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Dylan Ashe

"I'm not drunk; you're drunk."

0 · 533 views · located in New York City

a character in “Gifted”, as played by Summer in the City

Description



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"Wait… huh?"

Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games | Of Montreal || That Time | Regina Spektor






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NAME
Dylan Ashe

NICKNAMES
Asshole – Mother Only; only half-lovingly

AGE
22

DATE OF BIRTH
February 2nd

NATIONALITY
American

ETHNICTY
Canadian-American

SEXUALITY
Homosexual

DIALOGUE COLOUR
Dialogue: #252830
Thoughts: #868686






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ABILITIES
Shapeshifting: Dylan’s ability grants him the power to alter his mass at will, rearranging himself into a stunning variety of people and objects. His transformation is a sight to behold if you’re looking closely enough to catch it; his skin and clothes ripple and flip in on themselves, limbs contort, stretch, or shrink in seconds, and where a lanky, goofy man-child once stood, instead stands a beautiful young woman, or perhaps a Pomeranian, or a tuna fish sandwich – because hey, why not? The world is Dylan’s oyster… or he’s an oyster. Whatever. As he would say, “I turn into stuff.”

While his powers are impressive, they do have their limits. The more extreme the difference in size, the more difficult and longer the transformation will take, as Dylan has to compress or expand his actual cellular structure in addition to completely reconfiguring it into a new material. He’s also unable to change states of matter, and must stick to solid objects. In terms of replicating the appearance of other people, if Dylan lacks intimate knowledge of the person, he’s unable to make a perfect copy; the careful eye of a loved one or close friend will fairly easily discern the ruse. The shape of their eyes, a little bump on the bridge of their nose, the little curve of their smile – one often doesn’t realize how incredibly complex the human face is until they try to recreate it. For the most part Dylan doesn’t shift into real people, but rather takes bits and pieces he’s seen and creates an amalgamation of parts to create a random, generic face that doesn’t run the risk of being found out by someone who knows the copied face well. Plus, it’s just flat out more fun to create a brand new person and identity on the spot, which the kind of trouble Dylan gets into frequently demands.

When Dylan becomes an inanimate object, such as a garden gnome or a picture of a kitten, destroying that object will revert him back into his human form and temporarily disable his ability to transform. However, when taking on an organic life, such as a person or an actual kitten, Dylan commits to that creature’s life force, and any pain or harm that comes to it affects him just the same. Every part of Dylan’s transformation exists solely due to his actual body. When he whips out a badge when disguised as a cop, that badge is made up of his body altered at a cellular level. It is thus imperative that Dylan keeps all parts of himself within a relatively close radius and transforms back should the pieces start to get dangerously far away.







APPEARANCE
Weight: 157 lbs
Height: 6 feet
Hair Color: Brunette
Eye Color: Brown

STYLE
With how often Dylan finds himself shapeshifting, he has come to love and cherish the simplicity of his own body and style. Brown hair, brown eyes, no particularly striking features – he almost blends in better as himself than anyone he could imitate. He keeps his hair messy, his outfits plain – why spend time getting all dressed up when odds are it’s not how he’s going to look a few hours later? Besides, dressing his tall, gaunt body feels more like trying to drape clothes over a broomstick. Best to just keep things simple. A simple t-shirt and jeans will do it, perhaps an old jacket if it’s chilly out. Despite the massive wardrobe at his disposal due to his power, rarely can one find Dylan particularly dressed up. He’s sure to avoid the kinds of people and places that’d make a stink over appearance anyway. The city is full of enough people trying to stand out; as Dylan would put it, “If I really wanted to be a special snowflake, I’d turn into a fucking snowflake.”

His facial hair still grows in a bit patchy for his age, perhaps the only thing that truly annoys him about his true form. Perhaps also how thin he is, which seems to stretch his height and make him border on gangly. Other than that, average suits him well. He fancies himself a blank canvas on which to project his “art”, if you will, so he feels tattoos and piercings are out of the question. Not that his mother would let her handsome young man “mutilate the body I spent 20 hours pushing out” anyway.

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PERSONALITY
Describing someone who spends so much time not being himself proves to be quite the challenge for anyone outside of Dylan’s small, immediate social circle. His chameleonic ways make for a difficult man to truly get to know. Meeting the “man behind the mask”, so to speak, reveals a quintessential wit. Even drunk he’s unmistakably clever, a quality that follows him through his transformations more often than not. Using his humor and silver tongue, he manages to talk his way out of a lot of sticky situations, put people at ease, and more or less keep others at arm’s length – a necessity for someone who’s greatest strength revolves around deception. If you engage him in a battle of wits, you’d better not pull any punches; he takes on other smart-asses as a game, and he plays to win.

Having so few relationships and not allowing people in has made Dylan almost callous at first, for lack of a better word. At the superficial level he’s a time and half, but the walls shoot up at the first sign of potential intimacy. He’s quick to deflect serious discussion with a lewd quip. Friendships remain fleeting and subject to change based on convenience. Looking out for number one, an inherited talent no doubt, comes as second nature; shit like honor and self-sacrifice is outdated anyway, right?

Perhaps Dylan’s just redirected his passion for others into more satisfying things like art, and more importantly at the moment, alcohol. Since dropping out of college the previously aspiring art major has become quite the lush. He could likely talk your ear off about any of his favorite Renaissance painters, he just might mix up some dates and names… And hey, get him drunk enough he might even show you some of his own work, which so far hasn’t done much for him but decorate (read: clutter) his small apartment. Hyperaware of the potential to come off as pretentious or snooty, he’s also well-versed in just about everything pop culture, so hit him up about anything from celeb feuds to obscure memes to that business about other Gifted showing up dead. Anything topical and distracting is great conversation fuel and though he couldn’t care less, the less he has to reveal about himself the better.

Dylan’s aversion to intimacy and his general disregard for others (and at times himself) don’t exactly make him the poster boy for commitment, but sometimes he can play up the sad, starving artist cliché to at least get laid every once in awhile. He’s self-aware enough to not take himself too seriously… or anything too seriously for that matter.








LIKES
✤ Alcohol: Not so much a like as it is a need at this point.
✤ Weed: Because why not spend the weekend cross-faded?
✤Alone Time: With all the time he spends at bars and drunkenly wandering the crowded city streets, it’s rare he catches a minute to himself. He takes advantage when he can.
✤Art and Music: When he’s sober enough to create or appreciate any of it – he was an art major before he dropped out of school. Sings terribly but shamelessly.
✤Offensive Humor and Foul Language: “What’s the difference between jelly and jam?”
✤Nihilism: Why waste energy caring so much anyway?

DISLIKES
✤ Prudes: The more uncomfortable you are, the worse he’s going to get.
✤Arrogance/Pretentiousness: Because who the hell do you think you are?
✤Hard Drugs: And sometimes his mother by association.
✤Italian Food: Fuck spaghetti.







QUIRKS | HABITS
✤Drunk Shifting: When he’s really trashed he might hiccup and suddenly be a different person… or item.
✤Punching: Maybe a bit of a nervous habit, he’s often punching his fist into his other hand, occasionally throwing a few out into the air in front of him. If he had the muscle to be even mildly capable of doing any damage, it might be unsettling.
✤Origami: Just a little something he picked up, quite a few napkins at local bars have idly been transformed into little birds, frogs, and other creations.

TALENTS | STRENGTHS
✤ Artist: As a (former) art major, Dylan possesses immense artistic talent. His main medium was paint and canvas, but he’s fairly skilled in a variety of forms. He has an eye for what looks good and what doesn’t, and to a certain extent it helps make his shapeshifting a bit more convincing, or at least prettier.
✤ Conversationalist: Charming his own goofy way, Dylan can be quite the smooth talker and has weaseled his way out of many a bad situation, as well as make more temporary friends than he could conceivably remember, even if he weren’t drunk when he made the majority of them.
✤ Camouflage: A pretty obvious talent considering his special ability, but even beyond his appearance, Dylan knows how to read a room and make himself fit in. The ability to shapeshift is useless if you don’t know the right thing to become after all.
✤ Observant: Dylan watches others carefully, a forced habit to help better his imitations. He can pick up on the subtler details, be it in facial expressions and nervous habits or little designs and insignias on inanimate objects.

FLAWS | WEAKNESSES
✤ (Mostly) Functional Alcoholic: Since around 17 years old Dylan has been drinking, but since turning 21 and having much easier access in conjunction with his untimely departure from university, his consumption has increased significantly enough that it can certainly be considered a problem.
✤ Self-Serving/Disloyal: Dylan’s lack of intimate connections and unwillingness to create them make him more or less a fair-weather friend. His loyalties are certainly malleable when it comes to his own personal gain.
✤ Shift Disruption: Having an alternate form disrupted completely disables his powers for a period of time, and he is susceptible to the same pain of any organic life he takes the shape of, making transformations into small or fragile things quite dangerous.


FEARS
✤ Intimacy: Shocker, huh? Even times when he might want to let someone else in, Dylan tends to find a way to demolish any prospect of real closeness. Better to push them away than to lose them.
✤ Being Trapped: Playing into the fear of intimacy, he hates the idea of being stuck anywhere, be it physically captured or feeling an obligation to stay somewhere.







FAMILY
Charles Ashe: Father, Non-Gifted, Deceased
Belinda Wade Ashe: Mother, Gifted, 45


HISTORY
Spawned from well-to-do CEO of a booming insurance company Charles Ashe and his trophy wife and aspiring socialite Belinda, only child Dylan Ashe grew up privileged in picturesque Greenwich, Connecticut. Always a precocious child, he quickly developed the impeccable social skills he has today and finding himself closer with adults and much older children than his peers. Always the good, smart little boy, things went smoothly through his early years; Daddy would go to work, and Mommy would stay home and stare out the window. Sure she was a little out of it sometimes, dinner wasn’t always on time, and she might’ve yelled at Daddy, but he was barely home anyway! But the older he got, the more he noticed his mother always had a glass in her hand and the less she seemed to leave the house. Sometimes she would scream at him and he couldn’t figure out why. Sometimes she’d buy him a toy he wanted and break it in a rage a few days later, only to have another one delivered. She wasn’t like his friends’ mothers, who seemed much more docile, maybe less fun, but at least predictable.

It wasn’t until he was about twelve that his mother’s alcoholism and depression progressed into a cocaine addiction. She grew small and flighty, always running about, her hair a disheveled blonde halo, makeup rare. Dylan didn’t know who this woman was, but she was wild and interesting at best, and utterly terrifying and dangerous at worst. But it was this woman that would show him his gift.

“Hey! Come here… yeah you asshole!” She called at the then 12-year-old, as though his name was on the tip of her tongue, but she lacked the interest to find it. “Check this shit out.” She half-dragged him over to their kitchen sink and turned on the water. She closed her eyes and stood there for a long while, the mess of a woman and her pre-teen son in complete silence save for sound of the stream from the faucet. Dylan began to worry she’d fallen asleep standing again and reached out to her, but she slapped his hand down and quieted him. ”Let me fucking concentrate.” The next moment wavering balls of water were floating in circles around the young boy’s head. They began to waver more quickly and suddenly splashed to the ground. The two stared blankly at each other to the tune of running water for what felt like a small eternity. Then Dylan ran up to his room and slammed the door.

It would be a few days before they’d acknowledge it. There wasn’t ever a real conversation, just a silent knowing. And she began to explain to him how, what it felt like to tap into that power, that somewhere deep inside him he might have something like it. And thus, his cracked out mother taught him to unlock his own ability. And he slowly but surely saw her come back to life.

Belinda managed to get clean and the help she so desperately needed, and Dylan suddenly seemed to have a mother again, along with a secret that connected them. They practiced together, testing the limits of what they could do. Dylan’s interest in art blossomed and by the time he was off to college at NYU he could fool himself like he came from a semi-normal home, be it without a very present father. However, at the end of his first year his father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. In the wake of his death, his mother relapsed and drained a massive portion of the money he left them in just a little over a year and a half, leaving Dylan unable to continue his degree, his relationship with his mother strained at best, and him following in his mother’s footsteps as an alcoholic.

Now, when he’s sober enough, Dylan manages to work a couple of part time jobs to keep up his drinking habits, pick up a few art supplies here and there, and pay the rent in his shitty apartment. He’s let any real relationships pretty much fall off, and only occasionally checks in with his mother to make sure she’s still alive or whatever she wants to call it. He gets solid practice with his ability avoiding paying his tab at bars and anyone he might’ve pissed off while drunk. Lacking in purpose and funds, Dylan lives one day (and rum and coke) at a time.








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So begins...

Dylan Ashe's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe

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NEW YEARS DAY, NEW YORK CITY

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It's no secret that the New Years is no mere passing holiday in the eyes of those living in the metropolis of New York City, the name itself enough to set its rambunctious populace abuzz in anticipation for what is to come. The citizens of New York? They know how to party. The dawning of a new year comes a new excuse to pull out all the stops, along with an alarming amount of second-rate booze which may taste like cat piss in the beginning but become more bearable once one hits the third or forth drink, as many acknowledge that it is the one night of the year that is truly meant to paint the town red. Whether it be a small house party among friends who had preparing weeks in advance by buying party decorations, a gathering of lonely souls at a local bar who just want to get away from the worries of life, or families of all types who condensed within Time Square to watch the famous dropping of the ball, people were out for blood and looking for a good time. The feeling of elation rippled along society and enabled an atmosphere that was shared among all.

On this night in New York City, minutes inching ever nearer to a fresh stretch of time, alcohol was overflowing from the cups of the masses and there wasn't a soul whose eyes weren't occasionally straying to their clocks, watches, and cell phones, checking to see how much longer they would have to wait until midnight. With baited breaths, there wasn't much else to do other than enjoy the chicken wings that were on for cheap because of the New Year special or keep an eye out for that possible other who might want to share a kiss at the peak of the evening- neither of which was really a tragedy. For those willing to brave the slight chill in the air that came with the winter season, they were able to experience the wonder of bright, exploding color, light illuminating a sky that would have otherwise been dark, dreary, and full of smog. The fireworks displays alone were enough to leave those who had witnessed its splendor, breathless.

There was one specific individual who was breathless for an entirely different reason, however, not a single firework bright or colorful enough to catch his attention. No, his heart was racing in such a way that could only be the result of not happiness or jubilation, but rather, the feeling of becoming helpless prey in a scenario that was not in his favor. The blood that coursed through Lionel Lee's, a man who was unfortunate enough to call the dirty city streets his home, veins ran an icy cold as he stopped to catch his breath. He was in desperate need to stop running, to allow his screaming muscles a moments rest and his pounding heart a chance to steady itself. Lionel Lee could only press himself into a crevice of a red brick wall and attempt to suppress the scream that wanted to rise out of the back of his throat.

The Shadow was still after him; it was lurking somewhere in the alleyway with him, an alleyway that had been transformed into a labyrinth when Lionel became a mouse in a maze riddled with cats. The dark figure was out to get him- it was out to kill him, Lionel was sure of it. It was a dark, tenebrous shape that loomed over even the tallest of walls and buildings, overwhelming the area with an aura of power and dominant so staggeringly potent. The Shadow was nothing less than a natural-born predator with a lust for blood.

Lionel had been living on the streets for years now, and with that in mind he knew the very culture that coupled with that lifestyle. He knew that some of the best places to sleep were in playgrounds and beneath bridges, places deemed safe enough to spend the night and warm enough to evade the bitter cold. The schedule of the local soup kitchen, when was the best times to ensure that Lionel would get a hot bowl of soup to eat, was permanently engraved in his mind. Lastly, but most importantly, he knew how to steer clear of the potential dangers. There were some people that could not be trusted, places that he would never intend to visit, and conditions that he would avoid out of his best interest. But those were dangers of the earthly sort, mainly defined by the dealings of the black market and gang movements. They were unlike the kind of The Shadow: an unearthly danger.

Suddenly, rapidly, something darted out of the corner of his eye, a black shape that moved with speed and agility that could be dubbed inhuman. It was a movement enough to draw a loud whimper from between Lionel's lips and cause his shaking hands to push him away from the wall, springing the homeless man into the middle of the alley. As his feet thudded against the ground and his body seemed to turn from corner to corner to corner of the maze, it was pure instinct that overtook his mind and flooded his thoughts of run, escape, and survive. He could pay no heed to the patch that slipped out of his pocket and drifted to the ground, a singular beam of moonlight shining onto the words "SGT. Lionel Lee."

He didn't want to run any more, he was tired and consumed by fatigue, but he had to. The Shadow was everywhere all at once. It dashed and flew, scampering out of the corner of his eyes and disappearing before he could truly construe it. Finally, it would be the way The Shadow swiped along the length of his spine that would send Lionel tumbling to the ground beneath him, a scream ripped out of him as he scurried to pull himself up and face the demon. As he did, Lionel squeezed his eyes shut and felt the tingle of vapor at his fingertips, water from a nearby leaking pipe collecting on his palm. It was a sensation no longer familiar to the man, as he had long since abandoned the use of his abilities. On an occasion like this, however, it was his second nature as a Gifted individual to try and preserve his life.

Flinging the water in the direction of The Shadow did nothing. It was a pathetic attempt that portrayed the weakness of the prey, a mist of water that only seemed to send The Shadow into a hoot of joyous laughter. It was if the thing was equal parts pleased and mocking at Lionel's little display of Adam's ale. The Shadow knew that he had won.

In the darkness of the barren alleyway his screams had not been heard or attended to as The Shadow overtook him, and instead the cheers of nearby party-goers could be discerned in the far distance. While people laughed merrily, kissed enthusiastically, and roared with delight at the strike of midnight, they would not know of Lionel's demise on account of a battle lost. Nor would they care.

On January 1st, 2016 Lionel Lee would die a homeless veteran, his legacy having fought in wars smothered, and lines and scratches marring his arms would show that he had been driven to drug use and addiction. He would be a man forgotten. A man murdered.



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ONE WEEK LATER, NEW YORK CITY

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Anyone born in the last few decades can attest to how revolutionary the creation of the internet was. Its development since has created a whole new method for obtaining information. Suddenly anyone with a home computer could cruise the web, information was only a mouse click away. Chatting with friends halfway across the world, or meeting like-minded people on anonymous chatrooms was easy.

One such chatroom, entered only through a password, has had a steady stream of patrons for the last month or so. It was originally created as a safe space for Gifted kids to communicate, those individuals who felt they couldn’t speak with anyone face to face about the many problems they might face day to day. Recently, the chatroom has been dedicated to the disappearances that have been plaguing the homeless youth of New York, and the ineffectiveness of the local police.

’This is bullshit.’ KidBig66 writes, breaking the momentary silence that had hit the board after the most recent disappearance had been announced. ’How come no one’s looking into it??’

’Same excuse as last time, I reckon.’ Lucky_Lady types back, ’Police say it’s not suspicious. Claim he’s probably just on some drug binge or moved cities.’

’Basically, they don’t fuckn care about any1 hu doesn’t ‘fit’ into their picture of society.’ The_Alpha8921 types.

He wasn’t far off the truth too. For several months now there have been losses, street kids disappearing, homeless men and women vanishing without a trace. Bodies have been rare, only a handful have been found and even then, it’s hard to identify the remains. Yet, the police have remained largely inactive. Their excuses? Not enough evidence, or not enough resources to investigate the disappearance of individuals who are prone to moving without word. After all, who would spare an officer when the victim in question is one of those who have fallen through society’s cracks, whose ‘home’ moves depending on the weather and the good grace of others?

’Fucking hell! They’re gonna sit and do nothing while some psychopath picks us all off.’ KidBig66 writes, the anger evident even across the internet.

’We do it then.’ The response comes from renegade777, one of the quieter presences in the chatroom.

’Do what?’

’We find and stop this killer.’

The words are read across the city, fingers stilled against their keyboards as pros and cons are weighed. Could they? Could they do this themselves? Do what the police won’t? It was a mad idea, and yet… who was to say they couldn’t? A stream of replies come at once, some for the idea, some vehemently against it.

’You’re crazy.’,
’FUCK YES!’
’How could we do anything? We’re just a bunch of nobodies.’
’I’d rather do something and die trying than watch as more are killed.’
’Screw u, im nt dying for shit.’

’We can do this, guys.’ Renegade777 explains, gaining the chatroom’s attention as they continue, ’Think about it. We’re all gifted, we’re strong and powerful, and we know the city better than any police officer. Together, we can do this.’

’Not all of us can control our powers.’ Someone points out.

’Then we’ll train. We’ll share information and tips, help each other out. We can do this!’

While some refused to be part of this supposed madness, there was enough of a consensus that a date, time, and place was picked. Word spread, radiating out from the chatroom by word of mouth and rumour. As the time drew closer, an exact week after Lionel Lee’s disappearance, the meeting had grown from the handful that frequented the chatroom to more than a dozen individuals. Some came with the intention of doing good, others out of pure curiosity. So it was that, on the 8th of January, as the sun was about to set across the City that never sleeps, a small gathering of Gifted young adults was assembling.

Outside the weather turns from chilly to cold, a blanket of white snow turned to discoloured sludge as pedestrians and vehicles crush it beneath feet and tires. There’s no sign of snow at the moment, though thick, heavy clouds hang low in the sky, sunlight catching the underside and offering a crisp winter vision above the city’s skyscrapers. For those with the option, it would be a perfect evening to watch the sunset from an insulated and heated penthouse apartment, but for those forced out into the biting air, it would be best to wrap up tight.

They trail in alone or in pairs, pushing aside rusted metal fences and entering through a door that’s on its last breath. Graffiti decorates the walls, while empty beer bottles and the evidence of furry inhabitants litter the floors and corners. In the middle of the warehouse’s hall a patch of blackened floor remains as evidence to when some miscreant attempted to start a fire within its four walls. The walls are rusting, the ceiling looks set to cave in, and yet miraculously it still lives, as if the abandoned building has been imbued with an unnatural ability to survive whatever dangers is thrown at it, natural or not. Decrepit and lonely, a shell of a building that once held the industrial hopes of the neighbourhood, it now offers the ideal set for a meeting of concerned youth.

They take up places around the edge, or huddled in small groups in the middle, waiting for someone to start the affairs –renegade777 perhaps? Yet, the chatroom member doesn’t step forward, assuming they’re there yet. Instead, it is another member of the chatroom that kicks things off. The back door squeaks on its hinges as one individual pushes through. To those from the chatroom, he’s known as The_Alpha8921, while in real life he’s Garth Holden, a troubled twenty-one year old with the power of super strength – fitting given his internet pseudonym. He comes to stand in the middle of the room, glancing around at those already there, a cursory gaze that is at once judging and cocky.

“Well? Are we going to do this thing or not?” He asks, cracking his knuckles out of habit as he eyes up his peers. “What’s the plan? We go round an’ tell what we can do?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe

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“Fuck, fuck, fuck, shit, fuck!”

A booze-fueled hurricane barreled down the crowded city walkway. In a flurry of half-hearted “excuse me”-s turned “fucking move”-s turned even less sincere over the shoulder apologies, Dylan’s wiry body powered through the throngs of busy humans. Regardless of where you’re going in New York City, there are about a hundred thousand other people trying to go the opposite direction. And that number increases exponentially alongside the urgency with which you need to arrive. Times like these it paid to have height on your side. Between the smell of alcohol, the unwashed hair, and the shabby, hole-ridden jacket, he could’ve very well passed for a bum, which at the very least got people out of his way a bit faster.

”I’m gonna be so late - shit, shit…” he muttered in what might’ve been a whisper if he was sober, but instead earned him a sharp glare from a thirty-something mother with her hands over her kid’s ears. ”Shit, I’m sorry – shoot! I mean shoot!” he yelled at her as she picked up her pace.

Dylan checked his wrist for the time and realized he didn’t wear a watch. He squeezed his way between a couple holding hands as he rummaged his jacket’s many pockets for his phone, which upon finding he promptly dropped and watched as a black Louboutin came down on the screen with a crack! that sounded just like one hundred and twenty-nine dollars he didn’t have. Scowling, cold, drunk, and late, he picked the phone up off the ground. ”If this isn’t the best goddamn meeting I swear…”

Trolling internet chat rooms had become a hobby since he’d been either too drunk or too tired to get into his art for awhile now. He’d just been lurking when the plans for a meet up actually started getting tossed around. Normally quick to shit talk and derail any serious conversation, something about this one kept his fingers hovering gently over his keyboard instead. Cloaked in a soft old blanket and the harsh light of his laptop screen, he watched it unfold. Every couple of lines, he’d type something snarky out, mash backspace, and repeat. Eventually he found himself groggily peeling his face off the keyboard the next morning. Unable to help himself, he scrolled back up through the chat and caught up on the rest of what he’d missed. ”January 8th…” He opened a small planner on his desk, as though someone were watching and he had to make like he had just so much to do, as though he didn’t see “2014” in embossed gold letters on the front.

He still wasn’t quite sure why he was going anyway. He’d never been one for social justice… he’d never been one for being too involved in anything really. Though since his mother’s relapse, he hadn’t met any other gifted individuals. Maybe he missed the camaraderie in sharing the secret. Maybe he just wanted an opportunity to actually put all that practice to use. Maybe he missed his mother. Maybe it was just an excuse to get out of that lonely shithole apartment. It was cheaper than another night drinking at The Crown anyway. And after the last time at his old haunt, he’d need to come up with another new disguise to have any chance of getting in there. Getting that drunk on a Wednesday was a mistake anyway. Kinda.

While Dylan contemplated his life and continued his shuffle toward the warhouse, the sun sank under the horizon and let the city night sparkle to life. It was always such a relief as storefronts lit up and streetlights cast their yellowed glow along the avenues. The bluish dusk that settled on the city beforehand always struck him as sad. Nothing worse than an empty bottle of twilight.

Dylan’s breath, visible in the frigid air, was running out as quickly as his will to even show up, so he leaned himself against a street sign with his arm stretched out and watched several taxis pass by him anyway. He sighed, took a quick look around, and slipped into a dark alley. A busty young woman in a form-fitting little black dress stepped out of the shadows and nearly directly into the back of a cab.

She leaned her head gently against the window, enjoying the reprieve from the night air, even if the cab smelled like cigars and B.O. and the driver wouldn’t stop talking about how she looked just like his high school crush. She smiled sweetly and nodded with a laugh where it seemed appropriate as they slid through the traffic. A few potholes had her stomach in a dangerous spot, but she kept it together until the driver was letting her out and asking if she was sure it was “the right place for a pretty little thing like you”. The vacant buildings felt like forgotten corpses under the browned slush of half-melted snow and ice.

”I’ll be just fine, thank you so, so, so, so much sweetie!” the woman bubbled, leaning forward to show a healthy dose of cleavage before she slipped out of the cab and into the night without paying.

As she made her way toward the warehouse, her pumps gave way to beat up, snow-soaked sneakers, her dress falling into dark jeans and Dylan’s old jacket. Her face widened and roughened and her hair slipped back up into Dylan’s brunette mop. He stumbled forward as quickly as he could manage, already hearing voices coming from inside.

”Shiiiiiit.”

He reaches for the warehouse door, pulling it toward himself. The old door clangs and squeaks in protest as Dylan shakes it, miserably trying to get himself inside to no avail.

”What’d they fuckin’ lock me out?” he mumbled to himself against the racket of the stuck door. As he goes to knock, he leans forward against the cold metal – realizing all too late it’s a push, not a pull door. He comes tumbling forward into the room of young gifted, who are now all staring at the pile of man on the floor.

Dylan stumbles to his feet, nearly falling on his journey to standing again. ”Uh… Hey.”

No one seems too impressed. Garth Holden releases an audible groan. “Great, this one can’t even use a door. What the hell kind of power could you have?”

”Hey, take it easy Hulk Hogan, damn."

Hell if he was going to come all the way out here and then get talked down to. He checks out the room around him, unsure exactly what he had expected. It just looked like a warehouse full of people. He looks down, feeling a little stupid and a little guilty, like he’d expected to walk into a room full of movie characters or a carnival freak show. But they were all just the same as him. Well, save for the muscle head trying to start something with him already.

The room still quiet from Dylan’s entrance, he shoves a hand into his pocket and takes a sip from a dulled silver flask.

”Well, uh, my name’s Dylan. And if ‘Roid Rage over here can hold on to his shriveled balls for a second, I’ll show you guys what I can do. Check this shit out.”

Dylan closes his eyes and pauses, half to build the tension, half because he’s too drunk to move too much quicker. He hiccups gently.

”What the hell am I getting myself into?”

Dylan’s body begins to morph. He feels his body folding in on itself, shifting, his atomic composition and very being deconstructing and reconstructing itself all at once. It slides into his mind he’d never done this directly in front of anyone but his mother before. She’d seemed happy. As happy as she got when she was that high, anyway. It was back when a simple transformation could take Dylan as long as five minutes to complete. Now, nearly as quickly as it had begun it was over, and Dylan’s body had been completely bent to his will within seconds.

A teakettle appears, hanging briefly in the air where Dylan had been standing, and falls with a thud to the ground along with the little silver flask.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe

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The day had been a beautiful one, for wintery New York, and yet neither Kipling twin had been able to witness the colourful hues the heavy clouds took, or the way the sun’s faint rays had cast breath-taking shadows across snow drenched streets. Instead, Toby Kipling had been confined to his room, head bent over his desk in an attempt to decipher the latest book of ‘spells’ that he had managed to acquire. Sighs of frustration had escaped his lips, his fingers aching from the intricate movements he’d put them through, and all for nothing. The book was a dud, one of those new age magic tomes that simply stuck irrelevant words and ingredients into its pages in the hopes of duping modern day ‘witches’ out of their income. Well, the book was either a fake or Toby was just terrible at this magic stuff. It could be either or, really. Toby didn’t have much faith in his abilities.

With another irritated huff, Toby pushed himself back from his desk. He had wanted to master at least one spell before the meeting. Something other than the cheesy mini-fireworks display that was currently one of his only mastered spells. As pretty as the little exploding lights looked, he doubted that it would impress anyone. Though, as Toby glanced at the time he realised with a start that his spells wouldn’t matter if he and Bast missed the meeting entirely.

Jumping to his feet, Toby strode out into the living room, “Bast! You ready for the meeting? I almost forgot.” He called, searching for the pantless sod he called a brother. Sure enough, Bast was still sitting on the couch, controller in hand, probably battling some fourteen year old on one of his games.

"Bast! Pants!" Toby cried, exasperation clear in the tone of his voice. His feet stomped into the younger twins’ room, stepping over empty packets of cookies and random doritos strewn across the carpet in search of the item of clothing that Bast refused to wear within their own home. “We’re going to be so late.” Toby continued as he searched through Bast’s drawers for a pair of half-way decent trousers. There wasn’t much that wasn’t dirty or crumbled on the floor, yet luck was on Toby’s side as he pulled out a pair of jeans that had no stains on them and weren’t five years old.

“Put these on now and turn off the game, or I’ll… I’ll hide the console.” Toby threatened as he returned to the living room, throwing the pants at his twin. He wasn’t very good at threats, and Bast knew Toby well enough to understand that Toby’s words were hollow.

There was nothing more difficult than being the self-proclaimed king of the technological jungle when your title was constantly being threatened by new opponents; they were opponents that had little to no chance up against him, no less, but the occasional reputable foe dared to step out onto his turf. But listen, if this was an analogy, you know, like, one of those thoughts that have another thought's hat on, Bast would be the lion, the very king of the jungle, and everyone else would be the lambs or the squirrels or whatever sort of weak, defenseless animal who lived in the same niche. Because Bast? Bast had the most limber and controlled thumbs than anyone else on this Earth, and that much he knew he could claim with the utmost amount of assured confidence.

But as Bast was saying, living life as the main man was no easy, breezy walk in the park when it required his attention in it's entirety, thus resulting in his current position on the couch for the past couple of- few- er, however long he's been there for. Everywhere his graphically-rendered cartoon self turned, a new challenger appeared to attempt to shoot him down and demand that the title of high-score holder be given to them. To that Bast says that they can drop dead (and to that they respond by saying some pretty mean things about his mother and his sexual orientation) because there was not a chance in hell that he was going to give anything up. He was going for gold.

They could kiss his godly tushie.

Needless to say, he didn't exactly notice when one hour had turned into two and two had turned into a shit ton, and he may have, in his trance of concentration, only recognized the semblance of Toby's voice saying something to him at one point. He was probably saying something like Bast, pick up your clothes. or Bast, did you take out the garbage? or Sebastian Isaiah Kipling, what the hell did you do to the laundry!? Did you, or did you not, separate the lights from the darks because all of our whites are now pink!... he was kind of like the adults off of Charlie Brown when they talked.

It wasn't until Toby charged into the room full speed ahead, like a cute little extra off of Thomas the Tank Engine, and tossed a pair of pants at his face did Bast startle and break from his very deep, video game-oriented tunnel vision. But in that moment it wasn't like he could actually see anything now that the legs of the pants were wrapped around his head and blocking his vantage point, so he could only begin to flail and sputter as he pulled the article of clothing off of his face.

"Toby! What was that for?" He could only whine when his twin came into view. Looking at Toby was kind of like looking at himself, devastatingly handsome and the picture of perfection, only less adorable and looking very stern with his hands on his hips. "I swear I didn't do it! I don't exactly know what I didn't do, but I didn't do it and that's the important part! There's no need to go put pants on about the whole thing."

Exasperation was a default setting for Toby, at least when dealing with his brother. He pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a calming breath in order to steady himself before replying, with some measure of patience, “Bast, we’re going to be late to the meeting. Put your pants on so we can go.” Honestly, Toby’s ability to remain patient in the face of such… Bast-ness, should mark him for sainthood. He supposes, that when you’ve shared a womb and a troubled childhood together, dealing with your twin brother’s inane nonsense isn’t the worst.

For a moment Bast struggled to comprehend what Toby was talking about, his head swimming with images of his top title being taken away from him as more time ticked on. In the corner of his eye he could see his character lose a life, red filling the screen along with the current player scores, and his fingers itched to grab the controller and keep playing. Hand twitching, his gaze turns back to Tobias "Grumpy Gus" Kipling, and Bast takes in the look of exasperation that etched his handsome features. For a moment Bast considers telling him that his face will get stuck like that if he keeps on looking so ruffled at the feathers, but before he could open his mouth the memory hits him.

Oh, that meeting.

Bast paused, gaze flickering between the screen and the pair of jeans in his hands and... well, Bast is kinda busy right now, so maybe if he gives Toby the puppy eyes they could stay home. He might have been the one to bring it up to Toby after coming across the forum, but things change! Plans change! That being said, Bast fixed a look upon Toby and he doesn't need twin telepathy to know that his message of let's-just-stay-home is being relayed quite well.

Of course, just because the message is being relayed, doesn’t mean that Toby is in anyway likely to agree with it. In fact, instead of a happy nod, Toby bites his lip and rolls his eyes. “Pants, Bast! We’re going in two minutes.” Toby replied, even as he was turning and making his way back into his bedroom to collect his wallet and phone. One might wonder why the pants-wearing twin didn’t merely go to the meeting on his own. Certainly, at the age of nineteen Toby was old enough to hold some independence from his twin. And yet, the shy boy didn’t quite find the idea of addressing a room of strangers a happy one. So, he would wait for his brother to dress and hope that they weren’t too late.

Grumbling at his brother's relentless response, Bast feels himself drooping in disappointment as he turns off his gaming console and begins to pull the pair of jeans on over his legs. In an instant the freedom and liberation that he once felt was stolen from him, the legs of the pants oppressing not only his appendages but his will, sovereignty, and birthright to uncovered limbs. Alas, Bast can only do so much to please the public and he doesn't want to get charged for indecency, nor does he want Toby to give him the 'I'm not mad, just disappointed' look because it rouses the worst feeling ever. With the pants now on, Bast meets one Toby by the front door and he sulks. "The pants are on. The console's off. My will to live on is dwindling. Let's go."

Shrugging into his coat, Toby fights back another urge to roll his eye and leads the way outside. Their little house quickly falls behind as the twins slog through melting snow towards the nearest bus stop. Despite Bast’s earlier protests, Toby is sure he’s appreciative of the extra layer between his bare skin and the cold outside, and as they wait for their transport Toby’s sure the temperature drops as the sun’s rays become masked by the surrounding buildings. The bus arrives late, the driver smells like old cigarettes, and an old woman glares at the two boys as they take a seat across from her, but at least it’s warmer in the clunking metal vehicle than outside.

Their stop leaves the pair with a little over a block to walk, which they do quickly to avoid the creeping cold and because Toby is well aware that they’re definitely late. “Is that it?” Toby asks, squinting up ahead at the ramshackle warehouse. The neglected building looked more like a death trap than the meeting place to a group of Gifted vigilantes. With the sun setting all the lower as they approach, Toby is even keener to get inside, yet he pauses momentarily as his eyes catch on what he thinks is a figure crotched on the roof. Toby blinks, wondering if it is merely the light playing tricks on his eyes, or his eyes playing tricks on his brain after straining for the whole day to read his book.

“Is that…” Toby starts to ask his twin, before noises from inside the building catch his attention instead. Shaking his head, Toby puts it down to tricks of the light and then heads towards the entrance.

It was Toby's questioning voice that had called Bast's attention, eyes flitting over to see that his gaze was fixated on the rooftops, and soon he was following Toby's line of sight to see... nothing in particular. "What is it?" Bast asks, only to receive a shake of the head as Toby ultimately brushed off his original statement in response. Shrugging, he pulls his hands out from the depths of his jacket pockets to reach for and open up what seemed to be the entrance of the warehouse; it was a bit worse for wear, he had to admit, but what else did you expect from this area of New York? Bast could accept the chipping paint and crumbling walls as aspects that added a little bit of rustic charm to the whole building, and rustic charm was totally cool.

Having decided to take the lead, Bast was able to enter the warehouse and survey the area before Toby could peer his head in, taking into account the small crowd of Gifted gatherers that stood within it. It couldn't have been more than a couple of dozen people, but still, it was more than Bast thought would show up to this meeting... all knowing the intentions. Perhaps a few Gifted were simply curious and wanted to know if anyone was going to do something about the recent murders, for peace of mind, and perhaps some were hot-blooded and eager to play hero, but there was a sense of nervousness and disarray that made the whole crowd seem unorganized. There was a particular group of individuals that everyone seemed to be fixated on- a couple of people Bast recognized instantly and wanted to pick his hand up and wave to as if he were a first grader waving hello to his mom after his first day of school. But there's a time and place for everything.

Suddenly, the appearance of a boy stepping up to the center of the group caught Bast's eye; he was a bit mousy in stature, small and skinny, someone who looked like his heart beat too fast for no real reason, and his facial features were soft and Asiatic. There was a blush high on his cheeks, giving a rosy hue to ivory cheeks, while there was a slight moment of silence as it looked as if the boy was attempting to build confidence. The voice that tumbled from his lips suited his meek, boyish appearance as it rung shaky and unsure. "I'm... Sunny. Sunny Ahn. A-and I'm from here. In New York." Sunny stuttered over the words and he couldn't maintain eye contact with anyone for very long. "I-I... my power isn't very... like your guys'. But I want to help."

A loud scoff sounds from a large, beefy-looking man who reminded Bast much like a bull in stature. "So what is it that you can do then? Get it out! We already have someone who turns into a fucking tea kettle." He motions to another guy standing near him. "Your power can't possibly be worse than that."

Toby’s eyes dart around the group as he enters, finding comfort in the sight of familiar faces – Frankie, Sam, Grace – while taking in the many new individuals who had come seeking justice, or merely come out of boredom. The twins are late enough that they had missed the earlier introductions, which apparently included an individual with the ability to turn into a tea kettle. Toby absently wondered if that was the only thing they could turn into. Yet, before he can contemplate it too much, his eyes are drawn up to witness a bulky young man growling at an obviously intimidated boy.

“Clouds.” The smaller boy mumbles, his cheeks turning a bright red at the scrutiny being directed his way. Sunny’s head ducks further at the scoff pulled from the bully’s mouth.

“Clouds?” Garth repeats, glancing around with an incredulous look on his face, “What, you mean you can create storms?”

“No, I-…” Sunny swallows, looking decidedly more nervous by the second, “I can just m-move them, slightly.”

“Oh, well that’s going to be useful against a fucking killer!” Garth spits in return. He looks ready to blow, anger seething from his bulky body as his small eyes glanced around the group. His gaze lands on the twins, his lips forming into a sneer as he spat, “What about you two? You gonna contribute a power that’s actually fucking useful? Or join this pathetic lot?”

Having all of the attention placed upon them without warning suddenly made Bast feel as if he was connecting with Sunny, the boy having turned pale at the bigger dude's response. Startled and rendered clammy at the large group of people who looked at the late pair with interest, it takes Bast a moment to collect himself before he can respond to being called to. Out of the corner of his eye, Toby was already making himself small, shoulders bunching and head ducking, in an obvious tell of his shy nature. "Uh." Bast manages to spit out. "I don't- I mean, Toby and I just came here looking for a good time and this atmosphere is pretty weird, dude." And alright, maybe that wasn't the right thing to say because a vein throbbed on the guy's forehead. Quickly, Bast rushes to add. "I'm Bast and the handsome devil beside me is my twin brother. I do computery things and he does magic."

So sue him if he's not good at introductions, but he didn't expect the guy to let out a frustrated growl and bark out a, "You've got to be fucking kidding me!"

"No, on the way here Toby said he made baby fireworks using his magic! He's pretty good, if I do say so myself." Bast's arm comes around Toby and he squeezes the other with pride.

Toby’s cheeks turn a light shade of pink as attention jumps between him, his twin, and the angry troll currently glaring daggers at the pair. He wishes he could take a step behind Bast and disappear, but at the evident anger in Garth’s eyes he feels he should make some sort of addition to Bast’s introduction. Anything that might make that anger evaporate slightly.

“I’m still learning, but I-… we want to help.” Comes Toby’s quiet reply. Apparently, however, they’re not the words that the red-faced man wants to hear.

“You want to help?” Anger surges from Garth Holden, and it’s all Toby can do to not take a step backwards, away from it. “I thought this meeting would bring together people with actual, fucking fighting powers! People who can do something about that killer. And instead I find little shits who can manipulate clouds or make baby fireworks. How the fuck does anyone think those powers are useful?”

“Hey asshole, we didn’t come here to judge everyone’s powers. Lay off.” Frankie’s voice was the first to stand against Garth’s rant, though it only caused the brute to round on her instead.

“Of course we fucking did! If someone doesn’t send the useless kids home, they’re going to end up getting themselves and anyone forced to rely on them killed.” Garth’s words ring out around the warehouse, and Toby can’t help but notice that a few of those gathered around – those individuals hanging around the outskirts of the room – were nodding in agreement, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on being murdered because some little shit starts playing Disney princess instead of fighting, or can’t back me up because there are no fucking mirrors around.”

"I think we came at a bad time." Bast whispers to Toby at the explosion that was suddenly released out of the human equivalent to actual testosterone. His words are soon drowned out by Garth's impassioned statements, but it seemed as if Toby was too caught up by Garth's rant himself, leaving Bast's words unheard. The man began breathing heavily through his nose while he spoke, chest heaving, and a crazed look in his eyes sparked while he looked about the room.

"So does anyone here actually have a useful power? Or better yet, a fucking plan as to how we're going to take this guy down?" Was is just Bast, or was everyone's ears popping at the sound of the dude's voice? Nevertheless, it didn't really matter because at the questions, it seemed as if no one was willing to speak up, a silence settling within the warehouse while people began to look at one another. Did anyone actually have a plan? Did they have a power that might be useful to take down a serial killer? Those were the questions that danced among the members of the meeting. Biting his lip, the young, mousy boy, Sunny, looked to finally break the disturbed silence.

"I'm s-sure that if we all put our heads together and think we could-"

"Oh, what, so we have nothing!? Come on, we all gathered here because we're getting hurt. Some motherfucker is out there trying to kill us and-" Garth's bellowing voice is reeled back in when he stops abruptly to suck in a breath. His voice is lowered when he speaks next. "It's clear that this is all a joke. Clouds? Magic? Mirrors? What's the use of fighting when we don't have a God damn fighting chance. Listen, I don't know about you all, but it's pretty clear to me that we're in over our heads." There's a ripple of chatter that courses throughout the room, most muttering their agreement. "So what I say is that if you're smart, like me, you're going to pack up your things, walk out that door, and go home. Because if not we're going to risk our lives and never get anywhere." Garth looks around the room. "I'm leaving. And anyone else who knows that leaving this shit to the authorities might be the best thing after all can come with me."

And with that, Garth walked out the door. What a small group of rag-tag teenagers weren't expecting was that he'd take almost everyone with him, leaving a fraction of the original meeting on their own. The kids who still wanted to make a change.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe

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The rest of the introductions were lackluster, but not entirely uninteresting. Even as names and powers were being showcased, there were still a few late stragglers sweeping the streets below, charging into the meeting place with beady strings of sweat lining their brows. Kina could swear that one of the Gifted entering the warehouse had his eyes on her, but before she could so much as meet his gaze, he turned away. Her lips fell into a straight line. From his angle, he had surely attained a clear view of her position. If he had spotted her, she hoped that his mind would persuade him otherwise. In some cases, she found that the most intelligent minds were the easiest to trick. Stagnant brains barely challenged anything, and leaped into accusations with blind courage. Garth Holden seemed to possess that kind of judgement. Shrewd minds, on the other hand, held skepticism. Shigeru had taught her the pattern: skepticism leads to questioning, and questioning leads to doubt. If the boy who had noticed her held any shred of intelligence, he would dismiss the mysterious figure he had seen perched upon the roof. With the sharp expression he exhibited, Kina assured herself that he would take what he had seen with a grain of salt. After all, the exciting shenanigans inside the ramshackle building would surely guide his thoughts elsewhere.

She stooped over again, narrowing her eyes as she continued to watch the meeting unfold through the privacy of her hidey-hole. Another lanky boy with a sparkling grin stepped forward, introducing himself as Percy. He had a cadence about his voice that reflected confidence and good character, and it left Kina more entranced than she would have cared to admit. He pushed forward a mopped-haired teen with an average build, no distinguishable features about him. His expression was pretty average, too. "Felix. Electricity," he seemed to groan. This boy was an absolute antithesis to the last, but opposites attracted, or so Kina presumed.

Garth approached a girl next. She was tall, wore almost nothing beneath her unzipped jacket, and possessed a greasy smirk that reminded Kina of the shady street cons she encountered her first day strolling through the city. Her power was illusion manipulation, and she had no problem addressing this to the whole crowd. Despite the unsettling judgement Kina branded upon the girl, she couldn't help but snort at the quip she punched at Garth before revealing her identity and ability. Maria was such a pure-sounding name. It didn't seem to match her appearance or demeanor in the slightest.

Then came the ghost boy Kina had spotted just before Felix had introduced himself. Unlike the girl before him, his name seemed to suit him rather well. Casper was slick, captivating, and acquired a knack for pissing off others; Frankie the redhead, in particular. Her face scrunched up into a fearsome glower before he could so much as step forward. His tongue was sharper than his attitude, and he made an impressive display of his second power, which, unsurprisingly, was invisibility. He faded from view for a long minute, the panicked expressions of the other Gifted being the only indication of his presence. His footfall was mute. Suddenly, she could hear Frankie squeal in anger, her hair suddenly tugging at the end. Kina's brows lowered. There was a deep, dark history between the two, she was sure of it.

After that, a boy named Dylan turned into a teakettle and smashed into the ground. Cute. He was followed by a small sprout of a thing, stuttering his name and intention. He was Sunny, and he was reluctant to reveal his power, but he wanted to help. Kina respected his wish from afar. Up close, Garth Holden did not.

"So what is it that you can do then?" he growled. "Get it out! We already have someone who turns into a fucking tea kettle."

Her fingers balled into fists as the pressure in the room began to boil. Sunny described that he could manipulate and control clouds. Not create storm clouds or anything ominous in intent, just move normal clouds. Much unlike the mousy boy's impression or warm name, Garth did not take his explanation lightly.

“Oh, well that’s going to be useful against a fucking killer!” he spat, silencing the room.

Killer? So that's what this meeting was about. Everyone situated in the warehouse was prepared to take down a murderer. But who was this killer, and why did everyone want to take him down themselves and not leave the suspicious matter in the hands of the authorities? Wouldn't that be more practical and less of a risk? No one wanted to tangle with Death if the meeting could be avoided. Moreover, what was the morality of the people in the room? Had they done something to provoke the killer? Did they even know of their whereabouts, who they were, why they had killed in the first place?

The situation below was fraught and riddled with murky intents, and in that moment, Kina Qadir decided that she did not want to be a part of it.

As the warehouse became a heated crucible, Kina arose from her crouched position, brushing off the small pieces of wood and tile that had clung to her long black trench. The light that remained on the horizon was slowly being sucked away by the stars and moon. Soon, the sky would blot into an inky ebony color. Although she was curious to learn of the name and power of the boy who had spotted her from below, Kina's full attention was on her stomach, which now growled with the ferocity of an angry lion. She hadn't eaten in several hours, and with all the walking, running, and jumping she had done before, it was about time she rewarded her body for its efforts. When she got home, she would make herself a nice bowl of soup. That would warm her up. Perhaps she'd use some curry in the recipe. It'd make her stuffy nose run like a gushing waterfall, but with the crappy day she had survived through, she needed the favorable kick...

Kina made to leave. Yet, she hadn't judged that the roof she ran upon was in such desperate need of repair, then she would've been more prepared for the spill she took as her legs burst through the rusting ceiling, filling the entire warehouse with plaster, and bits of beaten tile.

She had crashed through the room as soon as Garth had left. The shrill sound of her scream bounced across the walls as she fell. Her mind overcoming shock at the last possible second, she cushioned her landing with a quick blast of wind, which spread to every corner of the warehouse. But even that couldn't prevent the jolt of searing pain she felt as her backside smacked the concrete floor. Bits of tile, dirt, metal, and dust buried upon her as she groaned and grunted. She was locked inside a gravelly tomb, and with the penetrating silence that followed, she wasn't sure if it was appropriate to get up. A part of her wanted to take the pain in privacy.

A slough of Pashto and Japanese curses repeated in her head as she found the courage to rise.

Ignoring the rest of the pain, she burst through the pile of destroyed roof like a straight-spined rabbit peeking from its hole. Her lips tightly sealed together, the girl's brown eyes darted back and forth in fright. Everyone's attention had been focused on Garth as he had departed the scrappy premises. Until now. Now every eye was on her. She was right in the middle of it all, conveniently lying in the center of the circle the adolescents had instinctively created during their meeting. A few seconds ago, she had been hidden from view, invisible like the ghost boy. Now she was the elephant in the room.

She took a second to look up. A hazy beam of afternoon light shone upon her skin like a spotlight. Other than that, there was nothing to be found. She was a trespasser.

To put it simply, Kina looked like a deer in headlights. She blinked rapidly, looking for sympathy. Looking for mercy. She only found cold silence and confused glares instead.

Removing thick locks of black hair from her eyes, she swallowed, trying her best to soften the terrified expression on her face. In doing so, she only appeared more nervous.

She looked at Casper. Then at Gracie, Percy, Frankie, and Sunny. Her eyes finally fell upon the boy who had spotted her on the roof. Glaring at him was the worst feeling in the world.

"Hi," she stated, her voice forcefully calm. "I'm Kina."

[Edited by GMs in absence of writer]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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#, as written by Layla
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    XXXThere were no concrete walls or titanium doors that could keep Rika Yamada out, and certainly not in, not even ones decorated with gargantuan men.
    XXXHer brother's two bodyguards stood stoic by the entrance of her walk-in wardrobe, their eyes averted to provide her with some minuscule illusion of privacy. They knew better than to wait outside her bedroom, the last men having been fired when she portalled through her shoes closet to Atticus' estate. She'd left a signed copy of C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on her dresser drawer for a touch of humour. Her brother clearly did not possess the same supreme sense of humour.
    XXX"If you leave me alone, I'll give you a peak of the girls," she teased as she wiggled into her dress. It fell in soft golden hues around her legs, the silk heavenly against her freshly exfoliated skin.
    XXXNeither of them responded with words, although the broader and balder one exhibited what some might mistake to be a lip twitch, but was actually the equivalent of a full-blown laugh coming from the steely ex-navy officer. Rika was certain he weighed two tonnes naked.
    XXX"Fine," she sighed. "Your loss."
    XXXRika lifted her purse from the love seat centred in her dressing room and pushed past her bodyguards. She swayed her hips vigorously as she walked, hoping they might become so entranced by her derriere they forgot that Kenji had ever paid them to keep her safe and bored.
    XXXEver since the mysterious attacks on the Gifted began, her brother had become even more obsessively protective of his little sister than anyone had ever thought possible. Her life had been reduced. Maimed, even, by his paranoia. Murder might have been a common occurrence in the sleepless city but it was not common to the Yamada family. They were warriors. Lucky warriors. They had wealth, health, stealth, mealth meth... Ah, whatever. The point was, there was no chance in a city as big as this that they would be so unlucky. Also she was cute and smelled like vanilla with a hint of magnolia.
    XXXA chorus of greetings met them as the elevators slid open on the lower levels. She had her own suites in the main headquarters of NEXTech, which was a sprawling steel and glass monstrosity automated at the very height of modern engineering's vast capabilities. It was not the worst of places to live, but their vending machines didn't dispense fried chicken. It was very disappointing.
    XXXShe felt a sudden ache in her chest - or stomach, it was hard to differentiate organs situated so closely to each other - for Gracie's restaurant. They had the best food and Eugene. Oh, Eugene. Sweet, beautiful Eugene. She wished he'd let her eat macarons off his pecs.
    XXX"You look absolutely stunning in that dress, my lady," a voice came nervously from her left. She turned to find one of their newest mechatronics interns, only one of the money she conned into calling her all manner of monarchial names. It seemed nobody wanted to question the daughter of their boss' boss - just as she liked it.
    XXX"Thank you, my tiny civilian," she addressed the 5'5" girl. "Bless."
    XXXAnd that was when the idea took form.
    XXX"Ah, actually," she began. "I need someone to help me touch up my mascara. Are you free?"
    XXX"Of course! A-anything!"
    XXX"Great! Let's go." Rika took the girl's hand and power walked quite admirably towards the closest ladies room in her stiletto heels. Her bodyguards took a step to follow her inside.
    XXX"Umm," Rika started. "That's weird? Like, there are other women in there?"
    XXX"Ma'am, we are under strict orders to keep you in our sights," the fuller-haired one replied.
    XXX"Stephanie-"
    XXX"It's actually Nancy-"
    XXX"Stanley here will keep me in her sights. Won't you, Stanley?"
    XXX"Umm, well actually, uh, yeah, I mean, sure."
    XXX"There, easy, bye!" Rika slammed the door shut.
    XXX"That was a little weird-"
    XXX"Stanley." Rika grabbed the smaller girl's shoulders. "I need you to do something very important for me."
    XXX"Oh, god."
    XXX"I need you to close your eyes and count to 10, then hurtle your whole pint-sized body at the two intimidating men out there in a super subtle, 'oh I tripped, clumsy me' kind of way. Break a few bones maybe. Just to be safe."
    XXX"What?" Stanley squealed.
    XXX"Also, take this." Rika pressed her phone into Stanley's sweaty palms. "And run 20 miles North. Tell no one who you are. Who I am. We never met."
    XXX"I don't-"
    XXX"The fate of the universe depends on you," she said seriously. "An ordinary peasant girl who's made some very poor fashion choices." Rika wrinkled her nose at the floral turquoise scarf wrapped around the small girl's neck, clearly it had been made with Stanley's grandmother's distant great aunt's secondhand curtains. "Do this and we'll stuff you with enough chicken nuggets to kill a man. Also a promotion, I guess."
    XXX"I'll do it!" cried Stanley.
    XXX"Atta girl." Rika grinned. "And please forget you saw this."
    [color=transparent]XXX
    "Saw what?"
    XXX"You're learning."
    XXX"No, seriously! Saw what? I don't understand."
    XXX"All will become clear in the fullness of time," Rika whispered.
    XXXThen she swung her arm outwards and made a portal.
    XXXA cascade of emerald, sapphire and ruby hues split through the empty air, gaining momentum until a vortex large enough to fit a 5'7" girl appeared. Wind, mostly from the hand dryer, lifted the edges of her skirt, warming her skin as she stepped majestically beneath the spotlight of the toilet. Distantly, she heard a whimper that might have been awe or Stanley choking to death.
    XXX"Fasten your seat belts." Rika put one foot through the portal, angling her body so her Stanley could see her sculpted calf - golden and moisturised. "It's going to be a bumpy night."
    XXXShe stepped into the vortex.
    XXXRika likely ruined the surprise of her presence by allowing her foot to appear before the rest of her. But she thought she might allow Atticus time to admire her limited edition Louis Vuitton heels. Still she gave him no time to protest as she marched towards him. She threw out an arm, letting tendrils of light to spill from her fingers.
    XXXRika had not told Atticus where they'd be going, or that they'd be going anywhere at all. Or rather he had likely assumed they would be doing what they were supposed to be doing, which was having dinner with Edwin Clarke, one of the wealthiest men in the world. Atticus wouldn't be too furious that his plans for world domination had been derailed. Right? Right.
    XXX"We're late," she said simply, and they certainly were. The meeting at the warehouse began hours ago, as far as the details in the chatroom suggested. She had a vague approximation of where it was, with great emphasis on vague.
    XXXStill, what was worse that could happen?
    XXXHopefully if anyone was getting stuck halfway through a wall, it was Atticus. She needed wiggling room to snapchat his struggle to her thousands of adoring fans. Also he'd kill her. In fact, she hadn't done anything yet and he already seemed irritated enough to kill her.
    XXX"What the hell are you doing he-"
    XXXRika shoved him through the portal.
    XXXBefore she could allow herself to contemplate the intricacies of her plan, she jumped in behind him.
    XXXBad idea.
    XXXIt was often disorientating for those unaccustomed to inter-dimensional travel to experience the vertigo that came with it. It was like being thrown in a meat grinder and spat out the other end. One was never quite the same afterwards. Still, Rika was relatively unfazed by it more often that not, most of the not's having been caused by her trying to portal all the way to California for a tan.
    XXXBut portalling with only a very vague sense of direction procured from Google Maps was something else. Needless to say, being suspended midair was about as comfortable as one might expect.
    XXXThankfully, her Gift did not defy gravity and soon she was in free fall.
    XXXLike a petal floating gently from a branch, she told herself. Like a petal floating gently-
    XXXNever had a girl screamed so loud.
    XXX"My bones! My butt! Death is coming!"
    XXXThe floor was surprisingly comfortable. Perhaps they had a clairvoyant in their midst and they had predicted their arrival by horribly situated portal.
    XXXRika wiggled her toes. Shrugged her shoulders. She was honestly quite okay with all this. There had been no harm done.
    XXXOr at least, that was what she believed until the cushioned floor moved.
    XXXAh, Atticus. Ah. Ahah. Yep. Right. She threw him through some unknown portal against his volition then understandably landed on his spinal cord. That made sense. Yes, this tale felt familiar.
    XXX"Oh, I'd laugh but you could press charges and orange jumpsuits really clash with my skin tone."
    XXXRika rolled off his body and stood, tossing her hair over her shoulder. She smoothed her dress and checked her teeth in the camera of a phone she took from someone because hers was being tracked all the way to Connecticut, hopefully.
    XXXRika looked around the room.
    XXX"Well," she breathed. "Butter my butt and call me a biscuit." Mostly because she hoped they took her demands seriously, Rika thought she would genuinely be okay with any one of these Gifted's touching her butt. Or any part of her, for that matter.
    XXXGlorious, glorious ecstasy. Such beauty had never been seen in one room since the Parisian Fashion Week of 2014. She was in awe. There were twins - twins! Everyone knew despite being identical, there would always be a hotter one and she thought she'd discovered which. Certainly not the one with- was that a dorito in his hair? But the other. The other. She hadn't felt this much love for a living being since that freshly caught salmon died in her arms and became sashimi.
    XXXA red-haired girl caught her gaze, a cascade of ginger hues framing a gentle face. The sweetest freckles dotted her cheeks, each brown mark a punctuation into Rika's pattering heart. Gay marriage was legal now and Rika needed a green card.
    XXXShe was beside another redhead and a very, very pretty boy. A mess of springy curls illuminated a young face, his eyes wide and decorated with a thick wreath of lashes. Boys always had the prettier lashes.
    XXXAnother redhead stood in the dilapidated room, his hair just a fraction darker to the girl's. He had a distinctly tumblr aesthetic about him - the brooding gaze, the windswept hair, the strong arms that said: I could hold you gently as you fall asleep, but also whip out some handcuffs in a way that might be erotic, might not. Rika was intrigued.
    XXXShe saw a familiar face next. Gracie was also redheaded despite the scarcity of gingers in the world, telling Rika this didn't seem statistically possible. Yet it was. It was a pleasant surprise, as competitive eating was when one assumed a girl of Rika's size could not consume 48 hotdogs in 10 minutes, yet she could. Gracie was cuter than a pomeranian being gently trimmed into a ball-like figure. Cuter, even, than a cake shaped like a cupcake.
    XXXBeside her was Eugene and my god, he wore pants so tight she could see his religion. It was too much. She shifted her gaze before he could think she liked him too much.
    XXXAn Egyptian God sculpted of molten chocolate solidified by the light of the silver moon gazed upon the world like a majestic beast observing its lesser prey. He breathed. Rika felt a second puberty stir within her.
    XXXThe boy beside him was equally beautiful though in a manner that was vastly different. His was a beauty found in teen magazines middle-aged women would read just to catch a glimpse of his flawless bone structure. Rika thought he looked like her next best friend.
    XXXThe next was a pixie-like girl with dark hair that spilled down her back. She seemed familiar in the way staring into a mirror might be. Rika liked her instantly.
    XXXA darker skinned girl stood by the window, sunlight illuminating the brown hues in her eyes. She was lovely and still.
    XXXUnlike the small piece of abyss that stood in the corner. Though he had model features, his vibe was that of someone who drank blood as a sport. Rika decided to stay away from that one.
    XXXPerhaps the face - or hair - that stood out most was the one belonging to a silver-haired boy. He was lean and stunning, his eyes crystal blue and piercing even across the distance they stood from each other. They had a glimmer in them that made her think she'd met her match. She gave him lazy smile.
    XXXThen there was a teakettle - weird.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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#, as written by themis
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As even the city that is said to never sleep slumbers beneath the waning moon, he is awake. For it is the only time that New York is free from disturbance, almost beautiful and in complete darkness lapsed only by the twilight glow of the streetlamps. Tonight, however, there is a hum that encompasses the entirety of the lively metropolis, and there are still remnants of the celebrations that occurred only a few hours earlier. The air even holds on to the faint sound of distant music being played, and assorted drunkards roam the city as if animated corpses rising from the grave.

The walls of his home soar far above the dissonant chaos of the city, so much so that if the clouds are particularly low he can lean from the railings and almost touch them. They cascade from the skyscrapers, against the stillness of the winter winds and bathe the buildings beneath him in a wash of soft white. If he listens well as he floats above the water in the infinity pool that covers the right side of the balcony, he can hear but a hushed buzz of miscellaneous cacophony- the occasional siren, the whisper of music played from a large subwoofer, he is the the beekeeper looking upon a hive. Atticus feels removed from what occurs on the streets below him, the backalleys, the criminals and the violence. He exists in a different realm, one of excess and luxury. Perhaps a rather pretentious opinion, yet he pretends not to notice.

His loneliness seems almost tangible at this time, as the night fades to morning. While soon staff may stroll around, fixing him coffee and crepes, ironing his suits, cleaning, family may visit- laugh at inside jokes, look at family pictures, friends may stay over, drink some wine, watch a movie- he knows all of it is fake, and they all want something that he can provide. Money, attention, promotions, favours. We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone, they say. Rather melancholic, yet he knows it to be true.

I suppose the times in which he feels the most free, yet the most lonely are times like these in which he feels the biting cold of the wind across his skin, hair clinging to his face, staring at the view from a balcony so high it makes his head spin. He leans against the railing of the balcony. Whilst not suicidal, he supposes he wouldn't care too much if in this moment, someone pushed him.

"Now you're just being idiotic... why even for a moment would you..." He scolds himself, yet he knows it is an exercise in futility. The words, barely a whisper, are swept away by the wind and disappear into the dawn.


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Atticus sleeps lightly for around an hour, awakening to the aroma of breakfast, the thick smell of pure coffee and harsh words in French. His cook, a rather curt Quebecois man, is currently insulting him. What Jean Laliberte doesn't know is that every affluent family worth their salt forces their child to attend foreign language lessons.

"Le enfant gâté..." The spoiled brat. "...ne fait rien pour lui-même" Doesn't do anything for himself.

Daybreak is when he always seems to feel the most fatigued. It is also always daybreak in which coffee touches his lips, burning his throat and tasting bittersweet against his tongue. He mumbles a slight thank you to his cook as he hands him the expresso, though Atticus' hand becomes purposefully unstable until the cup plunges to the ground. An explosion of scalding hot-coffee and fine porcelain detonates against the floor, waves of the dark liquid splashing against the cook's uncovered skin. He recedes in pain, swearing under his breath.

"Ah! je suis très stupide." Remembering French lessons from his childhood, though stumbling slightly with a morning haze he adds "Je m'excuse." a slight smirk escapes him when he turns his back, gaining momentary satisfaction from his petty vengeance. He's lucky I didn't just fire him. My father doesn't pay him a salary to insult me.

"That's another Cuban expresso, si vous plait.
"


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The sun breaks through thick clouds of grey, the upcoming sunrise colouring the sky orange fading to dull amaranth. He leans back against the chaise, closing his eyes in some attempt for rest. Almost as soon as he attempts this, the phone resting beside him buzzes to life, awakening him harshly- a text flashing against the screen. Something from one of his father's assistants, Chris Grodszinsky. While not entirely unpleasant, perhaps even one of the better assistants his father had hired in a good few years, he had an air of rushed neuroticism about him that caused people to fret.

[ ✉ Chris G. → Atticus ] : Are you awake? Urgent message
[ ✉ Atticus→ Chris G.] : I'm awake. What is it?
[ ✉ Chris G. → Atticus ] : Edwin Clarke wants to have dinner. You, your father and the Yamadas. Are you able? I'm about to book the reservation. Everyone has already agreed. You need to make the decision A.S.A.P
[ ✉ Atticus→ Chris G.] : Edwin Clarke? Why?
[ ✉ Chris G. → Atticus ] : I wasn't told, I'm sorry. I advise you to dress smartly, arrive early. Good luck.

His eyes wander to the text, reading it over. The Yamadas. Rika. Rika Yamada. He prayed silently that this time she would not mention to his father how hot the waiter, Mario, was- and suggestively remark on how she would like a slice of that "Italian-American pie", or tell the CEO of NetBank of their childhood escapades and how Atticus had to wear plastic cleaning gloves and a surgical mask to go play in the woods of his upstate manor.

"She's going to do something stupid again, I know she is. It's Edwin Clarke. This can't happen." Rubbing hands against his eyes in frustration, he tries to think objectively, weigh out the situation . Edwin Clarke, the elusive business magnate, the hedge fund collector, the generous philanthropist. He has seen him on a few occasions in person, before his skin grew a permanent deathly pallor and he had to breath into tubes, before he retreated from the public eye, he was only a child at the time. Only recollecting fractals of memories, he cannot decipher if they are mere creations of his mind or are grounded in reality.

Yet, the proposition somehow off to him, an omen of absurd proportions. Why now? Why them? But of course he hadn't properly seen his father in a while- or the Yamadas except for Rika for that matter- and meetings with the Edwin Clarke are extremely finite and hard to come by, even for those as powerful as his father. Being one of the richest people in the world would cause time to become a valuable commodity, Atticus imagined. Perhaps he may have developed an off-kilter sense of humor in his senility, and would find humor in Rika's... quirkiness. In a perfect world he would've grown so hard of hearing that he could barely hear the words that fall from her mouth.

"Ah," He sighs, the lead in his bones pulling him towards the earth, eyelids closing and opening as he buries his face into his knees, "I should probably leave the house" He knew as he left the door bodyguards would have to accompany him in fear of any sort of danger, yet he just wants to be alone, clear his head, stretch his muscles. Or I'll start to descend into insanity.. It seems like he is constantly around people- yet he feels the loneliest when he's around them.


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The mirror holds nothing of substance.

While refraining from touching the surface in some vacant fear of disturbing the immaculacy, his fingertips hover just above the glass, tracing outlines of himself, the arch of his cupid's bow, the decension of his nose to the angle of his jaw. Half-lidded eyes stare back at him from behind the surface- while they are his own, while they resemble his father's in some superficial way (Joseph Zhao's eyes were said to contain the souls of a thousand men, Atticus' barely contained the soul of one), they are not entirely there. They seem as if they are staring into some great abyss, expansive and ink-black.

"It's probably because you haven't slept more than a few hours for the past week" His voice rests quiet and hushed within the confines of his walk-in closet, more of an extension of his room. He lifts languid fingers to smooth out a dark tie with the tiniest stripes of white. No. No. It clashes with the shirt. It's much too garish. Lifting a second, more conservative black tie from his tie closet he exhales, turning his head slowly to examine each area of his appearance. To Atticus, even a singular strand of hair out of place could mean the difference between sloppiness and sophistication. Dressed in a monochrome suit which costs more than the average car, a watch that would have supplied a family with adequate nutrition for a year, with shoes of fine Italian leather and a newly ironed shirt of crisp white- he feels a slight feeling of contentment quell within the hollows of his body.

As soon as it comes, it leaves.

For of course, from the far side of the room a burst of ephemeral light appears, and from it none other than the legendary Rika Yamada. Or atleast, the legendary foot of Rika Yamada, decked out in the latest limited edition of Louis Vuitton's Winter Collection. It seemed, as soon as he felt the slightest echo of normality she would apparate in front of him and pull him into the depths of adventure. They were mostly likely going to the dinner though- yes? No, he sighed inwardly, of course not, as there is no logical reason as to why she would appear and cause this much trouble if they were just going to arrive at the dinner as planned.

"We're late," She breaks out into a incredibly fast pace, and Atticus realises that running or calling for Jean to rescue him is definitely not an option. They were not yet late for the dinner- he knows that she means something different by this- and he knows that it's probably not pleasant.

"What the hell are you doing h-" A sentence is barely formed before the tail end of it becomes lost against his tongue, as he enters- nay, he is pushed- into the tangled fibers and the blinding light. His skull is cracking open, his brain being destroyed and regrown as each second passes and every tiny cell of his body screaming with whatever kind of unearthly pain he is experiencing. While prone to light seasickness, he feels like he is being thrown as if made with cloth and sewn with thread, lurching against the waves of reality within the infinite expanse of time and space- perhaps he is, he doesn't know the exact specifics of Rika's power. Again, almost as soon as it had begun, it ends. His head hits a hard surface with an audible thump, and he tries to curl into fetal position in some feeble attempt of relief, yet finds himself pinned to the ground by a body- Rika's body. The heels of her shoes dig into him and if he was more than semi-concious at the moment he would have protested. Yet, all that escaped him was a strangled groan of pain as she moved from his spinal cord.

He blinks in an out of darkness, his sight blurred and struggling. The scene around him begins to become clearer, and as it does a feeling of utter confusion brews within him. Here lie Rika and Atticus, dressed in possibly the finest clothes a human can drape across their body- surrounded by a kumbaya circle of- teenagers? they couldn't have been much older than twenty, by the looks of it- with expressions of shock lighting their faces. He focuses his gaze more and the first thing that appears is a person- at least he believed it was a person, covered in what seemed to be bright orange crumbs that laced into his hair. He immediately felt... extremely overdressed for whatever kind of place this was.

Moving his hand slightly he picks up a layer of dust, recoiling in horror almost immediately and shaking his wrist- before reaching into his pocket and smearing hand sanitizer across his skin. He rises to his feet- shakily, staggering almost immediately before his knees buckle against the weight of his own body once again. A feeling of deep embarrassment found it's way to him. Wherever he was... this was his first impression. He imagined in that moment he resembled a fawn walking for the first time. If that fawn was intoxicated and also born with a searing migraine. Nobody seems to want to help him from his feet- a little rude, he muses. Do these people even have basic manners? But he supposes everyone would be fairly shocked by the two people that toppled into existence in front of them, dressed in the latest designer clothing as if their life depended on it.

A slight sigh, and he musters up the will to fake a small smile.

"If you don't mind me asking," He directly addresses the group in front of him, "Where exactly am I?"

Before turning his head to face Rika directly, creating a half-false look of endearing confusion, cocking his head slightly to the right "... and why are we here?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

0.00 INK

#, as written by Cloud

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hex: #9c8786

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JACK LACEY
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At the age of seventeen some teenagers have already experienced the harsh truths of the world; the lies, deceit, and scandals. Others, however, remain cocooned within the comforting confines of childish naiveté, where trust is given to strangers with ease and happiness is bought with the simplest of devices. Stupidity has no implication here, for even the smartest individuals can be ignorant to the darker aspects of the world. Jack Lacey, seventeen years and two months old exactly, would easily be put in the latter category, that of blissful naiveté. In the case of the curly-haired boy, it is his upbringing and a kind nature which offers up such an image of childish innocence. Coddled and protected by a close-knit family, attending the same school for the entirety of his education, and barely being exposed to the harsher realities of the world have all combined to make Jack who he is today.

Of course, that innocence is perhaps the reason why he’s standing in a rusting warehouse at a meeting aiming to stop a mysterious killer. Simply put, Jack wants to help in any way he can. It may seem backwards and decidedly out of his comfort zone, but people were being killed and cruelty, to animals or humans, didn’t sit well with the young boy. Nor, for that matter, did Garth Holden’s tone.

Jack’s brows furrowed slightly at the perceived slight to himself and Frankie, yet he didn’t raise his voice in protest. Instead, Jack’s arm came up, his bright pink glove coming to press lightly against his lips as warm brown eyes followed Garth Holden’s path into the corner.

Truth be told he was worried. Had he done anything to upset the other boy? Surely not, they’d just met! And yet, the way Garth had called him a ‘Disney princess’, as if it were an insult, left Jack fairly certain that something Jack had done, had irritated the other. Jack’s eyes darted across at Frankie, and something in the young man’s gaze must have caught her attention, for she leaned in and told him softly,

“Don’t worry about him, Jack. He’s an ass.”

Jack nodded, though his eyes still fell back on the bulky young man. He watched, slightly stunned, as Garth’s anger once again overflowed, this time directed at another young man who, at first sight, seemed just as young as Jack. As Jack watched the exchange he grew certain that such confidence had to belong to someone older. Jack had never been a loud person. Shy wasn’t exactly the word, for he was never reluctant to talk. Rather, he merely preferred to listen and pipe up when a subject of particular interest caught his attention. Like felines, or canines, or really anything in the animal kingdom.

There were so many people in the warehouse, it wasn’t long before Jack’s attention was shifted away from the pair in the corner. Jack’s eyes, wide and excited, jumped from individual to individual as figures stepped forward, introduced themselves and became names and a power. They were an eclectic collection of young Gifted from almost every walk of life, some faces he recognised – Grace for one received an excited wave and a dimpled grin as she entered. Another young man, a red head who walked through a pillar without even blinking, also caught Jack’s eye. If Jack wasn’t mistaken, he had seen him at the veterinarian clinic a few times in the process of bringing in a wounded animal. Other faces were new to the boy, their powers sounding amazing even if they gave no demonstration.

Everyone seemed impressive, and it amazed Jack that most people had come in the pursuit of justice. Slowly, Jack’s mitten shifted from its position worrying against his mouth, and his frown turned into a dimpled smile as introductions continued. Another teenager, who would introduce himself as Sunny, came to stand beside Jack and together they shared a gleeful laugh as a newcomer turned into a teakettle. Then, Jack’s new acquaintance stepped forward, introducing himself with a nervous stutter. It was then that Garth decided to step back into the mix, showing clear derision not only for Sunny and his power – and how cool did Jack think Cloud manipulation was! – but for the vast majority of those gathered around. Sunny stepped back, cheeks a deep red, eyes downcast as a result of Garth’s derision.

“I think your power sounds great.” Jack mumbles to the other boy.

Sunny smiles slightly, his eyes taking on a curious spark as he whispers back, “Yours does too. Can you really talk to animals?”

Jack nods, about to continue their talk before Garth’s loud voice drowned him out. Sunny stepped forward, showing far more bravery than many might give him credit for as he suggested that they could put their heads together to come up with a plan. Garth didn’t appear to appreciate Sunny’s advice, for the next minute he was stalking out of the warehouse with at least half of those gathered around. Jack watched with worried eyes, though his own feet made no move to follow. He was here to help, and he had every confidence in those gathered around that together they could come up with some plan to find and stop this killer.

The awkward tension that had been left in Garth’s place didn’t dissipate quickly, and Jack’s mitten was once again pressing against his mouth in a clear sign of worry. Then several things happened in quick succession. A loud creaking and the sudden shower of small roof particles preceded the arrival – fall – of a girl into the middle of the room. Her scream echoed around the cavernous space moments before an abnormal blast of wind cushioned her downward acceleration. Eyes wide in shock, Jack’s gaze flicked up to the roof and the hole that she had apparently fallen through, before landing back on the girl in question.

Kina was her name, and that was all the information provided before two more arrivals once again diverted attention. Jack’s first thought was that they too had fallen from the roof, at least until he looked up and saw the odd shape hovering in the middle of the warehouse space. It vanished after the second figure fell through, leaving Jack wondering if it had anything to do with one of their powers. The girl was first up, her gaze taking its time to inspect each member of the party. Jack’s own gaze in turn looked on curiously at the new three members. Unlike Kina, both of the new arrivals were dressed for something much fancier than this meeting. A floor length dress certainly seemed like an odd garment to wear to a dirty warehouse, not to mention the suit the boy was in.

Jack hadn’t even gotten his thoughts straight when Scott, the boy who Jack recognised from the vets, responded to the latest arrival with clear sarcasm. Even Jack, who sometimes missed sarcasm, couldn’t mistake the comment for anything else. His eyes darted back to the new pair to see how they’d respond, but all that was uttered from the pair was a clear display of confusion from the male.

Casper, whose smirk indicated that he found all of this very amusing, spoke out next, “I think you two might have dropped into the wrong party. Like Red said, we’re all about to go home for milk and cookies.” Casper's eyes fell slowly down each of the pair, noting and admiring clothing and bodies, while a grin spread across his face. “Though, seems you’re a far way from your own homes, so you’re welcome to come to mine.” Casper didn’t wink, but the implication behind his invitation was clear enough without it. Whether he was joking or serious was another matter not so easily discerned.

Jack, for his part, was more concerned that no one had yet answered the male's questions. In an attempt to be helpful, and lowering his mitten so that his words wouldn’t be muffled, he offered, “You’re at the warehouse.” The exact address escaped him, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knew that he had been partially led here by a dog named Diggles. “We’re trying to stop the serial killer.” Jack continued, perhaps missing the fact that the last question was directed towards the girl. Eyes turned to look at him, and Jack had to hold his hands behind his back to stop himself from covering his mouth again. “The-… the police aren’t doing anything, so we- we’re trying to help.”

Beside Jack, Frankie stepped forward to support him, her voice filling the space, “The killer that has been targeting Gifted youth and Gifted homeless. We’re here to figure out some way to stop the death, because so far the police have refused to take it seriously.” Her gaze flicked around the standing group, the numbers severely diminished since Garth’s exit, “We may not have a plan yet, but like Sunny said, we have enough heads here that I don’t doubt we’ll be able to come up with something. Even if we’re just able to prove to the police that this is a real case, we’ll have done something.” Her eyes turned back to the three new entrants, “So, if you guys are planning on hanging around, how about you introduce yourselves?”

“Or we could skip introductions and get right to the good stuff.” Casper suggested with his usual grin. When Frankie huffed a sigh of exasperation and rolled her eyes in his direction, Casper held up his hands and added with an innocent bat of his eyelashes, “I only meant, show us your powers.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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#, as written by themis
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Words move past him. He can hear voices speaking, yet they are distant and indirect. A migraine rests firmly against the dells of his forehead, throbbing dully. Finally managing to lift himself to a chair, he rests. The voices become clearer.

“You’re at the warehouse.” Yes, I can see that. He quips within his mind, back resting against the chair, which is completely uncomfortable ergonomically. Surprisingly the speaker, instead of Rika, is a boy with a head of curls. Atticus turns to face him.

“We’re trying to stop the serial killer. The-… the police aren’t doing anything, so we- we’re trying to help.” Interesting. So Rika hadn't brought him here for some sort of group therapy- which is what he had feared. She kept calling him "emo" lately, and he thought this was the last straw.

"The killer that has been targeting Gifted youth and Gifted homeless. We’re here to figure out some way to stop the death, because so far the police have refused to take it seriously.” A girl this time, a flash of red hair greeting him as he turns to face her. “We may not have a plan yet, but like Sunny said, we have enough heads here that I don’t doubt we’ll be able to come up with something. Even if we’re just able to prove to the police that this is a real case, we’ll have done something.”

Atticus cocks his head, trying to organize his thoughts. So what have they been doing here if not planning? Of course, you can't expect a group of teenagers to posess any real organizational skills, he looks at the group before him. Mismatched, odd. While not adamant of the cause, something stirs inside him- perhaps it's his love of murder mystery. Perhaps he hit his head just a little too hard, and was on the cusp of a concussion.

“So, if you guys are planning on hanging around, how about you introduce yourselves?” Atticus almost begins his name yet is cut off again, a boy with peroxide blond hair, bordering white.

“Or we could skip introductions and get right to the good stuff.” He grins, the redhead sighs and rolls her eyes. Atticus stops himself from following her. “I only meant, show us your powers.”

"It's Atticus, like Finch" Pausing for a moment to remember his last name, lost in the space between his home and the warehouse he currently occupies, "Last name Zhao, middle name Yanlin, but I suppose that's not important unless you're taking roll-call. Which of course-" You're rambling, stop it.

"Sorry, I'm rambling now." Fingertips grazing the back of his neck, he forces a practiced smile of embarrassment. "My powers?"

Time slows as he recalls first learning of his- "gift"- a momentary lapse in facade, a fragment of sadness, he returns to normalcy in a matter of a seconds. "Are you sure you want me to demonstrate?" He takes the silence as a yes, and lets his eyes fall upon a random member of the group. A boy, his cheeks full with the remnants of childhood and eyes bright with hope.

"Sorry about this, but it's not going to hurt you" His voice quietens so that only those who listen, and the boy himself can hear. "Your name is?"

"Sunny Ahn" The boy smiles, yet Atticus feel the fear hum across his body, the force of it pulling his fingertips upwards. Atticus' wrist circles slowly, his fingers following, each joint tensed and concentration completely focused on the kid. For a while, nothing happens, and the room seems to still in anticipation. A few quiet mutters, wondering if he's some sort of impostor, or someone that insanity has blinded into believing they were gifted. Atticus, however, is scarily calm. His power takes a while to come into full effect, he accepts this. It's often not very flashy until about thirty seconds in.

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In 10 seconds

Atticus watches as brown eyes widen before him, staring blankly into some unknown pit of fear. His thin body freezes, and Atticus notices the boy wrapping his arms around himself as the chill sets in. Sweating, darting eyes.

In 20 seconds

Legs are brought to chests, and he buries his face in between the valleys of his knees. Rocking faster now, more frantically now, he lifts his face. The heart quickens.

In 30 seconds

The screaming begins, it reverberates against the walls, threatening to burst eardrums and causing Atticus to almost cover his ears. One of the loudest, he remarks to himself. This is usually where flight, fight or freeze comes into play. He stumbles from his chair, gasping, falling, sprinting impossibly fast to nowhere, pounding on the walls as if some ghastly monster were to devour him. Flight. Atticus stops here to ensure a speedy recovery.

A minute later

Silence. Sunny returns to normal. "Did I black out? W-what happened?"

"No, no- you didn't. Well not to us. You freaked out." A disembodied voice calls from the group, the rest soundless.

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Atticus averts his gaze, almost embarrassed. He had never shown his power like this for a while, nonetheless a room of entire strangers.

"That's my," He makes quotations with his fingers, "Gift. I don't exactly have a name for it. Truthfully, I've barely used it in years. Something like panic inducement? Fear manipulation, perhaps." He avoids adding the part about being able to sense the worst fears of others by touch. He's never really spoken of that one, and intends to hide it as long as possible. "So that's it"

"Anyway I have somewhere to be at the moment, If you can't tell, but I can come b-" He gazes in Rikas direction, lifts his head and sighs, "I... suppose It's too late now" He tries hard to contain his irritation. The dinner will have started around ten minutes ago, he checks his wristwatch for confirmation Fifteen, actually. For one, he has no idea where he is, secondly, there will be investigations as to why and how they left the house without the guards noticing, he doesn't want to deal with that presently, and thirdly he has no mode of transportation, and traffic is gridlocked around this time, especially in Manhattan. Unless Rika opens up a portal, which he knows she has no intention of doing, they are going to miss the dinner. Cold hands sooth his temple, sighing for what is to be the hundredth time as he speaks once more.

"I don't fully grasp the situation" The words fade and elongate as the sentence trails on, and his forefinger and thumb trace the edge of his jaw.

"However, you've piqued my interest, and as Edgar Allen Poe once said- As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles. It seems we have a case of disentanglement on hand." His manner of speech is more suited for the eccentric rich who he usually speaks with, who delight in pretentious conversation, classic literature and shameless quotations. He forgets this.

"Logically, the first step to take is to find our first lead. Witnesses, sites of any of the murders, no one has anything at all? In such a large city, someone must have seen something, even if it is not one of us. From there, we find clues. However perfect a serial killer appears, within them is a subconscious need for recognition which causes them to slip up." He pulls his suit jacket inwards, straightening his posture "But that's just my opinion, of course" Another perfectly subdued smile.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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xxx"there's a war we can't ignore
xxxwaging silence on our lives
xxxwe will overcome
xxxlet the cowards run and hide."

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So, apparently Scott had a new nickname. Red, as dubbed by Casper. Being familiar with the whole situation already, that was the only thing he really paid any attention to when other people were debriefing the new arrivals. The boy didn't seem quite as irritating as the girl, but even his mannerisms radiated money. He doubted they'd ever even walked past a homeless shelter.

The boy's ability, though, did catch his attention. Fear manipulation. He was somebody they needed on their side- because the thought of working against him was... Well, terrifying. The boy didn't seem particularly proud of it, either. For a moment, Scott sees past the fancy suit and the eloquent words. For a second, there was something more to Atticus- and then it disappeared as he mentioned a previous engagement. Scott's expression shifted from whatever it had been, back to his scowl. Good to know where Atticus's priorities lay.

And now he was quoting famous authors Scott hadn't even heard of. Hopefully, he had more important engagements because Scott wasn't entirely sure he could stand the pretentious behaviour for too long. He then went on to overly simplify the situation, something that Scott could no longer hold his tongue about.

"And enlighten me, sir, on how exactly we are to obtain that information. Should we go around knocking on doors and asking those who answer? Or, how about this, should we ask the police to kindly share their information with us?" He asked, stepping forward and walking towards Atticus, momentarily distracted enough to forget that he was in a room of strangers. Or, well, mostly strangers. He was just hoping that Grace would have his back if anything was to happen.

"And, besides, I'd be willing to bet that witnesses are few and far between. People don't notice u- People don't notice homeless people. Gifted or not. Potential murder victims or not." Had anyone picked up on his slip? Hopefully not. "They're always just there. Even when they talk to people, ask them for help or even just saying hello, they're invisible. Homeless people are attacked all the time, and you don't hear about it. The police don't care about them. The general population doesn't care all that much. If people really cared about the homeless people, the homeless Gifted, don't you think that there would be more general outrage? That things would have been done already?" He asked. "There was a physical assault on a group of homeless Gifted teenagers a few years ago. At least one person was killed." He swallowed, forcing himself to keep calm and to maintain his mask. He sure as hell wasn't exposing his life story to these people. Exposing his back was bad enough. "The police didn't care. They said they'd look into it. They didn't. Did you even hear about that?" He asked, but he didn't wait for any answers.

"If we want information, we're going to have to steal it. We don't even know if the cops took that much information. But they won't give it to us, and the general public won't remember. Any physical evidence will have been logged by the cops and destroyed by this point. Any blood, fingerprints, or anything like that will long have been washed away. The only information available is in some office somewhere. If anyone else has any ideas, I'd love to hear them," he said, somehow making it sound like a genuine question. He knew that they were just trying to help, but... The only reason he wasn't still on the streets or even dead was because he'd gotten lucky. In a different set of circumstances, he could have been one of the victims, or living in fear of being one of the victims. And in that situation, he would sure as hell be hoping that the people trying to help would be going about it in the right way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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#, as written by Cloud


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If Toby thought his entrance, and the subsequent exit of Garth Holden and well over half of those gathered in the warehouse, was dramatic, it was only because he had yet to witness not one, but three individuals fall from the sky. Well, technically one of the newest arrivals fell from the sky, or roof, while the other two came through some kind of portal. If Toby had any doubt that this was a meeting for Gifted youth, it was well and truly squashed at that. Toby's earlier confusion regarding the figure on the roof was also solved, his gaze holding for a moment with the girl - Kina - who had fallen first.

As others in the group sought to find out who these newcomers were, while one of the new arrivals apparently attempted to find out where he was, Toby took the time to inspect those that still remained. He recognised several of them of course, Frankie and Sam, Grace, and their familiar faces eased the nerves that tended to gather when Toby was pushed into a new situation with strangers. Bast, standing beside Toby, was a welcome presence too.

The twins missed the majority of the introductions, but Toby learns one new name as Atticus Zhao speaks his name. Atticus' display of his powers is more than a little... unsettling. Toby watches quietly, anticipation and confusion growing as first nothing happens, and then suddenly Sunny reacts. Toby feels his heart go out to the younger boy, yet he can only watch as Sunny stumbles from his place standing in the circle and hastily begins thumping on the warehouse's rusting walls. Sunny's screams echo around the otherwise silent room, the thuds of his fists making dull thumps too. And then he stopped, confusion apparently setting in as Sunny's fear vanishes.

Toby watches both Sunny and Atticus as the latter reveals that his power is linked to panic and fear. That much was obvious from his display, even though Sunny doesn't appear to know that he just made a mad dash for an exit a few minutes ago. Toby wraps his arms around himself, repressing a shudder as he thinks what he would see if his worst fears were realised. He fights the urge to take a step closer to his twin, instead distracting himself as Atticus continues to talk.

Toby thinks the young man's suggestions show some merit, even if how they were ever going to find any clues was beyond Toby. It was one thing to hear rumours of the killer, to know the police were brushing it off, and then it was another thing entirely to find any potentially witnesses, discover clues, and connect the dots. At least, that was Toby's opinion. Personally, he would feel as if he were drowning if forced to do any of this alone. He guessed that was the advantage of numbers, they could pool their talents and resources to do things they might not be able to achieve alone... Toby just hoped that he had something to offer as help.

Toby's gaze finds another boy, longer red hair, passion shining in his eyes as he questions Atticus' suggestion. He offers his own alternative, to steal the information. Toby gulps, a growing feeling of uselessness overwhelming him. He couldn't steal anything, not because of a particularly strict moral code - though stealing did make him uncomfortable for that reason too - but because Toby knew he'd be more likely to get everyone arrested than sneak in and out of a police station escaping detection.

"We need to do both." Comes Frankie's reply, her voice confident despite her own uncertainty with what she was about to suggest. Toby had always admired that confidence, as he had both admired (and cursed) his brother's. "We need whatever the police have, and we need whatever they've missed. We need to figure out... I don't know, the killer's patterns, if there's somewhere they usually hunt. For fuck's sake, what he even does with the bodies. Anything."

"Stealing police information shouldn't be that hard." Frankie's twin, Sam, adds. The male de Vries rests his arm on his sister's shoulder and flaps his hand from Casper to Scott. "Not when we have guys who can turn invisible and walk through walls." Sam's gaze flicks to the well-dressed female who had fallen through the odd portal, "Or when we have whatever that was." he adds, waving his hand next at where the portal had been.

"Yeah, 'cept I can't turn anyone else invisible. And police stations usually have cameras and passwords and shit." Casper pipes up, grinning as he adds "I'm too pretty to go to jail."

Toby's gaze met Frankie's across the circle and he knew without words that they were both thinking the same thing, that Frankie, technically, could replicate both of the powers and slip in and out of the police station without being noticed... if she knew how to control her power. Frankie gave a small shrug, as if telling Toby she wished she could do more. More than once the friends had commiserated together over their lack of control of their powers. Frankie always told Toby that he'd get it, eventually, but the magician could tell that right now Frankie was feeling frustrated that she couldn't do more too.

Gulping back more nerves and shoving shaking hands into his pockets, Toby takes a tentative step forward. "Maybe..." Toby began, hesitating slightly as eyes fell on him. He can feel Casper's gaze too, and that more than anything has Toby nervous. "Maybe some of us... we aren't all... I mean, maybe for those of us who can't control their powers that well, like me... maybe we could set up some kind of practice. I... I want to help, but I need more practice." Toby's words trailed off, his eyes trained on a spot on the floor rather than meet anyone's eye.

"Good idea, man." Comes Sam's words of encouragement, before a teasing tone sneaks into his words, "I know Frankie definitely needs all the help she can get."

"Hey!" Frankie protests. Toby looks up in time to see Sam give his sister a shrug and a wide grin. Frankie rolls her eyes, shakes off Sam's arm and adds a moment later, still grudgingly, "He's not wrong. I do need some training."

Perhaps boosted by this partial acceptance of his idea, Toby finds himself offering up another, "And maybe... Maybe Bast you could look into the police records? Or... or Grace you could freeze time and if someone is fast they could run in...?" Toby shrugs his shoulders and glances around at the group. He didn't hear what half of them could do, but he was sure that together they would be able to figure it out. Somehow. They had to, or risk letting this killer continue picking people off.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Casper Temple Character Portrait: Felix Ueda Character Portrait: Frances de Vries Character Portrait: Percy Wren-Lewis Character Portrait: Toby Kipling Character Portrait: Bast Kipling Character Portrait: Jack Lacey Character Portrait: Rika Yamada Character Portrait: Lucien Thorne Verlac Character Portrait: Scott Carter Character Portrait: Kina Qadir Character Portrait: Eugene Park Character Portrait: Maria Ikeda Character Portrait: Grace Fogle Character Portrait: Dylan Ashe Character Portrait: Atticus Zhao

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Maria watched with exasperation as the crowd withered away. Her teeth gritted in annoyance, before forfeiting with a sigh. Damn. Well, if they were that easily convinced to scram, I doubt they'd be much help, anyway. Not an inspiring thought, nor much of a consolation, really, but it was all she could think of to boost her own dwindling morale.

She looked over who was left with growing uncertainty, her loyalty to the 'cause' slipping as she noted who was still present. Oh, thank God. We still have Bambi and the teakettle-

Then a girl fell through the ceiling. And then two more teenagers fell out of a swirling, glowing... thing. Maria wasn't entirely sure what one's typical reaction would be for such occurrences, but everyone else seemed to take it all rather well. Perhaps she should have expected that; this was literally a meeting for super-powered New Yorkians... they'd all likely seen a hell of a lot weirder.

The arrivals added a sense of courage to the air, at least until the young man, Atticus, revealed his ability. Then suddenly, everyone was uncomfortable again. He made up for it, though, by quoting the world's most depressing author. "As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles." The Murders in the Rue Morgue... at least the guy's got a sense of humor.

She liked a bit of bleak irony here and there, to take the edge of the dully morbid. Which this situation definitely was.

A small smirk touched her lips as the phasing redhead snapped back at Atticus' suggestions. Her eyebrow quirked at his little stumble, unnoticed by the majority of the others. Some skeletons in the closet there, I see.

"Maybe some of us... we aren't all... I mean, maybe for those of us who can't control their powers that well, like me... maybe we could set up some kind of practice. I... I want to help, but I need more practice."

Maria looked to the boy that had spoken. He was quieter, softer, than most of the others that made up their little group. His shyness was endearing, but his idea was actually a rather good one. She could do with a little practice. Practice that didn't involve screwing over well-off assholes.

"And maybe... Maybe Bast you could look into the police records? Or... or Grace you could freeze time and if someone is fast they could run in...?"

Maria frowned slightly, and with a sudden thought, turned to look at the tea kettle still settled near the edge of the group. She nudged it with the toe of her boot. "Or, Mrs Potts does people as well as he does kitchen appliances..." He could just walk in, pick out whatever he wants from the police records, ask a few questions while he's there, and walk out.

Ah, this was better. The more illegal side of the issue -the lying and cheating and rule-breaking. To put it simply, Maria had more... experience, in this particular area.