? Is that it?”

    “Out there it is.” He said, tone a little bit more serious. “Kill or be killed. In here..” He sighed, taking a pause before beginning. “We’re trying not to make it too dreary before it has to be.” He finally started. “Powers aren’t all bad. We can do marvelous things. But the world isn’t ready.. people are scared. And when people are scared, they hate. They fight. They deny.” He shrugged. “Darius and I worked hard to make this place. We’re a family. And everyone else, every other meta, is our family too. I’m trying to have fun. I’m not joking, but there’s a joke in it all. That we got these powers.. and we have to stay underground to use them.”

    Hang flinched, and the entirety of her body seemed to ripple at the word “family.” They… they’re our… family. Her jaw tensed as her eyes widened, every inch of exposed skin bristling with spines. Without a word, she fled past Victor, dashing past him and down to the ground beneath, stumbling momentarily as she skidded back under cover to try and find the others.

    What the hell even is family?

    #145 Doctor Jax, Feb 6, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2018
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  6. Alex Summers - Protector's Base

    Alex watched Hang’s fighting for all of three seconds before returning his focus to the task at hand. There were fake hostages to save. “…ugh, why did they have to be in the pool,” he thought with a groan, prepared to run out and dive in when he heard Joan’s warning.

    “Oh great. Sure. A shield and…whatever Sapphire does while underwater. That’ll be easy to take care of,” he grumbled, leaning against a wall as he thought of a plan. “Okay. A megaphone, water to make it annoying, plants, smoke, me…” he mumbled, rubbing his forehead.

    “I can take maybe one other person into the shield at a time; if we could knock out Koa, I think things would go a lot more swimmingly for us, but…that'll be tough,” he said into their comms. “…how they got an air bubble down there and haven’t suffocated to death yet is beyond me though,” he grumbled. “I’d also be leaving whoever gets stuck down there alone to deal with two people.”

    “I think I should take Austin down. Make a smoke screen in the bubble shield while I grab a hostage or two. Or as many as I can. Sound good?”
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  7. Interim
    As soon as Alex dropped Austin off on the other side of the doorway, the palpable tension he felt inside the gym room seemed to wither away. The imminence of whatever resolution--good or ill--that they were about to meet contributed a clarity to his thought-process that hadn't been there before. Indeed, the moment his feet solidified upon the ground, Austin began to scurry from wall to wall, capitalizing on Hang's quick assault on Victor's senses to cover as much ground as possible.

    Austin came to a sliding halt behind one of the stone walls, and hurriedly pressed his body against it. The pool was close enough, and he knew that at least Koa was probably beneath the surface. Though he was no expert on stealth maneuvers, Austin had done his best to traverse the room quietly and covertly lest he run into Sapphire. It wasn't until Joan came over the comms, and identified Sapphire in the pool, that Austin began to relax. For a couple seconds, he hefted the medicine ball back and forth in his grip, and tried his best to steady his breathing.

    So long as Victor was occupied, it meant that the ground crew had time they needed to prepare their assault. Austin was reassured by this thought, and was preparing to advance further on the pool when he decided to check one last time on what was going on above.

    With a deep breath, he peeked over the side of his wall, and was stunned to see Hang retreating back to the pool room floor.

    Why is she not...?

    Austin's train of thought was interrupted by Alex, and though his eyes remained glued to the sight of Hang's bestial form slinking away from what he had anticipated to be the biggest fight of the exercise, the boy still managed to catch the jist of Alex's proposed plan.

    “I can take maybe one other person into the shield at a time; if we could knock out Koa, I think things would go a lot more swimmingly for us, but…that'll be tough,”

    Incredulous, Austin began to snicker into the crook of his arm. The thought of any of them clocking Koa over the head was so ridiculous it was funny. Of course, Austin didn't have anything better. In fact, where the thought of knocking someone out would've been inconceivable to him a week ago, it seemed totally obvious in a training exercise riddled with goat monsters and poison gas.

    Still don't know how the hell we'll manage it, though.

    “…how they got an air bubble down there and haven’t suffocated to death yet is beyond me though. I’d also be leaving whoever gets stuck down there alone to deal with two people.”

    For a brief second, Austin felt discombobulated; Alex's words had given him an answer, but the thought of carrying it out was totally undesirable in any sense of the word. Once again, a fear began to grip his senses, and the clarity of before was lost. His grip on the weighted ball in his hands tightened, and under his breath he began to whisper prayers of exemption despite knowing what he had to do.

    “I think I should take Austin down. Make a smoke screen in the bubble shield while I grab a hostage or two. Or as many as I can. Sound good?”


    Once again, Austin tried to take a deep breath, though it came out shaky and belabored. Unable to contain himself, he began to fidget with the ball in his hands, his eyes flickering to each side of the wall as if expecting Victor--or anyone--to intervene.

    "O-Okay. Yeah, definitely. I-I think, um, that-that's the best move." Austin pinched his nose-bridge with one hand while holding the his comm piece to his ear with the other. "F-forget just a smokescreen. I, uh, probably--maybe--can smoke them out." Austin rolled his shoulders as he spoke, and began to rock back and forth on his heels. There was no time left to waste cowering behind a wall, and he knew it, but the thought of trying to fight two people at once was scary enough without the threat of having to do it underwater.

    No time for second thoughts. Got to finish somehow.

    Austin paused to steady his voice some, before once again speaking over the ear-piece.

    "It's, ah, like you said. Probably not a whole lotta' air down there, and if we wouldn't have to rely on Alex so much if we can get Koa to drop it," The thought still seemed unlikely to him, but marginally less so when compared to a brute force approach. "I'll be poolside in a sec."

    With one last deep breath, Austin pushed off the back of the wall and began to sprint towards the water's edge. As he ran, he dropped the medicine ball behind him, and immediately missed the comfort of having something solid to hold onto. Nonetheless, with Victor no longer pre-occupied, the last thing Austin wanted was to be slowed down. Five feet or so from the pool, he crouched down and waited for Alex to approach all the while trying to ignore the hammering in his chest.
  8. Cassia Muninn - Front Stroke, Back Stroke, Butterfly

    Did the water really have to be so cold?

    Cassia could feel her own teeth chatter, and the stabbing cold ache coursing throughout her body. A bitter, bitter chill - a nice, mild lukewarm would have drowned them just fine - that stopped at about her right arm. Her right arm was warm. A small portion of water churned and bubbled around it, idle water particles roused into a tantrum. All around her, she could feel those specks colliding, bounding off one another, motes relentlessly searching and attacking each other in true mosh-pit fashion.

    Like sticking one’s hand in a vat of fizzy lifting drink. Why do I remember that?

    Finding that her eyes had drifted and clung to the bubbling mass, she refocused her gaze upon the partition. Hedieh had made her way across, the girl with the lovely hair in tow. Two golden gates had also materialized, leading from sand to water and back again. And with them, she felt herself losing touch on the bounding, dashing particles, pulled away as if by some vacuumous force.

    She visualized a water balloon, nestled snugly, malleable form pulsing between her palms. She imagined it bursting, its contents escaping from between her fingers, lost. Understanding flickered amidst the overwhelming cold.

    “... K-Kota, g-go through.” The incessant chattering of teeth made speech a surprisingly difficult endeavor, “And ye-you…”

    She turned her head ever so slightly to address Crow. Heavens, make sure she doesn’t take this the wrong way.

    “P-please stay, hold me a bit. ‘m Cold. But have idea.”

    And finally, towards her favorite (possibly? Most likely.) Irish boy across the glass. The gates were incredibly useful, although they doubled the intake of matter - sand, water alike - into the second calamitous section of room. How long could Patrick keep them going? Would they even be able to get out? The sand would thicken into some unholy gruel, undraining and… What a harrowing thought.

    “P-Pat!” She preferred ‘Patrick’, in all honesty, but the cold rendered two syllable words a luxury. “If you close them, I can break…”
    #148 Shizuochan, Feb 9, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
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  9. .
    So much happened in the span of those few seconds. From the heavens opening a torrent upon their partition, to the golden-gate bridge between the others. Dakota fought the urge to fall to pieces, concentrating on her breathing, concentrating on anything but the freezing cold water, rising higher and higher. She was by no means tall, and the ticking clock sounded largely like her own pulse, pounding in her head.

    In the other partition, Patrick called for them to run through, and behind her, she could hear Cassia echoing the instructions, asking Crow to stay behind. Tears still streaming, mingling with the icy water, she looked the girls, shivering, lip trembling as she shook her head, "I c...can't leave you..." If anything went wrong... if Cassia couldn't break through, then she and Crow would be trapped. Could Patrick open another gate? Would there be too much water?

    No. No. No. NO!

    Crow bobbled within the water, alternating her wild gaze between Mason and Dakota. Eyes flickered amethyst continuously as she struggled to remain calm, to remain neutral... Her heart raced and her teeth chattered from that first downpour of freezing water.

    "You have to go," Crow urged, crossing the short distance that separated her from Dakota. "You have to go!"

    Looking up, Dakota shook her head, shook it with authority, with determination, despite being beared down on by the much taller girl. The tears burned her frozen skin, but she ignored the stinging as she gestured to Cassia, "I can't leave you two! What if... what if something happens?? What if something goes wrong??"

    Taking a step forward, Crow's anger rose ever slightly and she pointed a finger at Dakota before speaking through chattering teeth. "Something will always go wrong, Dakota, it's how we work through the mess that matters.

    "Now go," Pushing the smaller girl slightly, Crow was momentarily stunned how quickly her suit 'field began extending to Dakota upon her touch. Rejuvenated and with a sense of purpose, she grabbed Dakota by the shoulders and stared into her light blue eyes. "Dakota, do everything you can to protect Mason. Go! I don't know how long Patrick can keep those gates of his open!"


    Her eyes flickered, just for a second to the gate, to the partition behind, and her lip quivered as she considered the choice... No matter where she was, she left someone behind, "But if you can't get out, Crow... I promised. I promised I'd find a way to get you out!"

    And I promised myself I'd never be back here...

    "Not all promises are meant to be kept, Kota..."

    It broke her heart, knowing what she had to do -- to protect Mason, to protect Kota from herself... Resolute, eyes glowing amethyst without hesitation, Crow reached down and threw her arms around Dakota, whispering a frantic plea before she pulled away. Tapping into her telekinesis, she shoved Dakota bodily through the gate, hoping her power helped cushion the fall.

    Wiping away a stray tear and inhaling sharply, her eyes returning to their constant flux in glowing, Crow frowned over at Cassia, desperately trying to remain in control of her emotions. "Now what?"
    TAGS: Collab with Rissa || @rissa, @CloudyBlueDay, @Shizuochan, @Red Thunder, @Everyone
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  10. Evan // Dry
    For but a minute, they had seemed to have a chance at escape. But now, the despair came crashing down again, just like the sand and water that now was pouring from someplace high above upon Evan and the others, trapped in what might soon become Davy Jones' cupboard.

    The weight of Leo began to drag down, too, but Evan fought the drain upon his stamina, both physical and mental. Everyone else was fighting to stay alive. It was the right thing to do, of course. Nobody would want to die here. Nobody would want to give those wretched labcoats the satisfaction.

    There was a scuffle, an exchange of words that for Evan passed by in a blur as he tried again to summon the energy to revive the still unconscious Leo. As before, it did not appear to have any effect on the boy, and Evan ceased trying after a moment's inspection. That had been long enough for Patrick's power to emanate, it seemed - glowing circles now joined their compartment with another's, and Patrick was calling for the others to escape. Escape... but to where? Inside, Aaron likely still lay in wait. Outside... to freedom?

    Evan could do nothing but once again grip Leo tighter.
    #150 Eru, Feb 12, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  11. h a n g \\ d a o

    On top of another wall near the pool, Hang carefully paced, wobbling ever so slightly while she kept her eyes on the man atop the platform above her. She felt that beast - the raging, silent killer - scratch at her spine, a cat on a stair banister. Frustration raged like a rash across her skin, and the more she thought about his words, the more her skin seemed to skitter with flashes of bright, toxic colors: poison-arrow-frog-blue, pit-viper-green, Japanese-hornet-orange.


    It tasted sickeningly sweet, like fruit that had gone bad.

    “I can take maybe one other person into the shield at a time; if we could knock out Koa, I think things would go a lot more swimmingly for us, but…that'll be tough," she heard Alex say through the comms. For a moment, Hang felt an unexplainable bout of irritation, her skin seeming to explode into raging static black-and-white, the pattern shuddering and frantic.

    A pause, long enough for Hang to reel back into the fight, her eyes still on Victor.

    "…How they got an air bubble down there and haven’t suffocated to death yet is beyond me though,” he grumbled. “I’d also be leaving whoever gets stuck down there alone to deal with two people. I think I should take Austin down. Make a smoke screen in the bubble shield while I grab a hostage or two. Or as many as I can. Sound good?”

    "O-Okay. Yeah, definitely. I-I think, um, that-that's the best move. It's, ah, like you said. Probably not a whole lotta' air down there, and if we wouldn't have to rely on Alex so much if we can get Koa to drop it. I'll be poolside in a sec."

    The kid in the hoodie, the living smokescreen, useless for nearly everything, by personality if not by power. She rolled her shoulders, cracking her neck. His stammering voice made her toes dig into the earthen wall under her. But he's family, Hang, an incessant, mocking inner voice whined. A freak like you.

    She watched him from her perch run towards the pool, dropping his safety blanket - a stupid medicine ball, like he'd have the strength to chuck it at anyone - and he waited there for Alex. Hang impatiently twitched her toes through her shoes, the wait stinging her, her thoughts an endless chorus.

    I'm not their family.

    "What the hell are you waiting for?" Hang snarled into her mike. "Jump already."

    @Sairento @Radio Jelly @Joan @CloudyBlueDay
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    As Hang skittered away, Victor sighed and scratched his chin once more. Was it something I said? He almost called after her, standing up on his platform and peering down below him. Of course it was something you said. He shook his head. Exactly what, he wasn’t sure. But Hang seemed someone who needed a little bit of prodding before she revealed her true self. Victor found it reminded him of his own teenage years. He and Darius.. Had certainly been a little bit lost. Victor moreso.

    “You’re about to be smoked, Koa.” He hummed into his earpiece. “They know Saph’s in there with you.”

    “Ah, shit.” Growled Koa. “Saph, couldn’t you have ducked down like I asked? Changed your hair color or somethin’?” Sapphire rolled her eyes, readying a baton that extended to the height of a staff. “Listen, if I had a choice in the matter of my hair color you know it wouldn’t be fucking teal.”

    Standing up against the pile of life sized dummies, Sapphire watched through the blurred view from the dome as they all began to peer down at them. She snorted. They would need a little bit more training on acting quickly. Peering in on their hostages wouldn’t do any good.

    “Alright, Koa. Lemme out.”


    “We need more popcorn, Darius!”

    On a plush couch positioned in front of a TV in Darius’s office, Ayla, Basil, and Darius sat watching the show. They was a camera in every room, displayed on the monitor. Ayla and Basil sat cozied together on one end of the couch with Darius poised at the other, all three watching with a different type of intent.

    “You’re both far too into this. May I remind you it’s not a TV show, but your teammates?”

    Basil rolled her eyes and blew a lock of pink hair out of her face. “You know how to make it yourself, Bas.” Came Ayla’s quiet voice, who was also not going to admit that she knew Basil had eaten the whole thing herself.

    Grumbling, Basil pushed herself up off the couch with the bowl in hand. Darius glanced over at Ayla. “You two should really consider participating in one of our practice missions these days. Even if you aren’t on the field it’s important to know how to defend yourself.”

    Ayla narrowed her eyes at Darius. She was a tiny little thing, and they both knew she had absolutely zero physical strength. Her silence seemed an answer enough for the man, and he shrugged. “Fine. I implore you to try and convince Basil.”

    “Convince me of what?!” Came the girl’s shout as she strode back from the microwave. Darius chuckled. “And didn’t I tell you to keep all the devices you left out mildly powerful?” She smirked.

    “The megaphones got two options.” Came her retort.

    “Two very powerful options.”

    “Too late.” She said as she flopped back on the couch beside Ayla, who’s golden eyes suddenly grew brighter. Brighter until the shimmering color enveloped the entirety of her sclera, and she sat up shock straight with frozen words on her lips.

    Water poured in from the ceiling, splashing upon terrified faces, bodies clad in hospital attire. Rows upon rows of cells, cells much to big for an animal. Cells she knew. Three clear partitions, water sloshing against it. A girl with dark hair willing with all her might, the pressure increasing, and glass shattering.

    “She’s having a vision.” Basil whispered. “Do we stop the exercise?”

    A cold room with warm furniture. A familiar freckled face with long red hair, straighter than her own. A glimmering purple void.

    Darius sat still, watching Ayla’s face as his own contorted into worry. “It’s a long one.” He murmured, waiting for her to be brought out of the spell.

    Expressionless men dressed in white coats watching from behind a control panel, pressing buttons to make them suffer. Their expressions turned to shock as she could hear the shattering in the distance.

    It took nearly a minute of painstaking silence between the three of them when Ayla suddenly gasped for air and her eyes returned to normal.

    “I know where Willow is,” She croaked. “I saw an SPME base -- there’s people escaping. We have to help.”

    Darius stood up with purpose, striding over to a button covered in glass casing near his desk. Flipping the casing open, he smashed the button.


    With a nod, Koa raised her hand. The edge of her forcefield began to diminish, and passed through Sapphire, quickly exposing her to the cold pool water. The pool wasn’t very deep and she swam up on a matter of seconds, pulling herself onto the very top part of the forcefield. Standing on it like a little island, wiping her wet hair out of her face, she stared at the team before her, staff pointed towards them.

    But before she could declare war, the lights in the room suddenly turned red, and a siren blared. Sapphire’s posture deflated and she spat out water. “Oh, come on.” She hissed.

    In the kitchen, upon hearing the wailing sirens and the lighting change, Silas returned to his human form, and once he had done so, as did Christina. He immediately unlocked the door, finding Casey slowly pulling herself up off the ground and Archer cradling his head. Silas and Jace shared a worried glance.

    “Exercise is over,” Came Silas’s voice over the comms. “Head back to Darius’s office.”


    @Red Thunder @HerziQuerzi @Shizuochan @Elle Joyner @rissa @Eru @DrJax @Radio Jelly @Sairento @Joan

    oh my french fry
    spme: keEP FIGHTING
    protectors: REPORT TO THE OFFICE
    #152 CloudyBlueDay, Feb 17, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    • Love Love x 2
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1
  13. break the wall down.//

    @Shizuochan and @rissa

    Really, ladies? Does no one else think time is of the essence?

    “R-right,” Cassia drew in a breath of relief, grateful for the respite from all the sentimentality, “I think I know how to break all this… how to, how to explain it - h-heavens, never got past high school… I figured something out, about my power. All the… all the energy in water, like little particles, moving. S-sometimes, I can make them furious, crashing into one another - like a metal concert…

    I think the trick is, trick is to… make the area small, or push them outwards and then, we can break this whole thing.”

    Frowning as Cassia explained how her power worked, Crow glanced between the dancing water at the girls fingertips and the reinforced glass partition that separated them from the rest of the group. How many of them, like Cassia, had experienced high school? Or a metal concert? Crow hadn’t the luxury. Stuck behind reinforced concrete walls for half of her life… But she had escaped once and maybe with the help of others, she could finally free herself of the SPME.

    Crow swallowed back her fear, set her jaw and nodded, forcing herself not to look over at Mason.

    “I-is there anything I can do to help you?” Crow frowned once again, sparing a moment to hold up her hand, watching curiously as she balled it into a fist. “I can p-probably wrap a ‘field around my fist and help break the glass…”

    “Y-yeah… yes, yes, I think so.” Cassia allowed herself a slight smile, appreciating the tricks their captors played; the illusion of agency. Then, she set upon the work at hand:

    The assembly of water quaked and vibrated as Cassia willed the particles forward into the partition, like the phalanx crashing into its foes. The trembling onslaught gurgled, sweltering, bubbling against the surface of the glass wall.

    She could almost feel it -- the turbulent energy Cassia willed into existence. It made her bones want to quiver, her psyche want to scream… Inhaling deeply, eyes glowing amethyst, Crow forced her ‘field away from her lower extremities, allowing toes and ankles to succumb to the ice cold water. Slowly, as if the ‘field was fighting against her will, Crow molded it around her right arm and without hesitation, struck the glass partition.

    Smirking, relishing the physicality of the action, took a step back and motioned for Cassia to go next. “Give it your best.”

    “M-maybe I half-ass it and let you do the heavy-lifting,” There was no malice to the statement, facetious as it was; Cassia almost beamed at Crow. This was invigorating. “H-heavens, sarcasm. Lowest form of… sorry.”

    A wave rose from beneath the surface to make up for her transgressions, crashing upon the partition with reckless abandon. Not nearly enough, considering everyone was still drowning - be it sand or water - but better. Closer.

    Heh.” Shivering from both adrenaline and the lingering chill of the water, Crow took a step forward and felt brave enough to look beyond the glass partition, to Mason, Dakota, and the others. She wished she could call to them, tell them to shield their eyes, but between the thundering waves and the partition itself, her cries would likely go unheard.

    So she took another deep breath and pictured the face of Doctor Henderson on the glass partition. Felt the rage tumble around inside her. Her emotions mimicked Cassia’s turbulent energy and this time, when her ‘field enforced fist made contact, a small but brilliant web formed upon impact.

    “Yes!” Cassia shouted in spite of herself.

    Another wave, a roaring mass pounding against the fractal fissures.

    The water was nearabouts their chest now, and this fact empowered Cassia. All that energy, all those frenzied motes, dying to escape. “M-more, more!”

    The higher the water became, the more uncontrollable Crow’s powers became. Perhaps that’s what they wanted-- to see her hurt everyone she’d come to care for since her departure… Inhaling too quickly and feeling guilty for enjoying the thrill of the violent energy surrounding her, Crow nodded and struck at the glass once again, furthering the fractures in the glass partition.

    She waved her arms then, trying to get someone’s attention. Mimicking covering her face, she pointed to those beyond and repeated the action twice more. Over the crashing water, Crow half-swam-half walked over to Cassia, ready to shield her once the glass broke.

    “Break this bitch apart, Cassia.”

    “God bless.”

    Cassia obliged, and she pushed. One final torrent clashing against the mosaic of fractures, its guttural growl like the terrible revolutions of a chainsaw. A legion crashing down upon the walls,

    until it shattered.
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 3
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  14. Alex Summers - Protector's Base

    Alex was juuuust about to run out and tackle Austin into the pool when Sapphire popped out, and would've changed his plan to try trap her in one of the adjacent room (not a bad impulse idea. Except that Victor could probably just. Shift the walls down again to let her out) when the red lights went off, and grumbled as he stepped out from behind the wall. "What's going on," Alex shouted, watching Victor drop the walls back to the ground. The exercise was definitely over.

    Wiping invisible dust off himself, he sighed before making his way out, being the closest to the door because he'd been staying back and out of the fight. Were they stopped because they were inevitably going to lose? Who's judgement would that be then? "Probably Darius," he grumbled. "Friggin think we can't do it."

    Although, the red blaring lights would've been over the top if that were the case. So maybe not that. Still. It wasn't a kind interruption to the exercise. Oh, how he would've loved to just take the Protectors down a few pegs by kicking their ass…really just Archer. Revenge for his phone and all.

    Coming to Darius's room, he sighed, grumbling and knocking a few times before opening the door. "Pardon the intrusion," he called, before finding a spot on the wall to stand, lean and sulk.
    #154 Sairento, Feb 18, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  15. h a n g \\ d a o

    The Vietnamese girl watched as Sapphire jumped out of the pool, her body wound up to spring on top of the teal-haired teenager, when the lights flashed red. Her eyebrows cinched together as she stared at her compatriots and those in the pool, realizing that the exercise - for whatever reason - was now over.

    You have to be kidding me.

    All that work, just so they could yank a win right out from under them. What, did they do too well? Were they getting to close to embarrassing this little group of wannabe vigilantes? Victors words - that he'd been trying to make this fun - stung her mind as she wondered if they'd either deliberately held back because they were 'new', or they were ending it because they'd realized they had held back too much.

    Hang dropped down and followed in Alex's footsteps towards the office, working slowly and deliberately to work her skin back into a more human shape, sometimes going so far as to wipe with the scaly palm of her hand against her skin and visualizing it 'returning' to normal. The keratin was harder. It wouldn't just sink back into her skin. As she walked down the hall, she peeled the layers off, revealing new and unsettlingly pink skin underneath, raw as if she'd undergone a microdermabrasion. By the time she reached the office, she'd only managed to peel off the scales to the middle of her forearm.

    "What's this about?" Hang demanded as she stood beside Alex to sulk along with him, flinging scale shavings onto the floor carelessly.
    • Love Love x 3
  16. Patrick O’Malley

    There was a lot of damn water. At any one moment, the amount of it took a toll on his mind. It was as if Patrick was bearing the actual weight of the water that passed through from moment to moment, and it was exhausting. He was strong, to be sure; years of a rough life and hard training in rugby had guaranteed that. But no one was meant to carry unending gallons of deluge. And paired with the partial weight of Leo on his shoulders, it was all he could manage to keep everything together, to keep from dropping these two very important burdens. Already a stabbing headache was blossoming in his brain.

    “P-Pat!” Cassia’s voice managed to siphon through the Gate, full of desperation. “If you close them, I can break…”

    Oh hell no.

    “Don’t yah dare, Cass! You stay put, I’ll jes’ come through and carry yah out meself!” Though how the hell he intended to do that with Leo and Evan in tow was beyond him at the moment. “I swear, yah better move yer ass, or-“

    A form fell through the Gate, into the sand pit with him and the others. Dakota, if he remembered. Not that there was much brain power to devote to it. When the girl came through, the mental strain, the mental weight was too much. Something had to drop; something had to go. On either side of the translucent partition, the golden Gates winked out of existence, cutting off the water’s path. Cutting off Cassia’s path.


    “Cassia!” No. It couldn’t end this way. She couldn’t die this way, surrounded by the very thing she was supposed to be able to control.

    It didn’t look like she would. A spiderweb of cracks splinter across the partition before it fractured into millions of pieces, toward them. Yelling in surprise, Paddy turned to put his and his companion’s backs against the incoming shards. And against the torrent of water that now mixed with the piling sand.
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  17. Joan Ardent || Protector's Base, Darius' Office

    Joan watched the proceedings unfold, unsure what she could contribute to the plan other than the brief moment of intel. She noted Hang leaping down, leaving Darius unoccupied, and resolved that if nothing else, she would be ready to use the megaphone and nearby plants to fend off attacks. Alex and Austin planned quickly, but it wasn't quickly enough--as they concluded their discussion, she noticed the forcefield shrinking.

    As Sapphire rose from the water, Joan tightened her grip on the megaphone, preparing to press the button with the rod in her hand. Before anybody could make a move, however, red lights flashed and a siren made her wince. Moments later, Silas's voice came over the comms, saying the exercise was over.

    The hell...? She could see Sapphire's angry face, Victor dropping earthen walls, Alex and Hang stomping off. For a moment she stood there, stunned. Why would it be stopped? And why this drastic? Earlier, he just sent an announcement over the speakers...couldn't he just do that if he wanted it to stop?

    Unless...unless this isn't that simple.

    She moved, slowly at first, but quickly breaking into a jog. She didn't bother to drop the bar and megaphone, and, in fact, seemingly forgot she was holding on to them until reaching the door. She reached for the knob, blinked and paused when she saw the bar in her hand, and was about to tuck it under her arm when Alex opened the door. Oh. That works.

    She slid into the room, glancing worriedly at Darius. "Something's wrong, isn't it? There's no reason for sirens and the like otherwise...right?"

    Victor had returned the pool room to normal as Sapphire had wrung as much water out of her hair as possible. The trip back to Darius’s office was a sullen one (with no one being angrier than our wetheaded friend) but there was some sort of despair shared between Makoa and Victor.

    Ayla was frantically scribbling on a notepad as they walked in, jotting down every possible detail of the vision, Basil standing over her nervously. Darius had a large piece of paper pulled out on his desk, marking and note taking while nervously biting his lip.

    "Something's wrong, isn't it? There's no reason for sirens and the like otherwise...right?" Darius shook his head as if in disgrace. Victor moved towards his side. “I’m desperately sorry to have interrupted your exercise. Ayla’s had a vision, of an SPME base. She saw people trying to escape, including one of our own members. There’s no time to waste - we have to help them.”

    Silas and his capturees trudged in, Archer leaning onto the tall man’s shoulder for support. After a very casual middle finger from Casey towards Alex, she took her own spot in the corner.

    Darius looked nervously at Archer. “Is he alright?”

    Archer scowled, lifting a finger towards Alex, who continued to be the subject of certain hatred. “Blasted a door at us.”

    “Well, get over it. Take Basil to the jet.”

    Darius shook his head and returned to the paper on the desk.

    “Here’s what we know. Ayla saw it in the Arizona desert- she caught a glimpse of a road sign. We can’t pinpoint the exact location but with our jet we can hopefully find them in time to help, and Ayla’s visions usually come with time before the event happens. We’ll have to work quickly.. but taking on a full SPME base? This can. Not. Be. Mishandled.”

    “I know this is sudden.. But we need all hands on deck. Everyone we can get. I-I.. I won’t force you. It’ll be dangerous. But this’ll be the best opportunity I can offer for you to see what we really do.. And to see the horrors of those who want to extort us.”

    @Doctor Jax @Radio Jelly @Sairento @Joan


    As the glass spiderwebbed and shattered, caving in upon those in the sand, Mason ducked under his arm, shielding his eyes from the little shards of glass. The lights blinked, and the sand and water dispensers sputtered until they came to a complete stop. Sand and water pulled at their feet, but there came a strange silence.

    Somehow, it was over.

    “We have to get out of here!” Mason yelled. “This is our chance!”

    Most were hopefully unharmed due to Patrick’s heroic move, but towards the corner Willow crumpled, a red stain blossoming across her hospital gown, a large shard of glass embedded in her stomach. Her knees buckled and she grabbed onto Hedieh for support, suppressing a gasp of pain, eyes fluttering.

    Past the wall, furthest from where they had come in, SPME scientists in their comfy lab chairs froze in shock. All systems had shut off -- Cassia’s act had rendered their experiment useless. Their defenses were down.

    “What the hell are you doing?” A higher ranking one cried. “Get it back on! GET IT BACK ON!”

    Meanwhile, the one person who stayed in the furnished room took his chance. Just before the chaos ended Aaron woke, to most everyone’s shagrin, and saw Hedieh opening his path. Eyes turning black once more, Aaron charged through, making a large presence despite his frail stature. He spared not a glance to any of his cell mates, heading straight for the opposite wall, his shadowy tendrils following after him.

    “I can sense their darkness.” Aaron hissed, and the shadows rose, and began to bash against the wall, carving the metal out, willing it to break.

    @Red Thunder @HerziQuerzi @Shizuochan @Elle Joyner @rissa @Eru

    Protectors: Are you going to help?
    SPME: This may be the one time you want to follow shadowman
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  19. Austin

    The sudden and abrupt halt to their training came as something of a miracle for Austin, who had been rethinking the decision to confront the girls head on. At first, he thought it was part of the training, but from the sour look on Sapphire's face, and the slow shifting of Victor's makeshift barriers, he deduced the truth of the matter.

    It's over? Thank god. We were totally screwed.

    Austin took a deep, relieved breath at Silas's confirmation of the situation, before lazily following after the rest of his peers. Though he was curious as to why they had been interrupted, he was far more inclined to just revel in the few moments of peace that Darius's intervention had brought him. After all, he was pretty sure that whatever Darius needed the Protectors for, it would probably exclude the novice trainees.

    It didn't seem like Austin's peers shared his relief: Hang and Alex looked pissed off more than anything else by the interruption, and even Joan was in a hurry to reach Darius's office. Feeling left out--and more than a little embarrassed to be the only one on his team happy for the break--Austin eventually, and reluctantly, picked up his own pace to match that of the rest of his crew.

    The scene inside of Darius's office was more disconcerting than Austin was hoping for: Ayla's manic note-taking and Basil's stricken expression answered for Austin Joan's question before Darius began to speak. Something about little Ayla's precognition had continued to unnerve Austin over the course of the week, try as he did to get over it. The power itself seemed like a curse, and though she creeped Austin out, he did feel pity for Ayla's predicament.

    And then there's those eyes...

    Austin continued to absentmindedly stare at the frail girl for a moment while lost in thought, before realizing that Darius had begun to speak. With a small shake of his head, he refocused on the lead protector, though he very quickly wished he had not.

    "--Ayla saw it in the Arizona desert- she caught a glimpse of a road sign. We can’t pinpoint the exact location but with our jet we can hopefully find them in time to help, and Ayla’s visions usually come with time before the event happens. We’ll have to work quickly.. but taking on a full SPME base? This can. Not. Be. Mishandled.”

    "I-I'm sorry, what?"

    Austin scanned the faces of the other new members for any sign of resistance, before taking several painstaking steps towards the desk. Despite a tightness in his throat, he found himself unable to keep quiet.

    "We-we've had, like, four days. Not even an entire training exercise! I mean, I get you're totally doing a bunch for us already--and I do appreciate that--but I thought you were trying to keep us from them, not, like, throw us at them." Inside the pockets of his sweatshirt, Austin's quivering hands clutched at the fabric, his fingers aggressively, and rhythmically, plying at the cotton interior as he spoke.

    "It's just," Austin paused, and tried to swallow the lump in his throat. "It's just when met, you s-said these guys are like, government or something right? I-I-If we go out there and they, like, identify us, wouldn't that just put us," Austin looked over at Hang, her words from the first meeting coming back to his memory, "-and our families on their radar? W-what if it's a worse case scenario and one of us gets caught?"

    Having said his piece, Austin turned and looked at the rest of his teammates. To Hang, he quipped, "You have an uncle or, or something right? I-I mean even with your abilities this is a crazy ask, right?" His incredulity with Darius's proposal was plainly written across his features, but his tone belied a true interest in Hang's opinion. After all, she was probably best equipped for besieging top secret facilities, and he hoped that if she didn't want in, the rest might not either.

    On the other hand, he knew that if all of them wanted to go, he couldn't stop them. Still, he hoped--almost for their own sake--that they didn't.

    @Doctor Jax
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  20. h a n g \\ d a o

    The almost frenetic air of the room seemed not to bother the girl as she continued to peel off the scales that were around her hands, moving on to her wrists, the curls of black keratin piling up around her as she glanced about. The kid who could see the future - Ayla - she was scribbling things down, and that weird kid who made stuff was hovering over her like a bad odor. Meanwhile, everyone else looked unsettled, but Hang was still too peeved to care. The word 'family' still seemed to dig its claws into her skin, making little cat scratches that burned and itched. She couldn't seem to let it go, and she wasn't entirely sure why just yet.

    Darius laid things out on the table - that there were more like them about to escape from a base in Arizona, and they needed to head that way - and Hang glanced about the room at the bedraggled metas. Some of them were banged up from Alex and her antics, not to mention the fact that some had already been injured before that. That things had gone they way they had - not a good sign for them, obviously.

    To her surprise, Austin - the walking smokescreen, more spineless than an amoeba - actually raised his voice at the so-called leader of this little band. Her eyebrows raised in something like surprise. However, he directed questions at her, looking her straight in the eye, and she felt an uncomfortable feeling in her chest as he made the mention that even with her abilities - even with her abilities - this was something high up on the list to be asking a person after four days.

    The praise seemed to make her feel ill. He didn't know about the Incident, but he'd seen what she had done at the mall. Become a mindless, raging beast, ready to rip anything in her path into bloody, rent pieces.

    These people are your family. Remember, Hang?

    And asking about Uncle....

    She sneered, flicking the last of the shavings onto the floor.

    "Spineless has a point. I'm not about to pretend I'm going to take on a whole base by myself, and by the looks of it? None of you are in great shape either," she noted coldly. "Bad Breath's got a broken arm, Speedy Gonzalez and the Joker had a door blasted into them -- that's already three of you. Plus this little... exercise."

    She said the word like it did her a personal offense.

    "Pardon me if I don't have much faith in your success. I'm staying with Spineless."

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