Lake Galena was about as picture perfect as you could hope for it to be. A summer wind cut down the heat, rustling through the trees and skimming over the cool bright waters. A yellow and orange hot air balloon navigated its way through the blue skies overhead as families splashed through the water, the rip-roar of a jet ski cutting over the calm waters. A few small boats launched out from a private marina over the water, a young good looking set celebrating a vacation with loud music and enthusiastic whoops, as a couple of guys did flips from the boat into the water, pulling themselves back up or pulling the women trying to help them up in with them.Good times, good vibes.It almost covered up the fact that not far from here, the kid-friendly offshoot of the Humanity First Militia was indoctrinating and preparing a bunch of kids around my age for a fight to the death with the para-folk community. The Guardian Summer Camp, the reason I was really out here, investigating what they had planned and who was behind them.But that was for skulking around at night. Just because I was here for work didn't mean I couldn't enjoy some time off, particularly with my dad. His girlfriend, my homeroom teacher Carmen, took to the water, quick and slippery as an otter, leaving the two of us alone to go fishing.A long pier, a pair of fishing poles, and a bucket of bait. Dad liked fishing, he said it was relaxing. If I'm being honest I'd always found it a little boring, but it was a chance for some one on one time with Dad.For months he'd been a wreck since Mom had died. Actually, he'd been a wreck since before that, since her diagnosis had turned terminal. He still had a bruised energy, but for the first time in a long time his smiles were natural, his laughter was easy, and he didn't stink of alcohol. He hadn't touched a beer can since Carmen had moved in, and even if I thought they were moving kind of fast I couldn't help but feel relieved to see him happy, even if a part of me, a small nasty part of me, resented her moving in so quickly.I guess there were things we both disapproved of when it came to each other's love lives.We were far enough away from swimmers. Dad flicked out his line, standing on the edge of the pier. I followed his example with a little less confidence."It's good to get away," he remarked, staring out over the water. Dad's a country boy at heart. We didn't talk right away, Dad isn't a big talker. "Kid," he said, "I know I've put you in a bad spot with Carmen." He'd demanded I tell her my secret identity, that I'm the superhero Hotspur, and if I didn't, he would. "But this thing, it isn't casual. I'm...I'm serious about her. She's moved in and I...I don't plan on her moving out."
"Are you going to ask her to marry you?" I said, meaning it as a joke. Dad didn't smile but stared at his lure in the water. "Wait, seriously?""I don't know," he said, "She's younger than me by...by a lot. I'll be forty soon, she's not even thirty. But..." He sighed. "I guess I'm just old fashioned about some things."He kept his stare fixed on the lure."What do you think?" he said, "You might not believe me Eric, but I do care what you think. About her, about us. If you're not ready for a woman that involved in our lives I...I can break it off."He swallowed, jaw tight. Anxious about my answer. It had taken a lot for Dad to say it, and he hadn't said it lightly.>I think you should break it off>I'm cool with it but its too soon for marriage>I'm cool with it, I'm okay with her as a step-mom
Previously on With Great Power Quest: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=With%20Great%20Power%20Quest
>>5164483>I'm cool with it but its too soon for marriage
bold move starting a thread during the super bowl
>>5164483>I'm cool with it, it's too soon for marriage and never expect me to call her mom or even step-mom, but if she makes it so you're not lonely I'm happy
>>5164483>I'm cool with it, I'm okay with her as a step-moma hot step mom
"I'm cool with it," I said, "I mean, I'm cool with you and Miss Flores being together. But Dad, marriage? It's kind of soon for that."He grinned. "I guess I'm just a monogamist," he said, "Not like you and whatever's going on there."The silence turned uncomfortable."Sorry," he said, "I'm glad you approve of her.""Just don't expect me to call her mom," I said.It would be too weird. Way too weird. Not after she'd featured in more than a few daydream fantasies before she got with Dad. I wasn't in to that kind of stuff, no way."I'll wait on proposing," he said, "You're probably right, it is too soon."A tug on his line and he started forward. "Got something," he said, feeling it out. A harder tug. "Okay, here we go!" he said, baited breath as the fight started between him and the fish. I watched, my own line slack. He hauled back on his rod. "Tough bastard!" he said.It broke from the water, scales glistening, the light catching a ripple of a rainbow pattern down its side, flopping through the air as Dad hauled it to the pier."Trout!" Dad said, spinning back the reel. The fish twisted on the hook, wrestling to escape as it struggled to breathe outside the water. "And a good size, it'll make for eating," he said, "Here take a picture."Dad slid me his phone. There's an age men get where their social media became pictures of them with fish they'd caught. I guess Dad was getting to that age. I snapped a picture of his proud grin next to the caught fish."Skin it, gut it, fry it," Dad said, taking the fish off the hook, "Might try for another two or three, make a dinner out of it." He chucked it in an icebox before rebaiting the hook, the catcher of fish now determined in his task to provide for his family.But his luck didn't hold over the next hour. Mine was somehow worse, the fish weren't biting. It was good though, for me at least. Standing quiet on the pier with Dad, nothing but the clouds rolling by overhead. I didn't care if I caught a fish. Dad though, Dad glared at a jetski scooting by over the water, kicking up froth in its wake the guy on the back hollering as he zipped by."Scaring off all the fish," he muttered.By then Carmen came up to join us, dripping wet in her black two piece bikini, starting to towel off."You boys have fun?" she asked."Dad caught a fish," I said."Nice," she replied, "A couple of guys invited us to their camp tonight for dinner. A fresh fish would go down well." She gestured to where a couple of douche-bros in boardshorts were standing in the shallows drinking beer. One of them raised his beer up at her gesture, obviously keeping an eye on her even though he had a couple of spray tanned girls for company.'Us', I thought. Yeah, sure. But Carmen had a look for Dad told me she wasn't even thinking about those guys."I'm going to make it a couple more before we go," Dad said, determined gaze locked on the lake surface.
"If we have the ingedients I make a pretty tasty fish tostada," she said, drying out her hair, "Get a couple jalapenos, some tomatoes, chop up some garlic." Her accent came through thicker when she talked about Mexican food, mostly because she pronounced them, you know, correctly."Maybe we can swing through Galena, see if they have the ingredients," Dad said, grinning as Carmen wrapped the towel around her hips, Carmen smiling back.The scream snapped my attention away from the cute little scene.Someone deep in the lake, floating face down. A kid, maybe ten? The frothy water of the jetski bubbling away around him, the jetski banking around firther ahead, the guy on the back looking stunned. A woman on the marina screamed, a look of horror on her face, pointing out at the kid floating far out from the shore.A lifeguard was pushing out a boat, but the kid was starting to sink.Fire rose inside me.>leave it to the lifeguards, they knew what they were doing and I had to keep my cover>even in a boat the lifeguards would take too long, I could reach the kid in half the time
>>5164621>even in a boat the lifeguards would take too long, I could reach the kid in half the time
>>5164621>>even in a boat the lifeguards would take too long, I could reach the kid in half the timeTo save or not to save. Save it is.
>>5164621>even in a boat the lifeguards would take too long, I could reach the kid in half the timeWe're a hero goshdarnit
>>5164621>>even in a boat the lifeguards would take too long, I could reach the kid in half the time
>>5164621>leave it to the lifeguards, they knew what they were doing and I had to keep my cover
No hesitation, no question, I moved. I pulled off my shirt, running for the end of the pier. Carmen shouted something behind me but it was swept away by the cold plunge into the chilly lake water. The shock of the lake surface was a passing slap as I plunged into the bright waters. Fire burned hot through me, flushing the cold away. I swam fast beneath the surface, legs kicking as I used the dive to get distance to the pale spot bobbing ahead, starting to be pulled into the grasp of the water. Arm over arm I hauled myself toward the kid, body powered to an impossible speed by the roaring energy racing through me.I stayed beneath the surface until I came up underneath him. A pale boy, ten years old, his hair a mane of floating blond locks around a freckled face. Not moving, eyes closed, no sign of breathing but the stream of bubbles from his nostrils. I grabbed him around the middle, bursting out to the surface with a gasp, my hair stained dark and plastered to my head. I turned the boy over onto his back, looping an arm under his arm pit.I fingered his neck for a pulse, something was there. Something fragile and slow.With one arm I swam, kicking to the anxious faces on the shore. The water glittered under the hot sun, lapping into my face as I fought for the shore. Hoping the boy could hold on. Praying. The fire in me a throbbing beat.The ground rose up beneath my feet. I swung the kid up into a bridal carry, running instead of swimming through the last shallow splashes on the shore.People raced to meet me. The first was the horrified woman who had screamed, with a couple of horrified kids behind her. His mom and his siblings. A man ran up to join them, face tight in panic. The dad.I dropped to my knees, laying the kid's slippery body on the dock."Oh Christ," the guy from the jetski had come back to land. He was with his friends, the beautiful people from the boat. He was crying, muttering 'Oh God' over hands clutched together. Good.I brushed the wet hair from the kid's face, felt for the weak pulse again. It was fragile, like the kid was. A skinny nothing of a ten year old all pale and wet on the shore."Hey, hey!" Carmen forced her way through the crowd, jogging over next to me, "I know CPR." My hands shook as she removed them from the kid, urging me back with a smile.She bent over him, sealing his mouth with hers, breathing down into him. She laced her hands together over his chest, pressing down with a grunt. She did it a couple of times before covering his mouth again.The kiss of life.A hand squeezed my shoulder. Dad, standing behind me. The lifeguards were running back to shore."Come on, kid," Carmen muttered, biting her bottom lip as she kept pressing down on his chest. Fifteen times for every breath.The kid coughed on her lips. She pulled back, wiping away his spit as he gushed up lake water. She rolled him onto his side as he wheezed up more water."Oh thank god," the dad said.
But the boy didn't wake up, even if he was breathing. The white of his eyes rolled under his eyelids. The blow to his head had done something."Is there a doctor or an ambulance on the way?" Carmen asked."The doctor," one of the lifeguards said, then ran for the resort overlooking the lake."Doctor?" Carmen asked.The other lifeguard nodded. "There's some kind of doctor staying at the resort," he said, "Hopefully she's not an archeologist or whatever.""Dude that had to be some kind of record," someone said, "From the coast to all the way out there in under what, two minutes?""Check out the scars," someone else said.I went red and reached up to cover the messed up knot of skin and muscle on my shoulder."Will he be okay?" the mom said, needing to hear it.Carmen didn't know what to say but smiled. "The doctor will help him," she said. I don't know if she believed it though."Thank you, both of you," she said, to me and Carmen. But not really looking at us, eyes so thick with tears down on her boy."Come on," Dad said, pulling me back.My shorts were soaked through, I don't know where my shirt was. Dad draped a towel around my shoulders.Carmen joined us. "That was very brave," she said, checking over her shoulder to the boy, "You may have saved his life."I shrugged. It wasn't the first time, and the kid wasn't saved yet.They were coming down from the resort, the lifeguard and someone else."This way Dr Auken," he said, leading the way for an old woman in a light summer dress. A grandmotherly old woman with silver white hair and enough wrinkles to be in her seventies, hurrying down the slope. My blood froze.I knew her. Dr Auken. The chief butcher of the black site, who had been responsible for 'experimenting' on Thunderchild and who knew how many other para-folk. The path cleared for her around the boy and the boy's family. She set down a satchel on the wet ground, pulled out a pocket flashlight to check his eyes.>I need to get out of here, now>play it cool, she didn't know who I was
>>5164785>play it cool, she didn't know who I was
>>5164785>play it cool, she didn't know who I wasOh God, anyway we should definitely put our shirt on.
>>5164781>>play it cool, she didn't know who I wasPut that damn shirt back on
>>5164785>play it cool, she didn't know who I wastime for our personal congratulations
Racing off might be more suspicious than staying put. She'd never seen me without my mask, how could she know? Still, a chill went down my back.Dad came back with my shirt and I pulled it on, more eager to cover my scars than to get dry. Dad went back to put away the fishing equipment, doing something keeping his mind off everything else.I wasn't the only one getting dressed, Carmen got her gym bag and pulled out and on a pair of jeans, throwing on an old flannel shirt. Everyone was apprehensive about the kid.Carmen put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. She gave me an encouraging smile, flashing the dimple in her cheek. When I'd started at school she'd been a few inches taller than me. We'd swapped, and now I was a couple inches taller than her.Dr Auken, for her part, was sympathetic. "A bad concussion, most likely with internal bleeding, he needs a hospital with proper facilities," she said, "I know a man, a brain surgeon. I can have him out here within the hour.""But will he be okay?" the dad said, not really registering her answer."I have seen people survive worse," she said, "He's young, that's good. But there are no miracles, only expertize. I'll call my friend. Listen, can you hear? Sirens, an ambulance is on its way."Sure enough the sound of sirens whined around the bend, and an ambulance came bumping up the country road. Paramedics rushed out as Dr Auken waddled away, getting out her phone to send a text. Satisfied after a response, she put it away with a smile.I tried not to give her too much attention but it was difficult. Despite her frail body and kindly smile, she was one of the most dangerous people I'd met. Yet right now there was no hint of it about her, no sign of her misdeeds. She was only an old woman helping save the life of a child."Thank you doctor," the mom said, shaking her hand."Oh there's nothing to thank," she said, "Thank the person who pulled him out of the water.""Oh yes I have, they're-," the mom turned to us.No one was bothering us, no one other than the family really thanked us, and that was fine by me. I don't like attention, not without a costume on. So even if she hadn't been who she was I don't think I'd have looked forward to being thanked by the doctor. She walked up with a smile."You're a brave young man," Dr Auken said, "Quick thinking. A little later and the child would not have had a chance." She had the light, vaguely European accent I remembered. She looked to Carmen. "You as well. You both saved his life. Are you here together?""Together? Oh no uh, no," Carmen said, a flustered look on her face, pulling her hand from my shoulder, "Eric is my uh...I'm dating his father. This is-""Oh," Dr Auken's chuckle was pleasant, "No I did not mean like that. Yes, I meant staying together.""Yes!" Carmen said, quick to cover her embarassment, "Yes we are. Well not here, we have a cabin nearby.""I'm staying at the Eagle Ridge resort, on a much needed vacation," Dr Auken said.
"You're a doctor?" Carmen phrased it like a question."In many ways, though its been decades since I practiced medicine as a medical doctor," she said, "Lately I've been working in biochemistry, more of a scientist, but I won't bore you with the details."Dad came back from the car, our stuff stowed away."And this is the father?" Dr Auken said, "You have a fine son, mister...""Joe Miller," Dad said, giving her hand a shake, "The kid is Eric.""Joe Miller, Eric Miller," she said, repeating it back to cement it in her memory."And this is Carmen, Carmen Flores," he said, "My uh...girlfriend.""Partner," Carmen said, "Girlfriend sounds too casual."Dr Auken smiled. "Carmen Flores, lovely," she said, "My name is Auken, Dr Anna Auken.""Where are you from? Your accent..." Dad said."Vienna, originally," she said, "But you could call me a citizen of the world. I've lived in North America the most these last few decades, but spent some time anywhere you could name."Doing what couldn't be pleasant."You would honor me if you would be my guests this evening," she said, "The resort has a wonderful chef. I've been testing his German cuisine, and he gets top marks.""Oh we couldn't," Carmen started."Too expensive," Dad said."On the house!" Dr Auken said, "You deserve to be rewarded! Saving a life is no small thing, particularly the life of a child. I will talk to the owners, give you full membership access, and you won't pay a cent.""The kid isn't saved yet," I said, more flinty than I should have. It got a look from her."Even the attempt deserves recognition," she said, as if that settled the matter, "Come, be my guests. It would be my delight.">no thanks>okay, sure
>>5164879> no thanksFuck that, sounds like the perfect opportunity to get those goddam worms in our brain again
>>5164879>okay, sureworms in the brain can be a learning experience
>>5164879>okay, sureOk logical deduction is that this bitch is a vip of the humanity first, and if the camp is planning a false flag operation to rile up the press than they're going to do it using her metas, probably worm girl or someone else It's Time to investigate this bitch and find out as much information about her as we can >>5164879
I'll be back tomorrow
>>5164910>>5164908>>5164891>>5164889locked in(having a weird day but I'm going to try to run)
"Okay, sure," I said.It couldn't hurt, right? I even might find something out."Brilliant!" Dr Auken said, "I'll arrange guest passes. Please, come by at six o'clock. Perhaps we shall have news of the boy's condition as well."It was settled then I guess. We were going to have dinner with the doctor responsible for cutting open my friend and sticking worms in his brain. I only hoped she wasn't planning on turning around and doing the same with us, bodysnatcher style.We got back into the car, heading back to the cabin."You did good, kid," Dad said, though not entirely comfortable."Incredible, really," Carmen said, "I didn't know you were such a strong swimmer."Dad got a queasy look on his face, putting his attention out the car window."What about you?" I said, "You saved him too.""Oh that," she said, "I was a lifeguard when I was a teenager, and the school has us do a yearly first aid course. It's nothing special. I'm sure there were other people around who could have done the same thing.""Having trained and having the wits to use it are two different things," Dad said, "You were incredible too, Carmen." She blushed, keeping her focus on the road.When we got back to the cabin Dad took his fish from the icebox and started cleaning it, removing the scales, gutting it, before packing it up and putting it in the freezer. He hosed out the front porch and buried the rest of the guts with a spade. The last thing we needed was coyotes sniffing around for a snack.We got changed, putting on the nicest things we'd brought, which wasn't that nice since we'd come out here to go camping.My thoughts churned around Dr Auken, on dinner with her and Dad and Carmen. They didn't know who she was or what she was capable of. They thought she was just a nice old doctor. Maybe I should warn them.Maybe not.>warn them, and let Carmen in on my secret>warn Dad at least, Carmen didn't need to know>better to leave them ignorant
slow brain day
>>5165814>warn them, and let Carmen in on my secretwe can trust the florinator
>>5165814>>warn them, and let Carmen in on my secret
>>5165814>warn them, and let Carmen in on my secret
>>5165836>>5165833>>5165827okay, time to confess
I took a deep breath.They needed to know, both of them. I scratched at the wispy light hairs on my chin.Telling them wasn't going to be easy.I went to the frunchroom of the cabin in my denim jacket over a button up shirt, the closest thing I had to nice. Dad wasn't dressed too different, and Carmen had on a nice but simple summer dress."What's up?" Dad asked, seeing the storm brewing on my face."There's something you both need to know," I said. I coughed, loosening the top button of my shirt. "Something you need to know, Miss Flores, uh Carmen."She blinked, giving me her attention."I've been keeping a secret from you," I said, "We have. Dad knows, he wanted me to tell you but I've been putting it off, but now, uh, you need to know. I've met Dr Auken before, and she's dangerous, you guys need to know just how dangerous, uh...""Go on," Carmen said."I know her because...because she's part of a secret government operation to...to track down and experiment on para-folks. I know that because, uh, because I'm a para-folk. Not just any." I coughed, my hands getting jittery. "I'm...I'm the superhero guy uh...Hotspur. I've been going out for the last year, ever since I got my powers, I've been going out and uh...""Oh," Carmen said, with only mild surprise. I gave her a sharp look. She took it well, too well. She nodded. "Yes, that makes sense. I thought so.""You thought so?" I said, a little disbelieving "Since when? Did Dad-""Well it started with you missing school and coming in with bruises," she said, "Then when that horrible little man from the government kept pulling you out of class, I was getting pretty certain. But I didn't want to pry.""Thank you for confiding in me," she said, "It can't be easy trusting someone with such a big secret."I didn't really know what to say. I was caught flat footed, even a little annoyed. Was I doing that bad a job covering up my secret identity?"This Dr Auken," Dad said, changing the subject, "She's bad news?"I nodded. "The worst news you could get. She had a friend of mine arrested, cut him open to figure out what made him tick. He still has the scars. I don't know how many others she's done it too.""And she works with the government?" Carmen said."Yeah, some kind of secret operation for dealing with my kind," I said, "Not the DPA but they work together.""And you weren't expecting to see her out here," Carmen said.
"No, the reason we're out here...isn't just for a vacation," I said, "I'm looking into the Guardian summer camp, trying to figure out who is putting up the money to back the Committee for Community Viglance and the other anti-para hate groups. She's one of the last people I expected to see.""You think she's connected?" Dad said.How could she not be? But I shrugged, I couldn't be sure."Great, we're going to dinner with Josef Mengele," Carmen said with a sigh.She really had taken it well. I shouldn't be annoyed as I was about that."Does she have any idea who you really are?" Dad asked."I don't think so," I said, "But I thought Miss Flores didn't either so what the fuck do I know."Carmen blew a raspberry. "Eric, I live with you, I've noticed you sneak out late and come home early. You must think I'm pretty dim to think you were just sneaking out to hook up with your girlfriends every night of the week.""And you didn't give her any hints?" I asked Dad.Dad shook his head. "No, son. No, you asked me not to. I wouldn't betray you like that. Not for anyone."It was a little mollifying."Again, I'm glad you told me," Carmen said, "Now should we keep Dr Auken waiting?"Dad sighed, rubbing his brow. "No, best not," he said, "Jesus kid, you know how to make life more stressful."He had no idea."Let's go," I said, fixing the collar of my jacket.Time for dinner with Dr Mengele.
I'm going to stop here. My brain feels like a wrung out sponge. I'll pick this up tomorrow
>>5165906Thanks for running!
I lost today after getting some bad family news. I'll be back as soon as I can, either on the weekend of next week
>>5167557Oh shit, hope it gets better soon.
>>5167557take all the time you need we'll be here
>>5172204>>5170575I'll be back tomorrow
sorry about that, had some family drama that needed settling but now its settled, will be hooking in with the next update
I couldn't help but feel, as we approached the Eagle Ridge Resort, some trepidation. Night was out with the kind of sky you didn't get in the city, the roads dark in a way only the backwoods country got. The stars were a backdrop to the resort built up on the ridge, the star bridge of the milky way's galactic arm a band across the night. The tall glass windows of the resort glowed with light against the pitch dark, but despite the sign of life it was quiet as we crept up, the only sound the crunch of the car tires rolling up the drive.The car park was practically empty except for one tired valet working a summer job. We got out and he took the keys.We entered into a wide open lobby room, a man behind the desk. The lobby was practically empty except for the staff, there was a man reading a newspaper with bags at his feet but was otherwise deserted of guests. Frontier art hung on the wall behind the concierge, a herd of buffalo crossing a stream. An illusion of wilderness in a land tamed a long time ago."You're Dr Auken's guests?" the concierge said, "I'll need you to sign in."There was both an open book and a QR code."Your preference," he said, "Just download the resort app to check in."We scribbled our names in the book."Great," he said, "She's waiting for you in the restaurant. You have it all to yourselves tonight. If you'll follow me."For all it was a resort it didn't feel like anyone else was around.He lead us up a flight of stairs and around. A wide open restaurant looking out on the countryside through those tall glass windows. The lights of a house shone but the rest was darkness against the star filled night sky.There was only one table set."Beautiful, isn't it?" Dr Auken said. She wore a black dress with bright silver sequins, considering the night through the window. Her dress seemed a garish match for the sky above. "Ghost light," she said, "The fading nuclear energy of extinguished stars reaching out to us across the great void of space."My skin prickled. I didn't like how much it sounded like something Mom would say.She stood before we sat, taking our hands one at a time."Thank you for joining me," she said, "I lack good company."There was a grunt from the corner. Someone I hadn't noticed lowered a magazine, looking up at the doctor. Scab wore her dark suit and sunglasses even here, dark hair worn in bangs at the front, tied up at the back. I wondered if she was carrying a gun, but she didn't really need to. The sight of her made my skin crawl. I should have expected her to be lurking around."Forgive the lack of introduction," Dr Auken said, "This is my assistant, Xenia.""Nice to meet you," Dad said. Xenia ignored him, turning back to her magazine, a leg over her knee as she slouched back into her corner of the room.
Assistant, bodyguard, assassin, para-freak. A real piece of shit working with the black site against her own kind. She'd almost got one of her slugs inside my own head while I'd slept. I'd ripped another clean out of her arm, and doubt she'd forgotten. I hoped she didn't recognize me."She's not what you would call sociable," the doctor said, "But competent. Still, when one hungers for conversation its best looked for elsewhere. Please, sit. Order whatever you wish, the bill is on me."We sat together, a menu provided."Did you hear anything about the boy?" Carmen asked."In a coma," Dr Auken said, "My friend said his survival alone was a miracle. It will be a second miracle if he wakes up. But that's the way of things. We do what we can, and make peace with the rest.""Maybe he'll wake up," Dad said, but Dr Auken looked doubtful. She flicked her doubt away as she perused the wine menu."A Monticello wine, I think," she said, "North America might not be held in the highest regard for beer, but it has some lovely wines. Do you drink wine?""I don't drink," Dad said."I'm driving," Carmen said."And the kid is sixteen," Dad said."Well," Dr Auken put down the wine list, "I'd hardly like to drink alone. One glass, then water.""The chef here is quiet good, I've arranged we should have him all to ourselves," the doctor said."You must have a lot of money," Carmen said.Dr Auken grinned. "I have a tidy amount," she said, "But compared to some of the people who live around here, I'd be considered a pauper.""Geez, I'd hate to think what that makes us," Dad said with a smile to Carmen. Dr Auken laughed.She put in an order for us to a waiter, asked us light questions."Teaching is a noble profession," she told Carmen, "I lectured myself for a time before being dragged back into the research side of things.""Lecturing at a university must be world's apart from teaching high school English," Carmen said."Yes, I should think yours is more rewarding," Dr Auken said, "There are a troubling number of minds that ossify in academia, thinking they have all the answers and rejecting any ideas that don't fit their own orthodoxies. The young mind is more open to learn, able to absorb so much more data and parsing it into ideas and philosophies. They know little and know how little they know, so are always prepared to learn. As Shakespeare himself said, 'The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.""As You Like It," Carmen said. Dr Auken smiled."It's all a little beyond me," Dad said, "Quoting Shakespeare on a construction site will just get you called a fag.""Joseph!" Carmen said, slapping Dad on the shoulder."All I'm saying is my work crew sticks to good red blooded poets like John Keats and Percy Shelley," he said with a grin at Carmen, "I did go to college. Not for long but I did go."
"So, we'll go no more a roving, so late into the night. Though the heart be still as loving, and the moon be still as bright," he said, "For the sword outwears its sheath, and the soul wears out the breast. And the heart must pause to breathe, and love itself have rest.""That's Lord Byron," Dr Auken said, mildly impressed.I'd never heard Dad recite poetry before."Do you have much interest in poetry, Eric?" Dr Auken asked me, her attention unnerving.I shrugged."Eric is more into sports," Dad said, "He's on the basketball team.""A young man can have many interests," Dr Auken said, "What are you interested in?""He's a good student too," Carmen said, defending me against being painted as a two-dimensional jock.I shrugged, not sure what I should say.>answer the question as non-commitally as possible>turn the question around on her, ask her interests>write-in
>>5175127I'm an amateur boxer as well.
>>5175127>>turn the question around on her, ask her interestsI'm pretty sure she knows who we are and is a sadist with delusions of grandeur. So I don't think she will out(also no evidence) us or move against us outright during the trip
>>5175127>turn the question around on her, ask her interests
"I'm not anyone interesting," I said, "I do a little boxing as well. I'm more interested in you Dr Auken. You've lived all over the world, you've taught at universities, you're even a special VIP here. You must have had an interesting life.""Hmm, a lot of sitting at a computer going over data," she said, "Whether its in Berlin or Kyoto, laboratories are much the same. The work never stops. Whenever we think we've found an answer all we discover is a more complicated question. No, it may seem glamorous but I am here, a seventy three year old woman with no family of my own and only a lifetime of accumulated data to speak for it.""You sound as if you regret it," Carmen said."Hmm," she tilted her chin into her chest, "Regret? Not the work, not really. The missed opportunities? Some of them. The time, perhaps. Old as I am now I realize how little time it all was, and how little time there is left. Maybe that is my regret, that time should be so fleeting, with not enough days for all I'd wished to do. But that's the way of things, and I do not rest in melancholy.""What do you do now?" I asked, "You said you were lecturing before being brought back into doing research.""It's confidential," she said."Government work?" Carmen said, knowing the answer but trying to help me probe it out of her.Dr Auken smiled. "You know I read a PHD thesis once by a Miranda Miller, a bright young astrophysics student from Indiana. It had everyone quite excited, but she never did anything with it. You wouldn't happen to be related to her would you?"Dad coughed to hide his surprise. I swallowed as my chest tightened. That was Mom's name. She'd studied astronomy and astrophysics, dropped out to have me, and had only gotten around to wrapping up her PhD right before she..."A shot in the dark," Dr Auken said as the entrees came out, "I always wondered what happened to her.">ovarian cancer, she was my Mom>never heard of her
>>5175225>ovarian cancer, she was my Momobviously she already knows
I couldn't remember if I'd ever dropped Eric's mom's name until now and for some reason it wasn't in my notes
>>5175225>ovarian cancer, she was my MomI never remembered hearing it.
>>5175267>>5175228locked that in
"Ovarian cancer," I said, "She was uh, she was my mom."A look of surprise and empathy crossed the old doctor's face, but did I buy it? I felt like we were being toyed with by the doctor, as if she suspected at least who or at least what I was."When did she pass?" she asked."Last year," Dad said.She shook her head. "Forgive me," she said, "My condolences. But what strange coincidences there are in this world. To meet the family of a woman I'd taken an interest in, under such tragic circumstances. You know your mother's thesis became part of a project my colleagues and I are working on. I don't suppose you know much about her thesis?"I shook my head."Her PhD was in mapping stars and charting extrasolar objects," she said, "Not a unique topic but she had some fascinating insights and I must admit, a welcome dash of humor in her writing. So many papers are dour things, academic writing doesn't always lend itself to self-expression. We'd thought about offering her a position.""With this confidential project," Carmen said, "You never did say who it was for.""No I didn't," Dr Auken said, "That's confidential too. Basic non-disclosure, its not as sinister or exciting as it sounds.""Mapping stars and extrasolar objects sounds more fascinating now that it did a year ago," Carmen said, "You know, since the Explosion."Dr Auken raised her eyebrows. "You've heard the theory its extraterrestrial," she said."Everyone has, its all over the internet," Carmen said."I hope you don't listen to that crank Dougie Hicks," she said."No, of course not," Carmen said, "But at the lake I thought you said you worked in biochemistry? And you were a medical doctor. Funny to be working on a project involving astrophysics.""Call me a multi-disciplinarian," she said, "I've had the great pleasure to study and be accredited in many fields.""You ask a lot of questions," the tough voice of Scab came from the corner, her magazine fully lowered. Even through the shades I could feel the intensity of her glare."So what do you make of the Chicago Explosion?" Carmen asked, "If you're allowed to say anything. You have to have an opinion.""Everyone does," Dr Auken said, "It's the great question of our time. But I'm more curious what you all think. I'm surrounded by scientists all the time, I rarely get a layman's view."Dad frowned into his entree, he'd kept quiet, set to eating and not at all comfortable. I'd eaten without thinking, filling up the energy spent rescuing the kid."I think its a miracle," Carmen said, "No one got hurt then all these fantastic powers show up. It's like we're living in a comic book. It's exciting.""It doesn't alarm you at all?" Dr Auken asked, taken a long bean sprout on her fork."Not at all," Carmen said, "But then I'm from Chicago. We don't scare easy."Dr Auken laughed."What about you, Eric?" Dr Auken asked, "It doesn't worry you?">a little bit, sure>I've got bigger things to worry about
>>5175286>a little bit, sureBecause now we have to deal with the government, their crazy goons, mad scientist, and weird prophecy. Just a little but worrying lol.
>>5175286I worry about what terrible things people will justify and condone doing in unprecedented times. Just another fucked up part of history to be ashamed of in the future.
>>5175286>I try not to think to much about it. With my student life, the basketball team and all that I have enough to worry about... I don't wanna know even how someday getting a job will be, so by the moment i'm thinking in a step-by-step. If some day a idiot that blows wind in my face is trying to annoy me, I will think more about everything with the "para-folks" or what you prefer to call them
>>5175286>a little bit, surenot enough to justify those humanity first groups though
>>5175286>a little bit, sure
>>5175291>>5175295>>5175296>>5175298>>5175308locking that in
>>5175286>>a little bit, surebut these humanity first groups really scare me, remind me of the KKK
"A little bit, sure," I said, though not for the reasons she might have. Between the government, their crazy goons, mad scientists, and a weird prophecy hanging over my head, its just a little bit worrying. Not that I was going to tell her that. "I try not to think about it too much, I've got a lot on my plate at school. I don't really know what's going to happen next week never mind all this stuff with the para-people or whatever they're called.""But you know what does worry me is the terrible things people do, the awful stuff they try to justify because they're scared and everything going on is unprecedented and shit. Guys like the Humanity First dudes going around attacking people, driving them out of their homes. That scares me, and I can't imagine we'll look back at any of this with a sense of pride."Dr Auken frowned, chin to her chest again."The details are often left out in history," she said, "The motivations misremembered. The hysteria forgotten. In fifty years time, or a hundred years, who knows what will be said? But what I fear most is that there will be no one to remember, that humanity will end with the final drop of a guillotine.""You think para-folk will do that, be the end of humanity?" Carmen asked.Dr Auken wet her lips. "I don't know what they are. I don't think they are here to help," she said, "But if our end is through war or climate change or something strange and unexpected like a solar flare, it is our end all the same. Our world is a delicate thing, defenseless and unprepared for the perils that confront it.""I always like my dinner with a side of apocalyptic chit-chat," Dad said, finally adding his voice to the conversation.Dr Auken laughed, Carmen smiled, but my stomach boiled. Food wasn't so appetizing now."It has been interesting watching it all unfold," she said, "The decisions they make with their powers. To be a hero, villain, or just average person as best they can. We barely understand them, they don't understand themselves, but already they are working themselves into the framework of society even as their very presence reorganizes it. An invasive species reshaping its ecosystem forcing all the other inhabitants to adapt. Renaming themselves, forming their own culture. An infant culture but a culture all the same. Do you know there is a child with such an intuitive understanding of technology, she has been able to build a robot far in advance of anything we've ever seen? In only a few months she has pushed our technology beyond the theoretical limit into the arena of science fiction. Who knows what other terrible wonders are hiding in their number.""They are superior. Superior in many ways to ourselves. We are neanderthals standing before the homo sapien.""It is an awesome thing to witness, in the most literal sense - it inspires in me awe of every kind.""Nothing to do with us," Dad mumbled, eager for his steak.
"If only that were true," Dr Auken sighed, "But you are right, Eric. I'm also concerned about these hysterical groups like the Humanity First militia. Oafs with guns and American flags who have no understanding of what they're dealing with, terrorizing any poor child born with a hairlip. The world would be better if they were disbanded, by force if necessary."Not what I was expecting her to say, but maybe that was just her covering for herself. She seemed genuine though, a genuine distaste for the militia and its members."And now the main course!" Dr Auken said, clapping her hands excitedly, "Enough dire talk, tuck in!"She was good to her own word. We talked a little more about poetry. She mentioned she enjoyed visiting the Chicago Theater for local productions, and old concerts she'd been to as a much younger woman. I was expecting her to wax on about the opera but - "I really am a blues girl at heart," she said, "Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, oh and Lead Belly. A good bluesman is like a good superhero, he needs a stage name that sticks.""Blues?" Dad said."It's the first true American artform," she said, "Blues and jazz, though I much prefer blues."Desert was a sundae whipped together with Belgian chocolate."Oh but this has been lovely," Dr Auken said, "How long are you staying? I won't demand your company, but I would be delighted to see any of you for lunch when you're free. I find the other guests at the resort are the most boorish of the new rich types, and the owners all around are boorish in the old money sense. Ordinary people are hard to come by, and I mean that as a compliment to you all.""Well I was hoping to get on the lake," Dad said."And do some hiking," Carmen said."Rigorous young people things," Dr Auken sighed, looking more than her seventy years. For a brief moment I felt a touch of pity for her. "Far beyond me now. Let it be a lesson, take care of your body while you're young. It will make aging easier to handle."We finished our deserts and she rose to see us out.Maybe she really had no idea who I was after all.>cut back around after leaving, figure out why she was here>head home with Dad and Carmen>head to the summer camp after leaving I'll be back tomorrow
>>5175364Tough choice.>cut back around after leaving, figure out why she was here>But don't try to break inI don't trust the idea of them only having normal security, scab may have her monsters lurking around guarding.
Just popping to say that this quest is fucking amazing. I'm heading to work without sleep because I was hooked all night.
>>5175364>cut back around after leaving, figure out why she was here
>>5175364>cut back around after leaving, figure out why she was herewatch out for worms
>>5175413hey thanks that means a lot to me>>5176041>>5175464>>5175368locking that in
my internet fritzed the fuck up and I lost that whole updateI don't know if I should laugh or cryI'll rewrite it and post it tomorrow
>>5176600It's OK bull, I'll wait for you always,)
"Thank you for your company, and enjoy your vacation," Dr Auken said, "Take care.""Thank you for having us," Carmen said.We left through the front door and were relieved to be out of there."She seemed so normal," Carmen said.They usually do.We got into the car, but halfway back I asked Carmen to pull over."What's up kid?" Dad asked.I opened the door. Slid off my jacket and threw it on the backseat, grabbed an old Blackhawks scarf off the floor. "I need to check something," I said, "Meet you guys back at the cabin?"A queasy look crossed Dad's face. "Be safe," he said, before Carmen could say what looked like a protest. He put a hand on her shoulder, nodding his head to keep driving while I jogged out into the side of the road.I wasn't convinced Dr Auken was here just for her health. Not with Scab in tow. There was something going on and I was going to figure out what before it was too late.The trick now was sneaking around without being recognized. I wound Carmen's Hawks scarf around my face. Had to do this old school. Without the jacket my silhouette should be different enough from a distance. I tied the scarf off hiding everything about my face but my eyes. It was uncomfortably warm with my face tied up, breathing into the wool knitting.I ducked into the high grass on the side of a road, climbing up a rise onto the manicured surface of a golf course. Way too late for anyone to be out, but a midnight sprinkler system hissed, popping up to spritz the lawn. Keeping it green and soft. My eyes adjusted to the dark, finding the yellow glow of the resort lights still on. I tracked toward it, staying low, staying best I could in cover.There was a suspicion still in the back of my head that Dr Auken had recognized me. I hoped it wasn't right. I was back in the car park, listening with boosted hearing, the sound of plates clinking under gushing water as they were washed in the kitchen, a muffled cough into a hand, murmurred conversation. The inside of the resort buzzed with little noises.A single leap took me from the car park to the roof, landing soft as I could on the wooden slats. The roof was sharply steepled, but my powers made gravity no problem as I skidded down, keeping quiet as I moved to one of the tall windows, listening.I don't know if she was being hosted in the cabins or one of the resort's private rooms. She wasn't the only person staying here either way. Breathing into the soft fabric of the scraf, sweat dripped down my brow, stinging my eyes. It was a hot night, bad night to be swaddled up like this.But I'd make do. It's what I did.>roll 3 x 1d100+10 dc 75
Rolled 54 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5177901Alright here we go
I've had a pretty miserable week, sorry that its impacted the quest so much
>>5177922No worries, irl should always come first
Rolled 77 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5177901shit I've been busy tonight
>>5178032Nice, now we only need to not roll a 1.
Rolled 13 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5177901>>5178035Name a superhero quest that hasn't gotten shitty rolls... All capeshit quests are blessed with uber-high rolls so that destiny can manifest itself!
>>5178032that's a pass
>>5178039Except this roll. Pay this roll no mind.
sorry kind of distracted by warstay safe out there
>>5178081>>5177924New ID, mobileYeah shit just hit the fan, was watching some of the UN live streams
I focused my hearing, trying to catch the sound of Dr Auken's voice."-nice couple, good looking boy," her voice was soft with the vague European accent, "And good to spend time with someone not in a uniform or lab coat.""Sheep," Scab muttered, "And I didn't like their questions.""A little paranoia is a virtue, dear Xenia," Dr Auken said, "But it does get tiresome."On the roof I tracked their footsteps. They were heading out, out the backway and up a dark path toward a cabin."The project is too important..." Scab said."And right now its the last thing I want to talk about," the doctor said, "Relax a little Xenia, the Project is in good hands and you might surprise yourself, you could end up having some fun.""I know how to have fun," she said."Yes, a rather different brand of fun than most," the good doctor said. They made their way up toward a rented cabin, not too different from the one we were staying in. My eyes focused on the dark cabin. I frowned. Something moved in the window. Then, something dark slithered out. "Try rock climbing, karaoke, something normal. It will be good for you.""Maybe," Scab said in a way that was a definitive 'no'. She held up her hand to stop the doctor, the flesh on her wrist parting, a steel sliver beginning to worm its way out. Dr Auken closed her mouth, drawing back as Scab stepped up to the cabin door, pressing her ear against it.She missed it but I didn't, the figure slipping out of a side window, rolling noiselessly into the bushes. I frowned.>follow the figure sneaking away>stick to Dr Auken and Scab>head back to the cabin
>>5178941>>follow the figure sneaking away
>>5178941>follow the figure sneaking away
>>5178941>follow the figure sneaking awayThey interest me but mystery box is mystery box
To stay with Dr Auken and keep listening, maybe finding out the purpose of her visit, or to follow the shadow slipping away unnoticed into the bushes?It was a hard call, but I dove after the shadow, moving through the trees and down toward the lake shore.If it weren't for my boosted senses and physical powers, I might have lost track of it as it slipped in and out of the trees. I leapt through the foliage, pushing off from a branch with a foot, catching the next in a monkey swing, the figure darting through the darkness beneath me.As I drank in more of the moonlight, my focus sharpening, the figure took on a distinctly female shape. A familiar female shape.She trudged out onto the lake, flicking back a brown curl from her face, for a second clear in the pale moonlight. She wore a tight dark cat suit and a mask sculpted to her face that hid everything but her lips and chin.Foxtrot, grinning, moved down to a tethered canoe.What the hell was she doing here? It had been months since I'd last laid eyes on the Francophone thief, not since the break in at Ixion Labs. Now she was targeting the chief scientist of the government's black ops site.A thief-for-hire, whoever she was working for must have deep pockets.I watched as she started into the water, the sight of her tickling something deep inside of me, starting up a hot rush of adrenaline.She looked back to the shore with a crooked smile, as if she knew I was out there watching. My throat tightened.>follow her>confront her>let her go
>>5179018>let her goNo way am I risking Eric's identity even more, this chick will never know who we are and nothing should connect Hotspur to this place
>>5179018>>let her go
>>5179018>follow herit's a bluffshe;s cluelessbut wtf is she doing here
Whatever she was up to I was going to find out. She climbed into the canoe, picking up an oar. Keeping to the tree line, I shadowed her down as she began to row, the soft lap of her paddling muffled. Two strokes either side kept her to a straight path down the lake. The moon was bright reflected on the calm waters, turning the soft ripples to a glittering silver. I ducked under a tree branch, stepped through a bush, keeping my focus fixed on the woman.Whatever she had stolen and where ever she had taken it, I was determined to figure out where.The canoe began to cross the lake, pulling from the coast.Dammit.But I wasn't going to give up the chase.>roll 3 x 1d100+10 dc 75
Rolled 3 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5179062
>>5179063ooh, so close to a critfail
Just like how a crit success does more than have Eric win, a crit fail does more than have Eric lose. I'm hoping it'll happen eventually.
Rolled 21 + 10 (1d100 + 10)>>5179062
Rolled 54 (1d100)>>5179062In the past two years I have never seen a hero quest with a real critfail. THE TIME HAS COME!
oh man, very close to not passing
that is afail
>>5179076We dun failed
Damn, we failed
I stepped into the chilly water, colder in the night than it had been during the day. I swallowed, digging in a deep breath before diving in. The scarf around my face sucked to my skin as water bloated it, for a second making me feel out of breath. I shook the feeling off, drawing on my power, swimming long and low in the lake as I tracked the canoe across its surface.It was an effort not to over take the canoe. I couldn't risk Foxtrot slipping away. I broke the surface to get a look at it before diving again.With my powers the weight of my wet clothes didn't slow me much at all. The main problem was the suffocating grip on the scarf. Whatever powers I had, breathing through my ears wasn't one of them.She came to the far shore, stowing her oar in the canoe before dragging it up into the bushes.Breaking from the water sopping wet, I crawled through the mud further ashore. I looked for her but saw no sign, hunting down to where she'd pulled up the canoe. Tracks in the mud showed where she'd pulled it up out of the water. I crouched low, listening out as I followed the trail.A crack of a twig behind me was my only warning.I spun to a light "Bonsoir!" as a stone fist drove for my head.>roll 3 x 1d100+25 dc 80
Rolled 23, 9, 6, 1, 16, 18, 17, 20, 21, 22, 1, 11, 8, 15, 5, 6, 1, 25, 5, 8, 13, 25, 18, 18, 8 = 320 (25d25)>>5179091
Rolled 46 + 25 (1d100 + 25)>>5179096My bad lol
>>5179096in case it isn't obvious, this roll doesn't count
Rolled 9 + 25 (1d100 + 25)>>5179091still no critfails but a rare failmakes sense we couldn't outsneak a sneaker
>>5179111bad rolls today
Rolled 44 + 25 (1d100 + 25)>>5179091
Have we ever rolled well against her?
oohthinks aren't looking great for Ericbad dice today
The hell is with the dice today?
I ducked, rolling back as she switched for a pointed toe kick. The stone tip of her foot slashed over my head. Fire raged through me, blood pumping hot steam began to rise from the water cooking off my shoulders.I shot a jab at her stone face, following it with a cross."Non, non," she said, slipping under my guard. An elow drove hard into my ribs, a back hand thwacking up, but I caught it on my hands in a boxing guard.I hadn't planned to get into a fight tonight, and a fight with Foxtrot could be deadly."You will 'ave to do better than that," she said, and flicked a kick for my head. I rolled back, but the kick came back around, the heel swatting the side of my jaw.It hurt. Foxtrot was made of living stone and knew how to fight, but it didn't drop me even if it stunned. She followed up with a right cross, looking to dunk it on the top of my head.I rolled under and in, driving into the pocket, catching her under the arm pit and moving behind her, pulling her back to my chest as I tried to catch her neck in a lock."Handsy," she said, pressing suggestively back into me. I had an...involuntary reaction, a microsecond lapse that had her hook stone fingers around my arm and turn, reversing the hold, knowing grappling me for position. "But tonight I will be on top, oui?" she laughed suggestively in my ear before we went to the ground, flipped down faster than a blue belt turning a white belt into a pretzel. Stone thighs tried to wrap my neck, to choke me out, even crush my throat, and would have succeed a year ago if it wasn't for my jiu-jitsu training. I pried the thighs apart, scrambling around in the mud, grabbing at the minimal folds in her tight vinyl cat suit to get off my back and try to take hers.If there's one thing I'd learned, in wrestling everything is a handle. If there's one thing I'd learned street fighting, its that nothing was off limits.I grabbed between her legs with one hand, grabbed the front of her cat suit with the other, and spun."Ogre!" she cried as I swung her over, slamming her hard as I could into the trunk of a tree. Her back arched and she gave a cough of pain even through her stone form. So she could be hurt.She panted, looking up. I got up, fists loaded in front of me. She got up from a crouch, the soft grind of her stone body moving. Muddy leaves stuck to her perfectly sculpted cheeks and artesan curved hair, the woman a living Renaissance statue, stone bright white under the moonlight.
We stood across from each other, checking each other's guards. She shifted her stance, face tight with concentration. Then she moved, statue figure springing to life. An arc of a kick I caught on my arm, stone driving into flesh and sending a burst of pain across it. I wrapped the leg around the calf before she could draw it back but before I could swing her into another tree she leapt up on her left foot and drove a front kick into my chest. We both went down, slamming onto our back.I rolled over to get up but she rolled forward, and stone fingers grasped my hair as the weight of her fell on my back. A single drive into the side of my head could have put my light's out for good, a single jerk of her hand could have left me scalped, but she hesitated."You work for..." she frowned, "Non." The grip slackened on my hair, the weight of her withdrew, the crunch of wet muddy leaves as she stepped back. I rolled onto my back to look up at her standing over me with a grin on her face. "Yes, I know that ass. Bonsoir 'otspur. I did not expect to see you here."I swallowed a mouthful of pain, lying beaten in the mud."Did you just say you recognized my ass?" I said.She raised an eyebrow with a smirk. "It's a very nice ass, no?"I blushed under my diy face wrapping.Her stone figure returned to flesh as she crouched down next to me, offering me a hand up."What bring's Chicago's valiant knight so far from its streets?" she asked."I could ask the same of you," I said.She tsked. "No, no, mon ami. I won the fight, you answer my questions."I grit my teeth, she grinned.>like hell I will>I'm investigating the Guardian camp
>>5179138>"I'm investigating the Guardian camp">"What else would I be doing out here?"Lets see if we get her to spill some information.
>>5179138>I'm investigating the Guardian camp
>>5179138>I'm investigating the Guardian campNightwing Spiderman Now Eric will join the roster of nice ass male supers
>>5179138>I'm investigating the Guardian campshould have told her she had the wrong ass
I sighed, hanging a sore head between my knees."I'm investigating the Guardian summer camp," I said, "Trying to figure out what they're about, who ever is supporting them.""Oh?" she said, "And do you think Dr Auken is involved?"She drew down the front zip of her cat suit, easing the supple leather against her chest. I swallowed at the part of skin, the press of her cleavage flashed as she pulled a thumb drive from an inside pocket, holding it up before me before flicking her wrist and making it disappear between her fingers."That's what I'm thinking," I said, "What do you know about her?""Dr Anna Auken?" Foxtrot said, a relaxed hand on her hip, "A little. I know she is the scientific head of a secret project for the American government.""The black site," I said."Is zat what you call them?" she said."You know their name?"Foxtrot grinned. "Maybe," she said, "But I have my own employers.""And you're stealing information from her, so that must be what you're up to out here," I said."Perhaps it is, or, perhaps it is not. A girl can have more than one objective, oui?" she smiled, offered me her hand. Gripping it she helped get me on my feet. "No 'ard feelings?" she said with a little bite of her bottom lip."I told you what I'm doing out here," I said, "The least you can do is return the favor.""Mmm, perhaps I could give you a little something," she said with a dimpled smile, whisking a muddy leaf off my shoulder, "Your black site? Its official codename is 'Project Cauldron', and it is not just an American project, though America makes up most of it, and it 'as been in operation much longer than you might think.""How do you know that?" I said.She winked."I like you 'otspur," she said, "I like ;ow you move. But be careful, or you might lose your pretty little head over this.""Is Project Cauldron involved with the Humanity First Militia?" I said."Hmm, now that is a question," she said with a smile, tapping her cheek, "Perhaps you should focus more on your little summer camp. There are more answers there than you might expect.""And now, bonne nuit," she said, stepping back into the bushes, "We should do zis again soon, no? It is always so...exhilirating."The smile she flashed as she was swallowed by shadows was far from innocent, and stuck a breath in my chest.Goddamn it, I'm in a relationship."Perhaps," she said from the dark, her voice full of teasing, "Very soon."I thought about crashing in after her to get the answers I wanted, but I thought better of it. She'd got the drop on me once tonight and handled me in a fight. Maybe my luck would change, maybe not. At least she had given me some information, though I'd like to know how she knew it.For now all I could do was slick back to the cabin, and hope at least I had more answers waiting for me at the summer camp.
By the time I got back to the cabin all I wanted to do was shower and go to bed. I had to cross the lake again, and walk the way home in wet, dirty clothes. It wasn't a great time.Instead I walked in to Dad and Carmen sitting up waiting for me, sitting in the cabin with the fire going."Did everything go ok?" Dad asked as Carmen stirred a cup of camomile tea."Huh?" I said, feeling both burned out and beaten up."With your thing," he said.Dad had stayed out of my business for the most part, and while Carmen was silent, it was obvious she was listening."If you need to talk about it..." Dad offered.>no thanks Dad, I'm okay>we can talk, if you're ready to hear about itI'll be back either tomorrow or some time next week
>>5179216>we can talk, if you're ready to hear about it
Haven't posted one of these in a while but I partially based Foxtrot on a young Meg Tilly
>>5179216>it's better for you if you don't know, just relax and know that I'm coming home no matter what
>>5179216>we can talk, if you're ready to hear about itwe lost a fair 1v1 hasn't happened since Salamander, right?guess Soxtrot is legit
"We can talk," I said, "If you're ready to hear about it.""Try me," Dad said.So I started in. All in all it wasn't that unusual a night for me, a bit more swimming than usual but otherwise what I was used to. They listened, trying to understand as best they could."Wild," Carmen said.I shrugged."So these Cauldron people," Dad said, "They're going to do something at the summer camp?""Maybe," I said, I was still fuzzy on details."We have to do something," Carmen said, "There are children there. Kids.""It's pretty bad," I said."Maybe we could call in a bomb threat, evacuate the camp," she said."Maybe that would get the FBI on us, they take bomb threats seriously," Dad said."But we need to do something!" Carmen said.Dad looked at me. "Eric's the hero," he said, "What should we do?"It was weird having Dad look at me like that, look to me that way. Looking to me for some kind of direction or order. Like I was a grown man or had something figured out that he didn't. And the question put a pause in my thinking.What was I going to do? What should they do?>I'm going to sneak into the summer camp, you guys can help>I'm going to sneak into the summer camp, you guys should stay out of it>I'm going to go into Galena and look into things there, you guys can help>I'm going yo go into Galena and look into things there, you guys should stay out of it
>>5181974>I'm going to sneak into the summer camp, you guys can helpThey can pose as parents who might want to enroll us in the future to see what they can findmaybe get an official tour or something
>>5181974>I'm going to sneak into the summer camp, you guys can help
>>5181974>I'm going to sneak into the summer camp, you guys should stay out of it
Rolled 1 (1d2)its a tie so I'm going to roll off1 is with their help2 is without their help
>>5182000and they're going to help
I think I'm having a mental break downnot so much over the war itself but the reaction to the war, how people on social media are reacting to it. like its some game or movieand its all to comfort themselves, but there's something disquieting for me about that need they have to find their own shelter and comfort in the face of it, by dehumanizing it or abstracting it away from the human experienceturning the president of the Ukraine into a cartoon bear giving a 'hard stare' to another cartoon bear.its all so fucking perversesorry had to get that off my chestI'm not here to blogI'll try to keep writing
>>5182015Every time I hear anyone talk about social media it reinforces the belief that not using twitter, facebook, etc is one of the best decisions of my life.
>>5182020it is, you're doing the right thing
I guess I could use their help."We could pose as parents thinking about enrolling our kid next year," Carmen said, "Maybe they'll give us a guided tour or something.""Maybe," Dad said, rubbing his chin, "But let's not act like this is a game. It could be dangerous."I nodded. "These guys don't mess around," I said, "And there are members of the Humanity First Militia who won't hesitate to shoot a kid. If you're going to help me out we have to be careful.""Whatever you say," Dad said.My guts clenched. It really was weird Dad defering to me like this. Maybe it wasn't a good idea having them help out. But here we were."I'm going to sneak into the camp tomorrow night," I said, "Maybe you guys could run a distraction. Broken down car kind of thing, ask for help from the camp to keep some of the staff busy while I snoop around.""If that's how you want to play it," he said, "We can play the stranded couple."Carmen was bright and eager to help, Dad's enthusiasm was a bit more muted. He gave me a long, serious look."Let's get some sleep," he finally said to Carmen, and with an arm around her lead her into their bedroom.I lay down my head, still pounding from the fight with Foxtrot, rolling her words around in my head. There was something going on at the summer camp, something bad. And then my thoughts flitted to her teasing smile. I rolled over, shoving my face into the pillow, and forced my thoughts to Ivy and Ayesha.I didn't need to be thinking about the thief in the tight catsuit, no matter how tempting it was. Not like that.Focus on the mission and the things that matter. The people that matter. But her smile followed me into my dreams, and by the time I woke I'd felt like I'd gotten no sleep at all.
The Guardians Summer Camp, where young people were taught to protect themselves and their community from the dangers of the future. It looked like any other summer camp from outside, built up on the south-western shore of Lake Galena. A log wall surrounding rustic frontier style cabins, arranaged in a panopticon around a tall log watch tower, where the staff were housed. A boat house on the edge of the lake with canoes and kayaks for on water activities, a zip-line and an obstacle course out in the south forest.You wouldn't know it was a front for a fanatical militia unless you knew already, an indoctrination center for a hate group. I knew, and knew something bad was going to go down.The question was, how do I get in? Easy enough in a literal sense, I could clear the wall with a single leap, but there were plenty of people around, both camp-goers and staff. I didn't want to blow my cover or have anyone think Hotspur was active outside Chicago.>go in with Dad and Carmen looking to 'sign me up'>have them play lost tourists as a distraction while I sneak around inside>write-in
>>5182712>>have them play lost tourists as a distraction while I sneak around inside
>>5182715seems kind of weird locking in with one vote, but I dance with who brung me so locking in
A bit late on my part, but good thinking on not having them seem too closely associated with us.
The plan was simple, Dad and Carmen would park the car not far from the front gates of the summer camp and have a 'break down', then they'd go and ask for help, clearing out at least some of the staff."I know just the thing to help," Carmen said. She gathered the front of her Rush t-shirt and tied it into a knot above her navel, showing off her tight belly. She gave Dad a teasing grin as he rubbed the back of his neck. Yeah that would work, I thought, trying not to look."Don't lay it on too thick," I warned, "If these guys are on alert they might get suspicious.""Suspicious of me?" she batted her big dark eyes at me, "Don't worry Eric, we'll be careful.""You be careful too," he said, then did something he didn't do often. He pulled me into a hug, tight but short. "I love you kid," he said."I love you too," I told him as we broke apart, "I'll be careful."This was different from what I normally did. When I did this stuff it wasn't usually with family involved. But I'd made the call to involve them. Whatever happened I hoped they stayed safe.Dusk was settling in when they headed out in the car. Me I took a second. I sent texts to Ayesha and Ivy, before winding my face up in the scarf and pulling on a hoodie. It was uncomfortable in the summer heat but I put up with it. Stepping onto the back porch, I tracked a mental line to the camp before bounding out, landing in the trees.My powers seemed built for urban environments but frankly they did okay in these dense forests too, plenty of tree top canopies to leap through, crossing the horizon as day sunk into night, the sunset an orange and red blur. And there was something good about being out in nature, away from the smog of the city. I'm a city guy at heart, but I was learning to appreciate waking up to bird calls and insect songs instead of blaring car horns of city trapped traffic.Had to focus now. I landed on the top of a tall pine looking down on the lit up grounds of the summer camp.If there was anything to find down there it was bound to be in the tall watch tower looking thing in the middle of the camp. Kind of creepy the way they'd had it built, but I guess they were a creepy group. Camp goers were still heading around on afternoon tasks before filing into the main hall for dinner. I scratched my neck where a mosquito had bit, a red lump growing.Okay, I thought, time this right.I focused my senses.Sure enough Dad and Carmen were coming up to the front gate, looking perfectly lost. One of the staff, in the white and blue camp uniform, came out to see what was going on. A couple of others soon came over, looking concerned. Carmen started explaining while Dad stood back, unhappy with the way some of the guys were more looking at Carmen than listening to her. But it was working as a distraction.I took the chance, bounding onto the log wall then bunching up on it, launching myself over to the tall log watch tower.
My fingers hooked between the log exterior. I pulled myself up to a window and finding it locked, forced it open with a strong push of my hand. Sliding in I landed on a fur carpet and a strong smell of musk, the room empty and dark.Some sort of old radio, a big thing like out of the 70s, dominated one wall, and there was a hatch going down. An old style rifle hung on the wall, a Winchester I think. Don't know if it was still useable.I went to the hatch and cracked it open.Muffled sounds made me pause."Don't worry, no one comes in here," a voice said, kind of familiar."Are you sure?" another familiar voice.I frowned, glaring through the gap. Holly and Peter again, the youth pastors at the church. I guess they doubled as camp counsellors or whatever."If we get caught," Holly said."We won't get caught," Peter replied, "It's just a bunch of filing cabinets.""You'd think these people had heard of computers," she said in that self-concious way."Yeah, full retro," Peter said, "Now come on."He put an arm around her, started working her bra from under the shirt."I don't know..." she said, but in a breathless, excited way that didn't stop his fumbling, instead putting her own hands on him."You liked it last time?" he said, pressing into her. She swallowed, nodding nervously.Oh great, I thought. Just what I needed, a front row ticket to a pair of repressed puriteens and their messy make out session.There was a cough."Who's up there?" a deep man's voice and the pair broke apart. Holly pulled down the hem of her shorts while Peter adjusted the tent in his pants.A man came up the stairs, a guy with a jarhead haircut and neat trimmed mustache. He had the Humanity First look, with the ink of a military tattoo showing at the edge of his sleeve, marked over a swollen bicep."Just us here Mr Kinley," Peter said, voice cracking, "Cleaning up.""Cleaning up," his skepticism was thick, his stare ugly, "This place is off limits. If it needs cleaning up I'll do it.""Sorry sir," Holly said, "Won't happen again."He nodded. "Good, now scram, we've got to get ready for tomorrow night.""Yessir," they hurried down the stairs with barely hidden giggles.Thank you Mr Kinley for sparing me that.He looked around, suspicious as hell with his jaw set at a hard angle. Then with a slow nod started down the stairs. "Horny goddamn kids," he muttered.I listened until his footsteps disappeared, then wedging the hatch open, slid down.>roll 3 x 1d100+20 dc 75
Rolled 55 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5182823
Rolled 51 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5182888FuckSecond try
barring a crit-fail, that's a pass
Rolled 79 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5182892>>5182823I'll just roll again. Cause I like rolling.
It was a room of filing cabinets with a computer right out of the 90s on a dusty old desk against the wall. There really was a bunch of retrograde stuff around here, like I'd put a foot back in time. A fur carpet, maybe some kind of bear skin, covered the ground.If I was looking for somewhere to make out without being interrupted I could do worse.There five gib metal filing cabinets, all of them locked. But it was just a flimsy key lock, nothing a little force couldn't fix.I placed my palm over the lock, let out a breath, and pushed hard. The top drawer popped open, the lock popped quietly against my palm. I tensed anyway, wondering if someone could hear it or sense the vibrations. Drawing it open as gently as I could, I pulled out thick manila folders, one after the other, putting them next to the dust covered computer.Opening one and it was some kind of land deed, to the 'Galena Territories'. Old ones. I flipped through them. Each one a different chunk of the area around the lake. Nothing super useful, maybe, but I took pictures all the same of each one.I went to the next draw. Land deeds again, but newer ones, marking a sale from something called the Galena Territory Association to a group called the Waingro Foundation.Waingro Foundation, that was new. Each deed after each deed showed every parcel of land sold in the number of tens to hundreds of millions. Billions must have been spent eventually. They must own the whole territory, and the lake itself. And this camp, it had been here before they'd moved in, but they'd refitted it with deep pockets, renamed it. I snapped picture after picture.Once that was done I put them away. Hit the next cabinet.This is both the most boring and most intense part of what I do, gathering information, pouring over documents, all while wondering if I was going to get caught. Forcing myself to read through the sweat in my eyes.Why not digitize this stuff?More documents. This one was different, the Waingro Foundation signing over a parcel of land 'for lease' to the Committee of Community Vigilance. For the camp. With cash donations of several million dollars. Lots of money to throw around.I went to the next cabinet. Purchases, receipts, mostly for camp equipment, updating old equipment, renovations.Nothing damning but...weird.I think I'd found the money backing the CCV, though I had no idea who they were. A start of an answer, or at least the next question to ask.Excitement ran through me like a Phil Collins' drum beat. I put away my phone, stashing the documents.Was this what Foxtrot had meant? She'd implied there was something more about this camp.>skulk around a little more, see what else there was>better to book with what I had, its a start
>>5182948>>skulk around a little more, see what else there was
>>5182948>skulk around a little more, see what else there wasKinley just cleared the place, good chance it stays cleared
Time to push my luck.I went to the stairs, listening. Voices, but not on the next floor, further down and muttered. I turned down the staircase in a little hall, rooms off each side. Some kind of administration thing, I think. Mr Kinley must have cleared the place out, so I poked my head in to one of the rooms.A big impressive desk with a big leather chair behind, a literal inkpot in the desk with a pen sticking out. Old fashioned was right. There was a framed photograph of some old politician behind it in black and white. Not any president I recognized. A flag on the other wall, a private filing cabinet, and a slim line modern laptop, not retrograde at all compared to the stuff upstairs.I thought about swiping it but heard voices coming up the stairs.This being an office I crossed out to the other room, closed the door and listened. If worst came to worse there was a window I could crash out of."Lawler is handling the VIP," Kinley's voice, "They'll arrive tomorrow night for the address.""Good, and you have everything ready on our end?" a man's voice, bright and chirpy. "I have a hand picked team from the recruits," he said, "They'll be ready on the signal.""And you don't have any...problems with this?" the other man said."No sir," not a note of doubt in his voice, "We need this sir, our country I mean. A wake up call. Not just about the freaks but everything else too. We've gotten soft, fat and lazy. A boot up the ass is just what this generation needs.""It's a pretty serious boot," the other man said."Are you having doubts, sir?" the other man said."No...no of course not," he replied, "We know what's needed. What's this about a disturbance though? Someone at the gates?""Some hot piece of ass needed help jumpstarting her car," someone else said. Three guys then."Seriously Miles?" Kinley said, "What year is this?""You didn't see the ass," the other guy said, "In the old days they'd throw women like that at guys like us.""Maybe you needed them thrown at you, I never had trouble with women," Kinley said, "You need to watch less of those pervert cartoons and hit a bar or something.""Enough," the boss said, "Enough of the crude talk. God if Caitlyn heard you two talking like this...""Sweet thighs herself," the crude guy, Miles, said, "She could crack a walnut with those thighs.""That she could," Kinley said in agreement."Goddamn it, this is a summer camp!" the boss snapped, "Not a barracks or a frat house! Caitlyn is a co-worker, speak with some respect.""Yessir," they said, sharp at the tone of his voice."Enough of this bullshit, get ready for tomorrow," he said. Then, when they were gone, muttered, "I need a fucking drink."His door opened and slammed behind him, a draw pulled back, the squeak of a cork coming off a glass bottle.Thoughts turned over in my head. Past the crude talk they'd put out some real information.
It was going down tomorrow night. Something about volunteers, something about an 'address', a VIP. The person giving the address? Maybe the something that was going down. And there were doubts in the ranks about what they were doing, from the head of the camp at least. It had to be something bad then. Dead kids, or the potential of dead kids.>push my luck a little more, one last time>I'd pushed my luck enough, time to bounce
>>5183063>>push my luck a little more, one last time
>>5183063>push my luck a little more, one last timeare they gonna fake a para attack?
>>5183063>push my luck a little more, one last time
>>5183082>>5183079>>5183065locking that in
Time to push my luck one last time.I slid out of the room, closing it soft behind me. I checked each way then went to the stairs, down another level. I heard Kinley and Miles walking further down. This time I went to a window to listen.There were kids still up, hanging out the front of the tower talking."So what did Mr Kinley talk to you about?" one asked."Nothin'," another said, "Just part of the extra-curricular I'm part of.""His weird little club, why'd you sign up for it anyway?"The guy shrugged. "I got to shoot guns, and also-""You ain't spilling club sercrets, are ya Donovan?" a crude and all too familiar voice said.Both the boys straightened up as he swaggered over out of the failing light.As mean as I remember with a face some kind of mix of toad and rat, with limp greasy hair falling over a pimple-scarred face. Jeremy Kusich, expelled for bullying my buddy Howie. But there was a difference, all the fat and pudge had fallen off him. So now he was big with muscle instead of big with fat, but whatever change he'd undergone he was still the same old Jeremy the way he pinched a hand on Donovan's shoulder and shoved his mean big smile into his face."Spilling club secrets can get you a reprimand," he said, "And I'm the discipline officer, remember?""Didn't forget, Jeremy," the kid, Donovan, said, flinching under the hard grip."Better you just mind your own business," Jeremy said to the other kid, "And maybe Donny-Van here should stick to the club from now on.""I was just asking," the other kid said."I wasn't," Jeremy said, turning on that other kid, using his size to cow him down. The kid gave Jeremy a resentful glare but didn't say anything. "What we do in the club is our business, if you want in you need to get permission from Mr Kinley. If you don't get that, you don't get fuck. Got me?""Hey!" another kid said, coming out of the dark, "Back off man!"Another familiar face, another familiar voice. Zeke."You don't own this place," Zeke said, "Why don't you mind your own business?""I got authority, Easy-ke-yil," he said, keeping his grip on Donovan tight, "So maybe you watch what you're butting into.""You ain't so tough," Zeke said, "I know you Jeremy, I've seen you get your ass kicked.""By you?" Jeremy spat, "Nah, maybe by the guy who cucked you. Eric isn't around to back you up, Easy. Probably too busy busting a nut in Ayesha's fat a-"The punch was swung and it hit, but it didn't do much but shut Jeremy up. He glared down the arm at Zeke, eyes boiling with a pink-eyed rage. He let Donovan go. From out of no where it seemed others turned up, a couple of guys, a girl, tough looking, fit, as nasty as him. This must be the 'club' they'd mentioned. They menaced around Zeke, looking ready to stomp him out. Zeke went from a little scared to white with fear.
I tensed, instincts telling me to help him."Hey now!" a bright voice called, "You kids break it up!"Another familiar face, but the voice was different. It was a strong, wholesome Mid-West accent coming out of Foxtrot's face. She wore a camp uniform with a whistle around her neck."What's going on here?" she asked, swishing her glare around. She didn't even move like Foxtrot, she had a stumpy kind of walk, like a farmer or something, a world away from Foxtrot's grace."Nothing Miss Caitlyn," Jeremy said, keeping his glare on Zeke, promising a bad time if he didn't back him up. "We was just goofing around.""Nothing Miss Caitlyn," Donovan said, urging Zeke to do the same with imploring eyes, "Just goofing like Jeremy said."Zeke sighed. "Nothing Miss Caitlyn," he said, "Yeah, goofing.""My buddy Zeke is a real goof," Jeremy said, "Just plain goofy sometimes. But it don't mean nothing, we go way back.""Yeah," Zeke said."Get back to your cabins," 'Caitlyn' said, with a pointed look for Jeremy. He grinned down on her in his ugly way. "If I catch any of you out past light's out there's going to be trouble.""Yes ma'am," Jeremy said, then to his gang grunted, "Let's go." They stalked away, Donovan going with them, leaving Zeke and the other kid behind."It goes for you too, Ezekial," she said.He swallowed. When she went into the watch tower the guy next to him said 'Dude you need to learn how to punch' as Zeke hung his head in shame.I don't know if what I'd seen was any kind of useful, but it was something.I turned to go, going back up the way I'd come."Hey, you there!"Feet drummed up the stairs. I froze.>roll 3 x 1d100+20 dc 80whatever the result, the next update will be tomorrow
Rolled 16 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5183157
Rolled 100 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5183158
>>5183212OOOHHHHHH SHIT KNIGGER
Rolled 52, 3, 35 + 20 = 110 (3d100 + 20)>>5183158
>>5183212Fuck, we're good at this shit
>>5182015Get off Twitter, its propaganda for a new banker war by proxy to increase military spending.
>>5183212jesusthis is like our 5th crit success with no failsi pity the quest which has the bad luck to our good
>>5183212Very very nice, we now have Oscar worthy acting skills.
I tensed up. Panic spiked the fire in my chest as I turned. It flooded over me, overcoming me, focusing me to a single point where conciousness and instinct became one, ready to fight. The warrior in me calling out, ready to kill.And I looked back at someone paused at the bend in the stairs, looking back over their own shoulder at whoever had called out, just missing me on the stairwell. I ducked off the stairs, listening, vibrating inside with the rush of power."I need a stock take done in the armory," Mr Kinley said to the guy who had almost spotted me, "Thanks for volunteering.""Oh man," the guy whined, dragging his feet away.My pounding heart and the throbbing veins of fire running through me didn't settle. I went back up the way I'd come, up to the dusty filing room I'd caught the two youth pastors making out. I let out a breath, leaning on one of the cabinets for support, nerves truly wracked as I fought to get my powers back under control and keep from getting taken over by that strange presence hidden in the fire.I went to the attic hatch, grabbing the rim and started pulling myself up and out."Leaving so soon?"I spun around on a monkey grip, ready to kick whoever had found me in the head.Foxtrot grinned up at me."I thought I saw you hiding in the window," she said.I let go, dropping to a crouch in front of her. She slid her finger along a dust covered cabinet, considering the dust covered finger tip."Find what you were looking for?" she said.I stared. My powers, churning inside me, began to envelop me the way they had done in times past. For a second the fire had me in its grip, and looking at Foxtrot's grin I saw through it. Saw bright light between chasms of great darkness, bright cracks in a dark husk, a husk trying to seal over the light, or maybe a light trying to break through the dark. "Some of it," I said, trying to shake away the vision.I stared and my stare must have been unnerving as her smile faded."What?" she said, a little of her natural accent sliding into her voice. She looked behind herself, self-concious.Something inside me reached through me, reached out with a finger, to a point on her forehead."You've helped me here, now I'll help you. Hold to the light," I said, my voice not entirely my own, "It will save you.""The light?" she said staring at the point of my finger, "You mean Anwar? How do you know about..."She stepped back, scared of my finger like it was a weapon drawn, face flashing with panic as she turned to stone."You are fishing, playing games!" she said, voice hot and French with anger.I blinked as the power eased inside me, and with it whatever had talked through me.Her hand snapped forward, stone fingers digging into my cheek, marble face carved in rage."Who told you about my employer?" she said, "How did you...? Merde!"
She let me go, turned away and turned back into flesh. She bit a finger nail, casting a suspicious glare over her shoulder. My shoulders slumped, body weakened by the grasp of the presence in the fire."Get out of here," she said, voice bitter as her expression, "I'll cover your tracks."It wasn't something I could explain, what had just happened. Only that it had happened before and would happen again. But every time, once it had passed over, I felt...closer to my powers, more attuned to them. I climbed up the hatch and out of the window, leaping into the warm night air, out into the forest, leaving Foxtrot to cover up whatever needed covering.It wasn't something I had control over, when this happened. In a fight it made me deadlier, but that wasn't all it was.I stopped on a tree branch and looked up at the moon, the stars. Breathed in deep.And watched the moon as it began to break. It broke apart before my eyes shattered as if by the fist of an angry god, scattering its silver particles across the night sky. I stopped breathing, stared in unthinking, uncomprehending terror as the moon scattered into a fine silver mist leaving only a shattered crust in its place, the rest of it become a milky stain across the sky. The screaming started beneath me. I looked down from the tree. A red stream, a river but instead of water it was a flowing red sludge, flowing around the stumps of the trees down through the dark and well out of view. A river of red mud as broad and thick as the Mississipi, and out of its surface reached hands, anguished faces forming in the sludge, calling out, screaming out. Until I realized all the red river sludge was a mass of red twisted bodies clawing against each other, over each other, reaching up to the night sky and the shattered moon above as they were pulled helpless downstream.Vomit welled in my throat. I pulled at the scarf, loosening before I could jet out a stream of vomit, hanging by one arm on the tree, shaking.I looked up from the writhing mass of red bodies back to the night sky, to the shattered moon.It was gone. The night sky was back. A cool wind shivered me, cooling the sweat to my body. I looked down to the night dark forest floor.The vision had passed. I was me again, in the present, in myself.It wasn't something I could explain. I climbed down from the top of the tree, feeling weak. I walked the rest of the way back to the cabin, shivering.I'd found what I was looking for, some of it at least. And I'd found some things I wasn't looking for.I climbed up the backstairs of the cabin in a fog. Dad and Carmen were already home, they checked in on me but I didn't have the energy for their questions. I showered, brushed my teeth.I had tomorrow to get ready for.
If I could be with you now I would.If I could hold you and tell you this time we will win.If I could believe that was true.
I woke up with a foggy head. Breakfast fixed it a little. Dad's fish from yesterday. I barely tasted it as it went down, refueling me.Shit was going down tonight. What had gone down last night was becoming...unclear. Outside of escaping the summer camp everything else flitted between memory and dream. I'd dreamed when I'd got home, I was sure. A dream of silver lights spun into human form, speaking in words I couldn't understand under a failing red sky.It was slipping from my mind, falling out of my memory in a dream-fog.I hated this shit. It didn't help me focus on what needed doing.Shit was going down tonight and I didn't know exactly what, but I needed my head in the game to deal with it."What's the plan?" Carmen asked over a cup of coffee at the breakfast table. I massaged my head, not sure how to answer."There's going to be an attack at the summer camp tonight," I said, "I don't know what or how but it'll be after some kind of address by a guest speaker after sunset.""Jesus, against kids?" Dad said, too shocked for words.I wish I could still be that level of instinctually outraged over this stuff."Yeah," I said, "A false-flag I think, against para-folk."Carmen flinched with a sharp hiss."Pretty fucking evil, right?" I said."Language," Dad said.It got a laugh out of me."What can we do?" Carmen asked.>you guys? nothing, stay out of it>I guess you can help evacuate the camp
>>5183960>>I guess you can help evacuate the campI think even if we told them to stay out they would still get involved.
>>5183960>you guys? nothing, stay out of itThis habit of bringing in normal people into danger needs to stop, just because they want to help doesn't mean they have the skills to help If we want to help evacuate the kids to safety I say that we see if we can get the horny teenage counselors to help evacuate
>>5183960>you guys? nothing, stay out of it
>>5183993>>5183980locking that in
sorry for the delay, had to handle something
"You guys? Nothing, stay out of it," I said."But-" Carmen started, but Dad put a hand on her shoulder."We'll do what you think is best," he said, "Carmen, he's been doing this for a while now, and we aren't bullet proof."Carmen frowned. "Neither is he," she said.A wounded look crossed Dad's face. "I know," he said, then looking at me said, "But it's what he has to do."The pride there, and the acceptance, I looked away before I got choked up."We'll wait for you," he said, "Just be careful."I got up from the table, rolled my shoulders back, washed the last piece of sleep out of my head. Careful didn't come easy to me."I'll try," I said, and getting changed, stepped out.-Dusk found me lurking outside the camp, keeping an eye out as a strong wind blew down from the north, cutting some of the heat. There was some kind of assembly going on, the students gathered in the dining hall. That wasn't the only thing though, a car came rolling up to the camp gates, a long luxury car better suited for the inner city than these country roads. The window wound down. Lawler put his head out to talk to Mr Kinley at the gate. The G-Man looking goon gave the camp instructor a hard look as they talked. Not a lot of trust in that man.My ears tweaked as I listened in."Everything's ready for the governor?" Lawler said.Governor? The governor was here?"Sure is, we got the kids gathered for his address in the big hall up the back.""Good. And the other thing?""We know what we're doing Mr Lawler," Kinley said, "Trust us on this.""If it doesn't, we've wasted a lot of money," Lawler said, "This is our best shot we're going to get.""Get moving Lawler," a voice from the back of the car, "Let's get this finished. I got an appointment later tonight I am not going to miss!"I knew the voice from tv. There was no doubt it was the new Illinois governor, Michael Tuttle, that he was escorting."Yessir," Lawler said, putting up the car window. Kinley waved them through.Interesting. I moved in closer to get a better looking, trying for the assembly hall on the east side of the camp.Faces showed through the window, bright young faces in the pale blue camp uniform. No one I saw I recognized, but Zeke would be in there. Maybe Jeremy too. I crouched along the log wall as the sun dipped down behind me, spider walking my way around to get closer without alerting anyone inside.
The car came to a stop. Lawler opened the rear door. Governor Tuttle stepped out. The governor had been elected after the assassination of the last one, running on an anti-para-folk platform. It hadn't won him friends in Chicago but Illinois as a whole had backed him. He was a graying mid-50s white guy with a full head of hair. I'd heard someone compare him to Dennis Farina once but I didn't know who that was. All I know is he'd done a stint in the Navy before going into politics, and had gone from state senator to governor.Ms Grant didn't like him, so I didn't like him.But he had charisma, he flashed a hundred dollar grin at one of the camp staff, shaking hands as he was lead through to the assembly hall. And he wasn't alone, Mrs Byron and Preacher Dave were with him, dressed in their best. This was a real coalition of anti-para-folk opinions. Governor Tuttle offered Byron his arm and she took it with a flustered smile.But that couldn't be it. This wasn't just a 'meet the kids' kind of thing.I leapt across the night sky, landing on the log roof of the assembly hall, crouched down, listening.There was a boat on the lake shore, a little yacht moored that hadn't been there yesterday. My skin prickled over in a cold wash.A search light swept the coast. I sharpened my eyes.Xenia stood on the bow of the yacht in a black suit, her skinny black tie fluttering in the wind. Eyes hidden behind shades even in the dark, she kept her hands in her pockets and her stare fixed on the assembly hall. There was no sign of Dr Auken, but there were men with her, soldiers in the same get up as the ones I'd fought earlier.Cauldron soldiers, I guess I should call them.She turned her head and said something I didn't catch in the wind. A soldier went below deck. She looked back out, staring across the night>hit the yacht, try to stop this before it started>wait, see how this all plays out first>write-in
>>5184150>wait, see how this all plays out first
>>5184150>wait, see how this all plays out firstThe yacht might not be all. Roll for super senses to make sure we're aware of all threats we need to deal with. Don't take too long though.
>>5184155>>5184161locking that in
I didn't want to jump the gun yet.Staying low on the roof I boosted my senses. The wind became the brush of a cool hand across my body, the distant chittering insects rose to a crescendo, the early dusk call of the night birds and the goodnight calls of the day birds sounded out across the lake. The scurry of opposums and the other critters in the brush, the snuff of coyotes.And the murmur beneath my feet rose into a war of voices.'-really beefed it on the 'leap of faith-''-two in a row, really good-''-was terrible, I swear there was sawdust in my breakfast-''-talking to her about it, she'll-''-Duluth, its pretty boring-''-say the n-word, I don't care who-'The crackle of a microphone killed the conversation."Okay kids, listen up," it was the head of the camp, the guy who had hit the bottle last night, "Tonight we've got a couple of guest speakers here to talk to you. First I want you to give a warm Guardian welcome to Governor William Tuttle, come all this way out to visit us despite his busy schedule."Polite applause followed."Hey now, come on. Governor Tuttle isn't just a politician, he's one of the members of our board, so you can do better than that!"The same applause again, barely louder."Easy now Roger," the Governor said, "Don't expect these kids to get excited about some old man like me."He took the microphone. "Heck I bet most of you never heard of me before now, you probably figure 'what's the big deal?' Well you'd be right, I'm no one important. Just another guy in a suit. You shouldn't be excited. But heck, I'm excited. Excited to see all of you here, putting your hand up and stepping forward when so many others are taking a step back. Giving up your summer to learn while your friends back home are out doing whatever while the adults stick their heads in the sand.""It's exciting to see. Gosh it's straight up humbling.""No kidding, its easy to do nothing, real easy, so you've already done more with your lives than most ever will. You've decided to do something, to take a stand for your community, to protect it. With all the media in your ear telling you its wrong, you see through the bullshit to the truth.""I want to hear a round of applause, but not for me. No, give yourselves a big goddamn hand."The clapping started slow, but with a few urged 'come on!' from the governor it grew into a stomping whistling cheer.He knew how to whip up a crowd. The applause rocked inside my skull, a teeth clenching, ear splitting roar.Couldn't let it distract me. I shifted my focus to the yacht. With sharpened eyes the boat lights became briighter, bright enough to see the glow on Xenia's cheek."The cargo is ready?" she asked one of the Cauldron soldiers."Ready ma'am."She stared at the assembly hall, hair ruffling in the wind.She raised a hand.Clicked her fingers.
"Now."The soldier got on his radio."Now, now," he hissed, "Engage!"What? I listened for a voice not on the yacht. Trees to the south. Where I'd come from."Subject is go, subject is go!" a woman said.Then there was a rustle of leaves, that became a crash of tree limbs splintering."Pull back, pull back!" the woman said.Xenia watched unmoving from the bow of the boat, hands back in her pockets.A sound, a shriek, and it came up and over the wall in a single bound, crashing into the ground. It reared up letting out a horrible shriek that forced me to tamper my senses, wincing hard.Before I cut my sight back to normal I caught sight of a long horse muzzle face with big square teeth chomping at the air, spit running into a slaver at the corner's of his mouth, wild eyes rolling in deep sockets.Stallion, the one time criminal enforcer.But not Stallion. Not the thug I'd met. This was a thoughtless, hulking naked beast. If there was a thought in that skull it didn't show through the frothing mouthed rage. Thick fingers gouged into the earth and he let out another terrible shriek, squaring up on the assembly hall. A head popped out of the window to see what had made the noise.Their scream joined Stallion's shriek as he launched himself forward, trampling toward the hall with a shocking speed could blast the cement to dust and the logs to splinters.This was their agent, and I was sure he had one of Xenia's worms in his head.>leap down and fight Stallion>focus on evacuating the building>write-in
>>5184195>leap down and fight Stallion
>>5184195>leap down and fight StallionNo op here motherfuckers.
>>5184195>>leap down and fight Stallion
I'll leave this vote open until I'm back tomorrow
locking it in
Leaping down from the roof I landed in front of the raging Stallion. He let out a shriek, grabbing at his own face with thick cloven fingers as he thrashed his head. But when he lowered those hands his red eyed glared fell on me."That's right," I said, "I'm your huckleberry."A deep snort from wide nostrils and Stallion lowered his head.Stallion was fast near to the point of super speed, and strong on top of it. He'd been muscle for the Haitian before the DPA had scooped him up. Now who knew what he was.I put up my fists, ready to find out as behind me, more kids stuck their heads out the windows to watch.Goddamn it they should be getting out of here.Stallion dug his hands into the dirt, I braced. When he launched hhimself toward me I could hear the whistle of the wind in the force of his charge.I leapt to the side, he hit the wall behind me blowing a dent in it, shaking it to the foundation. He pushed off and turned around. I let out a shocked, shivering breath, moving from foot to foot staying loose."Come on, eyes on me, let's go," I said.He leapt, bringing his fist down in a hammer blow. I ducked around. His fists drove into the dirt, blasting up a cloud of fine silty dust.I drove a fist into his cheek. The horseman's head whipped to the side but it didn't stop him. He spun with a long looping arm, trying to rip my head off. I dropped under it, a hard jab to his ribs.Whatever I was doing didn't seem to bother him none. Even when I whipped a four punch combo the most it did was make him blink.Shit.They'd done something to him other than just mess with his head. He was stronger and tougher, bigger than he'd been before. And if there was a thought in that head it was struggling to get out through the rage.He swung a punch so fast it whistled. I got my hands up just in time and the pain that went through my forearms I had to wonder if something was broken as it took me off my feet and skipped me like a stone across the camp grounds.Thoughts got scattered.More faces in the window watching. People going around to a shed, opening it up. What people?I shook myself off, climbing to my feet even as my body groaned at the effort.And I had to move, leaping off to the side as Stallion drove toward me knee first.Dust kicked up around us, the stars bright overhead, an audience of children watching, I put up my fists.>roll 3 x 1d100+20 dc 90
Rolled 17 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5184848FUUUUUU
Rolled 11 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5184848hmm how can we do this right. do the worms actually go inside the head or just latch on? I remember thunderchild had some weird markings on his head after. maybe we can target that.
>>5184853>>5184854Well this ain't good
Rolled 17 + 20 (1d100 + 20)>>5184848Rollan again
>>5184864Damn can't win them all huh
We're dead, I expected to fail but not so badly
>>5184864that's a fail
We can't beat this guy on physicality alone, we've got to use our fire powers, technique, and the environment to beat him. Use his berserk rage against him. He can't think clearly, we can.
sorry had to handle a thing hereback and writing
The next hit put me through the wall.I barely knew it was coming. I tensed up ready to dip out of the way, zigging when I should have zagged. It caught me around the side of the face and spinning like rag doll I felt wood shatter around me with a pulverizing force and the next thing I knew I was skidding along polished wood floors scattering collapsable chairs with kids screaming all around me.I didn't get up right away. I couldn't feel my body or gather a thought. My vision was disconnected silver spots with everything tilted and bizarre.But my fire burned bright. The absent feeling in my body became an ache, then real pain exploded across me. I let out a deep painful whine as I rolled over, drooling into the scarf still covering my face.Bright lights above made the faces of the people around me look like wax work. Some were staring dumb founded at me, others starting to run screaming for an exit. Some lay knocked over with vicious splinters jutting from their bodies, trying to get up and crying as they grabbed at their ruined bodies.Goddamn but it was all I could do to get up.Stallion pulled himself through the hole in the wall, gnashing blunt teeth as he let out inhuman screams.One kid was trying to pull another kid clear, the other kid down with a splinter in his leg. Stallion heard them, turning around.The kid put up his hand like it could do something, tears bursting from his eyes."No no no!" he cried out til a backhand whipped him off his feet and out of the way.The other kid, crying and grabbing his leg, had enough time to scream out "Momma!" right as those mutated fat fists came down.God. I flinched, looking away but still hearing the disturbing wet crunch.Stallion turned, gore splattered over his chest, eyes rolling in his head, the screaming terror of the kids stoking whatever madness had control of him.He galloped towards the kids packed and fighting to get through the exit.Fire pumped out the pain, cleared my head as my feet steadied under me. I dived for Stallion. Every bit of strength my powers gave me I put into the tackle, catching him under the knees. It ripped him off his knees."Get them out of here!" I screamed at the adults still on the stage, but Stallion didn't stay down. He got up, his wide hand palming the top of my head like a basketball, and grasping it, flung me aside.I was more ready this time. Tumbling end over end, I caught the wall on my feet, and crouched vertical against it, launched off leaving bright white boot prints behind me.A human javelin, I whipped a fist across Stallion's horse-like jaw, rocking him.When we're under pressure we default to what we know, and what I knew was boxing. I closed with an overhead right, jumping to get him in the side of the head. It was starting to hurt him. He staggered back, stumbling over the scattered chairs.
"This way, this way!" a woman called, herding the terrified mass of children. Foxtrot in her disguise, filtering the kids out.Stallion let out a snort, hands raised to shield his face against the pummeling. Something shined through the rage. Fear, terror, the real terror of the mind inside.He was a victim here as much as anyone else.I stepped back, dodging a backward swing of his arm. My ankle caught the collapsable edge of a chair. With a kick I whipped it up at him, catching him in the chest. It didn't stop him much.He started forward building up momentum and speed. Building up into an unstoppable force.I moved to get out of the way but he caught me, grabbed me in a tackle and we went through the next wall together, out into the dark with light spilling out after us, splinters flying around my ears, caught in my clothes. We drove into the dirt, Stallion on top of me. The weight of him pressing me down.A fist came down. I caught it on a forearm. The next one came around and clipped me in the side of the head. Another and another and I lost my thinking again even if I didn't lose conciousness. I felt something crack inside me.He was beating me to death. Oh God.A load blast from someplace and Stallion bucked, turning aside, the ground and pound broken, at least for now. Blood oozed from his shoulder."Get 'im!"More blasting.They came out of the dark, kids in uniform armed with some kind of shotgun, opening up on Stallion. The gun shots only peppered him but they hurt. He stumbled back, hands raised to protect his face.A semi-circle of kids, forcing Stallion back toward the lake."Kill the freak!" Jeremy said, cocking his shotgun and letting out a blast that opened a bloody tear in Stallion's chest. Jeremy let out a hoot, his savage pale face bright under the moonlight.Stallion shook his head, snorting blood, but when it looked as if he'd charge the kids he lost his feet, driving his knees into the ground. He could only raise his hands, to shelter himself as best he could from the barrage as it took bloody bites out of him.>help Stallion by stopping the kids>help the kids stop Stallion>write-in
>>5184963>help the kids stop StallionGoing against a group of people with guns isn't a recipe for health. I do feel for Stallion he has a mind controlling Worm in his head. Not sure if he's conscious or completely mindless, either way we need to stop him. After that we'll probably need to dodge the bullets that the kids are going to shoot at us.
>>5184963>help the kids stop StallionFuck.
>>5184963>help Stallion by stopping the kidsNot physically if we don't have to, but tell them he's got a worm in his head and isn't in control of his own actionsof course it's going to get physical though
>>5184972at this point it makes no difference if he's wormed or not, he fuckin pulped a kid
>>5184963>help the kids stop Stallion
>>5184994>>5184963Actually.switching to >help Stallion by stopping the kids>And try to knock Stallion out.
>>5184963>Write in Embrace the fire, kill stallion if necessary but let the children know that they were saved by a "freak" instill doubt in this false flag operation
>>5184963>help the kids stop StallionFuck it, no way we're helping stallion This is a difficult situation, and a complete failure on our part, but stallion needs to be stopped, that kid should have never died
We've gotta stop stallion enough to break Xenia's control of him somehow and then help him escape
>>5184963>>help Stallion by stopping the kidsCan't let him die for something he didn't want to do.
Rolled 1 (1d2)>>5184967>>5184969>>5185012>>5185033>>5185000>>5184972we have a tierolling off with a d21 is help Stallion2 is help the kids
>>5185035helping stallion wins
This is going to be difficult to pull off.I mean I hat to say it, but at this point helping Stallion is a lost cause. The only reason to do so is that Eric finds it obligatory to help a person who's being mind controlled.Beyond that it's unquestionable that he's killed a kid and seriously injured others, he was a criminal prior to this, his mind controlled status is almost impossible to prove. Yes it may be moraly right to help him but I think helping him is going to hurt our cause more than it helps.
>>5185033Can't let kids die either anon
>>5185038Fuck, this is so dumb
>>5185047Uhhh I usually don't doubt my decisions but it's too late to go back and change the vote. Looks like we've gigafucked the parafolk movement rn. I hope we can somehow make it look like we're trying to help the kids by getting Stallion out of there.
A pathetic noise came over Stallion as he crumpled up.They were killing him."Pour it on, don't let up!" jeremy said, "Remember your training Guardians!"Goddamn it.God damn it.They were innocent, everyone here was innocent!I staggered onto my feet, stumbling forward to the nearest kid. I pushed the barrel of the shotgun high, the blast ripping through the air."Stop it," I said, "He isn't in control.""What?" the kid yelled back in my face.They were wearing a uniform different from the other kids, with ear mufflers and shooting glasses like they were at a gun range or hunting deer. He gave me a confused look."Who the fuck are you?" he said, "Hey!" I snatched the shotgun from his hand and whipped it away. He reached for a sidearm at his belt."I said stop!"I had trouble lifting my right arm but an overhand left put the kid down."He's being controlled!" I screamed to the others, "Back off!"Those guns turned on me."Who the fuck are you?" Jeremy said."A freak-lover," another said."Surviving an ass kicking like that? Nah, this guy's got to be a para-freak too," Jeremy said, swinging the muzzle of his shotgun toward me."He was fighting him though," one of the Guardians said."Now he's helping him," Jeremy said, "Put him down!"I dipped out of the way as Jeremy opened up on where I'd been standing. I grabbed the dropped shotgun and rising to a knee flung it at him. The stock rapped the front of his head knocking him down. These guys might have a little training, and a gun was dangerous in any hand, but they weren't ready for what I could do even in a beat up state. Shotgun blasts kicked up dirt and blew out splinters in the log cabin walls behind me as I closed the distance."Goddamn it!" I wrapped a hand in a Guardian's shirt, pulling the child-soldier off his feet, "Listen to me! You're being set up! This is all a set up!""What?" was all the kid could say, so I threw him at one of his friends."Listen to me!" I cried, staggering around, pain catching up. Why wouldn't they listen? Agony shot through my legs, my right arm, the rest of my unpleasantly numb. Blood and dirt were a bad combination in my mouth. Everyone was confused, not sure where to point their guns, at me or at Stallion crumpled up into a ball, letting out terrified whines. "Just listen to me!"I heard the distant whump of a helicopter then the cold sound of a shotgun being racked.Jeremy on his knees glared through a bloody nose, shotgun in one hand, unsteady in his hand but pointed in my direction."Fucking freak," he spat, blood trailing into a mustache on his top lip.I don't know if I could have dodged it.The stone fist from the dark saved my life. It threw the shotgun blast wild. Foxtrot, all stone, stood behind Jeremy, fist raised.
"Get him out of here," she said, voice thick and French, no longer disguised.I stumbled to Stallion in a crumpled ball."Get him to the water, I will find you!" she said, turning to face the child militia."Miss Caitlyn?" one of the Guardians said, confused.I pulled Stallion up by an arm, weight his massive bulk against me, dragging him to the water."Can you move?" I said. I don't think he could even think. He was bleeding all over me."She's a freak too, light her up!""Go, go!" Foxtrot said.I gasped as gunfire tore into her, but all it did was rip up her clothes, the stone body beneath unblemished as she stood her ground against the gunfire.I had to get Stallion out of here. I had to trust Foxtrot could take care of herself.I had to get to the water.I dragged Stallion after me as a spotlight appeared in the sky. That distant whump of a helicopter growing into a roar.I put Stallion down on the bank and he lay unmoving.That's when I saw the fleshy tube in the back of his neck.Sucking a deep breath, drawing on my power, I grabbed the damp, rubbery thing as the spotlight fell over us.With a single jerk I ripped it off. Stallion shuddered. The worm thrashed in my hand, trying to twist around to bite me. I grasped it in both hands and with a grunt ripped it in two."Come on!" I said, picking the giant up, splashing down into the water soaking my legs up to the knees.A cough from the horse-man. His eyes were clearing up, the fog fading, but the pain and fear still there. "What...where am...what's going...who the fuck is...is you..."The spotlight hunted us.The water splashed behind us. I looked to see a living statue move through the water, naked except for a few shreds still clinging to her shoulders and waist."There is a boat I have hidden," Foxtrot said, "Leave him with me 'otspur, I can get him away. You take care of yourself for once.">I can't do that, we're doing this together>trust her, leave him with her and get out of there
>>5185076>trust her, leave him with her and get out of there
>>5185076>trust her, leave him with her and get out of thereLooks like that 100 came back to save us thank God.
>>5185042I see PR anon is still with us>>5185076>I can't do that, we're doing this together
>>5185076>trust her, leave him with her and get out of thereTell her "Get him somewhere safe, lay low and try to not run away Stallion. I think we can find a way to keep you safe""And Foxtrot, if you have ANY information of this shitshow of operation, PLEASE give it to me. They planned to kill childrens for publicity, and this is fucked up."I say after all this shit, we still have options. If Stallion don't go full retard mode, stays hidden and Foxtrot give US information of the operation, we can:1) Proof this was a setup and backed by the goverment2)Show the true face of the anti-parafolk agenda doing everything they need to win3)Link the Operation Cauldron secret base with the history of Stallion and that Black kid that teleportsI say that if we have the information and talk with the chubby lady of the anti-parafolk police force, the black lady we work for, we might find a way to make Stallion go for an actual court trial, send to a high security prison for killing that child (and maybe other bullshit he did for the Vuduu boys), and turn the tides so that our buddy Chuck the firefighter goes and try to get into politics.Stallion won't like to go to jail, but is the only Alternative I see. If not, he will be taken again, go once more for all the torture shit again and making more of this shit. If we get him in some of those normal prisons and show that he won't scape, he will be somewhat safe. People will know about the mental-worm-things, so if Xania tries something funny with them and try to take control of Stallion to go crazy, once we stop him and take the worm we will have proof he's innocent for his shit and only draw more attention of the public eye of the Operation Cauldron
>>5185076I'll back this write in to>>5185120You got to greenline stuff too.
"But-" I started.She cut me off with a kiss on my cheek, her stone lips pressed to my skin."You are brave, 'otspur, but I am bullet proof," she said, "Get out of here.""Get him somewhere safe," I said."Oui," she replied, "I have a place."I looked at Stallion. The guy was struggling to stay concious. "Lay low and try not to run away," I said, "I'll figure out a way to keep you safe."He didn't even know what was going on."If you have any information, any at all on Project Cauldron, I need it," I said, "If we can prove this was a false flag, that Stallion was set up, maybe we can stop a war from breaking out.""If I can I will," she said, "But now you must go."We splashed through the water towards a stand of reeds. Xenia and her boat were gone, I didn't know where but I didn't like it. Foxtrot hauled Stallion up into a canoe, climbed in after him. The spotlight of the helicopter hunted for us in the night."Au revoir, mon ami," she called to me as she paddled out from the shore.I raised a hand but it was all I had time for, shouts in the night jerked my head around, people stomping through the brush.Staggering out of their I fed the flicker of power in my chest and using it threw myself into the trees, artless from the thrashing I'd got from Stallion, crashing over tree branches as I made my way back to the cabin.It was never simple and never easy, doing any of this. The choices I had to make.I tried not to think about the kid, what was left of the kid when Stallion had...but my thoughts caught up to me and I caught the trunk of a tree ten feet up and with energy flagging grabbed onto it. A sick sob came up out of my throat, shivering under the tatters of my scarf and hoodie. Ugly sobbing and hot tears, as much from the physical pain as the heart break. I settled on the tree branch, wishing it would rain or something. But all I had was the hot sticky summer heat without even the breeze any more to cool it. That fucking kid, who knew who else.And Foxtrot on the run with Stallion. The both of them, if they got away...should I have stayed?If I could have made a difference. Had I saved anyone tonight? Had I done any good?It was all ugly.
I don't know how long I was up there. Hours maybe. I used it to put myself back together, physically at least. The inside bits that had been knocked out of place. I jerked a splinter buried into the back of my hand out. Plucked another from my leg. They hadn't gone deep but still deep enough to bleed. The fire inside me reknit fractured bone and eased ugly bruises, closed up the shallow cuts. I healed faster than was normal, and I was healing faster than before, but it wasn't a cure all and it took time. When it was done I was exhausted, starving and wanted to go home.Sliding down from the tree, I limped the rest of the way back to the cabin. Splashed over smallpox creek.I wanted to go home. I wanted Ivy and Ayesha. I wanted to fall between them and be held and be able to forget.I wanted to not be me, at least for a while.Dad and Carmen were waiting on the porch and when they saw me Carmen gasped.Torn up, bruised, covered in blood even if most of the blood wasn't mine. I was a picture.I staggered past them, wanting bed."Eric?" Dad said but I ignored him as I went inside. How could I put into words what I'd seen? There were no words.I didn't change out of my blood stained clothes.I hit the bed burned out.And as I let sleep take me all I thought was, how could I make this right?I'll be back next week
hope you guys 'enjoyed' the summer camp arc, we'll be back in Chicago soonthis is one of those cases where different choices would have lead to a different confrontation with Stallion at the end, and different information revealed along the way
>>5185160Thanks for running! It was enjoyable, I really liked how Semper Fi is catching anti para hate finally.Also we should hold Xenia responsible for that dead kid. Probably not her first.
>>5185160It was a good arc, it just sucks when a single failed roll has such terrible consequences when I felt we did well otherwise. Can't win em all I suppose
Maybe I should quit.What the fuck was I even doing? What had I even been thinking?I'm insane. It was the only real answer. I'm sixteen and fighting a mix of organized crime, government conspiracy and strange mutated whackjobs. Any one of them could leave me and everyone I care about dead. I'd come close to dying more than once already, all it took was a single slip up for that gap to close and I'd be dead for real."-two dead, including a twelve year old boy," Ms Takanawa said on the news.My heart hardened. My doubts eased against a sudden burst of anger."The attacker was driven off by the camp's 'youth brigade'. Whether or not Governor Tuttle was the ultimate target of the attack-"She spoke before the wreckage of the Guardian Summer Camp assembly hall, the whole Stallion had put through the wall yawning and jagged, with splinters jutting out at ugly angles.The news cut to an anxious governor, recorded later that night of the attack, helping move a herd of kids."Governor Tuttle, who helped evacuate the children to safety, had this to say.""We won't be intimidated, not by anyone," he said, now standing outside the camp in daylight, looking heroically worn out by the night before, "And the people responsible for this attack will be held accountable. We will deploy every resource to ensure they're brought to justice for this dispicable act. But I don't want to spend more time on those vile animals than I have to. This could have been worse. If it weren't for the quick thinking kids of the camp, who knows how much worse this could have been. I want to personally thank one kid in particular for his quick thinking and bravery. Jeremy Kusic-"I looked away from the tv in disgust.We'd cut out trip short and were back in Chicago. I was on the couch, all but back to normal after the beating I'd got fighting Stallion. I hadn't heard from Foxtrot yet, but the fact his capture wasn't plastered all over the news told me it was good odds they got away.We'd got home late in the afternoon and no one was in the mood to cook. Dad had ordered takeout while Carmen freshened up in the bathroom.No one was in a talking mood. I hadn't said a word all trip back, and wasn't about to start talking now.A tail swished around my leg and I looked down to Mangy's fluffy white mane. She gave a soft chirrup as she looked up at me, then rubbed her head against my leg. I scratched the soft fur behind her ear and she purred, nestling into the palm of my hand.Whatever was going to come from this, it was nothing good. Rumors were already getting out, claiming the scale of the damage was way worse than what was said on the news. Ten dead, fifty dead, bodies hidden from view. Not just one para-freak but an army.Or none had died and this was a staged event. More right than they realized, but the bodies had been real.
I didn't know what to do about it. Barely knew what to think as Mangy climbed into my lap, curled her tail around herself and settled into a deep purring sleep.The first thought was how this would effect the para-folk community. There'd be a backlash no doubt, protests, maybe even attacks. I worried about Queen Rat's farm, everyone crammed in there, mostly peaceful folks with no real way to protect themselves except a few key defenders. My second thought went to Ms Grant. She'd sent me to the summer camp with a purpose, one I'd mostly succeeded at. The Waingro Foundation, they were the money behind the CCV and its off-shoots. Whoever the hell the Waingro Foundation is.And then I thought about Ayesha and Ivy. I'd come so close to dying. As Stallion had started to beat the life out of me they were all I could think about.Mangy stirred in my lap, rolling over to show off the downy softness of her belly.I'd seen a vision of a river of bodies, crying out to a dying moon. I'd seen that too, and it made me think of Jimmy Green, the Red Wizard.It was all connected, more than I was comfortable with at least.I was feeling helpless and very much sixteen in the face of it all.>check in on the para-folk community>check in with Ms Grant>check in with Ayesha and Ivy>check in with Jimmy
>>5190080>check in with Ms Grantsomehow I didn't see this update until now
>>5190080>>check in with Ms Grantlet her know of the investigation and what we learned about the black ops guys.
>>5190080>check in with Ms Grant>check in with Ayesha and IvyWe've been gone too long.
>>5190080Actually.>>5190645>check in with Jimmy>check in with Ayesha and Ivy>Then call Ms. Grant to set up a meet
>>5190080>check in with Ayesha and Ivy
>>5190494>>5190640>>5190647>>5191321>>5191047going with check in with Ms Grant then check in with Ivy and Ayesha
Doing something to help was a start.And the best thing I could do was meet with Ms Grant and pass on what I'd learned.We arranged a late night meet up at the Buckingham Fountain.It was a hot night when I went out. We'd been home a couple of days and being back in my costume was an odd comfort. Bounding out across the west side, then through the dense urban pack of the inner city, I went from skyscraper to skyscraper until I was looking out over the night covered breadth of Lake Michigan.Less a lake and more a fresh water sea, it made Lake Galena look like a puddle. Bright lights lit up around the fountain, somewhere further out music was playing, a pick up band busking for the evening crowd as they sought the cool air coming off the lake to break through the sweltering trapped heat of the city.Ms Grant wore a pants suit and carried a brief case, sweat glossy on her cheeks as she checked her phone waiting for me. I landed on the edge of the fountain."Yo," I said."Yo yourself," she replied, not in the best mood, "What happened out there? Dead kids?""Yeah," I said, "Bad stuff. These guys are more ruthless than I thought."I got out my phone."But I did get the information you wanted," I said, handing it over."The attack, it was the black site people?" she said, intuiting a lot."Project Cauldron," I said, "That's their official name. And they're in bed with the CCV. I don't know if they're one and the same or just fellow travelers though.""Waingro?" she said, checking the pictures."That's the money," I said, "The Waingro Foundation. They've bought up all the property around Galena, pretty much turned it into a company town.""You know anything about them?" she asked. I shrugged. Nothing had pinged through google. This white collar financial stuff wasn't in my wheel house."It's a start," she said, "A thread to pull on at least."She sent the photos to her own phone."I've got another source I'm waiting to hear from," I said, "Someone whose been doing their own digging into this stuff. She put me on to Project Cauldron's real name.""The same one who sourced the information on Ixion?" Ms Grant said.She didn't miss a thing. Good thing she couldn't see my blush under my mask."How do we know we aren't being played on some level?" she said, "Being manipulated by this thief?""We don't," I said, but something told me I could trust Foxtrot, at least up to a point."I want to meet them," she said, "Whenever you're meeting them next, I want to talk to them, feel them out.">I don't know if she'll go for it>Okay I'll see what I can do
>>5191905>Okay I'll see what I can do
"I'll see what I can do," I said. Foxtrot might be cagey about meeting with someone involved in law enforcement, but Ms Grant and I were partners in this, and if she needed to put eyes on Foxtrot I wasn't going to get in her way. "How are things on your end?"Ms Grant sighed, producing a bagel wrapped up in a napkin in her pocket. She tore off chunks, popping it in her mouth."The prosecution on those criminals you scooped up are grinding along. Navaja's legal team is arguing extradition to Mexico, but that's not going to happen. We have Mangeillo on parole violations at least. I'm not too involved, it being a federal case, but it sounds like they're bungling a slam dunk.""Have some faith," I said."They'll want to talk to you as a key witness," she said."I gave my testimony," I said."Yeah, but they want you on the stand," she said, "I'm trying to work it so you can keep your anonymity, but its difficult. They figure if you can give evidence to take down the head of the Outfit, the Midwest cartel, and the Russian mafia, its worth it."I didn't agree, but said nothing."Meanwhile the Haitian is scooping up the leftovers," she said, "We missed him in the dragnet and with all the other gangs in disarray he's set himself up as the king of Chicago, with help from some of your biker friends. With the Outfit's money frozen I've heard he's putting money into aldermen's pockets all over town. If you own them, you own the city, and some of them go for pretty cheap."Yeah, I'd suspected as much. The Outfit's power had been primarily political, owning various members of local and state government, supplying bribes and what not to get things done. Someone had to corner that racket while they took a knee."I doubt the Outfit are taking it well," I said."Yeah, but they're eating it," she said, "For now at least. The Russians too. Only the cartel are putting up any kind of pushback, but its mild pushback.""It never ends does it?" I said, "Cut down one snake and another rises out of the grass.""Pretty much," she folded up the rest of her bagel and put it away, muffled a small burp on her fist, "It's the nature of the beast. People fought this fight before us and they'll fight it after, the only question is do we step back and retire one day, or go down fighting. But each win buys time before the next fight starts.""Doesn't feel like it," I said.She stared at me a second then shook her head with a tired laugh. "You want my advice Hotspur, fill your time between fights with as much life as you can. Have fun. Don't let this be all you are or it'll chew you up.""Are you taking your own advice?" I asked."Poorly," she replied.With the trade off done I bounded out of there, leaving Ms Grant in front of the fountain, her advice on my mind as I landed high on the Sears tower. Looking down on the glittering lanes of the city, stretching out seemingly forever into the west, I thought about which it was going to be.
Do I stop one day and retire, or do I go down fighting?Maybe the choice was out of my hands, but for now I could listen to the other thing she'd said.I could grab some life, as much as I could hold.-It was another few days before Ayesha got back from Minesotta, her uncle's wedding becoming an extended vacation from the craziness in Chicago. When they did she seemed relieved to be back."So how was your vacation?" she asked as I helped her with her bags, her parents opening up the front door. I told her and she sighed. "Yeah, thought as much."We were going to head out to meet Ivy and some others at a water park, a half way through summer meet up of everyone that was still in town. But before that, and before we could get up to Ayesha's room, her dad took me aside."Now Eric, this weird thing you got going on with my daughter," he said, "I'm not going to pretend I'm okay with it. I'm not going to pretend I'm not thinking of dunking you head first into a garbage can and putting you out on bin night. I'm not going to lie to you."I nodded."But," he said, and pulled something from his bag, "If you are going to get up to foolishness, I'm not going to let you ruin her life."He shoved a small box of condoms into my chest."Wrap it up or I'll chop it off," he said, and from the look on his face he'd definitely try.Me I was bright red and stuffing the box into my bag."Not a word to Afeni," he said, finger to his lips and an eye to his wife at the front door, "And to be clear, if it wasn't for that business with the invisible boy, you would be out on your ass, understood?""Yessir," I said."Ayesha likes you, she says she's in love with you, and that weird little hoodlum Ivy too. I don't know about that, but if you break my little girl's heart...""I get it, sir," I said, "The last thing I want to do is hurt her. Either of them.""Yeah, we'll see," he said, then sauntered up inside.To play it safe and out of my own embarassment I waited for Ayesha outside by her car.She came down in board shorts over a one piece swimsuit."Ready to go swimming?" she said."Yeah, maybe," I replied, rubbing my chest self-concious about my scars. I had a couple of new ones.She kissed my cheek and flashed a big grin.It was a good day for swimming, just hot enough.We got to the pool and went in holding hands. A few of our classmates were there mixed in with strangers. Nasim wore one of those Muslim style all covering swimsuit, a burkini I think its called, while her cousin Kemal went around shirtless, a black patch of wooly chest hair out and proud. Ben dipped his feet in the pool playing his switch while Hunter practiced his high dive.I looked around for Ivy.
She sauntered up to us with a cat-like smile and we both burned up. Wearing a black two piece with just a pair of flip-flops to protect her feet, I swallowed not sure where to put my eyes. Ayesha's hand tightened in mine."Hey," she said, as behind her kids screeched with laughter as they splashed through the water."Uh, hey," I said, looking down at a pleasant sight."Oh wow its like we've never had sex before," Ivy said to me, "It's cute." She poked my chin, "You going to get in the water?""I'm ready to get wet," Ayesha said, then hearing herself balooned her cheeks out in embarassment.>shirt off and dive in, have fun>I think I'll just watch for now
>>5191985>shirt off and dive in, have fun
>>5191985>shirt on and dive in, have funwe can swim with a shirt onit'll look a bit weird but not as weird as our jigsaw skin
Rolled 2 (1d2)>>5192003>>5192011rolling for shirt on or off1d21 on2 off
Marathoned this Bullpen you are a beast.
I pulled off my shirt, down to board shorts. I shoved down the usual embarassment I had about my patchwork skin. It wasn't just because the scars were ugly, it was also because they were unusual, and they did get attention I'd rather not deal with.But I hate swimming with a shirt on."You've got new ones," Ivy remarked under her breath, eyes sharp with concern.Mostly on my forearms from being smashed through a wall without the benefit of my stab-proof costume.A loud splash and Hunter rose out of the water with a whoop,, rinsing water out of his eyes."Yo Eric!" he said.Hunter had some how got taller during the break, he was a little north of six foot six now. He loomed over me."What's good man?" he said.When we'd first met Hunter had given me a hard time, but he'd changed over the last year. It had started with him breaking his arm and having to sit out a chunk of the basketball season, he'd ended up making friends with the nerds, specifically Ben who was hanging by the pool with his shirt on. He'd never been on the level of Jeremy but he'd been half a bully at least. He'd put that behind him. I figured we were pals now."Nothing man, you heard from Rufus?""I think he's in Texas for a week," he said, "Something about his older sister getting engaged.""I was just in Minnesota for my uncle's wedding," Ayesha said."Me, I've been kicking it old school," Hunter said, "Yeah, a lot of x-box, movies, keeping it chill.""Same," I lied. If Hunter had anything to say about my scars he kept it to himself."You know we can talk in the water," Ivy said.I grinned. "Let's go," I said.And dove right in."No cannonballs!" a lifeguard barked.It was good to be in the water just to swim. It was cool, the chlorine sting didn't bother me too much. Laughter cut in and out as I dunked my head, getting a look at kicking legs beneath the surface. I grabbed one, Ivy's, and pulle myself up and out behind her, pulling her up to the shriek of her laughter in my ear to dunk her deep into the water.Bubbles trailed out of her smile, her hair darkened around her face in waving seaweed strands. When we broke to the surface she gasped and kicked away."Jerk!" she called with a grin."What?" I said with fake disbelief.Ayesha dove in, and when she rose up the weight of her wet natural hair hung down to her shoulders. She stuck her tongue out as she pushed a sheaf of curls from her face, spitting up a little water. She swam over.There was a time Ayesha had been overweight and had been teased relentless for it. It was before I'd met her, before we'd moved to Chicago. I'd only known her after she'd got into health and fitness, but that kind of stuff left scars. I mean she's pretty modest naturally, but I couldn't help thinking her swimming in board shorts was part of it. She definitely gave the crowd a self-concious glance."You getting in?" Hunter called to Ben. Ben looked up from his Switch.
"Nah homie, I'm good," he said, "I'm currently whooping Annie's ass at Pokemon."Hunter looked annoyed but said nothing, falling into a back stroke swimming away."Some people live in a video game," he said, watching Ben put his focus back on the Switch. He stopped swimming to float out into the middle of the pool while others splashed around him, soaking up the sun on his chest.Arms wrapped my shoulders as Ivy mounted my back."Swim me over to the shade," Ivy ordered, "Giddy-up!"I fake sighed before swimming off. As we did she murmurred in my ear."Is everything okay? I saw the news."Her hand slid over the scar on my shoulder, the ugly knot where a splinter had almost killed me in a fight with Houndmaster."Things are getting bad," she said.>I'm fine, don't worry about it>yeah, its been rough sorry for disappearing. It started with a single day ban over some bullshit then life stuff caught me by surprise
>>5197682>it's been rough, but being here with you...guys makes me feel like I can deal with it Don't worry bull, it's been a rough year/half decade
>>5197682>yeah, its been roughGood to have you back man
"It's rough but being here with you...guys, makes me feel like I can deal with it," I said.The shape of her in my arms certainly helped. Shje smiled at me but the smile was hiding something, a little wound on my behalf."Remember what you told me," she said, "You don't have to put on an act, you don't have to pretend it's normal. You don't have to be strong, not with me.""I know," I said, holding her under the shadow of the water slide, her forehead pressed to mine. I let out a deep breath. "Yeah," I said again, "I know."She kissed me soft and quick. Then with as much strength as she could, pushed me down under the water. I kicked out in surprise, her laughter ringing out over the splashing of my flailing limbs.Fair's fair. I could have forced her off if I really wanted to, but I let it play out and came up spitting water."Payback," she said with a wink, then swam away.Wiping the hair from my face I took an involuntary deep breath as I watched her go.The sound of a busy pool in mid-summer, the splashing riot of noise, the normalcy of it all, did me some good. We splashed around for a while before I got out, fetching a towel and drying off a little. A nice break from busting heads or fighting supervillains."You sure look like you're having fun," a familiar voice said.I turned around to see Zeke standing awkwardly, fully clothed and watching it all from the shade of an ice cream stand, a half melted scoop pooling in his cone."Hey!" I said, not sure what to say, "You're back?"He nodded. "The camp was closed after the attack," he said, then licked up some icecream. If it was good or not I couldn't tell, he ate like it had no taste. "The 'rents pulled me back home.""It was crazy out there," I said."Yeah," he said, not elaborating. He didn't seem happy to see me, or anyone else around. "Is Ayesha around?"She was still in the water, playing some kind of diving game with Nasim. He saw it and looked uncomfortable."Can you give her a message for me?" he said."What's that?" I said.He swallowed, rubbed at his cheek. "Tell her I'm sorry about...a lot of things, mostly about me. Sorry I wasn't the guy she..." he glanced up at me, resentment in his eyes, "Just tell her I'm sorry about it all, okay?""About what?" I said, but he tossed his half eaten ice cream in the trash can and started out of there. "Hey Zeke, what's wrong?"He stopped and looked back at me, something flickering over his face."Just tell her, okay?" he said.>I'll tell her>You should tell her yourself>follow Zeke, something's up
>>5197736>You should tell her yourself
>>5197736>You should tell her yourself>Its better to get it out so you don't regret it.>After goes, tell Ayesha and Ivy something is up with Zeke>follow Zeke, something's up
I'm sorry this update is going to have to wait until tomorrow
If we have a chance we got to bat cave Eric’s hideout. Remix could help. Is it just a warehouse or an abandoned factory? I can’t remember.
>>5197736>I'll tell her>follow Zeke, something's up
>>5197830Where's the update?