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Recent Statuses

4 mos ago
Current NEVER forgive. ALWAYS forget. Remain in a perpetual state of confusion and anger forever!
16 likes
6 mos ago
Honey is the best insect vomit I’ve had so far.
2 likes
6 mos ago
If Jace is the Joker, he’s like... the Jared Leto Joker.
7 likes
8 mos ago
It's fucked up that there are 1000 Christmas songs but only one song about the boys being back in town.
9 likes
9 mos ago
Face down, ass up. Help, I’ve fallen and I cant get up!
11 likes

Most Recent Posts




And so, the vote had been cast. The party moved on quickly, some with anxiety in their step and others with more frustration than fear. They walked on, the sound of shambling and scraping metal long left behind. Whatever they had heard, if they had actually head anything at all, had been left behind in the dark. The lights continued to illuminate over them as they walked, thanks to Packet, and would gradually fade out as they passed. Aside from the sound of flowing water and the scurrying of rats, they were alone.

"Sorry, about earlier."

Packet turned his head in surprise to Archie, who's entire demeanor had changed from one of aggression and confrontation to the normally kind one he normally wore on his sleeve, although this time it seemed to be a bit tainted by guilt. "I'm not sure what came over me. Must've been nerves. Mr. Hyde doesnt care much for this." Packet shook his head. "It's, well, it's okay. I felt a lot more on edge myself. I'll probably take the normal route out. We'll figure out what way we want to go back if you guys come back." The boy seemed to instantly catch himself on his mistake. "When, When you get back."

"Do you know where you are now?"

"Everything in these sewers is an exercise in guestimation in the dark." Packet replied. "We must've been turned around somehow. But if you're good at it, you start picking up on other stuff. Listen close, you hear that?" Packet stopped, causing the rest of the entourage to halt with him. He pointed to the ceiling and in the quiet one could hear muffled chattering and movement directly above them along with the sewer's ambience. "We're right underneath the mall, now. Which is where we want to be, because the maintenance hatch we're going to is for the mall."

"So we're close?"

"Yeah. We're close."

The party walked for a few more minutes, moving forward and backtracking with the technomancer as he figured out where the door to The Spire was. For some, it was a minor inconvenience while for others those precious steps were some of the most anxiety inducing steps they had ever taken. Eventually though, they did happen upon the door. The very same heavily machined entryway built into the side of the wall that Eli had seen before. "Hello, love." Packet said as it finally came into sight. He approached the door and ran his hand along its frame. "I know I haven't been the best guide, but this is as far as I go," he explained. "I don't know what's on the other side." He checked his watch. "It is currently six thirty in the morning. I'll come to let you back onto The Ring at nine thirty. If you're not there, you're going to have to find some other way back here or some other way to contact me."

He sighed and turned, placing his hand on the frame of the door and the handle. Packet closed his eyes and focused, allowing his mind to instinctually map out the door's locking mechanism. In that moment he was part of entirety of The Promise, an extension of the supernetwork, connected to Cara. He flipped the controller, and unlatched the door. His eyes snapped open and in an instant his entire world was shattered. The entire secondary brain of The Promise suddenly severed from his mind. He stumbled back, pulling the door with him, until he came to rest against the wall with a manic smile and nosebleed on his face. "Woah." he said simply, wiping away the blood with his sleeve. "Always a trip. I'll never get used to that."

Before them lay two sets of clear sliding doors and an activation pad. Beyond that, the vast emptiness of space, blocked in part by the other part of the ring, the spire, and the vast blue and green world below. Upon further inspection, one could see that there were walls beyond the door. It was like a gigantic hamster tube of thick glass connecting the part of the ring they were on the The Spire itself. "So who wants to go first?" Packet asked. Archie eyed the room nervously, but a part of him realized that he had always dummy at tests. Might as well play test dummy. He steeled himself, and took the first step in. The first sliding door opened for him and shut behind him, but the second did not open until he hut the button on the activation pad. This prompted the second door to open and the first to lock, and the artificial gravity ceased.

The sudden floating sensation was unexpected, but was quickly overcome. Archie noticed a series of handles welded into the glass tube's metal spine, and in no time he propelled himself across the few hundred feet of tube to the other side, where he repeated the process of accessing the tube in reverse, causing the first sliding door on the party's side to unlock for the next brave soul to station hop. There was another door on the opposite side, but of simple mechanical construction. Archie did not dare touch it yet. Not without the rest of the group, and so he waited, waving to the group separated by a few hundred feet of tubing.

The few inches of glass being the only thing between them and the vast darkness of space.
Archie



Seeing Nic arrive was probably the best thing that would happen to Archie all day, which wasn't exactly a difficult outcome to predict given the outcome of what was likely to happen today and all, but this was probably the only food he's actually have today. He grinned all wide and toothy at the offered food, wolfing it down quickly as any teenage male would. "Thamsk Nisc" he said behind a mouthful of food- which was almost spit out at the mention of napalm. His first instinct was to ask why on earth that was necessary but thought against it. If they were going to go out, might as well go out with a bang. And a full stomach, as Nic put it. He finished his food, and clarified. "I mean- Cyclops. Thanks Cyclops."

Packet did a quick head count and, realizing everyone who was coming had already arrived and at this point, any minute spent above ground was a minute wasted. While they exchanged pleasantries he took it upon himself to pull back the manhole. A thick, heavy smell wafted up. Not quite the smell of excrement, more like the smell of a bog. He waited as everyone climbed down the ladder into the dark below and only then followed himself, pulling the cover back over the hole.

The sewers were, surprisingly, not silent. There was no cacophony of voices like there were in the everyday classroom or streets, instead it was filled with a different kind of ambiance. Flowing and crashing water, the low hum of the low lit and flickering LED lights above, and the scurrying and squeaking of rats. It was dark, aside from the few lights that came on and off as Packet walked under and past them- undoubtedly activated by his power. "Stay close." Packet warned, taking the lead, the lights above him glowing slightly brighter than the others around and fading to their default luminescence as he passed them. "I can only create a dead zone of camera footage and activate the lights in a small area or they could notice," They could still notice. It was just less likely. "And there are rumors of loonies that live down here. Leftovers from that breakout a few months back that evaded security."

"I thought they got everyone?" Archie piped up, alarmed.

"That's what they said, yeah." Packet replied, turning his head over his shoulder to look at Archie. "I think... I think it's a good idea to not trust Promise Security entirely on their word. Just don't stray far, okay? There are some big rats, and it's easy to get lost down here." Almost on cue a rodent the size of Archie's shoe scurried past him, causing him to jump in alarm. The rat wove between the group's legs, disappeared into the inky dark behind them. Lynn eye's followed the rat as it scurried away. Perhaps it was because of her background- always having to watch her back, or maybe because she knew she was weakened and felt vulnerable... but her attention shifted from the rodent to something else in the dark.

It was just barely visible, an outline cast in the vapors of the warm sewage radiating into the cool air and just barely illuminated enough by light furthest from them to lend a shred of clarity that something was watching. She blinked and the light faded out, shrouding whatever it was in darkness once more. After that, the path felt more and more treacherous. Every noise, every skitter, or splash in the water felt like a warning, or a sign. Alone in a maze of tunnels, with only a few guiding lights above them to show the way in a sea of darkness.

"This isn't right." Packet said abruptly, stopping with just as much suddenness. "It should be a straight path. Not a fork. Either my maps were wrong, or we're in the wrong part of the sewers."

"I thought you knew the way?" Archie said, his usual tone sounding far more frustrated than it normally did. Something wasn't right with him. "We didn't start where we normally do! This was the only route I knew of that could take so many people unnoticed!" Packet replied, his own tone filled with acid that was unbecoming of him. Archie seethed, but didn't reply, choosing instead to cross his arms. Directly in front of them was the continuation of the tunnel, split into two paths that seemed to diverge from one another. Up above, a catwalk, and to their right was another tunnel.

"I think we should just go straight ahead to the left." Packet finally said. "Yeah, because you know where you're going right? In fact, I think we should go right." Archie said, sarcastically.

Something wasn't right.
Archie



"BWAAAGHAH. BWAAAAGHAH. BWAAAAGHAH. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-"

A rustle, and somewhat of a crash. It was the quiet hours of the morning, few were up aside from the athletes and the scholars. A truly uncivilized hour indeed.

"Holy- Cara, what time is it?"

"Good morning, mister Anderson. And, early."

Archie rubbed his eyes and attempted to gather himself. The alarm had ceased but the ever familiar tone was still stuck in his head, ping ponging around his skull like a pinball with way too much speed. He shook his head, chasing the sleep from his tired eyes and forcing himself awake. It seemed the day was upon them, and while it had been a long time coming, it was almost unreal that it was finally happening. Archie had spent a lot of time mentally preparing for what was to come, what they could possibly find up there. The risks and the sacrifices that would potentially have to be made- and finally and perhaps most importantly the ramifications of their actions. Archie had never been the most thoughtful person. That wasn't to say he was stupid, quite the opposite, but he hadn't always been the most considerate thinker and many plans of his own had been marred with unforeseen roadblocks and consequences. This wasn't his plan, and the irony wasn't lost upon him on the fact that only now was he thinking about what would happen when they returned.

If they returned.

Archie shook his head, dispersing the thoughts from his head. The time didn't matter. It was irrelevant. "Where am I meeting them?"

Cara hummed, and for a moment Archie could imagine the easy alto voice she had in life. Such a human characteristic, it was such a shame she had been reduced to little more than a helper. A therapist. A slave of sorts to those what cared little for her beyond what she could do for them. Perhaps that was why she was helping them. Rebelling as much as she could in the only way she knew how. "Tia Cori's. I think you know the way."

Archie, in fact, knew the way. With how food driven he was, that was almost a given. He stood up and dressed himself, work boots and jeans, a white tee and his leather jacket. Nothing abnormal- but it was his clothing, one of the few things he had from home that defined him. He reached for the door, but hesitated to open it.

"Cara?"

The voice hummed again, a questioning tone to its- her. To her voice.

"Thank you."

He took a glance at the beaten lead walls of his room. Cell? Both? It may be the last time he saw it. For with this spire run, win or lose, it was his cell no longer.


When Archie arrived, the group had already congregated. He had managed to check his phone beforehand and figured he was fashionably late as it was. Turns out the storm warning was only the third alarm Cara had tried to wake him with. He nodded to Keaton, bumped shoulders with Eli, smiled at Natalie, but positioned himself next to Lynn. He knew about her hesitancy for what was to come, but after what happened in the hospital he would go as far as to say that she trusted him the most out of any of them. Packet, seeing that Archie had arrived, produced what appeared to be one of the nullification collars they had worn on their first day here from his hoodie, and presented it to the group.

"I'll deactivated it before you go in but..." the boy trailed off, shifting uncomfortably. "Are you sure? All of you?"

Archie wasted no time responding. "I'm ready."

What followed was several agreements, with varying levels of enthusiasm. Lynn understandably seemed the least excited for what was to come. Archie placed his hand on her shoulder, his go to comforting gesture. "I have your back." he said, his voice low and quiet but not hidden. She had spent much of her life watching her back so she wouldn't be let down, betrayed or hurt again. For just a few minutes. Maybe just a moment, perhaps she would trust them enough to not let her fall.

"You ready?"
Archie and Eli

The junior college student dorms. Eli hadn’t been in their halls for a year now. She didn’t miss them, but she missed living across from her old friends. Distant memories passed through her head until she reached the door of one Archie Anderson. For a moment she hesitated. Her knuckles hovered an inch away from the door, suspended in a cloud of nerves for what she was about to discuss. On one hand, she was going to fill him in on how the meeting with Packet went. On the other, she needed to talk to him about what happened on Welcoming Day.

She took a deep breath and released it through her nose before she knocked.

There were some thudding noises, and what sounded like a crash on the inside followed up by a slew of muffled words that sounded more like alternatives to curse words rather than the actual curse words. But, he made it to the door eventually. He was a little bit disheveled, but that was generally his baseline state. He was all old jeans and a beaten shirt, there was nothing strange or different about him compared to all the other times she had seen him.

But, despite the minute height difference between the two, as soon as he opened the door Eli felt like he was bearing down at her all over again. His blue eyes peering through his hair like they were vines concealing a predator behind them and she knew that now. That primal part of her brain screamed, if only for just a moment, because it knew that she was in the presence of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Something insidious, a snake in the grass. ”I have a condition”, he had said. What the hell kind of condition was that? Archie smiled his usual goofy grin, laugh lines and teeth that she had seen bite a man in half. “Oh hey, Eli. What’s up?”

Even though the fear was real, Eli was at least aware that the danger wasn’t. This boy, this friend, was just as happy as the day she met him. His smile was the same. So why was she still scared? She swallowed back the lump in her throat and smiled as best as she could.

“Hey, Archie. I thought that I’d let you know what we talked about with Packet.” She could have left it there. She could have pretended that the fear wasn’t there while she sat alone in a room with him. Unfortunately for both of them, she knew that couldn’t happen. They had to address the elephant, this time more so of a godzilla type thing, in the room. She sighed softly, and Archie would see that she felt guilty and sad at the same time. “I also think that… that we should talk. About what happened.” Her eyes were apologetic as she looked into his.

Archie’s demeanor changed almost instantly. His smile fell away and he nodded, stepped back and opened the door further for her to come inside. But as soon as he did so, his eyes widened. “Oh, shoot I-” he kept his hand on the door as if ready to close it. “You probably don’t want to be in a small space with-”

“No, Archie, it’s-it’s fine.” She said awkwardly, almost as if she wasn’t sure if it actually was. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, either.” She gave him a small nod before she stepped through the threshold. Past the boy with the “condition” and into the room. Her hands fiddled together, but instead of finding a desk to sit at she stood in an empty space across from her bed. Her hands clasped together in front of her to keep them still.

He laughed.

Full hearted, the kind that she knew because she did that too. As she had become closer friends with Lynn and Natalie and the others, she had become more intimately aware with those that had been without. They were harder, sharper in their tones. Archie wasn’t like that. One can tell those who had a lot of happiness in their lives because they glew a little bit, and Archie for all the shit he had been through, glew. “Given the circumstances, dunno, I shouldn’t be the one worrying.” he said, giving her another lopsided grin for her benefit. He opened the door again and stepped out of the doorway, retreating further into his room.

It was simple, at least, compared to hers, and the makeup was different as well. Rather than furniture and technology and other things, Archie’s room was barren. Industrial in nature, with concrete walls. The bedframe was nonexistent, rather it was just a large concrete slab that was connected to the floor supporting a full size mattress. There was no carpet, she noticed, and there was no door into the bathroom. Even the walls were barren- aside from two things:

Dozens of scars littered the walls, deep, ugly gouges that had been made by claws as large as her forearm, and on the far side of the room opposite from Archie’s bed there was an observation hole, filled with glass some six inches or more thick. It was then that Eli realized that she wasn’t in a typical student dorm room.

She was in a bunker.

“Sorry, I don’t have a chair for you.” Archie explained, sitting down on the crude bed. “They don’t let me have any furniture in here. Or much of anything. Sometimes I don’t sleep well, and I’m a bull in a china shop.” He breathed, and crossed his arms, electing to give the observation port a sideways glare. “They said that my power isn’t like most people’s. Full body transformations are rare and, well, temporary ones are even more so.” He sighed. “They use this place to study me. It’s… why I don’t like being in my room much. Why I was hanging out at the mall when I met you.”

As Archie spoke, Eli took in the room in full view. She hadn’t been paying attention when she walked in, but she could see it for what it really was. At first the fear within her grew when she noticed the chunks of wall that were missing. Her mind was screaming at her to get out, to ask Archie if it really was okay to go outside in the open spaces so that she could handle it. But when she noticed the observation hole, and listened to his words, her fear was smothered by an intense feeling that there was injustice in the way he was treated. As if he was in a prison room, but free to leave whenever he wanted. ”Sometimes I don’t sleep well.” The marks were because he had nightmares. Just like her fear was triggering her now, his fear triggered the beast within.

“Archie this is…” She had no words. Instead she looked at him and said. “Would you rather do this somewhere else?” Not for her sake, anymore, but for his. She was still there for her own benefit, but she was already thinking of ways to benefit him. Benefit the both of them.

Archie opened his mouth, but hesitated. “Here’s fine but, well…” He motioned to the peep hole subtly. Anything sensitive would have to be kept hidden under code or not discussed at all. “You get used to it, though. I’ve lived on a boat stuck on land most of my life. My illegally adoptive father didn’t have enough room for two kids, so I got the boat, my brother got the house room.”

Eli glanced at the one-way-mirrored window and understood. She still wasn’t happy with his living conditions, but at least he had been used to odd situations before. So she nodded, and stood silently for a moment while she thought of what to do. She looked at the window, and then made her way to sit on the floor below it. Her hand reached to pat the space beside her and she looked at him. “We don’t have to leave. They can listen all they want.” Her tone was bitter towards the end. If Archie noticed the acid in her voice, he didn’t outwardly react to it, or question her decision making. He chose instead to pace after her and after a moment of grunting in exertion as he lowered himself to the ground, sat beside her underneath the window and leaned against the wall.

“So,” Archie trailed off. Eli eye’d him and, with half quirked lips, parroted him. “So…”

Archie rolled his eyes, and continued his thought. “What? C’mon. Okay, uh, what did you want to come to me about, then?”

Eli felt her determination to confront him waning as she thought about the way he was treated. This dorm… probably the flight up here… his boat home. She still feared him, yes, but he wasn’t to blame for his… condition. Eli looked down at her hands in her lap. She thought back to the loading bay- to how massive his hands had become. Two large and scaled appendages smashing into the wall above her. She looked over at his arms now and they were normal. Wiry, hairy, and with a few scars that most teenage boys gained because they weren’t as careful. She couldn’t think of a way to begin without outright making him feel ashamed of his parahuman ability. She needed to take a different approach.

“How… did you know you were a parahuman?” She asked finally. Her eyes looked into his now. “I mean, did you just… transform one day?”

“It started with night terrors,” Archie said, almost exhaling in relief as he said it. “My mother was not a good woman. Not a good person. I had nightmares about the things she said to me. One day, I dunno, I guess something in me fought back.” He looked down at his hands and clenched them so hard that his knuckles turned white, and then released them. “Was nothing too abnormal. I, surprisingly, well…” he mulled the worlds over in his head for a moment. “I don’t know the first time I turned. The island had a loss of livestock for a few weeks, and that was probably me. I avoided people, I think. I’m not sure what it is up here that sets me off, but my memories are always muddled. It’s… being him, that. Up here it feels like I’m staring into the light at the dentist’s office while he pokes and prods at your teeth. Hurts your eyes, weird sounds in your head from metal scraping against bone. It’s uncomfortable.”

Archie sighed and looked away from her. “Down there I was different. Collected. I don’t remember much but what I do- it’s the clearest a memory ever was for me. I could see crystal clear in the dark, hear people’s breathing across the block, smell for miles. Only incident was when I got caught, because it’s hard not to notice me. I’m surprised it took as long as it did.”

He looked to her this time, his eyes hard and predatory and his gaze stone. “Got caught ‘cause the whole town came down on my head. Being chased through the woods in a mind that can’t think straight, scared and confused and in pain from being shot at, lit on fire, hooked, skewered, and rammed… First thing it couldn’t protect me from, first time it felt fear. When I came to I was staring down the barrel of my own stepfather. It’s why I turn in here sometimes. That changed me, it. Made us harder.”

Archie was quiet for a moment longer, allowing his story to settle. He wasn’t anything close to Natalie, or Nic, or Lynn, but it affected him deeply. Pain did not have to be greater or equal to hurt. “What about you, how did you end up sailing a few dozen miles above the rock we call home?”

Eli was caught off guard by the question. His story was raw and messy. She was shocked to hear that he’d been in complete control before he came to The Promise. It made her think about how he could have lived a semi-normal life, until his community turned against him. Yet when he turned his eyes to her, he gave her the same stare that the beast had given her on welcoming day. It sent her heart into palpitations and she realized that if he turned right then and there, the people watching him would lock his room’s door. She’d be trapped inside with him and helpless. Her death would be listed as just another observation into Archie Anderson’s “condition.”

Eli swallowed hard. Then she felt her heart constrict as she realized that it was the distrust and fear that made him, the beast, them so destructive. Archie would have been in full control of himself, if he didn’t have the trauma of being hunted like a real monster.

So when Archie asked her how she’d gotten aboard The Promise, she immediately thought of her father and mother. Of their fights about her own condition. She’d torn their family apart and it wasn’t even her fault. It was the cruelty of others, their fear of what they didn’t understand, that sent her here.

“I… I knew I was different for a while before I was sent here. Like you.”

“My ability isn’t obvious. It took a month until my parents really understood what I was doing. All of my illusions were harmless. I was too young and sheltered to even think of using it to harm others.”
She smiled ruefully as she remembered those days. “When my parents knew, my father wanted to turn me in but my mother wanted to keep me a secret. Just until I was older. They fought so much, but they never reported me.”

She sighed softly. “Unfortunately, the kids at school could still tell I was different. They didn’t know how, but I was never allowed to leave home or invite any of my friends over. They bullied me and called me names. I never really let it bother me, but it eventually became physical.”

She pressed her lips for a moment and remembered her last day of school so clearly that it hurt. “After I turned 14, my parents were going to send me here. They told me it was going to be a private school, but I pieced it together after I came here. In the summer I would go camping with them, and then I would be sent off. It was a fair trade to me.”

“But… on my last day of school, the bullies surrounded me. I was under control until the meanest one- Patricia Wells, that bitch, pushed me so hard I fell.”


She chuckled now, in a bittersweet way, but she could still remember the look on Patricia Wells’ face and it had been oh so satisfying. “I was so mad that I made her see spiders crawling out of the ground and up her legs. She was terrified.” Eli’s face fell. Once again the magical moment of revenge was replaced by the grim reality of what she’d done. “I ran straight home to my mom before the teacher could catch me. The agents were there within an hour. They let me have my last vacation with my family, like we’d planned. I had the best birthday of my life that summer. Even if it was sad I was going to leave.”

She looked away, almost hesitant to tell him about the last part of her story, but she wanted to tell someone about it. Why not tell it to Archie? Maybe he would feel some sort of relief to hear it.

“One night before I was to leave, my mom tried to run away with me. My grandma had stayed hidden for so long that my mom thought she could hide me too. But… my dad was yelling at her not to. I was listening to both of them. On one hand, I’d be free and with my mom and grandma, but I would have to hide for the rest of my life. On the other hand… I could still be me, but up here on The Promise instead.” She looked at Archie now.

“I chose my dad’s side, and he sent me away the next day before I could take the chance with my mother.”

“Sometimes I wish I’d gone with her, and sometimes I’m glad I didn’t. It’s all a matter of “what if’s” and guilty regrets, so I try not to think about it too much. But… that’s how my life has been so far.”
It wasn’t as awful of a time as Archie’s had been, but it still affected her to this day. Even as hard as she tried not to let it.

Archie seemed to be deep in thought for a moment, but instead of some long winded thoughtful speech or addition all he said was “Parents suck.” and then allowed himself to fall back on his bed. It was clear, concise, a little goofy… but very him. “I’m glad you came up here though. Glad you became my friend. Even if I tried to, y’know. Eat you.”

Despite the gravity of the situation, Eli cracked a smile. She watched him, and leant back against the wall as she thought of how to respond. “Hearing your story… It makes me feel better to know that you were once in control. I hope that you can feel that way again someday.” She remembered the other reason why she’d come to visit him, but the presence of the window above her head loomed over her like a shadow. She pulled her phone from her pocket and began to text him as she continued the conversation. “So… tell me about how you and Natalie have been. Are you two still together?”

She sent him a text. ”Cara is on our side. I need to tell you about the meeting with Packet, but not out loud.”

Archie eyed his phone as the notification popped up but otherwise didn’t comment on it. “We’re… okay, I guess. Not the best time to be forming relationships but we’re doing what feels right for now. And good to know. That you care. I mean.” He said, trying to recover from his poorly coded message.

Eli gave him a small smile. “Of course I care, Archie. You’re still one of my best friends.”

“The mission is a go. Nic and Keaton have gathered enough information, and they seem to trust Packet. In two days we are to meet him in the sewers below the coffee shop at 6am. Bring only what you think is necessary.”

“Oh, and Lynn has to wear a collar to get through the sewers. Don’t mention it when you see her. She’s pretty angry about it.”

Archie seemed to tense at the idea of any of them being restrained. Perhaps due to his own experience, but didn’t say anything about it. “I suppose we’ll hang out in a few days then?”

“We will...” Eli said, sensing that Archie wanted to take some time to prepare for himself. She stood, and Archie walked her to his door. She peered out to the inside of his room one last time. It was a jail cell. A penitentiary of a home. Archie had been living like this, this whole time. Never complaining, or making it a deal. But he had suffered. She wondered what else hid beneath that skin of his, deeper than even the scales and armor that she had seen. Perhaps something even bigger and meaner lurked beneath. She looked up to him and his grim expression was gone, replaced with his usual dopey smile. She felt her chest tighten at her thoughts. Beneath it all, he was a kind man. A good man. One who deserved better than this. She reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. ”...And be ready.”
Written with @Skai




I know you tried, I know you tried your best, and now its time to



Jaxson Brilliant's eyes cracked open. The fifteen year old boy groaned, and turned over to the other side, grabbing his smartphone from the bedside table. He squinted his eyes as the smartphone lit up brightly in his face, and checked the time.

4:14AM.

The Promise hadn’t crossed the twilight barrier yet. It wasn't even sunrise yet.

"You've got to be kidding me.." Jax said put the phone back on the table and turned over again, willing himself back to sleep.

It didn't work.

After a few minutes, Jax checked the phone again.

4:19AM.

Jax groaned, deciding that he had slept long enough. He sat up in his bed and rubbed his eyes, yawning a few moments afterward. He had already woken up at several different times in the night and just couldn't bring himself to go back to sleep this time. The plan and the anxiety leading up to it had taken a toll on him.

Getting out of bed, he began his morning routine. Do some stretches, eat toast and have coffee, brush teeth and shower. It was just another day in the life of Jaxson Brilliant, master codesmith and technomancer extraordinaire. As he bathed himself in the shower, he thought over his day. "Eli and her group want me to meet them at the sewer entrance," Packet spoke to himself. "And I need to open the door for them, and be there to let them back in." He kicked himself for agreeing to this. "I hate this. And myself. I hate myself. Dammit all..."

Stepping out of the shower, he sighed and realized he had left his phone in the main room. “Cara, what time is it?”

”Good morning, Packet. It’s… let me check. 4:42 in the morning.”

He knew her well enough to know that she knew the time exactly, but she ‘thought’ about it because she was constantly trying to be as human as she could be. Why she chose to be herself around him he would never know or understand- he was… far from a social butterfly himself. Packet exited his dorm at 4:51AM in the morning, he really wasn't expecting a lot of people to be out and about at this time. Not surprisingly, the streets were empty. He had the entire station to walk around in, but he was a man of focus and commitment. He had to be to survive in this field, living in the dark with only a bright screen to keep him company. Communicating with friends and family through messages and VMs and little else because work constantly called him. Just one more line. Just one more hour debugging. Just one too many energy drinks...

Packet stopped at a particular place. The florist. Stepping closer to the windows, he examined the flowers inside the brightly painted store. "Roses, daisies, orchids, sunflowers..." Packet murmured. He shook his head. 'I seriously need to stop talking to myself.' he told himself.

Finally, his eyes settled upon a bunch of lavenders. He smiled to himself. Perfect.

Packet moved over to the door and with little more than a thought tracked the system’s grid. With unfamiliar systems it always took longer, but this was not his first rodeo. He had broken into many department stores with his friends late in the night just to prove that he could. This system was familiar, like an old friend that he hadn’t visited in a long time. The latch mechanism was the easiest to manipulate, but it was a trap. Deactivating that before diverting juice away from the actual alarm system would trigger said alarm. He learned that one the hard way. With a flick of his wrist, a physical tick he did naturally to manipulate the digital and electrical world, and an audible click of the door unlocking, he was pushing the door open with little effort. He picked up a small bundle of lavenders and was about to leave the store, but suddenly saw a bunch of coloured ribbons in a box behind the counter. Jax looked to the handful of flowers in his hands and the ribbons.

"I can't believe I'm doing this."

Two minutes later, Jaxson Brilliant was out the door, with a bundle of lavenders in his arms, tied together with a purple ribbon. He left a five dollar note on the counter out of good sense.

He drew a mental map to a specific location. The memorial service that students had formed. It was outside the launch bay, which was still sealed off. Doors and barriers to people like him were more suggestions than anything else… but he wasn’t sure he wanted to cross this one. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to see what was on the other side. The memorial had dozens of candles and pictures and art done by the student body. Many people had lost someone in the shooting. Jaxson had lost part of himself in it, too. He looked at the stars, and then his phone. 5:13AM. Almost time for the sunrise.

He scanned the pictures, but stopped as he finally reached his person’s. Jonathan Pearce's name was on his lips. Kneeling down in front of the grave, he gently placed the lavenders at the foot of the tombstone and softly smiled.

"Hey Jon." Jaxson greeted him. "Good morning." There came no response, just a small silence.

"Uh.. I got you these flowers." He added. "Lavenders. I tied them up myself, you see." He chuckled. He knew Jon would laugh and hug him if he was there in person.

"I know that you're watching over me up there.." He began. "I guess you must be disappointed in me." The man rubbed his other hand in thought. "I know, you and Nicky told me to stop working myself to death and sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong, but… I think I’m onto something here. I think we’re finally going to make that change." He sighed.

"I'd say I’m sorry but, I don’t think you have much issue with it this time." He took off his cap and stayed silent, thinking of his boyfriend. He pushed away the tragedy and focused on Jon's face, his smile, his laugh. He cherished the memories.

Then, to his left, the sun peeked over the horizon. The sky turned orange-pink and he looked in the direction of the rising sun, shading his face with his left hand. He smiled to himself. Jon was the sun in his life, no doubt.

Standing up a bit later, he dusted himself off. "See you later Jon." He said quietly. "I'll bring some more flowers next time. Maybe some daisies and some other flowers." He let out a small laugh. "I dunno. I'm not a botanist."

Packet sighed. “Hey Cara?”

”Yes?”

“Set an alarm in five minutes for everyone involved to wake up if they aren’t already. Make sure they know to meet me at the porthole behind Tia Cori coffee shop. And make sure the alarm is extra annoying for Lynn.”

”I think I can do that, Jaxson.”

“And for the last time, quit calling me Jaxson!”


As so Jaxson Brilliant, also known as Packet sat. Camped out by a dirty porthole behind a coffeeshop, ready to lead a group of strange, rebellious young adults into what would become the greatest and most dangerous adventure of their lives.
Archie and Natalie


Natalie checked her phone, more to check the time than to look for messages. Still, she couldn’t help but do that too. She was standing at the entrance to the mall, looking out at the crowd, scanning them. She shifted weight from one of her feet to the other. It was one minute past the meet time, so he should be here any second. Generally speaking, the whole... the evolution of the past few days had been unnerving to say the least. Knowing that his time on the station (and potentially his time left alive) was limited. Archie had spent most of his life doing what most people his age were doing, moving along through school and extracurriculars at the normal pace and for the most part the beginnings and endings he had experienced had been fairly uniform among his peers.

Life wasn't like that, now. He was leaving soon and he knew it, but everyone around him? They expected for life to carry on in that relative normal that it had always been. They expected to see him in the crowd as one of those normal faces and while they might not ever recognize his absence, it was... grounding. To be leaving when no one else was. To know that there was an end to all of this on a horizon that no one else was facing. Archie could see her now, shifting idly. She looked the way he felt inside, like a coiled spring ready to release at any moment. Like she was waiting for something to happen to release all that pent up nervous energy. Archie stopped a few paces behind her, and having learned his lesson from Lynn, cleared his throat. "Heu-" he started, his voice cracking. He stopped, and tried again. "Hey. Hi. Hey Natalie. Nat. Hey Nat."

"Hey," Natalie answered. She looked scared, and a little manic, but still managed a warm smile at seeing Archie. She turned to face him and her cheeks flushed. "I don't care what we are to each other officially, or if you want to call it a date or not, or whatever. I just...wanted to spend some time with you before we do this. I'm not smart, and I don't have any connections. There's nothing else I could do right now but wait, and I don't want to waste the time we have."

Archie hummed thoughtfully, and approached her again so they were standing only a few inches apart. He allowed his hands to float forwards and took her hands in his own, interlocking their fingers easily as if they had done it a thousand times before. "I like you just the way you are." he said, genuine as she ever was.

"Truth be told one of the reasons I wanted to wait was to spend a little time with you, too. I... I'm not sure if I'll end up coming back with you. If we come back at all. When I left Colington Island, it was on short notice and I had a lot of things I wish I would've been able to see through. I don't have as much of that these days up here but... I don't want to regret not saying anything while I had the chance, neither."

Natalie looked down at her hands, which were holding Archie's, and blushed again. She looked up, and chuckled with nervous energy. "This mood's getting a little serious, but I suppose we can't avoid that. Still, I want to have fun today, but...maybe we should talk first, so we can focus on relaxing and letting our hair down later. So, what did you want to say 'while you had the chance'?"

"Walk with me."

It was easily spoken, but the request carried weight. The two began walking down the path together as Archie had many, many times before. It had only been a short time they had been here, somewhere between six months to a year, but there had been so many life changing memories. Most of them unfortunate, but they forced a growth in the group- for they had seen each other stripped raw and broken by the forces around them.

"I'm no good with words," Archie began, his eyes looking down at the ground ahead of him while he walked. His hand squeezed Natalie's. "But I care about you. A lot. When we promised each other we'd look out for each other... I dunno. I'm glad it was you."

"Yeah," Natalie answered softly, as she squeezed back and looked straight ahead. "I'm glad it was you too. You're the only one who could possibly get how I felt. And even though I'm not scared of myself anymore, I still want you to look out for me and stop me if you think I'm ever going too far. I trust you with that. And I care about you too, as you already know."

“I think...” he said, pursing his lips, choosing his words as he spoke. “I think we have a lot to say and do, and we won't have time for all of it.” He said, his face falling into a small, sad smile. The kind that was conveyed through the eyes more than the body. “If you had to pick some things, what would you go with?”

Natalie thought for a second, then smiled. "We don't have time for a proper date, and it's not the right mood either. Maybe we should just have dinner and then go for a walk. Talking, all the while. We should just tell each other everything. Everything we hold back, or keep secret, or don't like to talk about."

"I'd... I'd like that."

There was thinly veiled hesitancy to Archie's tone, but whatever was bothering him didn't seem to hold him back much in agreeing. They walked together in relative silence- the pregnant type that's not quite comfortable but wasn't awkward enough to comment on. Archie, despite his few gifts when it came to disarming tension, was more than capable of sniffing out a good meal. Perhaps it was his incredible senses guiding him like some sort of primordial guardian angel, but the Italian dine-in they ended up in seemed like a nice enough stay.

"You'll be disappointed if you're looking for anything big." Archie commented offhandedly, without looking up. Natalie however, looks more surprised by the fact that she had broken their (fascinating) non-conversation about literally anything with such candor. He pauses for a moment, as if chewing his following statements like gum, before continuing. "Almost everyone we're friends with has had some really bad things happen to them. And like, yeah. Losing your parents young isn't exactly fun and waking up to the town hunting you isn't great but..."

Archie shifts uncomfortably in his seat, and dips his menu. "I just don't have much to hide. I don't have any juicy secrets. I wasn't shot in the back or a child soldier or..." Or experimented on., he insinuated, allowing his voice to trail off. "I'm just a guy."

"I don't know what I'm looking for, to be honest," Natalie answered truthfully. "I don't want to pry if the memories are painful. I just...want you to know that I'm not scared of opening myself up anymore....I want us to have fun today but I don't know how to....talk to boys. I have no idea what the rules are, if there are any rules. I'm sorry."

Archie mulled over her words for a moment, surprisingly thoughtful compared to his normal disposition. "Well, a good place to start would probably be to not apologize for not knowing where to start." he said, offering her a small smile. "There's a saying. All's fair in love and war and all. No real rules just- well, dad always said to do right even when the other person's not looking. Don't sneak, he said. Something about how sneaking means you're doing something wrong."

For all their talk, despite being in an Italian joint, Archie's eyes gravitated towards the 'French Fries' option on the menu. Greasy, American food, and Archie was sorely missing home right about now. "Hey, you ever had a burger or fries? I would hulk out for fries right about now."

Nat smiled, and shuffled her feet under the table adorably. Archie's reassurances had gone appreciated. Nat leaned over to look at Archie's menu. "I used to. I think I was fifteen the last time I had a burger and fries. Let's get some!"

And they did. For the first time in a long time, Archie and Natalie shared a nice evening where something miraculously went smoothly. No gunshots, or explosions, or cradle robbers, and no lizards in sight unless one counted Archie's heart monitor, but that only went off once when his food came.

It was nice.

Written with @Silver Carrot
Andy and Dexter


Dexter froze, his shoulders tensed as if he was about to bring his hands up to surrender. As if he had been caught red handed doing something he shouldn't have been doing. But despite his body language, there was a small smile on his face. He recognized her voice anywhere. “Guilty,” Dexter said easily, dropping his hands. “You know cigarettes and I don't mix.”

Andy moved to stand beside him. Her body turned to lean against the railing and she looked over his expression. The slight puff to his eyes. The small downward turn of the edge of his lips. He’d been crying. She knew the look too well. She turned to face the pool in front of the patio and she busied her eyes with the dancing water. “I came out for the air, too,” she murmured. She was quiet for a few moments before she gave him a sideways glance. “It means a lot to me that you came tonight. To Vanessa too.” Dexter seemed to straighten a bit at the mention of Vanessa’s name, but it was subtle. The kind of motion that wouldn’t be picked up by a stranger, but someone like Andy might very well notice.

“Yeah, she told me.” Dexter confessed. “We talked and it went… Okay? I think? I’ve never been any good at stuff like that. I always leave the talking to you-” He poked her in the side playfully. Andy flinched at the jab and gave him a sour look in response. “You’re way better at it than I am. I just kinda word vomit and hope for the best.”

Dexter raised his drink and finished the remaining third in one go, and upon realizing he was out of drink, seemed rather off put about it. “I need to get another beer,” he started. “Do you, I uh…” He caught himself stumbling over his words and recovered. “Should I, y’know, grab you something while I’m up?”

Andy was smiling like she was trying not to laugh; her eyes crinkled at the edges. She took a moment to look down at her half empty juice, and then held out the cup to him. “Would you get me a juice refill? With some ice too.” Dexter nodded wordlessly, and was off. It only took him a moment or so before he returned with two solo cups in each hand- he was not one to be out done by his friend even if she did debatably have a greater constitution than he did. He would stay in the race, dammit!

Dexter ended up leaning against the railing next to her, abandoning his chair so some other sap could sit at some later time, and passed her the drink she had requested. He cracked a smile when she took it. “I put some cyanide in. Just for you.”

“Mmm, my favorite.” She stated before taking a swig and grinning afterwards. “Should we just stay out here all night? It’s peaceful.”

“Well, I’ve found that after a few hours people start meandering out and throwing up on the lawn. I figure if the cops show, we’d be the first to book it.” He explained. “Y’know you don’t have to wait out here with me. Won’t bother me any if you leave to go socialize.”

Andy shook her head and swirled the juice around in her cup. “I think if I went back in there I’d end up staying until dawn. Can’t afford that tonight.” She smiled over at him. “Plus, I’ve barely seen you all week because of practice.”

I’ve missed you too. Is the first thing that goes through Dexter’s mind, and he eyes his drink for a moment, trying to decide how he wants to answer that. So he drinks, and decides that the liquid courage is enough to merit a little risk. So he says what he thinks. It’s simple and concise, but it's all he really needed to say. “I missed you too,” he starts. Dexter, for all his wit and intelligence, is not very good at saying all he needed to say. Usually it’s too much or not enough and, well, this was one of those times. “Shame, was hoping to spend the night with you.”

And with that, well, Dexter doesn’t even realize how she might potentially misconstrue his words. It wasn’t meant to be a double entendre, but it certainly ended up that way. Dexter is too preoccupied looking at his shoes to notice her initial physical response, but he wasn’t exactly comprehending his words properly at the moment to begin with anyway.

Andy’s smile was small when he said he missed her. The kind of smile someone would have if they knew the meaning of the words, but didn’t want to admit them out loud. She was looking at her drink too, until he spoke again. Andy, usually so confident and smooth with her words and actions, was suddenly the complete opposite. She opened her mouth, but not even air escaped her lips, and her head turned to look at him. For the first time in their friendship, Andy was the one left speechless.

But she wasn’t scared. Her mind may have been a whirlwind of thoughts, but her body had made up it’s own mind before her brain could catch up. Her cup was left on the balcony’s edge as she slowly edged closer to him. “Do you really feel that way, Dex?” Her voice was soft. It lacked it’s usual gusto.

“Well, yeah of course I do you’re-” And before he can properly ask her what the hell that's supposed to mean because of course he’d want to spend all the time he could with her, Andy is leaning forward and proving that she doesn’t mind giving potentially nosy neighbors a show. Except she doesn’t punch or kick him like some sort of scene from Karate Kid. God, she doesn’t punch him. She opposite-of--punches him.

When Andrea Walsh gently grabs his face and kisses him, Dexter thinks one thing (quite eloquently considering the situation):

Oh.

Written with @Skai
Dexter



A few hours into the night...

Vanessa stepped out, needing a moment from the constant hustle and bustle of the party to take in some fresh air. It was a welcome change from the clouds of smoke and marijuana, a quite moment to compose herself.

“Need a break?”

His voice shocked her, causing her to just about jump out of her own skin. But when she realize who it was, the most responding thought in her head was: They were different. Her hair grew out to the middle of her back while he cut off inches of his own. It had been two years since they'd broken up. There were invitations given but few words had actually been shared between them. Just pictures of new adventures spent without the other. The wounds left by what happened to them were mending. Time healed the worst of it, but time only does so much. The two were brought back together briefly for the funerals. But both had been largely little more than silent giants looking into one another’s lives. Unable to leave and always, always casting their shadows. It wasnt surprising to find him out here. He had always hated the smell of cigarette smoke and enjoyed the outdoor shenanigans of drunks.

It was just them, the silence of the night, and a small cloud of smoke that came out from the now closed door dispersing into nothing. They both downed a few drinks during the party. Alcohol made the conversation easier for the sake of their weathered hearts. She skipped the small talk, after all, they weren't strangers and asked him if he was still flying. She asked because she already knew the answer. Parts of her wanted nothing new of him.

"By tomorrow afternoon I'll be heading north," he said with a click of his tongue.

"Towards what exactly?"

He shrugged.

"Little airport with a grass strip. Heard there were good burgers up there," he told her, gripping his beer bottle.

"Are you still alone on these trips, Dex?"

"Sometimes," he responded. "I can easily say I'm never alone though; I'm always finding people to go on the ride with."

She scoffed. "Women included?"

He glared at the ground, deciding to take a drink before answering. "I'm just trying to make memories with other people now, V."

He remembered foolishly thinking that two years was enough time to move on, that next time he’s up with nothing in the sky but himself and the sea, he can look out at the horizon and her name won't come to mind. He can learn new names and faces and not think about her. But time is not kind to those that leave everything behind. Time is constant. Time preserves memories deep within an individual with thoughts and feelings they cannot shake.

"I know that," she told him. "I know you are—but promise, promise me that whoever you meet, tell them about us. Even if they're caught up with you. Warn them about what happens when people fall in love prematurely. Show them pictures of us at fifteen."

"Why fifteen?"

"Well," she breathed in, "I was ten when I first met you, and thirteen was when I knew for sure. We were fourteen when I told you I loved you," she said wistfully. "But fifteen was when we showed it."

He let out a curt, almost pained laugh. "I think fifteen was my favorite."

"It was mine too," she admitted, knocking her knees together. "But now we're older and I need you to let me know that even if you fall in love again please remember what happened to us."

It hurt him to talk about them. To remember and relive what they lost.
"How do you know I'm not in love right now, huh?" He questioned, his voice low and lips twisted. "I can have a girl waiting to call her and have her pick me up and you wouldn't know, so stop acting as I can never love someone again as I loved you."

He expected her to raise hell but she did not.

She didn't falter. She breathed in as her sea-glass eyes focused on the darkness of the sky above them.

"That's the thing," she paused, "you won't because people never love the same way twice."

"How do you know that?" he asked.

"Because I've been trying," she exclaimed, a hint of sadness on her smile. A bittersweet smile not of joy but acceptance.

Her frame looked smaller than he remembered. It stirred something in him. He almost reached over to pull her into his chest, to spill out every sin and prayer. He knew better to do such a rotten thing. If he held her once more, there would be no letting go. Instead, he took another brash sip of his beer and kept quiet.

"Look, I don't need you making the same mistakes," she voiced her wants. "What I need is to trust you to not break another person's heart. I need to know you'll be okay, with or without them. Whoever they turn out to be."

He listened to her request, heart open and exposed.

"Promise me you won't do the same thing to the next girl who loves you."

The glass shatters on the ground beneath them.

"Vanessa, I-"

"No!" She spat, turning to face him.

“Listen to me—remember me at my worst, remember me yelling at you to come back and crying to your mom when you wouldn't. Remember the broken coke bottles I threw and how your hand felt tightening my wrist. Remember the silence. Remember that I loved you and that you loved me but what we had wasn't enough."

They sat in silence beneath the hazy night sky. The inner thoughts he kept from her sat on the edge of his numb tongue. Messy, frazzled words he wanted to yell but held back because he knew he had no right. In another life, a life where he had the heart, Dexter broke the silence and cried out: "I remember it all. I remember that you were my first and how I just took for granted that I believed you'd be my last. I could never tell you then but it has made me better, loving you. Now, we are here and you're… guiding me to the next love of my life as if you know that I’m hopeless. The universe screamed at me and took away half my family and I dealt badly. How is any dumb kid supposed to know how to handle that? We were just kids. We just… did it wrong."

In this life, Dexter manages a concise, simple truth and tells Vanessa: "You know, I thought we would end up together in the end. Drinking lemonade as we watch our grandkids play in the garden, right under my mom's oak tree."

She laughed in a way that took him back to his youth. "So did your mom."

"You know there are still times that I look back at my rearview mirror and swear that you're standing at the end of the lot watching me drive off."

"And there are times I think maybe we'll meet again once we're older and our minds are less hectic, and everything will settle as the universe intended."

"You're such a romantic, V."

"Bite me," she quipped. "I'm pouring my heart out to you for the final time and that's your response."

He tensed up. He didn't like the way the final time poured out of her lips so easily.

"The thing is no matter what I say, sometimes you don't listen," she pointed out. "I know that there are people out there waiting for you to meet them and they won't be able to stop themselves from falling in love with you."

He placed his hands over hers as she continued.

"And maybe you'll find a pretty blonde, her eyes bluer than mine or green or brown or hazel. She'll be so sweet that it doesn't take much for you to fall. So even if I warn you to remember what the world does to people like us that fall in love, you're going to do it again anyway."

She tilted his face sideways to face her.

"That's who you are, Dex," she said with love, gripped his hand in her other palm. "You'll always go against the inevitable and I love you for it."

His eyes began to dwell with tears. Her smile was heavy with melancholy but just as sweet as he remembered. For a moment, they were fifteen again and life took them down a kinder path.

He let her wipe away his tears. "I'm sorry I left."

"I know."

"I'm sorry that I hurt you."

"Me too."

"I loved you, so much."

"I know, I remember."

The stayed in silence for a while longer. Eventually, Vanessa pulled away. “I need to go inside. I- uh, I have people. Waiting for me.”

Dexter nodded wordlessly, but allowed a small smile to let her know it really was okay. He watched her make her way to the door, but she stopped just as she reached for the door handle. “Oh, and Dex? You should call me. Sometime. Not tonight obviously cause-“

“Party.” He said, grinning now. Vanessa matched his, nervous and emotionally raw, but happy herself. She continued. “It’d be nice to have you around again. I miss your mom.”

“She misses you too. Now go. It’s your-“

“Party. I know.” She says with a laugh. “Thanks for coming, Dex.”

“Happy birthday, Vanessa.”

And like that he was alone again.
@Byrd Man said no to all GM sheets.

RP dead now. Go home everyone.
You mean how 90% of the characters seem to have a dead father? Totally normal.


And 100% seem to have superpowers. Whoda thunk?
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