The 10 PM Chronicles

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  1. [San Luca, 10:38 AM, August 30th, 20XX]

    The television flashed unrelentingly, casting an abrasive glare over the otherwise inky darkness of the apartment. Tightly drawn curtains blocked out any hints of the time outside of the barricaded suite. Dust streamed through the ever-flickering beam produced by daytime infomercials, much more rapid and intense than befitted the junk on display. A figure moved, the sudden jerks muffled within the cushions of a long-abused sofa. Something had caused the sole human in the space to stir, and a soft scuttling revealed an arthropod invader, one desperate to escape beneath the cover of one of many monoliths of paper and folders. Lightning fast fingers snatched the roach, mercilessly holding it between thumb and forefinger as its legs moved with cartoon freneticism, pressing upon its exoskeleton with just enough pressure to feel the extent of its ribbed, segmented abdomen, giving another squeeze as its wings flickered to futile life. It was an almost intimate experience, having company after all this time. A sickly smile passed over the face of the human relic, one that died before it even reached the corners of the mouth.

    A program roared to life across the screen, accompanied by tinny music that sounded strangled through outdated stereo equipment. A breaking news story, not that the likes of which surprised residents of the city any longer. There had been one almost every day a few months back. Closer to a year back, hourly updates of horror-stricken faces marked the phases of an average day. Things were better now, though. Breaking news meant a sex scandal, or a natural gas explosion, or child pornography busts. The piles of bodies were done with.

    The figure's eyes narrowed, catching a glimpse of a familiar name. Kahuna. Alternately, the Great Kahuna or the Big Kahuna. He had gone through many changes at the behest of his publicist, with modifiers coming and going like women to the mayor's bedside. But the news wasn't using his cape name. They were calling him Otto Ahone. This wasn't a crisis so much as an obituary. Words blurred into a steady stream of noise and syllabic interference. The roach wiggled violently once more, snapping its captor back to attention.

    "Ahone, a relatively new member of the prestigious Aegis, was found dead just this afternoon. An autopsy has yet to be performed, but eyewitnesses claim to have seen strange scorch marks near the corpse. As Kahuna, the hero had the ability to shield himself from tremendous amounts of damage, so more information will be needed before cause of death can be determined," the woman was Asian, wearing a dour expression, and her hand quickly flew to her ear to accept incoming facts from her production crew. She was a daytime newscaster, one the night owl was wholly unfamiliar with. A few moments of agonizing silence passed as her expression waned from dutifully impassive to weak with terror. The hand fell limp from the device in her ear, and with color rapidly falling from her face, despite layers of makeup and rosy studio lights, she uttered, "The Aegis themselves have just confirmed expert opinion that the attack was shroud-related. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds."

    It had been a year and two months since a wave of shambling zombies, heroes and villains alike that had lost their minds to their powers, had carved bloody tracks through the streets. If the cycle was continuing, there were even fewer now to fight back. The public would be in an uproar by noon.

    Light flickered from the onlooker's fist, engulfing both fingers and insect in a pale glow, crackling like electricity, but duller than any natural illumination. In fact, it seemed almost to dull the surrounding air, sapping from the surroundings to cast an eerie sheen. The roach hissed, struggling once more as it fought the strange conditions around it. More flickering soon caused the bug to expand, quickly and violently, then burst. Entrails that seemed far too complex for such a simple creature stained the hand that had captured it, the blood sizzling under the strange heat that had caused its demise. The newscast faded from the television, and all light and color seemed to fade from the dim room. Everything was being sucked into the void that slowly traversed the length past a thick wrist and vein-laced forearm.

    Grunting, the lone resident shook the glow away, banishing the creeping menace to a spot deep within. Speaking with a gruff voice, one that had seldom been used in years, came a tumble of heavily accented words, "The fuck are we going to do now?"
    • Love Love x 1
  2. "That's one beautiful lunchbox you got there Cavan."

    The art teacher's voice was suspiciously friendly, though Cavan Mohana was prone to think of everyone as suspicious until enough merits were gathered to make that assumption unfair. It wasn't in the man's tone but in his demeanor, that invitation to playfulness with the humor-filled quip that made the teen recoil. He couldn't be sure if it was that off-putting sense one got from a teacher trying to be cool, or that off-putting sense someone gave him as they approached with specific interest. His dad came to mind, but that wasn't a fair comparison to the later... not entirely.

    "You can have it Mr. Paston. Dad made it, but I don't like salmon so I'm heading to the cafeteria," Cavan halfheartedly placed the lunchbox on the art teacher's desk and moved to leave. There had been some whispers and gasps during class, even as the bell had rang, clusters of students had glued themselves to their phones. Something big must have happened and Cavan wanted to know what it was, but he didn't have his phone nor people in class he'd want to ask.

    "Thank you Cavan, though I brought my own lunch," Mr. Paston called him back though he had one foot out the door, "how about we swap? Seems more fair that way." The art teacher smiled lifting a glass container that in Cavan's mind symbolized some sort of point of no return. His green eyes widened at the reputation picture:

    Loner, Cavan Mohana, so desperate he becomes teacher's friend. Or worse, Cavan Mohana goes homo for teacher. As it was, there were already some nasty rumors going around about Cavan not having a penis.

    "I told my friends I'd meet them at the cafeteria though," he feebly protested but in the end he'd walked out of the classroom with the glass container in hand. Some classmates had witnessed the "intimate" event and he could already hear the taunts he'd be hearing from Jake and his posse the following day. He sighed. Building a reputation was easy it seemed, the difficult part was building one he approved of. Harder still was undoing one someone else had already built him. Matters were always made worse by the fact that his dad tried to overcompensate for the absence of his mom by embroidering his backpack or embellishing his clothes. The most recent thing was the lunchboxes and Cavan couldn't even comprehend how a man like Benjamin Mohana could make such a delicate dainty thing as that. The teen would later find out exactly how during the upcoming lunchbox-making lessons he'd be forced to partake.

    The cafeteria buzzed with unusual commotion. Clusters of teens both ate and engaged in fervent discussions. Too many cellphones were out for them all to be confiscated and the few adults in the area seemed much too distracted by the conversations to pay much care about the rules.

    "What's the news?" he asked as he sat at the usual table and abandoned the glass container for the phone that was shoved near his face. The video played as Cavan watched in silence. Someone in the background complained about Cavan getting a replacement phone but all Cavan heard was a replay of the newscaster as she confirmed it to be a shroud-related incident.

    "Forget my broken phone, Kahuna was new but he was strong. What kind of... thing do you think could get past his defense?"

    He was late to the conversation to be sure, but it finally made sense why most of the school had been acting so odd since before lunch.
    #2 Mglo, Sep 6, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  3. Smoke curled over the soft features of Ardo's face, blurring the slight lines and curves into something resembling an abstract painting. He coughed and a sizable portion of the obstructive fog dissipated. The older boy laughed and handed the blunt to his companion.

    "I've got class in thirty minutes," Ardo argued, though it came out sounding more like an agitated whine. He waved it away, the over-long sleeves of his Salvation Army combat jacket flapping over his hands. That elicited another giggle from the intoxicated boy. John Wayne Wade only had a sense of humor when he smoked, and frankly, that was the only time Ardo wanted to be around him now. It used to be different, but sitting in a hot box in the backseat of a beat-up pickup truck that was older than the pair of them combined, it became clear that used to be may as well have been never was. It didn't matter now, and Ardo's eyes stung with the stench of it all. As a joke, he had hung a car air freshener around his neck in hopes of combating the telltale aroma, but he found himself compulsively touching the scented cardboard and taking subtle whiffs of his fingertips in hopes that it was doing as advertised. Wade raised a brow at first but soon stopped questioning. His face softened into a kind smile.

    "You're one of a kind," he philosophized, madly dashing the air with brushlike strokes from the tip of the joint as if he was trying to write something that eluded his tongue and teeth. He returned the rolled paper to his mouth and sighed.

    Ardo couldn't help but flinch. It was meant to be a compliment, and yet it too closely mirrored self-deprecating remarks he had caught his subconscious spinning in the back of his head. Unique, but at what cost? Sure, the pothead hadn't a clue, and was just spouting red-eyed nonsense, but it still struck a nerve. He fidgeted and reconfigured his sitting position in an attempt to get more comfortable. He became all too aware of his phone buzzing in his pocket.

    Wade heard it, too, and gave him a stern look, "Answer that shit, man. It could be family or something." His wide blue eyes regained a glimmer of sentience in that passing instant before becoming contentedly glossy once more. Ardo understood, soundlessly. He wasn't the only one battling with a major change. He unlocked his phone and glanced down, attempting to keep it as casual and quick as possible.

    "It's August," he said with a sigh, then scrolled more. He couldn't believe what he was reading, and especially not from his highly imaginative little brother. He dashed off a text.

    Nice try.

    "He's trying to tell me that Kahuna's dead," Ardo kept a level voice as the phone twitched once more with a series of August's texts. The kid didn't believe in texting a single complete thought at a time.


    Why would i lie

    About this

    I'll get the article hanf on

    Wade pouted, "It'd suck if it was true. Kahuna was adorable."

    Ardo snickered and corrected August's hasty typing before addressing that, "You've really got a thing for curls."

    His friend ruffled his hair and swore, "Really? I don't think I fuckin noticed."

    The pair shared a hearty laugh, even as the smoke scratched at Ardo's virgin lungs. Wade finished off the blunt and abruptly opened the door, airing out the vehicle before the inevitable drive back to school property. The shorter, dark haired boy stood up and shed his coat, removing the protective shield he had hoped would absorb the majority of the vice. He stretched right outside of the truck, getting ready for a light jog back to his backpack and through the lunch throng into trigonometry. It had felt good to get away, if only for forty-five minutes. If there was anything good about having a reclusive best childhood friend, it was the ease of escapism. He could do without the munchies, but it was a small price to pay. It actually made his homemade tuna salad sandwich taste pretty good for a change.

    Wade threw a small bottle of eye drops Ardo's way, and the older Montalbán gratefully used them. The relief was instantaneous. These must have been the ones he kept on ice for extra potency. It felt like an honor to be considered worthy.

    "Look, I'm sorry about this. I know school's real important to you and it's shitty of me to monopolize your time like I do," his normally clean cut hair was beginning to grow over his eyes, casting an oaken veil down past his knit brows, "So let me drive you back to school or buy you a coffee or something." The undercurrent of anguish was unsettling. It wasn't a playful come on, nor was it even an offer. It felt like a plea. Most of his statements nowadays did, unless of course he was stoning himself more or less to oblivion. It was a chore to take care of John Wayne Wade, but Ardo knew the favor would be repaid if something similar ever befell him. He bitterly envisioned himself coated in brass and knew that the time had already come, yet that was a private struggle. It had to be.

    "I'm dragging your sorry ass to class. We are sneaking you in through the gym and you're gonna shower that stink off and come with me to trig," he declared, pulling his friend out of the truck and looking up at him, trying to make eye contact. The height difference made it difficult, but the point was still conveyed. Ardo was a little nervous that maybe his secondary power had been leaking out, thus shattering the high, and he feared for Wade's safety on the road if that was the case.

    There was no argument, and soon Ardo was face-first in his sandwich on a bench in the boys' locker room while Wade filled the room with a new, purer mist of warm water fog and a scented spray he kept handy for such occasions. The younger boy checked his phone once more and was surprised to see an actual followup from August. He pulled up the article and froze up. His shoulders began to instinctively plate themselves with smooth, sturdy brass, but he called the metal back once his sense returned.

    "Bad news, Kahuna really has bitten the dust," Ardo announced over the rush of the Rapids. The handle squeaked as Wade turned off the water and groped for a towel, emerging in a complicated series of wraps in order to read over his shoulder.

    "The poor kid... does the article say anything about how?"

    The bell rang as soon as Ardo opened his mouth to whisper the horrible, almost unbelievable truth. Even though he couldn't hear himself say it, it didn't stop him from feeling the chill. He was sure of two things in that moment. He knew he was late for trig for the fourth time, and he knew that Kahuna would be the first of many supes to die. It wasn't a full blown epidemic yet, but it was only a matter of time. Ardo swallowed hard. He didn't have powers during the last wave. He didn't know what being in control even felt like, let alone how to know when his power was slipping.

    A freshly clothed Wade brought him back to reality.

    "Hey, kid, your hand's... uh... a little shiny there."
  4. Unassuming. Awkward. Gawky. These are all words to describe freshman Gertrude Ditterding. She was young for her class, having skipped a year and it left her even further behind the puberty curve than the rest... Not that it did not have its fun with her teenage image. It was on more than one occasion that she had heard someone mutter 'flat as a board,' which was funny to her seeing as her growth spurt over the summer seemed to reach everywhere else but her curves. Her knobby child-like figure was, as she occasionally ogled in a mirror with a puzzled expression, rather amusing with her rather above average height for a girl, especially of her age. If it were not enough to set he apart as the ugly duckling still growing into her big girl parts, she had thick-rimmed glasses, a wealth of uncontrollable frizzy hair and a mouth full of metal that somehow never detracted from her buckteeth.

    With that said, Gertie taps her foot nervously in the back of her physical science class, listening to Ms. Fritz explain electrical currents. Gertie's textbook was wide open on the table. Her fingers, on and off caress over the page, reading over the familiar lines of the chapter. She had read it at home, already. Twice. Ms. Fritz makes a comment about Edison. Gertie shrinks back, biting her tongue and feels beads of sweat begin to form on her brow, recoiling back from correcting the woman about her misinformation. She looses a squeak as she continues to fight the urge and liquid continues to pour more profusely down her face. The classmate looks back at her, rolling his eyes before slumping forward, looking bored and barely keeping awake.

    Ms. Fritz pauses in her lecture, eyeing Gertie, as if expecting something. It had been a routine of theirs for some time... A routine Gertie had gotten into with many of her teachers as much as she tries to suppress it. The teachers would say something slightly controversial, inaccurate or vague and Gertie would pipe up, providing her own insights and information, much to the irritation of most of them. Ms. Fritz in particular found it outright vexing and was very discouraging of these 'disruptions.'

    Gertie smiles sheepishly and lowers her head, wiping her sweater sleeve over her face to mop up the pouring water. This always happened when she grew nervous. She had so much trouble controlling her shroud and it was starting to drip out... Just her luck that it made her look profusely sweaty. She chews her lip as she looks up as Ms. Fritz wraps up what she was saying just in time to call out volunteers to start distributing supplies and an activity sheet.

    A pair of D-cell batteries thud onto the table in front of her along with some strips of aluminum batteries, a 9-volt, a small lightbulb and steel wool. Ms. Fritz begins to walk the class through the activity. Gertie sits back, listening and watching them go about the activity after reading through the sheet. She keeps her hands clear from the items deposited in front of her, waiting for the clock to run out and to be cleared to go.

    Ms. Fritz makes her rounds through the class, checking on progress. She makes notes as she goes, 'Here, why don't you try touching the 9-volt to different size clumps and see the effect...' ... 'Very good, now why don't you try working both D-cells into your circuit?' ... She stops as she gets to the back table and Gertie, frowning down at the brunette. Ms. Fritz levels her gaze into Gertie's big spectacles, trying to melt past them into the blue eyes with her leer. Her voice is dripping with irritation as she looks at the student, "Gertrude, why aren't you participating like the rest of the class?"

    Gertie licks her lips and looks over the table. In her lap under the table, she wrings her drenched narrow hands together. "I, uhh... It's not good for me to mess with batteries, Ms. Fritz. I carry this... static?... and if I touch the--"

    She's interrupted by the sharp impatient taps of Ms. Fritz' heels on the lab floor. Gertie looks up to see the young teacher pinching the bridge of her nose. As she finally stops, Ms. Fritz rolls her eyes and points to the objects, "Gertrude, you have to work on the assignment. If you don't work on the assignment, I'm going to have to send you to the office, you'll have detention, and we'll have to have another meeting with your guardians. We can't keep having disruptions like this in class."

    Gertie swallows and looks at the batteries. She could feel the static building over her fingertips just looking at the things. The watery layer persisting over her body and pooling on her brow and armpits was certainly not helping matters. She looks to Ms. Fritz, pleading only to be met with a stonewall. She takes a deep breath and begins to reach out slowly. She closes her eyes, and takes hold of a D-Cell.

    And nothing happens.

    She sighs out in relief and starts to piece together a circuit, much to Ms. Fritz' begrudging approval. The bunched muscles in her shoulders slowly begin to release as the teacher walks back to the front of the class... and that was when sparks begin to come off her fingertips.

    Gertie widens her eyes and tries to push the battery away from her, but it was too late. It begins to sizzle and pop with sparks before it catches on fire. In her haste to push it away, it hits her textbook and it catches. Ms. Fritz turns back, her eyes wildly wide before she looses a sharp, "GERTRUDE!" before beginning to snap and usher people out from the science lab. Gertie looks at the textbook with a look of utter defeat before quickly grabbing her backpack and darting from the room just as the smoke rises to the detectors above, setting them off and triggering the sprinklers in the room.

    It would seem she would be spending her time in detention yet... and she was not looking forward to the teacher conference with her aunt and uncle.
  5. The process of evacuation clearly had needed a bit of extra practice as the semblance of lines marched their way through the halls and out of the buildings. The opportunistic bullies were having a blast elbowing and tripping others even as teachers nearby tried to forcefully give order to the hormone driven teenage population at hand. Cavan, despite his appearance, would have managed well enough since his strength betrayed his looks, however it had been a bad piece of luck that he'd been startled by the fire alarm while in the restroom.


    They were all, most of them, much taller than Cavan who had yet to hit his growth spurt - much like any other freshman in high school. Nervously, he joined the line as best he could and couldn't help but feel so... unmanly. It irked him. It's not like he expected the senior chicks to coyly steal glimpses of him, nor did he think it was possible for the senior dudes to say the embroidering on the neck of his jacket was cool in a bad-ass way or anything. It would have been nice however, if he'd at least get to walk near some of the shorter girls rather than walled in by guys shoving each other and generally messing around. After about 2 minutes he swore if one more arm pushed him dangerously close to an armpit again, he was going to putrefy the stinkho- well, no he wouldn't, but he was sure he'd figure something out as payback.

    "You're that kid from Mr. Paston's class aren't you? The one that painted that surreal scene of a head puking little black skeletons. My sister won't shut up about you," said a voice from behind him. The boy had sort of answered his own question so Cavan wasn't sure about what to say. Cavan did recognize the guy as Finn, the one the teacher had caught on the verge of sneaking away, but said nothing of it.

    They slowly hourglassed their way through the door and stepped into the bright open, allowing them more personal space and Cavan the distance to be able to see the senior's face without having to point his own chin to the sky.

    "I can see why," said Finn as he flashed a knowing smile and softly elbowed Cavan at the same time. Cavan's frown deepened while he looked around for his class. With his hands in his pockets he pretended to accidentally drift away from Finn's class. After all, Finn was starting to make Cavan suspicious, and he didn't want to hear it - whatever came next.

    "Hey! Little red dude, it's this way," Finn's tone was friendly enough but Cavan only managed to glare back at him. "Woah! Sorry, you don't like to be called little eh?"

    "Or red," Cavan explained, "doubt you like to be called blondy."

    Finn laughed, "good point. My name's Finn by the way. My sister's Debrah, she's in your art class but she's a sophomore."

    Cavan knew who that was. Mr. Paston didn't seem to like her much, but Cavan thought she always had interesting sketches, even if she screwed them up with paint. Still, he'd be seeing her differently now that he knew she 'wouldn't shut up' about him. A dubious character that one.

    The bell rang signalling the end of the school day just as Cavan's History teacher caught up with him by waving a hand towards the clipboard and giving him a thumbs up. Free to go, it meant. Whoever set off the alarm had, at least, been generous enough to do it near the end of school.

    "Nice meeting you Finn," Cavan said politely, "I'm Cavan Mohana... though you probably already knew that." Cavan took a couple of steps in retreat but was stopped by Finn's sudden laughter.

    "A freshman and already so cocky! You better watch your back Mohana, you'll lose your popularity!"

    Cavan cringed as he watched the guy go. 'Mohana' was usually his dad, but that didn't matter, not when everything else Finn said left Cavan so confused. "I'm not cocky," he whispered, "and who cares about popularity when reputation is where it's at," he mumbled whilst he glared in Finn's general direction.
    #5 Mglo, Sep 19, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  6. A vice. That was what she had decided Ms. Fritz' hand had been like on the path back inside after the fire evacuation. Her wrist was sore and aching and every step came with a yank on Gertie's arm. So it went, all the way to the detention centre on the other side of the building.

    With the ringing of the bell some quarter hour past, it had given people a time to disburse... not that many had since the fire drill. The large red truck of the fire department up front had drawn plenty of attention and calls were setting the phones ringing off the hook at a rate the office could scarcely keep up with. Ms. Fritz levels a scowl with Gertie and promises a long, long talk with her relatives before departing, leaving her in the classroom with Mr. Paston. She looks at the art teacher briefly before scuttling off the the corner of the room and settling down at a desk and proceeding to hide behind her backpack.

    The chaos was evident, and one might have thought it was raining considering the traffic that was already piling up in front of the school. Cavan had gone immediately to the office. He had already guessed that the office would call for him via speakers, ordering him to report, so he hurried to get there before they did. The distraught lady at the front desk shoved a note in his hand almost as soon as he walked in. She already knew him since his Dad was one of the rare high school involved parents.

    "Off to detention, Cavan!" she said, barely even glancing at him, and turned to the group of impatient parents.

    A confused Cavan walked back into the corridors as he read the quickly written note that said: Detention
    Room 21
    Dad pick up

    He made his way there irritated by the thought of being stuck with all the troublemakers. It wasn't something new, he'd sort of been one before, though it was shortlived. Although, he'd been a different person then.

    He knocked on the classroom door and walked in without waiting for a response.

    "Cavan!" Mr. Paston's exclamation had been a little too high pitched and perhaps a little too pleased. But maybe that was just based on Cavan's usual suspicions about him.
    "What is someone like you doing here? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see you, but what could you have done to get detention?"

    "I don't have detention sir, I was sent here to wait for my father," Cavan replied as he looked round the room. At least they were not alone.

    "Oooh, oooh, I have a theory, Mr. Paston." The other non-Gertie person in the room raised her hand up and down and up and down again in feigned excitement, a nasty mockery of a student eager to answer a question. "I think lameness is a disciplinary policy now, and screwing Mohana is the first step in making this school great again."

    Unlike Cavan and Gertie, Hannah actually deserved to be in detention. Nothing fire drill-related too. She was simply serving out her after-school month-long sentence for vandali- for unwanted beautification. The football team's locker rooms had never looked more colorful and glittery, and as with all great Matyrs, she was punished and put down for service to her people.

    "And you will be quiet, Hannah. You've done quite enough mischief-"

    "God-mandated retribution."

    "To last you all your semesters here. If you even graduate at the rate you're going."

    "Don't see why it wouldn't' be a problem. You passed high school after all." She said the last six words under her breath. "Gertrude, put the god damn bag down. The chairs ain't gonna bite."

    At the reprimand for hiding, Gertie swallows and shuffles her bag to the floor, before squeaking her chair back and sinking down to the desk and looking small. She looks to Hannah and Cavan and offers a meek handwave from under her arm.

    Cavan decided not to reply to the insult, Hanna wasn't easy to deal with and he didn't want to try. Instead, he went to take a seat near the window as she and Mr. Paston argued. He managed to ignore them until Hanna blurted out Gertrude's name. He hadn't even noticed it was her.

    "You here accidentally Gertie?" he knew she wasn't the type to get in trouble because she was looking for it. "What are the chances of getting grouped together today of all days..." he ventured. He thought back to Kahuna and couldn't help but feel his stomach drop. It wasn't all fear.

    Gertie flushes and picks at a stray bit of fraying string poking out from her sweater at Cavan's question, "I... Oh.. No, no... I... Ms. Fritz doesn't care for me... I see Hannah in here often." She bites her lip, "Might... Have... also... fire..." She plucks the string away, trailing into silence and glancing away. "Glad you're okay, though, Cavan."

    He felt sorry for her misfortune, but smiled and said, " Fritz can be, um, very strict. It's good to see you Gertie. It's been a while. I'm even inclined to feel a tad glad to hear Hannah's ramblings."

    Hannah looked at the two ninnies for a moment, looked at Mr. Paston, and looked back at them. Her brow furrowed in contemplation, and she smiled a little.

    She snapped her finger.

    When nothing happened, she snapped it again. And again. And again. And again. And-

    "Hannah, what are you doing?" Mr. Paston said, with the measured tone and patience of a saint.

    "Dispelling boredom." Snap, snap, snap. "Improving Feng Shui." That one wasn't a complete piece of bullshit.

    "Hannah." Snap. "I strongly suggest you," Snap. "Stop before I double your-"

    Mr. Paston's ringtone, to no one's surprise, was Amazing Grace. He retrieved the phone from his pocket, put it to his ear, and a a wash of white took his face. He mumbled out a small 'emergency, stay put' and left the room in a shuffling hurry.

    "I have no idea whether it worked," Hannah said. "Actually, scratch that, I know it didn't work. How do you even merk luck? Dumb."

    "I don't know, Hanz... I think I would prefer that, though than the puddles and static problem," she sniffs and tries to smooth down the static charged fuzz on her sweater. "You hardly ever get in trouble you didn't start..."

    "Please. Don't complain about your abilities in front of me," Cavan sighed. "You just need to practice some control," he said matter of fact though he knew control was hard enough to come by, "plus, you get to have two!" He wasn't speaking out of jealously, not entirely, but his irritation certainly came off as it. Truthfully, he just didn't know how decomposing stuff could be helpful when he didn't want to accidentally decompose something alive. Something like speed or strength would have been a better ability to have, he thought.

    Gertie's lower lip starts to tremble for a brief second but she gives a demure nod and keeps quiet on the matter.

    "I am in control." Hannah retorted defensively. "It's just useless, with or without the gameface. And you, sir, clearly have two powers: the absolute lameness you carry around clearly reaches into the depths of the extranormal." Hannah smirked. "But speaking of lame deaths...


    "We don't even know exactly how he died Hannah. And stop calling me lame, you made your opinion clear since the first time we met. It's been noted," Cavan pouted, and had Mr. Paston been witness to it, he would have stared.

    Hannah shrugged. "If the shoe fits on the mangled, broken leg, wear it."

    Instead Gertie was staring between the two of them. When Hannah interrupts before she could get a word out, she covers her mouth and shies back before inquiring, "Kahuna? What do you mean?"

    "Mang- ," Cavan began to complain but Gertrude's question caught him off guard. He turned to look at her, incredulous, "it's all over the news Gertie... Kahuna's dead."

    She purses her lips into a line, "I don't have a phone anymore... Well, not one to go online or check the news. I keep shorting them out and uncle won't buy anymore." She pushes up her glasses and scoots her chair to be more inbetween the two of them, "Do they know anything? What happened?"

    "I bet it was the Apex." Hannah said and, anticipating the incredulity, immediately pressed on "Oh don't give me that look. They've never been caught, and we know the gangs ain't got the balls to to murder a lawman like that. The crazies are back, I'm telling ya."

    After a pause, Cavan hated to accept it, but Hannah was making sense. He thought about the possibility though he didn't like the implications. "I don't know, there's not any proof of it. News only said it was shroud-related. But... it would have to have been someone really powerful..." he let the thought drift off as he considered the Apex idea. Kahuna, thought a new cape, had a very useful defense ability.

    "Or dumb luck..." she mutters mostly to herself, wringing her hands as she looks at the floor, a bit in shock to hear a real hero was dead. "Either way, I mean... They're real heroes... They're in danger all the time. It was bound to happen, right?" She peeks up briefly. "Its dangerous work with lots of trouble. That's why... we..." she swallows and scrunches back in her chair again, "Stopped..."


    Hannah pointed an accusatory finger at Cavan.

    "You stopped."

    Another hand, another finger of judgement at Gertie this time.

    "And you stopped. And Ardo, our biggest offender, for the sole reason that he doesn't have the wimp gene to fall back on as an excuse." She poked her fingers into the bridge of their noses. "You all chickened out."

    Cavan felt the guilt as fresh as the day he'd quit. It didn't stop him from speaking up though, even if he was only getting the courage from Gertrude also being accused, "we would have died Hannah. Maybe not you, maybe not the others, but Gertie and me? Probably the first to go and you know it. Can you really blame us? We had no control! And I'm not saying I manage perfectly nowadays, but I've worked on it... and I've trained to be better pre-" He stopped himself then. He was starting to sound like he was ready to jump back into the fray and he didn't really believe it.

    Gertie looks from Cavan to Hannah and ruffles at her disarray of frizzy hair, "Hanz, I know I stopped... We did some good, and I'm glad I saved that ca- well, not a cat, skunk... But its life mattered too.. but, it was real tough and my grades were slipping..." She looks up, "And besides, whoever heard of someone with a water shroud who can't even swim?"

    Hannah retracted her finger pointers...only to start snapping them in Cavan and Gertie's. "I'm sorry, don't" Snap. "Mind me, I'm just" Snap. "Trying to see whether" Snap. "all this can dredge up" Snap "Some BETTER EXCUSES." Snap. "Forget the past, we have control now, and all you peeps do are drum up more excuses. You're demotivational posters." Hannah squinted, "You're Kim Kardashians. You're do-nothing bitches. You're," Her voice lowered to a deadly whisper, "Sheep."

    Gertie trembles as Hannah's rough words wash over her. Her eyes are wet behind her glasses and water had begun to trickle over her again before the last word hits her ears. Shaking with anger and a portion of guilt and fear, Gertie raises her own hand and snaps and sends a small hand of water at Hannah to splash her face. "You're being mean, Hannah!"

    "Honest," Hannah insisted, wiping the water from her face, looking far less annoyed than she was feeling. "I'm just being honest." She made a finger-gun gesture, and a thin orange ray of concentrated sunlight, as quick and as brief as lightning, pelted Gertie square on the nose. "This, my dear, ish mean."

    Gertie blinks and looks confused for a moment, not getting what Hannah meant, but feeling a thrum of energy as her hair started to frizz out even more.

    Cavan stuffed his hands in his pockets and glared. He was upset by Hannah's words and the fact that they stung, but the sudden use of their power had begun to trigger his own. He could feel it like smoke hovering around his fingers. If decomposing inorganic matter wasn't more complicated, he might have begun to undo his pants pockets. "Stop it," he said weakly, "no point to us fighting in here is there? Besides, Mr. Paston or my dad might walk in any minute."

    "Why bother hiding it? You're not doing anything constructive with it." Hannah pointed at Gertie. "At least she's using it for assault."

    "What are you asking Hannah? You'd like it if I went around rotting people's flesh? Well I don't. I've been... thinking more defensively," it shamed him to say it because he knew Hannah would only hear the old wimp in him. Perhaps he still was, but he wasn't ready to attack people with his power. Not yet anyway. "I still need time, and practice, to revert the effects," he added unwillingly. It was almost like making a promise to her and she was the last person he wanted to impress.

    Hannah simply rolled her eyes. "Pussy."

    The freshman girls looses a heavy sigh and wrings her hands, "I'm sorry, Hanz... I know you're mad, but like... maybe, for old times, I guess we could, I don't know, hang out and save... I don't know. Something." She chews at her lip, "Just... realize we're not Aegis or anything. Okay?"
  7. [Playlist: Dad Music: Shuffle]

    And when the band plays "Hail to the chief"
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

    [Battery life: 86%]

    He didn't know how he would explain what his friend had just seen, but in a moment of sheer dumb luck, the fire alarm blared. Actually, blared seemed like an understatement. The noise rose quickly and harshly, causing him to jump and eliciting a string of foul-mouthed complaints from Wade. They remained quiet as they tried to find a class into which to blend. Cowardice prevented them from showing their faces in the small crowd of their fellow trig students, so Wade suggested joining a massive cluster who looked to be coming out of a class headed by a substitute. The poor guy looked confused and clutched a roster to his chest as though it was precious documentation naming him heir to the crown jewels. He would undoubtedly miss the fact that two more unknown faces had slipped in since his last count.

    A long, low snigger from a passerby told Ardo that the air freshener was still gently thudding against his chest, and his ears tinged pink with indignation. He took the scented cardboard and chucked it at Wade, "Thanks for the heads up."

    The tall boy shrugged with an innocently bewildered look on his face, "In case you didn't realize, it was kind of a fast transition from male bonding over a shower to being funneled through the antfarm."

    A girl turned, trying to be subtle when she heard the phrase male bonding. She was one of the types who imported comics about boys snogging in boarding schools. Ardo had had the misfortune of sitting behind her in class when she scrolled through pages upon pages of softcore pretty boy porn. Wade noticed the eavesdropping and gave his most obsequious smile.

    "Screw off, Debrah. One fag does not a fanfic make," he scoffed, sending the fellow sophomore into an embarrassed attempt at looking away to deny any guilt. Ardo wasn't sure if that helped matters any.

    "My class, line up at the far side of the lawn by the parking lot," came the timid voice of the no-name substitute. The co-conspirators decided to make a run for it now that their trig teacher had finished with the count. It was so close to the end of the day that there was no chance for class to resume after this debacle. With that, Ardo breathed a sigh of relief. After about five minutes standing around in the wide open, the bell rang and they had won their freedom. It all would have gone off without a hitch had Wade not manged to stir up trouble. Most of the students had brought their bags with them, despite the constant warning that lives were more important than laptops and textbooks, and when Wade pointed out he needed to grab stuff from both the shower and his individual locker, Ardo knew that they were just asking for trouble.

    "Make it quick, okay? I'm not following you back into the bathrooms so just meet me at your locker," he relented, watching Wade sprint his way back into the foreboding temple of secondary education. From a distance, he saw a girl getting dragged back into the school. Straining to make out who it was, he recognized the unfortunate posture belonging to a certain Ditterding. He had fully expected Ms. Harpy Fritz to be hauling the ass of some two-bit delinquent, but to see the most meek of his accomplices treated like an inmate at lock down piqued his curiosity.

    He waited for the crowd to dwindle down, looking on in amusement as Cavan was handed a slip of paper that also seemed to signal a one-way ticket to detention. Under any other circumstances, he'd have called out to grab his attention, but he wanted to approach this puzzlement covertly. Ardo made his way to Wade's locker, conveniently located outside of the favored detention spot, Room 21, and just waited. He had clearly arrived too late to watch the usual suspects entering, but he took a few subtle passes by the small window in the door to ascertain the crowd Gertie and Cavan were dealing with.

    "The hell you checking up on?" Wade asked, dropping a heavy bookbag on the floor behind his friend.

    Ardo signalled for him to be quiet, and he quickly jumped to get out of the way of the door, seeing Paston leaving the room. Unfortunately, Wade didn't get the memo, and he stood awkwardly as Mr. Paston almost ran into him. The teacher took a few minutes to process.

    "Okay, take your time," he said, clearly on an important call that necessitated him to leave his charges behind. With a bit of trouble, he then placed his hand over the speaker and addressed Wade directly, "John, we need to talk. As your advisor, this is the first time I'm seeing you in over a month."

    Wade scowled and Ardo knew he was feeling a creeping sickness at the mere mention of his first name. It had gotten so bad recently that even his oldest friends had to make the change.

    "No can do, Paston. I've got shit to do at home," he tried. Ardo winced.

    "My office in ten or I'm going to have to report you for tr-" he was mercifully cut off by the voice on the other end of the phone that fully arrested the man's attention. Not wanting to get involved, Ardo saluted Wade, indicating he wouldn't testify against him if the older boy decided to bolt, but he made himself scarce by ducking into detention.

    A detention that happened to include Hannah, Gertie, Cavan, and not much else. Perennial troublemakers were absent, and two innocents and a bitch were the only ones the teachers could rope in today. He also couldn't help but notice what all four had in common.

    "Okay, let me get this straight. Is this a secret summit I wasn't invited to?" he adopted an impassive expression, "Because I know for a fact that at least one of you couldn't muster the ill will to kick over a trashcan let alone commit an act requiring disciplinary action." It was meant to be somewhat of a compliment, but it snapped from his mouth with a derogatory frankness he didn't care for. He wasn't the type to hold grudges, but he found himself growing defensive about the scene staged in front of him. Upon first glance, it wasn't entirely obvious what sort of ulterior motive was in play, if any. Cavan looked bothered, Gertie was either near tears or just recovering from a grueling cross-country run, and Hannah was, well, Hannah, sanctimonious and cruelly sharp as the day they first met. He wondered if she was one of those people whose brains neurosurgeons bid on after their deaths because they see the world in such fucked up ways that everyone wants to know how.

    Ardo usually wasn't that brusque in his daily dealings, but this was an extraordinary case. Of course, he'd feel like a right ass if it turned out he was just being paranoid, but the odds were slim. Nobody's luck was that good, to just stumble in on a group of amateur supes and find that they were discussing nothing more drastic than why the mall food court had decided to get rid of the Thai vendor to make room for even more pizza.
  8. Cavan couldn't tell if Ardo was referring to him or Gertrude... either way, it hurt. It could very well apply to him based on past events. He had changed though, at least he hoped that was the case. "It's not a secret summit Ardo," he explained, "more like an unlikely probability..." He glanced Hannah's way and let that finish his sentence.
    "Hannah here thinks we should try again and put our abilities to use. Have you asked anyone else?" Cavan turned to her and questioned, "I doubt we were at the top of your list."

    "Nope. You were the first ones." Hannah said, her face as straight as could be.

    A few seconds passed. A proverbial tumbleweed rolled through the silence, rustling the words 'lies, lies, lies, lies"

    Tell the truth, Hannah.

    "I, uh, went to the the camera hag first. We had a mutual agreement to keep things-"


    10 minutes past the sound of the lunch bell and food was already on her table. The delivery boy, despite his subservient behavior, was a volunteer. With the job done, he left the photography club-room. It smelled like bottled pretentiousness. Awards hung on the walls along with club pictures of past members. The furniture and equipment thought itself better than the visitors to the room. Only three students sat at the center table. The club advisor had gone out for lunch, leaving the club unsupervised.

    There's a thing to be said about the social hierarchy of the African Zebra. The numbers are numbers, but they do not add up; the herd is a farce. The Zebra is, when it counts, a solitary animal.

    Alone in a crowd.

    When a predator -lion, leopard, hyena- strikes at the herd, it's every striped horse-thing for itself. Like this particular African prey animal, photographers were meek, selfish, weirdly colored things out in the open, and so, no one protested all that much when Eloise was pounced on by the captain of the debate club, suffocated by her large, feline jaws, and feasted on in front of them.

    Nah, she just pulled her hand. And the other 2 members, like zebras, just stared.

    "Need some privacy," Hannah said. "It's about our club away from clubs."

    Eloise side-eyed the arrival and patience seemed to already be draining out of her. Still, she let herself be led away by the hand while she signaled with the other for the club members to stay. Like meek little prey, they obeyed. The quelled herd continued their inane talk as the two girls walked out onto the hallway balcony.

    "Well?" Eloise nudged calmly.

    "We''re restarting the bird watching club," Hannah said, neglecting to mention the 'we' was royal and very, very alone. "Don't really need you, but offer's open."

    "You have a thing for failure Hannah? Why else bark up that tree again?" Her tone was polite, friendly even, though Eloise felt none of those as she spoke.

    "Illiterate as you may be, you can still watch the news. Use context to plug up the gaps in language. The Hawaiian cocoon is dead. Shit's coming."

    "Cute, that you think the old bird watching club can make a difference," Eloise leaned on the club-room wall, "have they even changed? Grown up... If the shit's coming Hannah, I don't want to be on the side of the wimps, and we had more of that going for us than not. That's why I split in the first place."

    Hannah shrugged. "I'm not gonna push a pussy to accept a role in the community." She turned to walk down the hallway, away, away away...before looking over her shoulder and up at an unwieldy-looking set of lights. She snapped her fingers....and it seemed lady luck was on her side when she really, really, really wanted it to maim someone.

    The lights fell, improbable timing led them crashing down atop Eloise's head. The broken glass continued it's trajectory, slashing down and across her cheek. She fell to the floor with a deadly thud; her blood-painted face staring at nothing. A second later Eloise was standing a step away from where she'd originally been. "Are we done?" she asked derisively, "Hannah, I won't humor you a second time." The sound of her voice acquired a different quality towards the end, a sort of force. Eloise meant it as a warning.

    "Hate the sin, not the sinner," Hannah smiled that wicked cat smile of hers, as if daring her to attack in broad daylight. "You don't even half the wit to humor me for a microsecond, Ella."

    "Yeah, we're done," Eloise adjusted the earring on her left ear. "Good luck with your bird club Hannah.... Go away now," she ordered.

    Hannah would never get used to that strange sensation, that compulsion that would overtake her when a Musician invaded her body, wrested control from her and hers. One foot came up first, then another, then her body turned in the opposite direction and she began marching back down-

    "Fuck you, Eloise! Fuck you and your dumb face!"

    She snapped her finger. Snapped it again and again, and the footsteps slowed...right before they continued on agai-


    "-separate for now. I beat her up and showed her her place and, whimpering like a mutt, she ran off with her tail between her legs."

    @Pastor ćhoi collab
    #8 Mglo, Sep 30, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  9. The freshman girl adjusts in her chair, looking between the group of her former super compatriots. A brief pang of guilt lances through her at Ardo's words and she shunts back and reaches for her bag, drawing it into her lap and hugs it to her chest, mulling over everything. They kept throwing around that they were in more control. That they were at a point to try again. Hannah was definitely pushing for it. She was trying to antagonize them into it, at least. To some degree, she wanted to do it just to shove her childhood friend's face in it and prove to her what a bad idea it was again. To hear Cavan's point, Hannah didn't even want to come to them first. She was trembling as she pushes herself up, taking a deep breath to try and bolster herself. She wasn't going to stay put in here while they kept going like this.

    "You know what, Hanz. Fine. Let's do it. I only started the fire in the science lab and got us out of class early today, why not play superhero again," she tries to sneer, putting on as much false confidence as she could into her voice. She strains to keep the trembling from it, even as her knees were quaking and she hugs her bag closer to her chest. "I mean, what have we got to be scared of? We're not going to go up against anything really dangerous." She swallows inwardly at her own words and cusses herself out in her own head and tries to tell herself to stop, "You're right, time to stop being wusses." She juts out her chin. "But hopefully you're more useful than being foulmouthed, bad lucked and spraying sunshine everywhere, too." Gertie's heart was hammering inside her chest, scarcely believing herself as water dripped along her temples. She offers a weak smile to the boys, "So... Let's say we get out of here, before Mr. Paston returns to creep around more." Gertie was screaming at herself inside her head, begging herself not to do this, imagining all the trouble she would get in... the trouble she was already in.
  10. Cavan stared blankly. He was so still he might have been posing for the teen cover of a magazine featuring something about the feminine side of young men.

    Hannah was a beat down, hit em while he's down kind of girl, but Eloise was a quiet promise you didn't want made. He disliked them both for different reasons and wondered if there was something about the age of 16 that made girls oh so harrowing. The clash of those two beings ending with a whimper from either one sounded highly unlikely even with Hannah's snapping.

    "So she said n-" he'd begun to whisper when Gertrude's daring words flowed out like fuel to the fire. Starting fires seemed to be her thing of the day as she continued to give into Hannah's goading. Meanwhile Cavan shifted uncomfortably in his seat, being all to aware of his own hesitation and what that said about him. A Cavan from a different life would have fought back easily, however, unknowingly Cavan had been nurtured into over-cautiousness. With an overprotective father and a missing mother, Cavan had grown up first considering the cons of a situation rather than the possibilities.

    "There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity..."

    Even now every muscle in his body strained to think of alternatives. There was something else in there, tittering on the edge of giving in. Cavan's lips closed. He turned to look at Ardo with dark green eyes of fearful conviction and said, "what do you think this is?"
  11. [Playlist: Dad Music: Shuffle]

    There are many here among us
    Who feel that life is but a joke
    But you and I we've been through that

    [Battery Life: 80%]

    Ardo was growing more agitated with each passing moment. He had been counting on Gertie to be a voice of reason, and seeing her take a stand for the stupidest cause he could imagine still had him in a state of disbelief. At the same time, he couldn't bring himself to dissent.

    "It's sheer stupidity," he agreed, and he honestly wished it was that simple, "But if it's between being stupid or dead, I guess the choice is pretty clear." Holding his phone out as a visual cue, he made eye contact with Cavan, "In light of what just made the headlines, it's probably getting close to the point where we can't sit on our asses. If we get our act together now, we could actually be helpful out there." The pragmatic tone always came out at the worst possible times. It made him sound like he was sure of what he was proposing, rather than soundlessly begging for a braver voice than his to raise an objection. He reminded himself that an insane plan was better than no plan at all.

    The task of processing Gertie's speech was too great to bear at the moment, so Ardo looked to Hannah, instigator extraordinaire. There was one piece in the puzzle that nobody had mentioned yet, and he knew he'd have to be the one to point him out.

    "You reached out to Eloise, but you didn't track him down, did you?" he contained the venom in his voice as best he could, knowing full well that Noah actually had a few admirers in the room. That brainless bastard was the worst among them when it came to this stuff. Hannah only voted for heroism when it meant she'd get to pull a few strings and press even more buttons. Her brand of reckless sociopathy was more or less contained. Cavan was reasonable and always one to weigh morals. Eloise proved she was smarter than everyone in the room combined by standing up to Hannah. Gertrude, well, she was clearly frustrated. But Noah was the type who either thought so little of himself that he was willing to risk his life to make a difference, or he was an egomaniac who wanted everyone to put him on par with the Aegis. It was clearly the latter. That's why he was still out there, playing it solo. Ardo spent the better part of newscasts hoping he'd fall from a building or get himself mauled by some junkyard dogs that were completely unrelated to crime fighting. He spent the second part feeling the guilt that came along with such childish admissions of anger. And jealousy. No, scratch that last bit. Even if it were true, it was too idiotic a notion to greet the light of day.

    His body began to grow heavy with the burden of brass and he bent at the waist, rubbing his knees, trying to coerce his gift to ease up. He couldn't believe he was advocating this, but his logic provided no other option. "If even one of you intends to do this," he glared pointedly at Hannah, doing his best impression of that ostrich picture that had been circulating about a month ago but was probably irrelevant by now, "I'm going to go as backup. As much as I don't like our odds, I hate the idea of reading one of your eulogies even more."
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Getting the Shitlords back together.

    Some people moved on from failure, some people distracted themselves from hurt by laying bricks and keeping busy. Some people turned to spite and hate and cynicism and some other buzzword for toxic negativity used to condemn the children of today by ancient newscasters lurking in tiny boxes - and Hannah was most certainly all of these things, but not only when she failed. She was, after all, noted to be both unbearably bitter in both victory or defeat.

    No, Hannah was, when it came down to it, a dweller. People moved on and people kept occupied, but she doubled down. She lingered and she tried and tried and tried. She smashed her head against the wall of No, and when her skull couldn't take no more, she borrowed other skulls to sacrifice to the altar of her stubbornness.

    Hannah played the good girl for her parents, but the one virtue she never had to fake was determination.

    It also helped that her retirement from their brief foray into super-heroics, though the others didn't know, was the most humiliating one of all.

    She had planned to approach each Shitlord one by one, each re-recruitment method tailored to exploit their insecurities. The, um, failed negotiations with future candidate of dead-at-20 Eloise made her question how well she actually thought she knew them. Cavan, most certainly, could be browbeated into compliance. Gertie? She would tag along. She always did. Ardo was a more complicated and nuanced case, but he was a friend. Sort of. And she was practicing for dear, dumb Noah in detention-

    "Our enemy is might mistaken for justice. Our enemy is survival that justifies atrocities, big and small. Our enemy, dear Noah is-"

    -Before the Universe dumped the better half of the gang right here.

    The details didn't matter now; they agreed. She had her army again. Better yet, she had the part of the army she could actually use. No Leeroy, no insurbodinate bitch she used be be best friends with only for a nasty, unmendable series of petty prepubescent chain of events to tear them apart forever-

    "I feel like pope today, bitches." Hannah said, about as smug as Rockhold going into UFC 199. Or just, um, really, suicidally smug. It's still kind of a niche sport, I know, I know. "Because you all have seen the light of our Lord, Shitlord Christ, who died and rose again 3 months hence."

    Hannah stood up. She did it all slow and ponderous, like movie people do when they tried to be dramatic. She made a fist and fire bled from her arm, curling around and about to form the burning hammer that covered her arm in shroud mode.

    "I DECLARE-"

    She raised it high and slammed it into the table which, miraculously, only buckled slightly.

    "THE FIRST MEETING OF THE NEW SOCIETY OF ESTEEMED SHITLORDS OFFICIALLY OPEN. ARRRRRRRRRG- Gertie, could you take the minutes? Ardo, make sure that door never opens. Not literally. We still kinda have to go out. Cavan? Just, uh, sit there and don't screw up.

    "Our first agenda of this meeting: We gotta open big, but where? Migolash, formerly Amigo, been harassing the western district fortnightly. Or how bout that safehouse from those clits downtown? I know! I know! Let's murder a senator!"

    When Hannah rode a power high, Hannah rode a power high.
    #12 Pastor ćhoi, Oct 16, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  13. Gertie was still coming down from her trembling moment of having stood up to Hannah as everyone came in with their own words. Noah. Noah. She latches onto at least that much of the conversation and the comments about braveness and stupidity. Yes, between those Noah was definitely... Something. She looks between the boys as Hannah's hand erupts in a raging fiery hammer and she looses a squeaking yelp, looking up and expecting the fire alarms and sprinkling systems to erupt anew and to be blamed once more for the entire catastrophe, but of course... Hannah always had more control. Gertie puts a hand to her chest to ease her rabbit heart even as the older woman starts to boss her about.

    She gives her the look much as if a doe caught in headlights before she exclaims, baffled, "O-oh! Yes! Right! Right away, Hanz!" Gertie fumbles for her book bag, meekly and drags out her notebook and a pen. Her fidgeting hand clicks the pentop a series of times before she finally manages to get it right and put it to the pad and despite her shaking, she puts it to the pad and begins to start scribbling down notes in a straight, meticulous manner up to this point.

    The Freshman girl pauses in her hasty jotting and looks up at the trio in the room, "On the docket... I know Eloise is out, but before we head out... Are we putting Noah officially on the agenda? He would be... Well, he is one of us, all things considered." She raises the pen to her lips, tapping it there before scribbling back across the pad a few more notes she deemed necessary, "Also... We aren't... We aren't actually going to be causing any trouble, right guys? We're suppose to be the good guys, Hanz. So... I mean... Maybe we aren't ready for such a big thing as someone that sounds so official... but, maybe we can look into it, and point people in the right direction if we find anything out?"
  14. Ardo's words gave Cavan the courage to side with this dangerous plan, though Hannah almost squashed it away with her dramatics. He couldn't be sure of how serious she was about this, but she was making it sound like a game. Suddenly the idea of risking one's life for the greater good and survival of those who wouldn't be protected by the officially good or officially evil, was reduced to nothing more than Hannah's high school project.

    He watched as the loudmouth shouted orders and he was both grateful and injured by the order she gave him. Gertie easily danced to her tune but luckily she was made of stronger stuff than she portrayed. His ears perked up at the repeated mention of Noah's name. It didn't sound like the present group was much of a fan of Noah, but Cavan was.

    "We're not doing anything big to start with, at least I'm not," Cavan stated all too knowingly of what Hannah was going to say to that. Then again, it was nothing new and he'd rather be called a pussy than jump to his death because of her idiotic whims. "I agree with Gertie, we're not the Shitlords yet, not without Noah and Eloise... We should talk to Noah and see where he stands. Eloise might join us once we prove to be up to standards and we'll have to be anyway, if we want to survive this."

    Cavan brushed back his reddish hair in thought and landed a greek styled romantic pose as he attempted to tone down Hannah's crazy, plug in Ardo's reliability, and balance Gertie's pro's and con's in combat. Lastly, he attempted to strip his own misgivings to get a more objective view of his own utility. No matter which way he looked at things they needed more stability. The others might not agree but they definitely needed Noah. At least. The likelihood of messing up the most simple of tasks was high with the current self appointed leader and her low view of her own crew, Ardo exempting. Perhaps someday Cavan's cautiousness might develop into strategic thinking, but it wasn't currently needed to figure out that the present Shitlords where leaning more on the shit side than the lords part.

    "I'll leave him a message. He's hard to get a hold on nowadays but he checks his messages, even if it takes him some time to reply" he hoped they understood this as something part of Noah's lifestyle and not something he should be critiqued on. Cavan stood up and dove hand in pocket for his phone. "Right, my phone's broken," Cavan walked away from the group and took a seat in Mr. Paston's desk where picked up the phone and dialed from memory. The phone rang a few times before Noah's voicemail message made him smile.

    "Noah, Cavan speaking. Listen, some of the gang's gathering to start the bird-watching club again. I know you've been at it on your own and are probably more successful at it without the extra noise but... I'd feel a lot more sure about it if you were with us. Please think about it. I'd say call me back when you get the chance but my phone's broken. Leave a message at school with Mr. Paston, somehow he always knows where I am."

    Perhaps the prepubescent bishoujo wasn't entirely aware of how off-putting that last sentence of his was, but it wouldn't get past Noah's brotherly side. Cavan hung up and looked up at the clock. His dad wouldn't be long. With clear eyes now unclouded by doubt, he turned to look at the crew and then sighed. They needed to train, relying on semi-controlled powers wasn't going to cut it. Cavan sighed again. He might have to take up dance again.

    "Out of all your proposals Hannah, the safehouse sounds the more reasonable though I'm not even convinced."
  15. The little blue light on his phone blinked with the persistence of a dog begging for dinner scraps. He clicked his tongue impatiently, hoping against hope that it would just stop. He was on a stakeout for shit's sake, and he wasn't the sort of guy whose phone usually blew up with friendly correspondence. In fact, he went many blessed weeks without so much as a single text from anyone he considered close. What was really impressive, though, was that he even managed to steer clear of telemarketers and robocalls about the IRS seizing his assets. Noah wasn't the attractive type. Not as in physically (at least according to what your mother said last night) but in a hard to explain, immaterial magnetic forces type way. There are movie stars, homecoming queens that make even gay boys wet, and impossibly charismatic ugly fucks like Hitler or Eisenhower and they just draw people in. For better or for worse, they are never alone. They are attractive. He considered himself fucking lucky to be anything but.

    If he checked his phone now, he would be admitting two horrible truths to himself: that his investigation was going nowhere and had not been worth pissing into a trashcan from forty feet up rather than just getting a toilet two hours ago, and worse, that somebody probably needed something from him. The very thought was appalling. Nobody ever called because there was a huge blowout sale at that place with the sexy imported combat boots made from unpronouncable leather. Hell, nobody knew him well enough to even know to call about that in the first place. So, it stood to reason that it had to be a favor.

    He shifted from his uncomfortable crouch on the lip of the roof and rocked back to sit, not one hundred percent ready to give up the vantage point he had fought ten pigeons for. Lifting the phone to his ear, he didn't even have to listen to the whole message. In fact, he smiled in spite of himself. For a favor, this wasn't half bad.

    He groaned as though someone had just rammed into his gut. Ardo looked away as Cavan dialed, pressing his back against the door to pretend he was following Hannah's order. It sucked, but it was necessary. The strength in numbers argument decidedly outweighed the "exclude the reckless misanthrope who is probably the best at this" one and he knew it.

    He spared a moment to wave at Gertie, getting her attention to share a small smile that might calm her down, "Without a doubt, we're the good guys. We aren't just about to go out and murder someone in cold blood, but we can't just poke around and point, either. We go in to make a difference or we don't go in at all." Gertie and Cavan knew that, and even Hannah did under all of her bluster, but it always bore repeating. They each struggled daily, swinging between a self-loathing struggle for control and a megalomanic desire to upend some small corner of society to see if they could. It was normal. Comic books assured him of that.

    Ardo was about to make his argument explicit, but he heard shoes on the cheap plastic tiles outside and quickly shifted to an attempt at code.

    "Look, Hannah, don't know if you noticed this, but this is kind of a well-dressed city," he winked, hoping to make himself clear, "And there aren't a lot of birds out at night that the owls and big guys don't know about. We have to be selective so as not to disturb the ecosystem until we have better equipment." With that, he felt the doorknob twist and he quickly moved from his post at the door with an apologetic look. He didn't want Mr. Paston to grow suspicious. That man was creepy enough when he didn't even have a reason to follow you around.
  16. Presently in the Office. . .

    Outside the cozy office of the principal, there was the incessant droning of the phone and the chirping of the secretary as he, yes, he (Mr. Nuñez always prided himself greatly at flipping the stereotype on its head) chirped into the phone at a steady pace to answer questions about the events earlier. Outside, there was a small boy, swinging his legs back and forth on a chair much too large for him as he looks back and forth from the glass wall, waiting and back to the room his parents had gone into. Mr. Nuñez pauses in his torrent of words, stopping just shy of transferring to another line and looks at the grade schooler. "Elliot, either Junior or Georgia will be here to take you home soon. Your parents are going to be awhile."

    Elliot nods and sidles back into the chair with a pout, drawing his backpack with him and fishes inside, drawing out a small pack of animal shaped crackers pasted together with peanut butter. He hesitates in opening them and looks at the secretary, "What about Gertie?"

    "Oh, that ragamuffin did it again, Elliot. Always getting into
    trouble..." Mr. Nuñez sighs before turning his chair to ignore the child and taking the next call. Elliot, taking the hint he wouldn't have anymore adult attention on himself, draws out a pair of his crackers and takes to playing with them.

    * * *

    "Now Ben... We don't know what's gotten into the girl, maybe she's just not challenged here, she does well enough in her studies, doesn't seem like she hardly tries, but..."

    "But... What?"

    "How are things at home?"

    "What do you mean? We don't have any issues at home."

    "Well, I mean, does she have any emotional troubles? Trouble getting her to do chores? I mean, a child with guardians, not around her real parents all the time... It can bring about struggles just as well as being gifted."

    "Dammit, Cleese. We do a great job with her. She's a perfect kid when she's not here, did you ever think that maybe its that witch of a woman, Frizzle?"

    "Ms. Fritz does an exceptional job at her station, Delilah. Truth be told, she doesn't seem to have any real problems except with Gertrude. I honestly have trouble explaining that. If it were once or twice, maybe... But all the time?"

    "Well, what do you want me to say?"

    "Ben, sweetie... You don't think its that Hannah girl?..."

    "Hannah? Gertrude spends time with that one... Oh, well, that could explain some of these behaviors... I would, strongly advise against allowing them to spend time together from now on. She is, a very negative influence within our institution."

    "Oh, oh my... And she used to be such a... well... She was cute, when they were little..."

    "Listen, this last incident, though... There was destruction of lab equipment. A panic in the school. People could have been hurt... Gertrude... She's not like some of the typical troublemakers, but this can't keep going on... but there has to be consequences."

    "We... We don't really have the money to replace lab equipment. It's expensive, right?... We barely keep afloat as is."

    "Oh. Nothing like that... No... Actually... I was thinking something more like... Community service."

    Back in Room 21. . .

    The younger girl visibly relaxes and looses a sigh of relief as the boys take over and start to assuage her fears that Hannah had so abruptly created. She looks between the trio before quickly sketching a few nervous lines in her journal next to the point about Noah. It was good to know they were still the good guys, otherwise they would probably have trouble getting Noah along... Probably. She had trouble understanding what grabbed hold of some of the more passionate and... eccentric of their 'bird-watchers' and if Hannah was any indication, they could be unpredictable.

    With the signal that someone was coming and the switch back to their secret lingo, Gertie closes her journal on their notes and shuffles it into her lap, hugging the paper pad to her gut. She chews her lip nervously and fixes her gaze on Hannah, "You know, they are right... And if we're going bird watching again... well, maybe Noah knows about that ah, nest of, uhm..." She blinks, trying to think of a good covert word before flushing, "You know, the nest. So, if he'll help... and... you're okay with that..." She averts her gaze down.

    "I have nothing against Noah," Hannah said in a tone that suggested she was Ayn Rand forced to take up medical subsidies from Big government. The world, according to Hannah was divided into two neat segments: users and tampons - and anyone outside of the correct order of things was something she couldn't fathom: a surprise. The self-serving and the meek had their patterns, but Noah...

    They said she was a reckless lunatic. Not to her face, of course, but she wasn't deaf to body language. But Noah...

    But Noah...

    An altruist
    she could not trust.

    "I do have my misgivings about him," she continued, unusually polite, unusually measured, her 'fuck you this is a stupid idea' held in check behind mental ball and chain. "But this is a democracy, my beloved pussies, and I respect the decision of the group."

    Gertie eyes Hannah, trying to pick up on her rather... unusual demeanor before pushing it off and taking a moment to chew over things. "If its a democracy... Can we vote to wait until after we get all our homework done?"

    Hannah rolled her eyes.

    She coughs and nods, shrinking into her chair, "Yeah... You're right, silly of me... I'll just... do that when we get home... later." She peeks up cautiously as the door opens and Mr. Paston comes in and gives a scrutinizing look about the room. Gertie smiles sheepishly and squirms in her chair as she tries to act like they had not been conversing on about their secret teen organization of superheroes.

    "Cavan, your dad is here to pick you up. Gertrude, your guardians are in with Ms. Fritz now an--" the phone interrupts as it begins to chime loudly. "And that must be them, actually." He moves to the desk and picks up the phone as Gertie chews on the end of her pen nervously, looking around for guidance in her moment of horror.

    At the mention of his dad, Cavan tensed up half expecting him to walk through the door and make the situation weird. With Paston at his desk holding the phone and speaking the usual "Hello, this is Mr. Paston speaking" introduction, Cavan went to get his backpack in an attempt to hurry out of the door before his half expectation turned out to be true.

    "Noah... uh, how may I help you..." stammered Mr. Paston as he was caught off guard by the unexpected caller.
  17. "Noah... uh, how may I help you..." stammered Mr. Paston as he was caught off guard by the unexpected caller.

    Cavan turned his head in a deliberately slow manner at the sound of Noah's name. His backpack slid off his shoulder and fell to the ground with a light thud despite his attempt at being sly. He strained his ears to listen to Mr. Paston on the phone. A glimpse here and there turned its focus on Ardo, then Gertie, and lastly on Hannah.

    "You can start by putting Cavan on the phone," he said, barely able to hide the smirk and sneer that had managed to form an odd duo on his face. Noah hated Paston with a passion reserved, by most, for ex-lovers, telemarketers, and celebrity endorsements of anti-aging creams. However, he was a special sort of guy who could dish out that almost irrational disdain to anyone at any given time. He drummed his fingers, waiting for a response. If he hadn't made himself clear, he wasn't sure how blunt he was willing to be on a public line, "And don't pretend you don't have him and a handful of other poor delinquents trapped in your shit excuse for a prison."

    Paston struggled to process such a disrespectful tone from a student, it was only after a couple seconds of silence that his eyes shot at Cavan as he replied, "Noah the school phone is not your, or anyone's, personal walkie talkies. And that's no way to speak to your teacher young man." Mr. Paston was only just beginning to wind up as Cavan, keen as to what might be happening, approached his desk and mouthed a simple I'm sorry. The ice melted and the fire cooled, and Mr. Paston smiled with a friendly warmth. He lowered the phone and directed hismelf at Cavan as he spoke, "this was your doing Cavan? Were you expecting this call? You know this shouldn- oh right, your phone broke." Paston pretended to have an inner struggle before beckoning Cavan to take the phone.

    Personal walkie-talkie, he shook his head, smiling a little, that's exactly what I said about your mom last night. Had he been five years younger, he'd definitely have had trouble holding his tongue to let that poetically-crafted insult grace the airwaves with its presence. However, he was older, more mature, and a hell of a lot angrier than his middle school self, so he chose another, soundless form of self-expression, forming his free hand into a finger gun, firing off a few middle fingers to bide his time. He worried, if only for a moment, that being too much of a punk might make matters worse for the kids. Cavan was soft. Noah didn't want his first time in the slammer to be uncomfortable.

    "You there?" there had been such a long pause that he imagined Paston had to be handing the phone over, or else the perpetual pervert had his hand somewhere else entirely.

    "Hello? Noah, this is Cavan speaking. Mr. Paston just handed me the phone," the last bit of information wasn't necessary, but it was a warning against the possibility of Paston overhearing.

    "He knows!" Ardo groaned from beside the door. It was a pet peeve of his, listening to couples or nervous schoolkids on the phone, stammering and oversharing like they had a gun to their head. Much as he liked Cavan, the guy had an absolutely obnoxious way about him when Saint Noah was around. Or even miles away, barking into a cellphone just like every early 2000s action spy thriller anti-hero.

    Cavan glanced back at Ardo nervously. His heart was racing with all this getting back together moving so quickly and with Paston being in the room where he currently wasn't welcomed. He looked to Paston without thinking and Paston looked at him. There must have been something in his face, because Paston smiled wider and stepped back pointedly. He was giving him more space. That was nice.

    "Hey, gloomy," Noah's voice changed completely upong hearing Cavan's. He wasn't entirely sure, but he imagined this was what having a little brother was like, "Look, if you guys are really serious about this, then you have to appoint someone at the helm. There's gotta be a team leader, someone who won't take shit from anyone, someone who has their finger on the pulse of the city and can make split second deci-" He stopped mid-sentence. A vision flashed before his eyes. It was hard to make out, but it seemed like a girl standing in front of a backdrop of flames, cackling. That could only mean one thing, "Christ, don't tell me that Hannah's got the reins." He massaged his forehead and sighed, "I don't want to keep you on the phone with you-know-who slobbering down your neck, so just come find me tonight... or better yet, when you get out of detention. Bring the group if you think they'll listen." Paranoia and a sense of urgency kept him from saying any more. Cavan knew all his usual hiding places. To put it more accurately, Cavan knew where he was prone to standing around, looking badass yet indifferent. Luckily, they happened to be off the beaten track, and good for quick, covert meetings. Or drug deals. Branching out was always in the back on his mind.

    "We are serious," Cavan held back the nervous glance, reminding himself that others were listening. "And in a way yes, I'm afraid she started this though the rest of us are uh, holding some ground. I'll see what I can do, but I'll be there for sure. See you later," Cavan put the phone down and thanked Mr. Paston, who in turn was acting like he was one of the cool teachers developing a close friendship with a student.

    "Back off Paston."

    "Dad," Cavan gasped with dread. Benjamin Mohana stood at the doorway, both hands in his pockets, looking at Mr. Paston like he was the type of vermin you went out of your way to find and crush until you heard that crinkling pop of a sound, goo explosion and all. His hair was dark, unlike Cavan's, and stylishly unkept though it bordered on the crazed look. His clothes plain, clearly little thought put into them, and his eyes held a menace no editor had a right to project.

    "Don't like repeating myself..." he said, but it was Cavan who moved to go pick up his backpack from the floor.

    From his place on the floor, Ardo felt no better than some sort of wriggling insect. Clearly, Cavan's dad hadn't noticed him as he came barging in, and now he was definitely not going to pay the teen any mind. Mr. Mohana's glare was locked onto Paston. Frankly, Ardo wasn't sure Cavan could be related to this guy. He commanded this wild sense about him that was hard to pin down... like he'd seen some shit and wasn't about to go through it again. Making a mental note, it occured to him that he'd probably need to emulate that in the heat of their crime-fighting escapades. He was the muscle of the group. Being indifferent wasn't exactly going to win them any intimidation points. Ardo shifted from his seated position and moved Cavan's bag closer to its rightful owner.

    "Um," Cavan picked it up and hesitated to speak to the teacher, he didn't want to egg his dad on, but it had to be done, "Mr. Paston, if detention is over... could we all leave together? Dad can give them a ride." For someone as careful and polite as Cavan, the fact he didn't ask permision from his dad for said ride was marked, even odd for those unfamiliar with the father side of Mr. Mohana.

    "Yeah, it's over. Let's go kids," Benjamin Mohana stepped away from the door as he spoke. Paston didn't dare protest.

    As they walked out of the room, Cavan pulled on Gertie to whisper something before she left them to go into the school office. The rest of them would get a nice stationary note in Cavan's fancy writing telling them the same information: "Bird watching club recruitment / 9pm / @ Community Garden on Delta St."
  18. By the time the clock struck 8:30pm Cavan opened his father's office door, said he'd be stopping by Noah's and that he might stay the night. His father turned from his reading and gave him that look; the look that had Cavan reconsider the trip though he knew he'd be making it anyway. "I've got my knife, my phone, and I'll be riding my bike," he told him before closing the door. Cavan breathed a sigh of relief as he walked out of the house with his bike in both hands and thanked whatever power that be for the silent answer he'd gotten from his dad.

    He pulled the jacket's hood over his head and jumped on the bike, nimbly pedaling his way towards Delta St. Cavan knew he'd be early, but he was curious to check out the Community Garden and how much it had changed, if any, since last time he'd gone.

    Her bag was a heavy nest of security upon her back, pressing reassuringly with the weight of her textbooks that she reassured herself she would be able to do in the downtime that they would be settled down in another useless night of playing stakeout as a group. Her legs burn as she pedals uphill with her teeth grit in a grimace and wonders why they never seemed to meet in any areas that were in any sort of convenient location or halfway decent. Because that would take the fun out of it for Hannah, Gertie thinks bitterly to herself, huffing and puffing as she mounts the crest of the hill and catches sight of the meeting spot just off at the distance and a familiar figure already on the way.

    She frowns and angles her wrist to the streetlamp to check her watch. She hated how she could never wear anything even remotely advanced and was stuck with an old timepiece with cogs and springs. Nothing fancy that lit up or the like so it was useless in the dark. In the edge of the lamplight, she could see they were early... If Noah was around yet, or heaven forbid Hannah, she would be surprised. Gertie shakes her head and pushes off to go down the hill to Cavan and the rendezvous point, thankful for at least one person. He would be able to keep watch while she did her homework for tomorrow.

    As she approaches, she gives off a twittering whistle to announce her presence.

    The Community Garden was very dark wherever the lamplight didn't touch. Cavan supposed it was a good thing since it made the place an unappealing hangout spot at 8:40pm. There wasn't very much around that attracted the thug life, which was probably why Noah liked the place. The garden was more of a nook area with little visibility of the surroundings, but it wasn't the garden that made this Noah's hangout place. If you climbed the fire escape ladder of the shorter building and made your way up to the roof, the view wasn't so bad. Plus, there was some guy nearby who always left the window open while he played his jams which happend to be to Noah's liking.

    "Hey Gertie," Cavan didn't have to be sure it was her on sight, he knew it was because only the two of them would have a mind to show up early to this meeting spot. "It looks pretty empty around here, but we should still keep watch just in case... I don't know if anyone's up there already, but I'm not sure if it's safe to leave the bikes down here," he told her. Unlike Gertrude, Cavan hadn't brought a bag. He'd showered after ballet practice so his hair was still damp, and he wore all black in an attempt to not stand out. The attempt had backfired since the black attire made his features stand out that much more. Mr. Paston might have called him a work of art on the real life canvas of the night.

    "We should park over there," he pointed, "there's less light to do your homework, but at least we wont be an obvious target in case anyone we don't want to mess with shows up." As he spoke, Cavan felt a sort of pull on his skin. Though the garden wasn't very well tended, it was full of life and rot. Sensing the pull of that made Cavan slightly uncomfortable, but he knew that if the group was getting back together then he should start letting his power come out. That was going to be the only way he'd learn some decent control.

    A frown tugged at her lips and for a long moment, she wondered if he was purposely attempting to vex her... Or if this was all a long, hard fought ruse to tank her grades and see her into trouble. She mutters unintelligibly to herself and pushes her bike along to where he had indicated and delicately maneuvres the kickstand out to rest it upon before slumping down upon a bench.

    Her eyes roam across the garden before she looses an exaggerated sigh, "Why do we even go along with this, exactly? I mean... I know we've got all of... that... but its not like we're obligated to do anything with it." She pauses and glares at the fountain as if in accusation, "We didn't ask for any of it. It doesn't really make us particularly special at the end of the day, or qualified. If anything, its like we've just been given loaded guns and we're hoping we don't shoot ourselves in the foot on the best of days.... and now we're going out to... what? Be vigilantes again?"
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