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Rocky Road to Redemption?


Lily

Kusari | Marcus | Emma

Angelique | Grant | Sophia


𝕊𝕦𝕟: 𝕊𝕖𝕡𝕥. 𝟚𝟘, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕎𝕒𝕤𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕥𝕠𝕟, 𝔻.ℂ. / / ~𝟙𝟚𝟝𝟘

Collab with @Kyrisse @Piercing Light @Chasers115 @Diggerton @Riffus Maximus @Deathmyster @VampireOracle


The truck moved onwards, travelling steadily and pushing past stilled cars with ease. Though the presence of subnaturals was made evident by the golden chains attached to the plow at the front, the citizens were hesitant to engage. Some stood by and made room while others fled. Apart from the occasional rock smacking the side of the vehicle, there were no further attacks made on the truck itself. Engaging a vehicle moving at that speed was universally acknowledged to be a rather foolhardy plan.

Up the road, a significant roadblock could be sighted. Several buildings had been collapsed by the tremors of the ice giant's fall, crushing the cars underneath and creating a mound that reached across the evacuation route. The rubble itself was nothing the truck's thick tires couldn't handle though that wasn't the only point of interest. Citizens that were moving on foot merely climbed over the mound, eager to escape the city, much to the chagrin of the less mobile. A handful of bloodied regulars remained by the former apartments, attempting to dig through the debris or just watching on worriedly. Cries for help sounded from the bystanders and from within the broken condo. Nearby, seven soldiers were arranged on the street, too busy with the evacuation process to properly lend their assistance to those trapped underneath.

The awkward silence that had passed during the steady crawl of the truck was not unnoticed by Marcus. Normally, he would have been the one to step up and break the tense atmosphere, but this time he didn't. He just didn't have the energy. Everything that had happened back there had been playing in his mind on a loop since he climbed back into the cab, and the sheer mental fortitude he was expending to not just break down and panic was physically exhausting him.

He was tired. That much was obvious, and it probably showed.

Combined with the fact that there was likely nothing he could say that wouldn't make the situation worse, kept his mouth shut. For he feared that if he opened it, he'd lash out at someone - hurt somebody else, even if unintentionally. A small part of him chuckled at the thought: his mother's child, for sure.

Quiet. It was not the unnatural type of silence that Siena was accustomed to--the sound of the road passing beneath them, the sound of the distant mayhem...it was still there. Muffled and oddly sliding over her as though she wasn't quite there. She imagined the others were thinking of the prior events--no, it was more of a faded hope. At least if she imagined that they were doing something that human, the illusion could still pass. Siena felt her grip tighten marginally around her phone, hazy screams filling the back of her head like a nest of angry hornets.

So many dead.

A disappointed voice sounded like an echo. Over and over again. Didn't she learn better? She flinched, let go of the cars. Her fault. She didn't fight back the way she should have, had to be saved when she could have--a shudder passed down her spine. Almost. Only a few breaths away from taking a name that she knew should not be taken. Not when it fit so easily, and not when she was so comfortable without control.

The only time you feel like yourself, abomination.

Her eyes returned to the streets.

"Ah, shit."

The semi slowly stopped in front of what appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle in their path; an entire block was currently sprawled out over the road, with civilians scurrying about it as if from a disturbed ant mound. Even after everything that had happened - he wasn't willing to just drive over the people running for their lives.

"Welp. Look's like we're walking." he said, very matter-of-factly.

Some of the others in the back would certainly disagree, he knew that much when he stopped the truck. They'd say he should just plow through them and not think twice.

Fortunately, they weren't the ones with the keys.

As the truck came to a stop Kusari exited it and walked to the front. Their path was blocked as Marcus said, they would have to walk. She glanced around seeing people in various states of disarray. The thought didn't even cross her mind to help them, not after what just happened. She quietly walked forward, tuning out the chaos around her.

Angélique was of no exception for contributing to the uncomfortable silence in the truck. Her moody but talkative attitude was replaced by a brooding silence as she kept to herself, her mind plagued by the guilt of the situation she had caused and the ungrateful behavior of the Regulars she wanted to save. When the truck came to a stop, Angel thought they had finally arrived to destination, but wanted to stay put until told to get out. Watching Kusari leave and the landscape view offered from the entrance to the van, it seemed to point otherwise. Curious, the raven-haired Subnatural slowly crawled towards the exit of the truck's cargo holder, sitting at the edge of the doors' frame. The road was a mess, the surroundings showed signs of clear devastation. And yet, despite the wails and cries for help, Angel felt unmoved by this catastrophe. Sure, part of herself felt for the refugees and their pleas for rescue, but the fallen idol was so weary and tired of this ordeal, and was still mad over what happened earlier. She was in no state of mind to suggest anything or take decisions, and she realized it by now. Instead, she simply stood still, waiting for whomever else to take charge and direct the group into their next course of action. It wasn't like she was going anywhere by herself with her current state of health anyway.

Lily wordlessly and absentmindedly followed after both Kusari and Angelique and got out of the truck. With her mind blank, she looked at her surroundings and began walking.

Siena's feet hit the ground with a faint crunch of misplaced rocks grinding under her feet, the discomfort little more than a distraction from what assaulted her senses. Again, there were people that needed help. A sense of apprehension rose like the tide, creeping from her stomach, up to her torso, until it threatened to drown her in its presence. Again. Her grip tightened again around her phone.

Why didn't they move to help?

Because they weren't stupid, a bitter voice spat with such venom that Siena felt an odd desire to flinch. They had every right not to be willing to help, and the Arbiter knew it. It was a perfectly human reaction. Her mind continued to rationalize it as her eyes remained glued on the disaster, a storm of conflicting emotions trying to win out again. Guilt, remorse, anger, bitterness, hate, hurt, guilt, guilt, guilt.

She did not walk forward like the others.

"We're leaving them...?" It wasn't really a question, Siena realized. Just an attempt to seek confirmation.

The other were silent. Emma was silent too, but her face held none of the emotion that the other’s had. She didn’t look tired, or sullen, or angry, or sad, or guilty, instead she just looked… she looked like her mom always had, she realized. Her face said nothing, her mouth was drawn into a line, her eyes were just… they were just there. There, like she was, at this moment doing nothing else either than existing.

Aside from her bruised face she looked so normal that it was unsettling even for her. But she didn’t feel normal, did she?

Wordlessly she followed the others out of the truck, climbing out to drink in the destruction around her. There were people, trapped, her friends, such as they were, not moving to help them. She couldn’t blame them… could she? It was Siena that asked. Emma didn’t say anything, not at first. First Determination appeared. By some miracle he was still here for her and maybe that meant something.

Probably not, she decided.

”Help them get out of the rubble.” Emma said evenly, gesturing off handedly towards the trapped civilians. He started on his task after a moment of contemplation, and she walked beside him, starting to help dig herself as effectively as she could.

As the incapacitated USARILN guards filed out behind Kusari and Angel, murmurs surrounding Determination's approach started filling the air. The atmosphere still reeked of desperation from the citizens clambering over the mound but there was much less animosity. It mostly likely had something to do with the heavily armed guards glowering at the scene, or the blood splattering many of the teenagers' clothing.

A young man in a dust-coated sweater kept his distance from the subnaturals, glaring at the X-girl from TV.

"Hey, stay awa--" he started before getting harshly cut-off by an older woman.

"Let them help."

"But they fucking started--"

"How else are we going to find Leah?"
the woman's voice broke with the name. A glare full of contempt was levelled at the subnaturals and she nodded to the apartment building. "I don't know how many are still in there. Just fix it. It's the least you can do after all this."

Emma didn’t look up at them. ”Sorry.” She muttered under her breath, continuing to dig, straining herself to dig.

After what had happened so soon ago Kusari thought that she had run out of desire to be angry, but thinking about it she never said a word to the people attacking her and her allies. As far as she was concerned they were just targets that she was defending herself from. However she wasn't in combat right now, and the words of this ignorant regular crawled under her skin like centipedes.

Kusari swiftly walked over to Determination and nonchalantly stabbed it in the back of it's head with her claw. She affixed a glare as sharp as a surgeon's knife to the woman that had slighted them. "You heard the woman Emma. We caused this whole mess, right?" She spread her arms with open hands and let out a sardonic chuckle. "Wouldn't make much sense for us to care about saving anyone, right? In fact how fucking DARE we even think of helping these pure innocent humans? They don't need help from a bunch of monsters." Kusari had a trembling smile on her face, as if she didn't know what expression to convey other than mockery and defiance.

"As a matter of fact." Kusari looked to Emma. "I think they would much rather die than live with the shame of being saved by a sub."

Emma didn’t move from her task. She didn’t look up either. Instead, she said a single word.

”Stop.”

It wasn’t much of a response but Emma said it very seriously. Determination appeared again. ”Keep digging.”

Kusari's uneasy smile had settled into a firm grimace. "Oh? I should stop? That's funny, I didn't hear you say that when those regulars were trying to do a public execution."

From a few feet away, Lily watched and listened silently at how Kusari lashed out a Regular. The small blonde Aberration merely stared, neither registering the hatred she heard in the pale Arbiter's voice nor the determination Emma showed in helping out.

Only one real denial came to Siena's inquiry, one quickly met with an equally real confirmation. The rational part of her mind...no, the idealistic part of her mind told her that they both had their reasons. Good reasons, bad reasons, it didn't matter. The brunette knew that Kusari's reaction was probably the more natural. They had been attacked for announcing their presence, for trying to help, and that had been before the bloodshed. A bitter voice hissed in agitation through the din of Siena's thoughts. Why keep trying to find excuses?

Her grip tightened on her phone marginally.

"So you're saying we should condemn all of them?" The words escaped before the usual filter could clamp down. Well, too late to stop. "If you don't want to help, at least don't interfere with the ones that do want to." Because she didn't have the strength to keep up the facade. Looking over the building, Siena took a wary step toward the building, her gaze falling to the screen of her phone, a purple light dimly coming to life.

Just fix it.

Kusari wasn't expecting Siena to speak up, she hadn't spoken to her since the flag game but she'd always seemed like the type to keep down when possible. She knew what she was doing was ridiculous, she was trying to convince them to let people die after all. She was just beyond caring at this point.

"If they didn't need us right now they would be fine with all of us dropping dead on the spot, I hope you understand that." She didn't destroy Emma's creature again, but she didn't continue walking either. Regardless of what they wanted to do she wasn't going to leave without them.

Movement inside the truck caught Angel’s attention, looking back the guards began leaving the truck one by one, until Lawrence showed up last. It looks like he finally woke up. After making sure he was alright from the fall he took earlier, both Mages agreed to help each other out from the vehicle, joining the others as they realized the reason they stopped. A roadblock created by a collapsed building. Well, that was quite the hurdle. They would need to go back to the evacuation point with their own legs, leaving them exposed to the mad crowd of panicked citizens.

Moving further forward to join the others, the two oldest Mages from Unit B reached them while they were quarrelling about helping the Regulars. Again, the dilemma was still going strong in Angélique’s mind, her idealistic and hopeful self was agreeing with Siena. But after going through so much shit earlier, she was mostly inclined to agree with Kusari. They tried helping earlier and they got stoned for it. Why would it be different this time? First chance they would get, the Regular would stab them in the back.

So she simply stood there, requesting Lawrence to leave her be if he wanted to contribute to the unearthing effort. Meanwhile, Angel was simply sitting on a toppled piece of building, her tired gaze looking over her classmates. There wasn’t much she could do to help even if she wanted to, and she sure as hell didn’t want using her voice to call out for survivors. Not this time.

Emma didn’t say anything. She didn’t look up, she didn’t stop, her expression didn’t change. She just kept digging. Kusari’s words weren’t news to her- in fact, it was something that she knew very well. But she couldn’t find fault with their position. She couldn’t fault Regulars for wanting them dead.

So she kept digging.

Grey eyes did not lift from the phone screen as she listened to Kusari. Well, that had always been the case, hadn't it? Hadn't that been abundantly clear the first time that they were thrown haphazardly into combat? Unwelcome thoughts of Padma's death tried to encroach, but were quickly pushed aside. It wasn't the time for that. A name settled over her, and she braced herself for the storm that would brew. Siena had never quite settled in line with any version of Shadowcat before--not the same way she did with other names.

"Then we should make ourselves needed."

Unease gripped the civilians as the heated disagreement went on. Despite the albino's hostility, her words held a dirty truth to them. Had the places been switched, there would have been zero chance of anyone at the scene coming to the subnaturals' aid. Getting saved by these inhumans might be considered degrading by some, but it seemed that the regulars were all too desperate despite that.

The man that had dismissed them earlier remained silent, instead moving beside Emma to assist and direct her efforts.

"Can't you get more of your guys to help?" he muttered after a while, gesturing to Determination. He'd obviously taken note of the description of her power from her interview.

The woman was not quite as graceless as her counterpart, turning to Siena with a reluctant but appreciative nod. "This was a ten-storey condo. All those apartments on a midday Sunday... I can't even guess how many could be trapped down there."

”Right.” Emma wasn’t sure why herself why she didn’t summon more tulpas. Well, that wasn’t true, she knew why, but wasn’t willing to admit to herself that she wasn’t thinking straight. Charity and Devotion came. Love might’ve been helpful but…

”Search for survivors and dig them out.” Emma commanded simply.

Lily's golden eyes remained on Emma and her mind was jolted back alive. She had been like that before, always wanting to help. But did it matter now when she killed people she was supposed to have saved? And to make matters worse, they had already been incapacitated by Angelique. No matter how much she denied it, no matter how much she blamed her stigma, the act of killing made her feel both sane and insane at the same time. The feeling was...euphoric. But it only lasted a fraction of a second before she felt horrible. Nothing will change the fact that she was a monster. And a monster should be put down. And if these people would put her down, she'd let them. She tuned out the injuries she could sense. There was no point trying to be a healer when she was just really a murderer. With a sigh, she let her mind shut down again as her legs carried her over to where Emma and the man were digging. Silently, she began helping out even though she could still feel the exhaustion, her small hands doing the best they could.

At the acknowledgement that the remains before them had once been a condo, Siena couldn't help but feel her expression try to twist into a grimace. Part of the expression seeped through against her best attempts, the wince at the potential number of injured and dead. How many had even survived when the building crashed into its current position...? Taking a deep breath, the brunette gave a nod.

"I'll bring as many to safety as I can," Siena started while her mind ran through a series of situations. She could take a second name, but based on experience, it would dampen her ability to quickly move through the building for a first sweep...worse yet, it might entirely prevent her from taking anyone that could escape with her. Besides which, there were too many variables in trying to take a name that could scan for people that she didn't know. "If I find any medical supplies, I'll bring those out too."

Taking a deep breath, the brunette moved toward the rubble. Another deep breath that she didn't release, and she plunged through it.

Marcus had said nothing during the argument between Kusari and Emma, but had taken a quick step forward when the clawed girl slashed through the tulpa's head. Not helping was one thing, but actively preventing someone from helping was another thing altogether. Even so, he couldn't bring himself to intervene, and let out a soft sigh when the situation appeared defused.

He listened to the other conversations: the man directing Emma and the woman talking about the building. Condos weren't usually built to last, but in the capital, Marcus guessed that every building had some safe room for when things went poorly. Plus, if they had survived their fall, other rooms could have been equally protected.

He wandered around the rubble a bit, looking for something that would allow him into the building. Some partially destroyed doorway, or semi collapsed hall. Easy enough to find - there was enough fallen walls to allow him easy access to the interior.

Even from the outside, Marcus could tell that the building was not stable. Dust shook from the ceiling, the echoing sound of some rocks finally giving way and clattering to the ground, all drowned beneath the cries for help from the survivors. It was probably too dangerous for more than one person to sneak around without triggering another collapse.

Perhaps that's why he didn't tell anyone as he silently slipped in.

Help save the kinds of people who had wanted them dead earlier, or keep going and leave those in need behind so they could save themselves. From what Sophia could see, the majority opinion had won out and they were helping. There was that shadowy creature moving rubble, and Siena had just... disappeared. Would Siena be okay?

Sophia stood near the back of the truck, leaning against the side of the truck with one arm hooked around the door to steady herself as she looked at the rubble ahead of them. She still wasn't feeling back to normal and would probably have to sit back down in the truck soon, but had wanted to see what was going on when the truck had stopped and her classmates had begun to get out. Well, now she knew.

All that death... She should help somehow, but how? Emma had her creatures, Siena had used some power to disappear into that rubble, Kusari... well, she wasn't really doing anything, Marcus was out of sight but probably helping too... Sophia could use her power, but was she strong enough? Last time she had tried she hadn't been able to see through much, and here were layers upon layers of rubble. If she couldn't see through enough of the rubble, there was no point in turning her power on when it would only make seeing the living harder. She let out a shaky breath, and feeling that she had stood for long enough, went back into the truck to sit at the edge. What should I do?

A light shower of rubble brushed Marcus' shoulder as he entered the dark and ruined hall. Only half of the ground floor seemed intact enough to navigate, the division between the untouched rooms and crushed areas being difficult to ascertain. A distant wailing could be heard down the corridor. A sole civilian who still had the strength to cry out an hour after the initial tremors. The Arbiter's footsteps were met with a subtle crackling from the ceiling, but it seemed safe enough to enter for now.

Meanwhile, with its superior strength, Determination unearthed a middle-aged couple, bystanders quickly rushing in to help them out while the tulpa continued its task. Closer to Siena, a pair of small figures lay together in the dark, the boy gasping softly as the white-marked girl reached their cramped chamber.



















Sitting on a mound of debris, Angélique glanced all around her at the scene of desolation. She felt uneasy being out there, the Regulars’ gaze and the guards’ eyes watching her as if she was a rabid monster ready to attack. She felt so vulnerable sitting here. Eventually, her eyes would settle over the raging battle taking place just about close to where Unit B previously took residence temporarily. The battle was raging over there, buildings being tossed at the slime, only to be crushed as an eerie force was at work over there. Her thoughts then drifted to her remaining classmates. How were they doing? Were they still alive? What the hell was happening over there?

For a brief moment, Allison came into her mind. They haven’t spoken to each other ever since that night the brunette revealed her feelings to the fallen rockstar. Recalling her earlier transmission about following through a plan that might kill them, Angel’s mind suddenly grew restless. Again, Angel felt conflicted about her feelings towards the girl, but she was certain of one thing: she wished to see her back and alive after this ordeal. Angélique considered the idea of calling Brent to inform her of the situation, but if the building flinger and whatever was crushing those pieces were looking for their group, Angel didn’t want risking their position by making an untimely call, like how Ernie contributed to the hate towards the evacuation effort by telling everyone to not bother with the civilians.

Thinking about Evac Team and its members, Angel spotted Sophia moving around. The girl had been badly injured during their fall, Angel probably to be blamed partly for crushing her into her arms when she attempted to shield her. She was too young to witness such things already. But she was a Subnatural. The moment her white-mark appeared, she was fated to suffer from injustice and cruelty. Thinking about the young brunette Arbiter, Angélique wondered what her power was. She was probably the only classmate she actually had no idea of their power. She had been assigned to be part of Evac Team before. Surely she had a power useful for such?

“Sophia.” The black-haired Aberration called out softly to the girl using her magic to project her voice next to the Arbiter, gesturing Sophia to join her.

This time Sophia jumped a bit at Angélique's voice, but she wasted no time thinking about the Aberration's power, glancing around until she spotted the girl gesturing to her. At least going over there would give her something to do. Getting down from the truck once more, she kept a hand on the side of the truck as she moved towards Angélique. Ignoring the lightheaded feeling that made her instincts tell her to lie down instead of move around, once she could no longer use the truck to steady herself she took those steps unsupported till she reached the rubble. The mound earned itself a cautious look, before she sat down hurriedly. Near to Angélique, but still with at least a good two to three feet between them. "Uh, yeah?"

Seeing Sophia walking with such difficulty, Angel questionned herself about calling the young girl to her, instead of moving herself to meet her. The Arbiter youth really did look even worse than the older Aberration.

"I'm sorry to have you come up all the way here. How are you holding up?"

Obviously she wasn't well, Angélique figured, but she wanted to know how she was mentally. Hopefully she wasn't too shaken up by what happened back there.

For a few seconds, all Angélique got from Sophia was a blank stare. How... was she holding up? Perfect time to have a nice and friendly chat. Just sit on a pile of rubble and chat about feelings. "Oh... I'm fine." Her hands tensed, not entirely so they made a fist, but enough so that she was making claws with her fingers. She meant to stop there, but found herself continuing, louder than her usual whispery words.

"Of course I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be? I mean, we're only sitting here, in the middle of an attack, to have a nice conversation. That's wonderful." She swept an arm around gesturing at their surroundings. "Only... I don't know, only a few people have died, right? And I can't do anything, you're not doing anything, and I can't..." She trailed off, turning away from Angélique as she tugged at the ends of her hair.

Angel was taken aback by the sudden burst of sarcasm that came out from the little one's mouth. She really didn't expect the quiet child to have this kind of attitude firsthand; or rather she really never knew anything about her to expect anything of Sophia's personality.

The sound Mage's brows creased into a more pronounced frown. Calling Sophia out here really wasn't the best idea, had she known the kid to be this way. Her reasons were justified though. Everyone probably had a bone to pick against the raven-haired singer after what she did.

"Look, I'm sorry things didn't turn out to be as perfect as we wished they would be. Shit happens, I fucked up, we made bad decisions. But those things will keep happening, because that's going to be what the remaining of our lives will be, as combat slaves. I wouldn't be moping around here doing nothing if it wasn't for the fact that we fell down a fucking twenty story-high tower and a bookcase that crushed my insides. I don't have the physical power right now to help, and my powers can't help here either, because we now know just how fucking useful it was back there."

Angel's words were harsh, but that was a reality that had started to rapidly sink into the young woman's head. She had no mind right now to carefully pick her words, on top of generally being bad with kids. She was too tired of all this shit and just wanted it to end as quickly as possible.

In the end, Angélique sighed, unable to bear herself being this antagonizing on someone who needed to be reassured rather than berated. "Listen, I know you are in a worse shape than I am, I can't blame you for being unable to help. You were part of the evacuation team, back in Wisford, so I assume you have some powers that would help with that, right? Are you limited by your injuries, or is it something else?"

Angel had no idea how to approach that situation. She wanted to know what Sophia could do, see if there was anything to make out of her. Her stinging words about not doing anything had the fallen idol more frustrated about standing around here being useless while most to the others were actively helping. At most, it was Angel's own ego to prove her younger classmate that she wasn't so fine sitting uselessly like that, even if it was partly because she didn't want to have anything with Regulars right now.

Sophia hadn't exactly been meaning to blame Angélique for not doing anything, more upset at how the Aberration wanted to "chat" like nothing dire was going on around them. Perhaps after another minute or two Sophia would have calmed down the panic that she was now beginning to feel as she did nothing, but Angélique's words didn't help. She's sorry that things didn't turn out to be perfect? Shit happens?

Hello? She wasn't stupid, she didn't have ideals where everyone got along with each other fine and dandy, where no one would ever die. She didn't need Angélique telling her that her life was not going to be some happy story on TV like she was some child. "Oh wow, really? I thought that any moment now a helicopter would come and take me back home. Some knight in shining armor should be here in a minute. You mean my life is actually going to be made up of bad stuff?" But even as spoke, Sophia could feel her eyes beginning to sting. She knew that, she knew that, she knew that. She knew that her life would never be as it once had been again, that "shit" was going to happen. She didn't need a reminder.

"My powers that help with evacuation?" She was silent for a few seconds thinking about how useless her power was here, how it wasn't strong enough. "It's not any use." Not with her. Last time she had seen... what? Seen two children, but they probably would have been spotted anyway. She hadn't been able to give any helpful information about that dog. "I see through stuff, okay? That's all. But I can't see enough, so it's useless." A pause as she clenched and unclenched her jaw. "Not being able to do anything doesn't mean that you should sit around and try to chat. Or lecture people."

Another bout of sarcasm, another frown. This discussion was going south rapidly, and the last statement really irked Angel more than it should have. The Aberration jerked up swiftly, almost loosing footing and dropping to one knee, but managed to steady herself by leaning on the large chunk of debris.

"I'd rather be talking and knowing more about my classmates than brooding and being sassy about all of this." Angélique sharply replied to the young Arbiter, growing the more tired about her sarcastic remarks. But now that she knew about her powers, there was some sort of renewed vigor to keep pressing forward.

A Sight Mage and a Voice Mage. Two seemingly powerless entities, yet a combination that could prove very useful in this situation, if someone was ever willing to pair these two powers and have them work together. Someone with good resource management.

"So what, you have partial X-ray vision? How is that not useful here? Did you try seeing through the rubble? Even if you would see the faintest sign of life, or anything that would help locating someone, that's more than enough, for me at least."

Sophia ignored what was said about brooding or being sassy. She wasn't brooding. She might be using some sarcasm, but that wasn't out of place. Getting to know each other, yeah. This was a perfect way for the two of them to get to know each other. She opened her mouth to say so, but bit back the retort as Angélique continued to talk.

...what was the point of trying to see through rubble if you already knew that you couldn't see enough? She couldn't see the living anyway. Fitting, for someone who avoids humans at all cost. I've always avoided people, so now... I guess that's fitting.

But I can see clothes. Still, it wasn't any use if she couldn't even see far enough to catch sight of any clothes. She hadn't tried, no, but why should she just because that Aberration scolded her about it?

But some part of her, perhaps triggered by what Angélique had said, thought that she should try. She hadn't wanted to because she knew she wasn't strong enough, but perhaps that would appease her. Make Angélique leave her alone. "Fine."

"But it's not going to work." She switched on her power, and looked around.

Finally, Angel managed to coax her into using her power. She wasn't pleased by the Arbiter's apparent defeated attitude about her powers, but the raven-haired Aberration wanted to see what she was capable of. Sophia's lack of belief in her own abilities made Angelique wonder if the girl wasn't just too quick to give up or if her powers really weren't that useful. But to hear about it, and giving the circumstances, Angel blamed Sophia's lack of faith.

"It won't if you keep up with this attitude. Stop berating yourself and just make it work." the sonic Aberration commented at first, walking slowly towards Sophia. "If range is the issue, then you just got to move. If details are what you don't see, then focus on something else. If something is beyond your abilities, then use the others to compensate for your fallacies. That's how people with supportive abilities like us work together."

While Angel was still mad at the brunette Arbiter for the discussion they were having, there was still this part of the young woman that was looking out for her classmates. She wanted to help her friends, make them understand themselves better just as she herself tried to understand her powers. If she could manage to work together with Sophia in finding survivors, then that would be the best thing to have happened today. Deep within, she hoped Sophia would put as much effort into this as Angel was trying to cooperate despite their dispute.

"If there's anything I can do to make you see better or make this easier for you, please say so." Angel offered as she stopped just a foot away from her class' youngest Mage.

What Sophia had been expecting hadn't been what she saw now. As the world faded into shades of gray, she had expected to see through maybe one thin layer of rubble to see more rubble lying beneath. Or she had expected to see even less than that. Angélique's words were only partially paid attention to as Sophia turned her head slowly, scanning her surroundings. Oh yes... she was making it work. But instead of the elation that should have come at realizing that she could perhaps be of some use, an expression akin to horror or shock could be seen clearly on her face.

Apart from broken pieces of furniture, around her she could see so many people, their clothes showing Sophia that many were in awkward positions. And some looked flattened... which could only mean one thing.

Crushed. Twisted. Motionless. "Their clothes," she whispered to herself, hands clutching at the rubble she sat on. Once she completed the scan of all the rubble around her, she turned her strange unfocused gaze back to Angélique. Searching for where the Aberration's head should be, she shook her head slowly from side to side. Not thinking about how bad it could seem to admit that she could see plenty after insisting so much that she couldn't, Sophia spoke to Angélique in her usual quiet voice. "There're so many..."

Angel watched Sophia with keen curiosity as she witnessed Sophia’s eyes becoming unfocused, emanating a soft dim glow blending mostly to daylight. She wondered what it was like, to see through objects. It must be quite the strange experience, she figured. However, Angélique’s hardened traits slowly softened and revealed a worried expression as the raven-haired Aberration saw the face of her classmate change into one of horror.

They may have been talking sarcastically about death and desolation all around them, but Sophia was probably witnessing now the true face of death, Angel figured. That much was evident as any hint of Sophia’s previous tone faded into a quieter voice. And it was at that time that Angel realized that she may have pushed the young girl into doing something that was probably far too much for the Arbiter to see.

Meeting her unfocused stare, Angélique’s hand reached out for Sophia’s shoulder, forgetting about their argument for a moment as tried to place a comforting hand up on her shoulder. She probably shouldn’t be asking such things of a child, but right now, Sophia’s ability was the only thing that would allow them to rescue anyone caught in the rubble and quickly save them before it’s too late.

There were Zhang’s words that briefly came back to mind, reminding her that a child meant nothing at USARILN. Then there were Zoe’s on that first night, telling Green Team about growing up and becoming stronger to look for themselves.

Trying to remain resolute, Angélique’s harsh tone faded to something softer, but still focused on the task at hand. “I’m sorry if I’m asking this much out of you. But do you know if there’s anybody alive out there? Could you point them to me? I’ll try to direct the others into unearthing the survivors.”

Sophia flinched at the touch, but nodded. Anyone... was there anyone alive out there? It made it so much harder that she couldn't see their faces, or if their hands were moving. Still, if they were moving enough she might be able to tell. She started scanning the rubble once more, trying not to let the sight of so many motionless bodies get to her. Nothing, nothing, not- there. Had the leg of a pair of pants moved? Leaning forward slightly, Sophia squinted as a reflex to try and see better, though it didn't help. She was about to give up and keep looking by the time the leg moved again, though the motion was small and weak.

Lucky for the person, the rubble had fallen around them in a way that left a little breathing space around parts of their head and neck, as well as some room around one of the legs, though from what Sophia was seeing it seemed that the person probably was being crushed heavily around the middle... and in a bunch of other places. Like Angélique and I being crushed by the bookcase... except worse.

"I think... I think there's something?" Sophia looked towards Angélique, then gestured vaugely to a point around thirty feet away. "Not too far down," she muttered next, mostly to herself. "I-I'm really not sure though?" She made to get up from where she sat, keeping an eye on the person once more. "...get closer."

Angélique slightly beamed as Sophia indicated the location of a potential survivor. So she was able to make it work indeed. Things seemed to look for the better now that Sophia was actively able to find living people buried underneath. Noting the vague emplacement of the trapped survivor, Angel turned to look at the others, hoping to find someone who could help them.

“Good job. I knew you could d—“

But just as though she thought everything was starting to go well for their evacuation effort, Angel witnessed things that she feared earlier. A Regular was assaulting Emma, again. Just what was the deal with her? She clearly had the power to fight back and protect herself. Why isn’t she doing so? Why is it always her being targeted? Was her interview really beckoning Regulars to inflict pain on a now-popular X-Mark? Angel had half a mind to jump in there and scream the guy off her Aberration classmate, but her attention was soon redirected to a portion of the building collapsing on itself as a group of civilians managed to escape in-extremis.

With her mind now scattered everywhere at once, the raven-haired Mage was trying to figure out what to do now. The attack on Emma, the survivor she just found with Sophia, the collapsed part of the condo, and Marcus and Siena nowhere to be found. With a clarity of mind that Angélique haven’t had for a while ever since her Stigma was no longer addling her thoughts, Angel focused intensely on the priorities to be set, and that would require everyone’s effort.

“Kusari, Grant…” Angel called out with a magical whisper to the two Arbiters’ ear only, “…make sure no one gets attacked again. If this persists, we’re leaving.” The magical vocalist breathed, refocusing on her query, “Grant, there’s a buried-alive survivor Sophia managed to find. Pay attention for a shout coming a few dozen feet away from my location.”

A moment later, after Angélique aligned her thoughts with the position Sophia believed the trapped person was, a distressed shout could be heard from the rubble “Help! I’m trapped! Please help me!”

Hopefully that would draw the attention of anyone helping unburying survivors to care for that person. Then for her remaining queries, Angélique’s focus intensified to reach out to her last two remaining classmates.

“Siena…” a voice came to the brunette Arbiter.

“…Marcus…” the same voice manifested itself to the other Arbiter.

“…where are you guys? Are you alright?” Angel's voice reached out to both of them.

All the while Angélique was speaking, her lips moved but no voice ever came out from her speaking mouth. As she just finished with Marcus and Siena, fatigue hit the sound Mage hard, her dizziness coming back full-force and sending her stumbling backwards onto the large chunk of debris as her mind faded to black for only a second and her legs flinched. She had never felt this mentally-depleted before. Was it because she was overexcerting herself by using magic? It was strange, for her powers usually fatigued her vocal chords way before she felt this tired. Maybe it was because of the focus she had to put into the newest aspect of her power?

Nevertheless, the situation seemed to go downhill quickly, to Angélique's perspective. All she hoped was for her classmates to remain safe, and hoped her words would reach her friends.

The entire time, Grant had been on standby since the act of keeping the plow up and running apparently took a tow on him. While everyone else was doing what they could to help, he has been resting up. It wasn't until he heard Angel's disembodied voice beside him when his attention snapped to his surroundings to listen in on what she was saying. Looking around, he spotted her, giving a nod. Not long after he resigned himself once more to his recharge, another message came. He looked ahead, focusing on trying to hear the shout that Angel mentioned.

When he heard the panicked voice, his head raised and he set out toward its direction, getting his chains ready. He was still slightly fatigued, but it couldn't take up that much energy, could it? Connecting his chains to the debris, he began to crumble it down to nothing.


Grant sat up quickly, his breaths heavy and his head the usual disaster it was. That dream again. He wished it would just... stop. Wishful thinking. As he knew, all his wishes were eaten up by the position he found himself in. He sighed, his chest burning a bit. He got up just in time for the world around him explode in chaos. A siren sounded off somewhere, and he turned his head to the window. Something was happening.

It was time to move.

A soldier came into his room just in time to pull him out and into the living room with everyone else. He looked around at everyone, the tight knot in his chest long forgotten. Before the Officer could finish his orders, the earth shook. Everything shook. He barely kept his footing, his chains getting ready... Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay... Another shake. Everything began to tilt. Slowly. Slowly. Everything began to fall. Slowly. Slowly. It’s as if sound failed to keep up with what was happening. He looked up as he fell, ready to catch whatever fell. That’s what he thought. Three fellow classmates were above.

He wasn’t ready for this.

He hit the floor, hard, fast. The air knocked out of him, noise filling the air with the sound of glass shattering. But that wasn’t the main threat. One. He felt pain and blood seeping from his side. Two. His ribs creaked and everything hurt as he was pressed more against the floor. Three. ”AGH!!” He let out on instinct. He couldn’t move. Everything hurt like hell, and he couldn’t move. After a few moments, he felt he weight lighten a bit, but it was still there. His eyes wandered up, looking at just who had fell atop him. A classmate he has not yet identified and… S...Siena. He thinks. His mind swam as he recovered slowly, and as it did, the weight lessened even more.

He had to get up. He squeezed his eyes shut and his chains began to move again. They snaked up to the remaining unknown classmate on him, and they attached onto her clothes. Slowly, carefully, she slid off of him, and he took in a breath, air returning to his lungs. His hand pressed down onto the floor to push himself up, but his hand only stabbed onto a small piece of glass. ”Ow…” He let out, using his other hand on a more clear spot, pushing himself up. A somewhat sharp pain pierced his side, his hand pressing up against the cut, blood staining his hand. His gaze wandered around, looking at the chaos of the toppled living room, catching his breath.

The people around him, pinned down by many things. He caught eye of Angel, along with another, much younger, subnatural. His feet began to move, crunching on the glass, toward the bookshelf, his chains swaying behind him. They lowered and touched the bookshelf, lifting it easily from the two subnaturals. Still a little breathless, he asked, ”Are... you alright?” to the two.


Time flew by for Grant. Action deemed unecessary, rest seeming very inviting. Two full days, mostly filled with the sight and feel of a motel room and bed. The battle had been taxing on him, but he recuperated quickly, and more. The days passed quickly, and soon enough, his lethargic self was being escorted with others, through the crowd of paparazzi. Some of which were dealt with, physically. He merely kept his head down and boarded into the car. He immediately fell asleep.



A sudden stop. His eyes blinked open heavily and he looked up. Then they widened, almost in awe, realizing where he was. Washington D.C. He always did want to travel a bit... The brief glint in his eyes faded, and lidded tiredly once more. He had to remember his position and situation. Sure, it was somewhere new. But only days before, he had been marching out to possible death for the same reason he was where he is.

The door opened and Grant pulled away from his scrolling thoughts. The most amount of traveling he would do normally was through his head. It was only a fact. He let himself be once again escorted out, and into a new vehicle. A sort of limousine. He cast his eyes around at the luxury of the inside of the car, but for only that moment before he slouched back in a seat, and kept his gaze far. The onslaught of his previous thoughts made him wish the next bed would come faster.

Eventually it did. Eventually. His far mind carried him through packs of people in a lobby, an elevator, and finally, the next place he’d be spending time in. A penthouse. He blinked again, a glint returning to his eyes as he looked on at the luxury of it all. He can only hope the beds were as comfortable as the whole place was set out to be.

The reality of the situation came back as the announcement started. The soldiers, the possible danger. Everything seemed a lot less comfortable. His head hung slightly once more as he listened on. After the guards had left, he made his move immediately to the only room he felt he would be staying. A bedroom. He couldn’t wait to get away from it all.
Another upgrade mates.
Grant has received his third chain. 2 Chainz is no more.


Just as Grant was about to step forward, he felt a fist bump into his shoulder, albeit lightly. He shuffled a little to the side from it and he turned his head back to Angel, a brow raised in slight confusion, his hand on his shoulder. Despite it all, his teammate offered him a smile, sticking a thumb up in return to his words.

Surprise and confusion welled up inside him, the corners of his mouth twitching subtly into what might’ve been a small smile if it wasn’t for what occurred back with the Collector they were up against.

Some kind of... rancid, putrid smell wafted over to the two subnaturals, and Grant’s focus was pulled away from Angel, and to the Metalwork. Clothes, bodies... people. That was the extent of what was inside the enemy. The smell indescribable, yet disgusting. Arguably the most human smell he’d ever get to have the honor of smelling. Angel’s voice once again snapped him out of his thoughts. Muffled, yet still heard. There were still live people in the Metalwork.

What was to be done? At this rate, trying to destroy the monster entirely might also end up with human lives being snuffed out with it. It’s already taken, and it wasn’t right to let it take more. But what was the choice here? What could he... what could they...

“W-what should we d-“

An incomplete sentence, just stopped. He turned back to Angel, the once worried and confused tone from her gone, now to a whisper. Speaking to him, and past his selfish goals. The eye of the creature. He gave a nod to Angel and turned his focus back to the creature. As she gave an order to another person through her radio, Grant began to move. Moments later, Angel’s focused scream passed by him and at the Metalwork.

Can’t throw any earth. That’s risking the lives of the people. Chains shot down to the earth, his teeth gritted, and-



Forever and infinity swirled and snaked around the forever tired boy’s body. The ocean and sea fell from above, yet it didn’t touch him. It only spun and moved around. No contact. Until from all around, the sea of infinity circled his head. His head? He felt light. He felt like he was nothing. Like he was floating.

The sea dripped. The sea entered. A tingle and a washing feeling of infinity. It didn’t cleanse his mind... It didn’t take away... It gave. Who gave him this feeling of... more? Somehow, he felt that someone else was near... no... far. Somewhere out there. Giving such knowledge.

They were... spinning. Writhing... Spreading? Boiling. Everything. Slow. Soft.





His feet had just carried him closer toward his target, and his focus was back. Immediately, he let out a gasp, and out from behind him, a third chain shot out. With his other two, they touched the ground beside him, and faster than before, the earth slipped out, in a thinner shape, like a long cylinder. His feet still carried him closer to his target, the pressure bearable, yet still there.

He melded, manipulated the earth until it resembled a stalactite. Once his feet had carried him close to the enemy, he sent the chunk of earth forward, stabbing forward, toward the eye of the Metalwork.


The battle against the Metalworks was pretty much over for the team. The panic and chaos were no more. Grant took the free chance of catching his breath, brushing his hair away from his face as best he could. He took a good look around at his surroundings, before a subnatural, fortunately friendly, walked over to them, giving short and simple sentences. Grant gave another glance nearby to the Metalwork mentioned by him. Didn’t seem too difficult to deal with.

Grant looked back over to his teammates that still remained. Angel.. and Siena, the former deciding how the remaining subnaturals were going to go about this. Frankly, he would’ve liked to get some rest at the drop off, but... two of his teammates out of four had already left. There was no harm in sticking around with them. He blinked away from his thoughts when Angel had just asked him a question, regarding his phone. He gave a brief nod and let her use to contact the others, and she gave the phone back right after, which he put back where it belonged.

After the brief break, Hazel leaving, and Siena teleporting away, it was him and Angel left to deal with the Metalwork that was previously pointed out to them. He stepped with her to it, letting her get the first attack in, her screams ringing toward it. He was about to ready an attack before he heard Angel’s cough. He blinked and looked over at her. It seemed like her screams were getting to her. He kept an eye on the Metalwork, just in case her screams weren’t enough, his chains near to the earth. He brought a hand up and gave a pat to her back. ”...We’re almost done.” He’d tell her, his words meant to be at least a bit encouraging, his chains connecting with the ground as he looked on at the Collector.
/Grant Rotem\




Gulping down some more dryness, Grant pried open his eyes, looking up at the remaining enemies. Luckily, it seems as if some of the Arachnid Metalworks had been dealt with. Unluckily, it wasn’t all of them. Breath in, breath out, Grant’s legs brought him backwards, almost a stumble as he struggled to keep his footing at the ground shook. He had to get his head on straight.

Shaking his head to clear the daze and exhaustion, he let out another breath and examined his surroundings. If the dust from earlier wasn’t enough, here was even more dust covering the area. Coughing and squinting his eyes, he tried to focus. What was going on around him? The spiders, they were...

“H-Help! Get this thing out of my face!”

”Oh shit.” Came from Grant’s mouth, as well as a couple of coughs to clear the dust away. The spider’s net, or probably more accurately, web was now pulling against his teammate’s... Angel’s face, and from her reaction, it wasn’t harmless. Grant’s squinted eyes darted from Angel to the Metalworks that were responsible for the net. Scenarios and plans went through his mind, yet there was no time to think about it too much. Just act.

Grant quickly darted his chains to the net that was right now cutting into Angel’s face, and before it could get any worse or deeper, he made contact with it. His brows narrowed as when he tried to pull the net back, he was only met with pressure... resistance. He could only pry it so much from her face, but there had to be another solution. At this rate, he’ll only just end up collapsing without being able to help.

Think, think, plan, plan. His eyes narrowed with his brows before he focused. The net, against Angel’s face, began to thicken, losing its sharp and cutting capabilities, and quickly after it wasn’t a threat to her face, the chains did their work. Splitting the net into two, letting the force of the Spider’s pull slide it away from Angel’s face. After the net halves left her face, he forced them down onto the ground. Focus, focus... that he did, making the net and the ground merge into one, disabling it.

He took in a breath after realizing he had been holding it, and out of instinct he let his voice out. ”Deal with those remaining spiders!!” He’d order out in a shout through the dust.
/Grant Rotem\




Surrounded, all around his team. Wiping a bit of dirt from his face, Grant gulped down the lump in his throat, almost feeling dry. Discomfort. From this situation, and from the enemies closing in. His teammate’s shout and rage, the desperation. He shook his head, his teammates continuing their detached attacks on the surrounding Metalworks.

Random shouting, minions attacking, a sweeping attack from the emotionless girl. How was he supposed to get an attack in without getting in the way of any of this? It was almost frustrating. The fact how the whole team was acting as a mess. He was looking for an opening among the group of attacks. Waiting…

And he eventually figured, waiting for Hazel’s attack to end would be preferable. Once it had, he’d step toward the Arachnid Metalworks that were still standing, away from the other attacks, hoping, and he dug his chains back into the ground, but instead closer to the enemies. Wider apart from each other. Deep breath. He started to pull a wide wall up from the earth. Pressure pushing down on him, harder than his usual projectile pull. Grunts and struggling noises came from his clenched teeth, his brows tensing toward one another. Raising the earth as much as he could, and before he could get too carried away, he let the raised earth tilt forward.

Relief flooded through his senses as his chains released the earth, letting it fall and crash down on the ensuing Arachnid Metalworks like a wave. Grant stopped himself from just giving out and collapsing, planting his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath, his eyes clenched shut.
/Grant Rotem\




”Oops.” Was what came out of Grant’s mouth when he witnessed his chunk knock one of Emma’s minion things away from the Metalwork it was coming toward. No time to dwell, only time to push on.

More of the Metalworks had begun to advance on the group of students, and the line still had to be held... Deep breaths and focus, he told himself over and over. Just as his chains had begun to lower back down to the earth once again, his eyes narrowed up at the Metalwork spiders that had just launched themselves from behind their charging allies. ”What the…” The second thing for Grant to notice was the net being lead by said spiders.

Before Grant could do anything to act against the strange attack, his feet parted from the ground, and then his body met with it again in impact and sliding. A grunt and confusion came after, his mind putting together what had just happened. His teammate had just swatted him away from the area of danger, at least as much as they could. No, he had to get up. He looked around again. He needed to focus on the approaching horde again. Pushing himself up and shaking the daze away, he heard Emma’s commands to her minions. Taking notes in his mind, he lowering his chains to the ground. Steer clear of Hazel, aim for Metalworks still untouched.

He waited for Emma’s minions to follow her commands at first before he pulled up a chunk once more. Being sure to not hit Hazel, he let loose another chunk, as he has been doing for most of the fight so far, but if it works, then there’s no reason to stop. At least not yet. He had a feeling that he needed to do more, and these Metalworks were getting close. Too close for comfort.
/Grant Rotem\




Grant nodded to himself as he dealt with some of the charging Metalwork canines, and he let out a breath, wiping the sweat from his brow. He was already getting a bit tired and disoriented from the two projectile attacks he had set loose. He shook his head to clear it and took a deep breath. Fog and dust, kicked up from amidst the battle was obscuring his view from the rest of the Metalworks, squinting and peering to no avail.

“Offensive Support, listen up. Five are charging in from the distance, forwards through the smokescreen. Someone needs to drag Hazel out or clear away the dust.”

The familiar voice cut through Grant’s attempt at looking through the dust. His phone spat out Brent’s words, informing him of the assumed charging Metalworks from beyond the smoke. Not only that, another, unfamiliar voice, was spat out from it.

A subnatural in the area. Might be more.

Gulping down a lump in his throat, he took a look around at his surroundings, noticing Hazel raising from the smoke, his teammates around him. He had to focus back on the battle at hand. Grant finally turned his attention forward, to the dust cloud and he tore more earth from the ground. Pressure and stress filled his body, his knees almost felt like they were going to buckle and just give out from underneath him. Like the two times from before, he decided to take a chance, launching the chunk in and through the smoke, hoping that he’d hit a Metalwork, even if he wouldn’t see it.
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