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@Lmpkio Blackmail. Lots of blackmail. Just stalk your favorite artist around with a camera, and sooner or later you'll get your header!


'Is meeting the other knights really necessary?'

The thought was sharp, much more so than her footsteps. Though Liv was of a slight frame, the half dragon's gait was marked with both weight and purpose--some would have called it pride or arrogance, but those concepts were beyond the girl. A Surt always knew why they were doing something, it was simply a matter of how they would go about doing it. It took effort for her to put enough weight in each forward step--closer to a march than a true walk--to make a resounding clack despite the metal present on her boots. Clad in her usual scale armor with her own letter slightly crumpled in her grip, Liv did what any self-respecting Surt would do at a meeting of many people: she walked through the front.

'Ooooh, would you look at these folks? Quite the little band of misfits we have here!'

The voice came about three seconds after they had walked in the door and looked around. Vitus, as usual, was taking in every single thing that Liv was seeing, including the people who also apparently been called to arms. They were...interesting folk to say the least.

'We probably won't see half of them outside of these damn gatherings,' Liv grumbled to the "guest" that shared her body. 'At least we've got some food for our troubles.' Noting the feast laid out on the table, the Surt didn't let her steps falter as she moved toward an open seat, turquoise eyes drifting over those already present, an instinctive, greedy hunger threatening to draw her in. Surely a number of them had some sort of soul, ripe for the picking. Surely at least one of them had a soul that could be a fine blade in her hand. The corner of Liv's mouth twitched up by the faintest amount at the thought.

But they were probably off limits. What a waste.

Instead, she took the last few strides to her destination, purpose returning back to her initial thoughts. Food. It was always a pleasure to eat, and it provided the body with nutrients that it would--wait. A flicker of confusion in the back of her head.

'Do we actually still need to eat?''

'Eh...' Vitus mentally shrugged. 'I'm pretty sure it's easier to piece us back together with some sort of base to draw from, other than the little collection we tote around. But hell, I dunno. It's not an exact science.'

'You should mind your wandering eyes, Liv; you seem to be craving a little more than a nice meal - I doubt our 'oh so important lord and master' would appreciate a brawl here in his dining room.'. If a disembodied voice could smirk, one would have certainly followed.

'Hmph, he chose to employ a Surt for a battlemage. He should expect fights.' The words were largely true, though Liv suspected that there were a number of individuals that any other Surt would have chosen not to challenge. While it wasn't wrong to say that many Surt got reckless and arrogant while seeking strength, they were also picky about what type of strength they brought with them. Always with the designation in mind.

Despite her best efforts, a wry laugh filled her head.

'Though I suppose I do owe this Lancelot at least one gathering of these...knights--' the word escaped in a tone somewhere between sarcasm and disdain--'without trying to kill or rekill anyone.' Without thinking, the tips of her fingers traced the small bulge beneath her armor, just over the heart. Her heart. Both their hearts. It was a fraction of its full potential, but it was hers. Reluctantly, grudgingly, she drew her hand away. 'I'm digging in. Maybe this time try to warn me before I eat anything that might poison me?'

'You know we're already dead, right? What exactly do you think poison is going to do to a corpse? Kill it more?'

'Well most of it doesn't taste as good at it looks, damn idiot.' On her face, a somewhat wicked shadow of a smirk began to form as she reached for a spiny, aquatic animal that smelled more appetizing than it looked. 'Well, this looks tasty.' For her.

'Hey hey HEY.' Vitus's voice echoed in her head. If there was one thing in this world he hated more than anything else, it was seafood. Unfortunate for him, because if there was one thing Liv loved, it was also seafood. An unfortunate circumstance, considering they both shared the same tongue.

'That is definitely poisoned. One-hundred percent. Anti-zombie poison, I can see it from here.'

'What was it you said? What exactly do you think poison is going to do to a corpse?'

'Trust me, I know my magic - that will definitely melt us into a pile of goo. And I can't fix goo pile, Liv.'

'You are a terrible liar,' Liv sneered while deftly portioning some of the fish to her plate for her own benefit. Well, no, he wasn't as bad a liar as all that, but it was hard to hide anything when one shared a corporeal form with another. Sending a glance around the room once more, Liv was surprised to see so few taking advantage of the meal. She supposed the beings that gathered took food for granted. 'Well their loss.'

WIth that thought, Liv fumbled briefly with the utensils--'Goddamn it all, I should just eat with my hands.'--before managing to separate a portion of fish to bring to her mouth.

Normally Vitus would have protested more, but there was something that caught his attention when Liv glanced around the room again.

'Woah. Hang on. Look back up again. Over in the corner.' Vitus demanded, his voice suddenly taking on a far more surprised tone.

Liv's eyes darted up, searching for the spot Vitus had mentioned. It was always a struggle to try and get her to look where he wanted to - like trying to give directions to a blind person.

'Nono, left. More left. MORE LEFT. Now you've gone too far left! Little more. THE CORNER, LIV; GODDAMMIT.'

'Give BETTER DIRECTIONS, YOU TWIT.'

Finally, they were both looking at the same thing. The set of armor in the corner, eerily unmoving, yet strangely unnerving.

'That's not...?' Vitus murmered, despite the fact he already knew the answer.

'Bad news.' Liv responded, most of the muscles in her body tensing in preparation for a fight or flight response, her fork silently placed on the plate, fish still speared at the end. 'Any bright ideas now?'

'Assuming 'going out the nearest window' isn't a valid plan? Ignore him and hope he does the same?'
Got a little something for you, friendito. I think you'll appreciate it! :3c


Marcus Howell


๐•Š๐•ฆ๐•Ÿ: ๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•Ž๐•’๐•ค๐•™๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•˜๐•ฅ๐• ๐•Ÿ, ๐”ป.โ„‚. / / โ„๐• ๐•ช๐•’๐• โ„™๐•–๐•Ÿ๐•ฅ๐•™๐• ๐•ฆ๐•ค๐•– ๐•Š๐•ฆ๐•š๐•ฅ๐•– / / ~๐Ÿ™๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜


It was the sudden shout that alerted Marcus to the danger. He was sat on his bed, flipping through some of the interviews and pictures that had popped up since the group had found themselves in D.C. He was on a particularly embarrassing edit him and Ernie getting smashed together when he heard it.

Flinging himself off the bed just as the emergency siren started blaring, Marcus found himself in the main room, having followed Emmaโ€™s yell.

โ€œWhatโ€™s wrong!?โ€ he shouted, eyes floating from the apparently unharmed Emma to the window.

His question was immediately answered by Officer Brahms shouted out the situation, but Marcus focused more on what he was seeing than what he was hearing. His body didnโ€™t move as the office building came flying at them, and it didnโ€™t move as the shaking of the building knocked him off his feet.

The sensation of falling. The sound of chaos drowning out everything else. A sharp pain as shards of glass embedded themselves into his skin.

This all seemed eerily familiar.

He must have blacked out for a second, or it had all happened too quickly for him to even comprehend. His body hurt, and his mind was groggy, but he was alive. He was vaguely aware of Brentโ€™s voice shouting at him from somewhere.

He was alive. Despite the searing pain in his body as he sat up, dust falling off him like snow, he was mostly uninjured. Certainly nothing he hadnโ€™t dealt with before.

โ€œTransmit. Marcus. Minor injuries only. Over.โ€

He pulled himself to his knees, and then to his feet, staggering slightly from the combination of disorientation, and a sharp gash across his left leg. There had been other voices coming through his cuff, and his slowly clearing mind was starting to take count.

Healers. He needed to find the healers first.

The slight fogginess in his brain was starting to be replaced by the acute clearness of adrenalin โ€“ his eyes fell on the golden hair of Lily as she crumpled.

Golden hair

Lily. The priority. He started limping towards the small group that was forming, panic starting to softly settle below the heat of calm. He had to make sure everyone was okay first.
Redial and Denial


|

Marcus | Brent


๐•‹๐•™: ๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿ™๐ŸŸ, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•Ž๐•’๐•ค๐•™๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•˜๐•ฅ๐• ๐•Ÿ, ๐”ป.โ„‚. / / โ„๐•ช๐•’๐•ฅ๐•ฅ โ„๐•–๐•˜๐•–๐•Ÿ๐•”๐•ช โ„๐• ๐•ฅ๐•–๐• / / ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜
Collab with @ERode




Newsworthy



Marcus Howell



๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿž, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•ƒ๐•’ โ„™๐•๐•’๐•ฅ๐•’, ๐•„๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ช๐•๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•• / / ๐•‹๐• ๐•จ๐•Ÿ / / ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ˜



It was a long night for Marcus, considering the lack of sleep. He'd managed to at least pick himself off the floor and splash some water on his face, trying to bring himself back to his senses. He deliberately didn't look at himself in the mirror - it wasn't the face he saw when he thought about Marcus. This was the face of the Marcus that was faking a personality, a Marcus who had left all his problems for the actual one to deal with. He'd berated that portion of himself enough, and right now he didn't even want to see him.

He just needed a while to settle down. Then he'd welcome that version of himself back with open arms.

Right now, he at least had something that he wanted to do. A goal to keep his mind off things. He needed to make his way down to the library and find a few books for Siena. It'd help him get some fresh air, and by the time he got everything down to the hospital, he'd hopefully be back to his usual self.

Well, his usual self since the Dream.

His shirt and pants were wrinkled, but he was in no mood to fix his appearance. He just wanted out. He stepped out of the room, looking both ways down the hall to make sure none of his classmates were around. The last thing he wanted to do in this state was run into someone he knew, god forbid Emma or Ernie find him in the sorry position he was in.

Fortunately, he seemed to be in the clear. The only other person in the hall was what he assumed to be a guard, his assumptions confirmed when he told the man he was going out, only to get an angry glare. Definitely a guard.

The only obstacle between him and the sweet refreshment of the crisp morning air was the reporters, who he imagined had started to gather in even more force now that the word had undoubtedly spread. Perhaps he'd take the back door again, see if the same trick worked twice.

It wouldn't.

Standing just a few meters outside the door was a woman in a carefully tailored pantsuit with shoulder-length brown hair curled and parted to one side and swept neatly onto her right shoulder. She wore light makeup and didn't seem concerned with the mark on Marcus's face as much as Marcus himself.

Strangely enough, she and her cameraman were the only ones there waiting for him.

"Good morning!" she greeted as she approached, a bobbing camera perched on the shoulder of her taller coworker following immediately after her. "I'll cut to the chase--mind answering a few questions?"

Marcus's stride only stopped for a moment as he realized there was only a single reporter waiting for him. However, in deciding he didn't want his less-than-stellar current appearance plastered all over the televisions, he continued walking. This was not something he was in the mood for this morning, and with any luck he'd be able to leave without much of a problem.

"Yep, definitely mind. Not buying, thank you." he said, trying to avoid eye contact with the camera.

"One call and I can have the other reporters rushing back here. You can pick them or me." The woman's voice didn't follow him. She remained in place, leaning back on her heels and crossing her arms.

"Oooh, multiple choice questions, huh?" Marcus said, slowing down a little bit. His tone made it perfectly clear than he was neither impressed, nor very threatened by this faux 'hostage' scenario. "Do I get a third option, teach?"

"One bad word and USARILN East won't like the sound of it on their reputations. And it's a 50/50 gamble if they get rid of you or just silence the media--or both, even."

That statement caused him a bit of pause. They wouldn't get rid of him just for the word of one lousy reporter, would they?

As if she could guess at the reason for his hesitation, then woman smiled. "I've got a lot more pull than most people think."

His mind flashed back to the first day. A guard executed for flinching.

"I get a question first." Marcus said, finally turning around and crossing his arms. "What exactly makes you so special?"

"Because I've covered some of the worst things this decade. My name pulls a few strings in the media community. Not as many these days since I've...relaxed a bit, but enough." She took a microphone from the cameraman's saddle bag, brushing off flecks of imaginary dust as she continued. "Marianne Forhan. I reported on the disaster at Palo Alto nine years ago. The Slumber before that. Then Cat's Cradle and Chicago. Worst thing I've seen? What's left of China. So don't lump me in with the rest of these reporters who take the safe stories."

Her cameraman looked at her with some surprise, the details apparently news to him as well.

"So how about it? While the rest of them are off chasing a bad tip, we have some time."

Marcus looked at her for another moment, as if weighing the pros and cons of the whole situation. But...if this lady were as big as she claimed to be, would he be able to help, even a little bit? Even the ice cream vendor had been frightened, and he hadn't even done anything to the poor kid besides a quick quip at his expense. Maybe he could show a little subhuman hospitality, spread the good word around, show the people there was nothing to be afraid of?

"Any chance you can keep the camera off me? I'm not exactly fit for television this morning."

"Don't be ridiculous. The battle-weary look sells stories."

Another sigh.

"Alright Mari. Shoot."

"Perfect. Let's go live. Countdown!" She positioned herself beside Marcus so both of them angled towards the camera. Her cameraman counted down on his hand offscreen: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

"Good morning, citizens of La Plata! This is Marianne Forhan of KLPN coming to you live from the East Winds Motel with a subnatural from the renowned--and feared--USARILN East. Tell us your name?"

She angled the microphone towards Marcus.

Almost immediately, Marcus could feel the pressure. As if all of those peering eyes were crowded in this tiny alley together, just staring him down. He straightened his posture, trying to look as professional as he possibly could on such short notice.

"Marc-" Shit. He really should have used a fake name or something.

"Just Marc."

"All right, Marc. Is it true USARILN East handled the situation at Wisford? And were you a part of that effort?"

His mind raced for a moment. Was he supposed to comment on these sort of things? Would he be in even more trouble if he didn't? The truth would get out eventually...if not him, then someone else. Yeah. That made sense.

"That is correct. I was part of the team sent in to handle and defuse the incident."

"Could you tell us more about that?"

"As far as we were briefed, there was a rogue creature rampaging throughout the little town. I don't know how familiar you are with standard classification, but this was rated at a 3, possibly 4 - a very significant threat. My abilities are more suited for extraction, so I was placed on the back lines, and was not actually part of the team that fought it head on."

"And what abilities are those, exactly?"

"It's a little hard to explain on the spot. Basic mobility enhancing powers would be the easiest way to phrase it."

"So how does it work? Is it superspeed? Flexibility?"

"I can get into and out of an area very quickly. Jump forwards or backwards a few moments, if you will."

"Wait, you move through time?" The camera swung to Marcus's face.

He turned from Mari to look at the camera for a moment, before diverting his eyes back down to the reporter. "That's the basic gist of it, yes. Without complicating things; I can really only move through a 'personal' timeline. No effect on any external sources."

"That's amazing! There are no formal records made public from any of the Institutes, but as far as I'm aware very few subnaturals have time-related powers. Is it possible for you to reverse even death with that ability?"

Marcus let his guard down for a moment, the question hitting a little harder than he would have liked.

"As I said, no effect on any external sources. For me to find that out, I'd have to die, which is not something I'm too keen on testing, you see." A faked chuckle for a forced joke.

"Fascinating. And you were assigned an extraction duty? Does it move others with you?"

"It does not. As I said: no external sources, personal effects only. It's good for getting into an area and assessing the situation rapidly, but actually extracting people is left to the old-fashioned way."

"And were you successful?"

Now there was a question. Had he been successful? Could he actually consider what had happened on that battlefield a 'victory' for Team Evac? Savannah dead, Lawrence nearly killed, a million other things that could have possibly gone wrong and inevitably did?

"We did manage to extract some civilians. The unfortunate reality is that we weren't able to save as many as I would have liked, so calling it a 'success' is entirely subjective."

"But you managed to save several civilians, then. Now to change the tune slightly, did you want to?"

"Absolutely." His tone was strong. If he couldn't use his powers to help, then what exactly did that make him? Less than human? The very thing he was trying to avoid?

"Everyone knows how the Institutes capture and detain subnaturals. It's a cruel fact that most of the subnatural help during crises is often involuntary. So even with that forced service, you claim with no hesitation that you were still willing to help?"

"Yes. I'm not sure why I was chosen by DC, or if there even was a reason, but I know I was given the ability to help where I hadn't been able to before. If you had the chance to help even one person Mari, wouldn't you?"

The reporter laughed, a genuine sound in the midst of the otherwise bitter situation. "I think anyone would say 'yes' in this context, Marc. But it's good to know that for all that's happened, you'd still help those who can't help themselves. Do you think that philosophy will remain true in the days to come?"

"If it didn't, then I'd be very disappointed with myself."

"A good answer. No promises that you might not keep. So tell me about yourself, Marc? You weren't always a subnatural I hope. That cuff wasn't always on your ankle."

"That's a boring story, Mari; not one fit for your viewers. You could ask any kid out there what he was like, and get a similar story to mine. I'm just a guy, is all."

A deflection, and a soft shrug. 'Himself' wasn't exactly a topic he wanted to discuss right now, especially after the crisis he'd had last night.

"Well, you didn't always have those scars, right?"

"No. I didn't/" The words were soft and shallow, the speech of someone who'd been kicked up and down for longer than anybody deserved. "But that's a relatively fresh look for me, and a fairly personal one. I'd prefer not to talk about it, if you wouldn't mind."

"A tragedy in the background, huh? How about your family? Or the day you got your powers. What was that like?"

His family. The day he got his powers. Constant images that only served to taunt and hurt him, rather than the hopefully story that he wanted to be. He glanced away from Marianne, looking to the ground instead. Looking anywhere to avoid the thousands of eyes he could feel on him.

"No more questions."

The woman looked like she had a million more questions, but she stopped at the sight of the young boy hanging his head. It was defeat and it was despair and she knew enough of that look to recognize a battered survivor when she saw one.

She turned instead back to the camera, stepping away from the subnatural so the camera no longer held him in frame.

"You saw it here first, everyone. A firsthand look at a subnatural, a fighter, and a survivor. We rarely get the opportunity to personally interview USARILN students, let alone ones from USARILN East, so thank you, Marc, for your time. I'll let you go now."

The cameraman panned back to Marcus one more time and zoomed in, timing the feed until the cut-off. When he gave Marianne the thumbs up, she turned back to Marcus, resting one hand briefly on his shoulder.

"Hey," she called out.

Her cameraman flinched backwards, ready for some burst of power to annihilate them.

But there was nothing of the sort, even if Marcus wanted to, the most he'd be able to do was sucker punch them a couple of times. Instead, he took a deep breath, trying to regain the composure he'd almost lost for the second time in a few hours. He was going to be fine. He'd take a walk to clear his head, piece the mask back together one little bit at a time.

"Sorry, didn't mean to cut you off early." he said, giving a shattered smile to the reporter.

"Trick to looking confident. Always keep your chin up. You can be crying mascara, but if that chin stays up, you'll still look put-together," the reporter replied, eyes scanning his face briefly before she stepped back while a sympathetic smile. "It doesn't get any easier. Especially for you guys. Good work, making it this far."

The cameraman murmured something that sounded like "Station wants you back" after a quick check on his phone and she sighed, checking her wristwatch--a remnant of old-fashioned timekeeping.

"Whatever happened..." she said, eyeing the boy, "you'll have to learn to live with it--or you'll just die with it. Trust me on that."

A tap on her shoulder from the cameraman and she spun on her heels, heading back to the news van parked down the street.

Chin up. A tip he'd have to remember. He was shocked to hear the words of encouragement (or what he assumed to be encouragement at least) from the woman, when mere moments ago she had been threatening to get him killed.

He was trying to learn to live with it. God knew he was. But it wasn't an easy thing to do - it would never be an easy thing to do. Damned if he wasn't going to keep trying though.

He straightened himself out a little bit, looking at the back of the reporter as she walked away. "Hey Mari!" he called out, following without waiting to see if she stopped.

"...stay safe out there, alright?"

She didn't respond as she stepped onto the van, but Marianne heard him.

"Safe's not where the stories are, Marc," she said to herself, sitting down as the car began to move. It felt like time to stop taking a break recently. It wasn't so much giving up as trying to get away from the same cycle of unhappiness that plagued the inhospitable decade, but Marianne chewed lightly on the inside of her cheek as she considered following the turn of events and USARILN East in particular.
Darkness and Solitude



Marcus Howell


๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿž, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•ƒ๐•’ โ„™๐•๐•’๐•ฅ๐•’, ๐•„๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ช๐•๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•• / / ๐•‹๐• ๐•จ๐•Ÿ / / ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜


Somehow, Marcus had managed to find sleep. Perhaps it was the late-night visits that had left him mentally exhausted, or perhaps it was the physical exertion that had left his body tired and achy. Whatever it was, heโ€™d managed to fall asleep amid a tangle of blankets and pillows.

Of course, if he had known that the nightmares would return, he probably would have tried to stay awake.



He jerked up in bed, his stomach immediately doing a flip as he threw the covers off and sprinted for the bathroom. His stomach heaved a few times, the illusionary smell of charred flesh still hanging heavy in his nose as he knelt before the porcelain. No matter how many times he tried to, that was a scent that he could not erase from his mind, and simply waited for moments like this to resurface.

His stomach stopped its turning, the contents remaining safely where they were supposed to be. He was lucky this time; as there had been nights when he hadnโ€™t been as fortunate.

Marcus sat on the white tiled floor, breathing heavily, eyes watering and hands shaking. Had he heard a scream just now, or had it just been the nightmares? He strained his ears to find anything over the sound of his own pumping blood, but to no avail. Whatever it was had stopped, or had never existed in the first place.

He curled himself up as small as he could next to the toilet, bringing his knees up to his face and resting in that position. There was one thing that was abundantly clear in his mind, despite the slight grogginess: he was alone. He was alone, and he desperately didnโ€™t want to be.

He should have asked Emma to stay with him, but he hadnโ€™t. He didnโ€™t want to impose and suggest something like that too early โ€“ accidentally insinuate something that neither of them were ready for. It was a choice he was very much regretting at this point, as he hid in his corner. But it was fine; she hadnโ€™t asked either. She probably preferred the room to herself.

He didnโ€™t even have the comforting presence of his roommates, either; he wasnโ€™t trying not to trip on the scattered snack packages, or trying to be quiet enough not to wake the dog that was always curled up somewhere inconvenient.

He needed someone right now. Someone to just be there. Siena, Emma, Callan, Max...hell, heโ€™d even take the stupid mutt if it meant that he wouldnโ€™t be alone right now. But they werenโ€™t around. There was nobody. It was his fault.

His fault.

He couldnโ€™t push it off until later anymore, and this one moment of weakness was all it took. Everything heโ€™d left for โ€˜laterโ€™ was starting to swell over his head, ready to drown him beneath the waves. It had been his fault. Pretty much everything that had happened had been his fault. Emma and Callan were tearing themselves apart, and it was his fault. Savannah was stowed away in a box somewhere, and it was his fault. An old man and a guard were cold and lifeless somewhere, and it was his fault.

And he was the only one who knew.

It would be so easy to tell them what had happened, but he didnโ€™t want the blame. He didnโ€™t want their hot gazes, angry words, or anything like that. He wanted to hide from his mistakes, even if it meant that he was causing other people to suffer. It was selfish, but heโ€™d take that secret to the grave if he was able to.

He wanted to get up. Splash his face in the sink. Glare at the torn face he didnโ€™t recognize in the mirror. Punch something. Be angry. Be strong, like Callan or Max. He wanted to push through it with brute force. With confidence and charisma. Another joke to fill the moment.

But that wasnโ€™t Marcus. It was a personality heโ€™d stolen from someone else.

The person heโ€™d decided to be after the dream. Someone who could help, even if it was just by making the people around him feel a little bit happier. Someone whose every action was made with the approval and thought of the friends heโ€™d made.
He wanted to be the kind of person he needed.

But that wasnโ€™t Marcus.

Marcus was a scared kid. The shy one of the class. The wimp. Always hiding behind his older sister when everything started to come down on him. Not strong enough to fight his own battles. The one who didnโ€™t talk very much and didnโ€™t have many friends. The one who was paralyzed by fear in the most important moments, too pathetic to act because of his phobias.

He didnโ€™t want to be that kid anymore. He didnโ€™t want to be the broken human being curled up next to a toilet as the panic washed over him in waves, as the tracks of salt water inched down his face, cutting through the slight layer of grime he hadnโ€™t thought to wash off. None of the friends his stolen personality had won were around now. It was just him and the guilt that coiled around like a noose around his neck, forcing his breath to stop in his throat as it constricted.

He needed somebody, but he had nobody.

The sound of quiet sniffles echoed through the bathroom, the flickering lights above illuminating the pathetic form as he softly wept.
Recovery and Regret




Marcus | Callan


๐•„: ๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿœ, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•ƒ๐•’ โ„™๐•๐•’๐•ฅ๐•’, ๐•„๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ช๐•๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•• / / ๐•‹๐• ๐•จ๐•Ÿ / / ~๐Ÿš๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜
Collab with @Chasers115 @Baklava


Marcus's eyes darted between Callan and...the girl he'd never seen before. Except there was something vaguely familiar about her...she must have been part of their group if she was here. She hadn't been on his team for the Flag Game, which meant she had been in the second group. But who?

Slowly, as his eyes searched her face for something familiar, he began to piece it together. She'd been one of the first ones to get tazed it what he would describe as 'a bloodbath'. The one who had melted the toilet-kid's face, without a second's hesatation.

Dangerous

He gave her a slightly hesitant nod, not really sure what to make of the circumstances. The way Callan had pointed out her immediate exit was not at all friendly. Which meant she hadn't been here as a friend. He stepped into the room, looking to Callan for some sort of subtle explanation, waiting to see if the girl was actually on her way out.

Callan's eyes lingered on the doorway for a few seconds after Zoe made her leave. She exhaled shakily, traces of the fear and frustration still keeping her posture tense. "Hey Marcus," she said simply, unable to muster up so much as smile with Zoe's words still fresh in her head.

Oh boy, whatever had just happened, it had not been good. The shaky breaths and the tense air of the room told him that much. While he was curious about the events, Marcus knew when some things just weren't good to talk about. He wasn't exactly one to pry when it made things uncomfortable.

So, after the brief moment in which he surveyed the room, he adopted a more-upbeat tone, his voice swelling with faux excitement. "Guess who brought presents?" he said, shuffling the bag in his hands.

The corner of her mouth twitched upwards into an unsure smile. Presents were the last thing she deserved after everything that happened. What's more, she was beginning to notice a dismal pattern here. Marcus shouldn't have to always be the one picking her ass up after she gets upset. As much as she kind of liked that he'd been thinking about her-- enough to go out and buy things....

"Oh man. You didn't have to get me anything," Callan replied, forcing the rest of her mouth into a full smile. Gradually, she could feel the tension from Zoe's visit beginning to ebb. "Uh. Thanks, though. What'd you bring?"

"Weeeelllll." Marcus said, trying to draw out the excitement of gifts as long as possible. "We've got a bag of jerky, since I know you like it so much. Plus I snagged a bag of pretzles and a blue Gatorade for you, since I see those laying empty all around the room all the time." he said, giving her an aloof grin.

He pulled out the items as he mentioned them, lightly tossing everything but the drink onto her lap as he did so.

"Oh, and Ernie wanted me to drop this little bag off for you too; I'm pretty sure your phone is in there somewhere."

"Tch," she smiled ruefully back at him.

"Looks like you guys thought of everything," she said, feeling slightly overwhelmed as she took the smaller bag from Marcus. Fishing out her phone, she habitually tapped the screen to open it before setting it aside. Something nagged at the back of her head, but she ignored it. Paranoia didn't suit her.

"Thanks...," she added, flashing him one last, small smile before her expression grew more somber. She gently set the snacks beside her phone.

"How are you doing?" she asked, shooting him a concerned glance before averting her eyes.

"Not a problem! Delivery service at your...well, service I guess." Marcus said, the statement getting away from him a little bit. He shrugged at her question, looking off to the blank wall for a second, just in case his face betrayed anything.

"Eh, you know. Got my cardio for the day running away from paparazzi, had to deal with a very rude lady to get these snacks for you, and my heart is slowing down after that small, panicked moment just now, but pretty good otherwise!"

A lie of course, he wasn't as 'pretty good' as he stated, but making Callan worry about that wouldn't help the situation at all.

Callan wasn't entirely convinced. She looked up to catch him staring at the far wall. His demeanor was convincing enough but... Savannah had died. He'd been the one driving around with her right before it happened. Lawrence almost met the same fate, too! Was he really fine?

She couldn't decide on what to say next as she stared at him fixedly-- looking for a chink in the armor that would easily betray how he'd really been faring. She sighed through her nose and looked away. Even if he wasn't fine... maybe she shouldn't pry. She was just as guilty of that sort of thing.

Gathering up what courage she could, Callan figured there was one thing she needed to get off her chest at least. Not that it would help, but... everyone should be in agreement over whose fault it was.

"A... about Savannah..." Callan started.

Not another one. That was all that anybody wanted to talk about right now, and it was the only thing he wanted to stay away from. It was like he was living in his own personal hell, which he somewhat deserved, he supposed.

The words glanced off him like a knife, causing him to nearly flinch in response. Instead, he sighed looking to the floor as if debating something internally in his head. He said nothing, but looked to her, evident that he was ready for whatever it was she was about to say.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I can't... really say that to the person who deserves it since she's...." She swallowed hard. "Anyway, it was my fault. I should've... been more careful. I came to help you guys, but I got her killed instead."

"Callan." Marcus said, feeling the weight in his chest sink. Between her and Emma, he was having a real hard time saying the same thing over and over again without the lies starting to show through. He'd break. He didn't want to, but this kind of psychological torture could only go on so long before the cracks in his reassurances started to widen.

"It wasn't your fault. You did everything you could have to stop that gargoyle lady. In the end, it's her fault. Not yours. Not..." he paused for a moment, choosing his words carefully, "...anybody else's fault either."

He sighed again. Eyes darting anywhere but Callan's face. Even now he was starting to break down.

Her expression hardened. She'd heard this same speech before. Back when Padma died and she'd snapped at Grant-- something she felt ten times as remorseful for now. But she'd thought it over a million times in the past few hours. Over and over and over. She knew exactly whose fault it was.

"Marcus, you were there," Callan said, staring at him ernestly, "You saw what happened. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I had no business jumping in there recklessly like I did. She died for my mistake, Marcus. I heard it." Surprised by how graphic her last statement had sounded, Callan buried her face in her hands and tried to shut out the mental images that came with it. A single, loud, wet snap.

"I know you're just trying to make me feel better," Callan continued, her voice a bit shaky as she willed away the impending tears, "But that's just the way it is. I really messed up."

"Callan, I..." he had nothing to say here. Even as her voice grew shaky and he could feel his own guilt start to well up inside him, threatening to crash over him like a tidal wave. Savannah's twisted neck came to his own mind, the lifeless eyes staring like a plastic doll.

"...I don't know what you want me to say." he finally let out, the words soft and almost stopped from coming out. He was right there with her; he wanted to break down and tell her everything, just so she'd feel better for a moment.

"I know that's how you feel, but I'm telling you that I don't think it was your fault. And if I need to keep saying that...I will. I'll keep saying it for as long as it takes."

No, no, no. He wasn't getting it. Why wouldn't he accept that it was her fault? She slid her hands off her face, looking at him with rising distress. "You don't have to say anything!" she said, "You don't have to lie either, though. Maybe I don't have all the blame, but it's mostly mine. I know how strong that abe was, Marcus. She could've snapped Savannah's neck like a twig all on her own. For all I know, they weren't going to kill her... at least not yet. But that's beside the point...."

"Marcus." she said, noticing that he seemed to be avoiding eye contact.

"Seriously. Look at me and say that if I hadn't tackled that abe, Savannah's neck wouldn't have snapped. Don't... don't bullshit me. I've thought about this."

Marcus closed his eyes and shook his head, thinking the whole thing over. She didn't deserve this; to be tearing herself down over someone else's mistake. over his mistake.

"No. It wouldn't have." he finally said, turning to look at Callan. "If you hadn't tackled her, she probably wouldn't have broken her neck. She probably would have been eviscerated by the gargoyle. Had her throat torn open. Maybe she would have gotten a spike through the chest."

His voice was rising a little bit slightly, the product of his anger towards himself spilling out. "I don't know if you noticed, Callan, but that group wasn't exactly taking hostages. They weren't friendly - they were there to kill us."

His voice dropped back down to his normal tone, picking up its own slightly shaky tenor along the way. "I'm sorry, Cal. But I don't think there was anything you could have done. Like you said - she could have snapped Savannah's neck all on her own."

Again, Callan didnโ€™t seem entirely convinced, but she decided that was good enough. She shouldnโ€™t have been so insistent anyway. Marcus probably hadnโ€™t wanted to talk about it any more than she did. He did have a point, thoughโ€” it was entirely likely Savannah wouldโ€™ve died whether sheโ€™d been there or not.

Part of her even wished those abes had gotten it over with before she arrived. If only so she could stop feeling like there was something else she could have done.

Her face screwed up with regret and disgust at how her mind kept trying to cope. She went back to nervously running the pad of her thumb over each knuckle.

โ€œSorry,โ€ she said, knowing it was a little too late to start feeling bad about making Marcus uncomfortable. โ€œI shouldnโ€™t have unloaded all of that on you. I justโ€ฆ I donโ€™t know who else to apologize too. I didnโ€™t know anything about her. I donโ€™t know who her friends were or how to reach her family orโ€ฆโ€ the words caught in her throat and she swallowed, โ€œSorry. I should probably just stop talking about it.โ€ Her mouth twitched into half of an apologetic smile. She could talk about it all day, but it wouldnโ€™t change anything. Savannah was dead. What more was there to discuss?

"It's okay. It's difficult, and it never gets any easier." Marcus said, giving Callan a broken smile. "But hey, I'm still here, and you're still here. Even if you feel beaten down and broken - we're both here. That's all that matters."

His smile grew a little bit warmer, but still retained the obvious signs of fractures. It was nothing he could help; he just didn't have the strength for it.

"You should rest. You've been through a lot today, and I just wanted to check up on you, give you another pep talk if you needed it, deliver a couple presents, etc."

It was a clumsy exit, but as much as he felt he needed to help out his roommate, he was starting to show too much. He needed to leave before he overextended himself with Callan, before things started to peek through.

Callan winced at the noticable difference in his smile. Marcus was obviously hurting and she certainly hadn't helped things. At least they'd both kept their promise? He was right. They both made it back alive.

She considered offering a hug. He'd done that for her once. But she faced the same dilemma as before. She needed to keep herself from getting too upset and she was already on the cusp of tears as it was. Hugs were always quick to make her unravel and she just couldn't afford that right now.

"Alright," she nodded, "Yeah... I'm glad you're okay, Marcus. Thanks for the stuff...." She tried to smile with the same amount of warmth, "Make sure you get some rest, too."

"Try to ration it out, I'm not making grocery runs every morning for you because you gorged yourself on junk food." Marcus said. One last joke; a quick attempt to regain some of the footing he'd lost.

He gave Callan a nod, stretching a little and moving towards the door. Just as it seemed like he was going to round the corner and disappear, he stopped, turning back towards Callan for one last statement.

"Do me a favor and stop worrying me like that, Cal. I'm gonna go grey here before too long."

The request caught her off guard. He didn't give her a chance to respond before leaving, either. Callan stared at the empty doorway for a moment, wondering at what he meant before she finally stood up and closed the door. She sighed heavily, feeling only a brief modicum of relief. The weight of the younger girl's death was still heavy on her mind, but she did her best to drown out the noise.

Picking up her phone, she turned the device over in her hand a few times before putting in her headphones and lying down.

Recovery


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Marcus | Lilliana
Emma | Callan | Allison



๐•Š๐•–๐•ก๐•ฅ. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿœ, ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿš๐Ÿ˜ / / ๐•Ž๐•š๐•ค๐•—๐• ๐•ฃ๐••, ๐•„๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ช๐•๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•• / / ๐•‹๐• ๐•จ๐•Ÿ / / ~๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Collab with @Chasers115 @Kyrisse @Diggerton @Baklava @VarionusNW


"Hey hey hey, you're fine now." Marcus said, trying to calm Lily down from whatever it was that she was dealing with. He ran his hand through his already tussled hair, the sweat cooling slightly across his forehead.

They'd won. They'd done it. A part of him wanted to cheer and laugh, but it was stopped by the part that reminded him of the cost. Savannah, the old man, the soldier, they were all gone. Not to mention all the people that had nearly been killed. Too close for comfort, in his mind.

He'd killed them

He shook his head, as if trying to force the thought out of his mind. It hadn't been his fault; it had been the group of Abberations that had killed them. He wasn't to blame just because he got careless and let the gargoyle in. It wasn't his fault that she'd been in the perfect position to take Savannah out of the truck.

It wasn't his fault. No matter how much he tried to tell himself that, he couldn't force his own mind to believe it.

The much needed moment of peace was brought to an abrupt halt when the horizon exploded, sending shockwaves through the ground. The cuff crackled to life, ordering a welcome retreat. They couldn't handle something like Cat's Cradle. Not without more...

He rose to his feet, offering Lily a hand. They needed to get loaded up.

"Everyone alright?" he asked, looking to the motley little group. He brought his gaze to Kusari last, deliberatly avoiding Dean's gaze as he searched for a healer in the APC.

Lily's mind was still a mess of voices egging her to do damage, to find a way to hurt someone...anyone. Having passed the injuries she took to Kusari had calmed the voices down a bit but they knew that she was capable of a lot more damage, a lot more hurt and they were furious that she didn't give in to that desire.

Live up to what you are. Stop pretending to be someone good when you're a monster inside.

She looked at Marcus, who was trying to calm her down. The boy she almost killed in that first battle. What was his name? She furrowed her brows and focused on drowning out the voices as she tried to think and remember.

You're a MONSTER.

Was I always like this? Forgetful?

Hurt them. KILL them all!

Or was it because of that head wound I had when they found me near USARILN East?

You can ignore us all you want. But at one point, you will find yourself giving in.

Name name name name. What's his name? What's his name? The boy's hand appeared in front of her. She looked at it for a few seconds before she reached out and took it, pulling herself up, all the while running all her memories of the boy in her mind.

Emmaโ€™s eyes had been directed at the ground.

Donโ€™t look.

Instead, she directed her gaze at Marcus. She almost couldnโ€™t believe that he had dared ask that, as clearly things were anything but alright. She wantedโ€ฆ a part of her wanted to yell at him. To blame him. To blame someone. To tell him it was his fault. But she didnโ€™t say that. She said nothing.

As soon as she was up, she rememberd. "Marcus!" she exclaimed triumphantly, her golden eyes shining with delight at successfully remembering. When he gave her a quizzical look, she just flashed him a bright smile and squeezed his hand before she let go and turned her attention somewhere else. The first person that caught her eye was the pretty girl standing a few feet away from them, staring at something in the concrete rubble.

She looked back at Marcus for a brief second before she took a stepped away. "I'll just..." she started but didn't bother finishing as she headed towards Emma.

Donโ€™t look at her.

She couldnโ€™t help herself. She had to. It didnโ€™t take her long to pick out where the body of Savannah was, buried in concrete, twisted and broken. Wordlessly she walked towards it, glancing down at the girlโ€™s face, frozen in agony. She was just a child, she had no place out here. Emma searched for someone to blame, but she already knew who was at fault.

Why didnโ€™t I come to the APC sooner? Why couldnโ€™t I do anything?

Of course the answer was 'no'. It'd take a long while before everyone was anything close to alright. But they were alive...most of them were at least. Marcus smiled back to Lily as she stood up, giving a small sigh as she followed Emma. He watched as the stopped at a pile of rubble, his curious glance turning to a roiling pit in his stomach when he spotted the blonde locks snaked through the stones.

Emma had walked off, Lily had walked off, and even Kusari in her heavily damaged state had walked off. All he could do was look around, sighing sadly at the scene.

Hurt her. The voice in Lily's head insisted for the nth time.

Oh, just shut up, she thought savagely and turned ran her memories of this girl in her head. Name name name name. she chanted the same way she did for Marcus.

And just like earlier, she grinned and said her name out loud. "Emma!" Maybe it was because she was trying harder than usual that she could actually remembered. "Are you---" the question died on her lips as she let her gaze drift towards what the other girl was staring at.

A dead body. A small girl with blonde hair with a look of horror frozen on her face, her eyes wide but unseeing.

Dead.

The small blonde teenager stared at the dead girl for the longest moment. She didn't even know her name. She never really interacted with her despite seeing her around campus. Now she laid dead and there was no way she could try to get to know her even if she wanted to.

Strangely enough, the voices in her head had quieted down. Her golden eyes turned into a dark amber shade. Is it possible? Won't it be useful if I could? she asked silently in her head, questions that was left unanswered by the strangely silent voices.

Staring at the girl, she willed for her power to activate. The black thread appeared on her wrist. But the other end remained floating uselessly in front of her. Lily glared at the thread then at the dead body, wordlessly commanding it to do what was impossible. For a moment, the black strand floated towards Savannah's unmoving body. But like earlier, it remained floating above it uselessly.

You can't bring the dead back to life. You can only kill, the voice in her head explained.

The black thread quivered for a few seconds before it disappeared.

Emmaโ€™s face was blank, expressionless, as she turned back to the APC. She walked towards the vehicle, sparing Marcus a glance as she passed โ€We should go.โ€

It took Lily a few minutes before she turned and walked towards the APC after Emma. She was silent but a dark look was on her face.

Marcus kept his eyes averted, only daring to make contact with Emma as she got closer. His guilt continued to bore the hole in his gut, and he waited for her to yell at him; to tear into him for his mistakes, but it never came. Only a single sentance, it's lack of emotion telling him everything he needed to know.

"Yeah..." Marcus said, looking out over the cracked asphalt that marked their fight. He didn't want to get on the APC yet, not with so many of the civilain survivors there. "I should...go help get some of the people get on board."

A nobel course of action driven by a selfish motive.

As though she was acting on auto-pilot, Lily turned and followed after Marcus, not really registering the tiredness and the slight lightheadedness from the blood loss she experienced earlier. "I'll help," she said in a quiet voice.

Emma gave a small nod. "Right. I'm... just going to wait here." she realized it was selfish to wait while the others helped, but she wasn't exactly in the state of mind to care.

With Lily following him, Marcus made his way over to the slumped form of Callan. Even with her arm reattached to her body, she still looked worse for the wear. Dirt and blood seemed to mute the usual vibrant streak in her hair, her skin seemed much paler than usual. Not surprising considering the cirumstances, but it was almost frightening to see their resident Supergirl, one of his roommates, in such a state.

He knelt down to her, grabbing one of her arms and pulling her into a sitting position. She was far too cold, just as Lily had been previously. Ducking down to gain some leverage, he pulled her arm across his shoulder, aiming to support her. Even without her entire body weight on him, he could already tell that she was heavier than she looked.

As he struggled, he could feel her moving slightly, presumably beginning to rouse herself.

"Hey Cal, we're getting you to the APC now." he said, the light tone in his voice similar to the one a parent would use for a sleeping child. "Lily, can you get her other side?"

Lily nodded and silently obeyed Marcus' request. She grabbed Cal's other arm, the one she had healed and draped it across her shoulder the way Marcus did.

Come on, Cal. Get up.

Get up, get up.

Get up, walk it off. Cโ€™mon Cal!


The stolen words plagued her will to sleep. Though the memory of who'd said them was well associated with a sharp, pulsing pain in her ankle, Callan felt nothing but the uncomfortable dirt under her fingernails as she came to. All the pain from before was gone. Someone was moving her. Another familiar voice.

Marcus. It was Marcus.

โ€œNgh.โ€ She found herself less inclined to focus on that fact as the world came back in pieces. First, her arm. Her arm? She clenched and unclenched her fist as the appendage came into view. Her eyelids felt heavy, but she had to look.

Get up! Walk it off!

Her fatherโ€™s old command echoed around in her head every time sleep prodded her eyes to flutter closed again. A constant tug-o-war, but she couldnโ€™t quite decide which side she was on.

Why was her arm so important? Remembering, muted panic at recalling it was Zoe and tentative relief washed over her expression beneath the layer of blood and dirt that obscured her features. As Marcus mentioned moving her to the APC, she forced coherent words into her mouth while trying to pull herself up.

โ€œWait, wait,โ€ she grimaced. Everything was coming back to her now, but she asked anyway. Perchance it was just a bad dream. โ€œWhatโ€ฆ what happened?โ€ She looked to Marcus pleadingly, begging for good news. Was everyone okay? Siena? Ernie? Lawrence?

โ€ฆSavannah? No, she knew better. She felt a lump rise in her throat, tears threatening to well up before she commanded herself not to cry.

Youโ€™re okay. Youโ€™re fine.

Well-- you're not dead anyway.


Now wasnโ€™t the time to lose it. She had to keep it together. Others might be hurt. Others might need help. She had to help.

"C'mon, let's get you up." Marcus said, trying to help Callan pull herself to her feet. "It's okay. We...beat them."

He tried to give Callan a warm smile as she stood, but it was far less genuine than usual. They'd won, but there had been a high cost. Too high, in his mind.

Lily emulated what Marcus was doing and how he was supporting Callan. As soon as the supergirl was up, the small blonde teeterd on her feet for a few seconds, Cal's weight, height and the dizziness from her earlier blood loss making her a little unsteady. But she bit her lip and didn't complain. She remained silent, just like the silence in her head. There were no voices in her mind for once. But in its place was Savannah's face and the thought that she could have done more to prevent her death from happening.

Callan frowned at his answer, the hesitation in his voice and lukewarm attempt at a smile igniting her suspicions. In search of answers, she sluggishly lifted her head to survey the battlefield. It was utter chaosโ€” littered with blood, rubble, and corpses she barely recognized. Surrounded by so much stillness, her eyes were drawn to the form of Allison as she clumsily rushed by.

Callan heard the repeatedly muttered word as Allison came across Savannah's corpse: broken, dead and unceremoniously left face down on the asphalt.

Unable to look away, Callan froze and her breath stuck in her throat. She'd never said more than two words to the kid, but of course Savannah had had people who cared about her. Maybe parents that loved her. Maybe siblings. Friends. She didn't know, but it didn't matter. She was too young. She shouldn't have had to die like that.

And it was all my fault. Her breath was shaky when she finally exhaled. I'm sorry. She couldn't keep the tears back any longer. They pooled and ran down her cheeks, pushing past the layer of grime and leaving streaks. She knew if she spoke, it'd be nothing but a sob, so she kept quiet and put her head down, internally repeating her apology as if somehow Savannah could hear.

"Savannah is dead." Allison Revel's voice came out weak, as she attempted to choke back tears. Her grip on the body only tightened as she collapsed onto the ground next to the APC. Close enough.

Lily noticed Callan put her head down and heard Allison's words. Savannah. That's her name, she thought briefly. Was there a different path? Why do I have an X mark instead of the white marks the others have? Why did I choose this path if I can't even be helpful enough to prevent death? Benediction can bring back the dead. Why can't I? Do I really just bring death and destruction? Why can't I remember anything? But no matter how much she asked, the voices remained silent.

Emma grimaced. Allison, she remembered, part of her oppisition during the flag game. A small glance towards Marcus and Cal before she started walking towards the collapsed girl. She knelt down, carefully extending a hand towards her shoulder."Allison... we have to go. Cat's Cradle is here, remember? You... you don't have to worry about her. The school will take care of it. I'll help you take her in if you want, but we should be quick. I don't need to tell you how dangerous Cat's Cradle is, right?" Emma's voice was even- at the very least it didn't betray her.

Really, all Emma wanted was to get the hell out of here.

Allison cradled the corpse in her arms, staring at the ground as Emma spoke. Emma was wrong, so very, very wrong. Of course Allison had to worry about Savannah, no one else would. The child didn't need to die, and if there's a chance to bring her back someone needed to take it. The school wasn't going do it, that Allison was sure of.

Cat's Cradle, yes, the reason they were retreating. Allison remembered now. Her tired legs hadn't carried her far enough, had they? There was a little further to go for the girl and the corpse. Allison stood up slowly, her legs still unwilling to carry the weight of both her and the body, and silently turned to enter the APC.

Marcus said nothing as the tears began to roll down Callan's face. Nothing as Allison collapsed, nothing as Emma helped her up, and nothing as they began carrying a shattered corpse onto the APC. There was nothing to say, nothing he could possibly say that would help. For once, no amount of joking and grinning would make things better.

He'd learned long ago that it was best to stay quiet in these situations.

Was it truly for the best though? That they take Savannah back to the campus? They all knew what would happen to her. Hell, it'd probably happen no matter what they did, but at least burying her in the middle of nowhere would be better than sending her to be eaten.

But it wasn't his place to suggest that. Instead, he continued to say nothing.

Head down, repeating a useless mantra of an apology, Callan noticed Lawrence a short distance away. He didn't seem to be bleeding anymore, but was that because he was dead or had he been healed too? She lifted her head and shifted towards him, still using Marcus for support. She paused. He was still breathing. A small sigh of relief accompanied by a different sting of guilt that bit at the back of her conscience upon realizing how happy she was that he hadn't been the one who died. Or Marcus or Siena or anyone she knew at all for that matter. The thought made her feel nauseous. It was like the first day all over again. Only this time, she'd practically pulled the trigger.

Callan ran the back of her hand across her cheek, back to forcing some composure. She wasn't exactly sure what had happened while she was knocked out, but if what Emma said was true, they needed to get out of here quickly. Cat's Cradle was no joke and she didn't want to see anyone else die today. "I'll get Lawrence--" she started, but as she moved away from Marcus to step towards him, her feet simply couldn't keep up and she immediately staggered.

Marcus moved to stop Callan as she attempted to go to Lawrence, nearly getting thrown off his feet as he did so. Even in her weakened state, trying to hold Callan back was like trying to stop a bulldozer from moving with only his body. Still, he braced against the fall, keeping her supported on her own two legs.

"Nono, you need to rest. You got hit pretty hard back there." he said, trying to direct her back towards the APC. He could see that Brent and Siena and the dragon seemed to have Lawrence with them, so that situation was under control.

Pretty hard of course being a bit of an understatement; she'd lost the entirety of her arm in that whole mess. He didn't even want to think of what would have happened had Lily not been there...

Lily stepped back when Callan staggered, leaving Marcus to support her alone. She stood a few steps away, thinking if she should continue helping out the obviously exhausted supergirl. But then it looked like Marcus would be enough to help her out. She wasn't needed and so she slipped away.

"I wanna help," she persisted, though she stayed in place. She was the strongest-- it'd be easy for her to carry Lawrence and anyone else who was injured back to the truck. At least it should've been easy. Callan felt a rising irritation at the way her legs refused to properly support her weight, furrowing her brow in confusion.

Emmaโ€™s eyes followed Allison into the APC. Allison and Savannah. She sighed, glancing inside, prepared to follow the girl inโ€ฆ but what she saw placed a distinct scowl on her face. It seemed Sander and Ernieโ€™s little feud extended even here. She couldnโ€™t help but shake her head, Is this really the time to be doing this? Despite herself she held her tongue. She stepped back, watching passively as Sander shook Ernie down like some kind of thug. She wanted to say something, but she was too tired. Couldnโ€™t they justโ€ฆ not? It was over before she worked up the courage to say something. Ernie tumbled past her out of the APC before he took off running.

โ€Ernie! ERNIE!โ€

She called after him, but he was already gone. A frustrated glance was given to the others, save Sander, who she willfully ignored. A long sigh followed, before she approached Marcus. โ€Iโ€™ll go get him. We need to leave. Make sure all the injured get on the truck.โ€ If her look didnโ€™t betray her mounting frustration, her tone would. She lingered for a moment, looking at the Callan and Marcus. They must be feeling the same things she did, she realized. And for a moment, she wanted to tell them that she was sorry. That it wasnโ€™t their fault. That she couldโ€™ve saved everyone. But now wasnโ€™t the time for that conversation. It was just a moment, though. A small nod, and then she jogged after Ernie. To think, sheโ€™d be going out of her way to go help Ernie, of all people.

It wasnโ€™t for his sake, it was so they could leave.

"Callan." Marcus's voice was firm now, almost scolding. "You lost a lot of blood; if you over-exert yourself and pass out, you're not going to be helping anybody."

He sighed once, his voice readjusting back into a friendlier tone. "You did it. You helped. Let the rest of us help a little bit now, okay?"

He gave the APC an angry glance as the shouting commenced. This was certainly not the time or place for them to be having pissing contests about who did what, and while he would have loved to jump in and tell the two to button their flaps, it would have equally not been the time or place. He nodded to Emma as she jogged off; she'd get him back.

Or she'd get killed by a surprise attack from Cradle.

Still, as much as he desperately wanted to go after her, she was right; first priority was getting everyone on the transport. Brent seemed to have a pretty good handle on Lawrence, Lily had healed Siena, and he had Callan. Besides the few stragglers who were either already on board, or close behind, everyone was pretty much accounted for.

Callan seemed slightly taken aback by his stern tone. She winced and looked down at her shoes as Marcus tried to reassure her that she'd helped. She'd helped? Helped who exaclty? Sander practically took down Factory all on his own. He'd known exactly what to do while she just mindlessly followed orders like a brain-dead moron. If it wasn't for him, she would've been fried to a crisp by that laser, too.

Then there was the fight with the rogue mages. Marcus told her to go for the gargoyle lady and what did she do? She charged at her carelessly. Perhaps if she hadn't been quite so eager to get there. Perhaps if she hadn't hurried quite so much. Perhaps if, in that millisecond before it happened, she hadn't allowed herself to think about how much she wanted to be the one who saved everyone. Who fixed everything.

She and not Emma. Like it was some sort of competition.

She thought back to the evaluation forms and, just when she thought she couldn't feel any worse, the guilt she felt seemed to hit its peak. Specifically she remembered the only evaluation that hadn't been anonymous-- the one given by Lawrence.

"Brawn doesn't exclude you from using brains as well..."

That's what he'd said. He'd suggested mental exercises, but what did that mean? And why had she brushed those evaluations off so quickly? Because she was embarrassed about how she lost? Too good for their advice? But what could she do about it now?

It was a question she couldn't bring herself to find an answer to as another wave of exhaustion washed over her. She nodded and muttered a weak "Okay," in response to Marcus.
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