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The Fae







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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Beach - Pacific Royal Campus
Welcome Home #1.020: Chicanery on the Shoreline

Interaction(s): //

Aurora and Harper exchanged greetings and replies and Gil found himself pleasantly distracted, in good company, good climate, and with plenty of exciting external stimuli. It was good to get back into the swing of things, find himself slipping back into the right frame of mind and the right way of talking, socializing. With the rest of Blackjack arriving - even Amma, offset in the distance but distinctly within earshot and sight-line, keeping tabs even if she deliberately separated herself, wasn't immune to the bond the team had been able to foster in the short year Gil had been attending the university; Katja, her towering stature exaggerated even further against Amma's significantly slighter frame, scooped up the dark woman with the ferocious affection she was notorious for. Gil's back ached in sympathy at the sight of the embrace - but he smiled warmly, appreciating the intention of the gesture, afforded even to those who placed themselves on the fringes of the team.

Any affection for the unlikely group of compatriots was quickly replaced with the sheer crippling weight of second-hand embarrassment. Lorcán and Aurora were quickly engaged in conversation - expected, and with all the normal amount of pointedly not discussing the obvious chemistry and electricity between the two - but this quickly unraveled as Rory - god bless him, with all the good intention in the world - injected what, Gil thought, was a surprisingly clever play to pitch the two dancing love-birds face-first into each other. Unfortunately, such a play was lost on the naive and too-nice, and all that really ended up happening was Rory pitching egg into his own face, and Lorcán pitching straight over the cooler that, again, had been delivered with Rory-brand good-vibes in mind. Gil couldn't help but pull his hands down his face as he watched the scene unfold in front of him and the rest of Blackjack, utterly powerless to stop any of it. Calliope, ever the aloof team mother, had watched the same events, and come to the same conclusion, and had helped Lorcán up before Gil had had time to react and interject himself for the same assistance.

He turned back to Harper and smiled, a well-practiced sparkle twinkling in his eyes, that 'don't worry, you're the only person here I want to talk to' look that he and Artie rehearsed for signings and red carpet interviews.
"It's times like these, Harp, that I remember how lucky I am to literally be in three places at once."
With that, one after the other, two perfect-replica Gil's stepped forwards from the original himself, a shimmer in the air around all three as matter and HZEs rearranged themselves at Gil's will into new forms.
"Gentlemen." The three said to each other, simultaneously, the overlapping identical voices creating a strange echoing harmony.

2"Harper," Gil2 said, maintaining the smile and giving a polite nod to Harper, Gil3, and Gil. He went to Lorcán, helping him brush sand from his back and kicking ice away into the far-sand. He gently swiped the seltzer from Lorcán's hand, winking as he did so - they both knew the red-cheeked young man didn't really want it - and scooped an orange soda from the freshly-chilled cooler instead, thrusting it into Lorcán's open hand with one arm, while the other swung around Lorcán's shoulder and they gently stepped away from the group's earshot, head lowering as Gil2 began to offer what he thought sounded like sage advice, and hoped would be the catalyst to Lorcán just being frank with his feelings.3"Ms. Baxter," Gil3 said, maintaining the smile and giving a polite nod to Harper, Gil2, and Gil. He went to Rory and Calliope, collecting a beer for himself and an energy drink for Rory, seeking to rally behind his well-intentioned friend and hoping that he and Calliope could streamline the plan somewhat and help Rory in his ever-quest to help other people. And perhaps, in the process, help himself - don't think Gil hadn't noticed how Rory looked at Haven sometimes. Or Katja. Or Mei. Or even Banjo - not that Gil had any problem with that direction of things, but Banjo, of all the eligible bachelors around campus?. Hey big guy, maybe pick a lane and let other people pass, hunk.
"And fortunately, that lets me remain here with you, Elf-Eyes," said Gil, keeping that same smile plastered across his face, gesturing loosely to the sketchbook that Harper clutched to her chest like Pandora's Box. "Are you most landscapes or portraits these days?"


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Amma:
"Well, you certainly have plenty to spare, don't you. Gil." chuckles, eyes Gil up and down.
"And yet there never seems to be enough of me to go around..." Gil replied, offering a subtle wink to go with his remark. It would take a special kind of obliviousness not to notice the way Amma looked him, very deliberately, up and down.

Katja:
bear hug for both Gil and Harper.
“I missed seeing all of you.”
“It’s been so long, we have so much to discuss. And so much to look forward to of course! Like the dance! Have the two of you found someone for the dance yet?”
"And you, Kat, though I can't say my spine can agree." He joked, giving Katja a playful shove that felt like pushing a brick wall, and hurt his wrist before Katja even budged a nanometer. "As for the dance, no partner yet. You've gotta keep your options open, y'know? Besides, I'd hate to disappoint any die-hard fans" He grinned, playing the question off like good-natured banter, but there was a knife's edge of truth; he would genuinely have to discuss the optics of a Capital-D 'Date' with Artie, ruminate on the implications of being 'off-the-market'. Gil was well-aware of what particular corners of Tumblr and the website formally known as Twitter could get like these days.

Harper:
"To be honest, I haven't given much thought to the dance yet, I've been so focused on other things that it kind of slipped my mind."

Rory:
Rory looked between his two close friends, smile long gone. "I... I was just trying to give Lorcán a little push, and see if Ro was interested in going to the dance at all." Rory finished shaking the drink and flicked the top of the shaker open, pouring its contents into a solo cup before handing it over to Calli. "Now Mei is making fun of me, Rora and bro seem upset... I really fucked this one, didn't I?" He grabbed the energy drink from Gil2, cracking it open as he waited for yet another lesson from those two.

timeskip to evening

Lorcán:
“Alright gentle-dudes and lady-brahs, where does everyone see themselves once they graduate?”
“I think I just want to take things slow, on my own time after graduation, y’know? Been tossed around by wave after wave, it’d be nice to just float and see where the current takes me.”

Haven:
"I'm hoping to volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service this summer, before I start my career."
"It depends on how friendly they are with hypes, but there has to be at least one Ranger out there that will accept me."
"If I go, feel free to visit me in the states, Lorcán. The American National Parks are gorgeous."
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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Beach - Pacific Royal Campus
Welcome Home #1.040: First-Date Certified

Interaction(s): All //

Amma made Gil nervous, but not nervous enough not to dance dangerously close in flirting. He certainly recognised the short chuckle she proffered, as well as the lingering, deliberate sweep of her gaze up and down his body. He smirked, not un-used to this kind of attention, never getting tired of it regardless.
"Well, you certainly have plenty to spare, don't you. Gil."
"And yet there never seems to be enough of me to go around..." Gil replied, offering a subtle wink to go with his remark.

Further flirtation was summarily interrupted by Katja's signature greeting; she scooped both Gil and Harper up, one arm each still far more than necessary, and the three squeezed together in a blend of skin and smells on this sunny afternoon. Harper shifted in the embrace - was that her hand brushing against his? - and Gil sympathised, feeling like the well-loved puppy in a toddler's arms, well-meaning but uncomfortable. He decided to hold to his breath and appreciate the intention of the gesture, rather than its physical consequences.
“I missed seeing all of you.” Katja said, her strong voice amplified by its proximity to Gil's ear, before she set them both down and regarded the pair with warm eyes, an arm resting on each of their shoulders. “It’s been so long, we have so much to discuss. And so much to look forward to of course! Like the dance! Have the two of you found someone for the dance yet?”
"And you, Kat, though I can't say my spine can agree." He joked, giving her a playful shove that felt like pushing a brick wall, and hurt his wrist without Katja even budging a nanometer. Harper answered her before he could.

"To be honest, I haven't given much thought to the dance yet," she admitted, her voice soft but steady. "I've been so focused on other things that it kind of slipped my mind."
“I feel you on that one, sis. We’ve got a lot of things on our plates, so I totally understand forgetting about it. You shouldn’t worry though. A cute girl like you will find a date in no time! If you don’t then I’ll take you to the dance, and you don’t want that now do you?” Katja said with a playful wink.
“Thanks, Kat,” Harper replied with a short laugh. "I appreciate the vote of confidence, but honestly, I'm not too worried about finding a date. There's more to life than dances, right?”

There was a gap, and Gil took the opportunity to insert himself.
"I'm the same; no partner yet. You've gotta keep your options open, y'know? Besides, I'd hate to disappoint any die-hard fans." He grinned, playing the question off like good-natured banter, but there was a knife's edge of truth; he would genuinely have to discuss the optics of a Capital-D 'Date' with Artie, ruminate on the implications of being 'off-the-market'. Gil was well-aware of what particular corners of Tumblr and the website formally known as Twitter could get like these days. He couldn't risk hurting his public image this close to graduation and his return to LA. He couldn't go back to Bristol to be stifled and smothered and moulded into some number-crunching suit.

In his peripheral vision, Harper shifted her weight from one side to the other. Gil didn't pay it much attention.
“Well, I’m sure you’ll make the right choice when the time comes, Gil," Harper said, offering a small smile. “As for me, I’ll probably just go with the flow. And… right now I think I could use a drink.”
Harper excused herself in the direction of Rory's cooler, and Gil suddenly felt very small beneath Katja's towering frame.
“Well, not everyone has the luxury of an adoring fanbase.” She said curtly, giving his shoulder a forceful pat that appeared friendly but felt admonishing. Her gaze had the subtlest hint of a reprimanding frown to it. “But I’m sure you’ll manage.”

And then Katja excused herself as well, and Gil turned to realise Amma had wandered away too, and he was alone.



As the day moved on and the sun began to wane in the sky, Blackjack drifted on and off the beach, eventually reconvening around a campfire built by Lorcán. One by one, the members of the team settled themselves in a ring around the roaring embers, Gil himself shuffling a little closer to push his hands towards the heat; as the sun set across the oceanic horizon, he regretted not returning to the dorms, as some of the others had, to fetch something a bit warmer. He'd buttoned up his shirt, the time for artful display of abs far gone, but still found the evening chill worming its way to his bones.

Lorcán, ever the social glue between much of the team, prompted the evening's discussion, opting for that most nerve-racking of topics: the future.
“Alright gentle-dudes and lady-brahs, where does everyone see themselves once they graduate?”

Calliope had sat down next to Gil, and then Banjo had inserted himself between them. Gil ignored them both - not the malicious, deliberate kind, just simple neutrality, their appearances here as unremarkable as anyone else's - though he did notice Banjo staring and grinning at him for an extended amount of time. Gil was used to Banjo mouthing off, or playing pranks, or finding more general, ostentatious ways to irritate the group; he wasn't used to Banjo just being plain weird. He cleared his throat and shuffled an inch or two closer to the fire, wondering if Calliope found Banjo's behaviour as odd as everyone else did. Probably not. She didn't strike Gil as having the patience for it if she did.

Banjo-brand peculiarity was quickly forgotten as the question circled the bonfire, each member of Blackjack offering their hopes and dreams into the flame. Gil noticed Aurora falling asleep on Lorcán's shoulder, and hoped his copy had offered some sage advice earlier that afternoon. He'd have to catch himself up separately with his friend later on. To his side, Rory and Haven also began cosying up, and between the pair of pairs and the twinkling sunset sparkling off the sea, Gil felt a sharp pang shoot through him, his hand reflexively reaching for his phone and his mind brought back to those damning messages from Elenora he'd gotten that morning. It was not an unfamiliar pang; but while less frequent than it had once been, it had lost none of its potency.

He found himself tuning back in as Amma thoroughly deflated the collective blue-sky optimism of his teammates with her 6-feet-under realism. There was a lull in the conversation, the mood thoroughly murdered. He cleared his throat.
"Well, as long as they still cast me when I get back to L.A., I think I can put up with the rest." He said, trying to flash a smile and bring levity back to the evening. "You're looking at the next official spokesperson for Cachou Lajaunie, packing a liquorice wallop for fresh beyond freshness. Providing I can get a weekend release, of course. And after graduation, Hollywood is my oyster."
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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Chimera's Lair - Pacific Royal Campus
Welcome Home #1.058: Bullet: dodged.

Interaction(s): //

The piercing alarm from his phone, buzzing away on the carpet floor, woke Gil sharply from what he was sure had been a very pleasant dream, even as the details dissipated from memory like smoke. He lay on his back, duvet tossed and thrashed and askew across his half-naked frame, taking long hard blinks as the morning sun drifted through half-closed curtains, dust motes twinkling in the beams. He drew long, deep breaths, willing himself to wake up. The phone blared and buzzed, and eventually he pulled himself up at the waist to sit on the edge of his bed, duvet slipping off completely and rumpling on the floor. He lent down to scoop up his phone and shut off the alarm, rubbing his eyes with the back of his other hand as the light from the screen forced his still-sleepy eyes to squint.

Seconds later he was up and scrambling for clothes. He'd overslept, having gotten in later than expected from the beach - despite Amma's outburst, he was determined not to end the final night of freedom before the year began in earnest end on such a soured note, and so he'd assisted in emptying out Rory's cooler with not only the dwindling members of Blackjack, but also any late-night beach-goer who'd wandered close enough.

Now, however, he was in danger of missing breakfast before the opening ceremony for the academic year, and he was well-aware that manual labour would feature heavily in the days' agenda; not only the trials themselves, but also the construction and setup of the trials, on which senior students were relied upon for their assistance, and he needed to be well-fed if he and Gils 2 & 3 were going to be of use. Speaking of...
Gil finished pulling on his uniform in a hurry, getting the bulk of it on - trousers, shirt, socks and shoes, tie - before he shimmered and a similarly-scruffy Gil stepped forth from him.

Bleary-eyed, hungry, and ever-so-slightly hungover, Gil immediately recognised this exertion as a mistake, feeling instantly woozy and stumbling backwards; his heel hit the foot of the bed and he tumbled onto the bed, hand pushed against his forehead as vision swam and nausea washed over him. Gil2, though also bleary-eyed, hungry, and ever-so-slightly hungover, remained standing, and proffered a hand to Gil when he looked up again, dragging a hand down his face. He took it, and Gil helped himself to his feet again.

As Gil2 made his way out of the dorm and toward the mess hall to collect a sizeable breakfast, Gil threw on his blazer and took a couple minutes to himself to toss a far-too-hot espresso shot (with more sugar than many would find acceptable) down his gullet, ignoring the burning in his throat to focus instead on the blossoming warmth in his belly. Steeling himself against the coming day, he took one last once-over of himself in the mirror, used a single hand to tousle his hair (still smelling of smoke from last night's bonfire) just-so, and went to follow himself down to breakfast.



Gil stood outside the main doors of the Mess Hall, quietly chatting with Rory and passing the usual good mornings to whoever walked by, awaiting Gil2 to return arms laden with pastries and fried protein. The hall was abuzz with activity, the anticipation of the semester's first proper day thrumming through the student body, freshman and senior alike. He was considerably un-prepared for the arrival of Lorcán - or, more specifically, the arrival of Lorcán's hands.

He startled as Lorcán slapped his and Rory's arses with considerable fervour, and he was sure that had Gil2 been stood here, and he collecting breakfast in the Mess Hall, his friend may have traumatized himself and several other students by catalyzing Gil's sudden disintegration into nothingness with little more than an overly-fond physical greeting. As it was, Gil turned around, craning his neck for his copy in the mess hall as he did, and smiled as best he could as the three friends greeted each other, once again, as academic peers.

“Hopefully, you dudes don’t have to sit down too soon, but man, bros, you missed out on some legen-lactose heavy’-dary swells this mornin’. I am totally going to get you both out on a board before we graduate.”
Lorcán fumbled with his belt, dropping his trousers to the ground in the process, and Gil was silently thankful that he clearly wasn't the only one struggling with this particular morning.
"If you can score me a board for a day, I'll be there, bro." Rory replied, in typical 'up-for-anything' Rory fashion, and Lorcán grinned in return, turning his gaze expectantly to Gil.
"I think I'll let another Gil give it a trial run first. Wouldn't want to damage the money-maker in an errant wave." He said, offering a hand for Lorcán to shake, greeting him warmly as other members of Blackjack began drifting in.

On cue, Gil2 pushed open the doors of the mess hall with his back, turning as he came through to reveal two well-stocked trays balanced precariously between two mug-bearing arms. Steam drifted from the rims, and Gil felt himself coming alive just from the smell of the tea within. The trays, meanwhile, held croissants, a couple chocolate pains, a handful of bacon rashers each, two hard-boiled eggs (pre-peeled), and a banana. Gil carefully helped Gil2 with the mugs and trays, and the two gorged themselves, supping down great glugs of sugary tea between bites of their respective breakfasts.



By the time Blackjack arrived at Chimera's Lair, both Gils were thoroughly sated and slaked, and felt far more prepared for the day with full stomachs and slow-boil caffeine beginning to circulate. Gil2 departed - he had no need to sit around for the speech, and would instead use the time to fulfill Gil's community contribution obligations - but Gil himself filed into the stadium alongside his teammates, fidgeting and shifting in his seat as he tried, without success, to find a comfortable position in the hard-backed plastic chairs. He paid little attention, clapping when others clapped, whooping when others whooped, and only eyed the Foundation staff momentarily until their identities were confirmed; of little consequence, or so he thought.

He stopped fidgeting and found his attention laser-focused and breath hitching as Jim dropped the bombshell on degree accreditation; wasted years and futile plans cascaded in front of his eyes, vision swimming with images of scripts being burnt and casting calls passing him by - and then Jim followed up and said,
"our degree programs in the engineering, law and medical fields,"
and he breathed a heavy sigh of relief and sunk backwards into his chair, reassured his programme had not been set askew by the sudden upset. He could feel his phone sitting heavy in his pocket - he would certainly need to discuss the implications with Artie, and there was no guarantee that invalidations wouldn't stretch further into PRCU's course offerings and dismantle the university's credibility entirely - but, for now, at least he was safe.

Not that he could say the same for many of his teammates, and their reactions spoke for themselves in this regard. Gil felt himself shrinking into his seat, not wanting to be noticed or singled-out for how he had dodged such a mighty blow. This announcement would derail a strong majority of the team, and he wouldn't blame any one of them for spiraling out; he thought back to only the night previous, the twelve of them gathered around the warm glow of the bonfire beside the ocean, spooling out their futures into the fire. Only one of them hadn't indulged in such optimism.

Gil heard her laugh, and the feeling of a full stomach was suddenly distinctly unwelcome.

Had she known?

It didn't do to dwell on it. Even if she had, what use would knowing have been? To any of them?

Gil watched each of his teammates make their exits, each bearing a weight upon them he couldn't know. There was an odd sense of remorse bubbling up within him, a survivor's guilt shouldered for people who were still very much alive. A future that had seemed so attainable and assured less than merely eighteen hours ago had been suddenly and viciously ripped away from beneath them.

He'd need to catch up with Lorcán, undoubtedly; Rory too, but the pair were away from him, and Aurora had gone after the former hurriedly - her compassion was far better suited for this sensitive moment that Gil's brand of superficial charm and 'easy-breezy' philosophy. The plateau would be better, when they could talk without looking at each other, focusing on the construction instead of connection.

As the crowd of students, no longer buzzing with anticipation but now dour and deflated, began to filter out of the stadium, Gil found himself simply washed along amidst them, sympathizing for those affected, but clinging onto the future that was still within reach.

In his pocket, his phone buzzed, and he fished it out to look at the screen. Artie was calling. Gil hung up, and slowly made his way toward the fleet of vehicles ready to ferry students across to the Southern Plateau.



The sun bore down, now high in the sky as the day moved through the morning and into midday and the afternoon proper. The Gils alighted from the Minotaur, aware they were on the second-wave and therefore in danger of being late again; still, the pair took the time to stretch out, looking reminiscent of an Olympic swimming duo as their movements inadvertently synchronised. Shaking off the last of the stiffness, Gil shimmered again, and Gil3 stepped forth; they all three figured to save time and multiply now, rather than wait to be asked. Gil lifted his bag onto his shoulder as his copies forged ahead, trekking to the campsite.

Up ahead, the trio could see a neatly-arranged ring of tents, pre-fabricated and already setup, positioned with care and forethought around the firepit. It felt communal, village-like; even the tents' openings were all organised inwards. Past the tents Gil could see a similar cluster of tents, and wondered which team they were situated near; then, in the noon sun, there was a paired glimmer of rich orange and shock-white blonde, and Gil knew it was Firebird. That pair of heads couldn't be anyone other than Alyssa and Luce, inseparable since their return from an extended gap-year after the Hyperion incident. Alyssa was a redhead and a stunner, an all-smiles socialite down to the hilt; Luce was even-tempered, measured in her reactions and words, criss-crossed with scars and in possession of a gaze equally haunted and haunting. He wondered how Firebird were handling the morning's news.

His own teammates, meanwhile, had gathered already, and were busying themselves with the important task of arranging bunking partners before the evening descended and a hard day's work would cut into their patience. There were obvious obvious pairings - namely Banjo and Calliope - but also subtle obvious pairings: Lorcán and Aurora, Rory and Haven, that sort of thing. It was like co-ed bunking was mandated. Speaking of...
"So, Barnes... you want to sleep together tonight?"

If Haven didn't choke on the water, Gil choked on the air in her stead.
2"Smooth." Gil2 said, fishing a spare water bottle of his own as the copies congregated with the original.
3"We should really go and help bail him out. One of us, at least." Replied Gil3. Gil himself simply held up a hand.
"No no. He needs to learn. Besides, it's more entertaining this way...and probably a better gauge if Haven actually reciprocates."


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Lorcán stormed off, Aurora followed him.
Calliope went to bathroom to freak out, comes back collected, stood with Banjo.
Amma had a chat with the Foundation staff, and then left for the dorms.
Rory heads out of stadium.
Harper leaves with Haven.
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A B I L I T I E S, L I M I T A T I O N S, & W E A K N E S S E S
A B I L I T I E S, L I M I T A T I O N S, & W E A K N E S S E S
________________________________________________________________________________________
H Y P E R H U M A N A B I L I T Y || T B D
__PRIMARY CLASSIFICATION || TBD
__SECONDARY CLASSIFICATION || TBD
__POWER SCALE || TBD
__THREAT CLASSIFICATION || TBD

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus at mi mi. In imperdiet porta dolor, at fermentum nulla commodo eu. Suspendisse volutpat et ex tempor suscipit. Nullam tincidunt at nunc vel auctor. Donec venenatis, nisl nec fringilla varius, massa quam porttitor turpis, sed bibendum purus sem id risus. Nullam scelerisque lectus eget diam gravida malesuada. Maecenas consectetur est ac sollicitudin congue. Maecenas interdum erat dignissim lectus sodales, nec ultrices neque egestas. Integer convallis lacus at consequat volutpat.

L I M I T A T I O N S || T B D

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus at mi mi. In imperdiet porta dolor, at fermentum nulla commodo eu. Suspendisse volutpat et ex tempor suscipit. Nullam tincidunt at nunc vel auctor. Donec venenatis, nisl nec fringilla varius, massa quam porttitor turpis, sed bibendum purus sem id risus. Nullam scelerisque lectus eget diam gravida malesuada. Maecenas consectetur est ac sollicitudin congue. Maecenas interdum erat dignissim lectus sodales, nec ultrices neque egestas. Integer convallis lacus at consequat volutpat.

W E A K N E S S E S || T B D

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus at mi mi. In imperdiet porta dolor, at fermentum nulla commodo eu. Suspendisse volutpat et ex tempor suscipit. Nullam tincidunt at nunc vel auctor. Donec venenatis, nisl nec fringilla varius, massa quam porttitor turpis, sed bibendum purus sem id risus. Nullam scelerisque lectus eget diam gravida malesuada. Maecenas consectetur est ac sollicitudin congue. Maecenas interdum erat dignissim lectus sodales, nec ultrices neque egestas. Integer convallis lacus at consequat volutpat.


Hypes:
Molecular control shape-shifter
Friction control
Momentum/kineticism
Grafting-based biokinesis
body has developed a golden alloy that can be controlled around the body and turned into objects/weapons
animal transformation, both partial (hybrid) and full

Villains:
Gas generation
Flesh-construct hive-mind

Supernaturals:
Dispersed consciousness gaia-form
Afterlife/Limbo travel
Magic-based gunslinger (a Jäger who’s survived since 1880’s?)
consciousness bound to a weapon, that dominates the wielder
dragon bound to mortal form, slowly breaking out over centuries and regaining power
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Two men in Arthurian medieval knight-y times are transporting a massive black stone box/coffin/sarcophagus/etc with the promise that its delivery will halt some massive war/all war/bring peace on earth.

Journey is waylaid by those wishing to steal the box/prevent its delivery/take credit themselves for its delivery.

Scene: one knight says they will be happy to see the back if war once their mission is over. The other knight derides them for believing their mission is what they were told it is. The box isn’t a means to stop war but to control it. War is profitable.

Scene: a blind knight approaches and asks the two knights to come with him. They fob him off and pretend it is their duty to the box that they cannot.
“as long as my eyes are upon the casket it shall not move”
“Little comfort from a blind man”
Blind knight removes his blindfold and actually takes his eyes out and places them atop the casket. The casket can’t be moved. The knights can’t move the eyes either
“They are heavy with the weight of what they have seen”

Scene: set upon by bandits, who try to open the casket, though they are warned against it as terrible things befall those who try.
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FUCKIN BB CODE
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G I L G A L A H A D // H A R P E R B A X T E R
G I L G A L A H A D // H A R P E R B A X T E R

Location: The Chimera's Lair - Pacific Royal Campus
Welcome Home #1.074: An Interesting Proposition

Interaction(s): @Qia//Harper


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"And Cut! Great job people - that's lunch!"

Gil and Gil2 came apart, releasing each other from where they'd been grappling for the scene. In a series of staggered, mirrored movements they patted each other down, smoothed out their clothes, and reset their hair, before shaking hands, complimenting each other on the success of the scene, and turning as a pair toward the food bar. A crew hand promptly arrived to retrieve the prop-gun that had been integral to the shot, and Gil2 handed it over first, before it crumbled in the crew member's grasp; they chuckled politely, and then looked to the other Gil, who passed another prop over. This one also crumbled, and the chuckle this time was slightly less polite, and then Gil ceded the actual prop. The crew hand took it away, but not without a few moment's pause and a few sharp raps against the prop to verify it was as authentic as it looked.

Around them, beyond the set, the air began to buzz with chatter as cast and crew rushed to lunch, and the locals lingering around the perimeter of the set re-started their own conversations and clamour now that shooting had paused. 'Crestwood Hollow' had been on-location for 10 days so far, and as word got around the town after their arrival, the crowds had, at first, dramatically swelled. After a week or so the novelty had worn off, and it was now only the committed (or un-employed) fans who remained; saying this was still a disservice to the size of their impromptu audience, however, and many of the crew had expressed a surprised gratitude for how popular the show actually seemed to be, judging by the numbers still peering in from the edge after the initial groundswell had returned to their regular hum-drum.

They'd been shooting the two-parter mid-season finale, that pushed Elwood Dowd - Gil's on-screen character - into the climactic second-half of his character arc for that season, revealing the true identity of his so-far anonymous stalker and harasser: his very own evil twin, intent on reifying a combined downfall. It had been a cold and soggy shoot so far, plagued by the characteristic rain of the titular city, and right now Gil was thankful to shed his damp jacket and replace it with a warm towel draped around his shoulders. Gil2, clad head-to-toe in black in the outfit of the evil twin, had removed his own overcoat and done the same. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the lunch bar, holding paper plates and loading them with bread rolls, fried greens, and cold cuts. Another crew-hand approached them with a polystyrene cup in each hand, vapour rising into the cool afternoon air from the hot tea within; the Gils took a cup each and thanked him in stereo, sipping the scalding liquid and savouring every burn as it cascaded down their twin throats.

Across the set there was an exclamation that burst through the general hubbub; Gil and Gil2 turned simultaneously to see what the ruckus was about, and spotted a short, young girl - wrapped in a scarf and waterproof jacket - deftly weaving her way around production crew members and ducking through umbrellas and camera lighting rigs. She was bee-lining toward them, her face - freckled and bespectacled and framed by lightly-curled ginger locks that fell from her voluminous barnet - set with a look of ferocious determinism that would not be swayed. She waved excitedly as Gil came into her sight-line, and Gil2 waved cheerily back, which doubled the girl’s resolve. Gil, for his part, merely subtly held off the security guard en route to intercept, who raised an eyebrow before shrugging, taking a pastry from a nearby cart to chew on, and hanging back to retrieve the fan once the interaction was handled.

She was flustered and excited but ultimately steady enough to compose herself and actually manage some words. Her voice was soft and light and if the rain picked up Gil imagined he'd hardly be able to hear her at all.
"Mr. Galahad?" She started, the tremor in her hand betraying the confidence in her voice. "I'm a huge fan...I've been watching 'Crestwood Hollow' since the pilot, and Elwood is my favourite by far."
She rocked on the balls of her feet, bobbing up and down rather than swaying back and forth. She was a ball of nervous elation. Gil and Gil2 maintained easy smiles, and as they turned to face her proper, she was unsure which one to address, her eyes darting back and forth between their identical visages.
"Could I...get a selfie?" She asked, and then with a hitching inhale, dared: "...with both of you?"

Gil widened his smile and pulled out his own phone, motioning to Gil2 to circle around and position himself on the other side of the girl.
"Absolutely - but only if I can get one too!" He said, his voice warm to match his smile. They got in close, each Gil placing a careful hand on each of the girl's shoulders, and she emitted the smallest of squeaks as she reached out her arm, carefully positioned her phone, and clicked the button. As soon as she'd verified she was happy with the picture, Gil raised his own arm, and snapped a duplica-

His phone buzzed with an incoming call as the screen flickered to a photo of a gently-beautiful brunette laughing softly in dappled shade beneath a declining sun, and the name 'Elenora Baines' displayed brightly above her figure.
"Is that the Elenora? From 'Romeo & Juliet & Zombies?'" The girl asked, and Gil twitched inside at the sound of her name. "Are you still dating?" There was a hint of sad disappointment in her tone, but Gil recognized how well she had attempted to mask it.
"It is, and no," he answered, noting the girl's microscopic sigh of relief, "but we're still good friends. We like to stay in touch."
He declined the call, resolving - lying to himself - that he'd return it later, and held his phone up again to snap his own picture.

"That's a wonderful photo." He said, looking at the resulting photo on his phone, managing to convince the girl if not himself. It would be a wonderful photo after some slight touch-ups, and Gil was quite adept at in-phone editing. "What's your 'at'? I'll tag you in my story."

He looked up at the girl, who had paled quite fiercely, her eyes wide and deep beneath her glasses. Fear pooled within them, and Gil had a sudden sinking feeling like he'd done or said something quite wrong; headlines flashed before his eyes, social media comments, trending X hashtags. He looked to Gil2, who held a similar face of constrained panic, and could only offer a flustered shrug.
"Please don't post anything." The girl finally said, quiet but with a sense of urgency that unnerved the Gils. "My dad...we can't talk about..." her words were stilted, sentence fragments spilling from her mouth, but the pieces fell in place. "He doesn't even know that I'm..."

Gil nodded, putting a hand on her arm to steady her and offering a comforting smile.
"I get it. Not everyone is...accepting. Even 'Crestwood Hollow' isn't immune to it."
The girl smiled back, wiping her eye with her sleeve, pushing her glasses up to her forehead.
"It's just nice to know...that it's not the end of the world. Hypes are still good people, they can still be important. Thank you, Mr. Galahad."
"Please - it's Gil. If you ever need someone to talk to - don't be afraid to reach out. I'm just a person too, you know."

They chatted for a couple more minutes, and then crew came around about shooting resuming; Gil nodded, and said his goodbyes to the girl. He'd not asked her name, not gotten her handle, and even now, as she was escorted by the loitering security member back to the public crowd cordons, he was forgetting what she looked like, his last memory of this brief encounter the back of a black waterproof jacket and a messy ginger bun. He was back to his phone, staring at the missed call from Elle, but finding himself making excuses to avoid calling her back. Poor signal from the rain; a long day of shooting ahead of them; no time between takes. Whatever worked to soothe his conscience.

The girl would reach out to him on instagram a few weeks later, after an accidental manifestation of her own powers had resulted in her father throwing her out of the house, forcing her to refuge at her aunt's while her dad attempted to sully her name to all family that would hear it. Gil wouldn't see the message request, wouldn't check his instagram DM's, and even if he had, wouldn't recognize her from her profile photo anyway.


G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Trials, Southern Plateau - Dundas Island
Hope In Hell #2.040: Ego

Interaction(s): N/A


Gil was rattled. He knew about the trials and what they usually entailed, the thrills and spills therein, the carefully-curated environment to test the student's limits and capabilities, but this was different. This was actual danger, and he cared very little for it. He was tired from his replicating, tired from fighting, tired from running; just plain tired, and bruised and afraid and now whoever had arranged this hostile takeover apparently intended to just keep on splitting the team. What was the point? Given what they'd experienced, Gil was fairly confident that if the intention was simply to kill them, that could have been achieved fairly neatly even before all the dramatics with the lights and the separation of students. Why drag it out? Was it meant to entertain some secret audience, or was the prolonged cruelty of it all its own purpose for being? Darkest of all, was it even a hostile takeover at all? That rankled, cynical part of Gil, shining especially brightly under the current circumstances, was delighted to openly wonder if this wasn't all orchestrated by the university themselves, an elevated Trials for their grand return, something to test the students even more thoroughly in the wake of Hyperion and the mess he'd left behind.

"So we just....go through our door?"
Calliope was first to break the silence, and Gil returned her nervous gaze with a steeled eye. The question hung in the air. Gil surmised it probably didn't matter which door they went through; if their surroundings were as fluid and manipulable as they seemed, they would each be walking into whatever they were intended to walk into, name on the door be damned.

Gil returned Calliope's nod, remaining silent as she and Banjo exchanged platitudes and promises; he held no such expectations for himself. Calliope forged on first, pushing through her door with familiar, stoic poise; Banjo next, brash and headstrong and assertive. Gil, alone, put a hand on the doorknob and left it there, standing in the dark of the corridor with distant crashing of metal-on-metal ringing down the hallway, frozen in the moment between the known fear behind him, and the unknown fear before him.

After a long while, the door opened of its own accord, and a crowd of hands grasped the arm that had rested upon it, and pulled him headlong into the darkness. The door slammed shut behind them, and the bang echoed and reverberated down the corridor, until the sound and hallway both faded into nothing.



Gil woke on wet grass, his hands and face slick with dew but the water-resistant A.R. suit easily shedding the water, rivulets trickling down his torso and falling to the ground from the crests and peaks of his form as he picked himself up from the ground and tried to get a grip on his surroundings.

It was dark - ever so dark - like a closed set, but for the singular orb of light, a shining pinprick some hundreds or thousands of meters above him, visible yet offering no illumination. Instead, some eerie, unearthly glow cast an aura of maybe four or five feet around him in a circle, its origin invisible and unknown, as if emanating from his very being; it moved with him perfectly, elucidating his immediate area with a spectral light, but cut off at its boundary so abruptly, into such a pure and unfathomable darkness, that it was if the world simply stopped existing beyond its circumference.

He took a few unsteady steps forward, watching as grass appeared ahead of him and disappeared behind him, rubbing his arm that still stung from the unnatural clutches of a hundred hands. He tried all directions, wandering in a slow looping circle, spiraling outwards from the flattened patch of grass where he'd awoken, but found no edge to the sprawling field, no end to the grass, heavy with droplets that clung to each blade; the reflected sparkling of the dew in the unnatural light only amplified the sinister atmosphere of the whole situation.

"Hello?" He ventured, calling out into the abyss. Only silence was returned, and the blackness seemed to swallow up his voice, like yelling out into an anechoic chamber. He thought to yell again, but was suddenly gripped with the paranoid fear that something, out there in the ink, might actually hear him.

He walked on, alone, bruised, tired. The darkness felt cloying, only barely kept at bay by the ghostly light, and the orb high above him was perfectly still, unflinching. Was the edge of the light closer now? Had it shrunk inwards, or was it merely his eyes playing tricks on him, noticing change where there was none, conjuring phantoms?

Steadily, slowly, he picked up his pace, exhaustion wiped away by a ramping terror. Was this it? He was trapped, alone, in the forever-dark, endlessly wandering for an exit that would never come, finding nothing in his travels but wet grass? He began to jog, his feet slipping slightly on the slick green, but gaining purchase as he accelerated into a run. Not alone. Not here. Not in the dark, forgotten and ignored, fading into nothing.

He didn't see the figure until it was too late, the all-black outfit springing into his vision far too quickly to do anything about; he felt his face crunch against the man's back, and he bounced off hard, reeling to the ground where the blood trickling from his newly-broken nose mixed with the wetness on the grass in an interplay of hot and cold across his features. He pulled himself up to a single knee, recovering as his head swam and vision span, trying to center his gaze on the person in front of him.

"Hello, 'Elwood'." The figure said, reaching an arm out to assist him. Gil's blood turned to ice, the blossoming painful throb from his nose completely numbed by shock and realization.

With no other recourse, Gil steeled himself, and took the hand proffered, standing. The figure pulled a handkerchief from within his coat, tutting as he held it out. Gil snatched it away and pressed it to his nostrils. He could taste the blood dripping into his mouth, and he stained his teeth with it as he licked his lips.
"Hello, Elliot." He replied.

Elliot Dowd, the evil twin, Gil's mirror. His outfit was perfect, thread-by-thread, like he'd just stepped out of costuming straight onto set. A tailored black suit, expensive and well-fitting, over a dignified black shirt and worn beneath a long woolen overcoat, all topped off with a pair of distinguished, but restrained, black gloves. Even the wig was correct, similarly dark, slicked-back with a subtle shine. Christ, he even had the eyeliner on.

"This is it then?" Gil said, his tone aggressive and accusatory. "The best they could do is myself from some years-old bit-part? I have to admit, having seen the Force tie-ins and adverts, I'd have thought the Big Bad Foundation could have conjured up something a bit more inventive."

Elliot sighed, and despite Gil's familiarity with his own face - through his copies, through his roles, through his own vanity - the way his features contorted on this doppelganger unnerved him. It was like he was mirrored the wrong way, and looking at him, Gil felt like he was the reflection.
"Do you ever get tired," Elliot began, removing his gloves and overcoat, holding them outstretched. Another pair of hands, attached to too-long arms and disembodied from any kind of visible torso or tertiary figure, appeared from the blackness and took them, slinking back into the dark. "Of hearing your own voice? Or is it only everyone else that suffers?"

Gil faltered. Elliot's manner was so far removed from Gil's usual friendly facade, which was to be expected, but there was also a hint of something else. Something Gil recognized, but didn't want to.
"I suppose, of course, that it did bother you, you'd probably do something about it." Elliot continued. Gil took a step back, but Elliot moved with him, imperceptibly closer for the attempt. "As long as it's just everyone else, it's not worth worrying about, right? After all, we both know the only person important to you is you."

"Get away from me." Gil said, his words defiant but voice unsteady.
"No." Answered Elliot.

Gil changed tact. "Yeah, I've got a bit of an ego. Why the hell not, eh? I've earned my accolades. You'll have to dig a little deeper if you want to really sting."
"Well, that's just the problem, isn't it? There's nothing really there, after we've scratched the surface."
Gil laughed, smug and complacent. "So that's it? One weak blow and you're all out of hot air?"

Elliot chuckled, an apologetic and almost sheepish sound. "I do apologize; you misunderstand me. I mean, when we 'dig a little deeper', as you put it, underneath you're just...vacant, aren't you? As I said, there's nothing really there. I wonder if that's why we were so easy for you?"
"'We'?"

Elliot shimmered, and out of the dark stepped another Gil, dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and a nostalgic jacket. The actual Elwood, once again perfectly costumed, make-up applied, nary a trace of imperfection on his powdered face.
"Slipping in and out of us was just another layer of costuming for you, wasn't it? I remember..." Elwood paused, casting his eyes to the sky as he rested a finger on his chin, posturing as if deep in thought. "...I remember the writers saying they based Elwood on what you were like in real life. To make it more 'natural' for the screen. I remember how that made it harder for you. You had to portray a character, while also trying to act like yourself. Trying to do both at once was so tricky, wasn't it?

"In fact," came a third voice, "I recall that the less real we had to be, the easier the job was." This version held an arm towards Gil, proffering to him an open container of rich-scented sweets. Gil could see the Cachou Lajaunie branding along the side of the tin. "Ads were our favourite. A quick paycheque, and you didn't have to try and be human! Just shill the product with a smile."

Gil, justifying his retreat with a thought of 'I don't have to listen to this', and ignoring the sheer panic welling up in his chest that acted as his true motivator, turned on his heel and fled. He left behind a chorus of laughs, jeering and disdainful, but didn't get far. Those hideous pairs of hands re-appeared, pawing at his legs and arms, wrapping softly around his chest until they restrained him entirely. Gil expected them to hold him down and pull his limbs apart, drag his pieces into the dark to join them, but instead they just politely, firmly, gestured for Gil to pivot back, ushering him - again, polite but firm - back to his other selves. There was no jostling, no aggression; they just indicated the intended direction, and silently guided him back, ensuring he did not stray. As soon as he was once again stood before himself, the hands disappeared.

"Well, it was fun to watch, if inevitable and pointless. This must be what we mean by 'born for entertainment'." Elliot remarked, eliciting a chuckle from the other two.
"What do you want from me?" Gil said, exasperated and agitated. "Stand here in the dark and listen to you berate me?"

Elliot shrugged, splaying his hands out in a comical fashion. "It's more about...accepting some home-brewed honesty. As amusing as your escape attempt was, it's also rather apt given the circumstances, don't you think? Always running from the ugly truths of the self." He raised a single eyebrow, though his gaze went past Gil and to something behind him. Gil turned, and saw the figure he dreaded the most.

A younger Gil than the others, this one was clad in the formal accoutrement of a sixteenth-century nobleman. His face was pallid and gaunt, and an unidentified, off-colour liquid oozed from his mouth and stained his lips and chin.
"If it doesn't serve your ego, dump it and move on, right?" Said Romeo.
"Don't." Answered Gil, softly. Romeo just bent backwards, one hand clutching his heart, the other across his forehead, a theatrical and cheesy pose, but one flush with rancour and derision.
"If love be rough with you, be rough with love; prick love for pricking, and you beat love down." He espoused, in his best thespian dialogue.
"Shut up!" Gil hissed, vitriolic and desperate.
"The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head - go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;" the aura of light became a path, and the echoes of Gil parted around it and slunk back into the shadows, barely visible but for ghostly traces of their features.

"Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished," Romeo continued, as Gil trudged forward, no recourse but to press forward. At the very least, it put distance between him and the burdening, taunting words of his Shakespearean counterpart, that lingered after him to twist the knife.

"For never was a story of more woe."


Gil daren't look behind him for fear of what he might see; yet he understood that what - who - lay ahead of him would be infinitely more terrible a reckoning.

"Than this of Juliet...and her Romeo..."
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Roman Grumpy Toad, King of Dirt

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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Trials, Southern Plateau - Dundas Island
Hope In Hell #2.041: Ego II

Interaction(s): N/A


The path went on for...god, it felt like miles, but Gil knew that the dark and the silence played on his perception of time and space. The absence of stimuli stretched every second into an eon and he wondered, not for the first time, if the journey was endless. If the eternal walk was his ultimate punishment; press forward into nothing, forever, until you simply collapse and die. He didn't stop himself from mulling that part over.

And then, all of a sudden, there was...something. Something on the edge of the silence, so imperceptible he wasn't sure he hadn't just started hallucinating. He whipped his head around, searching every corner of the dark for the source, a source he wasn't convinced even existed.

Nothing.

He kept walking.

And then there it was again; the faintest rustling, oddly familiar but still he struggled to identify it, couldn’t quite put an image to the noise. He paused again, closing his eyes and straining his ears. Again there was nothing. He sighed, tired and frustrated, and took a step forward, only to swing wildly when the rustle reoccurred. The tension made him feel feral, unchained.

There was...something. Something across the way in the dark. It was no wonder he’d not seen it at first; it was only as he swayed back and forth now that he could see, ever so faintly, the slightest hint of a reflection of light, winking back at him.

He hesitated. Now that he’d seen it he could keep a bead on it, but it moved no farther from him nor closer to him as he watched. Gil made more steps along the illuminated path, watching it all the while, and it moved with him, perfectly parallel. It was a person, he could see now, and the rustling was clear and identifiable as their footsteps.

The words of his alters rang in his ears. The footsteps of his mystery stalker grew louder around him, but the distance never changed, moving forwards only when he did. He grew angry; he chafed raw from the berating he’d given himself, and now this place only sought to toy with him further. It wasn’t even interesting, for fucks sake, it was just fucking grass and the dark.

He pivoted on his heel and took off sprinting so quickly that he only realised he’d done so when he was already five metres off the path and the light was left behind. He plunged headlong into the darkness, not caring for a second how utterly enveloping it felt, how it cloyed and pulled at his skin and invaded his lungs. All he focused on was that glinting, reflecting light in the distance, winking at him. He was vaguely aware of far-off laughter, but paid it no mind; gave no notice to his pounding heart, pushing viscous blood around his aching body and fit to explode from his chest, nor to his burning lungs, pulling in air that felt thick and hot and tasted like crude oil in his mouth.

Head down, he pressed on, his muscles screaming and the grass slick beneath his feet and his breath failing until finally, finally, he lost his footing and tumbled, head over heels across the field, gouging up chunks of dirt, muddying his arms and face, the brown mixing with the red to distort his features.

He lay there in the grass, pushed to his absolute limit, heaving great panting breaths in and out, the lights no longer visible; nothing visible, just the sensations of being cold and wet on the ground anchoring him to any reality at all.

There was a rustling. More footsteps. Gil was vaguely aware of a presence near his head, but couldn't bring himself to roll over from where he lay splayed on his back to investigate, wouldn't have been able to see who those footsteps finally belonged to even if he had.

There was a light chuckle, gentle and feminine, and a single tear rolled from the corner of Gil's eye and across his temple to the ground, the only water he could spare.
"If only you'd have chased me so passionately eight years ago, Gil."

Gil managed a dry chuckle, coughed a mix of spit and blood, and sank into unconsciousness.



When Gil woke up, his head rang and his throat was scorched. Someone held a bottle of water to his lips and he supped greedily, letting it flow freely down his chin and chest as he gulped, the bottle being upturned as it emptied and eventually ran dry. Gil went to bring his arm up to wipe his chin, and it was only then he realised he was restrained; only then that he realised he was not lying on wet grass, but sat on a plastic folding chair. His hands were tied behind his back. His joints ached. How long had he been out?

"And now we come to the crux of the matter, don't we, Gil?"

He looked up sharply. His vision swam but in front of him, perched daintily on a chair of her own, was the unequivocal owner of that voice. He would never forget that voice.
"Elle...I'm sorr-" "SHUT UP."

The ferocity of the command, reverberating around his head and shaking his very bones, stunned Gil into obeyance. He couldn't see Elliot, but he felt a blow hit him hard in his exposed stomach. He spluttered, doubling over and coughing.
"Too late for that nonsense now. You made our bed eight years ago. You fucking lie in it."

"Elliot...you'll get your chance." Said Elle, gentle but admonishing. Whatever presence he had, Gil felt it slink away.
"We talked about how empty you are, didn't we? But that's only half the problem, isn't it?"

Gil daren't speak, despite the screaming inside him. Whatever force this was wasn't interested in his protest, and he was still catching his breath where Elliot's sudden blow had winded him. He just sat there, hands tied, head hung, trying to block out the venomous words spewed by the only girl he'd ever loved. Thought he'd loved. Convinced himself he'd loved.

"We both know that the real problem isn't the emptiness, isn't that gaping hole inside you instead of a soul. It's what you use to fill that hole."
She stood up, walking toward Gil and pulling his head up by the chin with a single finger. They locked eyes, and even though it had been nearly a decade since he'd last seen Elenora Baines, every atom of her was still seared into his memory; every strand of hair, every pore of her skin, every fleck in her irides. He looked into her eyes, and for the first time since entering this sabotaged Trial, seized onto some certainty.

This was not Elle.

He cradled that fact like his own precious child; it anchored him, reassured him. The horrors persisted, but so did he.

Elle let go of his chin and pushed a finger painfully into his chest instead.
"You use people, don't you? You chew them up, squeeze them dry, and then throw them away. How long until you get bored of the current lot, do you think, like you got bored of me?"

Gil thought back eight years ago, desperately searching his memory for those last days in Los Angeles. Hazy sun and quiet arguments...
"I...I begged you to stay..." he managed, his voice weak and mournful.

"And I begged you to come with me!" She spat back, her face a portrait of pained fury. "We could have had a real life, with proper foundations, not all that...Hollywood glitterati shit. But you couldn't leave the admiration behind, could you? No yes-men in Michigan. Only one person to adore you and love you and support you? Not enough for Gil Galahad, Hollywood's biggest has-been! You're pathetic."

She walked away, waving her hand over her shoulder as she went in some kind of signal; presumably to Elliot, wherever he lurked, but Gil still couldn't feel his presence. Instead, the restraints around his wrists simply fell away, and he pulled his arms in front of him, his shoulders burning.

"Say what you want. Justify it however you can. It means nothing to me. After all, I'm not even really here, am I?" Elle continued, as Gil stood from his chair and attempted to stumble after her. "I'm just what your own mind conjured up. How's that for pitiable? You actually do think all of this about yourself."

Gil stopped, hanging his head in shame.
"Were you ever really 'you' when you were with me, Gil? Are you even really 'you' now? Here, faced with the lowest moments of your miserable, superficial life, and you're still acting, aren't you? Which 'Gil' are you playing today, do you think?"

Out of the darkness, Gil recognised faces. His faces, over and over, stepping forward to circle him. Elliot, Elwood, Romeo were all here, as well as a few advertising gigs. But there were more recent copies of Gil, too: here was one in PRCU uniform, tie loosened and shirt-sleeves rolled-up; here was one in the university's athletic issue; here was one in beachwear.
"Which one, Gil? Which face are you wearing right now? The Gil that 'chills with his bros'? The Gil that smokes with Amma? The Gil that entertains fans on the beach? The Gil that suckers Harper in for another guaranteed dose of naive affirmation? The Gil that told me he loves me, but couldn't be with me?!"

They surrounded Gil, encircling him on all sides. Elle was out of reach, stood beyond the circle, and she pulled out a phone from her pocket and held it up.

Gil felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to face a sight that sent him stumbling backwards, reeling away. A final Gil copy, bruised and bloody and wearing the AR suit he was clad in in this very moment. The face was a blank veil of flesh, no features to speak of at all.
"That's the real you, isn't it Gil?" Elle taunted, her peeling laughter full of spite and enmity. "Nothing and no one! Why don't we see which version of you hates you the most?"

"Lights!"


Blinding floodlights exploded into life, finally illuminating the grassy field for miles around. Crestwood Common, that damnable set, filmed on-location. It always had been.

"Camera!"


Gil heard Elle's phone start recording, and behind the lights, he could suddenly see cameras on cranes, recording lights steadily blinking.

"Action!"


The copies came for him. All he saw was hatred. All he felt was violence.

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Roman Grumpy Toad, King of Dirt

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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: The Trials, Southern Plateau - Dundas Island
Hope In Hell #2.053: Superego

Interaction(s): N/A


"I'm sorry."

Tiny-sounding, pointless words, squeezed out through labored breaths drawn into bruised lungs beneath broken ribs.

"I'm sorry."

Not heeded, not wanted, not respected. Empty platitudes born of desperation and pain. And there was a lot of pain.


"I'm sorry."


Gil's already-broken nose took another kick and he felt a sharp pain shoot across his face. A tooth came loose and rattled around inside his mouth, before he managed to roll over, shielding his head with his arms, and spit out the tooth alongside a sizeable wad of blood. The kicks went for his side instead, and the already-broken ribs sent agonizing protests across his torso with every fresh blow. Tears welled up in Gil's eyes.

Hands reached for him; he swatted them away, before latching onto one that tried to pry his arms away from his head, and with adrenaline-fueled strength, twisted it and yanked hard. The owner - some uniform-clad copy, Gil was too woozy to identify which specific aspect of himself this doppelganger was supposed to be mocking - fell to the floor, but no one paid any mind in the midst of the frenzy; the clone received its own blows, vicious kicks and stomps and punches, but disturbingly, focused only on continuing its own assault of the original Gil. Thrashing and kicking on the ground, the clone caught a boot to its temple, and Gil heard and saw the distinct sound and sight of a skull fracturing into pieces, shards moving beneath the miraculously-unbroken skin. Blood and something else leaked out of the clone's ears, and he lay still.

Gil vomited.

Someone stomped on his ankle and he felt something snap and he cried out. He was so utterly sure he was going to die, and felt completely hollow about it. What would he be remembered for? One teen rom-com a decade ago, and a handful of episodes on a niche soap opera melodrama. He could count on one hand the people that would miss him.

He clawed his way across the grass as best he could; some of the clones mistook the corpse of their ex-comrade for their actual target, and their beatings began to mutilate the un-moving carcass, granting Gil himself some breathing room. There was a slight break in the mob, and it galvanised Gil; somehow, plumbing depths he no longer believed he had, he managed to push himself along with his working leg, the broken ankle dragging his other foot behind him at an angle he'd rather not contemplate.

He rolled himself onto his back with a not-inconsiderable amount of effort, and in the process managed to slip one of his broken ribs through the soft tissue of his lung. He felt the pain immediately - sharp, stabbing, white-hot, turning to a dull but persistent ache that only got worse with each labored breath. He coughed, the spasms sending their own agony through him, and began to gasp for air; every intake was ragged and bubbly, and the pace of his breathing quickened, short pants unable to supply the air he needed.

The dregs of the mob that had followed him now called to the others, and, finally, Gil gave up. His muscles screamed for oxygen his failing respiratory system was no longer able to provide. With the last of his energy, he held a bruised and bloody hand to the sky, swirling it in a smooth repetition of an elegant movement from only the night before; a more pleasant memory, with a girl he'd had nothing to pretend to be for. The cigarette appeared once more, and Gil placed it in his mouth, regretting the AR Suit's lack of pockets for the book of matches he'd had to leave behind.

He rested his head, trying to focus on the cool grass beneath him, and closed his eyes, waiting for the end to arrive.

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G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D
G I L E M O R Y G A L A H A D

Location: Infirmary Wing - P.R.C.U. Campus
Take On Me #3.006: Pinned like a note in a hospital gown.

Interaction(s): N/A


The first few days were the hardest for Gil, unpicking Orcinus’ handiwork as he rediscovered his newly-fractured mind, lying in a lonely bed in the infirmary ward.

The first night, after delivery to medical staff, he stirred from oblivion into a dim room, his clothes changed, the ground beneath him no longer wet grass but dry and warm bedsheets. He had awoken on the other side of despair and such a sheer acceptance of death that the realisation he had survived was as equal parts disappointment as it was relief. He merely lay in the dark, each breath a freshly laboured agony, and willed himself to slip back beneath the vale of consciousness, whether through sleep or death, each feeling as merciful as the other.



The second day he had woken with a start, his spasmodic jump into wakefulness triggering new pain that only sharpened his mind. The sun was up and activity buzzed lowly beyond the door of his room; he swept his gaze around his fresh surroundings and realised he had been sepulchred in the university’s hospital ward, patched and gauzed and stitched and bandaged and set. He felt the cloying pressure of medical dressings all about his person, and found his lower leg and foot entombed within a cast of their own; a vague recollection of a sharp cracking stomp troubled him briefly before he pushed it out of mind.

Someone had delivered him breakfast, gracefully without stirring him; it was the mug that piqued his interest, finding his mouth sticky and sour with dehydration, despite the saline drip-tube that protruded from his arm. He reached for it, wrapping a careful hand around the ceramic body to gauge how much heat remained in the beverage within, and found it to be enough. Gingerly, steadily, he raised it to his lips and supped deeply; the liquid was earthy and sugary and quenching - greedily, he drained the mug, slaking himself and enjoying the grounding flavour. It was only out of the corner of his eye, the very limits of his periphery, that he noticed movement as he set the mug down, and as Gil turned to look, panic gripped him with ferocity and he reflexively launched the mug with self-sabotaging vigour, his injured body protesting at every inch against the sudden and aggressive movement.

The mug found its mark square and true, and shattered against the silvered glass of the mirror set upon the wall, which shattered in kind from the impact. Splinters criss-crossed across its surface and where there had been just one Gil staring back at him - haggard, maimed, gaunt, and hollow-eyed - there were now scores upon scores, every one a spectre of anguish and hatred.

Lorcán had visited that day for the first time, though he did not find Gil to be a welcoming bedfellow, instead uncharacteristically reticent and withdrawn. Lorcán did not mention the splintered mirror, if indeed he noticed it at all; but the nurse who came in after he’d left removed it without comment or expression, and it was not replaced.



The second night was lonelier than the first, and sleep came no less difficult. With the day bringing the bustle of people to, from, and around his room, he felt their absence that much more keenly in the silvery moonlight. In the midst of paranoia and forlorn isolation, Gil made a decision he'd been warned against by both his medical attendants and his own subconscious: he mustered all the strength he could from the depths of his wounded body, and with desperation for companionship in whatever form, pushed forth a clone. His body protested the effort immediately; his heart rate spiked dangerously and the ECG monitor he was hooked up to raised an alert accordingly. The on-call nurse burst in swiftly, mere minutes later, but was shocked into hesitation by the condition she found her patient in.

Gil was out of bed, arm bleeding where the IV had been ripped out in the fracas, wrestling on the floor with a copy of himself in a medley of skin and bandages.

One of the Gils managed to break away from the melee, attempting to escape the room, but was in no physical condition to do so even without the preceding brawl. Before her very eyes, the copy of Gil began to disintegrate, flaking away at the extremities. Gil himself couldn’t stop screaming about the Him With No Face, about the hateful imposter that needed killing before it could turn the same intention upon him, about the self-produced assassin bent on his destruction.

All the nurse saw, staring into the very-much-there face of a decomposing copy of her patient, was fear in the eyes.

Gil was sedated and returned to bed, and he slept through the third day.



Waking up on the fourth day, Gil found himself fiddling with his phone. There was a swathe of missed calls and unread texts. The university had provided a statement to the Coast Guard and the Canadian Government in the wake of Orcinus' sabotage and attack, the Harbinger's fatal explosion rocking the island naturally drawing the attention of the outside authorities. Much as H.E.L.P. and H.I.T. liked to keep things in-house, there were limits to what they were able to keep to themselves. News of the assault on their campus by Hyperion's Children wasn't well-received, but it was kept out of major news circuits; still readily available to the public, but only found by those who went looking.

Unfortunately for Gil, still fragile physically and mentally, Artie and Elle were people who went looking, and both expressed their concern for his wellbeing through frantic messages and missed phone calls. He stared at his phone screen. Artie was one thing; bitterness rose within Gil, confident to the point of enmity that his agent's only real concern was whether Gil was fit for on-screen appearances. He didn't want to broach whether he even cared about returning to the industry anymore with himself, let alone Arthur.

Elle was a different matter; the previous rose-tinted memories had been replaced with sharper, far nastier images, accompanied by spiteful words and still-tender actual injury. He knew, rationally, that she was truly concerned for his health; but right now, rationality was in short supply, and it was the paranoid abstract that seized him instead, demanding that this was simply a way to finish the job.

He returned no calls, replied to no texts, and ignored any further that came through for the rest of the day. Lorcán returned, but Gil remained taciturn and distant; the visit was shorter than the previous, but no less frustrating for either party, and once again Gil found himself alone and frightened as the sun sank beyond his window.
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Gil Galahad - Quantum Replication
Lucille Calder - Adaptive Hyper-survivability
Abelle D’Voire - Insectoid Physiology & Control
Chester Argylle - Textakinesis
Penelope Boyle - Autobiokinesis
Minavita Ripole - Rapid Biokinetic Transformation Inducement
Poe Navidson - The Labyrinth
Fritz Jackson - Sharpness/Edge Manipulation
Jennifer Vandermeyer - Grafting-based Biokinesis
Harlan Danielewski - Friction Control
Nia Vaughan - Animal Transformation
Warren Booker - Momentum Control/Kineticism
Valentine Valdez - ???
Felix Soto - Gas Conversion/Generation
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Groups:

FRIENDLY
Civilians (normal people)
Navigators (able to sense wild magic and travel safely)
Cartographers (able to temporarily contain wild magic via map-making)
Quieters (able to nullify magic, generally kept in settlements to keep them safe)

HOSTILE
Horrors/Fiends (people lost to wild magic and warped into something...else)
Dire Animals (animals warped by wild magic)
Strangers In The Dark (cult living in the Wilds)
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One of the knights is secretly an impersonator, whether he be the squire who’s now taken up his knight’s armour and title, or just some scrappy commoner seeking to flee under a a stolen identity.
The other knight actually knows this, has known all along - but it is only a fair way into their journey, after a severe disagreement, than he reveals his knowledge.
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“Damn the box! And blast my oath!”

———-

He woke to the feel of Cold steel beneath the tip of his chin.
“You are not [name]”

———

“He died like…a coward”
“And you would kill me as I sleep? A coward yourself?”
“Do not goad me!”
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idk how you'd do it but analog horror series that starts as bog standard urban exploring, urban exploring moves into some abandoned houses, and then they find a labyrinth in one of the homes, and it's revealed it's the same labyrinth as the House on Ash Tree Lane from House of Leaves, and the Minotaur starts hunting them.
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