Those Halcyon Days II -- All New, All Different

Game Master Stalwart

Moves
Core playbooks


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Soldier | Danger -2 | Freak +0 | Savior +3 | Superior +1 | Mundane +3 | Soldier +2 Potential:▶️✴️✴️✴️✴️ | Conditions: Afraid, Guilty, Hopeless

With Skyler

That was a lot to take in. How could someone be so stupid and cruel. No father would act like that, and the only reason he could stomach such behavior was reasoning that Cortex probably forced him through it since the very beginning... and even so, he could not stop himself from hating the man and wanting to harm him in everyway possible.

"I... I don't know what to say Sky. I don't get how he could do it... but I'm here, ok? And I'm going nowhere." He hugs her and keeps her close until he feels she'll not crumble. "And I love you." If there was a moment to say it, it was that one.

Comfort, Influence: 2d6 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (3, 6) + 3 + 1 = 13

---

Message to Horizon

Caio: Right, and after the fight and how we solved the trouble with the CHC? Do you feel it was just a misunderstanding?


Skyler, with Caio

Caio's words elicit a bitter yet exultant sob from her. Her legs completely give out and with an easy motion he's carrying her as she buries her face into his chest. During the walk to the bus stop, the only sounds Skyler makes are muffled sobs and sniffles.

She finally regains her feet when the bus arrives so she can climb aboard, though she doesn't let go of him. When they find a seat and take it, she clings to him desperately. She lifts her head up to meet his eyes. "I love you too. I love you so much. I couldn't-- I wouldn't--"

Skyler stops herself from saying more in the public setting of the bus with effort. She sits upright, wiping her face, then taking the folder of legal paperwork and flipping through the pages. "Mom's getting evaluated for civil commitment," she concludes. "If they say she can't take care of herself, she'll be in assisted living. If not, she'll be on her own."

She looks at Caio, fresh tears welling in her eyes. "I don't know which is worse."


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

At Movie Night, no one can hear you scream!:
Ngon's parents' house is located on a street that looks straight out of an 80s teen drama. The groups of friends arrive to be greeted with a huge spread of snack foods including banh ran, spring rolls, and a big bowl of peanut sticky rice. Ngon looks a little embarrassed that his parents went all-out on the snacks, but his parents are all smiles when the food is sampled.

Ngon leads everyone downstairs to a basement refurbished into a large media room with large comfy couches arrayed around a flat-screen tv taking up nearly an entire wall.

Gina is already there when everyone starts arriving. Chastity arrives with Gabe and another teen who introduces himself as Ethan. Raquel arrives and immediately positions herself near Gabe. Conway pulls up in an old Toyota, bringing a bag of chips and a couple two-liters of soda.

Maeve’s heart sinks a little when she sees this Ethan. Why must they all end in -than? But then she wonders if Chastity is asking why her other dates all begin with Con-. This thought amuses her enough for her to put on a smile, and just do what’s best for everybody else.

—starting with the elders.

“Ms. Vo, Mr. Vo,” Mae says with a habitual curtsy, “I’m Maeve Gallagher and this is my very good friend, Conway Juszczyk.” She gives him some room to place his contribution to the snack table, which she absolutely must address. “Everything looks delicious. Thank you so much for inviting us to into your home!”

When approaching the friends, she goes to Chastity first. “I’m so glad you could make it.” She wants to hug her girlfriend. Girlfriend, right? But she’s afraid to be openly rejected. Will she sit with me, even as we have our respective males at our sides as well?

Ngon's parents greet Maeve with all smiles, and graciously accept Conway's contributions to the snacks even though he turns beet red to see his plain chips and soda next to the Vietnamese dishes.

Chastity accepts a quick hug from Maeve but keeps it platonic. "Yeah, it took some convincing. But I'm here," she says with a smile that she quickly turns to Conway. "Hi! Maeve told me you were coming! Nice to see you again."

Barely recovered from his snack faux pas, Conway nods his head vigorously. "Yes, good to see you, too. I was happy that Maeve invited me. Because she's from Ireland... and that's neat to know... foreign people." He gulps and his cheeks take on a fresh shade of red when he glances over to Ngon's parents.

Chastity nods in understanding as she meets Maeve's mismatched eyes. "Yeah. I get it. Well, good to see you. Let me introduce my cousin Gabriel and his friend."

She calls him over. "Gabe! Come meet Maeve and Conway!"

Gabriel comes over. He's very tall, well past six feet so that his head is nearly scraping the ceiling. Raquel stays close by his side, her head only coming up to his chest. "Hey," he says, extending a hand to Conway.

The other boy shakes his hand. "Hey."

"You a Hal-Prepper?"

"I, ah, used to. Transferred my credits to Richfield, taking college credits now. But, uh, Maeve is. Going to Hal-Prep, that is."

"Cool," Gabe says.

Raquel smiles at Maeve. "You should meet Ethan," she chimes in, though it's unclear if she's talking to Chastity, Maeve, or Conway.

Maeve does not want to meet Ethan.

Bjg smile. “Gabe, I heard so much about you at lunch! Raquel said you like horror movies. Hopefully all this science stuff won’t bore you.”

She turns to Ethan, offering her hand because like Mother says, ‘When in tight, do as titans do.’ “It’s a pleasure to meet Chastity’s surprise guest! What do you think of aliens—not the sequel to tonight’s movie. No spoilers, please. I mean like real aliens. I hear there are many living in this city.

“All we get in Kildare are fairies and leprechauns.”

Ethan has a mop of dishwater-blond hair past his ears and is wearing an Akira t-shirt. "I've seen it, but I'll keep you spoiler-free," he says. "Leprechauns and fairies, huh? Hope you like the capes and tights here in Halcyon City. I think the aliens here are cool too. Have you heard of Ordnance? Dude can turn into a jet, a tank, or a friggin' mech. Wild. Oh, and speaking of fairies, there's like, a shrinking alien that lives on a meteorite. They say she actually went to regular school!"

Chastity glances at Maeve, but Conway speaks up. "That's Femtite. Yeah, she was in school with me before I, um, had to move out. I um, met her. I mean, more than that. She kinda saved my life. From a... well, it's complicated."

Ethan goes wide-eyed. "Dude! That's cool. Saved you from what?"

"It was a, um, doll-making faerie-thing. Blew up my dorm room." Conway looks over to Maeve, as if looking for permission to say more.

"Wild, man. So, Maeve, right? You got fairies and Femtites. Plus aliens." He points at Conway. "Dude, you need to tell us all about that after the movie."

Chastity nods, eyeing Conway. "That sounds like fun. So after--"

"Guys!" Ngon interrupts from across the room. "Ladies! Movie time!"

When Ethan promises no spoilers, Mae says, “Good! I want to be in suspense when the alien phones home.” She gives a smile that makes it obvious she’s only joking. Of course the mothership will pick up the call, or why film it?

Maeve gives Conway a look of approval as he tells the story, but when Ngon cuts everyone off, she says, “Local-alien stories can wait. We got movie sign!”

Maeve hopes to seat herself between Chas and Conway. She isn’t sure if Chastity will ask Ethan or Conway, but despite the obvious problems in her friend group, she has to admit: Gabe and Ethan are nice guys.

"Okay, you really haven't been prepped for this, have you?" Ethan chuckles when Maeve mentions phoning home. "Or are you joking?"

Raquel smiles deviously. "No, Maeve and Chastity are Alien virgins." She giggles as she wraps an arm around Gabe. "Chastity, you sit close to Ethan. Maeve, you might want to hold Conway's hand for some scenes."

Maeve replies, “Maybe us alien/virgins should stay close, in case we need two hands.”

Oh, Mother would think I’m attempting a human harem.

Oddly, upon thinking that Mae realizes she is relieved that Ethan is Chastity’s apparent dance partner making Conway mine. If she really has to ask a boy to the dance, Conway is the only boy she’d actually want to ask.

Mae gives Chastity a smile, feeling confident that this night won’t be the disaster she’d anticipated. “I like your cousin and Ethan’s cool too. Let’s sit together, seriously. We can kinda get to know each other’s dance partners while the movie plays… not that we’d talk during the show.”

"Ha ha," Conway forces a laugh. "Maeve won't need a hand. I might need hers, but... Oh, that came out wrong." His blush returns.

Raquel giggles even more, and Chastity joins in. "We know what you meant," Raq says, giving him a rub on the arm. "How about you two sit together, then Conway next to Maeve and Ethan can sit next to Chas?"

Chastity nods, not making eye contact with Maeve. "Okay."

Gina and Ngon take up the second row of seats with Gabriel and Raquel, leaving the front row for Ethan, Chastity, Maeve and Conway. Mr. and Mrs. Vo appear just before the light go out with big bowls of popcorn, then quickly hustle back upstairs.

Ngon hops up to kill the lights just as the title screen comes on. As the letters ALIEN slowly appear, Conway shifts uncomfortably on his end of the couch. He tries to make sure he's not touching Maeve, and keeps his hands firmly in his lap.

Chastity whispers to Ethan, "Wait, is this like, really scary?"

"Um, yeah. Kinda. It's all right. You'll be fine," he reassures her, but she whimpers regardless.

Maeve sits with Chas on one side, Conway on the other. She crosses on leg over the other, and the hem of her skirt slides down her smooth thigh. She leaves it be.

Literally nothing in this movie is scarier than Chastity not making eye contact. She recalls Pixite Connie speaking to the team on the pixotech’d phone, avoiding eye contact. Going out of her way to avoid eye contact. So much for not seeing a sequel tonight.

Maeve opens her hand on Chastity’s side. She opens her other hand as well. “Both of you may take my hand if you need it. This alien virgin does not scare easily.”

The opening scene is already spooky. And it’s just a camera roaming around the shi—rustling papers?!

…Maeve is pretty sure Conway won’t object if she’s the one grabbing his hand.

The movie continues, with the crew of the Nostromo touching down on LV-426 then discovering an ancient derelict spacecraft. Conway gives Maeve's hand a squeeze once, then just applies the same amount of pressure as she does.

The tension ramps up as Dallas, Kane and Lambert explore the spooky vessel. Maeve can feel Chastity's dread building as her body becomes taut. She slaps a hand over her eyes, but then peeks through her fingers as Kane is lowered into a deep chamber below the pilot's chair.

When the little alien dries up and dies, Mae assures Chastity, “You can peek now.” And all is well! What a thrill ride that was—and now they’re preparing a feast before cryogenic sleep.

Oh, but Kane is choking—not safe to look! Mae wishes it were Chastity’s hand but it’s Conway’s hand and so what it’s a hand and that’s not food making his belly do—WHAT???

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”

As Maeve screams in terror, she feels a hand clasp around her free hand and squeeze it tightly. If she can tear her attention from the screen, she'll see Chastity with her eyes bulging in fear, but her hands are gripping tightly to Ethan's and Maeve's.

Conway keeps holding on, but reaches over to pat her hand with his other. "The director didn't tell the actors what was going to happen, so they'd react more believably," he whispers in her ear.

Maeve gives Chas a couple of gentle squeezes back. She smiles as Conway whispers, and whispers back, “What an effective technique.”

The hunt for the xenomorph begins aboard the Nostromo. Chastity continues to whimper softly next to Maeve. "Jones looks just like Copper," she mutters as it looks like the cat is going to be the next victim of the alien.

The crew begin dying in rapid succession, then they learn that an android had betrayed them from the beginning. Chastity settles a bit, but keeps a firm grip on the hands of the two people flanking her. Conway whispers to Maeve, "You know, it's just a movie. Most people think aliens are heroes, or regular people. Not monsters."

To Conway, Mae replies, “Not everyone thinks as kindly about aliens as you do, but I appreciate it.”

Responding to Chastity’s concern, Mae whispers, “Jones’ll be fine… I, uh, I think.” Then her voice cracks as she thinks of the cats she’s not allowed to see anymore. “I miss Copper. And Oreo.”

She stifles herself. Chastity hasn’t let go of her hand yet, and she’s afraid of saying The Wrong Thing.

When it finally comes down to Ripley and the alien (and Jones), with the ship about to blow up, Chastity is on the edge of her seat until the final girl manages to escape in the shuttle. She sits back with a breath of relief. "That was so scary!"

Maeve agrees. “I was so afraid she was gonna die in her little underwear. And using the thruster to finish him off—brilliant! Some aliens can survive in a void after all,” she says mostly because talking science somehow makes everything less scary. “And some of the aliens that can exist in a void are also fireproof. But that one wasn’t, fortunately.”

Now that her hands are free, Mae is looking covetously at the snack table. But back to Chas, “Hey, that movie was unlike anything I’d ever seen before—which was Peter Pan—but I’m really glad you were here with me, so I didn’t have to watch my first scary movie alone.

“Did you enjoy the, uh… thrill?”

"I think I'm going to have nightmares," she confesses, still looking pale.

"Whooo!" Ngon whoops. "I counted sixteen screams! Hehehe. I think yours was the best, Maeve! When that chest burster popped out--!" He slips a fist under his t-shirt and mimics the grisly scene.

"Cut it out," Gina chides him. "Let them recover."

Mae laughs lightly at the teasing as she contemplates the delicious snacks.

She replies to Chas, “I was having a recurring nightmare the week before we met. Remember that day when those jerks mocked your faith, which really, is one of the most beautiful things about you? I defended you, then that evening we made plans to meet at the museum… and when I woke up, I didn’t recall dreaming at all.

“I remember picking out the right dress that morning and… I just felt…” Lost in the moment, she just lingers over the spring rolls and sticky rice. “…like there was a reason to stay here in Halcyon.

“I might‘ve begged Mother to come back home, had we not become friends.” She takes a look around the room at the wonderful humans.

She doesn’t want to kill the fun getting sentimental. “Oh, Conway… you were gonna tell Ethan a story?”

The teens descend on the snacks, interrupting Chastity's reply to Maeve. She steals glances at her while the food is devoured, but doesn't make more than brief eye contact.

At Maeve's reminder, Ethan turns to Conway. "That's right, man! Spill! How did Femtite save your life?"

"Well..." Conway begins, but before he can get started, Ngon suggests that they move the couches so everyone can see each other. After a little rearranging of furniture, the couches are moved to face each other with the table of food in between.

"Okay. It was, um, a faerie that was, like, trapped in the bell tower at school. He got out, and hid out in my room. I had some... action figures... limited edition, mint condition, still in their boxes. Well, I noticed one of them moved. And like, that was unusual, right? I went to Femtite, actually expecting her to laugh in my face." He looks over to Maeve, then quickly takes a gulp of soda.

"She believed me. Just like that. She checked it out, and with her other teammate, Conflux, figured out that the dukkemager was using the action figures to take over the Alliance. He also took control of me for a little bit."

"Dukkemager?" Ethan asks, sounding skeptical.

"What Alliance members?" Gabe chimes in.

"Oh, um, it was Imagerie and Whippoorwill."

"No friggin' way!" Ethan laughs.

Conway nods his head and looks back to Maeve, but realizes she can't back him up. "I mean, yeah. I didn't really get to meet them. They took off, and I had to go to the hospital."

Ngon speaks up. "So that's what happened? Back when there was a hole blown out of the guys' dorm?" He turns to Ethan and Gabriel. "I did see some of that fight. Whip was there, for sure."

"Huh. Cool." Ethan leans over and offers a fist bump to Conway.

Maeve will keep the I’m-human facade, for now. But if Conway wants back up, he’s getting it. At least this time I can back up a friend without getting kicked out of a house.

“Well, of course Femtite believed you.” To Ethan, she checks, “The shrinking alien, right? Anyone who can be action-figure-sized or smaller would notice details easily overlooked by titans.

“Which .. is .. what.. we are in comparison.” She looks around the room. “To shrinking aliens.

“Also, Conflux is a student at Hal Prep to whom I’ve occasionally approached for advice. She actually has the dukkemager in her Stasis Chamber, presumably until the fae authorities book him. Or whatever fey do to their criminals.”

She lets all that hang for a beat, then takes a bite of the sticky rice. “Oh, Ngon! Is this homemade? It is absolutely delectable!”

"Yeah, I told Mom she didn't have to do anything special. We could've just ordered pizza," Ngon says.

Gabe and Ethan draw out a few more details about the dukkemager fight, with Conway dancing around the fact that he owned a bunch of dolls as opposed to "action figures."

The topics move away from superheroes to more mundane things, like school and their futures. Ethan and Gabe both go to Halcyon North. Gina's thinking of going out of state for college. Raquel has been accepted to Halcyon State University but also has an application in at Stanford. Chastity stays quiet.

Maeve isn’t really sure about her future. Med school and staying human for Chas was the plan a month ago, then Conway came forward with his business idea… and now so much is going wrong!

Mae doesn’t say anything. She wishes Chas would.

The socialization continues for a little while longer. Before it starts getting late, Gina turns to Ngon. "Do you have any party games?"

He shakes his head. "Nah, we're more of a video game family."

Raquel leans over and puts an arm around Chastity. "We brought something we could play. Chastity's mom even introduced it to us last week."

"It's, ah, spin the bottle," Chastity says, rising to her feet. She goes over to her coat and pulls out an old Coke bottle and a small plate.

"Your Mom?" Ngon and Gina both remark.

Chastity comes back to the circle. "It's more wholesome than you'd think. Just a little consensual kissing. She's not that much of a prude."

Maeve shudders as the girls mention some kind of party game… spin the—

“WHAT?!”

Maeve rises from her seat, eyes wide, face red.. “Kissing isn’t a game! It’s… it’s… it’s intimacy. It’s… it’s…”

Maeve slumps back onto the sofa, sinking into the cushions.

“…it’s wrong. It’s sick. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

She wants to storm out of the room. Become fire. Cry. But she can’t even pull herself off the sofa.

Conway takes a seat on the couch next to Maeve, but with plenty of space between them. "Why don't you go ahead. We can just watch." He gasps and his cheeks turn crimson again. "Not like that!"

Gabe belly laughs. "Oh, you like to watch, huh?" Ethan joins in, as Raquel and Gina also giggle.

"I-- I didn't mean... It wasn't--" Conway stammers.

"Chill, dude," Ethan says, still chuckling. "You walked right into that one."

Gabe catches his breath from his bout of laughter. "It's all good, man. Just f$%%ing with you."

Conway recovers, and even joins in the tail end of the laughs. "I still think Maeve's not into it, so I'll sit out too."

"No presh, dude." Ethan helps Gabe move the table out of the way as Chastity sets down the plate on the floor and puts the bottle on it.

"You know, there are European countries where kissing is just a sign of friendship," Chastity says pointedly. "And you don't have to kiss if the bottle lands on you. Like, Gabe's my cousin, so, obviously that's not happening."

“Exactly my point!” Mae says. “Because Europeans kiss both relatives and friends alike when it’s that kind of kiss. But this isn’t that kind of kiss.

“It’s intimate. It’s taboo. And if you’re in a relationship, it’s cheating!” She turns to Gina, “Or are you cool with me passionately kissing your boyfriend right in front of you? Or maybe I should ask Ngon if he’s cool with me kissing you…”

She turns to Gabe. “Because I would only kiss a girl. Because. I’m. A lesbian.“ She turns to Chastity. “And I’m done hiding who I am. That bottle spins once, I’ll reveal another truth.”

Provoke 9: don’t spin the bottle.

Chastity is not currently susceptible to your words

Chastity sneers cruelly. "Is that a threat?!?" She tosses the bottle casually and catches it. "Go on, what secret were you going to share? That we were girlfriends?"

The lights seem to dim everywhere in the room except for Chastity. Her cruel smile grows more severe as she stands over Maeve. "Our little dalliance is at an end. You came on too strong, 'Maeve.' Becoming human for me, showing up in every class, clinging to me everywhere I went... I couldn't get away! The three days you were gone was bliss! I wished you'd stayed gone."

The others in the room are like statues, unmoving as she rants at Maeve. The lights dim further, with Chastity revealed in a reddish glow. She tosses the bottle once again, but Maeve catches etchings on the plate in her other hand. The symbol of Duke Zepar!

She waves the symbol in front of Maeve's horrified face. "You recognize this, huh? It's Mother's gift to me. To set things right. We're not going to let you mold me into the person you want! Besides, it's better this way. Just ask Raquel! She loves being straight! In fact, why don't you give it a try?"

Maeve is frozen in place, but the word ‘end’ is like the bandaid being pulled off. It hurts like crazy, but then everything else is just an itch. And itches get scratched.

Mae narrows her eyes. “The truth is that I already figured out what the plate is.“

Mae grabs it! Fearing the Duke’s power will overtake her, she attempts to resist his power—
DE 10, take away the plate and resist a blow.

Maeve grabs the plate, but it seems like Chastity was expecting the move and it was part of her plan all along! Maeve feels a presence pushing at her from the tablet in her hands, crawling up and around her. She fights it off, but just barely!

That means, unfortunately, that the spirit of the infernal duke is still influencing Chastity! She stands, head cocked at an unnatural angle, watching Maeve wrestle with power of the sigil. "What next, 'Maeve'? Beg Chastity to return to her tortured existence hiding in the closet? Or go subatomic and see what Lord Zepar's influence can do to an entire race of females? I still have the bottle. Let's give it a spin."

Chastity twirls the ancient bottle on the tip of her finger, spinning it far faster than it ordinarily could on such a perch. "Who would you like to fall in love with? Gabe? Ngon? The new boy, Ethan? Would you try to smother them, just like you did with Chastity? Wear them down, pining for their masculine touch?" She laughs cruelly.

Mae groans, “Yeah, you got me… I can’t resist a perverted patriarch forever. But I can choose my guy!”

She grabs the bottle—deliberately pointing it at Conway!
DE 7: take the bottle to point it at Conway

Maeve struggles briefly with Chastity, knocking her off her feet. The bottle hits the floor and skids across the hardwood, but the heroic alter ego grabs it just as it's pointed at Conway.

A feeling of pins and needles runs through Maeve, then moves to her stomach as dancing butterflies. Her eyes lock on the paralyzed form of Conway and the spell of Duke Zepar discharges!
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Maeve suddenly finds herself sitting in a circle in Ngon's basement around a few bits of glass and pieces of broken pottery.

"Well, that was a bust. How old was that bottle, anyway?" Gabe asks.

"I-- I don't know," Chastity says, sounding like she was just waking up. "I honestly don't know why I suggested this stupid game in the first place."

"Or why I even agreed to sit down with you all," Raquel says as she rises to her feet. "I'm friggin' aro."

Ethan stands as well, checking his phone. "Looks like it's time to go anyway. Great movie, Ngon. Thanks for hosting. Tell your parents the food was great."

"Yeah, no prob. Thanks for coming. Nice meeting you," he says.

Chastity rubs her eyes. "That movie's going to give me nightmares. Thanks for that."

Gabe grabs her coat and hands it to her as everyone gathers their things to leave.

"That felt... weird, there. At the end. You okay?" Conway asks as he hands Maeve her coat.

Maeve, you are Infatuated. Conway has Influence on you. You cannot reject his influence while you have this condition. You take a -2 to Assess the Situation and to Provoke Someone (these penalties are suppressed when you're sharing a scene with Conway. You also have The Bull's Heart (love) and one role of your choice, so long as you have this condition. It cannot be cleared absent special events in the game.

Bull’s Heart role: Friend

Mae beams as she lets Conway help her don her coat, like a gentleman. “You were so sweet, sticking up for me. I can’t just kiss a boy,” by which she means, ‘a random boy.’ “Hey! I was planning to go visit Connie at the hospital.

“Will you come with me?” Maeve gives Conway a doe-eyed look. “It’s past hours, and I’m afraid she’ll be cranky… but not with you at my side!”


⭐️ | Danger +1 | Freak +3 | Savior 0| Superior +3 | Mundane -2 | Potential:✴️✴️✴️✴️⏹️
Conditions:
♥️INFATUATED♥️
Influence:
Chastity, Chumpchange, Connie, DD, Drake, Horizon, Indarius, Ngon, Raquel, Shane, Skyler, Valorian, ((not yet: LaQuesha, Victoria)) / Faetite

Message in a Bottle:
After seeing Conway safely home, Femtite gathers tech from her dorm. The Beamer was a success! She’ll make another for the mission.

But first, a Memory Crystal. She records two memories, one of which is meant for the team…

• • • • •

Upon meeting Feya, Femtite greets her with a curtsy. “Thank you for meeting with me. You were correct that this infernal Zepar is quite serious. I believe I have single-handedly rescued my friends… but I’m not so sure of my current state.

“I recorded the memory so you may witness what I had experienced through my then-human eyes. Please, see for yourself before I say too much.”

Femtite has Bug-Eye project the recorded memory of the Spin the Bottle ‘game’ so the heroine will know exactly what transpired.

"Why would you not simply ask for Imagerie to join us? Pulling images from memories is her forte," Feya inquires when she begins to use the device.

Femtite stops playback. Her reply is almost a whimper. “I wanted to…” Her eyes are on the floor for a moment.

She makes the effort to look Feya in the eye. “I got hit by Zepar’s spell—and I like the feeling it gives me. The only reason I even agreed to look into reversing it is because Conway wants me to let Connie fix me.

“So I said I’d do it her way, and since she’s in the hospital, I asked her if should I see you or Imagerie in the meantime. And she said…” Femtite looks really frustrated. “Well, it was rude. Not to me though. But… it was rude and unnecessary, but she said to see you anyway.”

Feya's lips press together into a tight line. "Conflux being rude. Color me surprised. Well, let me have a look at you." She gently holds Femtite's chin and turns her head left and right.

"Hmm. Excluding Imagerie makes even less sense, given her empathic talents," she muses as her other hand produces a glowing red crystal and waves it a few times over Femtite.

She steps back. "Definite ensorcelment. Taking the spell willingly was reckless of you, but I believe the selfless nature of the act was enough to dispel the rest of Zepar's power. He derives much of his power from the selfish desires of those who call upon him. They covet what they cannot come by naturally, generating sinful energies that he exploits."

She holds the crystal out in the flat of her palm to show Femtite. It crumbles to dust and blows away.

Feya frowns. "Have you heard of sin eaters?"

Regarding Imagerie, Femtite says, “We can invite her, or I can go to her after if you want…”

She doesn’t force the issue however, trusting Feya will know after she finishes her work whether or not it’s necessary.

“A sin eater?” Femtite shakes her head. She imagines a creature that latches onto a human face and feeds off of sin until its teeth burst out from where the heart once was. Nervously, she asks, “Is it… alive?”

Feya looks briefly confused, then shakes her head. "No, they're people. An old tradition, of one person symbolically taking upon the sins of another by eating a morsel of food-- on second thought, ignore that analogy. Suffice it to say, you exhibited no selfishness in your encounter. And quite the opposite, you made a sacrifice, willingly taking upon his spell. By doing so, and choosing the object of your infatuation, you 'ate' the sins that fueled Zepar. I suppose I still relied on that metaphor. "

She dusts off her hands. "But, all the power from the earlier spells are now in you. Were Imagerie here, I've no doubt she would be saying something similar. Getting you freed from it will be no simple task."

Femtite is surprised by the explanation… pleasantly so. “I’m a sin-eater,” it dawns on her. “Well, in my mental image, I saw the sin-eater as an Alien.”

Her mind is racing. She may have stumbled onto the secret to Zepar’s defeat by accident—reckless perhaps? I was so certain I would lose the battle, so I chose my poison. Only …how selfless was I?

“Feya… I have a thought I wish to run by you. If selflessness defeated Zepar, why am I still affected by his spell? I wonder if it is because my selfless act is not entirely pure.

“Chastity has no recollection of breaking up with me because Zepar was in control. And Conway understands the implications of pixites being an all female race.

“I think I need to have an honest conversation with both of them… even if the risk is that both will be no more than platonic friends.” She considers what Feya already told her, and is pretty sure that this is the right thing to do for Chas and Conway, even if it won’t necessarily lift the curse.

“Connie told me not to do anything that would make me hate myself. But if I do nothing—leaving Chastity not knowing she broke up and possibly wanted to? Conway tortured by my pining for him?” She recalls Conway’s dejected look, and also, how he seemed to have stopped short of confessing his contemplation of suicide. “If I leave my friends hanging, waiting, while clinging to my own covetous feelings… then I deserve to be cursed.”

Realizing she sounds maybe a little too sure, she humbly asks, “Does that make sense to you, Feya?”

The pyromancer nods, taking a moment to collect her thoughts. "I still regret using that analogy. Kindly refrain from utilizing it when discussing this matter with others, especially Conflux who will no doubt excoriate me for it." She offers a wry grin.

"Your ability to examine your motives with honesty is commendable. I've little insight into Pixite psychology, but considering you were human at the time, consider this: all humans have selfish drives. Biologically, we have instincts. The simplest is pain avoidance. Frequently, the desire to reproduce but even more commonly the need for connection.

"A heroic act like saving someone from a burning building may seem inherently altruistic. But there may be selfish drives even within the good act of saving someone. The desire to be seen as a hero. The expectation of a reward, perhaps. Even the elation one feels could be viewed as a selfish drive. In theological terms, that is called 'original sin.'"

Feya pauses to sit down as an idea seems to occur to her. "Zepar is a being deriving his power from theological concepts such as sin. Human concepts. It might be possible to confine Zepar's power to just your human persona. At least, while as Femtite you could be clear of his influence."

Femtite sheepishly admits, “I… completely get Pain Avoidance. It just never works when I try it… plus I feel like I’m in love with Conway but not out of love with Chastity, so I’m compelled to put their needs ahead of mine.

“Not in a compulsion-spelly way. That’s best chalked up as Pixite psychology. I think.” Femtite wonders if her sister is starting to show this trait, and is so much happier as a result.

But Feya’s idea piques her interest. So now I’m not really affected by Dreamy Conway…?

After pausing to imagine how she can prove to Conway he is her choice and they can live happily ever after by…

After she thinks about Chastity’s cats, melted spoon, and dancing with a giant robot, Femtite replies to Feya, “I’m still affected now, as a pixite. Do you… need me to be human in order to confine the power to human me?” She blushes as she asks this.

Feya frowns as she considers following through with her idea. "Likely, it will require you transitioning several times. I would need time to work out the specifics of the ritual. Percival could possibly brute force it, but not without greater risk to you."

Feya notices Femtite's reaction. "I dislike the brute force method as well, but I did not know if you wished to involve your teammate. I can make the necessary preparations, which will involve some research into the duke to make sure my hypothesis is solid. In the meantime, do what you can to not get carried away with your feelings for this boy."

• • • • •

After a brief stop at her dorm to text the team and pack a handbag, Femtite soars across Halcyon City! Her locator app leads her to where Chastity’s phone is—in a suburban neighborhood!

She soars past the home, and into a forest pathway just the right width for a riding lawn mower. She lands among frozen mounds of rotted grass.

There, she creates a dome of solar energy. She places her bag on the ground and transforms to her human self!


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

The Heliokinetic dome immediately begins to dim—Mae quickly dons her outfit while warmth and privacy lasts!

…then she casually exits the woods in boots, gloves, a hat, and a coat that stops mid-thigh, revealing the knee and the hem of a plaid skirt.

Maeve walks out of the woods and down the street as if she belongs to this peculiar array of human dwellings. She checks her app, confirms Chasity is in the home before her (or at least her phone is), and…

…Maeve rings the doorbell. She waits standing poised and proper. —but I do hope Mrs. Robertson will let me in. It’s freezing out here!

The door is opened by an adult Maeve hasn't seen before, though she can see the familial resemblance with Chastity's father. "Can I help you?" he asks.

Maeve makes it a point to be polite (but reminds herself not to curtsy).

“Mr. Robertson, I presume? I’m Maeve Gallagher, your niece’s classmate.

“Chastity seemed shaken up after the movie. I wanted to check on her, and… I really should have called,” she admits. “I just didn’t know what to say, and… well… now I’m here.”

It occurs to Mae that her how-she-got-here story would definitely be implausible without superpowers, But there’s a good chance that both awkwardness and the cruelty of leaving a minor out in the cold will spare the need for an explanation.

“Here,” she repeats, “as Chasity’s friend… if that’s okay.”

Grand Lodge

influence Given to:
Caio, Devil Diva, Femtite
Has influence on:
Caio, Nightclaw, Devil Diva, Femtite, Lua, Conflux
Influence locked out:
Mathers
Potential[][][][][] Dragon, Silver
conditions:
Guilty, Insecure
| Labels- Danger:+0 Freak:+3 Savior:+3 Superior:-1 Mundane:-1 |Burn:

Dragon Shadows:

The following happens after the events of the Fantasy adventure, but before the Debrief
Horizon —
Percy gets a text from Shin.
Any chance you're feeling up to talk about what happened?

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy texts back eventually. Feeling up to it, not really. But should we talk, yes. So long as you don't make ominous promises to kill me like Caio did that night.

Horizon —
Never. And that's kind of concerning. Pick the place, I'll be there soon.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
>Percy sends a map pin that is quite a ways outside of Halcyon going past the outskirts even beyond Rustside<

Horizon —
Why?
Shin can fly there at least. It takes him a bit as he flies over treetops and rising hills getting larger towards the far mountains.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
It's near where I finally stopped yesterday. Could have portaled to Madagascar or something, but figured that'd be a bit much. Just head to the pin i'll be there.

Whenever Shin arrives he doesn't see the large imposing dragon, but instead a significantly shrunk down version of Percy for when he's trying very obviously to not draw a lot of attention.

Horizon —
Shin lands, though he's not in uniform but plain clothes. "You know, I had thought we could talk over a meal but I think the nearest diner is a couple of miles in that direction," He says, pointing off in the distance.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy gives Shin one of those 'really' looks, "I don't want to be around people right now considering i've had at least a dozen wanting to end my life, succeeding in one instance and then trying very unsuccessfully the second time, and then... yeah. Not that I'd fit in at a diner anyway."

Horizon —
"To be fair, you also killed one of them." Shin looks less than enthused about that detail. "However, everyone was under the effects of Quincy's game world. You can hardly be blamed for acting within the boundaries of your character. I found myself drifting occasionally into the desire to rend people's bodies and bathing in their vital fluids."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Being about the size of a horse right now allows Percy to give Shin a downward side-eye along with his resulting sigh, "Like I told Caio the other day, I'm pretty sure that was just me with all the filters stripped off. He made some weird monster at the bottom of the well analogy and then promised he'd be my Saint George. He killed a dragon or something. Anyways, it wasn't not me but it wasn't just plain me either."

Pointing a claw at Shin he goes on, "And what you did was pretty f++!ed up too."

Horizon —
"More f$%$ed up than a murder pact?" Shin asks, before shaking his head. "But no, you're right that I left you fending for yourself there. Didn't realize just how horribly it would be to give away that key. And being given a saving grace for myself and Valerie...I'm sorry."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Just to be clear I didn't agree to that, and... honestly I'm really worried about him of all people saying that. Like he was so confident and sure and when he talked about his time as the wolf searching for the person that'd be his end it just." He shakes visibly. "No way."

"I was so angry that they'd done something horrible to you Shin. I mean yeah you're a f~%*head who doesn't seem to care about me sometimes, but you're still my teammate and I wish you had at least said something before going all zombie on me. Maybe then I wouldn't have..." Percy looks at his talons and pulls his wings in close, "Maybe then I wouldn't have tried to break down the door and gotten killed."

Horizon —
"Of course I care, but...I was really messed up in the head." Shin grimaces. "It wasn't just called the Psy-key. It felt to me like it was her and that giving it away... well, I'd had enough of that world by that point. I was chosen to be a villain for them to defeat, but I couldn't play that role. So I gave it away, and it was the greatest agony I'd ever felt. Like tearing out my heart and squeezing it."

He looks at Percy. "I think at some point my consciousness left that vampire to become the hero. Which is where you started to see me act the zombie and go away. I'm sorry about that. I had no idea it would go down like that."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Shin you do realize alot of the.." He twirls his talon making a little hop over something motion, "Umboriax blow up, was about out here right. You always talk to the others, but not me. You've never really even tried to learn about how I do things I feel." Then he shakes his hand out dismissing the thought for a moment, "But yeah, no I totally get it about the key, when they took mine it was like a knife in the chest twisting and pulling everything out. I prayed for death, begged for it with my eyes since I couldn't speak. Then the heroes and it were gone along with several pieces of me, then I died and well Umbroiax was born out of that full of rancor, rage, and despair."

"Loosely bound to the general, and still somewhat free to exact his revenge. Which is what lead to Maya..." He clenches his hand and jaws tightly. "You know the rest.."

Horizon —
"You're not wrong. Connie's way of using magic I don't understand but I can see the rules in place for it. Your magic feels like you can just pull energy from the universe and twist it around your finger. So I assume you can do the things you've shown me you can do."

He sits on the frosthewn grass. "Our positions might have easily become reversed. But I think I had a little more information than you because I was able to speak to a player instead of just their character. And, best news, nobody is dead from this event."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"There are plenty of rules and limitations to how I do it too. Some even that I've set specifically for myself, like when I refused to look into mind manipulation magics. Connie just has to take a longer but more energy efficient pathway to the goal. My natural talent lets me skip all the hocus and get right to the pocus. It costs more energy, but my body can also handle that greater draw of aether, which is typically the problem for anyone else. Hell Shin with the right training you could literally do what Connie does right now." He looks down at Shin, "I dunno maybe?"

"Look I trusted the group and Quincy, and it bit me in the ass yet again. That and my sensitivity to the magical nature of things, dragon greed, or whatever would have made it much more of a 'you'll have to kill me to get my key' situation. And yeah sure noone died in reality, but that doesn't change the fact that what happened in the game could have very easily been in reality if the rules were even a little less fantasy. But I doubt even Quincy is stupid enough to not have that be one of his first safeguards in place."

Horizon —
"So. What do you want to do now?" Shin asks. "Like, really. What's your short-term/long-term?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"In regards to what exactly? Short term I want to stay out here and never go back to being around people, but I know that's unrealistic."

Horizon —
"It's not. Or are you forgetting you're a powerful apex predator that can fly anywhere and has access to powerful magic?" Shin points out. "If what you really want is to be alone in the mountains, you could easily be self-sufficient, avoid people, live like a hermit."

He smiles. "But, long-term, what do you want to accomplish with yourself?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"It's weird to hear someone actually encourage me to step away from society." He replies tapping a claw on the ground.

"I want to figure out what happened, I want to go through with my plans to go to college and actually help people. I'd love to lead a somewhat normal life, to prove Drake wrong, that dragons can be more than monsters in fairytales. But I don't think i'm convincing myself of that very well at this point. I mean Feya couldn't even trust me to help with this situation and resorted to... yeah."

Horizon —
"I mean, we were trapped for days. She feels responsible for you. I know you don't have the same relationship as I do with Whippoorwill, but I think she wouldn't have let Mathers help if she wasn't worried for your safety."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"She outright denied both me and Connie before we got sucked in."

Horizon —
"Denied you to do what, exactly?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"We tried to help with the dungeon in the subway, to try and figure out what was happening with all the fantasy stuff. She said I'd make it unstable, and didn't want anything to do with Connie or Femtite assisting."

Horizon —
"Femtite was trying to be helpful. Or was she trying to ask for help?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Demanding help is more her style so I dunno both? I really don't know what's ever going on in her head Shin. I do know she seems counterproductive to any teamwork recently, can't take no for an answer, and even in the fantasy world shirked her responsibilities. She straight up abandoned the team for the wiles of her own f+@%ing desire. Defended the players despite them being fully in the wrong and being told so multiple times."

Percy flicks his hand upwards in an exasperated motion, " I'm done with her treating us like s*$& after we risked our lives for her planet, ignoring advice and causing more problems by going off on her own, never actually consulting the team about any of her actions and then playing the victim when we call her out on her b+%#%@+~. I just... I can't with her anymore Shin, she needs to change or she needs out. Cause if she doesn't want to be part of the team then let her fly solo and pick up her own damn messes for once." He huffs after the tiny tirade pinching the bridge of his nose. "Sorry, just the emotions are still pretty raw. But just like my issues with you, they're real."

Horizon —
"I don't doubt that." Shin nods. "...do you want to quit the team?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Wha? How the hell did you draw that conclusion from what I just said Shin?"

Horizon —
"I mean, you have nothing but complaints about myself, Femtite, even Caio to some degree. What's your reason for sticking with us?" Shin asks as he stands up and stretches his legs.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"First off, Caio threatened to kill me last night Shin. You haven't made nearly as much of an attempt to reach out to me as everyone else. And Femtite... are you really not seeing the issues?"

Horizon —
"Of course I see the issues. The resentments and entitlements." Shin replies. "You've clearly stated the problems to me. And I'm here now, listening to you. And that is what you wanted, for me to listen to you? Not to be blown off."

He adjusts his glasses, looking up at Percy. "I'm good at listening. I'm listening right now. But you're also blowing off the questions I'm asking to help you. Do you want to quit the team?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy stares at Shin, long and cold before glancing off to the side.

"No, I don't exactly have friends at school especially since all this. I'm sure I 'could' go solo, but as a wannabe prophetic murderer said. I need good people to keep my well from drying and letting the monster out."

Horizon —
"Good. That means that you still think of Femtite as your friend and a good person. And me as well incidentally."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy stays noncommitally quiet for a few moments to see if he's got more to say on how he sees things.

"What's your read on the entire happenings from yesterday?"

Horizon —
"That if I had been there alone, I would have broken completely."

Shin pivots back on topic. "Since Femtite is your friend, and a good person, maybe it might be a great idea to go seek her out, sit down with her and have the hard conversation about how her actions have negatively affected yourself?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"That is making the assumption that she'll actually listen for once and actually admit she was wrong. Not a great track record on that so far."

Horizon —
"That's the wrong way to approach it." Shin taps lightly on his thigh. "Don't go into it telling someone they are wrong. Tell Femtite your personal problems and what she can do to help you with them. If you frame it that way she'll bend over backwards to help."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"And what if she's ingenuine just to placate me and slips right back into it again?" He asks folding his forearms across one another on the ground.

Horizon —
"Then you try again. Or you quit. Or the team breaks apart. The worst thing you can do is nothing but stew in your bad feelings and not express them. Because nothing
will change that way."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Sounds to me like you've already taken her side no matter what with that second option." He grumbles in his throat, "But you're right no sense stewing in something I can actually affect. Already s&+!ty enough that i've got to stew in my own brain about everything else."

Horizon —
"The last time I tried to kick someone off of the team, it ended with me on life support for two days in a coma and no team. So no one is getting voted off. If you can't work with her, then you have to revisit the question."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy lowers his head, "Right... sorry that s*+~ happened."
Breathing deep Percy looks to the city again, "So, fantasy world is shut down for good then? Quincy down, Mathers put back in his box?"

Horizon —
"Percy, are you going to go and talk to her?" Shin asks, shutting down another change of topic. "If you want me to sit in the room and mediate, I will. I will do as much as I can for you, Percy. What I can't do is make your decisions for you. I can however stop you from changing the subject because you're uncomfortable. My team was destroyed from within because we didn't communicate enough, and that was with a f+@*ing psychic linking everyone's minds frequently!"

Shin's a little worked up after they touched on his old team, but he pulls back and settles down. "It's not all on me to keep this team together. You have to put in the effort to reach out to us. Promise me that."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy's fins flare and spines bristle at the aggression, his own built up frustrations getting the better of him and talking at the same time as Shin. "I have Shin. It seems you've forgotten, I was the one who reached out to her to stop looking into the future to try and dictate every action when she felt like everyone was ganging up on her. I was the one who stopped and listened to her about the entire Chastity debacle among other things when she thought we were all siding with Connie. I tried to explain to her why the situation was bad then, and I'd gladly do it again if I thought it'd get any traction. I HAVE put in the effort and recently rewarded with backlash, backstabbing, and dissonance. A s#&! load of that happening recently but f#+% me right?"

His tail thrashes on the ground with a thud, "And then 'the' second I've hit my b#%~###% quota and bring up my issues apparently I'm the one who hasn't done anything? The person who hasn't tried to be the neutral ground! >haha< Yeah guess what the neutral ground got me in our last situation? It got me stabbed in the f$@$ing back. The entire Quincy and Mathers situation, used as a human battery because I was trusting. So yeah excuse me if I'm boiling over a bit! He breaths heavily after the outburst, causing the ground nearest to him to freeze over.

Once Shin backs down he calms down a little himself. "Yes I'll talk to her. No you don't need to mediate because then she'll feel ganged up on, especially if it's about her faults as she always does during group 'discussions'. Now can we talk about the other things? Because we've got a lot of ground to cover if you don't wanna be out here all weekend."

Horizon —
For brevity, Shin tells Percy everything he knows about the portal and his experiences in the game world
"-that's about it. Had to sit with Whip for about two hours to hash out details." Shin finishes.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
After hearing everything Shin has to offer Percy let's out a groan and pinches his eyes closed. "Okay after... all of that, I would like to change my earlier statement, perhaps you should mediate."

Horizon —
"We'll probably have a team meeting soon. Hopefully we'll bring some of this stuff up there." Shin glances at the sky. "...for now, though, you want to blow off some steam and show me how your flying's going?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy followed his gaze up, "Yeah sure, still need some work on inner city flying, but my lessons with Glasswing really paid off. Besides it'll be nice to fly again after... well all of what happened earlier."

Horizon —
"Cool." Then he taps Percy on his flank. "Tag. You're it."

Shin smiles and flies upwards, trying to wash a tough conversation out of his mind by helping his friend do the same using one of the oldest games in the world.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy let Shin take off after tagging him, giving him a small grace period before running to take off after him.

Kitchen thoughts:

The following events happen on the side of Debrief
Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Tilting his head slightly as Caio slinks into the room away from the larger conversation happening around the mission table he goes back to his cooking.
"If you came in here to try and reassure me like everyone seems to want to right now, don't."

CaioCC — "No. We've talked already, right?" He says opening a cabinet and looking for a snack. "Hum... thought I still had a bag of crunchy peanuts somewhere..." He then starts to pile bags of peanuts on the counter... salted, glazed with coconut, glazed with sesame seed, chocolate. He gives up eventually and settles on the salted ones. It was obvious to anyone how addicted he was to peanuts.

"Connie and Whip are almost killing each other there..."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yeah.. 'we' had a very weird 'talk'." He says stirring the savory smelling veggie platter in the pan.

"If you want I can make some peanut chicken, with this?"

CaioCC —
"Nah, I just want a snack. Will probably go out with Sky."

"Sorry about that. Our talk." He says, opening the bag and popping one in his mouth. One at a time, like a civilized person. "I think I was just so tired that... I don't know. Forget about it if you can."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yeaaaahhh.. death threats aren't exactly something I can forget easy."

He pushes the one pan off of the heat to let it do it's thing after putting a lid on it.

"I'm not like.. an expert in draconic biology obviously, but pretty sure my brain doesn't work quite the same anymore. Clearer memory and just more ability to recall things from a long time ago. Kind of sucks for wanting to forget things, excellent for spellwork though I guess. Started noticing it when I realized I didn't need as much sleep as usual."

CaioCC —
"Well, it wasn't my intention to threaten you... it was more like an insurance, you know?" He points back to the debriefing, where Connie and Whip were still going on. "Connie was mine."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yep, not any more reassuring the second time."

CaioCC —
"Look, when I was the Wolf I wanted this and with our monster talk I thought you'd want something like this too... So, my bad, I misjudged you and instead of helping I did more harm."

"I can't unsay it and you can't forget it. I regret that I did it and I'm sorry, but we need to get past it, ok?"

"You are my friend man... I don't think changing that will do us any good..." He takes some time. "Do you want me to leave?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy doesn't anwser for a while, focusing on the food.
"I'm not gonna ask you to leave the kitchen because of that, just I guess don't mention it. You aren't not my friend because of that, I get you meant well just ya know not my thing."

He glances to the main room, "Things are still fresh as you know. Was Sky sucked up into the world somehow too? How's she doing?" It's obvious he's tryibg to steer the conversation to stay away from more sensitive topics for himself right now.

CaioCC —
"She was not, but man, before you arrived at my tent, my a%@!*~# lieutenant brought two girls into the tent and one had her exact appearance, but she hated my guts." He then explains the whole thing that because he was talentless he was a null-creativity zone for the world.

"She is doing pretty well now. She seems really happy. I'm also pretty happy with her." He can't help but to smile silly.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Oh s$#$ man... well I'm glad she didn't get sucked into that. Still s&@+ty that you had to deal with a doppleganger of her regardless. You beat that guys ass right?"

He thinks, "You didn't ask me to eat him in a fit of rage or anything crazy right? That'd be kinda crazy and not gonna lie the being ordered around stuff is a bit fuzzy."

CaioCC —
"She killed him."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Indy whistles, which comes off as more of a trill than an actual whistle. "S&~*. Don't let me get fantasy Skyler angry then. I'm glad it all turned out more or less okay for you Caio. I know you and Matariel were pretty instrumental with helping pull a bit of me back to the surface and.. well thanks. Pretty good for a f&**ed up murder general to help out his walking siege engine." He laughs nervously.
(5 c&s yeesh)

Dreams of Dragon:

The following happens after the first day back at school after the debrief
Horizon —
"...So while I'm essentially your captive in this Astral realm, I did want to touch on a few things. Starting with apologizing for being a terrible leader. I tried my best to make sure the team could function together. I've obviously failed. Which means when I leave its unlikely you all will stay together."

Shin waves one spectral hand in front of himself. "...before that happens, there's one last thing to do. And I could use your help to accomplish it."

Shin starts to tell Percy about what he found out about his old team breakup and Heartache. He ends telling him about tailing Valerie to Lovelace and getting caught listening to their conversation.

"So I'm worried Valerie's agreed to something terrible. I can see only one way to get her out of it. Find Heartache first and make it impossible for Lovelace to keep her side of their bargain."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy holds up a finger to stop Shin before he launches into any explanation before listening. "At- first, I want it on record that you can just reenter your body at any time and that you are in no way a captive. Second, what do you mean 'when you leave'? Have you been planning on this for a long time? Why are you just now telling me, sort of haven't exactly made a whole lot of progress in finding a replacement but..."

He waves his hand more for himself than for Shin, "Whatever just sorry go on what did you need help with."

After hearing everything he nods, and glances back at both of their bodies, having barely moved from where they were before despite the lengthy explanation. He lets out a sigh, not looking at Shin.

"You're right, you've been kind of a s%#+ leader sometimes. I figured you were fully onboard with getting the entire team out of this fey situation the other day and then you just.. I dunno coin flipped."

He looked back at Shin, "Also you realize this is the exact kind of thing I was getting upset about right. I work magic, but that doesn't mean fast or clean solutions. I'm not exactly a magic fix it button. I can try to look, I need somewhere to 'really' start though. I'm not like some of the other supers you know where I can just delve into your head and fish around till I find what I want. I specifically didn't learn any of that kind of magic cause it's pretty messed up. Even the temptation to modify memories is just... it's too much."

Not needing to blink has it's perks when intimidation becomes a necessary skill, but in this instance Percy's cold gaze has the wrong effect. "I could maybe scry on Heartache to help you find them, but I'd need something that is closely tied to them. Something they've had in their possession recently or have a strong connection to. Even then the spell could fail, or alert them or whatever. Also you should probably not spy on your girlfriend, man, that's a pretty s*++ter move."
He let's out a lengthy breath that's completely unnecessary, "But despite everything, yes. I of course will help you. So long as it helps keeps me out of whatever mess Femtite is sure to be dragging us all into once more."

Horizon —
"You know I was joking about being held captive, right?" Shin says. "And yes. I'm leaving the team to focus on my studies. I want to be a lawyer. I think I can do more good there without ruining my body further than it has been."

He pauses. "Oh, open up my shirt if you don't mind. You'll see what I'm talking about. It's about twice as large as when we started the team."
"Effectively, it seems whenever I've been accruing heavy damage it's left scars that don't reflect light and appear to be black voids. It's why I paint my nails. The bigger issue is that radiology can't determine how messed up my insides might be because my powers mess up all the methods for checking without surgery."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yeah probably an off color joke for someone who just got done playing the role of kidnapper in our last mission, I still like to be clear with what your options are. As for opening your shirt, that's a no go here can't interact with the physical world not even with all my power." He does tilt his head though understanding Shin's want to focus on his study but not so much the can't check his insides or do much internal digging around to see how things are messed up after each fight.

"I mean okay no promises, but I am planning on going to medical school and I'm pretty sure magic could do what tech can't for you. Another one of those issues you should probably bring up with your team to see if they have ideas at least." Folding his arms he rights his gaze at Shin. "Well let's not get bogged down on maybes and soon to comes quite yet. One task at a time. Do you have something I could feasibly use to actually look in on Heartache?"

Horizon —
"Connie's already on it. I would have thought she would consult with you about half the stuff I send her way," Shin says. "And we don't need to look for Heartache. We need to get into Lovelace International, get what they know about the Instigators, and then go after them. They might be able to beat my tech, but your magic isn't something they would have contingencies in place for."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"That's definitely never been brought up to me. She very rarely consults me unless told to I think. And to get this straight, you want to 'enter' Lovelace International 'obtain' information they may or maynot have about a certain villain gang and then pursue said potential villain gang to prevent them from causing havoc going forward? All utilizing less than standard methods."

Horizon —
"Do you have a better idea?" Shin asks, legitimately.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy float paces for a bit, his form shimmering through various colors and emotions in this strange space. "I should honestly be used to you asking me to break laws to do what's right at this point. But we really need to work on how you word things if you're going to be dealing with any fey business now or in the future." If he had lips to chew he'd be doing so with worry that LLI might be intertwined with Drake.

"There could be unforeseen defenses on their end. I think if we bring Connie in as well she can fact check me and we can do this without getting caught."

(Still running with Guilty, hopeless, and Insecure so he's not going to give 100% confidence in their ability to succeed atm. But this is essentially him agreeing to help)

Horizon —
"Fair. Let's do that." Shin looks away for a moment. "...I also need to tell Valerie that I know. Maybe we can get some information on the inside through her. But that's complicated too."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yeah, but she should know." He looks around. "Now about that geas..."

Horizon —
"I mean, I had the chance this morning. And I got scared and froze. I don't want her getting roped back into that world. But I have to respect her choices, right?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Of course you have to support and respect her choices Shin. But you also shouldn't let her destroy herself. You're smarter than that, so go make things right, after I've sniffed out this geas. I'll get with Connie we can start planning tonight."
(7 C&S on shin)

Horizon —
"...you know, it was unfair of me to always go to Connie for advice on magic. But you're always negative about it, in saying that magic can't do things. She always just tells me she'll work on it. Or already have it prepared. I'm sorry I don't rely on you more."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"That's because I don't want you to rely on it Shin. Magic is more or less an easy way to do most things, but that doesn't mean you should lean on it and forget how to use the skills you or others have. If magic were to come back to the world I don't want it to be the easy get out of jail free card. People are... very prone to taking the path of least resistance, but that leads to other issues. I want you all to still be able to stand on your own legs if I were to..."

He frowns as much as his face can manage trying not to finish that sentence, "I just don't want people to get lazy and rely solely on magic, cause then you get situations where people who can't perform magic are seen as lesser beings, and a whole, I dunno, magocracy begins. That isn't even tapping into what uncontrolled reweaving of the fabric of reality could do to everything."

Horizon —
"Rely on magic? I'm talking about relying on you when the situation calls for it. I'd do the same if your powers were anything else. It's not laziness, it's figuring out how you can contribute to the team."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Oh" He says apparently having missed the point so that he could subconsciously justify his explanation the first go around. "Well.. thanks. I'm sorry I'm not always easy to work with Shin. There's just so much going on all the time. I want to say it's because I feel like I haven't gotten any real time to relax, but that'd be a lie. It's such a pain in the ass basically having to relearn how to like be a new person if that makes any sense. You should hear some of the things people at the school are saying, feel like if I move to prove them wrong it'd just backfire. But yeah ya know don't just expect me to have an easy solution when you come to me, but know that I'll do what I can to figure something out even if I don't have a 'good' answer right away. It's pretty much always on the backburner of my head just alot of stuff que'd up all the time. Aaand i'm not nearly as fast a study as Connie."

Horizon —
"...Percy, I was the first Japanese student at my prep school in 1940. I understand when people talk behind your back and pull their eyelids at you." He doesn't elaborate further there. "But also? Stop concentrating so much on what you can't do, and think of how to use what you can do to accomplish something similar."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy doesn't really want to touch too much on what is likely a sore subject for both of them so he hums, "Yeah.. you're probably right, I mean heck I did adhoc together a pseudo resurrection ritual on the fly to work on a non-human body."

Horizon —
"Exactly! It's the essence of hero work to improvise when there's not much time to work out a plan."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Whatever strands linking Horizon to the fey he can detect are tentative and weak. A pinky-promise; barely tethering him. It almost feels like something he could rip asunder with enough effort. The only problem with doing something like that is that it will create a lingering mark upon Horizon's being. Nothing dangerous, but magical creatures would be able to sense it and would not likely trust him in the future.

Percy floats over and grabs Shin for a moment pulling him this way and that before sliding a spectral hand along a hair thin silver thread that could almost be mistaken for off-shoot cobwebs.

"There it is" He says pulling the string taut for Shin to see.
"I don't like ripping these things apart.. it's doable but it'll leave... a mark probably. Anyone with a sense for magic including mundane people might get a strong sense that you can't hold a promise."

Horizon —
"Then let's leave it alone. I'll fulfill my end later and all will be well." Shin tells him. "My word is my bond and I won't break it, even magically." He frowns, glancing away. "I suppose that's why I'm not worried compared to other things."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"That's the thing Shin you can't really fulfill this one, there is no princess. I don't even know if taking Connie would be applicable. I mean maybe since she was the princess in question but fey are... strange." He let's the thread fall to the wayside.

"I'm worried that it'll get stronger and pull you in no matter what. But I can't save you from yourself if that's what you want." He motions to their bodies which have swayed into one another. "We may want to get back in there, unless you've got more you wanna talk about? We can still get lunch."

Horizon —
"Food, yes. I have to find Valerie after. But I would like to know what else has been happening in your life, Percy. I still very much want to be your friend. Even if I may no longer be your leader."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
He nodded and started to lazily float over to his own body, basically waiting on Shin to go back to his own before doing so himself. "Yeah I'd like to still be friends even with someone who's a terrible boss. Oh weird thing by the way ever since our little foray into fantasy land I've had this craving for like an entire cow... and i think it's weird that that doesn't weird me out."

(Good to call scene here?)
Horizon —
(Indeed!)
Percy Dorn/Indarius —
(Cool beans before we wrap up for postage, any moves you wanted or think triggered?)
Horizon —
(I am unsure. Maybe a C&S to Percy?)
Percy Dorn/Indarius —
(I could agree to that and I think it'd count as opening up as well i did one for Shin earlier too)
Horizon —
(And that's a 10)
Percy Dorn/Indarius —
(hot diggity Shin making some moves with C&S non-snake eyes edition XD. I'll clear uhhhh hopeless is probably the best one)

Concomitant Concern:

Conflux —
Connie: you ok?
Connie: that wasn't like a fun experience, but I dont' think anyone else got like forcibly darksided
Connie: so how you feeling

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy: No... and uh.. still like s+!% honestly. I can't

There is a lengthy pause between the next text.

Percy: Sorry dropped my phone, I can't believe I was so stupid to trust any of them or your brother again.

Conflux —
Connie: you know what they say:
Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, that's so mean! Why the heck would you do that!
...
Connie: (sorry)
Connie: if it helps, i have been punished for trusting where I shouldn't've a lot more than twice
Connie: so it's not cause you're stupid
Connie: cause I'm hella smart
Connie: hey you wanna get some fresh air and sunshine while we do this?
Connie: and provide an extra layer of protection for an experiment?
Connie: (fresh air sunlight and exercise is the most annoying reliever of depression/related stuff)

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
There are several moments of typing silence, and then typing, before finally something comes through.

Percy: I doooo still kind of owe you that flight. It'd probably also be better to talk in person with someone experiencing any kind of duress..... Pretty sure I read that in one of my psychology books for college.
Conflux —
Connie: Great, near the docks?

***

Down at the docks, Connie is in a typically weather insensitive outfit - dayglo green crop top and loudly nylon harem pants, with an ominously long rope.

"You're not allergic to jute, right? It's a very rare allergy, but always better to ask in advance."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy arrives with as little fanfare as he can manage, utilizing his ability to shrink down to avoid most notice. He is as usual now days not wearing anything in his odd mostly forced nudist life style.

"I don't think so? Also I've gotta talk about Kyana's player and what I think Umboriax promised. It can wait though."
Eyeing all of her things he hesitates to ask, "What's the rope for?"

Conflux —
"Unlike Khaleesi I don't want to hold on via spike up the backside. And a saddle's too sexual."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy raises a clawed digit to retaliate but catches himself mid-breath with a cocked eyeridge. "Yeah no actually that's fair. So, should I just.. I dunno."

He lays down. "Lay down like this?"

Conflux —
Quickly Connie runs the thin rope into a series of patterns that look more like cat's cradle than a proper knot until the rope spins to life and snakes one end tightly around Percy and the other looping tightly around Connie as a harness.

She holds up some dayglo orange putty and asks, "So we can talk while we're up there. Sending or ear goop?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy looks instantly uncomfortable with the rope, slamming a paw on it before it can encoil him like those damn chains.

Conflux —
"Whoa whoa whoa." Connie grabs the rope, cracks it like a glowstick, and it goes limp and slides off them.

"Okay. Sorry. Bad communication. You okay?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"What?! I mean uh.. yeah no..no.. yeah."
He takes a deep breath tries to relax if only slightly, "No. In the game right before. Before they took the key and I died there were chains and yeah not... not the reaction I thought I'd have sorry."

Conflux —
"S$*~. Sorry. F~$$ers."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Sorry I just... reacted without thinking Connie."

Conflux —
"Bruh you do not have to apologize. Will the rope be okay if you know what's about to happen? I have a plan B"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"You're right sorry I-" he breaths deep and holds it for a moment then exhales slowly.

"I think... maybe I can be okay. I've got spells and everything or I could just hold you. I do have these grabby... hand.... claw... paw things?"

He tilts his head holding one up and rolling his very flexible wrist. "What the f@+@ do we call dragon hands actually?"

Conflux —
"...Paws is good? Or front feet? Probably not in this form . I mean, I've got a plan B." She reaches into her bag and pulls out an airplane seat belt. "Just have to stick it to your back."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
He waggles the thumb-like appendage at her. "I mean I have thumbs... anyway um not important. I'm guessing it's not literally being attached yeah?"

Conflux —
"Hmm... thumbs are handy and hand-y... Oh yeah, it'll stick to your back. Otherwise how would it keep me on?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"I mean like nevermind."

He slowly slides down again allowing himself to return more to his original size which prompts a sigh of relief.

Conflux —
Connie braces herself, hops up, and gently slaps the seat belt against Percy's scales. There's a brief pulse of heat, and then it quickly cools as
she fastens it to itself in a little loop nestled next to her.

"Oh yeah, Sending or ear goop?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"You're secure right?"
He cranes his long neck around to look at her with one eye. "Right? And sending it'll be easier to not use the breath to speak. And the air'll kind of mess your tiny lungs up if you open your mouth to breath when we're going fast."

Conflux —
"Oh I'm secure in all kinds of things."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Yeah. So uh hold on I guess. Take offs are bumpy."

He turns and signs with one free hand. Connie feels a little extra floaty for a moment. Then he begins running down the clearest path and jumps to take off. This action would shove her down onto his back as the wingbeats carry them skyward.

Conflux —
"So. Being betrayed sucks. Shin and Val didn't do it or anything, right?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Shin f@$!ing abandoned me, so depends on how you take that I guess. I thought he died at first. Which is why I went to rip the gates down. I didn't even know Val was in the game, I take it his 'noble sacrifice' was for her benefit?"

He gains altitude slowly so that Connie has time to adjust to the thinning air.
"The adventurers were suspicious from the very beginning, didn't even try to announce their presence after I told the villagers. Who were trying to sacrifice one of their own by the way to tell them to come to my lair. Like come on open invitation."

Conflux —
"Oh we're going high-high. Perce? I don't want to interrupt your flow, but transparently, I don't know enough about what was going on before I bumped into you in the command tent to know... Wait, Shin died too? Damn, good thing no one dies for good in D&D 'cause what, half of First Class died in there?"

Realizing she's gone off on a tangent, she pats Percy's back. "Sorry. Focusing back in.... Oh. So those little s#$$birds were typical f$+%ing adventuring sociopaths and betrayed and murdered you because you were a 'monster' and didn't count, huh?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"He gave up his key to Kyana. Stood there like a drooling corpse and then waltzed off. And yeah they wanted me dead even after I made it very clear I was wanting to save both worlds. The barbarian or whatever was especially thick skulled. Kept trying to say I lied or something everytime I tried to make the terms of our arrangement clear."

He starts to level out, the skyscrapers were several hundred feet below them ensuring that he'd have plenty of room for maneuvering and correcting any issues should they arise. The air was cold obviously and it wouldn't take but a bit longer to rise even higher into the lowest cloud layer, considering some especially low ones were already well within reach.

Perhaps strangely for Connie the air seems to come up from under them as well as from the front.

"Then the with Shin happened. I freaked out, tried to knock down the gate to the inner sanctum, got chained and that bastard thief stole my key. It was like... It was painful, like being stabbed or breaking a bone but in my chest. I wanted the barbarian to kill me then and there. Then the game master gave me a second chance to be another guardian of a key. Could have gone to you or Caio. Figured you'd have things in hand once I ran the situation through my head."

Conflux —
"Aww. I appreciate the trust. So Shin got got because he trusted that the rules of the game/world would be fair. That tracks... Whole thing's still totally f@%~ed though."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Don't think it was that simple for him, I think it's more he just couldn't be the bad guy. I mean... you know his whole thing about Dusk. He and I share the feeling that it was like having your heart ripped out though. I think he may have also been trying to cover for Val." The wing beats stopped once he felt they were safe to ride the currents completely, which for Connie meant that most of the jostling was gone aside from the occasional gust. Percy himself felt really glad for going out of Halcyon to get flight lessons.

"How were things on your end? I didn't really hear anything about your entire before the tent situation."

Conflux —
"It kinda sucked. I was Princess Constance again, which meant I basically couldn't solve anything, or succeed in anything by myself. Bonus(?) I was probably essentially invulnerable? Not sure though since the world wasn't exactly the same. I definitely wasn't as safe as I used to be. So I had a key that was the one thing keeping my kingdom from falling into demonic corruption. Meanwhile Femtite unaware is the demon in charge of grinding down my will to resist/exist. It turned out her rules on what she could do to me were more expansive than I guessed, so it all took a little longer to circumvent than I expected. First I tried to set up a deal that would call on her to help me for the next week and a day, my own payment to be deferred for that long or until she no longer wished it. Then it turned out she wasn't the kind of demon who did deals. Annoying. So instead I rigged things up to get her to say she hated Chastity, figuring that the dissonance would let her pop her way out.

"It did though I think she just thought the point was saying the name of someone she knew? Unclear. Then we headed off to find Caio, she was still under a compulsion to erode me into giving her my key, I told her I wouldn't do it, we fought, she flew off it turns out to sell her pixie dust and team up with someone else. The coach we were in crashed, I got chased through the woods by the big bad wolf, sicced some rodents of unusual size on him did you know that's from the Princess Bride? Am I the only one who hadn't seen that movie? All of that movie at least. and then you grabbed me through the Shadow Realm."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Horizon told me the other day that she gave Pixie dust to Quincy, who none of us know the actual motives of in order to body swap. I was talking to Shin about how I feel that she needed to change or leave, especially given her recent behavior."

Conflux —
"I already had my say on that point. It was a bad move, but she has apologized. As long as she does a better job being team-ly going forward, I'm satisfied."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"After saying that, he said I need to either talk to her accept whatever she's got to say, keep trying if I don't like it, or leave the team myself."

Conflux — 02/17/2024 3:39 AM
"...Honestly? I think doing something to chase her off the team is a pretty strong net negative."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Could have fooled me, but hey maybe you know something I don't know. But I'm just tired of trying to deal with it especially since it seems to me she doesn't even want our help. I mean did she even thank you for dealing with her planetary annihilation issue?"

Conflux —
"Yeah, she made a special point of thanking all of us right after the mission. She got all choked up. She also then started gaslighting me about Millie, but that's a separate situation where driving Femtite off even more obviously results in a villainous turn."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Connie feels a rumbling hum emanating from Percy, "Shin told me about the fey gate, what about Quincy or you. What happened once you got out?"

Conflux —
"Well... When I got out, I knew that Dear Old Dad and Feya were working the portal and the drain. I didn't know if they'd maybe accidentally unplug everything before everyone was out. So I used the temporary gate system to fast travel over to Quincy/Infinity's old haunt, flipped in and found him. Well, found the d20 first. He was too plugged in, he was dying of exhaustion, of dehydration, of starvation.. the world was sustaining him a bit, but he couldn't take it.

"So I plugged in instead. Didn't end up needing to quarterback as much as I thought, but I think it was still the play."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"So he was killing himself being the forever GM? S~+*. Well I know it may not seem like much, but I hope he's doing better now. As much as I... I just hope he's not too hurt."/b]

Starting a gentle bank to circle around the outer side of Halcyon's airspace he takes the chance to glance back at Connie. [B]"How are you holding up after seeing that, I know you and your brothers probably never see eye to eye, but. Couldn't have been easy seeing him like that."

Conflux —
"I think I'm the single person in the world that he's been cruelest to. Makes it hard to assess him, 'cause I know that he's got friends, and a lot of his wrongs are out of laziness and sloppiness instead of malice. Or Fear. Bit of Ambition too . F+*$! I don't know. It's a lot easier to put him in a box as regards to me."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Do you I dunno wanna talk about it? You're a little trapped up here with me, so I don't want to pry and make you uncomfortable. Could even swoop down into the skyline if you want a little more excitement."

Conflux —
" OH I WILL FULLY JUMP OFF IF I HAVE TO," she shouted.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"Please don't."
"That doesn't exactly answer either question though, just tells me you're willing to dip at anytime. I know I haven't been in the best place, and you tend to not want to talk deep in group sessions. But helping you might help me and vice versa sort of situation you know?"

(8 C&S)
Conflux —
"...He's the only one that hated me. Abe loves me but not enough, William jr. disdains me, who the f*+@ knows what Seth really thinks about anything, Jean-Paul thinks I'm funny, but otherwise doesn't think about me much I think. Tim's basically a walking sneer, but Quincy just f~*%ing hates me. Hated me at least. I was this walking reminder that whatever Dad promised him wasn't going to come true.

"And I was weaker than him. It didn't take long before I could make an abjuration training wand work if I had one, but that was about it. You'd never get in trouble training with a sibling as long as they could walk away."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"So attempted murder and brutality was totally okay so long as you could limp back to the dinner table? Connie that's f!$$ed up. Not even sure what to say beyond that.

Indy started to slowly tilt downward towards the city proper it'd be a bit till they got down to the towering buildings again, but that would give Connie time to decompress.

Conflux —
"'Attempted murder' wasn't okay at all. It means you were trying to break the rules and you didn't even succeed. "

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Making a whistle sound that sounds pretty clearly even at these air speeds Indy folds his wings slightly causing much of the sound of his wings catching air stop, and the sudden gut lifting sensation of quickly diving started. "Hold on tight

Only a few seconds later the leathery appendages opened up and immediately filled with air to slow their descent, now fully in Halcyon's skyscrapers there was a lot more play with Connie being pushed down into Indy's back as he turned around the narrow by comparison city streets. "Scuffed is scuffed no matter which way you break it."

Conflux —
"Spoken like a guy with enough power to make up the difference. Figuring out exactly how and along what lines things break matters to me."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
10 ptm what do you want me to do(To help you)? what do you intend to do? how could I get your character to Open up about what's eating at you?

Conflux —
Connie wants Percy to: Stop blaming himself for what was done to him
Percy could get Connie to open up (more than she already is on this flight by: Figuring out what's wrong and not letting her deflect out of it
She intends to: Get Percy to feel better by giving him space to take his mind off his own problems

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"What I'm saying is, you aren't in that situation now. You don't have to hide it from the people who care about you the most. The ones who actually want to help you grow and get better, the ones who aren't going to skirt the edge of some dumb rule just to hurt you."

He levels out along a long straight road and Connie can feel a great rumbling in his chest and throat before he speaks aloud for the first time this flight.
"I suppose I should take that same advice though." He can't let his wings wilt especially now that they were in flight and he couldn't let his emotions get the better of him. "I know you all want me to feel okay about things it's just hard to accept. Caio may be really s%#* at making up metaphors but he may be onto something about the monster at the bottom of the water well."

They begin to gain altitude again, climbing back out of the city streets. "But if I'm going to do better at that, then I need you to do something for me Connie. A straight answer an actual conversation where you don't try to hide behind the snark. I don't want you to feel like you can't open up to us just because you've had s&*&ty people do it in the past. You're my friend among other things, and I care about you. I want you to grow. I want you to feel safe, to be safe. I want you to feel like you can actually talk to me about all the weird f&+%ed up s$~# that you need to get off your chest."

Once they leveled out in the mild updraft above the city he cranes his neck back to look at her, "I love you Connie. Not in the I wanna ravish you nightly way, but you know.." He glances away from her slightly feeling kind of dumb for saying it.

Conflux —
"You deserve better than me, Percy. I wish I could give you what you want."
I wanted to make a comment about Connie not having felt safe as long as he'd known her, but then I remembered that when things were good with Femtite, she really *did* feel safe. But making a comment about not having felt safe since things went bad with Femtite is too blamey sounding lol

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Connie begins to feel a familiar weightlessness as Indy's wings stop but they don't seem to lose any altitude, "Connie-" He begins reaching around towards his back with an open upturned paw, his wings folding back as the magic takes hold of them "Come here please, you won't fall."

Conflux —
Connie takes his paw without flinching, loose pants flapping in the wind as she stands on the air. "You know I'm not afraid to fall, right?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Pulling Connie to his front he cradles her gently between both of his 'hands' "I know you aren't. Even if you didn't have your protective charms or my own around you I wouldn't let you fall anyway. That's what I've been trying to say. You already give me what I want, a friend who I can open up to about some of the deeper issues without judgement. I need you to know and hopefully accept that I'm here for when you need the same. You don't have to carry the weight of it all on your own. So please, tell me how I can help."

Conflux —
Connie just looks incredibly tired. "Honestly man? I'm kinda running out of ways to try to do this..." She takes a deep breath. "Okay, so. You know I lived for like-" she waggles her hand "-two years on the street, right? I'd gotten out of Dear Old Dad's house 'cause it's not like I could fight him or my brothers, and I knew that the longer I was gone, the harder it would go on me if I got taken back. So I had to stay moving, avoid doing attention drawing things like stealing etc., but early on I didn't have as many boltholes set up or repeat customers to fall back on. Anyways, I'd helped this guy Veniamin with a whole tax fraud scheme which is not any of the points of this story in exchange for some free meals. But a bunch of things had fallen through, and it was winter, and I didn't have my anti-weather wards as anything more than a theory, and I really needed a discreet, safe bed."

Her left hand flexes and twitches while she chooses her words. "And I couldn't just go up to this guy and say-" she screws up her face, visibly powering through the unpleasantness of what she's about to say "- 'Hey my dad's an abusive a@+**&* and I'm on the run from him, and I really need help. I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I'm not gonna steal from you, but I can't lie to you and tell you that there's nowhere else I could go 'cause I do have a home, it's just not somewhere safe to sleep. I can't lie to you and say that it's totally safe to take me in either, even if I don't want to hurt you. Back then, I couldn't say any of that. It was just all this secret hurt that was too big to make it out of my mouth. Like... I don't think I could've even said that my Dad hurt me if you all hadn't literally seen him throw me into a wall. Sometimes, something has to not be a secret before you can talk about it."
"But Venya didn't ask. He just saw that I was staying in my booth, hoping there wouldn't be a rush that meant he'd throw me out for taking up tablespace, and he walked up and handed me a spare key to his place upstairs. He just told me that I needed somewhere better than his smelly old booth to nod off, and... he was right."

She flicks a thumb along her fingernails. "He was right, and it wasn't a secret if he could see it; I didn't have to deflect and dance around what I couldn't talk about, all I had to do was take the key. I hadn't realized someone could do that for me. I don't know if I'd be dead, but I wouldn't be where and who I am right now without that."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy just looks at Connie in his hands for the length of her story and then for a bit longer afterwards, with an exhale he lowers his head into a slight bow. "I... think I get it, but I'm no good at guessing games. Especially when it comes to you Connie. I know not everything is alright, can see it in the way you hold yourself alot of the time. But that doesn't mean I know why. I don't know if taking your dad down a peg would help or what and I'm really at a loss here. Hell maybe it's not something I can fix or even help fix, but I'll keep trying if you want me to." He seems unsure what to do or say in the moment and contemplates just moving her back towards his back.

Conflux —
Connie still looks tired and a little bit... Smaller. "Yeah. I know. If it were easier to talk about what I can't talk about, then we'd be in a whole different situation. I guess... I want you to keep trying, but Believe me, I know how exhausting it is to try and fail at this over and over."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy nods a little bit, "Yeah, but you guys don't seem to wanna give up on me. So I'd be a pretty s!~$ty person if I gave up on you. Baby steps or something ya know, maybe just try one thing new everytime we talk even if it's small maybe it'll eventually coalesce into a bigger picture."

Conflux —
"...I think you need to take me seriously about what was so important in that last story... And I know I know there's all this 'take someone literally but not seriously, or seriously but not literally, but just... I dunno. Do whatever combo you think you haven't tried enough."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
His eyes search for something for a bit before narrowing ever so slightly at Connie.
"Do you... are you trying to say you litterally can't talk about certain things? Like a compulsion put in place by your dad?"

Conflux —
Connie just looks at him, blinking laconically.
"Are you just guessing stuff?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy makes to speak, but whatever sound he had planned to make dies in his throat as a held back hiss. So he relies on their mental connection again. He nods ever so slightly

"I think the fey geas has my mind pulling towards similar explanations so, yes. Sorry I just..."
He picks through the words slowly even across the mental bridge" Am obviously not good at figuring this sort of stuff out, your stuff. I'm trying but it's difficult to tell if that's what you want, if you want me to just leave things as they are, or just accept that I can't do anything yet."

A defeated huff escapes him, "Would you... mind if I looked, just in case?"

Conflux —
Connie bunches up her legs and kicks Percy in the chest as hard as she can, flinging herself backwards out of his grasp and down towards the city below.

As she falls she's immediately in motion. A hard jerk rips one of her earrings out of the cartilage, and Percy feels the flight spell on her snap. A few more quick motions and all of her even slightly removable jewelry flies off of her body and onto a carabiner which she hurls above herself out of reach. Finally, she grabs her loose canvas pants by the waist, whipping them off and hurling them to the side where they immediately fill with air, inflatably drifting down safely through the sky, getting farther and farther from Connie as she plummets.

"Are you going to ask questions? Or are you going to save me?"

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy is taken aback by the kick but due to the nature of the spellwork at hand barely budges as he watches Connie zip off into the sky, well at least she'll- JUST GET RID OFF ALL HER WARDS AND MY SPELLWORK!

As she makes to ask him she doesn't even get halfway through before he's cut his own part of the spell and starts nosing down into a dive with his arms, legs, fins, and wings tucked close to his body. He similarly drops like a rock coiling in on himself to roll his body in a downward path, like liquid metal. His eyes never loose focus of her for a second thanks to the nictitating membrane allowing him to deal with high speed air without the need to blink. Having not flown back up to the extremes they were at before, the window of opportunity was much shorter here, but on approach he reached out to catch and break Connie's rapid descent after passing and readjusting his own pace to meet her own.

Curling his hands around her he finally breaks eye contact to see they are danger close to the quickly approaching sky scrapers. He pulls Connie to his chest and fully opens his wings causing air to fill them with a leathery snap, from her place held close to him the strain on the muscles in his chest was clear, his lower body flung out from behind to now be the closer ground facing half. A controlled descent could be difficult at this level of strain and his lessons with Glasswing taught him that while he and her could likely withstand the high force of a sudden stop due to their physiology it would smash most normal people or seriously injury them even when cushioned.

With the air whistling in his wings he collided with the edge of one of the skyscrapers with his back legs shattering the concrete siding and likely spooking those on the top floor, but using it to roll off the side instead of careening down into the next building in sequence. A quick spoken word and thrum from his chest told Connie he had cast a spell after the collision, one that halted the fall of the now broken skyscraper bits. Tucking his wings and twisting to put his front back ahead of him while distribute the vectors of their velocity more evenly, thus dragging down g-force more safely. he quickly reoriented his angle to go down the street and opened them again and pulled hard around the upcoming corner.

He flew for a few minutes with Connie pressed to his chest before finally setting down in a secluded area his heart pounding. He sat back on his hind legs propped by his tail before slowly peeling her away from his chest to look at her in his hands. "Please be okay.. Connie?"

Conflux —
Connie looks up at him fiercely but stays silent. The haze of her many, many talismans is gone, but Indarius can still feel a small, answering thrum of magic from within the girl in his arms.
Despite the sharpness of her eyes, she looks more than a little woozy.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy finally let's out a breath he'd apparently held for a while now, "Why would you ever- Of course I'm just going to save you when there's not a question to ask!" He finally actually blinks, "Come on you'll catch your death out here like this."

He brought her back up to himself, but didn't press her against his chest quite so tightly. Weaving one spell around them and another which sounded like the taletell signs of a portal being opened. He looked down to see her shake her head and frowned but let her speak before he moved on.

Conflux —
She looks at him, hard. Her head sways a little; she seems nauseous. She doesn't speak at first, and when she does there's a slight slur to it. "Stop asking if I'm comfortable in the booth, and give me the key."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
A familiar wvorp happens as the portal apparently closes. "I feel like I just need to hand you the entire keyring sometimes. Right now I think it's the one that says let's see if you have any lasting injuries from that tumble, warm clothes, and a lesson on not scaring the s&!$ out of your friends to get the point across. Unless you've got another hairbrained way to tell me something?"

Conflux —
"Fall didn't hurt me. Coldsh not gonna, not gonna do it either. Don't. Waste. This." Desperation edges her slurring words, but it can't quite sharpen them.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy focuses on what little magic remains around Connie in an attempt to determine exactly what is left coating her.

Conflux —
The first thing that catches his eye is a tattoo that he's seen a few times before in part. Red and white ribbons twining up her thigh, tracing the path of her femoral artery. But now the red seems to throb and pulse as if in time to the beating of a heart far from here; the white restrains it, holds the bloodline in check. No bloodshed stains the mark of peace.

Panning up her body his senses are arrested by the twinned concentric circles in white surrounding her navel. Nothing without that is not also within. The inner circle is smaller; they aren't truly identical, but nothing in the outer is not somewhere in the inner.

The X across the inside of her right wrist scarcely changes to his expanded vision, still a simple, blunt forbiddance; though he can feel the literal power it holds.

The cherry tree that stretches up the other arm seems to just be made of ink and skin, but the magpies in its branches are alive, eyes alight with malice, beaks ready to raise a loud hue and cry when their watch is ignored.

Her back and chest are woven with deep workings anchored at the nape of her neck in a single character, 孝, that seems to stretch farther and deeper beyond what one person's body could ever hold.

Her name, C. Westcott Mathers leaks out through the thin fabric of her crop top, marking the position of the ink that dictates it, awkwardly stretched across a breast that hadn't existed when she'd first been renamed. This tattoo writhes and twists, straining to recomplete itself where abrasive, acidic scarring keeps it unfinished.

And between her shoulder blades arch blooming, thorned roses. They're thick, abundant, fecund; the sheer number of petals, the imagined smell is stifling, muffling, gagging. The thorns all extend deep into her chest, into her unbeating heart, wet with blood.

"What's happening Percy? What do you see? Please tell me you know about Harpocrates."

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy's eyes seem unusually focused and unfocused at the same time, the iris's sharpened to needles but looking through to the other side of Connie. He shifts her in his hand and pulls back one of his talons pressing it gently against the point between her shoulders while letting her head rest on the knuckle.

"I see a lot of pain. A strangling force... I'm not sure about Harpocrates, but I can look later. Based on the name I'm guessing Greek. It feels muffled... you didn't get this one yourself? You feel held together like a doll on strings, like a stiff breeze could snap any of them and any that snapped would cut the rest. I could...no not so bluntly."

Conflux —
"Don't Break Them. Now, my heart stopped beating almost thirty seconds ago." she slaps the side of her left thigh, then swings her arm up to point vaguely in the direction of her gently drifting pants. Her cheek slaps against her arm as her head lolls. "[smaller]left pocket. think 'adrenaline.' 911. shepeuhr..." She passes out.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
"F%#+." He turns and opens another portal to reach through and snag the pants gently setting Connie on the ground and changing into his humanoid form so he can actually fit his hand into the pocket for whatever she was telling him about.
"S+~& s@$~ f+%%.."

Conflux —
As Percy reaches in, his hand wraps around a single use EpiPen.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Quickly pulling the pen out his eyes dart over the instructions and he takes a deep breath, pulls the cap off and jams the tip against her leg. "Well suppose there's no training for emergency situations better than actually being in one." He quickly draws out his phone from a magical pocket and begins dialing for emergency services. He looks on while waiting for the operator to pick up.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
After the pen is depleted he sets it to the side and presses his index and middle finger to her carotid artery to check for a pulse before the phone picks up. "Hello, a ci- my friend has collapsed, cardiac arrest less than a minute ago. I've administered an epinephrine pen. I could bring her via teleportation, but don't want to jar her without second opinion, pulse is weak but present. I'm monitoring her as close as I can without equipment."[/b]

After some time he's cleared by the operator and Connie's slowly strengthening heart beat to bring her via teleportation, he covers her with her pants and figures he'll have to explain the situation one way or another nomatter how awkward it looks. Then he tries to look for any doctor with the name she had been sounding out before she passed out completely.

He also sent a text to Shin, Hey don't freak out, Connie's in the hospital. I'll explain when I can, but she's safe and I'm going to stay here with her so long as they let me.

Horizon —
Percy gets an immediate reply:
Shin: Is she hurt
Shin: How d
Shin: Ho
Shin: How did sh

It takes a minute before Percy reads:

Shin: Copy that. Room number please. Will visit soon.

Percy Dorn/Indarius —
Percy: I'll explain when you get here. Number when I get it.
For ease he gives info when he gets it and then like we said in the main ooc channel. He'll explain that it was magically induced, and he thinks he knows why, but they literally can't ask her too much about it for threat of it happening again


Maeve, Robertson's residence

The other Mr. Robertson looks unsure about Maeve's unannounced visit, but lets her inside to stand in the foyer. "I'll go get her," he says, then leaves her there in the entryway. After a few moments Oreo and Copper appear and begin rubbing their cheeks on Maeve's pant legs.

She gets only a minute with the cats before Chastity appears. "You can't stay. My family's all going out to eat in a little bit," she says bluntly.

=====================

Contentedness:

Connie's still unconscious when she gets to the hospital, and they keep her down for a while longer out of caution, but that night, she finally wakes up to see Percy at her bedside.

"Heeeeyyyy," she croaks, "I barely sound dead at all."

Percy makes noticeable effort to not jump to ask how she's feeling when she finally wakes, so he whispers despite not needing to. "Hey... hey, yeah you're good now. Just take it easy. Turns out you've still got plenty of stubborn in you."

" The only truly limitless resource (joke)... How long?"

"It's the same day," chimes in a nurse from the door. "Are you up to answering some questions, Constance? That's a great name. Now- Oh! You must be the- Oh! Well, I, er, suppose- were you the pers- the 'Friend' who brought Constance in? Do you know what happened to our Friend Constance? Memory loss is very common in cases like theirs."

Percy stands at the nurse's entrance resisting the urge to get upset at her avoidance of the word person. "Uh yeah I was. I was there when it happened and I can answer any questions you need that Connie can't." He looks to Connie for a moment. "It may be better to talk in the hall though. You'll just have to trust me on that."

Connie looks up at him and smiles, shaking her head. "Go ahead, Indy. You can tell her."

"Now was there anything like the last time? It says here- Acid?! Is that right, Constance?"

Seeing Connie address him as such, Percy takes a moment to switch mental gears a bit. "Ah acid, not this time thankfully. This time was..." He looked to her again, "An extreme fall and the overstressing of some magical wards."

He picked through his memory not recalling when she'd actually gotten hurt by acid, recalling the various tattoos however.

Behind the nurse, Shin pops inside looking a bit haggard and worn out. "Connie, what in the name of all gods happened that got past your thirty thousand wards AND the protection of a giant magic dragon? I am...just, f%*!, are you going to be okay - sorry, backing up, hi, thanks for letting me know the improbable occurred."

"I said I'd explain Horizon, just give me a minute to answer the nurse's questions alright." he raises his hand to try and calm his friend.

"Don't worry, Oh Fearless Leader. Heart just stopped; it's not broken. Acid wasn't as out of place as it seemed. Tattoo removal. The cardiac arrest part was a big surprise for us both."

"Good Lord. I hope he lost his license. What a butcher!"

"They didn't. Wasn't their fault. But yeah, no acid this time, or any other intense- Well wait, there was a fall? If I said there was... Torsion or something, would the doc spend a lot of time confirming? Or could we just skip to the bofaectomy?"

"Fall as in impromptu skydiving incident yes, but no actual impact with the ground or anything else."

"Your. Heart. Stopped. BEATING?" Shin raises his voice. "And you fell from the sky? You don't have a single damn ward to prevent falling impact?"

"Sllllaaaaaannndderrr! oww"

"Horizon." He glares at him and pulls out a strangely practiced measured commanding doctors voice, "There's a lot to go over. And you aren't making it easier by getting worked up."

"Of course I'm worked up, why wouldn't I be..." He starts, before looking at Connie. "This some spell gone wrong for you? Or is this an after effect of when he had his hand inside of you?" Shin asks, gesturing to Percy.

The nurse is not quite in full retreat after the slew of concerning terminology, but is clearly wishing she didn't have a heroic patient. "Better if Indy tells you."

Indy moves over to Horizon and again makes soothing gestures as he leans in, "It has to deal with dear ol' dickbag, but we literally can't talk about it around her. Kind of what caused this."

He pulls back and looks at the nurse, "Sorry despite all that we've been through it's never been so intense. Is there anything else you need to know right now?"

"...is it some kind of geas? Or I suppose a curse?"

"I'm working on figuring that out still, but I think more... insurance. Obviously more pressing concerns at the moment."

"Indy, I'm lucid. You can say what you need to say. To the nurse, or to uh... Horizon? Have I ever called you that? Or to me."

"I'm not exactly sure I can without sending you back into the state you just came out of... but considering we're in about as safe a place as we could be."

He walks over and sits next to her again groaning at the uncomfortable chair for his morphology. His eyes take on the same glazed over look he had when he was examining the tattoo wards earlier.

"The long short of it, is I think Dear ol Dickbag has some insurance placed on you to keep certain information locked away from the wider world. Weather it's triggered by us or yourself is still up to debate. Like I was just telling Horizon, haven't exactly had time to test this theory on account of you half-dying."

"Hey hey hey. I was clinically dead. None of this half nonsense. Means I was briefly able to keep Ben Franklin's secrets."

"What's more shocking is if I had a nickel for all the times you were clinically dead in my presence i'd have a dime... which is both a lot given the circumstance and concerning."

" Shhhh, Indy. They don't know about that one. You're gonna make me get a bad grade in hospital. "

"Right." He looks over to the Nurse, "Hero business is never easy I'm sure you understand."

"Also having two nickels is different than having a dime."
"I'll... I'll go get you a form to fill out for Constance."

Indy laughs weakly, "Please stop being smart for ten seconds."

"Fiiiine. Talk it all through and I'll chime in if I've got something funny and disruptive. "

The smell of pastrami arrives before Caio does. He pokes his head inside the room and then rests a sizeable bag on the nearby table. "Venya insisted." He explains.

"You brought Venya's pastrami to a cardiology wing?! We'd better get rid of that fast - pass a bite here."

"I had already ordered them and was about to text you if you had bailed on me when I read you were here." He slowly pass the sandwich. "You are not trying to kill yourself with it, right?"

"My cholesterol's fine (probably)."

She takes a bite, but is still visibly weak. "Well don't let me stop you. Go ahead and talk it through."

"...I had wondered why her tattoos transferred over to this new body," Shin admits to Percy after having a sit down to calm himself. "Can you do what you did with me?"

"Yes. You sure did."

"Am I going to blow up your heart if I ask you directly?" Shin asks.

"By asking that you are already throwing it into the testing you realize that right?" Indy adds.

He shrugged, "I've already checked it in a similar way, since it's got a physical presence unlike the one attached to you I don't have to check it from the astral realm. I could delve deeper, but I think I need to wait for Connie to be in a more stable state to do so first."
Tapping a claw uneasily on his arm he adds, "Who knows what kind of b*@~#~%+ backdoors are possibly in place that I'd have to circumnavigate."

Connie shakes her head gently at Shin, then lifts her eyes to the ceiling, focus shifting back and forward minutely in thought.

"...You know they're not anchored to my body, because Shin just told you that they appeared on this body when I inhabited it. So, I feel the need to remind you not to break things. If we aren't starting with an assumption that anything can be removed, what would next steps be?"

"Oh.. right yeah the whole cloned body thing.. which means they're a bit more deeply tied which means it's on either your soul or have a secondary binding elsewhere?" He finally looks up to nod to Caio having seemed to space out that he had even arrived.

Caio hands Percy a pastrami sandwich.

"Oh.. thanks man." He takes it but doesn't get to eating it quite yet.

Shin keeps considering. "Not a soul, but an identity? Wait, I don't want her to have to undress, but are there pictures of all the symbols we can see?"

"They're tattoos, and no I didn't take pictures she was sort of literally dying in my hands," Indy says.

"...Okay, you can have pics, but only of the tattoos known by Percy to be magic. And you have to crop the boob one to just the specifics."

Percy looks at her, "You good to move that much?"

"To tug up and down my gown and do a hand-bra? Yes "

"Alright, you heard her." He points out the staggering amount that actually held any magical weight.

"...Connie, tell me you know what that means." Shin points to the character on the nape of her neck. "Because you of all people wouldn't have chosen that yourself."

" I don't speak the language, but yes I know what it means."

"Well that's filial piety, for anyone else. Means essentially respecting and obeying your elders, particularly your parents."

Connie suddenly clutches at her chest.
Her eyes bulge.
"Please-
Please continue...
"

She slumps back against her raised bed, eyes closed until she opens one to peek.
"Don't let me distract you."

"...Kokei on it's own is something that works for some people, definitely not for Connie. But I don't know if there's a way that we might be able to alter the meaning by adding a new character."

"It's the one bit of this mess that I feel like I might be able to do something about. Though...hmm." He pauses. "...If we remove this stroke here it'll become a name instead."

"If special inks were used, it might be really easier to remove something then be able to work the proper formulas so we can add something." Caio says, recalling the not so trivial combination of his own silvery ink.

"What-" Connie stops, a look of pure frustration on her face. "Remember: Complete bodily disintegration was insufficient to affect them. Triage? Secondary objectives?"

Caio thinks. "True, then, if we can't alter then, perhaps we could create a magic circle around it to either seal its effect, like mine used to work, or force it to use a different source of energy and so fail by not having it available." Knowing it was confusing for Horizon, he adds. "As a magical tattoo, it probably sustains itself by draining a little bit of Connie's life force, but if we can force it to work from a specific food, or add an external adjunct circle... Which is what happens with those classic circles with the candles all around it." He shrugs. "Might ruin a bit of the aesthetics."

Connie breathes out through her nose, eyes tightly shut. "That's a solution, not triage."

"Triage. Right. What's the tattoo that's causing the most damage right now and what can we do to fix it?" Shin asks.

Shin's eyes glance at her name and the missing section from scarring.

"Rose thorns to the best of my knowledge and I'm not sure yet. I don't have any ideas quite yet either."

"Guiding you all step by step will be a less efficient way to do any of this, but maybe start with what they all mean?"

"I think the ribbon is just to keep your heart going for a little while longer, a way to visually check your pulse? I'm not sure about the circles. The name could be an attempt to strengthen the bindings of others. Seems Shin has deduced that the character forces some sort of loyalty to DoD so you can't directly cross him. Then the thorns are the punishment, and the magpies keep a close eye on you."

Connie doesn't reply, head ducked for a moment as she thinks, and thinks, and thinks. A frustrated tear threatens to escape her eye and she angrily rubs it dry.

"I also haven't had any time to study them and I don't feel safe doing so right now. so these are... very vague guesses so far."

Something seems to click in Percy's head for a moment, "Oh Caio, what do you know about Harpocrates any useful god trivia in that head of yours?"
He starts eating the sandwich and tapping on his phone with one hand to do some searching.

"Huh? No it's Hippocrates, right?" Shin asks in a bit of confusion as he's suddenly distracted from his attempt to gather clues. PtM of 5

Connie throws a cup of jello at him almost by reflex.

Shin ducks also on reflex. "Okay, different person, got it. Gods...Connie, I'm sorry."

He stops trying to discern the meanings of the different symbols and considers the parts of the body they're attached to. Though he's one wrong answer away from getting Feya Firestorm involved.

"Not much... Greek God of Silence and Secrets, right?" He asks. "I recall that he is thought to be the same entity as the Son of Horus of the Egyptians, but that is uncertain because the statues and symbols depicting the Son of Horus is of a child with a finger on his mouth, which apparently back then the Greeks thought he was shushing people."

"In the broader and interconnected cosmos he is known as Shateiel, the Seraph of Silence. Usually associated with the images of roses."

Shin grumbles. "So another angel. Great. Is this entity affecting these magical tattoos, and if so how can we get them to stop?"

"Entities like Harpocrates are rarely literally involved in temporal concerns, and are much more commonly referred to symbolically than specifically. Rain is more a symbol of cleansing than it is a symbol of Matariel."

"...I...you know what?" Shin grabs his bag and empties it of what appears to be several devices that Conflux might recognize as Shin's attempts to create an anti-magic gadget. He picks one up that seems to be an ofuda of protection that's gotten some kind of snap bracelet insert into it to latch on, purified with salt.

"This may do nothing. But I cannot solve a magic riddle without your guidance, so I'm going to try," He tells her as he affixes the charm to her arm.

Unleash Powers of 10 to try to neutralize one of the curses on Connie.

Connie twists away, rolling onto her front to keep her arms away, but exposing the roses on her shoulders in the process.

Alarms and alerts go off as her sudden listing pulls some of the leads off of her.

He pauses briefly before shifting the charm to apply across her shoulders instead. He claps his hands together twice, taking a deep breath and letting it out with a prayer in Japanese, enunciation the syllables in a clear, precise manner. Calling on the kami to relieve her pain and release her from this curse.

Connie goes almost entirely limp, using all her energy to speak as quickly and intelligibly as she can into the pillow. "Cool cool cool. Okay, something to remember - my dad is actually very smart." She starts talking faster, slurring a little as she begins to tense up. "I'm smarter, but that's why this whole system of things was designed in steps as I kept finding new ways- she gasps and drives her fingernails into her flesh to refocus "-to piss him off. He's not afraid to add new layers of problems over time S%&!. Okay symbolism's not that deep, roses secrets, piety obedience, straight edge straight edge, magpies stealing, inner outer matching circles are truth, the name's how he stole my old name, ribbons are bloodline and keeping it saf- No time!" She twists her fingers, still bare of any of her gear and ignites a small puff of pink fire. The talisman burns out, and she lets the spell lapse. "Kay I'm not gonna be conscious much longer, and visiting hours will be ending 'cause my heart just stopped again. Immediately get help. Please, please, please let this be the last time, 'cause this is really, really unsustainable. Even like in a hospital. Love you all in one way or another in case I don't get to say it again."

"I'm calling in Feya." Shin says. "Unless you both think we can manage this tangled web of curses on her on our own. And get the nurse!"
Percy frowns, Did we really have to cause another one of these to get results, his hand balling into a tight fist as a growl built in his throat, but at least they had more to go off of. "I'll get the nurse again, Shin, Caio stay here I'm going to get the Nurse." He reaches over and presses the call button but stands and heads out the door as well. Just before he gets out he looks to Shin, "Call her, I'll get in contact too."

Outside Indarius moved over to one of the nurse stations, "We need someone in room 457 quickly she's going to be going out again very soon." With the nurses informed his mind couldn't help but drift to Mathers He's so very lucky that I'm one of the good guys.

In moments a number of nurses and staff rush in, pushing the others out of the way so they can work on resuscitating Connie's heart.

Caio is busy writing everything Connie just said on the back of a medical form. "Don't think we should risk doing this on our own"

Shin is already sending a message to Whippoorwill and Feya directly about Connie's status as the nurses come in and start to usher them out of the room.

When Shin and Caio come out of the room they are greeted with Percy balling his hands into fists, the second Shin looks like he's done with the message he says low. "Where's Quincy.. I need to have a word."

"On a respirator last I heard. Not in any condition to answer questions. Believe me I've thought of that.
She has other brothers, though."

"It's not just for this." He eyes Connies room but quickly looks away. "Didn't happen to catch where the other players were did you?"

"Not off hand, but I can request a contact list. Not certain what that has to do with Connie's situation though."

"I want to see if Quincy has the same. The others is... me stuff."

"Cool. Be aware though, there's some other stuff...that thing I talked to you about? It's going to be a team thing sooner than later." He looks at Caio. "Details to come later. But you'll be getting some new lines of communication for it."

"Yeah, alright needs to be a fairly soon thing. Aside from making some visits i've got some obvious research to do regarding Connie's condition. Quincy would be invaluable. The players are a me thing, get that contact list to me asap please."

He obviously looks like he wants to run back in and rip apart the wards. But between Connie's warnings and what's happened in the past when he resorted to brute forcing things, he forces himself to turn away.

"I should get to work on all these things now."

Several hours later, a text to her boys
Connie: that sucked
Connie: can you at leat tell me you know what's wrong with me

A rapid knock on the door is followed by a blonde-haired head peeking into Connie's room.

"You awake?" Pru asks in far too loud and anxious of a voice to allow any sleep to be had.

"Panther Pride Get-Well Committee incoming!!!" a chorus of cheerleaders announce, as five others of the squad push Pru inside and join her around Connie's bed. Flowers, balloons, and stuffed kittens suddenly appear in every nook and corner of her hospital room as if summoned by magic -- though it's only through the power of cheerleader convalescence.

"S%@+..." Connie blinks hard to keep from tearing up too much. "Hey you guys. How'd you hear about this?"

As if waiting for this moment, the new phone by Connie's bed buzzed.

Ichi: If there's anything else you need, don't hesitate to ask for it.

Connie's smile dies as she messages back.

Connie: Tell me you know what's wrong with me
Connie: and make me believe it

Ichi: I know you can't tell me. And I know you have magic beyond your tools and wards.
Ichi: I'll do everything I can to free you.

Connie: ...Okay. So you know I have magic that I-
She stops, thumb hovering over the screen as she chooses her words
Connie:...Okay. So you know I have magic that I didn't tell you about, but that I made a point of showing while the rose/secret tattoo was disabled
Connie: You know that there are bindings on me relating to secrets, obedience, straight edge, stealing, truth, names, and bloodline
Connie: You know who put those bindings there, right?

"You going to just spend time on your phone?" Shanika says, hand on her hip.

Ichi: Seven bindings. Six brothers and a father.
Ichi: Unless one you were made to bind yourself.

Fuuuuuck
"Sorry, Shanika. Someone with bad timing's trying to work a diagnosis from the cape angle and heading down the wrong track. Lemme just politely nudge him and I'm all yours."
Connie: Leave the numerology and symoblism to me
Connie: you're the Investigator. Occam, bud
Connie: Occam.

"Okay. So. Tell me everything"

Ichi: Your father then. Who else would be so cruel?

The cheerleaders tsk and look impatient, but some busy themselves by tidying up Connie's room a little more, tying the balloons down and making sure the flower arrangements are showing their good sides. Others produce their own phones and focus on them.

Connie: Okay. If he did it, why would he do it? What would those bindings each do? You don't have to understand each one

"Please let that f+*+ing do it."

It takes longer than usual; it takes more work, but Connie smooths over the fear and hope and frustrated rage to give her friends what they need.

"Okay, be real, just how bad is it getting at school without me? Spill the tea girls."

Ichi: Roses prevent you from spilling secrets. If I'd ever offered you a smoke I think that straight edge would prohibit you from taking it. They all seem to be about controlling your behaviors. Even keeping you from having your name.

The cheerleaders start ticking off their fingers as they recount the latest gossip. [b]"Well, Macie and Evan are now officially 'taking some time off;' Danae got rejected by Curtis when she asked him to the dance; Mr. Calhoun is not chaperoning (thank God); Becca -- I mean, 'Fae,' asked Tiv Kruger to the dance and he said YES! Then there was Shin and the new girl, Tasha, I think? Anyway, you should have heard the jock table. He and Alden were totally chest-thumping over her," Pru recounts.

"You could cut the testosterone with a knife," Sanvi says with a roll of her eyes.

Shanika cuts in. "You're leaving out the best part! Shin and Tasha got into it this morning. Screamed at each other in her dorm. They both stormed out, and she was all over Alden at lunch."

" Lord. Shin's a cutie, but that boy fumbles the bag like no other... How's Danae? She didn't do the whole All Out plan for asking, right?"

Discreetly
Connie: &

Ichi: Bloodlines = preventing children?
Stealing self explanatory.
Truth...you are unable to speak plainly because you can't speak truthfully?
This really explains a lot.

"Thankfully no," Uma says, but the look on Pru's face tells Connie she'd have loved the extra drama. "She scaled it back to a banner across Hallway C only. Still. Sad."

"Banner's still pretty- m+&!+# f&#&%@!" Connie whips the phone out from where it was hidden.
Connie: Are you f&%~ing kidding??
Connie: I speak plainly all the f#+%ing time
Connie: And truthfully
Connie: When I told you "Shin, I do not have romantic feelings for you" what part about that wasn't plain or true?
"F+~%ing s!@$. How is this so f*~&ing hard with a f~~@ing laundry list to start from?!"

Ichi: Then you can't lie. Not directly?

Connie: Are you just f~+@ing guessing?

Ichi: I'm confirming my beliefs.

Connie: Don't f~@&ing tell me that, Shin
Connie: Do you want me to f!~*ing randomize my responses?
Connie: You know I can't spill secrets
Connie: That includes winking and speaking in f!#&ing pig latin
Connie: If I think you'll understand it, I can't say it. Not if it's about a secret I have to hold in confidence.

Ichi: But you can talk about it if it's no longer a secret to me. Which is why you keep confirming that I know these things.

Connie: I tried to make Franklin's magic # stick for what does and doesn't count as a secret, but it's proven to be fuzzier than that. Also, sending you and Femtite messages in Morse code did work, but only because I (correctly) didn't think you'd catch them.

Pru huffs as Connie refocuses on her phone. "Look, you clearly are in the middle of something. I guess we could come by some other time, or whatever."

Ichi: I'm sorry it took me this long to figure out.
Ichi: When you're out, I'll see you at Unity.

Connie smiles wickedly up at Pru. "You sure? You don't want to know about an entirely different bag that Shin fumbled?"

The girls lean in, ready to hear the gossip.


Starry-Eyed:

Sandwiched in between Movie Night and Message in a Bottle
Inside Connie’s hospital room, a beam appears! A portly figure slowly fades in with the light, and seated on his shoulder is …a Barbie doll?

Unsurprisingly, the ‘doll’ grows to her maximum height of five-foot-nine, or maybe six-one in those heeled boots. Femtite is wearing a pinkish-purplish Star Trek uniform—the minidress kind from the original series, though possibly shorter. She turns to her guest, giddily giggling, “Wasn’t that fun, Conway? And we can beam right back to your car after we bid Connie goodnight.”

Her eyes linger on Conway… then finally, she turns to Connie.

“Oh, Connie… Conway and I were at the park. Not parking,” she interjects with a giggle. Then eyeing the roses, she says, “Oh, but you received my flowers. And I’ve been meaning to tell you that my sister is very sweet. We’re working together to keep her pixites safe, and I believe Mr. President will be instrumental in that.” She looks as if about to swoon, exclaiming ‘my hero.’

“Alien Night was fun, too. Sorry you had to give it a miss, but there’s always the sequel.” She flashes a lovely smile Connie may not recall seeing since their early dating days. “I’m talking too much.

“Really, Connie, how is your heart? How are you?”

"Honestly? Kinda annoyed by the timing even if it was mostly worth it. Also: annoyed that the boys had to stop my heart again to make it worthwhile. 'Cause let me tell you, doctors really don't want to let you out of the hospital after your second cardiac arrest (that day)."

Conway waves, smiling at seeing his friend again but wearing the pained expression of seeing her in a hospital bed. He also seems out of sorts around Femtite, his cheeks flushed in a perpetual crimson.

"Crap, really?"

“Crap what? Don’t tell me you’re having a third heart attack.”

"Should I call someone?!" Conway stammers in sudden panic. He starts to the door. "A nurse, maybe? Oh, wait! We're not supposed to be here."

Femtite looks at Conway asking to help. What a man! Oh right… after hours.

What a SMART man!

"(Not a heart attack. Also, it'd be the fourth cardiac arrest unless we're talking about this week.) But uhh, no don't call anyone. We'll talk about it later. What's, uh, what's been going on at school? And with you two?"

"She watched Alien for the first time," Conway says.
Legendary Sidekick — 03/13/2024 4:20 PM
“Yeah. My scream was the loudest. Chastity grabbed my right hand, Conway had my left. We did not let go for the whole movie.

“I had to eat the snacks lukewarm.”
Femtite turns to Conway. “Was it the face-hugger scene? Is that what you call it?”

Conway stammers again. "It was the, um, chest-- oh, wait. Connie, have you seen it yet? Don't want to spoil it for you."

“Oh yes,” Femtite giggles. “Hey, at Barbie-size, I can be a face-hugger alien.” She laughs at her own joke, obviously to how corny it is.

"Yeah yeah, the pregnancy scene not the ra- But uhh, is that when you two got all snuggly?"

“Oh! Ahhh, haha…. aaaahhhhh . What? Oh.

“OH!” Femtite holds up a finger. She needs a minute.

Conway's voice cracks. "Snuggly? I don't know if..."

“No wait—ahhh. Nope. Yep. Okay. It’s like this…

“Chastity brought out this spin the bottle game. It was obviously Duke Zepar, right?” She smiles at Conway, “Sorry, cutie. Talking shop.”

She goes on, “Anyway, it was really… gross. Mrs. Robertson actually introduced the game to Chastity and Raquel, which means for all I know, Raquel was forced to kiss Gabe and like it.

“But even before I called Chastity out on bringing an item with Zepar’s sigil on it—I mean…

“Her mother taught her—a girl named Chastity—a kissing game! That alone, minus magic and fallen angels—gross, right? But everyone wanted to kiss. Consensual kissing is wholesome!

“It was so stupid.” She shrinks and sits on Conway’s shoulder. “But this guy…”

Femtite gradually grows back, levitating with one arm around the back of Conway’s neck.

“He sat out with me, and like a gentleman, gave me lots of space on that sofa as my girlfriend and I had a heart-to-he…” Femtite covers her mouth. “Sorry. A talk.”

Conway jumps when Femtite returns to large size and keeps an arm on him. He decides to study the hospital bed instructions intently.

"Your ability to quickly and concisely get to the most critical details may never have been equaled.

"Talk to me about the Zepar bottle?"
Legendary Sidekick — 03/13/2024 6:43 PM
Femtite puts both arms behind her back. Her aura pinkens.

“Getting to that.

“Chas and I argued. It was going nowhere and she was about to spin. Her cousin and his buddy and Raquel were ready to play, so I said the L-word.”

She clarifies, “Outed myself… just myself. But I threatened to reveal another truth. And then…” She turns to Conway. “You don’t remember this. Time stopped for you.”

She turns to Connie. “The room dimmed. There was a red glow around Chastity. The plate she used to spin the bottle upon had Zepar’s sigil. She shoved it in my face and I grabbed it!

“I felt a presence—it was crawling all over me, like under my skin, but barely. I resisted him.

“Chastity called him Lord Zepar. She spun the bottle on her fingertip like a Harem Globetrotter! She tried to ‘straighten me out,’ so I would be happy like Raquel! She offered me her cousin. Or suggested I steal Gina’s boyfriend. Or I could have Ethan whom I thought was the boy she’d ask to the dance. She mocked me for taking the plate—it was her trap!

“So I said yeah, you got me. But I choose my guy.” Femtite turns to Conway. “Who but the best the Earth has to offer? Who but the boy who started a club just for me? A boy who, even when Connie and I were together, found a special place in my heart?

“I am not straight. I don’t want to be. But if I had no control over my heart, if I had to be with a boy… Conway!” She gazes into his eyes, taking his hands if he lets her, but not forcing him if he’d rather not touch. “You are the only male I could consider this way. I…” She starts to tear up. “…I knew in that moment, you would never take advantage of me, as that Ethan probably would, or Chas’ cousin Gabe. And if there was no cure, if my feelings were dismissed as a cloud or a personal issue, you and I might find happiness.
“And so I grabbed the bottle from my girlfriend and slammed it against the plate so the bottle would stop spinning and point at you!

“I wasn’t going to let Chastity or Duke Zepar or random chance choose. I chose you because there is no boy on Earth that could reach a pixite heart except you!”
Best of C&S 9

Molten gold tears flow down Femtite’s cheeks. (And she seems to have forgotten Connie is there, and also hasn’t finished her story.)

Conway's face is open astonishment. He lets her take his hands -- they're trembling -- and his mouth works to form words. "I didn't tell them... but... you didn't save my life from the dukkemager. You saved it... afterwards. If you hadn't been, well, you, when I left school, I would have--" He sniffs hard and uses his shoulder to wipe some tears that were falling freely down his cheeks. "You made me proud to be me."

Femtite throws her arms around Conway and holds him close, bawling.

She manages to eke out a few words to finish the story: “Oh… and Raquel dumped Gabe, sniff, and Chas said the bottle game was stupid. sob I broke Zepar’s spell. snerk And his bottle. And his plate.”

Conway holds up his hands and looks to Connie. "Ahh, uh, is this okay?"

“Of course it is. We broke up three months ago, and she’s not a jealous ex.”

His voice gets tighter and higher pitched. "I mean you chose me not to take advantage and I'm afraid anything I do will be taking advantage and I don't want to take advantage and I'm saying taking advantage too many times!"

Femtite whispers reassuringly, “I melt spoons eating ice cream… so… knowing what my mouth does to metal, you’d dare not kiss me.”

She steps out of the hug, and notes all the hospital equipment.

“But if you did, at least we’re an elevator ride away from the burn ward.”

Connie can only stare. ""What the fuuuuuuck."

Femtite levitates with one leg crossed over the other. Her dreamy-eyed stare lingers on Conway.

But she finally turns to Connie. “Sorry. You said to tell you about the Zepar bottle, but you wanted clear and concise.

“Concise: it’s broken.

“Clear: Chastity and Raquel are free of his influence.”

She looks to Conway, hoping to glimpse his expression of approval regarding her clarity and conciseness.

"Okay, but like, what that entity is currently effecting is something we're all aware of, right?"

Conway remains wide-eyed and slightly panicky, his swell of emotion still evident by the wetness of his cheeks. "I heard you mention Zepar several times. Who is he?"

Femtite replies, “He’s a fallen angel who forces girls to like boys.” She covers her mouth. Her eyes widen and glitter with remorse. “I… I know how that sounds. But Conway, I aimed the bottle at you.

“Like, on purpose—I chose you. It’s not… it’s not like Raquel who forgot she was aro. Or like Chastity who stopped being a lesbian. I’m still…”

Her tears flow freely. “Oh gosh…!”

"Yyyeah. Sorry bud. Wished you'd known that. (Which is actually a pretty big complement if you want to take it that way.) Femtite? 'Pat-Pat-Pat'. Sorry I can't reach you from here."

Femtite moves to Connie’s side and places a hand gently on hers while she tries to compose herself.

"Soooooooo do we all know we're undoing this?"

“Oh, Connie… I came to visit you, not to dump a problem on you.” Femtite wipes her eyes with her free hand. “I chose this, and… I’m not affected like Raquel was. I mean, obviously yes, I’m affected, but no orientation is being forced on me. Zepar’s spell simply amplified a feeling I already had.”

Conway in the meantime found a chair and had sat down in it, holding his head in his hands. He lifts it up, his face blotchy from all the blushing and emotion. "Femtite, you gotta get it lifted. As much as I wish this was all coming from you, it's not. If you'd have missed and hit Gabe, or Ngon, and were feeling the same feelings to them, you'd want Connie to fix you, right?"

He slumps in his seat, looking dejected. "If we left you like this, I'd deserve the burns I'd get from kissing you."

Femtite looks as if about to swoon, feeling the love… and she can’t disagree with Conway.

“Very well,” she says in agreement. She looks to Connie.
“What do you want me to do?”
PtM 7: Connie - what do you want me to do?

"See? That's why I implied a compliment, bud." Connie smiles wearily at Conway. "I don't know what to do yet. I haven't gotten to examine the vessel, I don't know if it was the only conduit for these assorted working, I don't have my tools to make such an examination, I have a tube in me because it would be too dangerous for me to do so much as stand up to take a piss. All I've got right now are words: I'm just spotting the obvious problems and saying what will need to be dealt with. Just...I dunno, remember that magnification is also alteration? Don't do anything that'll make anyone hate themselves when we have had a chance to deal with this? "

Femtite nods. She is visibly relieved that Connie isn’t going to do anything here and now, and seems especially moved by the warning not to make anyone hate themselves. “Okay, Connie. I’ll do this your way.

“But while you’re here, do you want me to ask Feya or Imagerie to look into my condition? [smsller]Or… someone on the team?”[/smaller]

"Feya's in a related specialty, and her flaws map best to either arrogance or outright betrayal... Yeah she'd be fine. Can't imagine why this would be the moment Imagerie would suddenly be helpful."

Femtite thinks Connie is holding a lot back, regarding her feelings toward Alliance heroes. So Femtite simply agrees, “Feya it is then.”

She sits by Connie’s side, merely giving the room some warmth and—unless Connie or Conway have more to say—a peaceful silence, so Connie may rest and heal, and Conway can sort out the emotional rollercoaster.


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Well, not pant legs exactly…

Maeve enjoys the affection from the cats. “I missed you two goofballs,” she says as she unbuttons her coat. By the time she sinks to her knees to pet the cats, Chastity has surely noticed the plaid skirt, matching sweater worn over a collared shirt and the little-flower emblem of St. Theresa’s. It’s a girls’ school not far from where Conway goes, which she had already contemplated in late January as part of a plan for a life that can never be.

But she had come to terms with that when Zepar spoke through Chastity, or so it seemed. From Chas’ blunt tone, it appears the Duke didn’t give her the idea, but simply the nerve to say it.

Mae doesn’t go straight to I’m-changing-schools. That was not her primary reason for being here. “I wanted to check on you, Chastity. I… I don’t think either of us expected such a scare.”

It’s easier to look at the cats than it is to look her ex-girlfriend in the eye—which she does. Maeve is certain she would melt into tears if not for Zepar’s stupid spell giving her goosebumps. It isn’t cheating to feel for Conway if she’s already thrown our relationship away. And yet she still loves Chastity. She can’t even be mad about this.

“How are you, Chas?”


Robertson's Residence

Chastity folds her arms. "Maeve. I know you have 'ways' of finding me? But this has gotta stop. Seriously." She glances back into the household.

She rubs her temple, shaking her head when asked how she is. "I was scared by the movie, but I feel... better? Somehow? Like... I dunno. It's hard to say why... but I realize that... this. Whatever you think we have?"

Her voice drops low. "Can we take a break? A real one? I know this probably will make you feel terrible, but... I don't think it'll work between us."

======================

Psst:

Connie: sooooo
Connie: very aware that people don't always take me totally seriously
Connie: but I'm getting out of the hospital today if I don't like, die again
Connie: and did anyone check up on that whole thing with Whip?

Ichi: I'm keeping her up to date on things happening with the team. She's also working with Imagerie for deconditioning.

Connie: !
Connie: I f#&$ing knew it! (Colloquialism)

Ichi: It's not as cut and dry as you would expect. A lot of it is looking for unusual associations. I've been affected too.
Ichi: There's no indication of any programmed responses towards you in either of us.

Connie: cannot express how much I am not the center of the universe
Connie: afaik Cortex has never thought twice about me
Connie: but to be clear
Connie: i'm talking about the recent stuff
Connie: like at the group debrief

Connie:.....bbbuuuudddyyyyy??

Ichi: Yeah, it's complicated.
Ichi: I'm sorry, have had more on my plate. Need to make sure V is safe. Cops came looking and V went dark.
Ichi: More worried over her than Whip at the moment.

Connie: mm
Connie: V can handle regular cops tho?
Connie: no one Else is looking, right

Ichi: Not as far as I know. Whip knows and can keep the cape community from hunting her at least.
Ichi: L framed her for the breakout. I want to hurt her where it counts. Her stock price.

Connie: :grin;
Connie: I love when you go for a weak spot
Connie: :thinking;
Connie: Whip's got a techie, right?
Connie: she's always vibed as 'knows enough to fix her stuff in the field'
Connie: but anyone who successfully miniaturizes things like her quills has both skills and love for the game

Ichi: Yeah. They showed me pointers for developing my own gadgets.

Connie: Great! I need a meet
Connie: face to face if possible
Connie: least resource intensive way of handling/confirming all this

Ichi: I'll reach out to Whetstone and have them swing by the base
Ichi: Anything they should bring?

Connie: an open mind

Ichi: Tonight at 5pm
Ichi: Bring some butterscotch candies

======================
Unity Base, shortly after arrangements are made

An older man, sporting a grey beard and a vest full of tools carrying a pack heavy with even more gear, is darting back and forth in the base, checking out various panels and consoles.

"Been a while since I've worked on ol' Clocktower. She doing all right for you?" Whetstone asks Horizon after slamming a panel shut.

He looks around at the faces of the heroes. "What's all this, then?"


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Mae rises to her feet.

She doesn’t remember breaking up with me, or being possessed, or forcing Raquel to love her cousin… and if she’s feeling better, telling her the truth will only hurt her.

“I do feel terrible, but… I would’ve felt worse if I was left wondering. So thanks for being honest. As for the break...” She traces her body with her hands for emphasis on the Catholic school uniform. “…I’m changing schools.”

She grabs the door handle, pausing only to see if Chastity wants to say anything else.


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

Connie waves one hand excitedly, but remains seated. "Hiya Whet, I'm Connie, borrowing Shin's credibility to get confirmation on some stuff. So, what has Whip told you about her run-in(s) with Cortex?"


Robertson's Residence

"Okay," she says quickly. She appears to regret it instantly. "I mean... I hope it's a good change for you. I--" She looks away.

"I'm sorry I can't be who you want."

================
Unity Base

Whetstone whistles. "Hooooboy. Cortex. Let's see. Former teammate before we switched sides. Sociopath. Liked digging into your mind, implanting triggers and whatnot. He's also quite a jerk."

He folds his arms across his chest. "Still with the CADRE, if I'm not mistaken." He nods his head toward the supercomputer. "Most of all that is in the files. Whatdya need me for?"


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Maeve lets go of the door handle.

“You don’t have to apologize for that, Chastity. I want you to be who you want.”

She wants to give Chastity a hug, but… the door handle is the only thing in the foyer that Maeve can touch without crying.


Soldier | Danger -2 | Freak +0 | Savior +3 | Superior +1 | Mundane +3 | Soldier +2 Potential:▶️✴️✴️✴️✴️ | Conditions: Afraid, Guilty, Hopeless

With Skyler

"Honestly, assisted living might not be bad, Sky, assuming we can find a nice place... I don't know, considering she had powers, perhaps there is even one specialized for powered people under the Alliance's oversight." He offers. "She'd get professional help and we'd be able to visit her often... All things considered, there is actually a change her condition might even improve, right?"

"If she is on her own, she'd have nothing and no matter what the specialists say, do you feel she'd be able to work, or even stay alone in the house while you work? And if you have to work, you can't study and even if we find you something, soon enough the bills would pile on with the medical expenses she probably needs." He'd help her for sure if she needed, but he felt it was important to paint the picture of just the two of them.

"On this case, I could also ask the Corps if they can help somehow, you know? You could perhaps actually join us. They might have some compensation system in place to help members paying their bills whole doing the work."


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

"By inference, I think that Conflux wants to know if you have a way to check if someone is compromised by his powers." Shin says. He's got a tin of butterscotch candies at the ready.

"Clocktower works fine, by the way. At least I haven't run into any trouble, though the system is probably different with Iron Federation technology patched into it."


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"Ah, well nope. I mean, if you do have a way to do that then great, but I assume that's better handled by Gothic or a different, competent psychic, and I wouldn't bother you over it."

She smiles and leans in, but doesn't rise.

"But what makes Cortex so nasty isn't his raw power, it's his nastiness, and his smarts. So that's why I want to confirm a few things about Whippoorwill's actions. I assume as her guy in the chair you're kept up to date on her team-ups and things like the Cortex compulsion that was already uncovered. So, as far as you know, did Whippoorwill go to see Gothic to get debugged? And how many times has she teamed up or met with Gothic since then?"

She holds up an old-fashioned candy stick. "Butterscotch while you check?"


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Maeve

Chastity shakes her head. "No. I don't think you do. I think you had a very clear idea of who I was, or at least who I was supposed to be. I tried it your way, and I wasn't any happier."

She wrings her hands for a moment. "I don't know if I should say anything else. I'd like you to feel better, but I don't want you getting the wrong idea."

===============
Caio

Skyler shakes her head at the offer of joining the Corps. "No. Cancer ray, remember? I'll figure something out."

She falls silent during the trip back to campus, just snuggling close to him for support. She relents if he invites her to his room at Unity Base, and enjoys his company even if her mother's situation hangs like a black cloud over their interactions until it's finally time for her to return to her room at the school.

===============
Unity Base, with Whetstone

Whet accepts a piece of candy politely. "You know Whippoorwill is actually on a team with a telepath, right? Granted, Imagerie isn't your classic version, but she can usually get a sense of any meddling. And yeah, there's bad blood between us and the CADRE for years, but outside of him vying for Dad of the Year, what's the game? I think he's too smart to poke the bear, you know? Another throwdown between the CADRE and the Alliance is probably inevitable, but it's one of those classic standoffs, ya know?"

He thinks about Whip's teamups with Gothic. "Not sure. Maybe a couple times in the last month or so? But she definitely went to her once she found out she was whammied by Cortex"


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Maeve replies, “The wrong idea I got was that this relationship was your choice. Maybe it was, but now ending it is your choice… because I couldn’t make you happy.” The truth hits her like a bottle to the face. Her tears start to trickle. She can’t stand here and pretend this isn’t excruciating, but she isn’t about to flee, whether whatever Chas wants to say will make her feel better or worse. “Just say it.”


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

Connie looks obscenely pleased with herself, then blinks a lot and smiles incredibly unconvincingly. "Hey, I'm trying a thing where I pretend to respect people for whom I have substantially less respect than the average more than I actually do, without lying of course, but... look can we just pretend I said nice things about Imagerie while pointing out her many, many directly related failures on this topic? There are three main categories of her failures which of course do have sub-examples, and hopefully you've spotted them too or else I'm really gonna have to slow this conversation down... she added respectfully?? Sorry I said that last part out loud."

Her fake-ass smile turns especially pained. "Anyways? Leaving aside Imagerie's complete failure to handle anything like what we're talking about without having it specifically pointed out to her despite assumedly having many merits, lemme paint a picture for you:

"You're Cortex; you're a nasty telepath, but going braino a braino with the best of the best isn't your best move, so you've gotten skilled, and you've gotten sneaky. Your daughter is in terrible danger of having her spot blown up, and you're protective of her, and having her sit unknown in the heart of Halcyon is a nice little 'f@@# you I'm smarter/better' to the heroes he measures himself against, and hey maybe she's also a useful agent/ticking time bomb, but that's not necessary for the rest of that to work.

"Anyways, you go and make a trip to wipe a bunch of schoolmarms and baby capes and touch up some of the work in your own daughter's brain, and while you're doing that you find out that one of these baby capes has a personal relationship with Whippoorwill, and can even schedule a meeting that you know she'll come to alone.

"The meeting is scheduled; you whammy her."

She pauses. "This is what we all agree happened, right? This is the whammying that went undetected except that I clocked it in a few subjects and deduced that it would apply to Whip?

"Lovely, 'cause I also have a somewhat twisty devious mind and believe in preparation and silver bullets, and in not passing up gift opportunities. Cortex has already decided to take a small risk of exposure to mask Skyler's involvement in stuff, and as part of that small risk has access to Whippoorwill's mind. Now, here's the trouble, Whip isn't exactly a skooshy target, so little tweaks and compulsions are really all he can do as a oner, and over time she'll break free of those too - if he's really unlucky someone else will even notice early - and once she knows she'll get Gothic to check for anything else that's gone wrong under the hood, and then there's just no point, right? He could maybe get somewhere if he had repeated access to her, but his simplest way of getting that is going back to his daughter's school and rewhammying our Fearless Leader into setting up a private meet with her that he can crash, which is a lot of ways that things can suddenly go wrong, so... yeah this is a lot of exposure for kind of moderate benefit.

"Unless he can get Whip to set up those meets herself. So, Whetstone, I know that Whippoorwill went to go see Gothic to make sure nothing else had happened. Did she go to you? I told her something to check but every time I've brought it up, she's only deflected to date."


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Maeve

Chastity groans. "You-- you made it out like I was some paragon of humanity, and it was an honor at first. But then it was so much pressure. And you thought you knew what I was, but that was the power of a demon. I shouldn't have listened."

===============
Unity Base

Whetstone processes for a moment. "Well, it's usually good to be paranoid in this line of work. What you're saying is that you think Whip's still being manipulated. Or, is it that she could be, and that's enough to investigate? Any idea to what end?

"To answer your question, no, Gothic didn't come to me. Unless you were asking about Whip, in which case, yes. We checked on if it's worth it trying to make his kid account for her role in the CHC recruiting." He holds up a forestalling hand. "Outside sources, no one on Cortex's radar. Given the fact that the girl's been manipulated by him and her parents, and also a minor, it didn't seem right."


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Maeve wipes her face and looks her ex in the eye.

“The demon you listened to was the one telling you to force Raquel to fall in love with your cousin, to break up with me, to make me straight.

“I broke the spell last night and recorded my memory. I wasn’t going to show you… I didn’t want you to know, so you could just dump me and feel like you did right by your family. I don’t want to hurt you, Chastity. But if you’re going to hold a demon accountable for your actions, blame the right one.”

More tears fall and Mae ignores them. She fishes for her phone.

“Devil Diva was a regular kid who was overtaken by a demoness known as Violet. She’d been fighting the demon’s influence… and wasn’t always successful. To say she’s a paragon is an overstatement, but she did beat the demon inside her.

“I defeated the one in you, Chastity—Lord Zepar, a fallen angel who forces girls to lust for boys. He overtook you thanks to that stupid spin-the-bottle game. When you moved to cast his spell on me, I sacrificed myself to free you and Raquel.”

She tries to send the video, but her hand is trembling. She drops the phone back into her purse!

“That’s Love, Chastity. You broke my heart last night and I still put your needs ahead of mine—still fought for you and Raquel. And if we were still together… do you have any idea what I’m supposed to be? What life I was ready to give up to stay human for you? You talk as if becoming this for you was perverse, but either I had to be human or you’d have to become a Pixite for this to work. And I didn’t think you’d want to be a Pixite…”

Maeve snatches the phone! Taps the Share icon…

“But what you didn’t want was me. And the worst part is I still see you as a paragon. Even now, when you’ve made it so clear I’m nothing.”

Mae sends the video to Chastity!

Video: “Spin the Bottle, a Memory Seen Through MG’s Eyes”:
Gina turns to Ngon. "Do you have any party games?"

He shakes his head. "Nah, we're more of a video game family."

Raquel leans over and puts an arm around Chastity. "We brought something we could play. Chastity's mom even introduced it to us last week."

"It's, ah, spin the bottle," Chastity says, rising to her feet. She goes over to her coat and pulls out an old Coke bottle and a small plate.

"Your Mom?" Ngon and Gina both remark.

Chastity comes back to the circle. "It's more wholesome than you'd think. Just a little consensual kissing. She's not that much of a prude."

Maeve shudders as the girls mention some kind of party game…

“WHAT?!”

Maeve rises from her seat, eyes wide, face red.. “Kissing isn’t a game! It’s… it’s… it’s intimacy. It’s… it’s…”

Maeve slumps back onto the sofa, sinking into the cushions.

“…it’s wrong. It’s sick. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

She wants to storm out of the room. Become fire. Cry. But she can’t even pull herself off the sofa.

Conway takes a seat on the couch next to Maeve, but with plenty of space between them. "Why don't you go ahead. We can just watch." He gasps and his cheeks turn crimson again. "Not like that!"

Gabe belly laughs. "Oh, you like to watch, huh?" Ethan joins in, as Raquel and Gina also giggle.

"I-- I didn't mean... It wasn't--" Conway stammers.

"Chill, dude," Ethan says, still chuckling. "You walked right into that one."

Gabe catches his breath from his bout of laughter. "It's all good, man. Just f*!*ing with you."

Conway recovers, and even joins in the tail end of the laughs. "I still think Maeve's not into it, so I'll sit out too."

"No presh, dude." Ethan helps Gabe move the table out of the way as Chastity sets down the plate on the floor and puts the bottle on it.

"You know, there are European countries where kissing is just a sign of friendship," Chastity says pointedly. "And you don't have to kiss if the bottle lands on you. Like, Gabe's my cousin, so, obviously that's not happening."

“Exactly my point!” Mae says. “Because Europeans kiss both relatives and friends alike when it’s that kind of kiss. But this isn’t that kind of kiss.

“It’s intimate. It’s taboo. And if you’re in a relationship, it’s cheating!” She turns to Gina, “Or are you cool with me passionately kissing your boyfriend right in front of you? Or maybe I should ask Ngon if he’s cool with me kissing you…”

She turns to Gabe. “Because I would only kiss a girl. Because. I’m. A lesbian.“ She turns to Chastity. “And I’m done hiding who I am. That bottle spins once, I’ll reveal another truth.”

Chastity sneers cruelly. "Is that a threat?!?" She tosses the bottle casually and catches it. "Go on, what secret were you going to share? That we were girlfriends?"

The lights seem to dim everywhere in the room except for Chastity. Her cruel smile grows more severe as she stands over Maeve. "Our little dalliance is at an end. You came on too strong, 'Maeve.' Becoming human for me, showing up in every class, clinging to me everywhere I went... I couldn't get away! The three days you were gone was bliss! I wished you'd stayed gone."

The others in the room are like statues, unmoving as she rants at Maeve. The lights dim further, with Chastity revealed in a reddish glow. She tosses the bottle once again, but Maeve catches etchings on the plate in her other hand. The symbol of Duke Zepar!

She waves the symbol in front of Maeve's horrified face. "You recognize this, huh? It's Mother's gift to me. To set things right. We're not going to let you mold me into the person you want! Besides, it's better this way. Just ask Raquel! She loves being straight! In fact, why don't you give it a try?"

Maeve is frozen in place, but the word ‘end’ is like the bandaid being pulled off. It hurts like crazy, but then everything else is just an itch. And itches get scratched.

Mae narrows her eyes. “The truth is that I already figured out what the plate is.“

Maeve grabs the plate, but it seems like Chastity was expecting the move and it was part of her plan all along! Maeve feels a presence pushing at her from the tablet in her hands, crawling up and around her. She fights it off, but just barely!

That means, unfortunately, that the spirit of the infernal duke is still influencing Chastity! She stands, head cocked at an unnatural angle, watching Maeve wrestle with power of the sigil. "What next, 'Maeve'? Beg Chastity to return to her tortured existence hiding in the closet? Or go subatomic and see what Lord Zepar's influence can do to an entire race of females? I still have the bottle. Let's give it a spin."

Chastity twirls the ancient bottle on the tip of her finger, spinning it far faster than it ordinarily could on such a perch. "Who would you like to fall in love with? Gabe? Ngon? The new boy, Ethan? Would you try to smother them, just like you did with Chastity? Wear them down, pining for their masculine touch?" She laughs cruelly.

Mae groans, “Yeah, you got me… I can’t resist a perverted patriarch forever. But I can choose my guy!”

Maeve struggles briefly with Chastity, knocking her off her feet. The bottle hits the floor and skids across the hardwood, but the heroic alter ego grabs it just as it's pointed at Conway.

A feeling of pins and needles runs through Maeve, then moves to her stomach as dancing butterflies. Her eyes lock on the paralyzed form of Conway and the spell of Duke Zepar discharges!
|
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|
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|
|
Maeve suddenly finds herself sitting in a circle in Ngon's basement around a few bits of glass and pieces of broken pottery.

"Well, that was a bust. How old was that bottle, anyway?" Gabe asks.

"I-- I don't know," Chastity says, sounding like she was just waking up. "I honestly don't know why I suggested this stupid game in the first place."

"Or why I even agreed to sit down with you all," Raquel says as she rises to her feet. "I'm friggin' aro."

Ethan stands as well, checking his phone. "Looks like it's time to go anyway. Great movie, Ngon. Thanks for hosting. Tell your parents the food was great."

"Yeah, no prob. Thanks for coming. Nice meeting you," he says.

Chastity rubs her eyes. "That movie's going to give me nightmares. Thanks for that."

Gabe grabs her coat and hands it to her as everyone gathers their things to leave.

"That felt... weird, there. At the end. You okay?" Conway asks as he hands Maeve her coat.


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

Connie nods, still sitting quite still, but her nod showing more and more energy behind it.

"So, what I told Whippoorwill to check was whether there were any discrepancies between the carrier and device data of anything she has that sends messages. Because if I were Cortex, and I knew I had access to Whip for a very, very short window, then compromising her devices would be the simplest way to open that window again.

"And the goal of this is... hard to nail down for sure, lotta options if you're creative. 'Cause if you're able to do discreet in-and-outs to tinker with Whip, then you're not really looking at much of a risk, and even if you're just getting Whip to keep you up to date on any investigations into Skyler like say the IDs on those outside sources who wouldn't be on his radar, or into anything they've got building on CADRE, or worst case, building up the conditioning and compulsions in Whip's head to start eroding what is and isn't a no-go area for direct mental overrides... Well like I said, an inventive mind can find plenty of gains that are worth the very, very small risk.

"Returning to the timeline, like you said, Whip went to go see Gothic to make sure she wasn't under any other compulsions - and at that point she wasn't. But Gothic probably didn't do any in depth scans while the Alliance and the Herald were having the team up for that Giant Enemy Crab last month, right? Do you think that she did the other two times Whip met with Gothic privately? Do you think it's possible that when she messaged Gothic or Gothic messaged her to set up those meets, that she was wrong about who she was talking to?"


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

Message to Caio

Ichi: Tell me everything
Ichi: I need to know what I've forgotten

Unity Station

Shin nods. Connie's reasoning was not flawed. And yet there was something he had to address.

"Connie? Something I have to address here. All of this is feasible. If Cortex was interested in manipulating Whippoorwill or me to bug or sabotage or otherwise cause harm from the inside, he certainly would have had that chance."

He taps a finger on his knee. "But anything like that would have sent immediate red flags. We weren't made into sleeper agents, we were made to forget things. Our memories overwritten and sloppily. Or else I would never have freaked out like I did the night you found me, because I wouldn't have that huge discrepancy about my fight with Caio - because it was about her."

"I don't think he cares about infiltrating the Alliance or anything. I think he only cared about bailing his kid out of trouble."


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"That wasn't his initial goal, but let's face it, he's where he is because he works from weird angles and doesn't miss opportunities. And I don't think there's been time for Cortex to sleeper agent Whip. That's why I started being annoying about it again - long enough for evidence to exist, not long enough for her to kill me unless she deep down kinda wants to, which is why I'm often kinda careful with her anyways, but here's a sample script that doesn't raise red flags:

NUDGE: Don't bother Gothic in the big team ups, she's busy
NUDGE: Keep Gothic up to date on all investigations related to Cortex or CADRE. She's the telepath, it's just smart to message her.
There are technological ways to do the next two, but I'll keep with the telepathic method for now
NUDGE: delete all messages to or from the primary contact # for Gothic
NUDGE: copy and forward all messages to Gothic-beta that Gothic-alpha replies to with a #
Oh and if it wasn't clear, there're two methods of contacting 'Gothic' in that method, but only one of them actually reaches the real one.

"There are plenty of particulars I might not have exactly right, or even at-all right. This is mostly deduction, monitoring Whip's public activities, monitoring her shifting responses to me, and having a fairly good working knowledge of thinking around internal mental blocks. At it's core though, I'm just working from what I would do with his power set and opportunities, and you know, goals."


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Maeve

Chastity shakes her head vehemently when Maeve pulls out her phone. "No. No, no. You gotta leave."

Her phone reports the message did not send. "Mom's already blocked you from all our devices," Chastity says. "And I don't want to see it anyway. Just go. God be with you."

==============
Unity Base

Whetstone mouths a "wow." He sighs. "Whip uses Alliance tech for communication. This doesn't sound very plausible. But I'll run a search through all subchannels to see if she's been 'nudged' to use one of our backups."

He snags another butterscotch and wiggles it at Connie. "Hey, paranoia is good, as I said, but keep a close eye on Occam's Razor too. Think too hard on all this telepathy stuff and you'll begin questioning the very nature of existence. Like, maybe you and I are just figments of Imagerie, or Halcyon never escaped the computer simulation of Vivatron in the '90s. My personal favorite is that we're all part of the Tommy Westphall Unified TV Universe because Angel Taylor had that recurring role in Law and Order: Halcyon." His eyes get big and goggly. "Meaning we're all just in some kid's imagination."


Secret Identity | Danger +1 | Freak -2 | Savior 0 | Superior +3 | Mundane +3 |

Maeve is actually relieved that Chas doesn’t want to know. She’s better off not.

“Be happy, Chas.”

Mae doesn’t wait for another response. She walks the streets, fighting the temptation to burn her clothes off and become herself. The Maeve body is useless to her now, so even in a new school, why not just go as an unkissable alien?

But in the interest of not being wasteful, she walks. When she’s far enough from the Robertsons’ she heads into the woods and…


⭐️ | Danger +1 | Freak +3 | Savior 0| Superior +3 | Mundane -2 | Potential:✴️✴️✴️✴️⏹️
Conditions:
♥️INFATUATED♥️
Influence:
Chastity, Chumpchange, Connie, DD, Drake, Horizon, Indarius, Ngon, Raquel, Shane, Skyler, Valorian, ((not yet: LaQuesha, Victoria)) / Faetite

…changes!

After a half hour of solitude, miles above the earth, she texts Conway.

☀️: I’m free. Are you?
☀️: I won’t be weird.
☀️: Well… just my usual weird. You already told me the lovey-doveyness isn’t me.
☀️: I think the way the spell works is I won’t feel a strong compulsion to do things that I know will hurt you or push you away.
☀️: Anyway… I want to talk, but only if you don’t already have plans.
☀️: Like, if you and your family are about to go out to eat, I don’t want to just show up. That would be awkward!

So much for not hating myself.


Soldier | Danger -2 | Freak +0 | Savior +3 | Superior +1 | Mundane +3 | Soldier +2 Potential:▶️✴️✴️✴️✴️ | Conditions: Afraid, Guilty, Hopeless

With Skyler

"You don't need to use your powers. There is stuff to do that don't require them, but ok. We'll figure something out."

Caio spends the rest of the day with her, sending a message to the others that he won't be able to make it for the training. When he is about to leave, he can't help himself from sharing his worries with her. Sure, she was already dealing with a lot, but it would be worse if she was caught by surprise.

"Sky, I'm worried about something else... this whole thing was either Cortex's doing or happened because something happened to him. So... there is a chance that his whole 'it was just a misunderstanding' tampering might have puffed." He tries to be calm. "If that did happen, for you to be safe it might be needed for you to seek the Alliance and work on some sort of deal to testify against the CHC." Who knows, perhaps this could even help her mom. The whole thing was just a lot.

---

Text to Shin

Caio: Will do, but I'll need to help Skyler first. Her parents are splitting and it is a mess.

---

Message to the Corps, the same night

Caio: Good night, sorry to bother you with a personal request.
Caio: Was wondering if you could discreetly check someone for mental tampering.
Caio: Skyler's mother, Karina, is a powerful empath, but she has mental illness, while her real father is Cortex, the powerful telepath from CADRE.
Caio: I need to know if Karina's mental illness are legit or if Cortex did something to her.

---

Unity Base

Caio arrives at the base and notices the visitor, overhearing some of the talk as he passes by. So, now was as good of a time as ever. "Hey Horizon, sorry to butt into your meeting, but you've asked about what happened after the Italy mission."

If Horizon agrees, Caio retells the whole thing as best as he could remember, focusing specially on the matters that Cortex did his mind whipping with the misunderstanding message.


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"Really feel like after the first two times I uncovered a successful villainous plot to compromise Whip, I'd be getting a little more benefit of the doubt... Oh, but you know what might help to check things against?"

She holds up her own phone, already open to a chat.

"Gothic only saw Whippoorwill once since she cleared her, at The Crab thing; they didn't talk."


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

Unity Station

Shin is glad to see Caio show up. Even though he's dreading learning the truth.

"Please. And Connie, Whetstone, listen too, because it might provide...insight."

After the recap

"...I am sorry, Caio. That was...honestly, that sounded like I was taking it far more personally than I should have," Shin admits. He looks a little sick to his stomach. "Did she ever tell you anything about my interactions with her?"

He glances at Connie to gauge her own reactions. Though he had to address something from before Caio's spiel. "Gothic never talks when she can converse in someone's mind. It's a psychic thing."


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"...Shin, you are aware that now I can set things on fire substantially with my mind, right?! The point isn't that Gothic didn't talk using lips tongue, teeth, palate, and/or larynx. The point is that the count of heroic meetings between them that Whetstone has from Whippoorwill doesn't match the count that I have from Gothic.

"I have outlined why I suspected that that might be the case; I have gathered supporting evidence that that is the case; I have once again presented my suspicions directly and indirectly. Whetstone? I'm not even asking for access to what I would need to check, just please take me f++@ing seriously. I have a lot of reputations, but crying wolf is very much not one of them."


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

"Public meetings. And again, Gothic doesn't even need to be in the same city district to have a conversation with someone," Shin explains. "But your ears need checking, because Whetstone said he was not sure, maybe a couple times, and you're latching onto it like the last candy in the bag. He's not her personal assistant, he's the best tech expert this side of the law, and he doesn't track my mentor's every move. Anything else, Connie?"


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"Huh. Okay. So, very aware that this slots into the 'Connie's paranoid and possibly delusional' category, so by miles the most important thing is for you, Whetstone, to just check up on the discrepancy I identified and told you a pretty good idea of where to find. As long as that simple double-check is happening, then this next part is a lot less important.

"But uhh, Shin. How would you feel about hanging out and letting me take a peek at some subconscious reactions?"


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

"Certainly. As long as you and Caio here are also up for a discussion about the future of the team now that we're all here." Shin looks at them both.

"Since I'm planning to step down, I need to appoint a new team leader. You two are my top choices. Which also means more responsibility. Including recruitment of new members. I have a short list of new debuts in Halcyon to look into for bolstering the ranks."

"However, whomever takes lead also needs to be able to commit themselves first to the team." He looks to Caio. "Do you think that you could put the team before your duties with the Corps if necessary?"


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"Wait-wait-wait-wait-wait. Come on! We can't keep just going with the pattern of me pointing out a problem, everyone agreeing and then moving on to other s!+$ instead of actually doing something! Whet? How you doing with this?"


Unity Base

Whetstone huffs. "Yes, all right. I'll approach her about your concerns and do a rundown on all her gear. She's got trackers, bio-rhythmic sensors, and other gear for post-op analysis. If you're asking that she bench herself... probably going to need more than what you've got so far."

==================
Caio, Message to the Corps

Caio gets a response after a while.

Alan: I've got some tech that can scan for telepathic influence, but an actual telepath is better. I'll see what I can do if you don't want to reach out to the Alliance or Heralds.

==================
Femtite

☀️: Anyway… I want to talk, but only if you don’t already have plans.
☀️: Like, if you and your family are about to go out to eat, I don’t want to just show up. That would be awkward!

She gets a text back.
Conway: Yeah! Sure!
Conway: (not about the awkward. About the being free)
Conway: Do you want to meet at Aloha Poke Bowl? It's close to my house.
Conway: and good food


⭐️ | Danger +1 | Freak +3 | Savior 0| Superior +3 | Mundane -2 | Potential:✴️✴️✴️✴️⏹️
Conditions:
♥️INFATUATED♥️
Influence:
Chastity, Chumpchange, Connie, DD, Drake, Horizon, Indarius, Ngon, Raquel, Shane, Skyler, Valorian, ((not yet: LaQuesha, Victoria)) / Faetite

Femtite does a quick GPS check, and replies:

☀️: Yes, I’m on my way!

Given her telepathic connection to Bug-Eye, Femtite can safely text and fly!

☀️: I actually have clothing for my human form on me.

The body she wants to permanently delete.

☀️: I mean, if you don’t mind me changing to human form.
☀️: I don’t care about the secret identity stuff anymore.
☀️: But there are advantages to having a body temperature that doesn’t melt silverware.

Re-reading the ‘good food’ comment, she adds:

☀️: And taste buds.


Influence:
Influenced by: Caio, Femtite, Percy, Queen Millie, Shin Influences: Caio, Candy Grrrl, Devil Diva, Femtite, Jade, Jasmine Jacobson, Percy, Ringtone, Shin, Tyg
Labels: Danger: -1 Freak: 1 Savior: 3 Superior: 3 Mundane: -2| Conditions: Afraid, Guilty | Potential 1/5 | Condition Heal/Team Hold: 0 | Diva Samples Hold: 1/2

"I've told her about the concerns, but feel free; just make sure you check."


Sure thing!" Whetstone assures Conflux. "I'll get on that, you guys work on your team."

==============================
END OF SESSION 12

=========================================
--------------------------------------------------------
Session 13: Finals
--------------------------------------------------------

Time passes...

With the concern about Whippoorwill's mental state in the hands of the best person Conflux can think of (besides her own), First Class focuses their attention on Lovelace International. Training in infiltration and data extraction to not only save Siphon, but also to hurt the information broker where it would pain her the most.

At school, several absences are notable. "Tasha" has disappeared as mysteriously as she'd appeared in school. The exchange student Maeve has also presumably returned to her home in Ireland. Skyler's attendance is spotty, due to her frequent trips to the mental hospital where her mother is being evaluated on court order.

Even though the Valentine's Day dance is right around the corner, it's low in priority for the members of First Class. Instead, their attention is on the immediate future -- and beyond.

===========

Whippoorwill has left the decision to go ahead with the mission to Lovelace International to Horizon. Practice can only get the team to a certain readiness level, so he is about to put his misgivings aside and order the go-ahead. The mission: infiltrate Lovelace's high-rise stronghold and find the information about Heartache and other dealings by Lovelace.

Conflux finally gets a response from Whetstone after several tense days, just as the mission is about to commence.
Sharpener: Hey. Looks like you were on the right track. Nothing as involved as what you were afraid of -- thank goodness -- but there was a couple smaller mental blocks that Silent G found. Broken bridges, what she said
Sharpener: Well, not exactly 'said' but you get my meaning


⭐️ | Danger +1 | Freak +3 | Savior 0| Superior +3 | Mundane -2 | Potential:✴️✴️✴️✴️⏹️
Conditions:
♥️INFATUATED♥️
Influence:
Chastity, Chumpchange, Connie, DD, Drake, Horizon, Indarius, Ngon, Raquel, Shane, Skyler, Valorian, ((not yet: LaQuesha, Victoria)) / Faetite

THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS
With Chastity out of Femtite’s life, there is no reason to go to school and exactly one reason to be Maeve: the ritual to confine Zepar’s power to Femtite’s human body.

(Truly, it would be the perfect trap for an infernal being if Maeve were possessed by Zepar himself as Chastity was. Deleting the code to become Maeve again would obliterate the being from existence!)

For the ritual itself, Imagerie’s presence is necessary. Femtite is no longer using a vehicle to store a fully clothed human body as code. Her body changes… so Imagerie is needed to make her appear clothed for Feya’s comfort.

Faetite is permitted to attend.

“I know you like us both passing as human, Sister. I’m sorry I… I can’t take any chances. Chastity was under Zepar’s influence for too long, and… he changed her. The best I can do at this point is respect her feeling, and learn from her…”

During the ritual, Femtite changes to Maeve, to Femtite, to Maeve, whenever Feya commands her to. Whatever discomfort. Whatever lustful feelings. Whatever fear of losing control… Femtite focuses on Feya’s command and Imagerie’s soothing encouragement.

“So I’m free to choose my dance partner, or any partner who would choose me,” she assures Conway before she finally asks him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance!


TODAY
Femtite has been training regularly, and well above the required hours—the advantage of being a high school dropout!

While everyone is at school, Femtite does a few more runs through Clocktower. The simulation includes the single use of a short range teleporter, and bots play the roles of teammates having succeeded at their pieces of the puzzle.


Horizon, late at night

Shin is woken up from his sleep by a hand pressed against his mouth! His eyes search his darkened room frantically for signs of his attacker, but can see no one!

"Shhhhhhhhhhhhh," he hears in his ear. "It's me." Valerie's face, hazy and washed of color, materializes in front of him!

"Had to borrow Pallor's ability to get away for this meeting. You need to hurry your timetable, Shin. Lovelace, she's building a team. Valence is on it, Pallor--" she waves a translucent hand in front of Shin's eyes-- "You can see what he does. They also got the cat girl from this school, and some girl that can cause hallucinations. Scythe, too, if they can figure out a way to control her. They're expecting me to be on it, too."

She takes her hand off his mouth and leans back. "I gotta get back. They're keeping us in a sub-basement level at Lovelace Plaza, but I don't know for how long."


Potential: 0/5 11A Labels: Danger: +1 Freak: -1 Savior: +1 Superior: +3 *Mundane*: +2 | Conditions: None
Influence:
Influenced by: Devil Diva, Femtite / Influences: Scorch, Mosaic, Frostbite, Psyche, Ballista, PATIENT X, Sarah, Triplight, Conflux, Indarius, Femtite, SG

Late at Night

After the initial panic from being awoken by an intruder and relaxing his grip on the stun pen under his pillow, Shin looks at the hazy Valerie briefly and has a moment of fear that he's being haunted by her ghost.

"Thank everything you're not dead. Which cat girl? What's the best way to slip in? Have you found out where she's keeping her intel on the Instigators?" He asks, stirred to alertness as he grabs his burner phone and pings the group chat.

Ichi: Stand by for mission update

Then he takes Valerie by her hands, squeezing them. "More important to me - are you all right? She's not filling your head with stuff like 'they'll never trust you, but you can count on me because I have need of you' or crap like that?"

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