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Three Days Later




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

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

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

Nothing crazy,bullshit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Shit."


Preston felt the cold slither of day-old lo mein noodles as they slid down his throat. Despite his chewing the only audible noise from his apartment was a surround sound display.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Timothy Ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The portable air conditioner was much easier to manage.

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

Meanwhile, the bustling of tourists and locals permeating the streets of Oceano Beach clashed with the deafening sounds of contemporary Top 40s hits that blared from the windows of the cars clogging the congested streets. Fuck tourists and fuck the beach too. Luckily for Preston Arroyo neither the sounds of bicycle clicks or annoying chatter from Arlight locals shopping around the pier could be heard over the swelling of something much better than any Top 40 record.



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



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

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

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

Sighing to himself he found himself quickly reaching for the remote that laid face down on the couch. Just another lonely night in Oceano, it seemed.
@EkretureAlrighty, I can work with that :)
I wasn't sure if powers were a genetic mutation in this world or not, and otherwise I don't really have any idea lol. When it comes to an actual character sheet sure that'd be awesome! I guess my character would probably have at least a limited knowledge of criminal organizations and seedier parts of the city.
@Ekreture
Yeah that makes sense. The idea I was thinking about was a hit-man/mercenary type character that has the ability to shape shift, but it takes quite a few days for the character to modify their body and copy the appearance of said target. Essentially he'd have targets, and would spend quite a bit of time studying them (psychologically, socially, appearance, mannerisms, etc.) then the process of shifting would be quite intricate (wrapping self in bandages, laying in a tub of ice for days, etc.).

The character would be a self-aware narcissistic and depressed person which would typically manifest itself in morbid deprecation and a bit of self-loathing. They know they aren't exactly playing by the right kind of rules, and it bothers them, but they are also vain and numbed to societal expectations.

Probably more info than was needed, but just the idea I was formulating. Not sure if that fits with your vision or not :P
Interested! What kinds of powers are we working with in terms of scale? Are they somewhat close to humans or is there a huge disparity? Also, how do these powers manifest typically in the world?
Barris, surprised by Talis’ information that the Viceroy was murdered, and taking a look at the various individuals in the room with him, was also perplexed that this was the job he was being asked to do. He doubted this was the case, unless the Talons had some prophets in their business, or were tipped off, he doubted they planned for the Viceroy to die and then for them to arrive at the right time to then investigate it.

Lucilia stroked her chin as a man with a beard would if he were in deep thought, wondering what exactly would be the best course of action in this situation. ”It would seem we have many things to investigate. Too many things for a single group of people. We’ll need to split up to cover more ground,” the noblewoman commented turning her head to the window before letting out a sigh. Splitting up was never a good idea, though perhaps she simply read too many books, not that mystery was a genre she cared much about.

The armored woman rose from her seat and looked over the group, "I will investigate the office, the last known location of when Caldwin and Cadby were together.” She turned and began walking towards the door, flourishing her cape as she had turned from the group. ”Anyone who wishes to accompany me may do so."

Pardon the interjection my sweet lady, but you’d likely be best placed on a different duty.” Raux hadn’t taken the time to sat down. She rubbed at her neck with one hand, and even made a small gesture as if she was tugging on a collar. In the other, she held a mug of coffee. Perhaps not the best, but it did help relieve some of the stress. “You’re quite a loud person! Too loud in fact! With an ego of such magnitude to choke a dragon should they take a bite! You’ll not go unnoticed, sweetheart. Likely, with the lack of subtlety you’ll scare away our dear special interest." The brith took a long slurp from her tankard and placed it on a nearby table. "Mmm yesss yes, you’ll better be of service with a minstrel by your side. Perhaps looking for something else that can forward our cause.

Noticing an exchange of glares between the motley crew Talis was quick to intrude. “Before any of you lot go off on your lonesome you’re gonna need this if you want anyone to give you information.” From her satchel Talis pulled out a small pouch. Pulling on the strings of the pouch with one hand the small container danced lazily in the palm of her other. Upon opening the bag the elf retrieved five leather badges. An emblem, taking shape of a golden sparrow, was emblazoned on its front. “These will get you access to a good amount of places in the city, but it might also make others wary of ye. Everyone loves to talk about things they hardly understand.” Talis eyed the group who all seemed to get on as well Orcs and magic. That is to say, not at all. The city elf threw one of the badges towards Lucilia, and placed the rest on the bar beside her. “Just don’t go mucking everythin’ up.

Lucilia caught the badge and gave it a glare before she walked towards the exit of inn. In step with her associate Raux looked down to the Badges with a raised brow and took one for herself. “Right, cuz hoppin and flashin out association with a guild known for some shady practices is within our best interest of longevity and consequences.” The cat sighed as she slipped the badge into a pocket in her coat.

Barris was stupefied still when the Lady Wolfram just walked up and presumed to start walking on to business like it was next logical thing to do. Then again, he was also the one to have not met the others, he supposed, but even also assumed it was the Lady’s arrogant attitude again. He scratched his head and poured over the options in his head. He decided to get the easy move out of the way first.

Well you can count me out for that one, your Ladyship. I wager the killer’s not there, and I already got my fill of stuffed shirts when I was younger, no need for me in the dearly departed Viceroy’s offices.

As if to be contrarian Lucilia ignored the concerns of her allies. Having made up her mind it seemed impossible to stop her. She swiftly pushed out of the tavern giving not a word more on the matter. Barris raised his eyebrows at the Lady’s behaviour, but the Dwarf said nothing and just threw his hands up to lay them back on the table he sat by in exasperation.

Raux brushed off Lucilia's coldness. She looked to Barris with pursed lips. “Oh honey, oh baby! I am a minstrel! I could tell you tales straight up to your death bed if you dare bring such a curse upon yourself!

Meanwhile, Falk eyed the bearded dwarf with a look of surprise. His offhand comments suggested noble, roots, though the dwarf didn’t strike the hunter as one with royal blood. Save for the case of Lady Wolfram, most nobles didn’t go gallivanting about in the service of strange companies; even her reasons were likely dubious. Falk couldn’t help but scoff at the cat’s remark however. The bard’s appearance alone was louder than the clocktower ringing midnight, and the same applied to her boisterous voice. Lady Wolfram certainly had a commanding presence, but in Falk’s experience, this was expected of nobles. Commoners like herself, bard or not, would be walking into a lion’s den as a particularly loud fawn should she try and waltz into the viceroy’s office. After receiving their badges, Wolfram stormed out altogether, leaving the rest still in their seats. Not wanting to be the last one loafing about, Falk took action and said, “I’m going to have a word with the embalmer. You, beardless dwarf. Follow me,” the hunter pointed a gloved hand to Gadria and stood up and strode off, giving a wave without turning back to his companions. The city’s guild was filled with strange wizards and mages, so Falk wouldn’t have too hard of a time blending in, but the company was welcome.

Aria had, as Falk had been doing, been sitting back and observing rather than trying to inject herself into the conversation. The domineering and clashing personalities of the stuck up Lady and the fearless alley cat made this exceptionally easy. She’d even managed to wander off to get a drink unnoticed while the two bickered/flirted and had been casually sipping at a weak cider (she didn’t trust city water) when the masked figure lurched to life and decided she was coming with him to look at a dead body. On the one hand it was very rude, on the other he pushed all of the right buttons to get her curiosity piqued. Feigning disinterest, partially because it was the opposite of what she was really feeling and partially because it was in Gadria’s MO, she responded to Falk with a simple:

“Eh, sure, why not”

Aria casually put down her mug, grabbed one of the badges and wandered out after Falk into the street beyond. She gave a casual wave back at the cat, elf and real dwarf as she left

“catch you all later”

Barris, who had been smirking as he listened to Raux, looked over at Falk and Aria leaving almost as briskly as the Lady, albeit not as impolitely. He gave a mock wave behind them as they went out.

Yea, nice to know yea too, guys. Gods . . ."
There was a pause, Raux’s eyes shifted between the others as they got up to leave, with a sigh she slipped out of her chair and hitched both her longsword and gurdy to her waist before following them. “Though I got an idea. No fact is more straightforward than hearing it straight from the victims themselves.



Lucilia was well on her way towards the Viceroy Estate. While it was still quite early in the day the fogs that lightly draped the morning streets seemed to give way. In the distance it seemed that many of the citizens were already back to work. Noticing this she sought out the pair patrolling guards stationed near the tavern. ”I need you to find a boy named Edwin Myer, he has a pot belly, brown eyes and brown hair. Bring him to the Viceroy’s office should you find him.”

The guards exchanged looks with one another for a moment. For an Earl's daughter without jurisdiction here Lucilia seemed intent on routinely barking out orders. Even still they knew better than to question a noble, and especially one that bore the wolf sigil upon their shield. "Yes, m'Lady," one of the guards spoke up. She needed nothing more for with that she was off to the office. Their names didn't matter nor their previous instructions. She wanted nothing more than find Caldwin or any evidence that pointed her on the right track, and what she wanted was all that mattered. Especially at a time as dire as this.

Back a ways towards the tavern, Falk and Aria found themselves readying to leave for the Academy of Mages.

Raux, was in pursuit. Slowly thinking to herself, the Brithian quickly rushed up to Falk’s side and gave him a tug on the shoulder. “Listen. That fiasco last night got me worried about our dear lordling. The foolish girl is likely gonna get herself in a situation that gets her killed. This might sound like an odd request, but think you can find someone at the mages guild with a ‘talent’ for speaking with the dead? Only way we’re gonna speed things up here.

Falk had almost made his way out the tavern when the Brithian caught up. He quickly jerked away from her touch and spun around to face her, his posture less than friendly. The hunter relaxed after a moment though and heard what she had to say. The academy doesn’t look too favorably on necromancy, but I’m sure I could find some snot-nosed student who dabbles in it, he replied. “Good luck.” With that, Falk and Aria left the near-empty tavern as they parted ways with the brith who seemed determined to catch up with Lucilia.



. . . The only one left in the tavern besides Talis, Barris just watched Raux go last and chuckled while shaking his head, before standing up himself and grabbing his badge, he nodded to the elf.

Nice crew we got here. Consider me on the case of that guard.

Talis was trying her best to conceal her laughter as she leaned on the edge of the bar the shape of a small but sturdy dwarf brushing past her in mild annoyance. Mikael was typically quite diligent with selection his agents, but this crew of "heroes" seemed likely to murder each other before ever finding the murderer of the dear Viceroy. She looked to Mira who gave her a weak shrug in defeat.

The dwarf walked back upstairs towards his room, muttering to himself.

Fuck this, I’m not going running asking about a murder with two pistols and my nightclothes on. Nobody wants to know each other? Fine, but Stone Mother damn me if I’m rushing to potential danger in my linen and not even half a brace.” . . .

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