Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Ekreture
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Ekreture

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A Sunny Day in Esperanza

"Good morning Esperanza!"

The station's logo, "Fox 11", played on the screen, and as it wiped away, the hosts of the show were revealed to be sitting behind their desks, on a set designed with hues of gold, blue, and red playing across the brightly lit view. The hosts, an older, distinguished looking man with a suit to match his speckled, graying hair and a fake tan to match with the gold of the set, and a beautiful young woman with an ethnically ambiguous background and a gold dress, both smiled with pure white teeth while the morning music played in the background; a tepid mixture of acoustic guitars and light saxophone.

"It's 5:00 am, I'm Brett Farthing," began the male host, his Botox lips crinkling as he smiled.

"I'm Vanessa Moreno," said the female, before they both said, "And this is Esperanza Today!"

The screen shifted to the week's weather forecast, while Vanessa's soothing voice spoke over it. "Right now we're looking at a cool 68 degrees, which should go up to a high of 73. Looks like tomorrow we'll be getting a little bit of rain with a high of 50 and a 40% chance of precipitation."

Brett started chuckling. "Looks like I won't be headed to the beach!" Despite the lack of humor, both hosts began laughing with a forcible weight behind it. Vanessa sighed in content before she continued.

"Well Monday we should be getting clear skies with a high of 74!" As the weather forcast played off the screen, she turned back to the older host. "Looks like you might be getting your beach day after all, Brett!" Brett chuckled in response.

"Yeah, weather's starting to warm up." She smiled with a soft coo for a response and the camera moved to Brett. "Later we'll be talking to a teacher at Johnson Elementary who thought of a clever new way of teaching those pesky times tables, and our reporter John Michael will be looking at Starling Science's new exhibit at the aquarium, 'Oceans of the Past'," he said in a jokingly ominous voice, looking to Vanessa before adding, "Should be exciting. But now," he turned back to the camera with eyebrows knit in journalistic integrity, "We've got a representative of Mayor Gartner's campaign for governor, Todd O'Brien."

The camera zoomed out to reveal a new face; a balding man in his thirties with round glasses and a bad suit. One could swear to smell his coffee breath through the screen, and Brett turned to shake his hand. "Todd."

"A pleasure to be here, Brett," the representative said, shaking his hand vigorously and a smile plastered to his unnecessarily shaved face.

"Oh believe me, the pleasure's all mine. Now Todd-" The male host put his hand down on his desk. "How's the campaign?" Tom began chuckling and sat back in his chair.

"Un-believably, Brett. Today the Mayor's headed to San Francisco where he'll be meeting with local charity leaders, and if you look at the polls, this is starting to look like a sure fire victory," he assured with a smile. Brett chuckled back to him.

"That's good to hear. But," He looked down to his desk with a mockery of consternation, "Are you sure the mayor can continue his job effectively during the election?" Todd held his hand up in response.

"Absolutely. In fact, I'd say Mayor Gartner's been doing his job better than ever. New road projects have been planned around the city, unemployed is at an all-time low, education-" Suddenly, a voice spoke from off screen.

"What about the missing people?" There was a lengthy pause after that, and the camera panned out to Vanessa. Her concern was not feigned.

"I-I'm sorry, what was that?" Tom replied.

Vanessa cleared her throat and sat up, preparing her papers. Brett looked nervous, and would have been sweating if he could.

"The missing people. There's been, let's see...fifteen new unresolved missing persons reported since the beginning of 2018. Does the office of the mayor have any comment?" The representative began feeling around his collar at the line of questioning.

"Uh...well the mayor doesn't have time for conspiracy..."

"Well this isn't conspiracy, this is fact. There's been fifteen-"

"Cut to commercial!" Brett shouted, and suddenly an ad for a local orange juice company came onscreen. A few minutes later, Brett was back, faced towards camera with the representative at his side, and his fake smile plastered on a face he wasn't born with.

"We're very sorry about that folks," he began, "my co-host hasn't quite been herself lately. She'll be taking a leave of absence, but when she comes back..." he paused. His face, usually weighted down by plastic and silicone, seemed to twitch a bit, and he let out a soft sigh, looking down the floor and biting his lip.

"What'll it be, Brett?" Todd asked, chiming in, smiling a dagger at the old host, who looked at him quizzically.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"When she comes back, what'll it be Brett?" Todd's hands were clasped tightly as he leaned forward onto Brett's desk. After a second, the same plasticized smile returned to Brett's face, and he turned back to the camera.

"Right." He cleared his throat. "When she comes back, rest assured, it'll be a sunny day in Esperanza."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by TMS Prime
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Henry: First Night


With walls on three of his four sides, Henry coldly realized he'd have no where to run if things went south tonight. Fog clung the outside of his lenses like misty cobwebs. Looking up at the apartment buildings that towered towards the night sky, he saw one of the few lights in a window finally snuff out. It was late. The latest he'd ever done something like this.

"First time I've ever done something like this," he mumbled.

If someone were to accidentally pass by this alleyway, he had no doubts as to how suspicious he would look. Here Henry was, crouched adjacent to a dumpster. Wearing a costume. He was wrapped in overlapping strips of beige canvas and silk that wound around his head, face, and neck. The rags, coupled with a pair of allegedly fog-proof swimming goggles over his eyes, gave him a sort of Tusken raider vibe.

It was the best he could do on leftover summer lawnmowing money. Maybe if one of his aunts sent him an atrociously-late birthday card, he could splurge on better eyewear. The fog and perspiration wouldn't be a huge problem, but the hard plastic rims were digging into Henry's cheeks. Thankfully, he could at least see. A pair of old glasses and some work with a hot glue gun afforded him improvised prescription swimwear for a night of amateur crime-fighting.

He took a deep breath, and skulked to the alleyway's opening. This street was empty, sans for a few parked vehicles, so he ventured with confidence to the sidewalk. A quick glance to the right confirmed his target. Malone's Game Shop, sign in utilitarian black impact, was half of a first floor in an apartment rise. It looked like a nice set-up, Henry begrudged. Everything was clean, modern, and didn't have that look of a highly-trafficked hobby-shop. It wasn't as authentic as what Henry was accustomed to. Probably spoke to the Mission Hills clientele.

So, you'd never have guessed that they'd just been robbed a few nights prior.

Henry figured there was something poetic to that. The first night of his caped crime-fighting career would be bringing justice to a comic book store. Serial theft was hitting most Esperanza neighborhoods this past year. It was often petty, with minimal casualty, and without seeming regard for the type of establishment. Whatever thugs were smashing windows and lifting diamond necklaces seemed equally-prone to pick the lock to the back door of a comic store and make off with mint-condition volumes of The Uncanny X-Men.

Pulling down a band of cloth at his wrist, Henry glanced at his watch. Just past 1am. Why did he pick his first night out to be a school night? Eliza Montgomery High School was barely a welcome sight after a full night of sleep. Maybe he should head home.

'And make this a total waste of my time?' Henry thought. 'Have to at least test things.'

Henry took another deep breath. This time, as he exhaled, he held his arms out, fingertips extended. Eyes closed underneath the goggles, he activated his power. His consciousness extended to the radius of the block. Flecks of color filled in an imaginary map in his mind's eye. He saw floors and walls, surfaces that extended from fire escapes to kitchen counters and then into circuitous systems of vents and pipes that pumped life into the complexes. He could sense the rise and fall of sleeping chests and the waggle of rat tails as the rodents moved in unseen highways underneath floorboards. In short, he was seeing dust.

Particulate matter. It was pretty gross when you got down to the technical side of it. Even the most immaculately-cleaned houses would accumulate enough debris for him to get a detailed floor plan. Henry had experimented before with mites and fleas, in order to more easily track moving bodies, but he couldn't sense them until they were dead and inevitably fell off of their hosts. But he could rely on other things. Dandruff, dried out pollen (weather permitting), and even the spittle from a particular breathy sleeper let him get a sense for the bodies that occupied dust-laden mental topography.

An empty van in the radius of his power caught Henry's attention after several more seconds. Smoke was harder to get a sense of, because it didn't cling to anything for long. But the telltale cone of swirling particulate, its ebb and flow in time to long drags, let Henry know that a group of people were smoking in the back of that van. Large square shapes were next to them. Boxes. And as Henry carefully let a whorl of dust sweep over the floor of the van's interior, he could make out the shape of a crowbar. Several more shapes were telltale outlines of handguns. Shit, he hadn't seen those on first glance. For petty, idiot lifters, these guys kept their firearms clean.

"That sort of complicates things," Henry admitted.

He backed up into the alley, spooked. As he did, only paying attention to the map in his head, Henry body-checked a trash can that was right behind him. It clattered to the ground with a loud metallic crash, spilling its contents to the concrete. Plastic bottles thrummed noisily against one another. Henry could sense movement at the disturbance in the floors above his hideaway. Even worse, he felt the particulate around the van's engine vibrate. The vehicle was soon in motion, slowly backing away from the comic shop and towards the alleyway that Henry was tucked away in.

"Oh no. Oh, shit."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Papayasnmangoes
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Chenoa groaned loudly as her aunt Josie turned on her bedroom lights and opened her blinds at 5 am sharp. The light seared through her eyelids and she quickly rolled over. Josie gave her a playful spank as she enthusiastically commanded, "Up and at 'em sweetcakes! Somebody's got to open up shop today!" She left the room humming to herself as Chenoa rolled across her bed to reach her dresser without getting up. As she rummaged around looking for a comfy pair of socks, she heard her cousins, Isaac and Andre, reluctantly waking up. She got dressed quickly in jeans and a Metallica tee and made her way downstairs to help with breakfast.
Josie was already whisking eggs as she waited for her pan to heat up. Two packages of bacon were already thawing on the counter, so Chenoa preheated the oven and got out some trays to start on that (If you have never cooked bacon in the oven, then you are probably doing something wrong.).
The boys made their way into the kitchen as Chenoa was laying out the bacon.
Andre was the youngest of the two boys, 18. He was tanned nicely and looked just like his mother. His hair was cut short for the most part, it was just long enough to stick up at weird angles in the morning until he brushed it down. He tumbled down the stairs first, just missing the last step. But he caught himself almost gracefully as he approached his regular seat on the other side of the kitchen island.
Isaac, 21, barely looked up from his phone as he slowly strolled to his seat next to Andre. He and Chenoa looked more alike with paler skin and blue eyes, except his hair, which was darker and a lot curlier. He was thinner than his brother, and his hair was longer, too.
"What's up buttercup?" Chenoa asked Isaac.
"Mhmm." he agreed.
"How do you want your eggs?"
"Sure," he answered.
"Can I use your toothbrush to clean my balls?" Andre asked as if asking a completely normal question.
"Yeah, sure," Isaac responded, still tapping away at his smartphone. Chenoa and Andre burst into giggles and Isaac finally looked up from his phone, asking what they were laughing at.
The four of them continued business as usual. The girls continued to make breakfast as the boys set the table. They eat as a family, and the boys clean up afterward. Tomorrow, the roles switch.
Chenoa opened up shop downstairs while the others continued to get ready.
The first step, turn on the lights and flip over the 'Open! Please come in!' sign. It would be a few minutes before the first few people strolled in; Saturdays are never very busy in the morning. Then, she began to brew coffee and made sure that all her various machines were working and were full of sugar or cream or hot water, or whatever it was that they dispensed.
The first people to come in were always regulars.
Jim normally made laps around the block while he waited for the cafe to open. He was a scruffy man with a graying beard and a brown lab named Chops. Jim lost his job at the factory some years ago, and as he was a high school drop out and had never had any other job, it was hard for him to find another. Eventually, he and Chops moved to the streets. Everyone at Josie's was fond of Jim and always reserved him a few free cups of coffee and leftover food from the day before that they couldn't sell, but hadn't gone bad just yet. If it was raining, they let Chops come in too.
Mr. Chavez was a businessman who always came in before work for a black coffee and a bagel. He never really talked much, and Andre liked to say that he worked for the FBI. He always wore a black suit and brought a worn brown briefcase with him. He always sat in a booth in the back and worked on his laptop for an hour before leaving. He always gave a large tip, varying from $5 to $15. Andre made jokes that it was hush money.
Their third regular, a blonde man in his 20s named Jake, would normally come in and sip on lattes until 9 at the end of the front counter. He was always very twitchy and nervous; he would jump on his stool almost every time someone walked through the front door. Chenoa liked to talk with him when she was cleaning mugs, and it seemed to calm him down a bit more. He had stopped showing up a few days before, and she began to worry about him.
She had heard about people in Esperanza going missing more often lately, but for some reason had never thought that anyone she knew would go missing. One could only hope that he was possibly trying to kick a caffein addiction or something.
As the sun slowly rose, Chenoa continued to brew coffees and assemble sandwiches alone until the noontime rush. Isaac eventually joined her as couples came in for brunch and people waking up late on a Saturday came in for their coffees.
After lunch, there was a steady amount of customers, but nothing Isaac couldn't handle on his own until 5. Chenoa took a sandwich and a tea out to the park nearby, along with some peanuts and bird seeds. She liked to sit out there for a while, watching people walk through the park, feeding the birds and giving unshelled peanuts to the crows who wanted a bit of a challenge.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by dabombjk
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dabombjk OneWhoYouDoNotKnow

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Have to take a moment


Interacting with:

"No Cam I promise. No...No I swear", Akiva said to his sister on the phone, "I will be home in a few days. No this job has me out and about. Just some rick punk who needs a drop off that's all. I told you about this job hours ago. No I am sure I did."

Akiva hated to lie to his sister Camille but he did not want her knowing the truth. He hated accepting jobs from people that involved hurting people but he had an item to aquire and deliver. It was more complicated than that but to its the best way to sum it all up. Akiva had to walk and take public transportation since he did not have a car but it did not bother him. He had received a call from his sister Camille who did not know about Akivas current job in all its details. She had wanted Akiva and her to accept a job from a slightly less wealthy patron who always gave them morally acceptable work, but the pay was never good. Camille knew that but she loved doing jobs like that, knowing it wont erase all the bad crap they have done but it did make her feel better.

"I left a note, that counts. Ok well here is what I will do. When we get back I will take us out to eat, then we can do whatever type of job you want for the next two days. Ok? Ok, love you. Yea bye."

Akiva hung up and pocketed his phone, stopping to examine his surroundings. He was currently in a park, about a days walk left until he reached his destination, and he was surrounded by people and animals all going about their day. He smiled softly, appreciating a relaxing and charming view like this peaceful park before he had to start working. Akiva walked around the park and enjoyed the fresh air for a little bit. He ended up sitting on the grass, wanting to take a lunch break. He took out an apple and laid on his back, watching the clouds.

After a few minutes had passed Akiva was disrupted by a sudden red ball to the face. A group of kids had been playing with the ball not too terribly far away, and one of the boys had kicked the ball hard enough to send it flying and land on Akivas face with a rather hard landing. Akiva reeled on the ground, from shock more than actual pain, but he did cover his bleeding broken nose. He sat up as all the kids rushed over, panicking and shouting like kids do. Akiva laughed softly through the pain, making blood fly out of the cracks of his fingers. He stopped when he realized he was freaking out some of the kids, and tried to console them. He let go of his face with one hand, walked over and grabbed their ball, then walked back and handed it to one of the kids.

"Its fine don't worry guys. Go have fun, I need to leave soon anyways."

The kids seemed shocked, certain they were in trouble. Akiva tried to convice them to just go back to playing, that if they said nothing he would say nothing. After a minute the kids seemed certain the stranger wasn't lying, and all of them raced away. Some still apologizing as they ran. Akiva looked around, realizing some people had stopped to stare. He waved weakly at everyone, not sure what to do. When he let go of his face, no longer covering his nose, his nose seemed perfectly fine again and it was no longer bleeding. Although his face had been stained somewhat from when blood had been spurting out. Closest to him and the only one who was not looking at him in the same way as everyone else was a young women sitting on a bench. Akiva walked over to her, hoping for a napkin.
"Hiya. So...not to alarm you but I was bleeding a bit a few minutes ago, as you can see." Akiva gestured towards his no longer broken nose. "Was hoping you had a napkin to spare?"

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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Papayasnmangoes
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Chenoa sat peacefully, ignoring the world and watching the pigeons argue and fight over the seeds, and the crows attack their shelled peanuts. She murmured to them to stop their feuds and tossed another handful of seeds to the bickering birds. She barely noticed a man walk up to her and begin to speak.
"Was hoping you had a napkin to spare?" the man asked.
Chenoa was caught by surprise; she was only paying attention to the birds that she was feeding, and didn't hear the first bit of what he was asking her. He was very tall (compared to her, at least) and had shaggy, dark hair. She noticed the blood on his face that he was gesturing to, just barely dried. She gasped as she realized what he was asking for and quickly put away her seeds and grabbed the napkin that her sandwich had been sitting on earlier.
"Here, It's not the cleanest, but it should be fine," she said as she passed it to him.
She budged over a bit on the park bench that she was sitting on and patted the spot next to her, inviting him to sit while he cleaned his face.
"What happened?" she inquired, taking a bite of her sandwich, seeing as she had no place to put it now, and should probably eat it anyway. The birds began to complain and ask for more food, but she ignored them.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Famotill
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Meanwhile, the bustling of tourists and locals permeating the streets of Oceano Beach clashed with the deafening sounds of contemporary Top 40s hits that blared from the windows of the cars clogging the congested streets. Fuck tourists and fuck the beach too. Luckily for Preston Arroyo neither the sounds of bicycle clicks or annoying chatter from Arlight locals shopping around the pier could be heard over the swelling of something much better than any Top 40 record.



Before Preston could lose himself further in the ambiance of the sheer unadulterated awesomeness that was My Lady in Reverse he heard an all too familiar alert from his phone. Sighing to himself as he heard the music dulling in the background, he reached into the pocket of his jean jacket before retrieving his phone. The sleek build of the device felt weightless in the pocket of his jacket which was nice considering only a tank top hid underneath. A hint of reminiscence crept onto his face, but it was quickly met with contentious thoughts of embarrassment. He really needed to get around to changing Kate's contact name.



Kate's message was a reprieve from the lingering feelings of awkwardness. Letting out a smile Preston pushed passed the few people gathered outside his apartment complex.

Terrace View Gardens was a nice little set-up. Certainly better than what he'd grown accustomed too living on his own. For Preston, Oceano was a new start. The motions he made towards the complex elevator had already become regular, and Preston was in his apartment as quickly as he'd let his mind wonder. Unloading a hodgepodge of headphone wires, books, and bracelets the young man sauntered lazily towards his kitchen, but not before haphazardly throwing his backpack into the small corner he'd taken to relegating it to.

Preston came up empty in the vain attempt to raid his fridge. He instead decided to settle on the leftover Chinese takeout that festered at the dining table. Deeming it warm enough he made his way to his living room. This was an admittedly easy task considering he lived in a studio apartment. The bright white walls of the apartment we hardly hung with any meaningful decorations. Instead, a messy collection of clothing, food, devices, and games dotted the floor. Never before had a room been so empty yet so incredibly filled.

Sighing to himself he found himself quickly reaching for the remote that laid face down on the couch. Just another lonely night in Oceano, it seemed.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by dabombjk
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Akiva Hishamie and Chenoa "Charlie" Bearfoot




Introductions


interacting with: @papayasnmangoes

Akiva took the offered napkin, wetted it slightly, and began wiping the blood off his face. As he did he sat down next on the offered spot on the bench.

"Thanks I appreciate it. It was nothing serious some kids were playing around and kicked a ball into my face, so nothing serious."

Chenoa raised her eyebrows a bit. "I hope that they weren't aiming for your face in the first place," she joked, taking another bite of her sandwich. She crossed her legs to face him better.

Akiva set his backpack down next to his right leg and sat up straight on the park bench. As he spoke he brushed his blue long sleeve jacket off. " I'm sure they weren't, but you never know. Maybe small kids are trying to take out all the adults finally ", Akiva said jokingly, " Either way I heal quick so no worries."

Akiva folded the now red, used napkin. and placed it on his right leg. He chuckled softly. " Do you...want your napkin back."

Chenoa giggled lightly. "No, that's fine. I think that I can managae without it." She frowned at the birds who were now hopping closer to her and begging for more food like an ill-trained dog. She tossed them some more seeds and peanuts and turned back to the man. "So, uh, what is it that you're doing in a park getting bullied by kids?" she paused. "Also, sorry, I don't think I caught your name."

"My name is Akiva. Not your average name but my parents name were huge cartoon nerds" As Akiva outstretched his hand for a handshake he noticed how the birds were acting almost aggressive like. Why was she feeding birds who were acting like this?

"Whats your story stranger?"

She gave the birds one last handfull and they were distracted with their food for another while. "I'm Chenoa. It's a bit of an odd name too, ot's from my father's language. It means 'Dove'." She put her bag of seed away again. "And I just got off work." She pointed down the street in the direction of the cafe. "If you've ever been past on into Josie's Place, That's where I work."

Josie’s place...Josies place...that place over there? That’s that little cafe place right? I’ve think I’ve been there once. My sister loves going there.” Akiva tried to think of his and his sisters experience at the cafe but to no avail. Akiva laughed nervously. Then he reached down and pulled out a sand which from his bag. He instinctively reached for his food when he became nervous, a slightly bad habit at times. Akiva tore off a chunk of his bread off from his sandwich and threw it to the ground next to the birds. Akiva realized that was probably over feeding the birds and mentally smacked his head. Then he looked Chenoa. “ How long have you worked at Josies?

"Only about half a year now. I came over in the summer," she said, tucking some purple hair behind her ear. "If you can't tell from the accent, I'm from Canada. But I decided to stay here with my aunt for a year or so before I decide what to do with my life. My aunt owns the restaurant. She's Josie." Chenoa smiled a bit. She was very proud of her aunt. "But yeah, I live above the restaurant with her and my two cousins for the time being. I'm still not sure yet if I want to go back home, there's so much excitement here!"

That’s pretty neat. Do you normally spend your time off just hanging out at parks or was I just lucky enough to meet you by chance?” Akiva again mentally smacked himself. Trying to nurse a broken bone to health was easier sometimes than talking to people.

Chenoa smiled. "I know it's pretty lame, but normally after I get off work, I like to come to the park for an hour or so. The crows have started to expect me here now, too, and they come sit on my windowsill if I don't come by now. Crows are smart, you know, they're very good at recognizing patterns and faces." She realized that she was getting off topic, and Akiva probably didn't care very much about birds anyway. "So, I like to sit here for a while before I go do other things. And I don't have a lot of friends in this city yet so these guys keep me company." She leaned down to pet one of the crows battling with a shelled peanut at her feet and it stopped to let her for a moment before it went back to it's pecking again.

Akiva was surprised to see how easily the bird was petted. “ Wow. Birds must like you a lot huh? “ Akiva stretched his arms out then stood up. He turned to face Chenoa and spoke as he picked up his bag. “ I actually have some time before I have to work so would you like to hang out for a bit and walk? “

Akiva took a bite out of his Sam which and smiled.

Watching Akiva get up, Chenoa smiled. "Yeah, sure. I don't have anywhere to be yet either." She grabbed her messenger bag with her things like seeds and her phone and pulled it over her head as she got up. "And yeah, I've always gotten along with most animals. My dad says that it's a gift," she said as she gestured to Akiva to lead the way.

Akiva started walking forward, no destination in mind at all. He walked them along the sidewalk path of the park. “ So have you heard the news lately? I have always like it here, but it seems like this place is getting more dangerous.

"You mean with all the missing people?" she asked, "It's crazy, I mean, I'm used to people going missing, There's been a string of missing Native women in Canada, but this time it's normal people. Sorry if that sounds weird, but it's just that it isn't people with a specific background, no patterns, just regualr people." She paused as she walked beside Akiva. "And there's this regular at the cafe, he hasn't shown up in a while. He always looked like he was a mess, he was so afraid of everything. But he hasn't shown up to Josie's in almost a week." She moved her hands around as she spoke. She had a habit of speaking with her hands when she was really into something. She took her last bite of her sandwich once she finished her short bit.

Akiva thought about how people going missing in his line of work almost always that means that person is dead. “ I am sorry to hear that. I hope they find the guy. Have you told the police yet?”

Akiva reached out towards a passing bird that was perched on a metal stand, and as he walked and reached out the bird chirped, pecked at his finger, and flew away.

Chenoa started to mention that it probably wasn't her place to call the police for someone she barely knew, when Akiva reached toward a bird that pecked at him in return. "Oh, damn! Are you alright?" She reached for his hand to see if it was bleeding. The bird didn't mean any harm, it was just scared.

Akiva chuckled and let Chenoa reach for his finger. There was a slight stream of blood slowly dripping off where the bird had pecked but it was by all means nothing to Akiva. “ Yea I’m fine. Not gonna lie I’m a little jealous birds like you. I guess I tried to pet it cause you did.” Akiva wanted to heal the little peck quickly, he wouldn’t even need a full hand, but showing his power was dangerous. “I-I I’m fine, promise. I mean birds don’t transfer diseases and stuff right?.....um I’m right right?” Akiva pretended to dramatically become worried

It didn't look like anything that bad, but Chenoa never got a good look at what kind of bird it was. "I don't think you'll have anything to worry about unless it was a pidgeon. I didn't even notice the bird." She let go of Akiva's hand, But was still a bit worried. "You'd better keep an eye on that. You won't get rabies or anything, but you could still get an infection."

Akiva put his hand in his pocket where the bloody napkin he put was. He wrapped his finger around it then willed a tiny amount of energy towards his finger. Within a second the tiny peck wound had stopped bleeding and closed but Akiva kept his hand in his pocket. “ That would suck. Well I will watch out for that. I seem to be a bit accident prone today.”

Akiva looked ahead and continued to walk with Chenoa. “ Anyways, apart from that all you said your from Canada? I’ve wanted to go there but never had the time?”

"Oh yeah, it's a pretty place," she said, smiling, "depending on where you go though. In my opinion, you want to avoid every city except Vancouver, and visit everywhere in British Columbia. BC is huge, and full of beautiful forests and lakes. And depending where you go, you can find all sorts of different cultures all over the country." Again, she was talking with her hands, and she was looking out ahead of her at nothing at all, just picturing the lakes in Saskatchewan. She looked over to him and said, "You definetly should go there for a bit if you ever get the chance." She paused. "And what about you? Are you from here, or were you raised somewhere else?"

Born and raised here, but I’ve been out and about a bit. I do whatever odd jobs come my way and sometimes work will take me out of state.” Akiva rubbed the back of his neck, remembering the nice part of his work. Whenever he had to leave the city he loved to take an hour or so and just admire the sights. Didn’t matter where he went or for what job it was just a thing he like to do. “ Although I try not to leave here too much. Family and all that. “

"Family is great," Chenoa said, nodding and smiling. "What odd jobs do you do?" she asked. She put on a silly face and shook a finger at him like a mother scoldng her son for stealing cookies. "Have you been drug trafficking?" She laughed and looked forward again, and burried her hands in her pockets.

Akiva slipped a step and hopped in front of Chenoa. He walked backwards as he spoke to her. “ Nah. Drugs are bad. More like whatever people need done, I do. Last job I was hired was for pest control. This guy had a rat problem I helped with. Tomorrow’s job is just an mail job." Akiva took his hand out of his pockets and put them over his head. “ I like experiencing new things, so accepting odd jobs is the best thing to do for a guy like me."

Chenoa laughed and said, "So, what? You don't have a day job? You just do all sorts of odd jobs all day? I've never heard of anyone doing that before." She adjusted her shoulder bag and put her hands back in her pockets. "Do people just send you requests somehow or do you find the jobs yourself? Oh! What's the weirdest job you've ever done?" She laughed and smiled wide as she asked the silly question.

Akiva was about to answer with something he was sure going to be funnier in his head when his phone began ringing. Akiva pulled out his phone and looked at Chenoa. “ Sorry I gotta take this. Uno mo memento por favor.” Akiva smiled, then stopped walking and turned around. When he spoke he spoke softly into the phone. “What.....no I’m not.....and I told you....look stop stop stop cutting me off. Fine I’ll head there now I’ll be there in two hours.” Akiva hung up and pocketed his phone. Then he turned back around to Chenoa.

Chenoa could see that whatever seemed to be going on was serious. Whoever was on the phone seemed anxious; at least from what she could tell from one side of the phone call. "That seemed important.." she said awkwardly, wondering what was going on. "Is everything alright?"

Akiva laughed awkwardly, trying to downplay it. “ Of course not everything is fine. My employer just wants to meet a litter sooner that’s all so I actually have to cut this short. It was nice to meet you Dove and thank you for the napkin.” Akiva held out his hand, accidentally the one that was suppose to have had the pecking bruise but he healed.

"Oh, look at that, the bleeding stopped!" CHenoa was happy that her new friend was okay, but his hand looked as if nothing had ever happened. She shook it off, maybe she needed glasses or something. But she was still curious. She shook it, hoping she didn't look to suspicious of Akiva. "Would you like me to walk with you to meet your employer? I don't have much to do today anyway." She was wondering what odd job it was that he was doing today. His source of income was interesting to her.

Akiva began slowly walking away, hands up apologetically. “ No no it’s fine. Thanks again.” Akiva turned around and began walking away, walking at a fast pace. He needed to catch the next bus at the bus stop right next to the park, and luckily a bus had pulled up moments ago.

Akiva had pulled away so quickly, anxious to get to wherever it was that he was going. Chenoa was a bit confused at how quickly he had left. She thought that they were getting along so well; this must have been important. Of course, Chenoa, being the nuisance that she was, had to follow him. She let him get ahead of her as she feigned a good-bye, then matched his pace from several feet behind as he traced his steps back to the park. He just caught a bus going up to Mission Hills. There was no way that she was getting on that bus without him noticing. SHe ran to the nearest bush that was large enough to hide her whole body in and stripped down. She planned on shifting into a bird to follow, but that meant that she was going to have to keep following in the form of an animal if she didn't want anyone seeing her in the nude. She stuffed her clothes into her bag and shifted into a pigeon. The bus had already left by the time she got out of the bush, but it wasn't too far ahead and she easily caught up to it while flying above it.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Ekreture
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"In the weeks following Theodore's death, the question of who should lead the party came to the top of everybody's mind, my womanhood being an obvious disqualifier for my nomination. We pushed through the prairies of what would be called the Territory of Nebraska, wanton for guidance. From God, who left us with the bible locked in my husband's gelid embrace. From civilization, who's Columbian trappings were bogged at the gate-mouth of the Mississippi. But principally, we sought to each other, and soon the voice of fear was heard with eminence in the cacophony of the pioneers, embodied in a frail farmhand from the Carolinas.

They called him Slim. I never learned his Christian name, nor did I care to. It was not who he was that mattered, but what he represented. He stood a height shorter than my own, and was a sickly child, with his negligible masculinity beared on the back of his aggression. For the mind he spoke to was one built on ignorance, his voice weighted by an ardent survivalism that had been nailed into the party's minds. He informed me, soon a week into my widowhood, that the typhoid fever which took my husband's life was none but the work of the Cheyenne, who conspired against good Christians like Theodore, and who adulterated our water with disease. That we should wreck havoc and vengeance upon the savages, and stood with rifle ready. I brushed him off, but his conspiracy grew in popularity. Soon, not a day went by without discussion of Cheyenne savagery, of encroaching violence.

The only man in the party who did not suffer these delusions was the Negro, Julius. A free man, Julius was an expert carpenter, having bought his emancipation from his master through the utilization of his mastery. But aside from his profession, the black man was premier in all judgement; he stood strong like an oak, with a sculpted physique and a kind smile. In the wake of the party's hysteria, Julius and I became friends and confidantes, him being surprisingly well-read, and a widower himself. We spent long hours chatting about the weather, scripture, and the infant which clung to my bosom, and I found comfort in the freed man's company.

One sable night, Slim and his followers approached me in camp, and advised me that Julius was an agent of the Cheyenne, that the colored peoples work together to destroy White civilization, and that were I to continue our friendship, I would surely find my honor defiled. I assured them of their foolhardiness, to which they responded that, though they are understanding of the way a woman's thoughts are clouded by tragedy, if Julius were to continue seeking my company, thus would only confirm their suspicion, and they would be forced to take action. I took Slim's ultimatum with no gravity, my mind dismissing him due to his impishness, and the next day continued as normal, and approached Julius, offering him some bread I had baked.

He seemed aloof, and ignored me. I pressed him, when he explained that he had been approached by Slim in a similar manner as I had the previous night. Finally understanding the severity of the situation, I walked away, but the damage had been done. The next day, Julius was gone. I knew what happened, but could say nothing, for an infant clutched to my bosom."
- Eliza Montgomery, Autobiography





It was a sunny day in Esperanza, if not a bit cold, and a rain of typicality was falling over Mission Hills. Bikes and Priuses have started replacing the beat up trucks of days past, and going to a diner was 'retro' rather than something to do at the end of a nine hour shift at the plant, but the transient heart of Mission Hills still beat strong, especially in the landmark Gold City Records, who's famous sign still hung high above the building. It was quiet inside; nobody was in the storefront except for the eclectic collection of records and vintage memorabilia, but in the back was where the magic was coming to life.

Why did you leave me?
Why did you cleave me?
Why are you breaking my heart?

A young man and his three friends were recording in the most famous studio in Esperanza. The singer/songwriter wore a t-shirt that was too tight, while his friends didn't, but all of their jeans were tight. The song wasn't very good, and the producers weren't into it. Then a legend entered the recording booth. Greg, the producer, turned and smiled at the building's aging owner, the corners of his lips reaching up into his bald head.

"Tommy! How's it going man?" He went for a high five, but was ignored as Tom instead looked at the band in front of him, his face buzzing with interest.

"Who's this?" He asked, nodding at them. He didn't know what to make of the band; he didn't like them, that much was obvious. Very cliché, very wannabe-Nirvana. But they had a potential, something that the producers couldn't see; Tom was used to feeling things other people couldn't.

"Oh, uh, they call themselves, 'Firebrand', from up in Santa Maria," Greg answered, hands rested on the pot belly he attempt to hide with his black shirts. It had been a while since Tom was in, at least a couple of weeks, but it's understandable, what with his first grandkid being born. The old man was wearing his usual leather jacket, now worn from years of abuse, and a GCR shirt underneath. His hands, previously hid in his pockets, were produced, and began quivering as the band played their song.

"Ah. That's unfortunate," Tom quipped. He bent down and spoke via the intercom. "Hey guys, hold up." The band stopped playing, the last few drum patters tailing off as they looked up towards the recording booth, and all except the singer had wide eyes as they looked at Tom.

"Alright, first, lets turn that bass up, I can barely hear it. Ah...second, let's not use an amp emulator for distortion, let's get you a fuzzbox. Now-" Suddenly, he was cut off by the singer with a tight shirt.

"I'm sorry, who are you?" His bandmates began stifling their laughs, and he turned around to hush them, as Tom began chuckling himself.

"My name's Tom," he said, and the singer's face grew white with shock when he realized his mistake.

"Oh shit...sorry man, I-"

"It's all good," Tom responded with a light laugh. "Take it again guys."



1970

Tom layed back in the plastic diner booth, staring up at a plaster ceiling. He wore the same leather jacket, though it was much more pristine, and had the same long hair, with black instead of gray and white. His coffee rested half-drank on the table and the plate that housed his waffles and eggs was now clean. Across from him sat his wife, Daisy, who's hair was wrapped in a scarf and was looking over the newspaper with a smile. In the background played, "Got to be Free", by The Kinks.

"Hey, so uh...we added a couple tour dates, heading out to Texas," he said, hesitating as he knew what his wife's reaction would be.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Daisy said with a drop of the paper to emphasize the fuck of it all. He curled away from her to escape the anger, and she sat back in her seat with her arms folded. "You said it was ending in Albuquerque, and I've got my gallery showing the week after!"

"I know, I know, but uh...you know we're starting to record again, and Harry just thought-" He sat up and looked at Daisy. "I don't know, it's...I'm sorry, okay?" He was sorry, he meant it. But he'd rather be sorry than at that gallery showing. He didn't like Daisy's art friends, nor did they like him. He was a factory boy hanging out with a bunch of college kids, and everybody knew it. Daisy looked down at the paper, not making eye contact with him, and he reached out a hand to stroke her cheek. "Hey, look at me." Suddenly her eyes widened.

"Oh my god!" She exclaimed. Tom pulled his hand back.

"What, what is it?" His wife picked up the newspaper and showed him the headline.

LADY LIBERTY, DEAD AT 48



Daisy rested her head on her hand in confusion, while Tom sat back in his seat and looked up at the ceiling with a sigh. "I can't believe it!" Daisy exclaimed, shaking her head in shock. "I...it's dangerous. These powers..."

Her husband looked at her in confusion. "What, these powers?" He sat forward, quieting his voice. "Powers aren't dangerous. POWER is dangerous." His wife looked back at him in surprise at his sudden aggression.

"Tom-"

"You think she would've sat in that machine, or her chair or...or whatever, if some fucking general didn't-" Their waitress approached the table, oblivious to the conversation at hand.

"Can I get you folks anything else?" She asked.

"We're good!" The singer shouted back, not looking up at her, and she walked away insulted.

"Tom, you're scaring me!" Daisy said, and the artist looked back at her, in her eyes, and sighed, sitting back in his seat.

"I'm sorry, Days, it's just..." He couldn't think of the right words before she shook her head and left the restaurant.

That night, Tom was practicing with his band, the Jipsees. He sat on the floor of the studio with no shoes and his acoustic guitar, while his bandmates talked and joked without him. There was a weight on his mind that sealed his lips and brought his hand to the guitar strings. Finally, his bass player noticed him and spoke up.

"Hey, Tom, you good man?" Tom snapped back into reality.

"What? Yeah, yeah man...I uh...I wrote a new song, it's in G, four four time." The band looked around to each other, and Jim, the other guitar player and singer spoke up.

"Yeah man, just give us a sec-"

"Or you could do your fucking jobs, that's an option," Tom retorted mockingly. Jim bit his lip and looked back at after a good few seconds.

"Sure. Whatever you say." They assembled their equipment, Jim his guitar, the drummer grabbing a bongo, and the bass player, Paul, grabbing an acoustic bass. Tom started without counting them in.

Hey Mr. Nixon,
What’d you do with all the flowers?
Hey Mr. Nixon,
Why’d we go to Vietnam?
Hey Mr. Nixon,
I know you’ve got all the power,
But don’t you forget just who put it in your hands.

Hey Mr. Nixon,
I can hear a new wind blowing,
Hey Mr. Nixon,
Will you ever understand?
Hey Mr. Nixon,
With the secrets that you’re knowing,
How could you see all the callous in my hand?

Oh, I just want to be somewhere,
Where a man musn’t kill his fellow man,
Oh, I want to see the people,
Across the world just stand hand in hand.

Hey Mr. Nixon,
Now that we’re together,
Does a dead man walking,
Weight heavy on your mind?
Hey Mr. Nixon,
You won’t be alive forever,
So don’t you forget just who you left behind.


Tom didn't know this song would be his undoing.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Famotill
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Preston felt the cold slither of day-old lo mein noodles as they slid down his throat. Despite his chewing the only audible noise from his apartment was a surround sound display.

The 1970s, a decade of war and disco. On tonight’s episode of ‘Behind the Music’ we’re exploring the career of artist and local producer, Tom Marin. From concert tours, to the battlefield, and back to the recording booth; Tom Marin was a man of electrifying fortitude. His famed hit ‘Lightning’ used distortion and feedback in ways artists have struggled to reproduce. Between his dedication to the music industry, and his likeness serving as ammunition for firebrands and political revolutionaries throughout the United States you won’t want to miss this ‘Behind the Music’. I’m Kasey Chang, and we’ll be right back.

The intro was followed by a series of old photos of what must’ve been a younger Tom Marin. Preston recognized the song from one of his favorite 80s action films, Road to Glory. It was one of those ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ kinda films, and there was no way in hell it held up to the tests of time. Nonetheless, it was a good romp.

Tom Marin himself sounded familiar. Preston found himself shamefully googling the artist. Marin seemed to have paved the way for a ton of local artists in the indie scene so Preston was sure he’d seen the name before. Kate would definitely know about this dude. He found himself ready to text her, but hesitated. He let the phone slip from his hands back onto the couch before picking his lo mein back up into his hands.

Not two seconds later did Preston hear the buzzing of his phone alarm. He frantically picked up the device before looking down at the reminder.



Rolling his eyes and letting out some sort of strange combination between a sigh and a fuck Preston forced himself from the couch before lazily tossing the carton of lo-mein onto the table. Some of the noodles inched their way towards the edges as he did so.

Making his way through a small doorway he found his eyes tracing the walls of his room. Pictures, website pages, forum posts, social media accounts. Instead of pictures of friends and some dope-ass tapestry- this was the kind of shit that decorated Preston’s bedroom. He dreaded the thought of someone else seeing all of this. Jesus Christ...that’d be a rough one to explain.

Sighing to himself he made his way over to the desk in his room; its glass surface was tucked away beneath mounds of papers, and a worn red marker. Much like said marker, Preston’s bedroom had a distinctive red color scheme to it. Like most of the house it was a mess with little regard for the items scattered about the floor, and beneath his queen-sized mattress.

He peeled open the lid of his laptop. The light of its monitor revealed worn eyes, and discontent on Preston’s part. Then there was the name plastered on the screen.

Timothy Ross

The url haunted Preston. Megan’s Law. Shit. What exactly was he getting himself into?

Finding you should be easy enough,” Preston muttered to himself. Running the name through the state database came up with a few matches. “Which district was it again.” Preston found himself looking down on his lap, brows furrowed, as he tried to recall information he’d already uncovered. “Right, Concepcion.” After a few clicks at the keyboard the results screen narrowed further.

Six-one,” said Preston to the sound of more clicking. Fewer results, now.

Twice convicted.” Finally, there was just one name beneath the search bar. It taking that many modifiers was particularly harrowing for Preston.

Preston soon found himself exploring a few more tabs. Scrolling through social media, and dating apps was usually the best method of understanding someone’s day-to-day routine. Immersed in the screen before him Preston finally jolted back into reality. He pulled himself away from the monitor before making his way over to the myriad of pictures that dotted the brick and drywall.

Fuck, skin-surfing this dude was a enough to send shivers down Preston’s spine. Would people recognize him? Then again, that’s kind of the point.

Preston flipped through his sketchbook. Its pages were littered with Preston’s drawings of this… Timothy Ross guy. No angle was left unexplored. Preston closed his eyes and sighed before crashing down onto his bed. Velveteen and cotton sheets were his reprieve from this whole mess, but only for a moment.

"Fuckkkkkk, this is so fucked dude.” Preston wanted to scream at this situation, but this gig promised to pay big. Big jobs meant a gateway to even bigger ones. Preston was in this, now.

He could picture Kate and Scoob, now. No pussying out. “No pussying out,” Preston muttered to himself.

As he made his way out into the kitchen he walked past an all-too familiar black cylinder shaped device. A pair of underwear hung from its rim. “Google, play Boy Harsher.

A synthetically feminine voice was his answer. “Playing, Boy Harsher.



Preston made his way to the icebox in his kitchen before aggressively pulling it open. It was time to get to work. The only items lying within the icy tomb were a number of large bags of ice, and one half-empty carton of cookie-dough ice cream. Pushing aside the ice cream the young man pulled out the legion of ice bags.

The next small while consisted of Preston transitioning back and forth between his kitchen and his bathroom until pounds of ice filled his tub. The IV drip hooked up next to the tub rather clumsily had been provided by his mysterious benefactor. Too bad it didn’t come with a nurse or at least an instruction manual. He’d seen his mom do it a few times, but that was only enough to give him an idea of what to do. Luckily Reddit saved the day.

The portable air conditioner was much easier to manage.

Naked now, aside from the ace-bandages wrapped around his body for protection, Preston’s body collided with the freezing ice. Fuck. That was cold. With IV drip attached Preston rested his head on the rim of the tub. The cold euphoria of skin-surfing was enough to tense every muscle in his body before releasing them all at once. Over and over again. His hand gripped the edge of tub. This was going to be trip.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by TMS Prime
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Henry--First Night


Slowly, inexorably, the white utility van backed itself into the alley. Henry sensed the broad posterior of the vehicle, now caked in a slightly shifting mosaic of dirt and grime particulate, from his hideout within a half-empty dumpster. He'd forsake his pride for the time--not that much remained, he reminded himself, considering the drab costume that he had slung over his body before setting out for a night of heroics. Thankfully, though the costume was cheap by even half-assed cosplay standards, the layered strips of cloth covered his mouth and nose.

It muffled the stench of stale pizza and wet cardboard that clung like a heavy fog in the darkness of the dumpster. Henry closed his eyes and focused on that familiar sensation in his mind. The free-floating data points in his blank mental canvas, clumping and coalescing as he willed it. Presently, he welcomed the ability to put his body on stand-by. Full focus went on maintaining sabotage.

He used subtle currents of dust and lint to get a sense of the thugs. There were four of them in the back of the van, and then a driver. The four in the back were on a sliding scale of fit to large. Their silhouettes, in his mind, put Henry in the mind of dumb muscle more than cat burglary. The driver was on the slimmer side, likely pure getaway and wouldn't leave the van at all. All of the occupants wore similarly-themed clothes: form-fitting shirts--if shirts at all--utility pants, stocking caps, and boots.

Henry could tell that they were talking, based on movement around the jawline. One at a time, and if he had to guess, probably at a whisper. Only one of the thugs currently had his hand on a gun. The other firearms were strewn on the floor of the van. This gave Henry pause--if they had heard his disturbance, and were seeking him out, why wouldn't they all be packing heat?

No sense wasting time analyzing that bit of trivia. He set to work, bringing great swaths of dust around the handguns and piling particulate into the barrels. Henry had little experience with firearms, but he knew you had to clean them. He was unsure if it would actually cause any kind of interference--surely a bullet or the firing mechanism couldn't be stopped by a build-up of dry gunk? He found some residue in the weapons already, likely leftover gunpowder or some other nominal residue from use, and went to work splattering everything. As the dirt spread, he was now getting a sense of the anatomy of the weapons.

[i]'If I get out of here,'[i] Henry thought. 'I need to look up a diagram or something. See what I can actually jam or mess with in the future.'

Good. With that finished, he focused on the men again. Words to the driver, who responded in turn. More mouth movement, from the others in the back. Argument? Henry wasn't sure. A gesture from one man in the back to another, a slap on the shoulder, seemed to prompt the recipient to move.

He did a crouching waddle towards the back wall, undid a latch, and then opened the double-doors to the exterior of the van fractionally, peering outside.

From his hiding place in the dumpster, Henry could hear the click of the doors opening. Moments later, he heard the strained, raspy whisper of one of the men.

"...no one," came the mumble. "...hide out fer...spooked. Coulda been...at."

The man was looking back into the van, talking to his companions. Scouting the alley? Relaying if it was safe or not? Henry made a leap and assumed that they weren't actually investigating the commotion he caused bumping into the trash can. It's possible that the crash just spooked these guys and they needed the alley as a place to hide out for a bit until the coast was perceived clear.

Well, that wouldn't work. The more time the van spent in the alley, the better chance he was of getting discovered. Henry didn't intend to stay locked in this dumpster for ten more minutes, much less the better part of the night. He cursed at his luck. Some big night out. He was hiding in a dumpster, completely lacked the firepower to take on a group of armed thugs, and he wasn't even sure what they were doing.

However, instead of freaking out, he focused on the men. There was movement now, and the back doors to the van fully swung open. Two of the thugs hopped out and walked deeper into the alleyway, muttering between one another. Someone from within the van closed the doors, and then the driver moved the gearshift. The van backed up a little further. The two men outside of the van were gesturing to him, which Henry took to be signals to keep the van straight. It was a tight fit, maybe a foot of empty air on each side of the van before it hit wall.

"Should we move this dumpster back?" One of them asked.

Henry froze.

"...Nah. Too much noise. Shouldn't need to back in that far."

"Should just head back. Guy's an idiot, hiding a big white van in a fuckin' alley."

"Can't."

"Job's a fuckin' bust. Ain't no way none of these," the man gestured to the windows above them on either side of the alley. "Ain't gonna call the police on account a suspicious van activity."

"Job's a fucking job. Got a target out here. You don't say no to that."

"Stupid. Mission Hills? One fuckin' thing to grab someone off the barrio in Lompoc and count on nobody missin' them. Mission Hills got money and money don't shut up about missing people."

"Bigger job. Bigger payout. Now--HEY, bro, you're good," he made a gesture to the driver, and the van jerked to a stop, just shy of the dumpster. A fire escape ladder hung just diagonally above the fan's roof.

'Missing people?' Henry thought they were petty thieves. A van like this probably would have just been filled with t.v.s or a pallet of stolen phones. He didn't think that they were here trying to abduct someone. Shit.

His mind was whirling. Henry inhaled a sharp breath of air, and then had to force himself from gagging on the heavy odor of garbage. Tears welled in the corners of his eyes, and he shifted involuntarily, knocking his shoulder against the corner of the dumpster.

"Fuckin' shit was that?"

"Don't worry 'bout it, bro. C'mon, get in the van. Light up an' chill til we get a better opportunity."

Henry sensed one of the thugs walking back to the backdoor of the van, which had opened again. Someone else inside of it beckoned them both to get back in. The other thug that was outside of the van took an extended pause. His head turned slightly, and Henry could imagine the man's eyes narrowing in suspicion. He took a step towards the dumpster, and then another.

'Shit. Shit.'

Henry willed himself to be still, to not breathe. As the urge to cough welled within his chest, he found himself nearly choking as his entire upper body became tight. He had to think quick, and fast. Use his power. As the thug outside took another step towards the dumpster, Henry acted. He felt patchwork constellation of dots in his mind vibrate. And then, as if the world were a snowglobe being shaken, he commanded all of the particulate in the area to violently explode into a storm.

"What the..."

"Fuck!!"

The effect was instantaneous. Henry could sense the maelstrom of dust, dirt, sand, and all manner of broken garbage that had accumulated in the city block surge into the alleyway and whirl around. It was a sandstorm of particulate, battering against everything. The slightly-ajar backdoor of the van was ripped open, and dust surged inwards, blanketing and blinding the two remaining thugs and driver.

A cacophony of screams echoed in the alleyway. Henry could get a sense of where everyone was placed in his sandstorm, from the human-shaped silhouettes that remained as inkstains in his mind's eye. They staggered around, one of the thugs taking a step away from the dumpster by sheer dumb luck. Not good enough. Henry needed more space to make an escape.

He directed the particulate, intentionally driving it into faces. Probing fingers of dust forced themselves into eyes. As the victims screamed in pain, their open mouths were new targets. Henry barely had to think it, and he slapped clumps of dirt and grime into their mouths, rolling sand across tongues and teeth.

"AHHHHH! F-FUCKING...."

"What the...HAPPENINGFFFF??"

That was good enough.

Henry sprang up, one arm over his head to bash open the dumpster. The warped panel of metal flew back on its hinge and slapped loudly against the brick of the building behind it. As it came back down on Henry, he batted it again, and hoisted himself up on the rim of the dumpster.

"What was that? Who's fuckin' there?!"

Coughing, sputtering, Henry steadied himself with one foot on the closed half of the dumpster. Dust still surging around all of them like a furious swarm of bees, he oriented himself towards the van and jumped. He wasn't level with it, maybe two-thirds its height, since the dumpster was on the smaller end. Due to jumping to a higher surface, as well as generally not knowing what the fuck he was doing, Henry landed without grace, belly-down on the roof of the van. His shins came down hard on the edge of the roof, and he nearly lost a shoe as he scrambled through the pain to stand atop the van.

"..On the van! Someone's--" The driver started, but Henry forced another mouthful of dirt down his throat.

'Fire escape...?'

There. He remembered seeing it in the map of the block. As the storm of dust wreaked havoc, and the bodies below him thrashed and crashed into things in confusion, Henry could sense the thin metal bars of a fire escape. He pivoted, facing where they were relative to his position atop the van. He took a barely two running steps, the vehicle jostling under his shifting weight, and again jumped as if his life depended upon its success.

His hands gripped rungs, one above the other. The weight of his unsupported body nearly made Henry lose contact, however, and his palms stung with the strain of trying to keep him there, now suspended diagonally from the van. He kicked wildly, and summoned enough strength for one of his arms to support his wiry body as the other rose to meet it on the same rung. He grunted in pain, kicked a leg to the side and got the flat of his shoe against a wall. That granted him the leverage to force a knee through the space between two lower rungs. And with that, he could gain some ground.

CRACK.

The gunshot rang out, and the sound caused Henry such sudden shock that he at once feared he had been shot. He went rigid against the vertical ladder, which swayed slightly, as his arm muscles strained in weighted discomfort.

"What are you DOING?!" One of the thugs outside screamed.

The other, Henry noted, was waving a handgun; he must have missed it in the sandstorm. 'Fuck. Fuck me for being so stupid.' It also meant that his strategy of forcing dust into the barrel didn't amount to jack-shit.

"Get back in the fucking car! Both of ya! We gotta get the fuck--" A guy in the back of the van hurriedly commanded.

"Did I get him? The--"

"WHO FUCKING CARES?!" The driver's voice this time.

The scramble down below was too disjointed to keep track of. Henry no longer forced dirt into their faces, and instead summoned a majority of the material to cloak him on the fire escape, swirling a thick cloak of particulate around the entire ladder and walkway. He found it within him to ascend the remaining few rungs, reaching the solid catwalk of the lowest-level fire escape entry, and hunkered, knees tucked to his chin, in the farthest corner.

The van stirred to life, and Henry watched its silhouette slide unceremoniously out of the alleyway, cross several opposing lanes of traffic, and then vanish from his awareness.

Henry killed the effects of his power. All of the particles fell to the ground. He pulled his googles up to his forehead, put his hands to his face, and closed his eyes in silent frustration. Henry knew there probably wasn't much time until the police arrived on the scene. Before he figured out how the hell to get out of here and back home, he needed to first figure out if this was the absolute worst idea he'd ever had.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by dabombjk
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dabombjk OneWhoYouDoNotKnow

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Akiva Hishamie and Chenoa "Charlie" Bearfoot




interacting with: @papayasnmangoes

Akiva enjoyed all aspects about what he did for a living and while on a job he took pride on being able to get the job done as best as he could. His current job was actually something that he needed to think about, especially with his client wanting to move up the meet and greet so suddenly. Now normally he would not stand a rude customer but this guy really wasn't someone you wanted to get on the bad side of at the moment. Akiva was going to meet a man named Jacob bells, or J as he preferred to be called that. Akiva was going to meet with J as soon as possible at the location given to Akiva.

But he could not concentrate on the bus ride to his destination in Mission hills. It was a short bus ride, rather than taking hours by walking, but long enough for Akiva to get lost in thought. Akiva usually liked to wander, eat, or nap right before he had to go out on a job and sometimes he would end up in weird situations because of his weird habits. Or meeting new people. Chenoa was someone he was definitely lucky to meet, but had no illusions that he would see her again. Not with what he did, not with his duties to his sister. If he did have a chance to sit and talk with Chenoa, Akiva decided it would be the worst thing in the world.

Chenoa was doing her best to not get ahead of the bus with all of it's frequent stops. She had never taken the bus before, and didn't know the route. Her cousins have taken the bus a few times before, they said that is was about a half hour or less to get into Mission Hills. But Chenoa hardly noticed how long it had taken. The time flew by (don't mind the pun) as she followed the bus from above, her mind racing through all of the different things that Akiva could be rushing to do. Any regular job wouldn't be this important, so it had to be something more exciting than mowing lawns or pet-sitting. Maybe he was going to meet some dangerous people? Maybe he was hired muscle? Before she knew it, she and the bus were passing by the "Welcome to Mission Hills!" sign.

As The bus drove past the Mission Hill sign, Akiva sighed softly to himself. This was already a weird to start. After another ten minutes the bus came to a halt, stopping at one of its regular bus stops. As Akiva walked off the bus he recalled the address he was given. He knew the area where he was suppose to go to well enough and he had been hired by the same client enough times Akiva could walk from his home to J's and back. From the bus stop it was only a short jaunt to his destination, where his client was sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch of his house, smoking a cigeratte and playing on his phone. When Akiva came into view and was noticed by J, Akiva could do nothing but mentally sigh as hard as he could as J jumped up with his theatrics and greeted him. J spoke quickly, with a less than educated style. Akiva sighed outloud softly, then walked inside with the man.

From above, Chenoa watched the bus until she finally saw Akiva get off. Still several feet behind him, She lowered down in the sky until she was about 10 feet above the ground and shifted into a blonde cat, and landed on her feet. Because her natural hair colour is lighter, her fur was always lighter when she shifted to an animal with fur. The only thing she could change was hair length. And when her fur was ling, sometimes a bit of purple would show up at the ends of her fur in patches, normally at the end of her tail or anywhere where her fur was particularly long. In this case, to follow Akiva, she was a shorthair tabby. She followed him quite easily, walking behind him on the sidewalk and weaving into gardens when she thought that he would turn around to see her. Eventually he stopped at a grungy old house. He barely made it to the front stairs before a man dressed like a wannabe gangster from the 2010's stepped out and greeted him openly with a smile and brought him inside. She thought about shifting into a mouse to get into the house, but didn't want to shift again if she didn't have to. Luckily, she noticed a basement window that she could jump into, leading to an unfinished basement with a few other cats in it that must have sneaked in for shelter if they didn't belong to the man who lived here. They looked at her weirdly as she came in, knowing that she was a stranger to this town, but didn't stop her from coming in. She meowed a quick greeting but didn't stick around for introductions. She easily found her way to the stairs and found where Akiva and the weirdly dressed dude were.

She sat off to the side so not to get attention in case the man didn’t own any cats. She didn’t want to get swatted away. So she found a shelf to climb onto to the top of to sit and listen quietly.

Akiva walked inside and sat down at the table in the living with the man in white. “ So..what was so important you had to interrupt my personal time and rush me ”, Akiva asked the man impatiently.

The man tried to awkwardly laugh away the tension, to no avail. He stood up and began pacing as he spoke.

“ Ok man listen so like I need you to break into a guys house. Nothing too serious, but the guys safe is gonna be emptied and all it’s contents are gonna be put into an actual bank safety deposit box. Which will suck major d**k for you brotha. You know Yo boi J got you tho ”, J said trying to recover and calm down Akiva.

Akiva drummed his fingers on the table impatiently. Then J nervously smacked his leg as if he just remembered something. “ Oh yea ”, J said, “ I almost forgot to mention.......so you need to steal the safes contents tonight.......while his fancy dinner party is going on. ” Akiva curled his fingers into a fist. This is why Camille hated him taking jobs from people like this. Akiva stood up and started to walk towards the door. Seeing this, J jumped forward and ran In front of the door. “Hey brotha ok listen, you do this for me I will pay you doub - no wait triple” , J said desperately. Akiva sighed loudly and crossed his arms. He waited a few moments, and while he was thinking he noticed that there was a cat wandering around. Akiva didn’t think J had a cat. Then he turned and looked at J. “ I’ll do the job for the normal rate, but you owe. Big. And don’t ask for me for awhile. I’m sick of seeing your face. ” Akiva held out his hand impatiently. J looked stunned for a moment, then scrambled to pull a piece of folded paper out of his pocket and into Akivas hand. “ Y-yea dawg no sweat. That’s the details right there, all of them I swear. ”

Akiva said nothing, he simple turned away and walked out of the house after pocketing the paper.

'Breaking and entering?' Chenoa thought as she watched the two men converse, 'Why didn't he tell me about that? That's so exciting!' Then she realized that he probably didn't tell her because that's illegal and they had just met and he didn't know how she would react if he told her. She also was wondering why he was taking a job from such an unorganized douchebag. But there he was, taking the info anyway. She hopped down from the shelf and followed Akiva at his heels this time. She thought that maybe she could reveal herself as a person with these abilities and get in on this super exciting job. By the time Akiva got to the door, she relized that she had no idea how to do that while in the form of an animal if she couldn't speak to him. There was no way that she was shifting back to her human form because she still had no clothes. She thought for a second that maybe she could turn into a parrot or something and tell him. Bet then again, she had no idea how he would react to a cat just turning into a bird right in front of him and telling him it's the girl he had just met almost an hour ago. And suddenly they were both at the sidewalk and she had to do something. There was no turning back now. So thinking quickly and nervously, she just meowed loudly at him.

Akiva stopped at the sound of a cat, making a cat noise rather loudly. He chuckled to himself and thought about how off he was, to let a dumb cat make him jump. He turned towards the direction of the cat and spotted it immediately. He looked around and saw no one else was around, so he knelt down and offered the cat an open hand. “Um....hi kitty. You lost? Or are you an outdoor cat?” Akiva suddenly lit up, figuratively, and let his back pack slide down and off his arm. He went through it and pulled out a blueberry muffin stashed in a ziplock bag. Akiva tore off a tiny chunk and offered to the cat.

Chenoa was normally a better at thinking on her feet, but the last time she revealed herpowers was to her parents at age 10. And they were spritual people who easily accepted it. She didn't really know how Akiva would react. He held out the chunk of blueberry muffin to her in his hand and she froze for a second. Then, she made her fur grow out in a way that she looked like she just poofed out into a longhair cat. She hoped that maybe seeing a strange blue-eyed yellow cat with purple on the tip of her tail and the front of her chest, the same colour as her hair in her human form, would make something click in his head and realize who she was.

Akiva tilted his head when the cat began.....changing. It seemed somewhat familiar, like he had recently seen this cat. Akiva snapped his fingers. “ Your J’s cat right? I saw you in the house a minute ago right? ” Akiva scratched his head and sighed. Then he stood up and motioned for the cat to follow. “ You seem smart. Wanna come with me for a bit? J is crap human being you don’t wanna stay with him. ” Akiva went to go pick up his bag, which was on the ground and open. Inside his bag was his food supplies and an extra pair of clothes, some sweat pants and long sleeve shirt.

Akiva stopped midway reaching down and realized something. “ Wait......did you just grow your fur? Your kind a special huh? Well........ ” Akiva looked around again, and when he felt like he was sure no one was around he looked back at the cat then closed his eyes. When he opened them the whites of his eyes were pure black and his eye color was bright red. He held up a hand and yellow energy misted out of his palm for a second then disappeared. He eyes changed back too. “ I’m special too. Don’t tell anyone kitty. ”

" Oh fuck," she said in surprise, but of course it only came out as an awkward meow. Chenoa had no idea what Akiva did with his eyes or what else he could do, but she felt a whole lot more comfortable outing her abilities to him now. She shifted into golden lab and snatched his clothes from his bag in her jaw. She had no idea how to quickly converse with him without stealing his clothes. She ran to the nearest hiding spot, which happened to be a skinny shadowed alley into someone's backyard. She shifted and got changed as quickly as possible just in case he came after her. She emerged barefoot and in Akiva's clothes, which were several sizes to big on her. "So, good thing you have abilities too, that makes this a whole lot easier." She had to hold up the sweatpants as she walked towards him, and found a drawstring to tie tighter on her waist.

Akiva watched with anticipation as the cat changed forms. Ok nothing that.......ok so yea that’s weird, Akiva thought, but he can heal injuries with his hands almost instantly so maybe it’s a mutant animal. Then when it took his clothes and ran away, Akiva became very confused. What the shit? He would have been ok, honest, if Chenoa hadn’t come out from the direction the animal went with his clothes. She was wearing his clothes. After she spoke he tried to recover his confidence but he was very surprised. “Dove? You can do stuff like that............No *** **.......” too be honest Akiva has not had many interactions with other powered folks. A few times he has had to contest a job with another power user but outside of work he had never met another powered person.

“ Wait. Did you follow me? All the way from downtown? ”

"I shapeshift. I turnied into a bird to follow your bus. It was easy. Also, I really wanted to know where it was you were going. It seemed mysterious and exciting." She instictively grazed her hands over her hips looking for pockets. She found them and slipped her hands in. "Sorry for stalking you by the way.." she added in sheepishly.

She piped up againquite quickly when she remembered her idea. "Also! I'd like to help you with this job you just picked up. I think that I could be a really great asset, and I don't want anything in return. I can also wash your clothes, I kinda can't help slobbering a bit when I'm a dog..."

Akiva simply stood there, listening and trying to think of the best response. It wasn’t the worst idea to have a shape shifter on his side, especially when his job tonight........his job! Akiva realized something important. “So if you were that cat in the house then you heard that in a few hours I have to infiltrate a dinner party. It would be a lot easier to maintain a cover if....”, Akiva extends his hand out with the palm up. Gesturing as if he was holding out his hand for Chenoa, “You go with me tonight as my date. If you agree to that, and agree to follow my orders you can help.”

"Sure!" Chenoa was already super excited. She was already bursting with questions about the plan. "Do you have the floor plans of the place? If it's a dinner party, it sounds like it'll be fancy. We're going to need nice clothes to crash the party. Is it a combination safe?" Her hands were already out of her pockets, shaking around and making patterns and things in the air as she spoke and walked closer, thinking that if the party was that night, they needed to get a move on.

Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by TMS Prime
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TMS Prime bear in mind

Member Seen 3 yrs ago




Henry & Co.--First Night & Just Another Night


Henry stood on the fire escape, the second level of many that stretched into darkness above him. Goggles dangled on his finger as he looked over the edge of the thin guardrail, the alley sitting beneath him. Things were oddly quiet considering the conflict that had transpired only minutes prior. He saw some of the sediment settle into corners, and still had yet to hear the telltale croon of police sirens in the surrounding MIssion Hills. Everything was just at a resting quiet. 

"I feel like I fucked up," Henry muttered. "I'm alive, but I'm just...bad at this. Really bad."

Henry's power was always running, though he had the ability to block out most of the ambient disturbances around him. Gusts of wind, small animals, that kind of thing. Several sets of footsteps, running into his scope, gave him pause. It was quiet no longer, and with the purposeful approach, Henry hurried to readjust his goggles and conceal the elastic band behind his layers of rags. 
- - -

Three figures appeared in front of Henry, obscured by darkness in the alleyway. One of the three figures, small and feminine, pulled out a flashlight, turning it on and looking around the alley. "I swore I heard a gunshot, guys...I don't know what happened."

"You think they got her?" The largest of the three asked, in a deep, gruff voice. Despite his powerful frame, he stood with a strange hunch; his back seemed normal, so what gave him the hunch was something else.
- - -

Henry froze, and pressed himself back against the brick wall. Dust bit at his awareness, but he kept quiet. 'Got her?' He thought. 'These guys are with the van...?'
- - -

"Nah, there'd be sign of entry. I don't know what happened, but cops are coming, we better hurry," The final voice spoke, at a higher pitch than the other man but with a bit more intellect. 

Finally, the woman turned her flashlight to the building, to the fire escape, and then up to Henry. "Fuck!" She yelled. The two others turned to face what she yelled at, when the smaller man starting laughing.

"Dude, what the fuck are you wearing?" He asked, stifling his laughter. The woman punched him lightly in the rib.

"Flint!" She yelled at him through gritted teeth.

"What babe?"

"I think he's shot!"

"Oh." The man looked back up to Henry, and shouted, "You shot?"
- - -

"N-no," Henry replied, nearly choking as one of the poorly-placed rags slid into his mouth as he spoke. In a moment, he undid it slightly, and the band of cloth dangled nearer to his neck. "No! There was a gun, and he shot, but I blinded him. He was off-mark." 
- - -

Flint just looked at him, confused. It was clear that he too was wearing an outfit, but his was slim, and seemed professionally made, with goggles built into a helmet and a suit of what seemed to be combat armor. "So what, you're just like...hanging out with a muumuu on your head?" The other man started laughing, and Flint looked back at him. "Thanks John."
- - -

"I'm..." Henry attempted to speak clearly from his vantage point, but sweat beaded underneath the rims of his goggles. He thought about the situation, about these people. Pretty cavalier with their identities, considering he'd already heard two names. "I'm, uh, new at this. Er, new around here. I'm Henry. And, uh, if you're looking for some bad dudes in a white van, they're gone."
- - -

"Like, gone gone?" The girl asked. She wore no helmet, but still had combat armor, a riot shield, and a lone ranger mask around her eyes.
- - -

"Yeah," Henry replied. "Was uh, there were...five guys. White van, like I er, like I already said. I fought 'em off." 

Part of him wanted to summon some sediment into the air and swirl it about him, a display of power. Something to drive home the half-hearted boast. However, the other part of him didn't want to overplay his hand; he didn't know who these three were, and for all he knew, they could easily trump him if they knew what they were up against. 
- - -

"Ah, shit!" Flint shouted, putting his arms behind his head and pacing back and forth. "We've been tracking these fucks for a week!" The girl stepped forward, unperturbed by her boyfriend's apparent fury.

"I'm Sage. What's your power, Henry?" She asked, friendly but in an almost patronizing tone.
- - -

Henry visibly flinched at Flint's exclamation, and braced himself. When nothing came, no psionic blasts or whirling spikes, he turned his attention to the girl. Something about the way she said that weirded him out--she didn't know he had powers. 

'Does she? Henry wondered.

Henry was still tense. His arms were painfully rigid. "I-I uh, I use dust. How'd you know about that? About me having a power?"
- - -

"I can sense it," she said, "It's a part of mine." Flint calmed himself down, and grabbed Sage by the shoulder.

"Alright babe, we got to move, cops are coming." She stood still, body still facing Henry.

"Wait!" She turned her head back towards him. "Hey, you need help down from there?" Knowing his role in all of this, John stepped forward, and starting bracing himself, squatting slightly.
- - -

"That'd be...thanks, yeah," Henry looked from his space on the fire escape platform, to the ladder he'd come up, and then to the two yards or so of open air between the final rung and pavement. No van here this time. 

He took a few moments to descend the flights of metal stairs, then systematically climbed down the ladder until he was dangling from the final rung. His legs swung as Henry attempted to ease himself down towards the hulking John.
- - -

As John caught Henry, he didn't so much as flinch, and he carefully began placing him on the floor, accidentally dropping him about halfway through.

"Alright, let's head out," said Flint, and they starting quickly walking away from the alley and towards the side road. As they went, John looked behind him at Henry.

"You coming...Dust-boy?"
- - -

"Y-yeah," Henry said with a nod. "Here, I can give us some cover." 

He extended awareness to his power. Dust rushed out from the alley, bubbled off of the street like steam in the night air, wisping around and congealing into a thick fog of sediment. Henry gasped slightly, the ease at which he was able to throw up cover was a noticeable change. Maybe it was all the dust that he had collected from the previous encounter, but then again, maybe not. Henry could swear that the radius of particulate that he could pull from had noticeably expanded. The fog became a cloud, and it swirled above them like an impermeable vortex. A breathable bubble of unperturbed air remained around the four of them.

"Just lead the way," Henry said. "I'll follow you, but please let me know that you're not with, uh, not like the guys in the van. Kidnapping. Tell me I'm better off with you than tryin' to explain myself to the cops."
- - -

Flint stopped and looked at him incredulously, while Sage and John looked in amazement at the cloud of dust. "Kid...I don't care what you do. But the cops are gonna have a fucking field day if they find a powered vigilante." Sage punched him again, this time the arm, and Flint sighed, rolled his eyes, and said, "Look, one thing all the people being kidnapped have in common? They've got powers." He then proceeded to breathe a plume of bright flame into the air, briefly illuminating the alleyway. "Now come on!"
- - -

Henry nodded. No arguing with that. He let the group of three older masked vigilantes take the way, and tailed them, keeping pace while maintaining the dust cloud cover. 
- - -

After swerving in and out of the alleyways and onto the side roads, they arrived at their mode of transportation, their getaway vehicle; a Honda Civic. Flint got in the driver's seat, Sage riding shotgun, and John sat in the back.
- - -

Henry squeezed into the back of the civic. It wouldn't be a leisurely ride, but better here than outside, trying to explain himself to the police. 

When everyone was in, and there was a moment of quiet, Henry couldn't help himself as the questions burst forth. "So, uh, ALL the people kidnapped? How many people are missing? I've caught on the news, or my parents have mentioned it, but...I had no idea it was such a big deal."

Now that they were inside, he also felt the need to rip the goggles off. These people, whoever they were, probably wouldn't recognize a pair of eyes jumbled in the rags of his costume. 
- - -

"How many? Like, fifteen this year, but there's more. All powered...we think," Sage said.

"People like to hide their powers. Not usually wear muumuu's on their head," John said, laughing.

"Hey, don't be a joke thief, nobody likes it," Flint chimed in, pulling onto the main road, away from the crime scene. As they drove, the foggy lamp-lit streets of Mission Hills passed them by, tattooed pedestrians crowding streets that smelled of pizza and cigarettes.

"Can you hand me the aux?" Sage asked, which her boyfriend complied to, and she started playing music. 


- - -

"I was going for a sort of Middle-Eastern look," Henry explained. He fumbled at the rags ensconcing his head and neck, wrapped tightly around his arms. "You know...sandstorms and subterfuge and stuff." 
- - -

Flint looked into the rear view mirror and frowned. "You're Mexican, Henry," he said, disapproving of the boy's subtle racism. 
- - -

"Man, I mean," Henry backpedaled. "Y-you're right. It wasn't really...thought through all that well. Like I said, I'm new at this. Tomorrow night was gonna be a sombrero."

Henry found his head rocking slowly to the music. Not really his type, but it put him at ease nonetheless. Didn't seem like a cutthroat bunch would be playing indie rock. Henry breathed a sigh of relief, and tried to play it cool. Realistically, dealing with a gunman was easier than that. 

"Fifteen this year though, damn. Why? You guys said you were hunting down these guys tonight, yeah? You got leads on what the hell's going down?"
- - -

The rest of the car was silent for a minute, nobody wishing to speak. John looked over at Henry, and asked, "Can we trust you?" A light drizzle started falling onto the windshield, only to quickly be dismissed by Flint's wipers. Sage also turned her head back to see Henry's reaction. She had removed her mask, revealing her dark mascara and pierced nostril, with attractive but pale features which were framed by her black and blonde hair. John wore a dockworker-style beanie and a bandanna covering his face, although the bandana had been taken off, to reveal a thick, bushy beard, which obscured most of his face aside from his kind blue eyes.
- - -

Henry was taken slightly by surprise. 'Trust me? Yeah, but can I trust THEM?' He still didn't fully understand who these three were, and why they were seeking out the gaggle of thugs that he'd chased off earlier tonight. 

"Yeah," Henry sighed, "You guys can trust me." 

To further commit, his hand grabbed a dangling rope of cloth around his face. henry tugged, and the whole wrap of rags came spilling around the bottom of his neck. He pushed the goggles further up to his sweaty, tangled black hair, and offered a nervous half-smile. He felt like he was in over his head, in the car with these near-strangers, and on a school night no less. 
- - -

Flint stayed focused on the road, while Sage and Henry looked to each other, not knowing if they should begin talking. Finally, to all of their surprise, Flint spoke up first.

"The guys in the van...were they Chinese?"
- - -

"I uh, I dunno," Henry admitted. "The way my power works, didn't get a good look at any of them. And I can't hear anything through the dust. Only heard them when they got close, and I guess one of them sounded like he had kinda an..." He wanted to phrase it delicately, "asian kinda accent. They were speaking English though, from what I heard."
- - -

There was a while of silence, Flint looking at Henry in the rear view mirror as they came to a traffic stop. He turned his body to face the boy behind him, his helmet now apparant, leaving his mouth exposed.

"Alright, kid, why are you doing this?" He sighed, searching for the right words. "Like...the costume and shit, why are you doing this?"
- - -

"Uhhh..." Henry stumbled, caught unawares. He shifted in his seat, not uncomfortable, but fidgeting while trying to formulate an answer. After a few more moments, he spoke in a lower, calmer voice. "Happened last year, these guys. broke into my family's house, made off with like everything we owned. And the cops, they couldn't really do nothing about it, or more like didn't WANT to, you know? So I thought, after I figured out these lame-ass powers of mine, I could kinda turn the tables and do something about it on my own terms." 

He took a breath, looked around the car. Sage, sitting up front, with her kind expression and mismatched hair. John, the hulking dude sitting right next to him. Henry trembled with determination. 

"Just wanted to do anything. Track down some crooks, stop 'em from ripping off other innocent people. Saw that van around the comic store, and man, I love comics. I ain't have a plan really, and I know it sounds stupid, but I just needed to get in there and mix it up, drive 'em off. Be a part of something bigger and get shit done." 
- - -

The light turned green and Flint turned back to the road. Sage smiled at Henry's response, while John patted him on the back a bit too roughly.

"Well first lesson of this shit, Henry. Don't just 'go out and patrol'. Fuck, that's in every comic and it's always bullshit. You gotta go out with a plan. And don't do it alone, have a team." He waited a while longer before continuing, hesitating before he unloaded the information. "Look, people with powers...we've got a good price. You can sell us for a lot of money, I mean a lot. Weapons, circus acts, sex slaves, you name it, there's a fucked up underbelly to society and people with powers know just how to scratch it."

"The Triad, the Red Dragons, here in Esperanza always was good as doing this, usually going for streetrats and lowlifes who can walk on water or whatever and selling them to some shiek in Dubai." Sage seemed to wince at these words, but said nothing while Flint continued. "Lately though, shit's changed. We don't know what, but they're going for whoever's got powers, rich, poor, you name it. And they're doing it a lot. There's something behind it, but what that is we're trying to figure out."
- - -

"Shit, man..." Henry said. He listened, with rapt horror, and thought of the idea of his encounter with the thugs in the van going the opposite way. If that bullet would have grazed him, and he fell on the street, those Triad members would have been on him, and he'd be tied up on some sicko senator's torture dungeon across the country. 

"I didn't even know what those guys were doing, you know? Figured they were thieves, not kidnappers. Wonder who they were after in that neighborhood...?" Henry looked around at his companions, a glow in his eyes, and added, "I'm from Casmalia. Just heard about some weird shit up here, you know? Thought I'd patrol, which...yeah, was a pretty bad call. But I wanna help. You guys know what you're doing, yeah? You need more firepower, or...or a look-out or something? Just a contact. I handled myself okay, but with an actual crew..."
- - -

Suddenly, Flint veered the car off into an alleyway, quickly parking and shutting off the power, before turning back to Henry. "End of the line," he said in an ominous tone.
- - -

Henry felt his body weight slide into the side of the car, and he grunted as they ground to a halt a second later. His eyes took a few moments to adjust to the dark, and he suddenly felt very small. Very small and very, very stupid. 
- - -

"I..." Henry began. He frowned, bit his lip, but then started re-wrapping the threadbare rags around his jaw and mouth. Slightly muffled, he said, "I get it. I fucked up. Thanks for the ride. B-but you guys know what I look like. You know my neighborhood now. And I know what you all look like. Gotta be a way to keep in contact, right? You know, in case things go down, and I might need some back-up?" 

He hooked his fingers through the handle of the door and put on a small bit of pressure. It kicked on a light in the interior. Henry wanted to show he was leaving, but he wanted to see their eyes. Get an answer, at the very least.
- - -

Flint looked at him for a bit longer, before he burst out laughing. "Fuck, you're adorable kid. I'm just messing with you, come inside." John and Sage both got out of the car, John laughing and Sage rolling her eyes.

"You're a dick, Flint."
- - -

Henry choked out a laugh. He fell for it. These guys, whoever they were, he got a good vibe from them. 

"Damn, that was savage," he said, and nodded at Flint. 

As he watched John and Sage get out of the car, he followed suit and hopped out into the dreary night. Henry tied the rags around his neck in a clump and slung it over the back of his head. He looked around, peering into the strange alleyway. "Man, where are we?"
- - -

"A slice of heaven, my friend," Flint said as he unlocked the back door to one of the buildings in the alley. The key jammed, and as he was figuring it out, Sage walked up to Henry.

"Either that or the low-rent tailor shop Flint owns," she muttered lowly, Flint groaning as he opened the door.

"I can hear you, babe."
- - -

"Cool," Henry said. "So kinda like a hide-out or something!"
- - -

As the three adults entered the building, John chuckled.

"Nah, just a tailor shop."

Flint flicked the lights on, some of them flickering over the arrangement of projects, multicolored fabrics, and needles that scattered the mess that was Flint's tailor shop. Sage sat down on a rolling chair, and on the wall was a framed poster, with words a mixture of English and Japanese, showing a dark figure with the moonlit Esperanza skyline behind him, drawn in was looked like a combination of western comic drawing and Japanese manga. 
- - -

"Awww, sick. Who's the Hogosha fan?" Henry asked the room, smiling. 

He was actually at kind of a loss, overstimulated at the idea of this covert lair-slash-pad-slash-workspace. His family was squarely middle-class, and the thought of owning his own place was so far-off, but Henry could imagine a set-up just like this. Well, maybe more space for his gaming rig.
- - -

Flint smirked at Henry's recognition of the poster. "It's my shop, ain't it?" He quickly put some of his misplaced work things back in place. "Hogosha's why I started doing this shit."

Suddenly Sage spoke up. "Hey, if you nerds are done talking about your comics-" 

"Graphic novels," Flint interjected. She glared at him, before continuing.

"I have a couple of Blair's indica joints left."

"Get that shit out, then," Flint demanded as he removed the helmet from his head, revealing his sweaty, dirty blond hair, and his contrastingly plain face compared to his girlfriend. While he was certainly in good shape, he had hawkish features and sunken cheeks. He looked over at Henry. "You smoke?"
- - -

Henry shook his head. "Nah, never. My par--" He coughed slightly, trying to redirect the reflex of mentioning his folks. "Always kinda wanted to try it out, but it's y'all's stash. I'm good, thanks."

'I'm such a fucking dork,' he thought, severely out of his element.
- - -

Sage passed Flint a joint, and he blew a small flame at the tip before bringing it back to his lips. After taking a long hit, he coughed a bit and looked back to Henry.

"You sure man? Like, we make money, we have jobs and stuff, it's not hard to buy more weed." He sat down next to Sage, John pulling up his own chair next to Henry.
- - -

"Don't listen to my cousin, kid," he said, "I don't smoke either." Flint started laughing hysterically.

"That's because you can't use a fucking lighter, John!"

"Shut up, ass." 
- - -

Henry laughed, at ease. The more he thought about it, the more the idea sat with him, and he liked it. You always heard those stories about getting drawn into situations like this. A school counselor would react one way, tell you to pass and clam up for the rest of the night. One of Henry's friends though, a kid his age--free weed? It was a no brainer. 

Henry shrugged, then nodded. "Alright. I'm down. Thanks." 

He reached over to take the joint from Flint. Testing the weight in-between his fingers, he looked to the older dude and smiled. Then, imitating Flint's motions, he brought the smoldering blunt to his lips and took a great breath.
- - -

"Keep it in!" Sage yelled at the boy.
- - -

"J-jesus," Henry strained, coughing slightly. He felt moisture well in the sides of his eyes, took in another small breath, and held it for a few more seconds before his body forced out a cough. 

He passed the joint back, bringing a hand to cover his mouth, and smiled like an idiot.
- - -

"Damn, kid," Flint said, laughing as he passed the roll back to Sage. "You want some water?"
- - -

It took Henry a few more seconds, and several coughs later. He felt the tickle at the back of his throat, but it wasn't as bad when he didn't focus about it. "I-I'm good. Heh, thanks." 

A few more seconds passed, and Henry, feeling friendlier, ventured, "So how'd you guys all get into this? The costumes, and the...actual patrols and stuff? How'd you coordinate?"
- - -

Flint moved some supplies and sat down on a table, saying, "Sit down, kid." He waited a second, chuckling as he looked at Henry's bloodshot eyes. "Me and John are cousins. Grew up together, you know, being family and all. We always knew about our powers, and I wanted to help the world. So, I became a Jesuit, went to work on a mission down in Mexico, si, es verdad."

"Anyways, fell in with a bad crowd, went 'off the path' as they say. Came back up here, still wanted to help people. Realized I can breathe fire."

"I'm really fucking strong," John chimed in.

"Yeah man, you are," Flint responded. "Anyways...I met Sage."

"I can make your powers stronger, or weaker, if you're an asshole," Sage said, before picking up Flint's story. "I don't know if you remember, but a few years back there was this white supremecist group targeting minority businesses in Mission Hills. We decided to do something, and I guess we just never stopped!"
- - -

Henry followed along, nodding when appropriate. His eyes lit up a bit at Flint's spanish, and he smiled that same dumb smile. Was this why people always smoked weed and wanted it legalized everywhere and shit? He didn't even know if it was really affecting him yet; he'd be engrossed in a story like this either way. Now he was just kind of paranoid that the story had ended and he was too caught up in his own thoughts.

"That's awesome," Henry commented. He looked to Sage and then ruminated on her power, "So yeah, that's how you knew when I had powers earlier. And when we were headed to the car, I felt like it was...damn, how to explain it? Felt like the dust and sand was working with me more than usual. That was you, huh?" 

He looked at Sage, then felt awkward about that and closed his eyes. She was a beautiful, way out of his league woman. Well, insofar as he understood women, which admittedly wasn't much. Sage was the kind of girl he'd see on his friends' instagram feeds. Flint was different; he had a story, and he was easygoing, but Henry wasn't sure if Flint was on that same level. Not that it mattered, he realized dully. Flint seemed like the kind of guy Henry wanted to be, that easy swagger and confidence.

"It's good synergy," he said after another distracted second. "Spiking peoples' powers. And you'd probably be good at tracking people, yeah? That's what you guys were trying to do tonight? See if the van lead you to a den of superpowered hostages?"
- - -

Flint chuckled. "Yeah, that's about it. Also, ya know, stop another kidnapping. That'd be cool too." He looked at how Henry looked at Sage, then how he was, very, very high, and bit his lip. "Hey man, you feeling alright?"
- - -

Henry nodded; putting a stop to the kidnappings was probably one of the most noble things you could do in a city as messed up as Esperanza. It took him a second to register the second half of Flint's comment. "Oh, yeah, sorry. I'm good. Good as I've been in a while. Just a little out-of-my-element, you know? Not how I thought I'd be passing the night. Don't know what I expected, going on patrol in the first place, but...yeah. I'm good." 

In reality, the idea of his current situation buzzed in Henry's head like an angry dust cloud. He certainly had to get home at some point, then stash his costume, then get to school in the morning. It was a lot to think about, but he just smiled and wanted to spend time soaking up the total cool that these three were putting out.
- - -

Sage decided to cut off his dwelling in coolness at that moment. "Hey, Henry, is it a school night?" She asked him, concerned with his education.
- - -

"It's...yeah," Henry said quietly. It was like Sage had read his mind. 'Wait, did she?' He thought dumbly. 

He didn't mean to put a kibosh on the vibe. 
- - -

"Oh, you want me to give you a ride home? It's getting really late." She said. She pulled the keys out of her pocket, and Flint looked at her.

"Could you babe? That'd be awesome."

"Yeah, it's no big," She said to Flint, before smiling back at Henry. "My car's parked out front, and I work early tomorrow so I should probably get going anyways."
- - -

Henry stood up, and did the quick three-point check before remembering that he didn't bother with his phone or wallet tonight. He looked from Flint to John, and then back to Flint. 

"Yeah, I'll take the ride. It was...really cool meeting up with you guys tonight," He said earnestly. "Hoping I didn't make too bad a fool of myself, and thanks for letting me chill." 

With that, he was ready to follow Sage's lead.
- - -

"See ya," John said, not one who cares for large goodbyes. Flint walked up to Henry.

"Hey, take this," he said, handing him a business card which read, Good Jeans Tailor Co., with a phone number and address. "Call me if you need anything, it'd be cool to have some more help." He turned, and was about to let him leave, when he added, "Hey, why don't you leave your costume behind, have a professional take a look at it?"
- - -

He took the card, and committed the name to memory before burying the slip of paper in the empty pocket on his left side. "Uhh, yeah. I'll do that, thanks!" 

It only took Henry a few seconds to unwrap his rags and leave them in some semblance of a pile where they'd be out of the way. They were an almost-continuous mass, stitched together haphazardly using his mother's spare sewing supplies. Henry dropped his goggles in the pile; he was now only wearing a form-fitting underarmor shirt, black sweatpants, and his shoes. In another dull moment, he realized that he didn't have an extra set of lenses. 

"Oh right, goggles have my prescription glasses glued in there, but I think they're pretty sturdy," he then turned to Sage and nodded. "Anyways, yeah, ready to go when you are."
- - -

Sage smiled. "Yeah, let's get out of here."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by dabombjk
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dabombjk OneWhoYouDoNotKnow

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Akiva Hishamie and Chenoa "Charlie" Bearfoot




interacting with: @papayasnmangoes


Akiva blushes slightly and stepped back, then as he motioned for her to follow with a flick of his hand he turned around and began walking. “Um...so here is the thing. The reason I’m kinda irritated about this job is all the last second details. So no we have no floor plans, I don’t know the combination to the safe, and we do need better clothes. Fortunately I already dropped a line for that. Well...now that your here I’ll need to update it.” Akiva pulled out his phone and sent a quick text. “We are going to pick up our suit and dress from a local dry cleaners, and then we will go from there.” Akiva hoped this wasn’t a mistake.

"If we don't have any gear to figure out the combo, I have good ears when I tune into my animal instincts." Chenoa hoped that that would be something good on their side, especial considering that time was not on their side. "Also, where is this dry cleaners? Is it far? And where is the party? I'm assuming that it might be in one of the richer districts."

“Welcome and good evening. Your invitations please.”

Akiva, dresses in an all black suit with a red tie and arm locked with Chenoa, pulled out two invitations in two separate white and gold envelopes from his left breast pocket and handed them to the front door attendant. Akiva and Chenoa had revived suits thanks to Akiva reaching out to someone he knows and even was able to get two forged invitations under an hour. It cost him a pretty penny but he tried not to show it. He had not expected such a beautiful dress for Chenoa but he was not displeased. Although at times he found her a bit distracting for this job. He was a professional though, he powered through. After they had received their formal wear Akiva day Chenoa down at the cleaners and had her explain what she could do. With this knowledge, he had a plan. When they got in they would mingle a bit with other guests and he would try to memorize the layout of where they went. When opportunity arose they would pretend to sneak off, as rich entitled couples do, but while they were missing from the party Chenoa would use your animal instincts to help him crack the safe. Chenoa would then take his dress jacket, after putting all that they could inside its inner coat pockets, and they would leave in a slight rush. What they would claim, Akiva didn’t think that far ahead.

Chenoa was surprised by how quickly Akiva was able to get everything sorted. With just a few calls, he was able to get them both perfectly fitted outfits for the party, he was even able to get invitations so easily! It was very satisfying to watch. He got her a beautiful sparkling form-fitting floor length red dress that just barely skimmed the floor while she wore a matching red shoe. She looked quite good, but Akiva looked very nice in his slim-fitting black suit and red tie so they matched. He looked very nice all dressed up with his hair combed back nicely. She never thought he could rock a suit so nicely. While they got ready and pretty for this party, He ran through his plan with her. She liked it, it was a good classic plan. There was no way that they could fail.
The valet in the foyer asked for their invitations and Akiva easily handed them over as Chenoa gazed over the beautiful architecture and decor of the house. The chandelier just outside the foyer made the whole floor look like it was glittering. There were plenty of guests that had already arrived, dressed in an array of different colors, and were socializing as servers passed through the crowds with trays of appetizers and glittering champagne. Akiva and Chen didn't stick out of the crowd too much, as there were lots of other couples as well dressed as them. But, they were easily one of the best-looking pairs in the room.
After the valet accepted our invites and let us into the house, the two of them grazed around, arm in arm, greeting the other guests as they kept a look-out for the different hallways and staircases that they had immediate access to, and all the possible emergency exits. "So," she began, just as they left the conversation of another group and made their way across the room, "you never told me just who is throwing this party and why. Is it an anniversary? A work party?"

Akiva greeted another party guest with a gleaming smile and a nod, then looked back at Chenoa. “ It’s a dinner party, for no reason other than they could host a dinner party, hosted by one Sir Houston. Lead singer of some indie rock band. By day he parties and rocks out, by night he performs, parties, and passes out. “ Akiva snatched a delectable looking tart that a waiter was serving on a tray and ate it quickly. “ Apparently Houston and J got into it a few days ago and Houston made away with some valuables that belonged to J. So that punk, instead of doing something sane, hires me to track down these probably stolen goods and bring them back.” Akiva sighed slightly. “ Before you ask, it’s because he pays really really well.”

Chenoa shrugged and smiled. "Well, it'll be his mess when Houston realizes it was him and sends some guys to do worse things to him." She waved at another couple that smiled over at them and took a champagne glass from a waiter. She took a sip and continued. "And you'll be the one with the cash when he's at home with several bruises and a missing pinkie," she said lightheartedly. She giggled a bit thinking of the house he lived in. "If it's much of a home anyway."

Akiva laughed. “Hey James bond, let’s try to not cut off fingers for now. Honestly, if we can get out of here without.l anyone remembering us it will be a miracle.” It’s one of the reasons he hated these kinds of jobs. Akiva glances around and found what he was looking for. Then he looked back at Chenoa as the music started playing and the dance floor opened. He held an open hand out for Chenoa. “ We should um probably...dance. You know to - to - blend in. “ Akiva mentally smacked himself. It wasn’t bad logic but the proposal was off. Honestly, he hadn’t danced with anyone since he danced with Camille at their high school prom. “

Chenoa smiled as the music started to play and the lights dimmed. Akiva's nervous stutter was cute and made her feel a little less self-conscious about dancing. She never went to any high school dances but used to dance with her dad at family functions. "Sure, good idea," she said softly and took his hand and let him lead her to the mostly open dance floor beside a few other couples dancing.

Akiva and Chenoa danced together, flowing somewhat swiftly with the rest of the dancers. Akiva had some experience and kept the tripping over feet to a minimum. As some time passed and the music became slower, with people beginning to either leave the dance floor or continue at a slow pace, Akiva snapped backed to the reality that was his job. He leaned in his head next to Chenoa’s and try to keep them from coming to close to others for the moment. “ Ok so here is the plan. It’s late, and the hired guards are not gonna have worse visibility than while the slow dance music is on and the lights are dimmed. So slight change of plans. We need to find ourselves off the dance floor, and you need to get the attention of the security guard over by the north stairwell to the left of the front door.” Akiva was glad that even though this was an old factory area, the rich could afford to have the nicest houses that you could disappear and no one would notice.

“Make Something up, some kind of excuse, and get him to take you upstairs to any room to have a private moment.”

"On it, Captain," she said with a wink and broke off with him to find a waiter with a drink tray. She got two drinks and slid across the large room toward the guard at the North stairwell door. She asked him if he wanted a drink, but he shook his head. "My, I wonder what they're paying you. It must be a lot to make up for having to stay still while almost everyone around you is drinking and having fun." He smiled but said nothing. Chenoa got a little closer, half so that he could still hear her over the music, half so that she could lay on some heavy body language. "So, don't you have a girlfriend or wife that you could have brought here?" He didn't say anything, which probably meant he didn't. She inched a bit closer to him so that she was still only a few inches away from him, and the hems of her dress just spilled over his shoes. "That's some interesting news–for me. My other half isn't paying any attention to me. Too busy oggling over other girls." She put on a falsely disappointed pout and inched a bit closer. The guard shook his head. "He isn't a real man then." he said. Chenoa grazed her foot on the guard's leg. "Then maybe you take me somewhere more private? Show me what a real man can do?" "That wouldn't be very appropriate, Miss." he said, almost hesitantly. She got close enough so that if she weren't leaning back a bit, her chest would be touching him. She delicately placed her leg between his. "Aw, come on. There are plenty of other guards watching the party. What's so bad about being gone for an hour?" she paused to lick her lips. "Or two?" He looked around to see that the rest of security were still in their stations. "Why not take me upstairs for a while? Everything will be fine while you're gone." He swiftly led her up the stairs to take her to a room. Chenoa made eye contact with Akiva and gave him a wink as she followed the guard.

Akiva inwardly sighed again. He had not heard what Chenoa had said but from the body language probably nothing pleasant. “ Having a little much fun aren’t you?“, Akiva said to himself softly. He moved from his position with much more ease of movement than when he had been dancing. Akiva followed Chenoa and the guard slowly as they began moving upstairs, blending in with the crowd so as to not be seen specifically. When Akiva got to the top of the stair case he quickly glanced down the entire hallway. At the top of the stair case there was a hallway that expanded forwards quite far. Akiva quickly snuck next to a wooden display case that showed shelves of trophies. Akiva heard the chatter of Chenoa and the guard and followed them down the hallway. When they reached the end of the hall is when Akiva made his move.

Akiva dashed forward, alerting the guard ahead. But before the guard could react Akiva reaches forward with his right hand and tapped the mans forehead, as he muttered “ ill intentions “. After a moment the guard suddenly collapsed to the ground, appearing unconscious.

"You're quick at that." Chenoa said, in awe at how he was able to get a guard almost twice his weight on the ground by touching his forehead. "We should probably hide him somewhere for now. What did you do to him?" she asked, looking back up at Akiva.

Akiva raised his right hand as it began to vibrate the color yellow. “ I sent a surge of energy directly into the nerve in the brain that controls motor functions. “ Akiva leaned down towards the guard and placed a hand on his head. Another surge of yellow light vibrates from his hand, and then the light disappeared. Akiva sighed then stood up straight. As turned to face Chenoa he spoke. “ Long story short, my body is basically an energy generator. Using this generated energy I can heal, stun, and generally be a support character “, Akiva joked.

Akiva quickly cocked his head slightly, as alarmed. Then he looked back at Chenoa. “ New plan. I am gonna take care of this body, hide it, and generally make sure we are not noticed to be missing.” Akiva motioned towards the door behind Chenoa. “ luckily we managed to find a security guy who really enjoyed finer things. He led us to the houses office we need to get to. The Safe should be behind a picture frame.” Akiva took off his suit jacket and offered it to Chaneo. “ The inside pockets are deeper than usual pockets so filll them with whatever you find in the safe. I’ll meet you near the front entrance ok? “

Akiva suddenly blushed and coughed once into his hand. “ I am sorry, can you handle this? I don’t mean to be rude it’s just if you haven’t done this before it can be weird and confusing. “

"Do what you need to do," Chen said, "I've never been on a heist or broken into a safe, but it can't be too much different than getting into a school after hours and breaking into a few lockers, right?" she joked as she took Akiva's jacket and quietly slipped into the office. It was bigger than she expected, which she should have expected. There was a Large desk between two large windows giving view to a beautiful courtyard. Behind the desk between the windows was a large painting. She shifted the skin of her hands into a paw-pad texture, so that her prints couldn't be traced, and moved around the desk to look behind the painting, but there was only wall. There was another picture she saw on the right wall out of the corner of her eye. It was of a group of guys that were obviously a band. Someone had written something illegible in sharpie in the bottom corner. She took it off the wall, and sure enough, there was the safe. She put down the painting on a table nearby and put her ear against the metal door and listened carefully to the quiet clicks of the lock as she turned the dial. After a minute she had it open, and opened the door slowly, anticipating an alarm. But there wasn't. She saw a few stacks of cash, some jewellery, and a few baggies of white powder. She could fit it into Akiva's jacket, so she couldn't see why not take all of it. She stuffed it all in the inner pockets of the jacket and put it over her shoulders before she closed the door of the safe and covered it again with the picture. She shifted her hands back to normal as she left the room, and went downstairs to find Akiva. She had only been gone 10 or 15 minutes.

Akiva watched with a smile as his enthusiastic tag along ventured forward with her task. As soon as the she was out of sight Akivas face contorted into a face devoid of emotion. He looked down at the security guard and cocked his head slightly. He guessed he needed to hide the body, if he didn’t and she heard she might get suspicious. Akiva dragged the body into the closet unlocked room and left the man slumped against the wall. Then Akiva walked out of the room as he took out that folded piece of paper J had handed him at he start of this job. He unfolded it and read what was written on it out loud. “ Kill Houston “. Akiva Hated receiving jobs in this method but he understood the reason. Akiva was contacted through the dark web by J for a job, but what only Akiva knew was that J was pushed into his situation with Houston by others so that problems would arise and J would contact Akiva for help. When J did this he unwittingly passed along another secret message that would be decrypted online by Akiva. They did this so that it would impossible to not remain anonymous and hidden from any preying eyes. They had another job for Akiva, something much darker. They requested Akiva to silence Sir Houston. Permanently.

Akiva knew this from the start and kept this hidden from J and Chenoa. He did do everything he said he did, but every time he sent a message or made a call he would would go through contacts that understood him when he spoke in double entendres. Everything was set up for this moment.

Akiva walked along the hallway, leaving a hand on the railing. He scanned the crowd of people enjoying the party, finding the host rather easily telling a story rather loudly over on the opposite side of the room. Akiva walked downstairs, past all of the other party guests, and to Sir Houston’s group. “ Hello everyone “, Akiva said to the small group with as much charisma as he could muster, “ I don’t know if all of you recognize me but this man right here - “, Akiva said as he reached over and put his hand on Houston’s shoulder, “ is the life of the party. “ When Akiva spoke this everyone lost their tension and laughed, realizing that Akiva Meant no disrespect and he was rather.......different. Not necessarily in a good way in their minds though. Akiva looked at Houston, once again asking himself the same questions he always asked when confronted by people like Houston. Houston is a very popular indie music star, and he did a lot publicly to help several different charities. He was regarded as a very passionate and charitable man. But he had a very dark side. He was involved with several different groups that were involved with racketeering, extortion, and worse. Houston would use most of the money he made on drugs he did in his private time, which made he quite violent and has often made female guests never be able to leave again.

This type of man is why Akiva was so torn on the idea of Justice. What is it? How can someone be good when they do some much evil and how could someone be labeled a villain when they truly strived for a greater cause? Akiva shook his head softly, realizing five minutes had gone by since he last saw Chenoa. He was moving cats but he needed to end his now. Akiva pretended to stumble accidentally from trying to take a step forward. He reached out quickly and grabbed Houston’s hand, sure that while it was embarrassing no one would be he wiser. As soon as his hand touches Houston’s, Akiva sent a small and slow but sharp surge of energy into Houston as he gave the mental command “ ill intentions “.

Akiva let go after a few seconds of pretending to needing to center himself, then straightens himself out. Akiva laughed and apologized, with everything laughing again at Akivas strangeness. Akiva began walking away, but as he did he glanced back with a steel like like in his eyes. “ I win “, Akiva said softly to himself. The energy Akiva sent using his ability ill intentions was a special kind of energy he generated special for this moment. Right now the small surge of foreign energy was slowly traveling through Houston’s body. In about 10 minutes, Akiva predicted just about, the energy would sizzle out and then send foreign electrical energy through our Houston’s body, if not killing him outright then permanent crippling him by more than likely shutting down an organ or more. Akiva walked towards the entrance and realized that more time had passed then he though. By the door Chenoa was waiting for him. Akiva sighed once, looked down, closed his eyes, and opened them for them to appear black and red momentarily before returning back to normal. Akiva thought to himself, “ This is all so gray “. Akiva walked up to Chenoa and greeted her with a smile and walked with her, arm in arm, outside.

"Did you have fun socializing?" Chenoa asked sarcastically as they made their way out of the party. She snagged one last pecan butter tart before the got outside and was nibbling it as they strode down the walkway going further and further from the house. "Do you want to get a car or something? I'm getting a bit tired carrying all this heavy gold in my pockets." she said, smiling widely to Akiva, proud of the both of them that they were able to finish the heist successfully. "We should celebrate." she said, squeezing his arm and conciously stopping herself from leaning her head on his shoulder.

Akiva almost shushed Chenoa, but second guessed himself. She was happy, this was something not every one did all the time. He laughed, then let go of Chenoa so that he could gently take his jacket back and put it back on. " One problem solved. Ha. Sure , if you want, we could call a taxi. Do you want to go back to the cleaners, drop off these clothes, and get our old clothes back? "

"That would be a good idea," Chenoa said, nodding. "Besides, my aunt is probably wondering where I am by now. I normally stay out pretty late without texting her, but never this late. And I left my phone where I hid the rest of my stuff when I shifted to stalk you earlier today." She laughed a bit as she remembered her bag of stuff still in that bush in the park.

Akiva laughed. “ That’s sweet I think. My sister can be similar at times when I’m not out of town on a job, but that’s just because she can be a little protective. Can’t same I’m not the same way. “

Akiva walked the short distance with Chenoa to the cleaners they got their clothes from while chatting about whatever came to mind. Akiva was glad he was able to make this whole adventure fun, although working with a partner wasn’t as much fun as he had hoped. Mainly because of all the secrecy involved but Akiva shoved that to the side of his mind. When the duo arrived at the cleaners, Akiva and Chenoa were able to get back and put on their clothes, and Akiva was even able to get a small backpack from the nice owner of the cleaners, after asking for something to carry stuff in. Akiva was now dressed in a black V neck T shirt, with a black short collared jacket and dark blue jeans.

After the cleaners gave the their clothes back, Chenoa was back into Akiva's sweatpants and longsleeve shirt. The owner noticed that Chen didn't have any shoes and gave her a pair of sneakers that someone had neglected to pick up. They were about a size too big, but they worked just fine. They would probabaly fit her aunt anyway. She was very greatful that the owner was so nice, and even cleaned their clothes for them. As the two made their way out of the cleaners, Chenoa asked, "So, you mentioned your sister a bit, but what's she like?"

As Akiva pulled out his phone to order and Uber, Akiva spoke to Chenoa. “ My sister? Her name is Camille, and she is my twin sister. From birth, she has always had a really weak immune system so she has to be constantly careful about where she goes, what she touches, and what she eats. But she is really smart, really good with computers, and she never complains about her condition. “

Chenoa smiled, and put her hands in her pockets as they waited for their car. "She sounds strong." she said, looking out at the lights that lined the dark main street, not really focusing on anything in particular, just picturing what Camille might look like. "You guys must be really close."

“I mean, yea we are close but you would be surprised. Things can get really tense, especially when she disagrees with something. We live together and we both have a hand in this line of work “, Akiva said while waving his hand as if to gesture what they currently did,” she runs the computer and I do most of the foot work. “

"That's pretty true," Chenoa said, laughing a bit. "Living with family can get pretty tense. I remember when I first moved in with my aunt and cousins. They used to all have separate rooms, but they had no guest room. So the boys had to start sharing a room so that I could have my own. They get along pretty well so it wasn't too bad for them, but they were pretty tense with me for the first month for taking up their space.. And I had my own room and they didn't, so that was unfair." She huffed remembering how not nice they were. They weren't mean, but they didn't show her a lot of kindness either. After all, she was the cousin that they had never met and suddenly they had to make room for her, a stranger. "They loosened up a bit after few weeks. Isaac and I get along pretty well now, and Andre and I are already relly close. We both like to joke around." Chenoa paused. "I'm assuming Camilla knows about your ability? I mean, my aunt and the boys know about mine, but they're just relatives, she's your sister. And she's your twin, I bet she probably has some sort of ability too.."

Akivas mood slightly turned for the worse after hearing that. Of course she knew, he was the reason she is like how she is. “ Uh yea she knows, and no she isn’t like me in that way. She’s the normal. She never judges me for being able to do stuff like - ", Akiva said as he raised his right hand. His hand vibrates a sharp yellow for a few seconds then faded to normal,” - this. She has gone through a lot because of the fact I can do that “. Akiva suddenly smiled and put his hands behind his head. "But it’s fine, she only uses the fact that I have powers and she doesn’t to always get what she wants. It’s why I haven’t eaten a cookie in weeks hehe".

"Aw,you don't get cookies? I'll remember that if I ever see you at Josie's, I'll keep you from buying any." She laughed and elbowed him lightheartedly a bit. She tucked a chunk of light purple hair behind her ear. "So what do you normally do for fun when you're not doing your odd jobs?"

Akiva shrugged. “ Mainly we just work. We are a little weird when we do have any free time though. If we are feeling lazy we will binge TV and movies. If we are feeling energetic we love to sight see, to go out randomly and find a nice patch of grass to lay on in an area we haven’t been before. “ Akiva spottey a bench and motioned for Chenoa to follow him and sit with him. When Akiva sat down he layed his head back and looked up at sky. “ Camille can’t stand for as long as others because she becomes fatigue quickly so my solution was for us to go places and lay down. End up falling asleep a lot. “

Chenoa followed him to the bench and sat with him and looked up at the starry sky. Because of all the lights, she couldn't see too many stars or constellations besides the Dippers and Orion's Belt, but it still looked pretty. "That sounds really relaxing." she said softly. She was growing tired already. The two of them had had a big day.

Akiva was about to speak when his phone buzzed, alerting him to the Uber approaching. Akiva looked at Chenoa and chuckled. She looked extremely tired. “ Our Uber is here. “

Chenoa yawned and started speaking just before she finished a deep breath out. "Do you think I could nap in the car?" she giggled as she got up to look down the street for the car. She stood tall as she could for her height and held her arms up, stretching as she noticed a clean silver vintage-looking car pull up and stop nearby.

Akiva stood up and walked over to the car, speaking as he did. “Sure, be my guest." Akiva and Chenoa got into the silver Impala that was their Uber and took off.

"Thanks for letting me tag along on this job, I realize that you're probably not used to pairing up." Chenoa slouched back in the back seat of the Impala as she made herself comfortable. She watched the scenery pass by as they made their way back Downtown. Today was a weird day for her and she loved the action. She was starting to think that she might like staying in Esperanza for a few years, despite her parents wanting her to come home after a few months here. College could wait another year or two. As she thought about this, she realized that the scenery was getting more familiar as the Downtown area. The drive was a shorter trip than she had expected.

Akiva smiled and nodded at Chenoa. "Well it wasnt exactly what I pictured but I think we did ok. Thank you Dove I appreciate it." A little more time passed before finally arriving in front of Chenoas home. Akiva helped her out of the car and to her door, recieving an akward hug before saying their final goodbyes. Akiva then walked back into the car, finally going home.



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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Ekreture
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Ekreture

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"Though we escaped the illusory grasp of Cheyenne territory, Slim's powermongery only grew in fortitude. Days were counted by his watchful eye, nights by his abrasive bacchanalia, and I became trapped under fear, doubt, and ignorance. But still we pressed westward to California, to our promised land, like the Israelites and the forebears of America, who cast off the shackles of unjust society to make for the desert wild. This hope became embodied in my son, Josiah, the cynosure of my happiness and my only devotion. As despots are want to do, Slim became jealous of devotion to any but himself.

He became increasingly aggressive to me, knowing full-well of my doubts in his leadership, turning my widowhood to mockery and my motherhood to sin. I suited the role of the outcast, and where I was once the chaste pastor's wife, I was now a nigger-loving harlot.

One night, Slim stumbled into my tent, and I was woken by the cries of my son, as well as the reek of whiskey and bourbon. I sought to shout, but found my screams stifled by his greased hand covering my mouth. The hypocrite, who so warned me of Julius's imminent savagery, now sought to defile my honor he professed to protect, and revealed himself the true rapist. He held a knife to my neck, and warned that were I to make any further noise, he would splatter my child's blood upon the tent's canvas, and so I resigned myself to my fate. But the Lord has a strange sense of justice.

I had closed my eyes when I felt Slim lifted from my body before his pants could fall to his ankles, and opening them, saw the scrawny Carolinian tossed to the ground outside my tent. Atop him was a black ghost illuminated by candlelight; Julius, who had taken the bowie from his hand, and was stabbing it into his chest whilst the drunkard screamed in agony, then fell silent into the arms of the devil. I sat by watching, shaking with perspiration, tugging tight to my sheets. After all life had been drained from Slim, Julius stood up and looked back at me, silently. He was covered in blood, and his once Adonis-like face was now gaunt and wild. His clothes, the same as the last I had seen him in, were torn to rags, and one of his eyes had been shredded from its socket. I said nothing, he retreated to the shadows, and my silence remained as the whole of the camp came and questioned me as to what had transpired.

The next day, we pressed onward, Julius having vanished. To California, our hope. To Esperanza."
- Eliza Montgomery, Autobiography




They decided that this faux-grunge edginess really wasn't their thing after a long talk with Tom. The band of tight jeans realized that they should go back to their roots in blues, which Tom assured them would have a revival any day now. And they were no longer 'Firebrand'-a better name would come to them. After not-Firebrand had left, Tom sat on a stool in the recording studio plucking an E blues progression; this new band had brought back some memories. The guitar he played was sleek and new; a studio guitar, some two thousand dollar Martin bought with the company's money. It felt awkward in his hands, with Tom being much more used to the guitars he's been playing since the sixties, the polished wood sliding clumsily along the old rocker's calloused hands. But he still tasted the Delta as he plucked along.

Greg, the producer who had taken on the brunt of the firm's labor, approached him and sat on the stool next to him, just watching for a while. After one final turn around, Tom landed on an E7 before muting the Martin and looking up with a sly grin.

"Still got it," He said with a mocked braggadocio. His employee smiled back at him, and Tom stood and leaned the guitar against his stool. When it became evident that he was planning on leaving, Greg spoke up.

"You can't stay a bit longer?"

"Uh...no can do, gotta meet up with Ali," he explained while he put on his coat. Greg frowned, but followed him to the storefront, where a few people were browsing through the records and memorabilia. A couple of them turned their heads with eyes widened when Tom walked in the room, but he only politely nodded to them. Greg stopped him as he went for the doorway.

"You gonna let me know when you'll be back in?" Tom turned around slowly, looking to his fans and customers, before turning his gaze back to the producer.

"Shit...I'm sorry man. I-I haven't been myself lately. I'll try to check in more, there's just...there's been something in me. Something I knew was coming, but..." He trailed off, and looked down at the pale yellow floor. It had recently been waxed, and he could see his reflection. "Let me know if you sign that band."

The balding producer frowned, resigning from pressing him any further. "Will do boss."

Nodding, Tom sniffed in, took a look at his kingdom, and walked out the door.



1971


He stared blankly at the letter, his face was white, and his fingers were numb. 'How could this happen?' he thought to himself, but he knew the answer. He was a hippie, he was a pinko, and unlike most hippies and pinkos, his family was poor. Daisy was pacing back and forth in front of him.

"There has to be something you can do Tom...I mean..."

"No." She stopped in her tracks at his words, and felt a rage build up in her. Turning to face him, her eyebrows were knit in frustration.

"What do you mean no?" She stepped forward and leaned down to look at him, but the young man didn't dare to make eye contact. "You've protested this war for years, and now what? You're gonna...fucking fight in it?"

"Yeah." She just stared at him blankly, her mouth wide open, before turning away in shock, sitting on a chair and starting to weep. Her husband sighed and ambled over to her, placing his hand on her shoulder. "Hey-"

"Don't touch me!" She shouted, wiping her eyes. Standing up, she crossed her arms, and now was the one who refused to make eye contact. She was silent for a second.

"You know...you pretend like you give a shit. Like you care. You take on all these causes, and you protest, but I know the truth!" She moved closer to him. "You don't give a shit. It's all about you. The only person you care about, Tom, is yourself!"

The next thing Daisy knew, she was staring at the ground, and felt a sharp pain on her cheek. Tom was standing over her, heaving with rage. It took a second before he started apologizing, but it was too late. She left, and he was alone in their living room.




Alison clung tight to her husband's arm, and they walked silently through a park in Mission Hills. She had gained weight in her old age, but neither of them cared; it was just a part of getting old. They finally sat down on a bench and watched as children played and young couples embarked on the same journey they had all those years ago. Resting her head on Tom's shoulder, it didn't take long until she started to cry.

"Hey there," Tom said as he tried to soothe her, wrapping his jacketed arm around her and rubbing her up and down her own. She wiped at her eye, and sighed as she looked up her husband, feigning a smile, and he smiled back, but he didn't have to put on his for her sake. He kissed the top of her head, and they went back to watching the park.

"How was the store?" Alison finally asked after a while of silence.

"It was alright," Tom said. "Saw a new band from Santa Maria. They were okay." The silence resumed, and a cold wind blew through the park, while the children began to gather towards an encroaching ice cream man.

"You...look, I know it seems hard, Tom, but you have to fight! For me, for-"

"I know, Ali." He replied. A word hung in the air, one that neither one wanted to say, and had refused to say since the doctor's office yesterday. "Look, we've been getting ready for this for a while now, we knew it was coming, now I just have to push."

"You don't have to go through this alone, Tom! You've got me, and the kids." He looked away, a tear welling in his eye, but she pressed on. "We can beat this, together!" Tom didn't respond, and started choosing his next words carefully.

"Ali...all of us get cancer." He said the word. "We usually don't make it through." She started to speak up, but he cut her off. "But I'll try...for you. And the kids. And the grandkids. I'll try." She sighed, and settled back on his arm.

"I guess that's all I can ask for."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Famotill
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Famotill

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Three Days Later




Dude, you can’t just go AWOL like that! Scoob and I were fucking worried.” The all familiar sound of Kate on another war path was nearly enough to keep Preston embedded in ice for the rest of his life. A worried tone rung out from the phone’s speaker as it rested on the rim of the bathroom sink.

I’m sorry Kate, things...just got busy.” Preston studied his face in the mirror. His digits traced features that didn’t belong to him. His normal, hazel eyes, were now a bright blue. Wisps of thinning black hair replaced the normal brown locks. His skin was pale, and the scars that marked his new skin were alien. He felt a heaviness to him. It wasn’t a remarkable difference; the real Timothy Ross was fairly lanky, but much taller than Preston. Preston’s knees shook and ached with an encumbered weariness.

Preston...are you in some sort of trouble,” Kate asked from within her box.

Nothing crazy,bullshit.

Things are finally calming down for me,more bullshit. “It’s...it’s been great.” Yet another lie escaped his lips. “But hey, I gotta head out Kate. You and Scoob keep cool, I'll see you guys on Friday.

Pres…” Kate gave a weak reply in compliance. The ‘call-ended’ tone was quick and sharp against the walls of Preston’s bathroom.

Flipping through his phone Preston perused the calendar app. Damn, three whole days? Three entire days to turn into a fucking pedophile. Giving himself another look in the mirror he couldn’t help but bare a foreign grimace. As the stranger’s face looked back at him he let out a sigh, but even the sounds of another’s breath betrayed him.

Scrolling, now, through the pictures in his phone there was one that caught his eye. He, Scoob, and Kate cuddled up together on Kate’s old beat-up couch with ice cream and popcorn. He remembered that night pretty well. Neither of his friends had seen Dead Poets Society. A travesty to be sure. Preston ordered a movie night to rectify the issue, but they ended up getting high and passing out halfway through.

With the press of a button the image was gone. Preston tucked the phone into the back pocket of his jeans. On the legs of Timothy Ross they were tighter than normal, and rested right before his ankles.

Looking at the new face one last time Preston steeled himself with a hesitant resolve.

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”





In he walked as the multi-colored lights of Esperanza’s skyline painted the night sky with their vibrancy. His pale and sickly skin was illuminated by the orange tint of street lights as he made his way into the apartment complex nestled away in the back streets of Concepcion. He’d taken to covering his thinning hair with a strategically placed hoodie.

Bright blue eyes studied the street. He surveyed the area with a tempered caution he’d grown accustomed to by now. Making his way inside the complex his eyes quickly shot down towards a pair of dirty old boots. He hated making eye contact, and he could feel the stare of the desk attendant bearing down on him. For some reason she wouldn’t avert her gaze. This made him all the more impatient as he shuffled forward passed the front desk and into the stairwell. The elevator was always broken.

He let out a small cough before forcing shaky knees up three flights of stairs. His lanky frame inched its way towards the door to the hallway. Not much longer now.

Apartment 37. Finally. Opening the door, Ross heard the swelling of music. His eyes quickly darted throughout the small apartment. From the entryway just beyond a small wall he could make out only his living room.

Who the fuck’s in my house,” Ross cautioned as a hand inched back towards the front door knob.

Ross felt a presence come from around the wall, and tried desperately to make a move towards the door. He felt the weight of the intruder bare down on him before feeling the push of cold metal against his temple. He tried his best to struggle, but the person felt stronger than he did. A hand reached towards Ross’ mouth before he could muster a noise.

In that moment Ross felt the grip of the intruder slip slightly. He managed to push the man back before making his way out of the apartment door.

--

Fuck,” was all Preston could mutter to himself. He hesitated. He couldn’t even pull the trigger on someone like Ross.

He felt a swelling of emotions well up in the chest. Pushing past his anxiety he forced himself onto two feet. He scrambled quickly out of the door, and after Ross.

The fleeing Ross barreled down towards the hallway screaming out for help as he did so. He’d have stayed in the hall if not for the sight of a man who looked to be his twin running towards him at a speed he wasn’t sure he could match.

Ross pushed open the door, and tried to rush down the stairs. In his clumsiness he felt the full weight of his body tumble down a flight of stairs as his slender body crashed into plaster. He groaned in pain as he tried to recover.

Unfortunately for Ross his assailant was right behind him, a gun with a silencer pointed straight at his face.

W-wait…” the man pleaded. “I been doin’ real good. I haven’t fucked up once since I got out.” Ross’ voice cracked with anxious foreboding as he studied the sight before him. Realizing that this man was a spitting image of himself made him put up his hands in defeat.

W-who the fuck are you,” he demanded. His normally pale face was a devilish red now. His eyes were sunken and filled with steaming tears. Spit bridged his upper and lower lips as his body shook with intensity.

Your past is catching up with you Timmy,” was Preston’s answer. He eyed the man. It was as if he’d been looking in a mirror all over again. Shaking the thought his grip on the pistol tightened.

The cops are on their fucking way!” Timothy’s body huddled up closer to the wall behind him. He leaned back as a small bit of blood dripped from his hooked nose.

Bullshit,” Preston paused for a moment as he looked over the man in front of him. “These people don’t give a fuck about you, dude. They heard you screaming. What’s another dead pedo to them?

Fuck.” Ross let out a small whimper. He couldn’t stop crying as the imposing barrel of the gun met his gaze. “I-I did my fuckin’ time. This ain’t right.

I don’t think you get to make the call on what’s fucking right,” Preston snapped back. In some ways he was talking passed the man in front of him.

But you do? That’s bullshit,” Ross’ haggard breaths forced him to turn his head in an exasperated cough. “I know what the fuck you are. One of those fucking mutants.

You don’t know shit.” Preston shoved the gun closer to Ross’ forehead.

I know the system. They love the freaks. Next to us they look pretty and neat and good. It’s when you expose them for the frauds and the freaks that they are that they want ya dead. That’s when they put you down. ” Ross studied the man in front of him. He spoke with a greater intensity than he had before- perhaps in some last ditch effort to draw attention. Maybe instead it was with conviction.

Put you down? You’ve probably been milked the system since you got out. Who’s hiring a twice-convicted pedo? Give me a break, man.” Preston’s grip didn’t loosen on the handle of the firearm. Even still, his hand shook with an uncertainty.

And look where the hell I am right now.” Ross pushed himself forward even closer to the barrel of the gun to make his point. “Nah, you and I… we ain’t too different. Whoever the fuck you really are. Your mother was probably some coked up whore who got radiation tests for a quick fix.” Ross snorted with a callousness as if pleased by his little assessment. “Now you’re wearing my face. Pointing a fuckin’ gun at my head. Pretty ironic.

Before Ross could say anymore the subtle whip of a bullet leaving the chamber echoed in the hallway. The silencer captured most of the sound and gas the pistol would normally make. Blood splattered on the walls of the stairwell.

No, it isn’t,” was all Preston could utter before he felt the weight of his deeds bear down on him. Staring down at the dead body was enough to bring back memories of the fire. He could feel the stress pulling and contorting his features back into their natural form. He needed to get the fuck out of dodge, but the room was spinning. The sight of the body, and knowing that the bullet hole and the blood were of his doing was enough to nearly make him vomit.

The sounds of police sirens ringing in the distance were just enough to carry Preston forward, and out a back exit down the stairwell. Someone finally gave enough of a damn to call them.

Making his way down an alleyway and away from the sounds of sirens Preston took a sigh of relief.

"Shit."
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Sailorsadie
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Sailorsadie Carouser

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"However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you..."


A head full of bright red hair bounced along in time to the music, a pair of large purple headphones resting delicately against humbled ears. A soft tone drifted from heart shaped lips. It was a rare day when Harper had a day free of classes, clinicals and work. The sun seemed to shine even brighter as the young woman strolled along the streets of La Purisima. As she continued to walk, her arms flailed wildly about in time to the rhythm entering her soul. The sun's rays kissed at the thin strip of pale skin showing between a basic white tee and blue jeans, the strip becoming larger as her body danced with exuberance. Nothing could bring her down today.

CRASH!


The sound of metal clashing together was close enough to break through the haunting love song playing in her ears. Her head whipped around quickly to eye the crash behind her, causing her ginger hair to twist about her neck. Bringing a hand up, she pulled the headphones away and slid them down to rest around the base of her throat. Blue eyes darted around to the witnesses scrambling to help the victims, several yelling out to dial for emergency services. Panicked voices cried out with agony from the wreckage. The scene caused the breath to become strangled in Harper's throat. She knew she should help- everything within her screamed to put her medical knowledge to use. Yet, the thought of having to touch a person in this condition...

With a muffled whimper, Harper's fingers rushed to her jean pockets and frantically pulled out a pair of latex gloves. The material was enough to keep the contact minimal, yet not allow her grasp to become compromised. It was the best she could do with the situation. Once her armor was fully in place, the woman's thin legs took off in a sprint towards the disaster zone. It only took her mere moments to assess the worse of the crash. Her voice cut through the screams as she tried to hold back the bile rising in her throat. "I'm a nurse! Well, sort of...Going to be one day, I mean- I'm here to help!" She sucked in a breath as she studied each victim.

Elderly woman, late sixties to early seventies, blunt force trauma to the head, most likely due to the airbag deploying.. Her gloved hands reached out to the woman's throat, her index and middle finger joining together at the junction. Pulse faint but steady, just knocked unconscious, will survive..

Her eyes sought out the next victim. Young male, under ten years of age, no obvious sign of injury.. Harper moved her hands to check his pulse. She shoved down the panic nipping at her chest. No pulse, no pulse...Okay, don't freak out. Just like you've been taught. No sign of external injury, must be internal...Look for...Aha! Her eyes glanced over the bruised abdomen that she had only moments ago bared to the light. She worried the inside of her lip with her teeth and she nodded to herself. Okay, okay...Internal bleeding...What have you learned? Could be a ruptured spleen, liver, bowel...Holy hell, why did there have to be so many organs in the stomach?!

Dread crossed her face when she knew what she had to do. Inhaling deeply through her nose, she pulled her hand back before slowly easing off the glove from her left hand. As the material freed her skin, she kept sight of her trembling fingers as they hesitantly made her way back to the little boy. His life could hang in the balance. This was exactly the type of moment she had wanted to save her power for. She would just have to find a way to explain herself later.

With a final glitch of hesitation, Harper brought her hand closer to the boy before gently brushing her fingertips across the injury. A strangled cry escaped her lips as her eyes glazed over. Her body trembled with the invasion of emotion- fright, anguish, fear, all exploded throughout her body at once. A bright pixelated ball appeared over the boy's abdomen, the edges fraying and sputtering with broken energy. In what seemed like hours, in truth just a few seconds, Harper could see the lining of the child's digestive system. She could see the mangled spleen nearly torn to shreds, causing blood to pool within his belly. With a gasp she quickly pulled away, causing herself to fall to the ground on her backside. Soon the world went black.

The sound of sirens tore through her fog. Harper's eyes shot open, taking in the harsh color of the blue sky. She groaned in exhaustion before bringing her left hand up to rest against her temple. Black spots clouded her vision as her mind tried to remember what had transpired. Shadows rushed past her. Pushing herself up onto her elbows, she rose a brow at seeing paramedics. Her eyes widened with the memory. "The boy!"

Pressing the palms of her hands against the ground, she pushed herself up onto all fours. She scrambled the rest of the way to her feet before reaching the men. Her rapid breathing caught the attention of one of the paramedics and he turned to address her. "I'm a-a n-nurse...Boy-boy, spleen...Internal.." Harper furrowed her brows together and shoved the heel of her hand into her cramping side. "Internal bleeding...spleen, boy...Hospital.."

The man nodded in understanding before returning his attention to the victims. Distancing herself from the wreckage, Harper desperately gasped for clean, fresh air. She could still feel the little boy's pain along her nerves. Needing a distraction, she pulled the headphones once more onto the top of her head and turned the volume all the way on high. The sound of The Cure muted everything else around her. Tears fell from the pools in her eyes as she took off in a run, praying that the adrenaline would help to burn the rest of the emotions away.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by dabombjk
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dabombjk OneWhoYouDoNotKnow

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Akiva Hishamie

Ending and begining, solo style.


3 days ago


The long dull silence of the night crept around Akiv like a snake swallowing its prey. After all the events that had unfolded, he had been left drained both physically and mentally. Normally for Akiva, when he accepted a job, it was very cut and dry almost to the point where he could have written down the events that would transpire beforehand and end up being 100% accurate. Not that he was some sort of genius, it's just that in his line of work things tended to be that way. Anything unexpected meant trouble and could spell out almost certain death if you were unable to handle the situation. As Akiva sat in the bck seat of the Uber car he requested, being taken home, he looked out the window at the pale moonlight. He has heard before that on a night where the moon is full and when its glow shines out throughout the night, the supernatural can occur in your laugh at a random moments notice. Akiva laughed softly to himself as he thought of this, reminding himself that technically he was considered supernatural himself. With the window cracked slightly he could feel the slight breeze on his face, hear the sound of city hustle and bustle with what nightlife could be found.

People went on that night as they usually did with whatever they usually liked to do. Akiva watched, in his ride home, people walking down the sidewalk going about their business without a care for what was going on in the world they lived. "I killed a man today", Akiva thought to himself, "and the world still goes on. What kind of justice is that"?

Akiva did not think for a single moment that what he did could ever be considered a "Good" act, but if killing a man who hurt and killed others could not be considered good then what could be? Was doing nothing, avoiding this man, or trying to go to the police with no legal evidence a good thing? Akiva could not see it like that. If he could not take the law into his own hands when presented with an opportunity to rid the world of Filth like Houston Donovan, then what was the point of even being alive? Akiva thought how he had actual superpowers, even though at times he thought of it more like a curse than a gift, and that he could do.....not he DOES do a lot with them. Akiva sighed rather louder than he meant to. His powers were yet another reason why he could not understand how some people had such naive definitions of good and evil. He performed acts of both on an almost daily basis so what did that make him?

Scratching his head Akiva gave up mentally on the train of thought that pursued him. He never got anywhere when he tried to argue with himself on the topic of good and evil. He settled on gazing intently on the world outside of this drive home. No matter what he thought, Akiva was glad life was interesting.

His thoughts did though end up turning to Chenoa, The Dove. She...was definitely one of the weirder ones that Akiva had met during his line of work. He was glad that she was not able to uncover his true objective though. Akiva worked better as a solo rogue since others tended to slow him down or try to intervene in some way. It was good to meet another who was special like him, although her powers did seem a lot more useful and less hazardous than his powers were. The way she jumped at the chance to do something in his line of work did worry him a little but he ended up chalking that up to something he would not understand. Akiva has been involved in his line of work for so long that by now he figured that what he did would seem somewhat exciting to normal people, so long as any killing was kept out of sight. Akiva wasn't that ignorant. He wouldnt hate seeing her again, Akiva thought.

As Akiva walked up the stairs to the third floor of his apartment and as he walked inside it he made sure he was not injured or bleeding in any way he had not yet seen. If he was Camille would flip out again, something Akiva never looked forward to. He was greeted by his twin sister, Camille Hishamie, after he walked inside. They lived in a simple apartement, nothing very fancy but away from prying eyes, and he could see her standing in the kitchen from the front door. When her eyes darted from what she was doing over to the sound of the front door opening Camille dropped everything she was doing and ran to the front door as fast as she could. Camille jumped into Akiva as she hug tackled him.

"Akivaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa", Camille squeaked.

Akiva grunted and laughed, returning the hug after regaining his center of balance. Just as fast though Camille reached up as she hugged him and bopped him on the back of his head, causing a loud thumping sound to echo thoughout the room. Akiva laughed, not stunned at all. "I kow what its for but Ill ask anyways. What was that for Cam", Akiva asked teasingly.

Pushing Akiva away and regaining her composure Camille crossed her arms and walked back to the kitchen to continue what she was previously doing. "Oh, I don't know let's see. We can start with you taking a job without consulting me. You know you are terrible at picking decent jobs but noooo you try anyway."

Akiva walked over to the front of the kitchen and sat at the counter on a bar stool. "It was more like a personal favor to an old...to a guy i know. Honestly, I probably won't talk to him for awhile he is such a dumbass". Akiva laid his head on the counter and closed his eyes.

Camille eyed Akiva as he spoke but released a heavy sigh after a few moments had passed. "Honestly...what am I going to do with you. Go get washed and changed, I will make dinner".

Akiva silently and slowly stood up and began to do as he was instructed. It was a general rule in the house that after a job Akiva was supposed to wash, change, and eat dinner. If it wasn't a rule, as it was not one for the entirety of them working together, Akiva would sometimes forget to take care of himself. Camille narrowed her eyes as he walked away, the bottom right corner of her mouth twisting to form a suspicious frown. "You idiot", Camille said softly to herself, "Such an annoyance". Camille gripped the hilt of the knife she picked up, to assist in cooking, quite tightly.

present day


As Akiva walked out the door he narrowly avoided getting hit by a hairbrush thrown by his sister. Camille was angry with him for passing up another job that would have in fact brought them a sizeable chunk of cash. So to avoid any more unpleasantness Akiva decided a day out would be needed. Akiva walked downstairs and immediately was hit with an overall pleasant wave of combined sunshine, fresh air, and the chance for a new adventure. That being said, as he looked around in youthful passion, he realized that more than likely today would be a nap day.

It was still fairly early in the day, so since he had no job to complete and could not return home Akiva decided to simply take a stroll. He walked to whatever destination came to mind, first stopping off at a store to pick up a drink. As he was choosing one of the many different types of carbonated beverages that was presented before him, an event began to occur. A man wearing a black ski mask walked in quickly and calmly, aiming for the main counter.

The man glanced around, saw that there were no police officers within eyesight, and pulled out a small revolver front his brown leather jacket. "This is a robbery", The man said underlining what he said with a serious and angry sounding voice. He pulled out a duffel bag that was folded up and held underneath his arm on the inside of his jacket and tossed it to the cashier. Alerted by the sound of a firearm being pulled out, a sound he knew well, Akiva did not rise up to standing up straight. He had been crouching to get a better look at his options but upon hearing the situation changing Akiva went from civilian to master criminal in 0.01 seconds. Akiva quietly crept around the aisles of the convenience store, avoiding being seen by the mirrors the store put up to make it easier to catch shoplifters. Akiva reached the aisle that directly lined up behind the robber and the cashier, although the catch being that if the robber wanted to see him all he needed to do would be to look behind him.

The thief impatiently looked down at his watch on his right wrist several times over the course of the minute it was taking for the robbery to take place. The cashier was incredibly nervous and distraught, unsure of what to do in this situation. It was true that underneath the single counter, the store kept a black box their where they deposited all of the store's money at the end of the day. The unclear fact was though there was a key to it, only the manager had one. The cashier did not make this clear to the robber, and after offering what little money the cashier station had in the register the employee pretended to fumble with the lock. Not much time would pass before the robber would try to do something drastic, that much was clear to Akiva.

With the seconds rolling by Akiva knew he had to do something, simply on pure instinct. Akiva truly did not care if the store was robbed. It was easy money and if you do it right you can get away with hundreds of dollars for no effort at all. There was no proof of what Akiva was feeling, nothing logical to it, but he had a gut feeling that this was gonna end badly. The man didn't seem patient enough, did not understand how the money keeping system worked, and if he was here to just rob the register that was just....really really dumb. There was no way that the gun the guy had wasn't going off today.

As Akiva raced in thought, planning his attack, the dumbest of things happened. When Akiva speaks he usually talks while moving his hands and or arms. As he planned his attack mentally, he subconsciously moved his arms a little but just enough to bump his elbow into the shelf next to him. Chips and items were knocked off the shelf, causing a rather obvious noise we all know too well. The robber, startled, jumped around to see Akiva trying to regain his balance. The man aimed his weapon at Akiva. As he tried to yell out a threat to Akiva, the rather unsuccessful robber activated the sensitive trigger to his weapon. Akiva was able to utilize his fight or flight capabilities to there absolute maximum, his years of experience baring its fangs as he was able to barely adjust himself to avoid the bullet's trajectory. As he was crouched, the gunner was aiming somewhat downwards. Since the man was inexperienced or rather unskilled, he aimed for the head. Akiva recognized the danger and used the advantage of the carpetless floor and the traction from his shoes to slightly slide enough that his body was able to twist towards to the ground.

Akiva landed on his back but was able to quickly recover. While the shooter was dazed from what he had accidentally done, Akiva reached behind him and felt the solid surface of another object. He pushed himself towards his forward, momentarily slighting out of the robber's sight. In the front of the next aisle over Akiva jumped off the ground and dashed to the farthest away aisle but with his body close to the ground. The robber, with his senses returned, felt like the only thing he could do not was not let this guy get away. He shot his gun, he wasn't gonna be able to get out of this easily, but of course, he had no idea the monster he just unleashed.

In Akivas mind his timeless struggle waged war inside his mind. Did this man deserve to die, or would that be tooThis guy tried to kill him, so wasn't it fair that he tried to kill the robber in return? If he didn't kill him, how far should he incapacitate the man? What was the right thing to do, overall wise? Akiva thought of this quickly in his mind, but he was a professional. His body moved as well, dashing around and down the aisle while his opponent ran around the aisles slowly looking for him in a panic. The clerk had ducked behind the counter for protection so Akiva did not have to worry about that. Akiva was able to find the robber, quite efficiently. The robber saw Akiva between the spaces between the shelves and fired two rounds in Akiva's general direction. He missed, which allowed Akiva to locate the robber's exact position. He dashed around to the aisle the robber was in, causing the robber to panic even more. It was not a very large store, a medium size convenience store, so the man knew that he could not get away from this guy in the store. Akiva was able to close the distance between the two of them with a bolt forward, Akiva's anger showing in his eyes. Akiva reached up as the man tried to aim at Akiva and grabbed the mans gun hand. Keeping the gun out of his direction he used his other hand to jab at the man's stomach, then when the man hunched over Akiva slammed his knee into the man's face. With a nose covered in blood and pain in his body, the robber fell to his knee. Akiva reached with his right hand and grabbed the mans face.

He wanted to do it. He wanted to kill the man. This man was the worst kind of criminal, someone with no skill, and how could he forgive someone who tried to shoot him?

"Now..receive...."

Akiva tried to finish his sentence, to expel the power within himself and end this mans life. He wanted to do it, but for all of his effort, he found himself unable to. Akiva let go of the man's face while grabbing the gun out of the man's hand with his other hand. He was ok with killing to an extent but not like this. Not to someone who was so..helpless. As he turned around and began walking away, the robber jumped forward off the ground and tried to grab the gun from Akiva's hand. Akiva swung around, making the gun out of reach, and as he slammed his right hand into the side of the robbers bare head he muttered: "My Intentions" with a voice filled with venom. Akiva slammed the man's head to the ground as he sent a surge of yellow energy from his hand into the man.

Akiva was silent. He slowly stood up straight but his eyes neve rleft the man. He felt no remorse, he tried to let the man go. Reaching for the weapon was a sign of pure stupidity. He had to die. Akiva had overloaded the mans brain by sending a surge of his own energy directly into the mans head. Similiar to when a computer gets overloaded, goes haywire, and shuts down with smoke rising. The robbers body shook for a few moments before going still.

Police sirens suddenly filled the store coming front the fornt of the store. Akiva snapped back to reality and dashed to the back of the store and to the exit. The police had responded to the sounds of gunfire but had not covered the back yet, more police were in route though. As Akiva exited the back of the store, activtaing all of the alarms that would follow, e chuckled to himself. It was gonna be that kind of day huh?

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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Papayasnmangoes
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Papayasnmangoes

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Chenoa Bearfoot



Chenoa was cleaning up the remains of breakfast at the dinner table as Andre cleaned the kitchen, Isaac set up shop downstairs, and Josie sat in her office with an extra bagel dealing with paperwork for both the apartment and the café. Andre was occasionally saying random words or sentences, and Chenoa would teach him to sign what he said. Sometimes he would say random things like how are you; family; Shrek is love Shrek is life. Sometimes he would ask how to say the things he was holding, like dish soap; plate; egg. She and Andre were good friends. They both had the same sense of humour, liked to explore, and had the same taste in movies. Among other things, of course. Andre would never say that he liked to learn, but would never turn down the chance to pick up different things that had no correlations like languages, recipes, and party tricks. He knew a few languages already at the age of 18 and loved to try new recipes for breakfasts and Sunday dinners. His YouTube suggestions would vary from vine compilations and shitposts to recipes to DIY crafts. He liked to learn new things from a person rather than a computer, and Chen loved his enthusiasm for learning American Sign Language, the Anishinaabe language, and even to apply makeup.
They continued to talk and sign together as they cleaned for a while, and split off to their own rooms once they finished. Andre said that he had homework for his online classes to work on, but of course, he would only end up browsing the internet instead.
When Chenoa got to her room, she gathered all the bills and change that were scattered through the top drawer of her bedside table. She had been collecting all her tips over the past few months to help pay for a new guitar since she left both of hers at home. Besides, she wanted a new one anyway. Josie half-jokingly, half-seriously suggested that once Chen got a new guitar, she could play at the café on Friday- or Saturday-nights. But she still wasn’t sure if she would take up the offer. She counted the money on her bed, sorting everything into neat piles, and saw that she had a little over $200. She then took out her phone and opened up her online-banking app to check how much she had there from her paychecks. She used a notepad to subtract the next two months’ rent to Josie and a little extra for a rainy day or just in case and added her cash to the final amount of spending money she had in her account. After doing the math, she had a little over $9,000. She was surprised at how much she had saved since the summer, even if she didn’t buy a lot very often. She had been keeping busy with the café and learning about the city, and she didn’t have a lot of friends to go out on spending sprees with just yet, so maybe it wasn’t very surprising. She silently hoped that she could keep saving, but she knew that once she started getting around and making more friends, her savings would deplete or at least plateau if anything.
She put her loose money into her wallet which was in her messenger bag that was hanging on her bedroom door. While she was up, she let herself into Andre and Isaac’s room and took Isaac’s Fender Strat. She borrowed it a lot to practice, Isaac eventually got used to it and stopped complaining. Besides, music is how they bonded most of the time. Andre was playing GTAIV on their PS4 and barely batted an eyelash as Chen came in and back out quickly. She on her bed and put the glossy brown electric on the floor, leaning the neck between her knees. She took a few minutes to stretch her wrists and massage her fingers before she put her foot on the edge of her bed frame and the guitar on her now heightened knee. She went through the strings to see that they were in tune, but only the B and G strings needed fixing. She played around with some chords and a Travis picking style for a while, with no particular pattern at all. Just one chord after another, whatever sounded pretty to her. She grew bored of that and started to play a few songs by Pink Floyd, some bits from Metallica’s And Justice For All, and a few other odd songs she liked until Isaac’s morning shift was over.
Chenoa was humming Wish You Were Here as she played when Isaac came into her room and sat next to her. She muted the strings with her left hand and slapped them with her right as she looked at him and smiled.
“Ready to go?” he asked.
“Yep, I’ve just got to get my bag and shoes, and we’re good.” She responded, getting up and grabbing her bag as she brought Isaac’s guitar back to his room. She put it back on its stand and slipped on some flats and headed downstairs, Isaac close behind as they walked down the stairs that led to the sidewalk next to Josie’s and they headed off.
When Chenoa had voiced earlier that week that she wanted to get herself her own guitar instead of playing Isaac’s all the time, he had offered to bring her to buy herself one sometime. They both liked the idea, especially since Isaac only had a beat up and previously used acoustic and his electric and never really played together much since neither of them wanted to use the dry-sounding acoustic.
The two of them decided to walk instead of taking the bus since it was a nice day and neither of them had anywhere else to be. It would only take them half an hour to walk, and the store didn’t close till dark anyway. As they walked side by side, him leading the way, they started to talk about what she had hoped to find at the music store. The subject morphed into a few different things as they walked, such as a brand of kapo that Isaac had heard of; they argued about how to pronounce the name of the brand, Thalia or Thalia; weird sounding names; and by the time the got to the store, they were talking about flowers.
The music store was a bit bigger than Chenoa had expected. For some reason, she had only expected to find guitars and drums. But when they walked in, the store obviously held a lot more. It was shaped like a giant sideways ‘T.’ At the front of the store(the middle of the T) was the central checkout desk, a big square with four computers that went around a central support beam that held up their high ceilings. Behind the desk was a wall full of instrument-related items. From left to right, the wall was stocked fully with guitar items like picks, tuners, strings, and straps; next to them were various electronic tuners for any stringed instrument you could think of; there were percussive items like the skins for various drum sizes and bongos; there were things like reeds and keys for woodwinds and brass instruments; and on the rightmost side were various stands for different instruments. In the middle of that wall was a glass door that led to a room full of items like french horns, trumpets, saxophones and other things that Chen did not have the lungs to ever play in her life. To the right (the bottom of the T) were various percussive instruments, but the only things set up to play in the store were two electric drum kits and two bongos tied together. To the left (the top end of the T) was a full section for various stringed instruments and keyboards and pianos. In that section was a separate room for the acoustic guitars, so that the humidity could be controlled easily for them. In that section, the first thing that you passed were the pianos, and the stringed instruments were behind them. The instruments that you would find in orchestras were on the right side, the banjos and ukeleles in the middle, and the electric guitars and bass’ were to the left with various brands and sizes of amps stacked neatly in two opposing corners.
Chenoa smiled brightly at Isaac and playfully punched his arm.
“Why didn’t you bring me here sooner? I could’ve moved in here, and you would have your room back!”
They both laughed as they speed-walked to the electrics.
The two of them browsed for about an hour or so before they finally found the one for Chenoa.
The mahogany body was glossed, and pink--lighter at the base and faded to a hot pink towards the set-in neck. It had two cutouts and no pickguard. It had 24 silver frets on a rosewood fretboard with abalone inlays that were little diamonds instead of circles. There were two silver pickups with a three-way switch, and two volumes and two tones, all four labelled in black so not be mixed up, and the silver knobs had black numbers 1-10 around them. The Kronos shape head and the back was completely black and glossed, and a delicate abalone fleur-de-lis on the base of the headstock.
The hard-shell case was lined with black fur, and she also got a simple black leather strap for it. It took another half hour to decide on an amp to get for it but decided on a small and cheap amp, and they could get a bigger one to share if either of them ever got an apartment with thick enough walls. They also decided to get some fast-fret and a few packs of strings.
The guitar was about $3,000, and the amp was $500.
They decided to bus home instead of walking with Chen’s new--and heavy—equipment, and after leaving the store began to walk the two blocks to the nearest bus back home.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by TMS Prime
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TMS Prime bear in mind

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Henry--School Daze


"...And we have to remember, back in those days...relationships like that didn't just happen. A black man and a white woman? The Civil War's just 'round the corner, mind you, and she's also writing, about ALL of this..."

The lecture was a dull drone in Henry's ear, barely a ripple on his radar. The names, the passage, it all blew around his head in a nonsense slurry of half-acknowledgment. He knew Mrs. Duverne was talking about their homework assignment. He knew the homework assignment, and the author--Eliza Montgomery--whose name was nailed, stapled, and branded into every corner of Henry's high school. He didn't know why he was wasting his time listening to this when there were more important things going on outside of these walls. Kidnappings, territory squabbles between rival gangs, good old-fashioned armed robbery...

"...Daring to write it down, daring to keep those thoughts by her side at all times. And, to think, we're dealing with similar issues today..."

Words, words, words. Henry just had this class, and then he'd head to the computer lab. Maybe he'd have time to swing by the art room, ask unassuming Mr. Munroe about borrowing more acryllics. Deal with the loud bus ride home, and then square up in his room for the night. Head out later, if he managed to wrap up his project. Just had to put on the finishing touches. Make sure the paint was dry. Ts crossed, is dotted.

Henry's eyes were nearly closed. He could just barely make out the full-body shift of the girl in front of him, slumped in boredom. He sensed the muted silhouette of his English teacher pacing back and forth in the front of the classroom. He tagged her with a few loose granules of dust in the air. They settled in the taught fibers of her gray hair, pulled tight against her bony profile.

He had taken to using his powers out in the open like this within the last few days. It was easy, once Henry got a sense for subtlety. Henry's abilities were always on, and ever since his late night stint a few days ago, he was feeling more comfortable sweeping his surroundings at every opportunity. Thoughts rushed back to that fateful night, scoping out the wannabe-kidnappers' van right under their noses. Jamming guns, mapping out schematics of their vehicle. This was just the same. Henry could easily manipulate the resting particulate that had a tendency to settle in well-used classrooms like this.

The thin layer of dust in the ventilation ducts above them stirred to life. It covered all four sides of the labyrinthine airways. One activated, the dust swept through the vents, poured through grates and seeped soundlessly into the classroom. Tendrils of near-invisible specks crawled out from behind off-white ceiling panels and dispersed, mapping out the room. Henry's head was filled with thousands of data points, all arranged into a model of his classroom. He seized control of the lint and dander particles on his peers, populating his map with thirty figures, desk-width apart.

Henry closed his eyes, lowered his head, and rested his chin on the tips of his fingers. He focused, and dug deeper. He swept over his classmates, dirt flowing into their pockets. More often than not it just buffered up against a smartphone pushed tight against pantleg, but he found occasional contraband: packs of cigarettes, a tin of snus, and even the smooth rounded ends of pills. Henry frowned. He exerted more effort, put more dust to work, and mapped down one level further, pushing particulate into backpacks and purses.

At this stage, it was getting harder for Henry to keep track of everything. It wasn't as if he was reaching the limits of his power--Henry didn't know if he even had any, besides range--but that the dust formed imperfect pictures of clumped items. Square masses of books, pencils and detritus strewn at the bottom of bags, tubes of lipstick and mascara. It was only when he delved into one bag in particular, positioned diagonally behind him four or five spaces, did he sense something worth a pause.

Sleek, angular, and metallic. Handle and barrel. A dustless space in the shape of a gun, stowed away in a container packed matryoshka-style within the backpack. Layered in old rags and crumpled papers, it was inconspicuous to all but the most wandering eyes. Henry smirked. The metal detectors that city officials were fond of bragging about hand't exactly arrived yet. Some were still using school grounds as their own personal black-market depot, chief among them a budding gang recruitment.

A ghostly gunshot rang between his ears, audible phantasm of the scuffle with the kidnappers. Though no one else was phased by the concealed firearm, Henry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This was a complication.

Henry dispersed most of the dust, letting it fall by the wayside and choosing to ignore most it in his mind's eye. His final act was to clump a layer around the gun's hideaway. Henry leaned back into his seat, arms crossed. He focused on Mrs. Duverne, and waited for the swansong of the class bell.

- - -

No sooner did it sound than Henry took to action. He kept his head down, still leaning back, and pretended to doze. His target moved with quick precision to an aisle and tried to dart out of the classroom. Henry swung his backpack into the empty pathway to intercept, in time with the sensory input of the dust-tracker in his head, causing the gunman-to-be to pause as Henry further filled the space. Henry yawned, stood up, and stretched. He offered an all-but-normal smile to the girl standing next to him.

Henry heard an agitated sigh escape the target's lips, but didn't turn around. Henry took his time to reach down and sling his own backpack over his shoulder. He then smiled innocently at Mrs. Duverne, adjusted his glasses, and made for the hall.

Henry stopped when he was a few yards into the steadily-crowding halls and diverted off the path. The gunman continued forward, and Henry got a good look at him. Familiar, but not someone he knew by name. A class here or there. Asian, or maybe mixed, with short-cropped hair and a baggy hoodie. He was a generous head shorter than Henry.

Henry averted his eyes and followed at a casual distance, always keeping that square-shaped box of dust in his power's radius.

"H-hey, Henry...!"

He almost bowled into her, a girl in his grade with a head of curly hair and dark, caramel eyes.

"Yo, Cynthia," He replied, smiling but distracted.

"You're heading to the computer lab, yeah?"

"Y-yeah, I just--shit," Henry cursed. He sensed the target's backpack dipping in and out of his awareness as the target stepped back-and-forth around a mass of traveling students. The dots in Henry's head fizzled like they were displayed on a busted tube t.v.

"Whoa, sorry, uh, I-I mean, you're going the wrong way, and I wanted--haven't seen you online in a while. They added a new hero and everything, and--I wanted to..."

"Sorry Cynthia, but like, not now, you know? I'm gonna be late to class anyhow. Later."

He pushed past her, their shoulders butting against one another. He didn't meet her glossy gaze. Henry felt bad, kind of blew her off, but this was actually important. He ducked through an opening between a group of girls passing around one of their phones, and finally sensed the vessel of dust.

'Plus, I don't even got my rig anymore. She knows that, right?'

Henry stopped dead in his tracks, right down the long hall from his prey. The crush of bodies prevented him from getting too close, but that was just fine. He saw the black-haired dome stop in front of a slender green locker at the very end of the row. The boy looked right, and then left. Henry's breath caught in his throat--for just a moment, he could have swore that short-stack locked eyes with him.

Henry's target opened the locker nonetheless, and then shifted his shoulders around to swing his backpack towards the opened locker. Henry couldn't see into it, wasn't able to visually verify if there was other contraband stowed away. Henry's focus drifted to his mind once again; all he had to do was seize control of some particulate in the area. Trick is, was there enough?

The layer of grime on the slanted top of the row of lockers shifted under Henry's control.

'Custodians must be shirking the deep-clean,' Henry mused.

He only had a few seconds at minimum to pull this off. If it would even work. The dust flowed along the metal slants and traced the edges of the target's locker. The particulate was willed into crevices, so as to not draw suspicion. The wannabe-gunman unzipped his backpack, and looked around again; then, finding himself safe in the crowd, he struck out like a viper. The dusty rectangular carrying case was deposited into the nook of his open locker.

Henry closed his eyes and set his dust to work. Particulate poured into the locker. Henry tracked the kid's head movement, and waited for averted eyes before a tendril of dirt snaked up from within the locker and slid its way into the locking mechanism on the interior side of the door. A simple set of blunt locks and levers was mapped out in Henry's mind, positioned askew of the kid's block head. As the target stepped back and swung his locker closed, Henry wedged dust in-between the two prongs of the locking mechanism.

The door slammed with a barely-audible clack. His target turned to walk away, seemingly satisfied at the drop-off. Henry pretended to futz around on his phone, eyes glued to an icon he was idly spinning around. The dust he placed in the gunman's hoodie dropped out of range a few moments later, and with that, Henry knew the coast was clear.

He tangled around a few lingering swells of chattering students. Henry picked up the pace, now at a light jog towards the locker. He only had a few minutes left to cross the school back to the computer lab; however, presently he just wanted to get this gun situation over and done with. In front of the locker, Henry looked around. Satisfied no one was watching him, he jammed his thumb up against the black tab.

It sunk upwards, and Henry caught his breath as the locker swung open. He took a quick peek behind the door, and saw the multilayered wad of dust and debris coating the locking mechanism.

"Damn, guess it worked."

Wouldn't make it a repeat performance. Special circumstances called for extreme action. Henry leaned forward and rifled through the locker, pushing aside a stack of papers. Plastic bottles spilled behind him and clattered noisily onto the tile floor, but Henry paid them no mind. He grabbed the small, hard suitcase, and clicked the locks open.

Out spilled the shiny profile of a handgun. Henry held his breath, and delicately turned the firearm around. He didn't know much about guns, but could at least verify the safety was on before he hurled his backpack into the locker and jammed the weapon into the furthest corner of his own bag.

'No sense in lugging the case around,' he figured.

Henry turned around and slammed the locker door. A quick look-see didn't indicate that anyone had paid him much attention. Too close to the next period for people to linger around.

Henry bolted for the computer lab, knowing that the added baggage in his pack would weigh on him the rest of the day.

- - -

"Badass..."

Henry reached down and softly exhaled. He bent backwards to avoid inhaling acrid paint fumes, and then smiled as he looked down upon the completed project.

A plastic mask, contoured roughly to fit over his face. While at one point a generic skull-slasher halloween mask, Henry repurposed it to serve as an alternate for his crime-fighting costume. Easy enough to see out of the eye-holes, though he'd have to default to some recently-expired contacts in the meantime. Bright colors and shapes outlined the eyes and cheeks of the skull, and its gnarled clenched teeth now seemed an exaggerated smile. The Calavera, a sugar skull.

Henry admired the flower-like designs around the eyeholes. Those had taken a while to get right. Days of looking up photos on his laptop, making sure he was getting the psychedelic pastiche near perfect. Then, realizing it rubbed off almost instantly, he had to apply a few layers of an odorless ceramic finish, repaint everything, and then let it dry for a full day before applying another coat. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It would definitely stick out, especially when paired with Henry's utilitarian tight-fitting track pants and underarmor shirt. He'd spice up the ensemble maybe, repurpose the wrappings from his other costume into a caballero-esque poncho or something.

But that could wait until he heard back from Flint. Henry turned his eyes to the corner of his desk where the tailor's business card still sat from many nights prior. The card made Henry so nervous that he thought it was liable to burn a hole right through his desk, fall through the floor, and land on his dad's bald dome downstairs.

So many things he had to figure out before reconnecting with Flint's crew.

"Can spend some time tonight figuring that out," Henry muttered.

He then turned to his bed. Fragments of the confiscated glock were strewn all over his comforter. Disassembling the gun was easy enough, you just had to look up a how-to video on youtube. It was getting rid of the weapon that posed a problem--he knew that his parents were streetwise enough to recognize any of the pieces if they happened to show up in the trash.

'Then again, not wise enough to catch me sneaking out the other night.'

And they'd be none the wiser if he bailed again tonight. Fuck waiting for the perfect costume. Fuck holding up with this gun in his room. Henry would get rid of it and go on his sophomore night of patrol, all in one fell swoop.
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Ekreture
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Ekreture

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The following excerpt is from an editorial following the passing of Michael Smith, better known as 'The Atomic Eagle', by Mitch Frank in The Pacific Gazette, published May 3rd, 1982

The Question of Powers

The Vietnam Era was a time of political upheavel, that's indesputible. For the first time, the average American saw the brutality of war in full color right on their TV screen; gone were these star-spangled notions of Uncle Same waving the red white and blue. The last war truly fought on American soil was between the blue and gray, so when a young college student sees a blood-splattered Vietnamese corpse on Walter Cronkite, it comes as a shock. I remember being a part of that zeitgeist myself; when Tom Marin was drafted, put on the front lines, and then put in some Vietnamese prison camp, it was no less than tyranny to a Mission Hills kid like me. But when he came back with lightning shooting out of his hands, boy, that was a different story.

Was the American public wrong to shun the soldiers who came home in 1973? Of course. But we were a skeptical bunch; we saw what people were capable of, and we didn't like it. What we didn't realize was that Vietnam was a relatively tame war; it just got caught on tape. And the symbol, the greatest achievement, the spectacle of the American military machine was, of course, the Atomic Eagle. A true American story; a young airforce pilot on the Pacific Front one day, someone with the ability to fly through the air at the speed of sound and destroy a Japanese Cruiser by looking at it. The real difference between the Eagle and Lady Liberty or any of J. Edgar's 'Homefront Heroes' was that unlike these other superheroes, the Eagle wasn't just a propaganda stunt; he was a real weapon. And a dangerous one at that; his recorded number of kills, or at least the best estimate of it, stands at around 100,000. If you, like me, were outraged, appalled, or otherwise shocked by this, you should be; this is one man. One man who was given the power of a god. At the United Nations Convention on Superpowers in 1975, Markus Jansen of the Netherlands said that The Atomic Eagle represents "A weapon and mindset the world superpowers [The US, Soviet Union, and China] have embraced with the grace of Icarus and thoughtfulness of Narcissus." Classical mythology aside, upon seeing the destruction left in the Eagle's wake (Vietnam was his third war, mind you), many Americans who once saw the classic Superhero as a beacon of liberty and justice now gazed upon what superpowers truly were; a weapon made to be held in the hands of those who controlled us.

Maybe that was why when Tom Marin came home from the war like a human Tesla coil, we didn't greet him with open arms. Maybe that was wrong of us. Maybe it wasn't. Yes, Marin put it to...'productive' use, making sounds with his amp that someone who wasn't a weaponized lab rat couldn't have ever dreamed of, but what if he didn't? What if he did what the Salamander notoriously did in the forties and fifties and decided to instead run amok, fighting for some perverted sense of 'justice'? And while I sit here writing that such powers shouldn't be put in one man's hand, I still have to acknowledge the irony of the fact that the power of any president, general or senator dwarfs your Tom Marin or Salamander.

The problem is that the power of these individuals no longer lies in the hands of the generals and presidents. Seven years ago, we were all left speechless when a young girl from here in Esperanza, who claimed never to have undergone any radiative therapy, was shown to be able to lift a car by sheer force. Increasingly, we've seen more and more reports from around the world of children and teenagers with powers; like the kings of old, people aren't granted powers anymore, they're born with them. And that brings us to today, when the Atomic Eagle got shot down by a guided missle in Afghanistan. A man we once thought to be immortal now has ceased existing, and any physical remnants of his existence are in the burnt corpses of his enemies. We've heard statements from people ranging from President Reagan to ol' lab coat himself, Seymour Starling. But what none of these people addressed was why it was that this happened. The Eagle was in his fifties; surely the country wouldn't have sent a man into war who wasn't physically capable? Surely, they would've found some replacement or allowed him to retire peacefully. Not just thrown their greatest weapon, a man who has spent his life fighting for what he saw as true American values, into a conflict he would likely die in. But I wonder if people like The Atomic Eagle, or Michael Smith, whatever you want to call him, ever had any power at all. If when he went through CRT all those years ago, he traded in his dog tag for a collar and leash. So as I pose this question to you, dear reader, I quote The Bard:

“Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”
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