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I'm an old man, and I'm tired.

So very, very tired...

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A child playing with a toy car on the carpet.

"Pack your gear, kiddo. We up sticks in five to ten minutes."


A middle primary boy is working on mathematics. He hears a tapping. He looks up, and then turns and looks out the window.

"Pack your gear, kiddo. Up sticks in five to ten." The man whispers hoarsely from outside.


An older boy eats his lunch out in a school playground.

"Pack it up, kiddo. We up sticks in five to ten."


A young high schooler is hammering down the final pegs to hold down the ropes to the outer rain-cover on a tent. The sun is rapidly sinking into the horizon, casting the sky a rich red. A well dressed man approaches from that horizon.

"You have got to be fucking joking!"

"Sorry kiddo, pack your shit. I've already got your foot locker
from the campus in the car. We-- hey, literally this time--"
The man
said, pointing at the tent. "--Up sticks in five to ten."

"This isn't even my fucking tent! It's the school's! And it's shared!" He called back to the man who had already walked off in the direction of the group and the designated faculty member to inform them he'd be removing the child.

"Even better. Won't take you as long to pack your shit..." The Butler dryly said back over his shoulder.

"Not speaking to me, huh?"

Sullen silence radiated as the boy threw his pack in the back seat, before climbing in the front with the sourest of demeanours.

"I get it. It sucks. You know it's not exactly how I want to be living my life either, you know that right?"

More silent venom infected the atmosphere.

"Alright, tell you what. If you talk to me, you can pick what's on the radio."

"Gee thanks. We're miles from fucking anywhere. It's AM only out here." Banjo closed his eyes and clenched his fist in a wince, immediately regretted his reply.

"Heeeeey! There he is!" The Butler ruffled his hair roughly. "And for what it's worth. We're about to come up to Ararat in five or ten minutes, so there should be transmission. If we're lucky it should hold all the way to the next, which is some way off, so the gesture's not f'r nothing, y'know."

Banjo withdrew bitterly, still pissed that he cracked so easily.

"Ahhh cheer up, Bug-a-lugs. It may never happen." The older man said as he flicked the radio over to the FM band. Already faint transmission was coming in. "Wha'd I say, eh?"

The boy started adjusting the radio frequency, looking to find something strong enough for the radio to take a hold of.

It suddenly clicked into some 80s rock band.

"Heeeey! The Church! A classic! Looks like you're a natural, kid.

" # --it leads you here! Despite your destination... Under the Milky Way tonight. # "

The boy looked at the older man, singing along off key, but spiritedly. He stuck his tongue deep in his cheek, deeply in contemplation.

" # --Wish I knew what-- # What..? Aww, c'mon maaaate, don't be that prick!"

The boy twisted the dial and jumped the frequency forward, as the older man took one hand off the wheel to suddenly reach for it, but it was already gone.

"Oh you little bastard!"

Already the frequency had found a new destination, this time replacing The Church with literal church music. Some regional choir or other belting out a hymnal over the airwaves.

The older man looked at the younger.

"You can't really be telling me you're enjoying this more."

The younger looked back at the older, then started to bob his head out of rhythm to the music, as if dancing to chords that couldn't be heard.

"You'd really go mutual destruction over this..?" He looked at him again and saw the grin of utter determination creasing the younger one's face. "Of course you bloody would. Maaaate, c'mon now!" He said, once again extending a 'mate' over multiple syllables.

"Where are we going this time?"

The older man considered whether he should tell him. Why not? They were going there anyway, he'd find out soon enough.

"This time? Scotch College. In Melbourne."

"Why do we keep doing this?"

"Mate, you know I can't tell you that. If I could, I would have by now."

The younger didn't want to hear it. He turned away and looked out the window, at the brown sunburnt grass, and odd eucalypt whizzing past, as the car kept it's hundred plus kilometre pace tearing down the Western Highway. The Western Highway which a bunch of dickheads in suits had long tried to convince people they should be calling the A8, in an endeavour to knock all soul and spirit out of everything by reducing all highways and freeways in the country to a letter-number code. As they whizzed onwards Banjo could see some farmer was burning off the front paddock on his property, getting ready for a hot summer.

"There'll be a time I can tell you, and believe me, on that day, I'll spill my guts and come clean with you about a lot. And happily, mind you. Be a Hell of a relief off MY back, I can tell you. But for now, I can't. You've just gotta trust me on that."

"Now can you change the bloody station, I feel like I just broke under enhanced interrogation. Five more minutes and you should pass the bloody threshold for being reported to the Hague!"

The boy jumped the frequency forward again, until it settled on an older station playing music from the 60s and 70s. He was about to jump it forwards again when...

"What have you got, magic bloody Aussie pub jukebox fingers or something?! I was wrong before, you're not a natural. You're super-bloody-natural!" As the older man started slapping the steering wheel to the song.

He let it play.

Location: Pacific Royal Collegiate & University - Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean
The Homecoming Trials: # 1.30 Up Sticks In Five to Ten

Interaction(s): Cassander - @Lord Wraith, Luce - @Roman, Calliope - @PatientBean
Previously: Dickheads, Defectives and the Dilettante Dernier cri

Banjo had somehow managed to have snuck in unseen through the back entrance of the Intake House. He raced into his room and threw the rest of his P.E. uniform on over his speedos. He'd thank God for small miracles except what he could hear made it clear it was no miracle at all. Commotion from the front of the house. Little wonder he could sneak back in through the back unnoticed. They were all waiting for their rides to the Plateau out the front and it sounded like they were boarding now!

He scrambled out of the intake house, before catching himself, doing a tidy pirouette to re-balance himself, and slowing his pace to a walk.

"--noficially he's still as much a member of Blackjack as any of y'all."

Oh, he threw a y'all in there. How charmingly folksy. Hasn't hit his quota yet. But Banjo uncharactheristically kept this thought to himself, holding 'the Butler's' message about this situation being more permanent still in his mind and not doubling down on putting a target on his back for being late.

He quietly snuck in behind Blonde Sparky McGee and some blonde bird whose name escapes him because he didn't previously give a shit when people were doing initial introductions. Banjo was pretty sure the other guy's name wasn't Blonde Sparky McGee either, he was pretty sure that would have actually stuck if it was the case.
"Who's that guy?" He whispered to him.

No response. Is he hard of hearing too? Maybe the side effect of his powers. Chronic tinnitus. Made a sort of sense. He'd whisper louder.
"Who's that guy?"
"Shut. Up."

Well, that was less than polite... He was only asking a straightforward question.
"Who's that guy?"

Sparky McGee's teeth gritted so hard his face might spark up if his hands wouldn't first. To his right, Banjo could see one of his hands glowing. Geez, is this bloke really this tightly wound?
"Should have been here on time." he spat in a hushed tone through gritted teeth.

Banjo looked at him screwfaced. "The Hell'd I do to this guy?" He racked his brain. And whilst he did he wasn't ready for the answer to his question to come from the blonde bird next to him.


Banjo snorted. Loudly. And couldn't keep the laughter off his face after either. Tears welled in the corners of his eyes.

Big Country with his "Y'all"s glared at Banjo menacingly.

"Look what the Chancellor dragged in."

"And who's this Highway Patrol reject, while we're at it?" Which to Banjo's surprise he managed to keep to internal monologue.

"Team, this mountain of a man is Aaron Matthews, the faculty representative for your fellow new students of Team 18.”

And then a redhead alighted from one of the two vehicles. Presumably from one of the vehicles, because he couldn't see Aphrodite's clamshell anywhere. "Good Lord, do they not let in anything under an 'eight' here." He thought to himself.

Then he looked down the line at Trace. "Well... maybe they grade 'em a 'one' for each arm." Tuck that little comeback away for later... Let's face it, there will be a later.

“And this spitfire here, is Team 18’s student advisor, Ryan Clarke,” Introduced Good ol' Jim-Bob, minus the Bob. ...Regardless how well the Bob fits.

“These ones have the look of winners,” The Redheaded Ryan pronounced, declaring her opinion that Abercrombie and Fitch models are "winners".

“Yours, eh, I wouldn’t go all in just yet, Jim.”

Wait, Abercrombie and Fitch..? Banjo looked down their own line at the two "football friends" from earlier, Sparky McGee... he wasn't exactly chopped liver himself. Calliope looked like she belonged either on a catwalk somewhere or on the business end of a camera - TV or film, take your pick...

He chuckled to himself in realisation that this transparent display was just meant to spark competition...

...until he looked down the line and saw that those same "football friends" had taken that hook, the sinker, the float, the rod and half the damn boat. Goddamn. Were they REALLY this easy to manipulate?

Then she ruffled. Heh. Tad. --'s hair. “So cute.” she uttered in a demeaning way.

"No, little Banjo. She's bad for you. Stop it. You should not want that."

"Exactly, you should not. But you do. Because you are broken. And therefore clearly in need of 'Guidance'."

"No little Banjo. Bad little Banjo. You go away and think about this-- Wait, no... Don't you think about this later. I'm onto you, little Banjo..."

Ok... So yes. They really were that easy to manipulate.

“All students assigned to Team 18, you’re in the vehicle marked with an Eclipse, anyone not assigned to Team 18 can find their ride 'cause you’re not with me.” The 'super trooper' called them to fall in, and a bunch of equally hapless youths to Banjo's Blackjack Bunch bundled into their own buses and buggered off. Apparently taking their furry friend to go get flead, de-wormed and his claws clipped.

A bunch more artificial jibes, transparently designed to drum up competition, and it was their turn to get in their six wheelers and head off to the next pre-planned act of lunacy.

Banjo jumped in the back of Jim-Bob's truck before the seats were even taken - Just as he could only be a Jim-Bob (-Bob pending), the fact he WAS a Jim-Bob made it a truck. A Jim-Bob could only drive a truck - and everyone else piled in where they could. Soon enough they were off!

Banjo was bouncing around in the back, laughing his arse off at the stereotypical nature of their tour guide, his drawl, his choice of phrase and general mannerisms. Oblivious to the occasional side-eye and quizzical expression from the others his obnoxious cackling was bringing. Every aspect of this place was seemingly ridiculous to him, and his laughter even occasionally spilled into the cabin and into the background of Jim's commentary over the radio.

Until they hit the artificial cliff faces of the Southern Plateau known as the Howling Cliffs, where ironically Banjo's howls of laughter fell silent. Not because it wasn't still ridiculous to him, but rather because it was too far all over again. Back home if a Hyperhuman deigned to grace the public with such an aweinspiring display of power they'd be stuffed in a white room and stripped for parts. Probably. Banjo was never game to find out. Every time he'd used his own he'd made sure to do it in absolute privacy. And they'd always been on the run. Presumably because they'd get found out somehow and have to scarper. Purely speculation, but it made as much sense as anything.

Now he saw an entire hyperhuman-made landscape that factored in nature's acoustics in its design. It beggared belief.

Jim-Bob's truck and *Snort* Tad's car, pulled up and everyone jumped out.

Jim-Bob called to order the first business at hand. Setting up camp. Two people to a tent. No exceptions. Which didn't seem promising. Banjo thought he might be hard up to find someone who didn't seem vaguely bothered by his presence in one way or another. Maybe if he got in quick with one of the "football friends", those two seemed incredibly eager to know anybody. Nah. That's a bit dickish. Those two actually seem to get on, I'll just grab a tent, get to work and let some straggler come to me. That seemed-- "Hup... I'm getting glared at. What did I do now? Oh. Jim-Bob must have heard me laughing in the back on the way over here. I wasn't THAT loud on the way over here, was I?"

He was. Other campsites had turned to see what the commotion was at their arrival. From quite some distance away as well...

“In any capacity, while you lot do that, Tad here will get the fire going and rassle us up some grub, If ya don’t eat meat, now’s your time to speak up and Tad will get you the proper vittles, otherwise, I think we have something y’all are going to enjoy.” He Lifted his hat and smoothed his hair back before replacing the Stetson atop his head, because of course he did.

The "rassle" got another snort, and he couldn't hold back a chuckle anymore when the "vittles" sprang forth. He felt the eyes hold on him for a fraction of a beat, as they swept across all in attendance. Banjo took a deep breath and made a brief note of what was required, just to distract himself and recover his form.

"So, just... tent. Food's taken care of. Set a tent up and you're golden. Simple. Piece a piss."

“This year’s homecoming trial is centred around the massive hedge maze you see growing over yonder. Startin’ tomorrow, we’ll be sending you into the hedge and as a team, you’ll need to work together to navigate it, while also overcoming anything you encounter inside. While I can’t get into specifics with y’all, I can forewarn you that these obstacles can be anything as simple as a riddle to a trap riddle corridor to even a physical confrontation.”

"Ah shit."

Banjo actually had a legitimate question for the matter at hand. But he could tell he'd made the man not particularly receptive to giving him an answer or... well, anything at this point. He doubted Jim-Bob would piss on him if he fell in the campfire at this point, that'd go double for Trace, and for some reason that blonde Sparky McGee kid who seemed to have his own issues with him for some reason.

Ehh... plenty of time. It's not until tomorrow. Maybe he could ferret it out of someone else, or somewhere else.

He was struggling to understand how the whole thing worked. It seemed to be at cross-purposes. They were... supposedly somehow competing with other teams... but the ultimate purpose seemed to be to divide the team into set 'houses' based on how they handled themselves. But in some way that wasn't directly related to overall aptitude. But it was a tough thing to ask even if he hadn't already pissed anyone off. This place seemed 'hyper' with the school spirit and just pointing out that it seemed cross-purposes could probably come across as if he was slagging it off. And asked from him? Only moreso. Like, was this even a thing that a set team 'won' or was it one of those 'how the game's played' things?

Then came the real horror story...

“For tonight though, y’all should try and bond as a team. Throw the old pigskin around, sing kumbaya, play truth or dare, I don’t really care so long as you actually learn about one another. Another good idea, go over your Hyper Abilities, learn your deck before you play it. Now’s the time to reveal any hidden talents.”

Team bonding and socialisation activities. Normally he wouldn't give a shit, but since his little chat with The Butler it had underlined the fact that he was going to be stuck with these people. For some time. And he hadn't exactly put up a good batting display so far. A dicey fifteen or twenty runs whilst being dropped a couple times at best. He had this horrible foreign sensation others called 'anxiety', which he was completely unfamiliar with because he usually just neglected to give a pinch of shit. He began to resent the Butler for telling him, before deciding to deal with his problems the healthy way he usually did.

By forgetting them entirely and distracting himself with something else.

He strode towards the tents with a single minded determination, before being intercepted.

"Hey, name's Calliope. I don't suppose you would be up to sharing a tent tonight?"

"Yup. Sure. All good. Just grabbing one now, if you want to find us a spot to ere-- put the thing up." He grabbed a tent and followed the slender blonde girl... to wherever on earth she planned on going, honestly.




"Hey, little Banjo--?"

"Look, just... Don't-- talk to me for a little while, mate... Just let me make sure this is all reality..."

Once Calliope had come to a stop, he swung the tent down off his back and proferred a suggestion.

"So how'd you come to this Looney Tunes Funland? Tell me 'bout yourself and I'll set this thing up. Had to do it enough back home. And it's always easier going with a distraction, where I'm not thinking too hard about the work at hand. Oh... ah... 'Banjo' if it wasn't already known." He popped his head up over the tent bag and turned to give her a grin, when it finally dawned on him to give his name in case she hadn't heard it.

"Also, truth be told, if we go through some of that here and now, we won't have to figure it all out in the 'team bonding' session they seem to have planned. Not... *huff* exactly looking forward to that." As he hauled the groundsheet and poles out of the bag.

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Working on one now.
I found PRCU's official theme, take a listen…

Just thought I'd chime in and say everything's been fantastic so far, and I've thoroughly enjoyed everything that's come.
“So cool,” A mocking voice called out in retaliation to Banjo's comment making Cass' head spin as he tried to locate the nearby voice.

“Look everyone, at the cool boy challenging the system. He’s so edgy. No one’s evah thought to do that before!”

Suddenly Cass wished he had been able to ignore the voice as his eyes located the source. While Trace wasn't the least human-appearing Hyperhuman that Cassander had come across on campus, they were the ones he saw most often and their inhuman eyes and borderline transparent hair still gave him pause. Cassander was often guilty of wondering what Trace had looked like before their Hype-Gene exploded. Most of them got off 'lucky', at least in a manner of speaking. Hyperhumans were often attractive, retaining their youth longer if the faculty were anything to go off of. But cases like Trace were what propaganda makers focused on, branding them all inhuman monsters.

Following suit with the rest of the student body, Cass stood from his seat. Taking a second to brush himself off, more out of habit than actual necessity. The campus grounds were kept nearly immaculate, though the older teen would be lying if he said he hadn't put together that the students themselves were the ones doing the bulk of the menial labour. His eyes wandered back towards the center of the stadium, starting towards the woman who had introduced Jonas and the man himself whom she was talking to.

Cass' eyes were suddenly pulled across the bleachers as he watched a blonde amazon make a beeline for a familiar face he knew to be Haleigh Crawford. The wheelchair-bound girl had been assigned with him to aid in the mess hall and the two had spent more hours familiarizing themselves with various produce than either had anticipated coming to a school for 'gifted' youngsters. That said, barely a word had been spoken between them, but as low of a bar as it was, Haleigh was still the closest thing Cassander had to a friend on campus.

All the more reason Cassander's protective instincts kicked in when he realized that the amazon wasn't simply moving towards Haleigh out of the same familiarity, but because something was wrong. Cass had already planned on offering Haleigh a hand with her wheelchair, though the girl now kneeling beside the other teen definitely had him 'outgunned'.

Jumping over several rows of seats in front of him, Cassander tried to close the gap to get to Haleigh before being suddenly halted in his tracks. The sight of the familiar spade emblem on the amazon's bicep made Cassander realize that the blonde bombshell was more of an ally than he originally realized and that perhaps, he didn't need to play hero today. Awkwardly stopping, he hoped no one had seen his saviour complex override his common sense. Taking one last look to ensure, Haleigh was in good hands, he felt his cheeks burn for a second as his gaze lingered too long on the teen knelt beside his kitchen buddy.

“Fuckin’ wanker.”

Cass's attention was quickly brought back to his surroundings as he heard Trace continue to complain about Banjo before being caught in the wave of students moving toward the exit. He briefly locked eyes with Banjo who looked like he was about to respond to Trace before Cass allowed himself a half smile and responded.

"Hey, they may have said it. But we were all thinking it." He raised his hands dismissively, cobalt-coloured energy accidentally crackling through his fingers betraying Cass' manufactured calm demeanour. He was a little on edge and not just because of the situation moments ago with Haleigh, or the slight confrontation just now with Banjo, but because he had no idea what 'Trials' they were about to experience.

He tilted his head at Cassander. Trying to end a fight, before it starts...

Not bloody likely.

A wide smirk spread across Banjo's face, directed at the blonde youth. As if to say 'Get a load of this.' He turned back to the British girl of pale complexion, and called out.
"What's that?! There's too many people! You have to speak up!"

And with that he cupped his hands over his mouth as if miming a loudspeaker, then added a second set of hands over and beyond the invisible first pair. Then a third set. Before rotating his hands at the wrists and throwing Trace the double birds, with a big shit-eating grin across his face.

The crowd started to thin as they left the confines of the stadium. And with it he drifted slowly back into the group, if only to double down on the way he'd left the sheila from the armed forces if she attempted any other form of comeback.

But her ire was pre-occupied with a more egregious insult on her person. Namely Americans were referring to soccer as 'soccer'.

He was about to lean in and triple down with some of his own thoughts on soccer, when he picked up a complete absense of irony. They weren't doing it to get her goat at all.

And then the whole thing became dangerously close to starting some kind of social arrangement.

So Banjo backed up quietly and got the Hell out of there.

Location: Pacific Royal Collegiate & University - Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean
The Homecoming Trials: # 1.13 Dickheads, Defectives and the Dilettante Dernier cri

Interaction(s): @psych0pomp
Previously: You haven't done this before, right? To me, I mean?

Banjo ran down the back path to the Southern Plateau laughing his arse off. He didn't care if nobody else would find it funny. He was going to take the opportunity to take the piss out of their little ceremony, and was imagining the facade on that four-eyed Chancellor Lehrer cracking like a cheap mirror.

The laughter cut short as he was stopped in his tracks by a familiar face.

One of the few faces he knew which COULD count as familiar.

The man who'd brought him here, and had been the middle man between Banjo and every single boarding school and care facility he'd ever attended. The man he referred to as The Butler, since he'd never been provided with a name.

"Hullo there, what's this joker up to?"

"Fancy seeing you here. In a chair which doesn't belong out here and you would've had to bring yourself. On the round-the-back way to the place I HAD to go..."

"Yeah. It's almost like I know you or something... So, what are you doing?"

"Going to Homecoming Trials." Slowly the smirk returned to his face.

"You know what I mean. Dressed like THAT?"

"Whatever do you mean..?" The older man sighed, dealing with this kid had long been like getting teeth pulled. "I'm dressed in PT clothing to the letter of the dress code requirements. No more, no less."

Banjo was standing before the man wearing nothing but a pair of black speedos with the P.R.C.U stripes down the side.

"You see, the phrasing of the dress code allows for the wearing of speedos, and whilst it specifies aquatic activities as a potential time for when these optional alternative items of PT uniform MAY be worn, it doesn't specify that they can't be worn during other PT activities, nor what those exclusionary PT activities may be. I was even considering just wearing the trunks and going with wearing the speedos on my head, but why not just cut out the middleman? Soooooooo..." He gestured at himself.

"What about the armband..? I know that's normally optional as well, but I'm pretty sure it's required to identify teams during the trials. Got you. You can't worm around that one. He pointed at Banjo's bare arm.

"You're right, it is usually optional with this being a clear exception. But I'm not worming around anything. I'm wearing it."

"What, no you're no--" Banjo reached for the waistband of the speedos, about to retrieve something or reveal something from within. "--OK, mate. I'll take your word for it." Raising up both palms and looking away.

Another deep sigh left the mouth of the older man.

"Why? Why are you doing this? The Hell is the matter with you?"

"Just... taking the piss out of their big day. Were you at that assembly thing in the stadium? Bunch of brainwashed tykes with the combined power to level a continent. What do I want to have anything to do with this place for? Hell, you and me, we'll probably up sticks in a couple-a months anyway. That's what usually happens."

"Yeeeeeah naaaaaaah, kid. Hate to break it to you, but I just bought a place up here. Makes a nice change from renting for all these years, just waiting for when we'd have to pick up and go at a moment's notice. We're in here for the long haul."

"Or at least until I get expelled..."

"HA!" The older man ejaculated a single laugh. "I'd like to see that." He dug into his wallet and pulled out the last of his Australian currency. Ten crisp blue ten dollar notes, with the image of A.B. Paterson on them. "Hundred bucks says you can't do it."

"Challenge accepted." Banjo replied with a wry grin.

The Butler shook his head. "It wasn't a challenge. Think of it more as me informing you of a universal law of physics that you were previously unaware of. It's not a thing that can be done. And before you think about making your little Uni library fire thing any bigger, understand that this school has had over two dozen students just to my knowledge who have had it within their power to burn a school, or even a city down without a single match, who all had tenuous little control over their powers at some point... and the school still stands."

"You heard about that, huh?"

"Yes, mate. I heard about it. And did you ever wonder why, when you started a fire in the library in your first week, the immediate consequences was to send you to a place with younger, more vulnerable students?"

"I figured it was a punishment."

"Pleeeease... this place has ways to punish you that you haven't even dreamed of yet. That wasn't a punishment. It was the absence of a punishment. It was a message."

"Well then I guess I'll just have to get creative."

"You don't get it, kiddo. You aren't dealing with pragmatic, mercenary schools who are taking you for the tuition fees, realising they've bitten off more than they can chew and decided that the hassle you bring isn't worth the money. You're dealing with idealists. You're not going anywhere. They might make your life a living Hell if you try and do it to them first... but they won't be kicking you out."

"You mean I'm stuck with these dickheads and defectives for four fucking years?!?"

The Butler rocked back in his chair. "Said the lad wearing only a pair of budgie smugglers to an event that'll run overnight."

"Part of the whole hyperhuman thing. I can take the cold."

"I'll reiterate. 'Said the lad wearing only a pair of budgie smugglers to an event that'll run overnight... surrounded by the only co-eds who he's just realised are going be the constants who he's going to have to interact with over the next four years.' You might not 'be bothered' by the cold, but does that mean your... ahh... body doesn't respond to it?"

"Whaddo I give a shit about them for regardless, four years or not?" He said out loud, before breaking it down and thinking about it. Sure, the handy white maiden would probably give him some shit about it, but that'd just give him the opportunity to return serve... and he'd left so much on the shelf last time, he was honestly kind of just itching for another shot. He was pretty sure half of the female contingent in the group he was stuck with were gay, other than the one who was older and wore a ring and Calliop--

"Oh. Oh shit."

Banjo spun on his heels and beat tracks to get back to the Intake House for a quick-change with however little time he had left. Thankfully most had probably already left.

The Butler leaned back in his chair and basked in the warming B.C sun, a wide grin crossing his face. "Ahhhhh. It is good to lay down some roots and have a home again..."

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So, life's been kicking my ass. I want to stick around here but I'm finding that I don't have the time or energy to devote to this without losing balance in other aspects of my life. And I've been sitting on a 99% completed post for a month now, so if I can't find the time or energy to finish 1% of a post and proofread, that tells me I need to just accept it and move on.

Unfortunately, I'll have to drop out of this. Maybe next time one of these springs up a couple years down the road, I'll try my hand at Static again, but for now I need to make sure I'm finding the right balance between things.

Best of luck.

<Snipped quote by ThatDeercat>

Sorry I've been really busy as of late. I'll get around to reading this tomorrow. Assuming we still have a game here 😂

Yup, this one's next up... Gotta figure out my next post at the moment.
A ring of condensation after he lifted the beer to his lips. Light rust in the same place on the dulled steel gave proof to it's present use as a coaster not being an infrequent one.

Maddicks flicked between the sports networks. He'd laid a twenty on the Gators in basketball, as a casual side bet to the five hundred he had on Michigan, and those bums were down two scores going into the half.

He used ta be somebody. Well he used ta almost be somebody. He hung around people who had "somebody" potential, and would still send a shiver up the spine of the man on the street.

That was before the sentencing. Before the isolation in a cell. Before when he still gave a shit about his appearance enough to work out. Before the parole board saw him as a broken down has been who wouldn't have started have any more trouble if he could. The spark of life having left him years ago. Before he had the P.O. officer check ins. Before he really started to hurt in the colder months.

He barely had it in him to be mad at any of these kids for getting scrubbed. Hell, it was probably his fault for betting on them.

The five hundred was chasing already bad money. He was collecting cheques from a slip-n-fall in a Whole Foods, to keep the heat which went out last month going, and those cheques were fast running out. Nobody hires ex-cons. The classiest decision he'd made this year was choosing to take his dive in Whole Foods over Dollar General.

He couldn't pay. He knew he couldn't pay. Knew it when he laid the bet. In part it was the reason why he did it.


Maddicks got up and trudged to the can, he dropped his boxers (which a long with a wifebeater, was all he was wearing) and closed his eyes, letting the stream go where it may, in the vaguest direction of the toilet.

His past in the Air Force, as a merc, working off-book for Roxxon, going toe-to-toe with those in tights, it all played back before him.

"Kyle Lofton bricks the three!" Simon barely opened his eyes. "And time expires!"

Sounded like his low-bet wasn't going to pay off either.

There were years apparent on his face, years of weariness and no surprise.

There was a loud knock on the door. No crispness. Just loud.

Simon trudged to the front door and opened it without looking through the peephole.

He was met by his bookie. An undersized man, fast talker. Full of life. Chasing life.

Feeding on life.

"If I'm not mistaken, Vandy just got up."

"Were you waiting right outside of my door?" Simon asked, incredulous at how quickly the bookie got to his home to collect on a twenty dollar bet.

"I was, and do you know who else was..?"

And knowing their cue in walked two large men who didn't look like they'd be able to mentally handle much more than that cue.

"They know their choreography..."

"They do. But they only dance when I say so." The confident man of smaller stature said. "And when I say so, tends to be when people don't answer this next question properly."

"Where's my money, Maddicks?"

"Sonuvabitch. He knows I've got a second bet laid. It was with HIM for chrissakes. The prick wants to make me beg. Beg for an extra hour or two, when my next bet ends. Which I'm also likely to lose. Little turd's playing power tricks."

Maddicks wasn't going to beg. However today went down, THAT was not on the cards. Simon walked back across the room, and turned up the volume on the television.

"I don't have it."

This caught the smaller man by surprise, as evident by his gaping mouth. One of the larger two men nudged him and mouthed something, dragging him back down to Earth. Something was different. He wasn't openly agressive, Hell, he still gave off the basic impression that he was dead inside. But he wasn't yielding. He wasn't arguing his own cause for an extension. If only for a few hours.

"We--well that's too bad. You owe."

"I do." Maddicks said plainly. His eyes still barely open with general disinterest.

"Then I guess these two guys are going to take have to take it out of your ass."

The first one punched him in the gut, just below the solar plexus, and folded him in half like he was made of cardboard.

Simon was sucking up air, when he was straightened up, and his jaw met with a heavy right hand that knocked a tooth loose. Maddicks raised a finger, and struggled to catch his breath. The bookie put a pause to proceedings with a smile, expecting Simon to beg and plead for the extra few hours to see how it would play out.

"What's our balance so far?"

Another heavy right. Another shot to the gut. A left hook that sent things spinning briefly.

"You're a punching bag. I mean, I knew you were for those tights and capes guys, but Good Lord, Maddicks. You're going to die over what? Five hundred bucks? Twenty bucks? I mean, you know I'm gonna kill you, right? You realise how much faster those two-bit, no-money dickheads will pay up after they hear I iced a gen-u-wine supervillain, right? Or at least, whatever the Hell you were... Don't worry, I'll make you sound far more impressive than you are. Or ever were."

Simon kept taking repeated punches.

"I mean, I don't get it. I heard you've got no income anymore, but surely you could have sold this old suit to some kind of capes and cowls collecter for a couple grand."

"Two hundred." He grunted out in exhalation, through his teeth.

"What?" Came the bookie's surprised reply, not the least because the man could still talk.

"I got it valuated. Two hundred bucks. Market's flooded."

"Well, shit Maddicks. I don't even value your life and I still overvalued you." He chuckled, as the beating continued.

"I mean, I guess I can see, why it's only two hundred. Even if you weren't a big name, suit made of steel. Really, steel? In THIS world... and you've only got one gauntl-- Oh shit!"

The bookie was interrupted by the larger of the two men flying backwards across the wall, whilst seizing from electric shock.

Sparks flew from Simon Maddicks as he looked up with a brutal grin, blood drooling out from between baked bean shaped teeth. Lit by the flickering blue electricity from the one remaining gauntlet on his wrist.

The bookie shoved the remaining big body towards Maddicks, who grabbed him by the throat and made him convulse with the power surging through the gauntlet, befor dropping him in the corner.

"Empty your pockets." Maddicks said, now that the pair was alone.


"Empty your pockets." His eyes were still half open, but now that was mostly because his right eye was closing over from the battering he'd allowed himself to take.

He dropped a roll with three hundreds four twenties and a bunch of quarters and brass.

"You really thought I give a shit over twenty bucks? Even now?" The bookie shook his head. Terrified. A wet patch spreading across the front of his pants.

Simon pocketed the notes and juggled the change in the palm of his hand.

"You're here for one reason. I made those bets for one reason." The supervillain sighed, adrenaline starting to leave him.

He shoved the change in the bookie's mouth. "You can't. Buy. Hungry." The gauntlet sparked. His mouth flashed blue, he didn't stop until he could smell the foul scent of the man's hair burning.

He dropped him on the floor and donned the Killer Shrike costume once more, leaving his apartment forever with all of his belongings on his back.
Hound subscribes to the "post and edit in the days that follow" philosophy.

Posting begins what I call "The Self-loathing Stage"...
If I did that I'd never post in anything.
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