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International man of misery. Aspiring writer. Biotech. Balancer of hats.

I love populating colorful worlds with equally-colorful characters.

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In Mote 3 yrs ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay

The wet, cold nose of the dog at his shoulder did little to nudge Griff out of his stupor. He stared skyward for what seemed like hours, only to turn his attention to the struggle across the clearing. He saw the girl with perfectly-bifurcated hair stumble and struggle, tripping over weeds. Another girl in their star-crossed party of strangers sprung to her side. She pulled at the chimerical girl, bending and twisting the waif away from aggressive roots.

'Strange,' Griff mused hollowly.

It was almost as if the tendrils moved and grasped of their own accord. Ill intent. He could imagine the vines spitting and hissing like serpents, sinking rose-thorn teeth into soft waiting flesh.

A growl shook Griff further, and he watched the mangy mutt leap into action. Fangs bared, the dog ripped and tore at the choking vines. Combined with the efforts of the bewitching cat-eyed girl, Capella was hauled free.

Griff stood up. He stared at the Mote accusingly. Its ethereal runes, glowing soft like embers, almost seemed to swell with some indescribable power. Griff shivered as infernal figures danced in his mind's eye--imps and demons whispered about at bedtime. He could imagine them screaming and chanting around a Mote such as this. How had Griff ever found promise in these cursed relics? They were scoundrels, promising wealth and bounty only to cast Griff further downstream.

Drowning alongside madmen and witches and young women touched by the hand of some great, sinister Fury.

His arms were tense. Knuckles clenched. Griff motioned to his waist for a knife that was not there. Failing that, he grabbed for one of the few tools left in his leatherworking pouch. A long, broad file with stout saw-toothed edges. A tapered long glinted on the side opposite his grip.

"Get back. Pull her away from...from that," Griff instructed Demorra. He gestured cautiously at the Mote, as if the relic could sense his malcontent. He then turned to the shifting dimness in the trees opposing him.

Humming. Griff could see shadows move from between the bone-pale trees. Their shapes were impossible to make out, and he couldn't tell if they drew closer, or simply bore physiology that rendered them so indistinct as to change size on a whim. He squinted, trying to suss out any telltale signs of familiar wildlife--eyes, antlers, anything. He was accustomed to animals. Trapping, killing, and skinning came as simply as breathing.

He knew to stand tall. Draw the stance wide, puff out his chest. Artificially inflate his body to take up more space. One could easily scare off the odd coyote or lone dire-wolf if the proper body language was maintained. Griff clenched the long file in his hand, and bit back fear. This was as familiar a feeling he'd experienced since being dropped into the strange grove by this Mote. Nostalgia nudged him again as he glanced quickly to the two young women across the grove, and he couldn't help but see his sisters' scared faces.

"...And we need to be ready to run," he added quietly.

Henry--School Daze

"...And we have to remember, back in those days...relationships like that didn't just happen. A black man and a white woman? The Civil War's just 'round the corner, mind you, and she's also writing, about ALL of this..."

The lecture was a dull drone in Henry's ear, barely a ripple on his radar. The names, the passage, it all blew around his head in a nonsense slurry of half-acknowledgment. He knew Mrs. Duverne was talking about their homework assignment. He knew the homework assignment, and the author--Eliza Montgomery--whose name was nailed, stapled, and branded into every corner of Henry's high school. He didn't know why he was wasting his time listening to this when there were more important things going on outside of these walls. Kidnappings, territory squabbles between rival gangs, good old-fashioned armed robbery...

"...Daring to write it down, daring to keep those thoughts by her side at all times. And, to think, we're dealing with similar issues today..."

Words, words, words. Henry just had this class, and then he'd head to the computer lab. Maybe he'd have time to swing by the art room, ask unassuming Mr. Munroe about borrowing more acryllics. Deal with the loud bus ride home, and then square up in his room for the night. Head out later, if he managed to wrap up his project. Just had to put on the finishing touches. Make sure the paint was dry. Ts crossed, is dotted.

Henry's eyes were nearly closed. He could just barely make out the full-body shift of the girl in front of him, slumped in boredom. He sensed the muted silhouette of his English teacher pacing back and forth in the front of the classroom. He tagged her with a few loose granules of dust in the air. They settled in the taught fibers of her gray hair, pulled tight against her bony profile.

He had taken to using his powers out in the open like this within the last few days. It was easy, once Henry got a sense for subtlety. Henry's abilities were always on, and ever since his late night stint a few days ago, he was feeling more comfortable sweeping his surroundings at every opportunity. Thoughts rushed back to that fateful night, scoping out the wannabe-kidnappers' van right under their noses. Jamming guns, mapping out schematics of their vehicle. This was just the same. Henry could easily manipulate the resting particulate that had a tendency to settle in well-used classrooms like this.

The thin layer of dust in the ventilation ducts above them stirred to life. It covered all four sides of the labyrinthine airways. One activated, the dust swept through the vents, poured through grates and seeped soundlessly into the classroom. Tendrils of near-invisible specks crawled out from behind off-white ceiling panels and dispersed, mapping out the room. Henry's head was filled with thousands of data points, all arranged into a model of his classroom. He seized control of the lint and dander particles on his peers, populating his map with thirty figures, desk-width apart.

Henry closed his eyes, lowered his head, and rested his chin on the tips of his fingers. He focused, and dug deeper. He swept over his classmates, dirt flowing into their pockets. More often than not it just buffered up against a smartphone pushed tight against pantleg, but he found occasional contraband: packs of cigarettes, a tin of snus, and even the smooth rounded ends of pills. Henry frowned. He exerted more effort, put more dust to work, and mapped down one level further, pushing particulate into backpacks and purses.

At this stage, it was getting harder for Henry to keep track of everything. It wasn't as if he was reaching the limits of his power--Henry didn't know if he even had any, besides range--but that the dust formed imperfect pictures of clumped items. Square masses of books, pencils and detritus strewn at the bottom of bags, tubes of lipstick and mascara. It was only when he delved into one bag in particular, positioned diagonally behind him four or five spaces, did he sense something worth a pause.

Sleek, angular, and metallic. Handle and barrel. A dustless space in the shape of a gun, stowed away in a container packed matryoshka-style within the backpack. Layered in old rags and crumpled papers, it was inconspicuous to all but the most wandering eyes. Henry smirked. The metal detectors that city officials were fond of bragging about hand't exactly arrived yet. Some were still using school grounds as their own personal black-market depot, chief among them a budding gang recruitment.

A ghostly gunshot rang between his ears, audible phantasm of the scuffle with the kidnappers. Though no one else was phased by the concealed firearm, Henry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This was a complication.

Henry dispersed most of the dust, letting it fall by the wayside and choosing to ignore most it in his mind's eye. His final act was to clump a layer around the gun's hideaway. Henry leaned back into his seat, arms crossed. He focused on Mrs. Duverne, and waited for the swansong of the class bell.

- - -

No sooner did it sound than Henry took to action. He kept his head down, still leaning back, and pretended to doze. His target moved with quick precision to an aisle and tried to dart out of the classroom. Henry swung his backpack into the empty pathway to intercept, in time with the sensory input of the dust-tracker in his head, causing the gunman-to-be to pause as Henry further filled the space. Henry yawned, stood up, and stretched. He offered an all-but-normal smile to the girl standing next to him.

Henry heard an agitated sigh escape the target's lips, but didn't turn around. Henry took his time to reach down and sling his own backpack over his shoulder. He then smiled innocently at Mrs. Duverne, adjusted his glasses, and made for the hall.

Henry stopped when he was a few yards into the steadily-crowding halls and diverted off the path. The gunman continued forward, and Henry got a good look at him. Familiar, but not someone he knew by name. A class here or there. Asian, or maybe mixed, with short-cropped hair and a baggy hoodie. He was a generous head shorter than Henry.

Henry averted his eyes and followed at a casual distance, always keeping that square-shaped box of dust in his power's radius.

"H-hey, Henry...!"

He almost bowled into her, a girl in his grade with a head of curly hair and dark, caramel eyes.

"Yo, Cynthia," He replied, smiling but distracted.

"You're heading to the computer lab, yeah?"

"Y-yeah, I just--shit," Henry cursed. He sensed the target's backpack dipping in and out of his awareness as the target stepped back-and-forth around a mass of traveling students. The dots in Henry's head fizzled like they were displayed on a busted tube t.v.

"Whoa, sorry, uh, I-I mean, you're going the wrong way, and I wanted--haven't seen you online in a while. They added a new hero and everything, and--I wanted to..."

"Sorry Cynthia, but like, not now, you know? I'm gonna be late to class anyhow. Later."

He pushed past her, their shoulders butting against one another. He didn't meet her glossy gaze. Henry felt bad, kind of blew her off, but this was actually important. He ducked through an opening between a group of girls passing around one of their phones, and finally sensed the vessel of dust.

'Plus, I don't even got my rig anymore. She knows that, right?'

Henry stopped dead in his tracks, right down the long hall from his prey. The crush of bodies prevented him from getting too close, but that was just fine. He saw the black-haired dome stop in front of a slender green locker at the very end of the row. The boy looked right, and then left. Henry's breath caught in his throat--for just a moment, he could have swore that short-stack locked eyes with him.

Henry's target opened the locker nonetheless, and then shifted his shoulders around to swing his backpack towards the opened locker. Henry couldn't see into it, wasn't able to visually verify if there was other contraband stowed away. Henry's focus drifted to his mind once again; all he had to do was seize control of some particulate in the area. Trick is, was there enough?

The layer of grime on the slanted top of the row of lockers shifted under Henry's control.

'Custodians must be shirking the deep-clean,' Henry mused.

He only had a few seconds at minimum to pull this off. If it would even work. The dust flowed along the metal slants and traced the edges of the target's locker. The particulate was willed into crevices, so as to not draw suspicion. The wannabe-gunman unzipped his backpack, and looked around again; then, finding himself safe in the crowd, he struck out like a viper. The dusty rectangular carrying case was deposited into the nook of his open locker.

Henry closed his eyes and set his dust to work. Particulate poured into the locker. Henry tracked the kid's head movement, and waited for averted eyes before a tendril of dirt snaked up from within the locker and slid its way into the locking mechanism on the interior side of the door. A simple set of blunt locks and levers was mapped out in Henry's mind, positioned askew of the kid's block head. As the target stepped back and swung his locker closed, Henry wedged dust in-between the two prongs of the locking mechanism.

The door slammed with a barely-audible clack. His target turned to walk away, seemingly satisfied at the drop-off. Henry pretended to futz around on his phone, eyes glued to an icon he was idly spinning around. The dust he placed in the gunman's hoodie dropped out of range a few moments later, and with that, Henry knew the coast was clear.

He tangled around a few lingering swells of chattering students. Henry picked up the pace, now at a light jog towards the locker. He only had a few minutes left to cross the school back to the computer lab; however, presently he just wanted to get this gun situation over and done with. In front of the locker, Henry looked around. Satisfied no one was watching him, he jammed his thumb up against the black tab.

It sunk upwards, and Henry caught his breath as the locker swung open. He took a quick peek behind the door, and saw the multilayered wad of dust and debris coating the locking mechanism.

"Damn, guess it worked."

Wouldn't make it a repeat performance. Special circumstances called for extreme action. Henry leaned forward and rifled through the locker, pushing aside a stack of papers. Plastic bottles spilled behind him and clattered noisily onto the tile floor, but Henry paid them no mind. He grabbed the small, hard suitcase, and clicked the locks open.

Out spilled the shiny profile of a handgun. Henry held his breath, and delicately turned the firearm around. He didn't know much about guns, but could at least verify the safety was on before he hurled his backpack into the locker and jammed the weapon into the furthest corner of his own bag.

'No sense in lugging the case around,' he figured.

Henry turned around and slammed the locker door. A quick look-see didn't indicate that anyone had paid him much attention. Too close to the next period for people to linger around.

Henry bolted for the computer lab, knowing that the added baggage in his pack would weigh on him the rest of the day.

- - -


Henry reached down and softly exhaled. He bent backwards to avoid inhaling acrid paint fumes, and then smiled as he looked down upon the completed project.

A plastic mask, contoured roughly to fit over his face. While at one point a generic skull-slasher halloween mask, Henry repurposed it to serve as an alternate for his crime-fighting costume. Easy enough to see out of the eye-holes, though he'd have to default to some recently-expired contacts in the meantime. Bright colors and shapes outlined the eyes and cheeks of the skull, and its gnarled clenched teeth now seemed an exaggerated smile. The Calavera, a sugar skull.

Henry admired the flower-like designs around the eyeholes. Those had taken a while to get right. Days of looking up photos on his laptop, making sure he was getting the psychedelic pastiche near perfect. Then, realizing it rubbed off almost instantly, he had to apply a few layers of an odorless ceramic finish, repaint everything, and then let it dry for a full day before applying another coat. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It would definitely stick out, especially when paired with Henry's utilitarian tight-fitting track pants and underarmor shirt. He'd spice up the ensemble maybe, repurpose the wrappings from his other costume into a caballero-esque poncho or something.

But that could wait until he heard back from Flint. Henry turned his eyes to the corner of his desk where the tailor's business card still sat from many nights prior. The card made Henry so nervous that he thought it was liable to burn a hole right through his desk, fall through the floor, and land on his dad's bald dome downstairs.

So many things he had to figure out before reconnecting with Flint's crew.

"Can spend some time tonight figuring that out," Henry muttered.

He then turned to his bed. Fragments of the confiscated glock were strewn all over his comforter. Disassembling the gun was easy enough, you just had to look up a how-to video on youtube. It was getting rid of the weapon that posed a problem--he knew that his parents were streetwise enough to recognize any of the pieces if they happened to show up in the trash.

'Then again, not wise enough to catch me sneaking out the other night.'

And they'd be none the wiser if he bailed again tonight. Fuck waiting for the perfect costume. Fuck holding up with this gun in his room. Henry would get rid of it and go on his sophomore night of patrol, all in one fell swoop.
In Mote 3 yrs ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Hey guys, I'm still here and all caught up! Just dropping in to say that I am just really, really, really sick. Hard to focus on getting a post up and ready, but I'll get to it very soon.

Henry & Co.--First Night & Just Another Night

Henry stood on the fire escape, the second level of many that stretched into darkness above him. Goggles dangled on his finger as he looked over the edge of the thin guardrail, the alley sitting beneath him. Things were oddly quiet considering the conflict that had transpired only minutes prior. He saw some of the sediment settle into corners, and still had yet to hear the telltale croon of police sirens in the surrounding MIssion Hills. Everything was just at a resting quiet. 

"I feel like I fucked up," Henry muttered. "I'm alive, but I'm just...bad at this. Really bad."

Henry's power was always running, though he had the ability to block out most of the ambient disturbances around him. Gusts of wind, small animals, that kind of thing. Several sets of footsteps, running into his scope, gave him pause. It was quiet no longer, and with the purposeful approach, Henry hurried to readjust his goggles and conceal the elastic band behind his layers of rags. 
- - -

Three figures appeared in front of Henry, obscured by darkness in the alleyway. One of the three figures, small and feminine, pulled out a flashlight, turning it on and looking around the alley. "I swore I heard a gunshot, guys...I don't know what happened."

"You think they got her?" The largest of the three asked, in a deep, gruff voice. Despite his powerful frame, he stood with a strange hunch; his back seemed normal, so what gave him the hunch was something else.
- - -

Henry froze, and pressed himself back against the brick wall. Dust bit at his awareness, but he kept quiet. 'Got her?' He thought. 'These guys are with the van...?'
- - -

"Nah, there'd be sign of entry. I don't know what happened, but cops are coming, we better hurry," The final voice spoke, at a higher pitch than the other man but with a bit more intellect. 

Finally, the woman turned her flashlight to the building, to the fire escape, and then up to Henry. "Fuck!" She yelled. The two others turned to face what she yelled at, when the smaller man starting laughing.

"Dude, what the fuck are you wearing?" He asked, stifling his laughter. The woman punched him lightly in the rib.

"Flint!" She yelled at him through gritted teeth.

"What babe?"

"I think he's shot!"

"Oh." The man looked back up to Henry, and shouted, "You shot?"
- - -

"N-no," Henry replied, nearly choking as one of the poorly-placed rags slid into his mouth as he spoke. In a moment, he undid it slightly, and the band of cloth dangled nearer to his neck. "No! There was a gun, and he shot, but I blinded him. He was off-mark." 
- - -

Flint just looked at him, confused. It was clear that he too was wearing an outfit, but his was slim, and seemed professionally made, with goggles built into a helmet and a suit of what seemed to be combat armor. "So what, you're just like...hanging out with a muumuu on your head?" The other man started laughing, and Flint looked back at him. "Thanks John."
- - -

"I'm..." Henry attempted to speak clearly from his vantage point, but sweat beaded underneath the rims of his goggles. He thought about the situation, about these people. Pretty cavalier with their identities, considering he'd already heard two names. "I'm, uh, new at this. Er, new around here. I'm Henry. And, uh, if you're looking for some bad dudes in a white van, they're gone."
- - -

"Like, gone gone?" The girl asked. She wore no helmet, but still had combat armor, a riot shield, and a lone ranger mask around her eyes.
- - -

"Yeah," Henry replied. "Was uh, there were...five guys. White van, like I er, like I already said. I fought 'em off." 

Part of him wanted to summon some sediment into the air and swirl it about him, a display of power. Something to drive home the half-hearted boast. However, the other part of him didn't want to overplay his hand; he didn't know who these three were, and for all he knew, they could easily trump him if they knew what they were up against. 
- - -

"Ah, shit!" Flint shouted, putting his arms behind his head and pacing back and forth. "We've been tracking these fucks for a week!" The girl stepped forward, unperturbed by her boyfriend's apparent fury.

"I'm Sage. What's your power, Henry?" She asked, friendly but in an almost patronizing tone.
- - -

Henry visibly flinched at Flint's exclamation, and braced himself. When nothing came, no psionic blasts or whirling spikes, he turned his attention to the girl. Something about the way she said that weirded him out--she didn't know he had powers. 

'Does she? Henry wondered.

Henry was still tense. His arms were painfully rigid. "I-I uh, I use dust. How'd you know about that? About me having a power?"
- - -

"I can sense it," she said, "It's a part of mine." Flint calmed himself down, and grabbed Sage by the shoulder.

"Alright babe, we got to move, cops are coming." She stood still, body still facing Henry.

"Wait!" She turned her head back towards him. "Hey, you need help down from there?" Knowing his role in all of this, John stepped forward, and starting bracing himself, squatting slightly.
- - -

"That'd be...thanks, yeah," Henry looked from his space on the fire escape platform, to the ladder he'd come up, and then to the two yards or so of open air between the final rung and pavement. No van here this time. 

He took a few moments to descend the flights of metal stairs, then systematically climbed down the ladder until he was dangling from the final rung. His legs swung as Henry attempted to ease himself down towards the hulking John.
- - -

As John caught Henry, he didn't so much as flinch, and he carefully began placing him on the floor, accidentally dropping him about halfway through.

"Alright, let's head out," said Flint, and they starting quickly walking away from the alley and towards the side road. As they went, John looked behind him at Henry.

"You coming...Dust-boy?"
- - -

"Y-yeah," Henry said with a nod. "Here, I can give us some cover." 

He extended awareness to his power. Dust rushed out from the alley, bubbled off of the street like steam in the night air, wisping around and congealing into a thick fog of sediment. Henry gasped slightly, the ease at which he was able to throw up cover was a noticeable change. Maybe it was all the dust that he had collected from the previous encounter, but then again, maybe not. Henry could swear that the radius of particulate that he could pull from had noticeably expanded. The fog became a cloud, and it swirled above them like an impermeable vortex. A breathable bubble of unperturbed air remained around the four of them.

"Just lead the way," Henry said. "I'll follow you, but please let me know that you're not with, uh, not like the guys in the van. Kidnapping. Tell me I'm better off with you than tryin' to explain myself to the cops."
- - -

Flint stopped and looked at him incredulously, while Sage and John looked in amazement at the cloud of dust. "Kid...I don't care what you do. But the cops are gonna have a fucking field day if they find a powered vigilante." Sage punched him again, this time the arm, and Flint sighed, rolled his eyes, and said, "Look, one thing all the people being kidnapped have in common? They've got powers." He then proceeded to breathe a plume of bright flame into the air, briefly illuminating the alleyway. "Now come on!"
- - -

Henry nodded. No arguing with that. He let the group of three older masked vigilantes take the way, and tailed them, keeping pace while maintaining the dust cloud cover. 
- - -

After swerving in and out of the alleyways and onto the side roads, they arrived at their mode of transportation, their getaway vehicle; a Honda Civic. Flint got in the driver's seat, Sage riding shotgun, and John sat in the back.
- - -

Henry squeezed into the back of the civic. It wouldn't be a leisurely ride, but better here than outside, trying to explain himself to the police. 

When everyone was in, and there was a moment of quiet, Henry couldn't help himself as the questions burst forth. "So, uh, ALL the people kidnapped? How many people are missing? I've caught on the news, or my parents have mentioned it, but...I had no idea it was such a big deal."

Now that they were inside, he also felt the need to rip the goggles off. These people, whoever they were, probably wouldn't recognize a pair of eyes jumbled in the rags of his costume. 
- - -

"How many? Like, fifteen this year, but there's more. All powered...we think," Sage said.

"People like to hide their powers. Not usually wear muumuu's on their head," John said, laughing.

"Hey, don't be a joke thief, nobody likes it," Flint chimed in, pulling onto the main road, away from the crime scene. As they drove, the foggy lamp-lit streets of Mission Hills passed them by, tattooed pedestrians crowding streets that smelled of pizza and cigarettes.

"Can you hand me the aux?" Sage asked, which her boyfriend complied to, and she started playing music. 

- - -

"I was going for a sort of Middle-Eastern look," Henry explained. He fumbled at the rags ensconcing his head and neck, wrapped tightly around his arms. "You know...sandstorms and subterfuge and stuff." 
- - -

Flint looked into the rear view mirror and frowned. "You're Mexican, Henry," he said, disapproving of the boy's subtle racism. 
- - -

"Man, I mean," Henry backpedaled. "Y-you're right. It wasn't really...thought through all that well. Like I said, I'm new at this. Tomorrow night was gonna be a sombrero."

Henry found his head rocking slowly to the music. Not really his type, but it put him at ease nonetheless. Didn't seem like a cutthroat bunch would be playing indie rock. Henry breathed a sigh of relief, and tried to play it cool. Realistically, dealing with a gunman was easier than that. 

"Fifteen this year though, damn. Why? You guys said you were hunting down these guys tonight, yeah? You got leads on what the hell's going down?"
- - -

The rest of the car was silent for a minute, nobody wishing to speak. John looked over at Henry, and asked, "Can we trust you?" A light drizzle started falling onto the windshield, only to quickly be dismissed by Flint's wipers. Sage also turned her head back to see Henry's reaction. She had removed her mask, revealing her dark mascara and pierced nostril, with attractive but pale features which were framed by her black and blonde hair. John wore a dockworker-style beanie and a bandanna covering his face, although the bandana had been taken off, to reveal a thick, bushy beard, which obscured most of his face aside from his kind blue eyes.
- - -

Henry was taken slightly by surprise. 'Trust me? Yeah, but can I trust THEM?' He still didn't fully understand who these three were, and why they were seeking out the gaggle of thugs that he'd chased off earlier tonight. 

"Yeah," Henry sighed, "You guys can trust me." 

To further commit, his hand grabbed a dangling rope of cloth around his face. henry tugged, and the whole wrap of rags came spilling around the bottom of his neck. He pushed the goggles further up to his sweaty, tangled black hair, and offered a nervous half-smile. He felt like he was in over his head, in the car with these near-strangers, and on a school night no less. 
- - -

Flint stayed focused on the road, while Sage and Henry looked to each other, not knowing if they should begin talking. Finally, to all of their surprise, Flint spoke up first.

"The guys in the van...were they Chinese?"
- - -

"I uh, I dunno," Henry admitted. "The way my power works, didn't get a good look at any of them. And I can't hear anything through the dust. Only heard them when they got close, and I guess one of them sounded like he had kinda an..." He wanted to phrase it delicately, "asian kinda accent. They were speaking English though, from what I heard."
- - -

There was a while of silence, Flint looking at Henry in the rear view mirror as they came to a traffic stop. He turned his body to face the boy behind him, his helmet now apparant, leaving his mouth exposed.

"Alright, kid, why are you doing this?" He sighed, searching for the right words. "Like...the costume and shit, why are you doing this?"
- - -

"Uhhh..." Henry stumbled, caught unawares. He shifted in his seat, not uncomfortable, but fidgeting while trying to formulate an answer. After a few more moments, he spoke in a lower, calmer voice. "Happened last year, these guys. broke into my family's house, made off with like everything we owned. And the cops, they couldn't really do nothing about it, or more like didn't WANT to, you know? So I thought, after I figured out these lame-ass powers of mine, I could kinda turn the tables and do something about it on my own terms." 

He took a breath, looked around the car. Sage, sitting up front, with her kind expression and mismatched hair. John, the hulking dude sitting right next to him. Henry trembled with determination. 

"Just wanted to do anything. Track down some crooks, stop 'em from ripping off other innocent people. Saw that van around the comic store, and man, I love comics. I ain't have a plan really, and I know it sounds stupid, but I just needed to get in there and mix it up, drive 'em off. Be a part of something bigger and get shit done." 
- - -

The light turned green and Flint turned back to the road. Sage smiled at Henry's response, while John patted him on the back a bit too roughly.

"Well first lesson of this shit, Henry. Don't just 'go out and patrol'. Fuck, that's in every comic and it's always bullshit. You gotta go out with a plan. And don't do it alone, have a team." He waited a while longer before continuing, hesitating before he unloaded the information. "Look, people with powers...we've got a good price. You can sell us for a lot of money, I mean a lot. Weapons, circus acts, sex slaves, you name it, there's a fucked up underbelly to society and people with powers know just how to scratch it."

"The Triad, the Red Dragons, here in Esperanza always was good as doing this, usually going for streetrats and lowlifes who can walk on water or whatever and selling them to some shiek in Dubai." Sage seemed to wince at these words, but said nothing while Flint continued. "Lately though, shit's changed. We don't know what, but they're going for whoever's got powers, rich, poor, you name it. And they're doing it a lot. There's something behind it, but what that is we're trying to figure out."
- - -

"Shit, man..." Henry said. He listened, with rapt horror, and thought of the idea of his encounter with the thugs in the van going the opposite way. If that bullet would have grazed him, and he fell on the street, those Triad members would have been on him, and he'd be tied up on some sicko senator's torture dungeon across the country. 

"I didn't even know what those guys were doing, you know? Figured they were thieves, not kidnappers. Wonder who they were after in that neighborhood...?" Henry looked around at his companions, a glow in his eyes, and added, "I'm from Casmalia. Just heard about some weird shit up here, you know? Thought I'd patrol, which...yeah, was a pretty bad call. But I wanna help. You guys know what you're doing, yeah? You need more firepower, or...or a look-out or something? Just a contact. I handled myself okay, but with an actual crew..."
- - -

Suddenly, Flint veered the car off into an alleyway, quickly parking and shutting off the power, before turning back to Henry. "End of the line," he said in an ominous tone.
- - -

Henry felt his body weight slide into the side of the car, and he grunted as they ground to a halt a second later. His eyes took a few moments to adjust to the dark, and he suddenly felt very small. Very small and very, very stupid. 
- - -

"I..." Henry began. He frowned, bit his lip, but then started re-wrapping the threadbare rags around his jaw and mouth. Slightly muffled, he said, "I get it. I fucked up. Thanks for the ride. B-but you guys know what I look like. You know my neighborhood now. And I know what you all look like. Gotta be a way to keep in contact, right? You know, in case things go down, and I might need some back-up?" 

He hooked his fingers through the handle of the door and put on a small bit of pressure. It kicked on a light in the interior. Henry wanted to show he was leaving, but he wanted to see their eyes. Get an answer, at the very least.
- - -

Flint looked at him for a bit longer, before he burst out laughing. "Fuck, you're adorable kid. I'm just messing with you, come inside." John and Sage both got out of the car, John laughing and Sage rolling her eyes.

"You're a dick, Flint."
- - -

Henry choked out a laugh. He fell for it. These guys, whoever they were, he got a good vibe from them. 

"Damn, that was savage," he said, and nodded at Flint. 

As he watched John and Sage get out of the car, he followed suit and hopped out into the dreary night. Henry tied the rags around his neck in a clump and slung it over the back of his head. He looked around, peering into the strange alleyway. "Man, where are we?"
- - -

"A slice of heaven, my friend," Flint said as he unlocked the back door to one of the buildings in the alley. The key jammed, and as he was figuring it out, Sage walked up to Henry.

"Either that or the low-rent tailor shop Flint owns," she muttered lowly, Flint groaning as he opened the door.

"I can hear you, babe."
- - -

"Cool," Henry said. "So kinda like a hide-out or something!"
- - -

As the three adults entered the building, John chuckled.

"Nah, just a tailor shop."

Flint flicked the lights on, some of them flickering over the arrangement of projects, multicolored fabrics, and needles that scattered the mess that was Flint's tailor shop. Sage sat down on a rolling chair, and on the wall was a framed poster, with words a mixture of English and Japanese, showing a dark figure with the moonlit Esperanza skyline behind him, drawn in was looked like a combination of western comic drawing and Japanese manga. 
- - -

"Awww, sick. Who's the Hogosha fan?" Henry asked the room, smiling. 

He was actually at kind of a loss, overstimulated at the idea of this covert lair-slash-pad-slash-workspace. His family was squarely middle-class, and the thought of owning his own place was so far-off, but Henry could imagine a set-up just like this. Well, maybe more space for his gaming rig.
- - -

Flint smirked at Henry's recognition of the poster. "It's my shop, ain't it?" He quickly put some of his misplaced work things back in place. "Hogosha's why I started doing this shit."

Suddenly Sage spoke up. "Hey, if you nerds are done talking about your comics-" 

"Graphic novels," Flint interjected. She glared at him, before continuing.

"I have a couple of Blair's indica joints left."

"Get that shit out, then," Flint demanded as he removed the helmet from his head, revealing his sweaty, dirty blond hair, and his contrastingly plain face compared to his girlfriend. While he was certainly in good shape, he had hawkish features and sunken cheeks. He looked over at Henry. "You smoke?"
- - -

Henry shook his head. "Nah, never. My par--" He coughed slightly, trying to redirect the reflex of mentioning his folks. "Always kinda wanted to try it out, but it's y'all's stash. I'm good, thanks."

'I'm such a fucking dork,' he thought, severely out of his element.
- - -

Sage passed Flint a joint, and he blew a small flame at the tip before bringing it back to his lips. After taking a long hit, he coughed a bit and looked back to Henry.

"You sure man? Like, we make money, we have jobs and stuff, it's not hard to buy more weed." He sat down next to Sage, John pulling up his own chair next to Henry.
- - -

"Don't listen to my cousin, kid," he said, "I don't smoke either." Flint started laughing hysterically.

"That's because you can't use a fucking lighter, John!"

"Shut up, ass." 
- - -

Henry laughed, at ease. The more he thought about it, the more the idea sat with him, and he liked it. You always heard those stories about getting drawn into situations like this. A school counselor would react one way, tell you to pass and clam up for the rest of the night. One of Henry's friends though, a kid his age--free weed? It was a no brainer. 

Henry shrugged, then nodded. "Alright. I'm down. Thanks." 

He reached over to take the joint from Flint. Testing the weight in-between his fingers, he looked to the older dude and smiled. Then, imitating Flint's motions, he brought the smoldering blunt to his lips and took a great breath.
- - -

"Keep it in!" Sage yelled at the boy.
- - -

"J-jesus," Henry strained, coughing slightly. He felt moisture well in the sides of his eyes, took in another small breath, and held it for a few more seconds before his body forced out a cough. 

He passed the joint back, bringing a hand to cover his mouth, and smiled like an idiot.
- - -

"Damn, kid," Flint said, laughing as he passed the roll back to Sage. "You want some water?"
- - -

It took Henry a few more seconds, and several coughs later. He felt the tickle at the back of his throat, but it wasn't as bad when he didn't focus about it. "I-I'm good. Heh, thanks." 

A few more seconds passed, and Henry, feeling friendlier, ventured, "So how'd you guys all get into this? The costumes, and the...actual patrols and stuff? How'd you coordinate?"
- - -

Flint moved some supplies and sat down on a table, saying, "Sit down, kid." He waited a second, chuckling as he looked at Henry's bloodshot eyes. "Me and John are cousins. Grew up together, you know, being family and all. We always knew about our powers, and I wanted to help the world. So, I became a Jesuit, went to work on a mission down in Mexico, si, es verdad."

"Anyways, fell in with a bad crowd, went 'off the path' as they say. Came back up here, still wanted to help people. Realized I can breathe fire."

"I'm really fucking strong," John chimed in.

"Yeah man, you are," Flint responded. "Anyways...I met Sage."

"I can make your powers stronger, or weaker, if you're an asshole," Sage said, before picking up Flint's story. "I don't know if you remember, but a few years back there was this white supremecist group targeting minority businesses in Mission Hills. We decided to do something, and I guess we just never stopped!"
- - -

Henry followed along, nodding when appropriate. His eyes lit up a bit at Flint's spanish, and he smiled that same dumb smile. Was this why people always smoked weed and wanted it legalized everywhere and shit? He didn't even know if it was really affecting him yet; he'd be engrossed in a story like this either way. Now he was just kind of paranoid that the story had ended and he was too caught up in his own thoughts.

"That's awesome," Henry commented. He looked to Sage and then ruminated on her power, "So yeah, that's how you knew when I had powers earlier. And when we were headed to the car, I felt like it was...damn, how to explain it? Felt like the dust and sand was working with me more than usual. That was you, huh?" 

He looked at Sage, then felt awkward about that and closed his eyes. She was a beautiful, way out of his league woman. Well, insofar as he understood women, which admittedly wasn't much. Sage was the kind of girl he'd see on his friends' instagram feeds. Flint was different; he had a story, and he was easygoing, but Henry wasn't sure if Flint was on that same level. Not that it mattered, he realized dully. Flint seemed like the kind of guy Henry wanted to be, that easy swagger and confidence.

"It's good synergy," he said after another distracted second. "Spiking peoples' powers. And you'd probably be good at tracking people, yeah? That's what you guys were trying to do tonight? See if the van lead you to a den of superpowered hostages?"
- - -

Flint chuckled. "Yeah, that's about it. Also, ya know, stop another kidnapping. That'd be cool too." He looked at how Henry looked at Sage, then how he was, very, very high, and bit his lip. "Hey man, you feeling alright?"
- - -

Henry nodded; putting a stop to the kidnappings was probably one of the most noble things you could do in a city as messed up as Esperanza. It took him a second to register the second half of Flint's comment. "Oh, yeah, sorry. I'm good. Good as I've been in a while. Just a little out-of-my-element, you know? Not how I thought I'd be passing the night. Don't know what I expected, going on patrol in the first place, but...yeah. I'm good." 

In reality, the idea of his current situation buzzed in Henry's head like an angry dust cloud. He certainly had to get home at some point, then stash his costume, then get to school in the morning. It was a lot to think about, but he just smiled and wanted to spend time soaking up the total cool that these three were putting out.
- - -

Sage decided to cut off his dwelling in coolness at that moment. "Hey, Henry, is it a school night?" She asked him, concerned with his education.
- - -

"It's...yeah," Henry said quietly. It was like Sage had read his mind. 'Wait, did she?' He thought dumbly. 

He didn't mean to put a kibosh on the vibe. 
- - -

"Oh, you want me to give you a ride home? It's getting really late." She said. She pulled the keys out of her pocket, and Flint looked at her.

"Could you babe? That'd be awesome."

"Yeah, it's no big," She said to Flint, before smiling back at Henry. "My car's parked out front, and I work early tomorrow so I should probably get going anyways."
- - -

Henry stood up, and did the quick three-point check before remembering that he didn't bother with his phone or wallet tonight. He looked from Flint to John, and then back to Flint. 

"Yeah, I'll take the ride. It was...really cool meeting up with you guys tonight," He said earnestly. "Hoping I didn't make too bad a fool of myself, and thanks for letting me chill." 

With that, he was ready to follow Sage's lead.
- - -

"See ya," John said, not one who cares for large goodbyes. Flint walked up to Henry.

"Hey, take this," he said, handing him a business card which read, Good Jeans Tailor Co., with a phone number and address. "Call me if you need anything, it'd be cool to have some more help." He turned, and was about to let him leave, when he added, "Hey, why don't you leave your costume behind, have a professional take a look at it?"
- - -

He took the card, and committed the name to memory before burying the slip of paper in the empty pocket on his left side. "Uhh, yeah. I'll do that, thanks!" 

It only took Henry a few seconds to unwrap his rags and leave them in some semblance of a pile where they'd be out of the way. They were an almost-continuous mass, stitched together haphazardly using his mother's spare sewing supplies. Henry dropped his goggles in the pile; he was now only wearing a form-fitting underarmor shirt, black sweatpants, and his shoes. In another dull moment, he realized that he didn't have an extra set of lenses. 

"Oh right, goggles have my prescription glasses glued in there, but I think they're pretty sturdy," he then turned to Sage and nodded. "Anyways, yeah, ready to go when you are."
- - -

Sage smiled. "Yeah, let's get out of here."
In Mote 3 yrs ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Henry--First Night

Slowly, inexorably, the white utility van backed itself into the alley. Henry sensed the broad posterior of the vehicle, now caked in a slightly shifting mosaic of dirt and grime particulate, from his hideout within a half-empty dumpster. He'd forsake his pride for the time--not that much remained, he reminded himself, considering the drab costume that he had slung over his body before setting out for a night of heroics. Thankfully, though the costume was cheap by even half-assed cosplay standards, the layered strips of cloth covered his mouth and nose.

It muffled the stench of stale pizza and wet cardboard that clung like a heavy fog in the darkness of the dumpster. Henry closed his eyes and focused on that familiar sensation in his mind. The free-floating data points in his blank mental canvas, clumping and coalescing as he willed it. Presently, he welcomed the ability to put his body on stand-by. Full focus went on maintaining sabotage.

He used subtle currents of dust and lint to get a sense of the thugs. There were four of them in the back of the van, and then a driver. The four in the back were on a sliding scale of fit to large. Their silhouettes, in his mind, put Henry in the mind of dumb muscle more than cat burglary. The driver was on the slimmer side, likely pure getaway and wouldn't leave the van at all. All of the occupants wore similarly-themed clothes: form-fitting shirts--if shirts at all--utility pants, stocking caps, and boots.

Henry could tell that they were talking, based on movement around the jawline. One at a time, and if he had to guess, probably at a whisper. Only one of the thugs currently had his hand on a gun. The other firearms were strewn on the floor of the van. This gave Henry pause--if they had heard his disturbance, and were seeking him out, why wouldn't they all be packing heat?

No sense wasting time analyzing that bit of trivia. He set to work, bringing great swaths of dust around the handguns and piling particulate into the barrels. Henry had little experience with firearms, but he knew you had to clean them. He was unsure if it would actually cause any kind of interference--surely a bullet or the firing mechanism couldn't be stopped by a build-up of dry gunk? He found some residue in the weapons already, likely leftover gunpowder or some other nominal residue from use, and went to work splattering everything. As the dirt spread, he was now getting a sense of the anatomy of the weapons.

[i]'If I get out of here,'[i] Henry thought. 'I need to look up a diagram or something. See what I can actually jam or mess with in the future.'

Good. With that finished, he focused on the men again. Words to the driver, who responded in turn. More mouth movement, from the others in the back. Argument? Henry wasn't sure. A gesture from one man in the back to another, a slap on the shoulder, seemed to prompt the recipient to move.

He did a crouching waddle towards the back wall, undid a latch, and then opened the double-doors to the exterior of the van fractionally, peering outside.

From his hiding place in the dumpster, Henry could hear the click of the doors opening. Moments later, he heard the strained, raspy whisper of one of the men.

" one," came the mumble. "...hide out fer...spooked. Coulda"

The man was looking back into the van, talking to his companions. Scouting the alley? Relaying if it was safe or not? Henry made a leap and assumed that they weren't actually investigating the commotion he caused bumping into the trash can. It's possible that the crash just spooked these guys and they needed the alley as a place to hide out for a bit until the coast was perceived clear.

Well, that wouldn't work. The more time the van spent in the alley, the better chance he was of getting discovered. Henry didn't intend to stay locked in this dumpster for ten more minutes, much less the better part of the night. He cursed at his luck. Some big night out. He was hiding in a dumpster, completely lacked the firepower to take on a group of armed thugs, and he wasn't even sure what they were doing.

However, instead of freaking out, he focused on the men. There was movement now, and the back doors to the van fully swung open. Two of the thugs hopped out and walked deeper into the alleyway, muttering between one another. Someone from within the van closed the doors, and then the driver moved the gearshift. The van backed up a little further. The two men outside of the van were gesturing to him, which Henry took to be signals to keep the van straight. It was a tight fit, maybe a foot of empty air on each side of the van before it hit wall.

"Should we move this dumpster back?" One of them asked.

Henry froze.

"...Nah. Too much noise. Shouldn't need to back in that far."

"Should just head back. Guy's an idiot, hiding a big white van in a fuckin' alley."


"Job's a fuckin' bust. Ain't no way none of these," the man gestured to the windows above them on either side of the alley. "Ain't gonna call the police on account a suspicious van activity."

"Job's a fucking job. Got a target out here. You don't say no to that."

"Stupid. Mission Hills? One fuckin' thing to grab someone off the barrio in Lompoc and count on nobody missin' them. Mission Hills got money and money don't shut up about missing people."

"Bigger job. Bigger payout. Now--HEY, bro, you're good," he made a gesture to the driver, and the van jerked to a stop, just shy of the dumpster. A fire escape ladder hung just diagonally above the fan's roof.

'Missing people?' Henry thought they were petty thieves. A van like this probably would have just been filled with t.v.s or a pallet of stolen phones. He didn't think that they were here trying to abduct someone. Shit.

His mind was whirling. Henry inhaled a sharp breath of air, and then had to force himself from gagging on the heavy odor of garbage. Tears welled in the corners of his eyes, and he shifted involuntarily, knocking his shoulder against the corner of the dumpster.

"Fuckin' shit was that?"

"Don't worry 'bout it, bro. C'mon, get in the van. Light up an' chill til we get a better opportunity."

Henry sensed one of the thugs walking back to the backdoor of the van, which had opened again. Someone else inside of it beckoned them both to get back in. The other thug that was outside of the van took an extended pause. His head turned slightly, and Henry could imagine the man's eyes narrowing in suspicion. He took a step towards the dumpster, and then another.

'Shit. Shit.'

Henry willed himself to be still, to not breathe. As the urge to cough welled within his chest, he found himself nearly choking as his entire upper body became tight. He had to think quick, and fast. Use his power. As the thug outside took another step towards the dumpster, Henry acted. He felt patchwork constellation of dots in his mind vibrate. And then, as if the world were a snowglobe being shaken, he commanded all of the particulate in the area to violently explode into a storm.

"What the..."


The effect was instantaneous. Henry could sense the maelstrom of dust, dirt, sand, and all manner of broken garbage that had accumulated in the city block surge into the alleyway and whirl around. It was a sandstorm of particulate, battering against everything. The slightly-ajar backdoor of the van was ripped open, and dust surged inwards, blanketing and blinding the two remaining thugs and driver.

A cacophony of screams echoed in the alleyway. Henry could get a sense of where everyone was placed in his sandstorm, from the human-shaped silhouettes that remained as inkstains in his mind's eye. They staggered around, one of the thugs taking a step away from the dumpster by sheer dumb luck. Not good enough. Henry needed more space to make an escape.

He directed the particulate, intentionally driving it into faces. Probing fingers of dust forced themselves into eyes. As the victims screamed in pain, their open mouths were new targets. Henry barely had to think it, and he slapped clumps of dirt and grime into their mouths, rolling sand across tongues and teeth.


"What the...HAPPENINGFFFF??"

That was good enough.

Henry sprang up, one arm over his head to bash open the dumpster. The warped panel of metal flew back on its hinge and slapped loudly against the brick of the building behind it. As it came back down on Henry, he batted it again, and hoisted himself up on the rim of the dumpster.

"What was that? Who's fuckin' there?!"

Coughing, sputtering, Henry steadied himself with one foot on the closed half of the dumpster. Dust still surging around all of them like a furious swarm of bees, he oriented himself towards the van and jumped. He wasn't level with it, maybe two-thirds its height, since the dumpster was on the smaller end. Due to jumping to a higher surface, as well as generally not knowing what the fuck he was doing, Henry landed without grace, belly-down on the roof of the van. His shins came down hard on the edge of the roof, and he nearly lost a shoe as he scrambled through the pain to stand atop the van.

"..On the van! Someone's--" The driver started, but Henry forced another mouthful of dirt down his throat.

'Fire escape...?'

There. He remembered seeing it in the map of the block. As the storm of dust wreaked havoc, and the bodies below him thrashed and crashed into things in confusion, Henry could sense the thin metal bars of a fire escape. He pivoted, facing where they were relative to his position atop the van. He took a barely two running steps, the vehicle jostling under his shifting weight, and again jumped as if his life depended upon its success.

His hands gripped rungs, one above the other. The weight of his unsupported body nearly made Henry lose contact, however, and his palms stung with the strain of trying to keep him there, now suspended diagonally from the van. He kicked wildly, and summoned enough strength for one of his arms to support his wiry body as the other rose to meet it on the same rung. He grunted in pain, kicked a leg to the side and got the flat of his shoe against a wall. That granted him the leverage to force a knee through the space between two lower rungs. And with that, he could gain some ground.


The gunshot rang out, and the sound caused Henry such sudden shock that he at once feared he had been shot. He went rigid against the vertical ladder, which swayed slightly, as his arm muscles strained in weighted discomfort.

"What are you DOING?!" One of the thugs outside screamed.

The other, Henry noted, was waving a handgun; he must have missed it in the sandstorm. 'Fuck. Fuck me for being so stupid.' It also meant that his strategy of forcing dust into the barrel didn't amount to jack-shit.

"Get back in the fucking car! Both of ya! We gotta get the fuck--" A guy in the back of the van hurriedly commanded.

"Did I get him? The--"

"WHO FUCKING CARES?!" The driver's voice this time.

The scramble down below was too disjointed to keep track of. Henry no longer forced dirt into their faces, and instead summoned a majority of the material to cloak him on the fire escape, swirling a thick cloak of particulate around the entire ladder and walkway. He found it within him to ascend the remaining few rungs, reaching the solid catwalk of the lowest-level fire escape entry, and hunkered, knees tucked to his chin, in the farthest corner.

The van stirred to life, and Henry watched its silhouette slide unceremoniously out of the alleyway, cross several opposing lanes of traffic, and then vanish from his awareness.

Henry killed the effects of his power. All of the particles fell to the ground. He pulled his googles up to his forehead, put his hands to his face, and closed his eyes in silent frustration. Henry knew there probably wasn't much time until the police arrived on the scene. Before he figured out how the hell to get out of here and back home, he needed to first figure out if this was the absolute worst idea he'd ever had.
Henry: First Night

With walls on three of his four sides, Henry coldly realized he'd have no where to run if things went south tonight. Fog clung the outside of his lenses like misty cobwebs. Looking up at the apartment buildings that towered towards the night sky, he saw one of the few lights in a window finally snuff out. It was late. The latest he'd ever done something like this.

"First time I've ever done something like this," he mumbled.

If someone were to accidentally pass by this alleyway, he had no doubts as to how suspicious he would look. Here Henry was, crouched adjacent to a dumpster. Wearing a costume. He was wrapped in overlapping strips of beige canvas and silk that wound around his head, face, and neck. The rags, coupled with a pair of allegedly fog-proof swimming goggles over his eyes, gave him a sort of Tusken raider vibe.

It was the best he could do on leftover summer lawnmowing money. Maybe if one of his aunts sent him an atrociously-late birthday card, he could splurge on better eyewear. The fog and perspiration wouldn't be a huge problem, but the hard plastic rims were digging into Henry's cheeks. Thankfully, he could at least see. A pair of old glasses and some work with a hot glue gun afforded him improvised prescription swimwear for a night of amateur crime-fighting.

He took a deep breath, and skulked to the alleyway's opening. This street was empty, sans for a few parked vehicles, so he ventured with confidence to the sidewalk. A quick glance to the right confirmed his target. Malone's Game Shop, sign in utilitarian black impact, was half of a first floor in an apartment rise. It looked like a nice set-up, Henry begrudged. Everything was clean, modern, and didn't have that look of a highly-trafficked hobby-shop. It wasn't as authentic as what Henry was accustomed to. Probably spoke to the Mission Hills clientele.

So, you'd never have guessed that they'd just been robbed a few nights prior.

Henry figured there was something poetic to that. The first night of his caped crime-fighting career would be bringing justice to a comic book store. Serial theft was hitting most Esperanza neighborhoods this past year. It was often petty, with minimal casualty, and without seeming regard for the type of establishment. Whatever thugs were smashing windows and lifting diamond necklaces seemed equally-prone to pick the lock to the back door of a comic store and make off with mint-condition volumes of The Uncanny X-Men.

Pulling down a band of cloth at his wrist, Henry glanced at his watch. Just past 1am. Why did he pick his first night out to be a school night? Eliza Montgomery High School was barely a welcome sight after a full night of sleep. Maybe he should head home.

'And make this a total waste of my time?' Henry thought. 'Have to at least test things.'

Henry took another deep breath. This time, as he exhaled, he held his arms out, fingertips extended. Eyes closed underneath the goggles, he activated his power. His consciousness extended to the radius of the block. Flecks of color filled in an imaginary map in his mind's eye. He saw floors and walls, surfaces that extended from fire escapes to kitchen counters and then into circuitous systems of vents and pipes that pumped life into the complexes. He could sense the rise and fall of sleeping chests and the waggle of rat tails as the rodents moved in unseen highways underneath floorboards. In short, he was seeing dust.

Particulate matter. It was pretty gross when you got down to the technical side of it. Even the most immaculately-cleaned houses would accumulate enough debris for him to get a detailed floor plan. Henry had experimented before with mites and fleas, in order to more easily track moving bodies, but he couldn't sense them until they were dead and inevitably fell off of their hosts. But he could rely on other things. Dandruff, dried out pollen (weather permitting), and even the spittle from a particular breathy sleeper let him get a sense for the bodies that occupied dust-laden mental topography.

An empty van in the radius of his power caught Henry's attention after several more seconds. Smoke was harder to get a sense of, because it didn't cling to anything for long. But the telltale cone of swirling particulate, its ebb and flow in time to long drags, let Henry know that a group of people were smoking in the back of that van. Large square shapes were next to them. Boxes. And as Henry carefully let a whorl of dust sweep over the floor of the van's interior, he could make out the shape of a crowbar. Several more shapes were telltale outlines of handguns. Shit, he hadn't seen those on first glance. For petty, idiot lifters, these guys kept their firearms clean.

"That sort of complicates things," Henry admitted.

He backed up into the alley, spooked. As he did, only paying attention to the map in his head, Henry body-checked a trash can that was right behind him. It clattered to the ground with a loud metallic crash, spilling its contents to the concrete. Plastic bottles thrummed noisily against one another. Henry could sense movement at the disturbance in the floors above his hideaway. Even worse, he felt the particulate around the van's engine vibrate. The vehicle was soon in motion, slowly backing away from the comic shop and towards the alleyway that Henry was tucked away in.

"Oh no. Oh, shit."
In Mote 3 yrs ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
A blinding flash. A thrum that reverberated deep into Griff's body, playing his bones like a mad percussionist. He wanted to shout, to scream, to do something or say anything. But his breath had been stolen, and his body was weightless. Though Griff had ever only been in water that went up to his chest, in that moment he likened it to swimming.

But as quick as the light had seized him, quicker was the landing. The pressure of hard ground against his body, limbs now sprawled out. Griff's eyes were closed, reflexively at first, but now he was too worried to open them.

He reached out to grab the knife. Pulled from his fingers in the swirling vacuum. Grass tickled and played at his open palm, but he found no grip on blade handle. Was it gone? He had paid good money for that carving knife.

Griff gingerly opened his eyes. Nothing hurt, not presently, but he was reminded of waking up on cold mornings with a stiff neck. The kind of ache you didn't feel until you rose from bed. All that greeted him were slightly-swaying tendrils of bright green grass. His own breath cleared the slender leaves out from around his nostrils. Griff realized it wasn't especially windy, wherever he was, as a stark contrast to the dark beach trail.

"No," the knot in his stomach was wrenched further in dull realization.

It wasn't dark either.

He sat up, back rigid as a plank and knees tucked beneath him. Griff rubbed at his eyes, swatted at his face--anything to make sure that this wasn't a dream. He looked up, and squinted through the mosaic of leaves as sunbeams lanced through far-off canopy.

There were others around him--four in all. He recognized the head of hair that was bifurcated right down the middle. Strangers on the beach. They were all here with him? Wherever here was, that is. Certainly no beach.

He shifted again, and saw it. Several yards away was the rotund, clay-red body of a mote. Not his Mote. Or rather, not the Mote that had just reacted so strongly to the clatter of a blade against its carapace. Even if it had transmuted color and shape, jumped with them to this elsewhere, the symbols were different. Though the languid half-circles and spirals weren't a language that Griff recognized, he just knew that this was a different Mote.

That cold feeling of dread settled in his gut. A shiver ran down his spine, despite the mild weather of this ossuary wood.

"This is all wrong," he protested.
In Mote 3 yrs ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Aack! Too much pressure!! Can I pass this round? I actually just got done and burned out leading a story arc on my other RPing website.

(but in the order of fairness, I pick 19--them's the rules!!)
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