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Xiaoyan Jin

A little birdy told me that you aint seen nothin' yet...

0 · 494 views · located in New Boston

a character in “What Is Human?”, as played by DustAndEchoes

Description

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Accessing Subject Registration File....


Name: Xiaoyan Jin

Alias: Songbird, Canary, Little Bird

Age: 30

Gender: Female

Threat: Extreme Threat. Long-time dissident, saboteur, and Leader of the most sucessful rebel cell on the east coast.

Known Affiliations: Unregistered Psi, Priory of the Free Mind

Appearance:
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Chinese-born but American-raised Xiaoyan has a soft porcelin-doll beauty going for her. She smiles gently, and when she does so her dark eyes sparkle. It's an effect she uses to its greatest advantage; normally seen in plain clothes and taking care to make eye contact with as many people in the room as will meet her gaze. Strangers cant help but find themselves smiling back.

Coupled with her charming demeanor is a short 5' flat frame. Small and utterly disarming, it's easy to dismiss the woman entirely until she wants your attention. At that point, she stands with confidence and authority, and her gaze is peircing and commands attention. She speaks with passion and in a voice that carries straight to the cheap seats; leaving little doubt of her ability to -lead-.

Criminal Record: Known dissenter and agitator in the months before Psi registration became mandatory. No confirmed records after this.

Equipment Proficiencies: A/V, Radio, and short and broad band equipment. Small arms. Improvised Explosives, Basic electrical and mechanical. Able driver of vehicles from passenger to multi-ton freight.

Skills: Skilled in advanced First Aid up to and including basic crude surgery. Excellent driver, a passable mechanic. Decent shot with pistols and rifles. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.

Psi Level: Level 7

Known Abilities:
Charisma - Xiaoyan Jin can win people over with a smile, a handshake, and a subtle aura of psionic manipulation. Strangers let her pass them in line. Security lets her pass through the VIP lane without hassle. Police dont let her off with a warning - they offer her an escort. She can sway the staunchest political opponents with reason and polite chat; leaving them firm beleivers in whatever cause she's championing. With this powerful weapon in her arsenal, Xiaoyan could coax an evangelical southern preacher into officiating at the wedding of a gay satanist prostitute.

Gone and Forgotten - A facet of her subtle manipulation of those around her, shortly after loosing sight of her, people find themselves unable to recall details of Xiaoyan. What were her exact words just now? Did she have black eyes or were they blue? Green? Maybe she was a blonde. This is remarkably handy in her line of work, and it is an ability that she can turn on and off. Clearly, you'd like your people to remember any important instructions. But this aura is one of the reasons Psi-CON is having the damndest time finding her out; they have as many physical descriptions of her as they do witnesses. Someone once pegged her as a black male, for Pete's sake.

Knowing - Xiaoyan knows when people are thinking about her. As scary as that sounds, one must be thinking directly about her (Such as about to speak to her or while reading a dossier), and she only knows the vague feeling associated with the thought. Anger, loyalty, pride, etc. It has saved her life on countless occasions when her enemies approach with the intent to raid her safehouses, or when Psi-CON agents sought to infiltrate the ranks of her most trusted circle. The downside is the same as the upside, unfortunately, and is one of the reasons that Xiaoyan has remained extremely low-key even within her own organization. To be the focus of a city full of minds outside the occasional fleeting thought would become a deafening assault unless she kept constantly - and exhaustingly - shielded.

Seeing - Like a living version of the X-Men's Cerebro, Xiaoyan is capable of finding any psionics in her city who arent actively hiding from her. She can discover their location and, unless they have trained to shield, can read their surface thoughts. The farther or the more people she skims over, the more exhausting this becomes, but it is one of the ways that the Priory finds and rescues new members.

Touching - A passive illusion that is her signature image and primary method of communicating when she doesnt feel like being seen. Xiaoyan can 'brush' the surface of another mind much the way she does when Seeing, creating the illusion of a brilliant but tiny golden bird. (That part may just be her own personal artistic side.) The illusion can speak and lead, but cannot manipulate the physical world.

Light Switch - As powerful a defender as she is a manipulator; Xiaoyan can 'turn off' all but the most extreme psionic attacks directed at her person or those near her. She simply reaches out and disipates or even redirects the energy halfway through its travel. Reaching even further, she might go directly into her attacker's brain and similarly switch off the portion of the brain responsible for that energy - in effect enabling her to render fellow Psi as powerless as humans. With a bit of concentrated effort, she can induce this in Levels 4 and below. At level 5, a Psi must be either sedated or exhausted beyond resistance. Level 6's require full sedation, a battle of subconcious wills, and the victim has a chance of forcing an unblocking weeks, years, or decades into the future. Level 7's require all of the above... and immediate sucess is about a 50-50 shot, with a garunteed return of power.

Schroedinger's Box - While most of Xiaoyan's powers make her seem benign and peaceful, this one will eliminate all doubt of why she earns Psi-CON's feared Threat Level 7. Xiaoyan can place psionic blockers in a person's brain that remove one or multiple senses. Sight, hearing, taste, even feeling. She can, at will, leave an individual locked in a black oblivion of sensory deprivation. It's a terrifying vision of Hell, without any affirmation that you even still -exist-. Worse, the effect does not wear off or fade with proximity. Xiaoyan herself, or a psionic of sufficient mind-altering ability, must remove the blockers. There is no limit to the number of people she can inflict this upon, as long as she can see them directly. The shock of this sudden change - and even the shock of their senses' sudden return - can disorient a man so badly as to leave them in a catatonic state for several minutes.

Singularity - Another brutal, ugly truth behind the quiet woman with the soft smile. A form of concentrated kinesis, Xiaoyan can levitate people off of their feet and, with an intense burst of raw power, crush them in a localized gravity well. With an unlimited number of victims inside of a 40' radius, maybe Psi-CON's policy of outright eliminating Level 7's isnt all that far-fetched...

Personality: Xiaoyan comes across most often as a gentle soul. A passionate woman with a kind smile who speaks very little and listens intently to the needs of the world around her. But there is fire there, as well. She speaks with conviction, and will hold on to what she believes is right with every fiber of her being. An iron will wrapped in silk.

Role in story: Leader of the Priory of the Free Mind

History:

14 years old at the time of the Dawning, Xiaoyan Jin (Whose name roughly becomes 'Little bird of gold) was a straight A student on the fast track to early college. The daughter of a Chinese activist who had fled his home country for asylum in America, Xiaoyan grew up with a broad world view and an intimate knowledge of what happens when an entire populace is made low. When the Dawning struck, it was chaos. Life stopped. You did not go to school, you did not go to work. Normalicy became waiting in line for rations, and watching your friends disappear because they'd been drafted, or become sick, or been hauled away at night after accidentally levatating a spoon.

Inside of a year, Xiaoyan knew she was one of the new ones. She knew things that she shouldnt know, could do things that she shouldnt be able to do. And she was aware enough, adult enough, to see where it was all heading. By the time she was 20, Xiaoyan was active in the fight to retain equal rights for people labled as Psi. It was a losing fight, and with the writing plainly on the wall, Xiaoyan was one of thousands who did not show up to recieve their identification chip.

In that time, she had latched onto the crowd of people who would split into the diverse cells of resistance that quickly became such a collossal pain in Psi-CON's ass. She watched them grow around her, and watched them begin to die as Psi-CON stepped up their game. Her own startup cell was ripped apart in a night strike, with Xiaoyan escaping only because her power of Knowing when someone was targeting her developed that very night. She fled the city, her home, and all she'd known by the time she was 23.

Arriving in New Boston, she quickly aqquainted herself with the Bones - that area underneath the city - and there met a fumbling cell of free Psi who were desparately clinging to their freedom; the Priory of the Free Mind. Within a year, she was running the struggling cell. In the next, it began growing. Soon, it was stable, well-armed, and a growing threat to Psi-CON's unquestioned control of New Boston's Psi population. Flyers and grafitti appeared on the sides of government buildings. It became 'the cool thing to do' for wealthy socialite children to have a Psi friend - infuriating their parents. Political campaigns would find boxes on their stoops full of equal rights propaganda and - at the very bottom - a few pictures of their candidate's nightly indiscretions. Psi-CON vehicles were mysteriously sabotaged, Psi-CON testing facilities broke down. Illegal chip removals jumped tenfold.

At 7 years on, Xiaoyan Jin is now 30 years old, and one of the most sucessful leaders in the underground resistance movement. Psi-CON despises her talents and fears her powers. And a Little Birdy told me they aint seen nothin yet.

RP Sample:

Richard Dawson reached up to dab sweat from his receding hairline with his personal handkerchief. It was silk, you know. Imported from Neo-New Dheli. Very hard to get your hands on, since most people were more concerned with food than reviving the silkworm farms. A special gift from a special person; a person he had kept safe and hidden from the cruel world. Key word, now, was HAD...

"Richard - may I call you Richard?" Dainty porcelin fingers reached out to clasp the teacup she'd requested when she'd entered their meeting and did not wait for him to answer as he paced by the window, "I deeply wish this could have gone any other way. I am very sorry for the distress I'm causing you."

He whirled, sneer twisted up and ready to deliver an angry and sarcastic retort... but the words died on his lips. Her eyes seemed so sad and remorseful that he simply couldnt find the machismo to remain angry at her honest apology. Instead, he stuttered something about being ruined, and having to keep his campaign promises. The words felt weak even to his own ears, and mocked him for a coward.

Gently placing the tea back on the table, the tiny woman stood and approached him. He had heard rumors of how dangerous these creatures were, but the fragile flower before him just clasped his hands with her own slender fingers.

"I understand how difficult this is for you." And the sincerity was a sledgehammer against his stubborn pride, "So if you do me this great favor.. If you stand up for what is right in that forum and declare that mere babes are not political pawns - that they should be allowed to learn and grow into brilliant and brave adults - I promise you without condition that you will never hear Mr. Phillip's name outside of your own bedroom again."

Looking down at the small Chinese woman, Richard Dawson's mouth worked open and closed without a real sound. Mercifully, she only smiled, as if she'd recieved the answer that would please her, and released his hands. He fumbled backwards for the edge of his desk, and then for the big custom leather chair behind it as his knees gave out and he burried his face into his own sweaty palms.

Xiaoyan Jin straightened her blouse and politely made no further motion towards the grown-ass man now sobbing quietly, gathering her folder and exiting the plush office. She smiled gently to the secretary who offered to call her an elevator.

"No, thank you, ma'am. I prefer the stairs. When you next speak to Mr. Dawson, will you please convey my sincere gratitude for the meeting? I'm afraid we will most likely not see eachother again or I would do so myself."

With a cheery, oblivious nod, the woman busied herself on the computer, and Xiaoyan slipped into the stairwell.

'What a nice lady.' Thought the clerk as the door clicked shut. 'Oh I wish I had hair like that. Straight jet black ... Oh, no, no, she had red highlights I'm sure of it. With ringlet curls at the bottoms. Hispanic women have all the luck with those tans...And she was so tall!....'

Password: Deifier

So begins...

Xiaoyan Jin's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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#, as written by Raidose
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The night is dead, here. It's cement and steel surfaces radiate with a chilled ambiance. The ghost of noise from a passing car, on either roads or in the air above. The whisper of hurried steps clapping against the sidewalk. A sharp breeze of wind carried winter's waning frigid contempt of the season across the city, and it's mere touch stung like a sharp knife across the skin. Fleeting tears from heaven rattled against aged iron and glass with tapping repetition, with each nigh frozen drop to land upon revealed flesh sent a shock of cold straight to the bone. On the darkened roads and desolate slums of the lower East End, there was not the beautiful glow of neon lights save for those in the distance. Like a callous reminder to the standings of the residents here, the towering monoliths of vibrant colors reached up to cradle the sky. Their sides twinkled as the only stars to be seen this night, as was much to their vanity. Great pillars of luminance scoured the clouds and Earth alike, dancing and slicing back and forth across the sky. The night was brilliant for them, but here it is dead. There are no such lights, no such stars, and no such comfort. There were reasons for the streets to be barren, and the seasons bitter greetings were sadly not among them.

Those that brave the flickering streetlights and brooding ill omen of the dark streets and alleys, whether by choice or lack-there-of, can be promised little more than hardship and the looming threat of vanishing as another hollow echo in the night. Crime and gang violence survived the Dawning just as many did, and in the blink of chaos took hold of as much ground as it's bloody claws could grasp. Even with the rebuilding of the city over it's own remains, these unwanted elements lingered on. The sound of breaking glass and gunshots still part the silence of these hours. Violence lives on, in one guise or another. The media would say that this is what has become of the Psi who lash out, rebelling against their own confines in reckless displays of theft and desperatism. I wish I could say this wasn't true. To survive, some of the Gifted Kind are forced to resort to such measures. In the stillness of the late hours, treading where few eyes watch, the desperate of soul attempts what he can. They face the fear of Reaver packs, Psi-CON, street gangs, and the New Boston Police, and when their luck runs dry, the silence of the dead night is broken once more....




"Freeze!" the voice roared down the alleyway. Heavy breaths rasped puffs of steam into the air as the sound of boots meeting asphalt echoed into the night. Rubber treads slipped and struggled for traction on the slickened surface, skidding and splashing as the two thundered down the passage. "I said Freeze, God damn it!" the cops voice rang in his ears, the would-be cutpurse still clutching to his catch. Every step in his mad dash to freedom made the bones in his legs rattle and jolt, causing pain the likes of which overwhelmed the burning of his lungs. His eyes darted for any turns or narrow openings he could find. A sharp change of direction caused his feet to skid out from under him, landing him square on his ass before scrambling back into a full sprint. Another error like that would place him in arm's reach of his pursuer, and a fate this man truly dreaded more than anything. It was rare to ever hear what happened to imprisoned Psi, and the rumors were never pretty. The usual price for a petty snatch & grab was generally just a thorough beating and some rough jail time, but this was different. He'd failed to register himself for over a month, and knew something in him had changed. Something big. He knew that if he were caught, he wouldn't be coming back from wherever they sent him.

His getaway was cut off by a blinding light burning into his eyes, stunning him before he could realise that this was backup. And it wasn't his. A twinge of pain as the dart stuck to his chest, followed by an intense surge of electricity. The voltage was enough to cause visible smoke as he writhed and wriggled on the ground in agony, capitalized by a sharp kick to the gut for good measure. "Nice shot. Thought I'd have to chase this asshole all night..." the one borg commented to his partner, leering down at their catch of the day. "Now what did I say? Do you remember what I said?" With a flick, the billy club came to full length, delivering the first of many cracks to their captives sides. "When. I. Say. Freeze. It. Means. You. Fucking. Freeze!" Each word being punctuated by another swing to the ribs. The click of another nightstick sounded as the cop's partner was eager to try out his batting average. The pauses between beatings were marked with kicks to the back and head, repeating again and again until... something pulsed. A bolt of ephemeral blue energy cut a deep circle into the cement below the two drones' feet, causing a start of both surprise and confusion before the engraving detonated beneath them. Both officers were sent flying backwards, and one of them landed with an unhealthy crack. The surviving partner drew his gun, only to see the same blue energy slice straight up his body armor. The thief struggled to his feet, but when his eye caught the cop's finger on the trigger, he panicked.

And the slice detonated.

He ran, as fast and as hard as he could. He ran to the end of the alley, away from the scene of his latest crime. Double homicide. He was a cop killer now, and his worst fears came true. Lights beamed down on him, blinding him. Shielded by his hand, he could see two more badges take up cover and arms behind their squad car. No words were said before they fired. Rounds tore through the man's ragged shirt, and blood stained the snow at his feet. How it all came to this reeled back through his mind. His body lost strength, and he landed face down in the street. One more Psi would die a criminal for all the city to know, and the two officers who died in service would be the heroes. That is how this city runs, survives, and bleeds.




Pain, radiating from loosened teeth and rattled jaw. The copper tinge of blood. The unforgiving kiss of the curb. Right now, a young man knew this all too well. He stood accused by his classmates of using psionics on his girlfriend. For making her love him, as surely there was no other way for a Psi. At least, that was their belief. On the edge of a desolate parking lot, just a few feet from the saving grace of a streetlight's shining halo. His date in question was restrained back as the beatings continued. For every attempt made to stand, a fist met his jaw to place him back on the ground. His persecutor gripped the tape-wrapped handle of his DeMarini aluminum bat tightly, sliding his hands down into a better swinging position. "Last chance, shit-stain! What'd you do to her? Or do I gotta use this a few times?"

The boy retched and spit the contents of his mouth on the ground, before casting a hateful glance up. "Fuck you, Mike! I didn't do shit! I can't even do that kinda shit anyway! It's on my fucking school she-Gagh!" Cut off by the baseball bat colliding with his spine, followed by a strong boot to the gut to kick some of the defiance out of him. A scornful snarl crossed Mike's face as he rolled the boy over on his back. "Don't even try that bullshit on me, John. I know you freaks can get all kindsa fucked up powers in between your check-ups. So what was it? Some mind control telepathic bullshit? Huh?! Hey, answer me you little fag!"

Mike brought the bat down again just as John grabbed ahold of Mike's shin. John's other hand reached up and caught Mike's swing, while Mike himself got the oddest sensation that someone had just clubbed him in the ankle with a metal bat. The schoolyard jock keeled over, clasping at his leg and howling in pain. John was quick to relieve him of the bat just as the rest of Mike's cronies moved in. John swung madly, using his ability to transfer force of impact between two people the whole time. With each hit he took, John reached out to grab another one and send them the hit. Even with the odds stacked heavily against him, the gang finally began to back off. Taking small, cautious steps towards his girlfriend, he kept that bat ready the whole time. John thought he had done it, that he was home free. At least for tonight.

His hopes shattered when Mike got back up, pulling out a small snub-nose he had tucked under his shirt. It was the first time John ever stared down the barrel of a gun, and now it might be the last....




In the old days prior to the civil war, those with kind hearts offered shelter to escaped slaves. In hidden rooms or unmarked cellars, they would hide from the law and their owners. In the time of Hitler's reign over Germany, those same shelters offered safety to those of Jewish beliefs. Always in times of cruelty, humanity is not one to completely abandon the forsaken party. Even in our time, the offer of shelter and safety exists for those those stray or even illegal Psi. More often than not, these refugees were hidden right under the foundation of their saviour's home. The blurring and mashing of old building plans made finding any hidden basements nearly impossible, and the runners had long since found a way passed the thermal scans. Wooden boards to dampen the feedback signature of high grade thermal insulation. Old tricks with new measures taken by those who refuse to shirk their fellow man, powers be damned.

The room was dimly lit with low-watt bulbs, hand-cranked lights and old oil lanterns. This looked to once been a small suite for a hotel long before the city sunk, with now it's only path to the surface leading through the homeowner's living room. The kindly couple handed out their canned goods as many fidgeted in their hand-me-down coats for warmth. The Anders had taken in three families, equaling five adults, two children, and one infant. Mr. Anders helped hand out the rations while the Mrs. took care of everything else, which right now consisted of making sure the baby was okay. This woman was an only mother, and the newest one to take refuge here. There wasn't much shared, and being a fairly newlywed, Rebecca Anders was a bit curious. This woman gave only warm vibes, offering a rather bright smile when Rebecca sat down next to her.

"I never did ask, what's her name?" Rebecca started, offering another spare blanket to bundle. "Amy. She's named after my grandmother." Her smile was warming, and her eyes held nothing but pride in her baby girl. "It's suits her. And the father is...?" The glint in the woman's eyes revealed a tinge of sadness before she could hide it, her head lowered a bit before she tried to regain her smile. "He's... not with us anymore. Didn't want a daughter who was......" She couldn't finish it. Rebecca blushed deeply, feeling slightly ashamed for being so nosey. "Oh... I-I'm so sorry. I didn't mean..." The mother shook her head. "No, it's alright. It's nice to have someone to listen." That made Rebecca smile a bit, knowing that she may have done some good rather than salt a wound.

But then a budding question began to rise, till she could barely ignore it. "So.... you're not a Psi?" "No..." she said, bouncing her little girl a bit. "No, I'm not that special. But she is. She's my little gift, and I knew if any one else knew.... I couldn't let that happen." "But... If she wasn't tested, than how do you kn-..." Rebecca felt herself cut off, not by words or a glare, but by a look. It was strangely warm and knowing, but the mother held a look that reminder Rebecca of her own mother. "No one had to tell me a thing. You just know." It wasn't understandable, but Rebecca couldn't question it. She wanted to, but.... she simply couldn't. Something about this woman just made her so sure, and there was no doubt.

A sudden, forceful knock on the door set everyone on alarm. The Anders did not have anyone come over, as they had few they could trust. All the lights went out, and the basement went dead silent. Another pounding on the door as the couple rushed back upstairs. The Vid-Com at the door showed something that made their blood freeze. A shield with the banner "In Eiicient Oculus". Psi-CON's motto. The husband answered the door with faux surprise. "O-Oh, uhhh. Can I help you, officer?" With one foot already in the door, the Con Man stepped in. His respirator masked his voice, but did nothing for the accusations. "We've received reports of unusual activity. Multiple noise complaints. We're required to search your premises. We trust you comply." Before an objection could be made, three more armed with rifles walked in like they owned the house. "Uhh, no. Of course, come right in."

Down below they all huddled together in deathly silence from the creaking and hushed voices from above. Fathers and Mothers hugged their children close, wishing one thought alone. Let them go away. Heavy boots against the floorboards groaned out each step they took as their faceless leader inspected the living room. "Wood flooring?" he remarked while glancing down. "C-came with the house" his wife blurted, letting a little bit of her nerves show. "Odd. Not often seen in homes today." "Uh, yes" the husband stepped forward. "It's one of the reasons we got this place for so little. It really is terrible for keeping the cold out, and we were saving up to have the whole place redone." That mask hid all facial expressions, giving Mr. Anders no clue if this man was buying his little performance. Right now, he was just grateful for each moment his hands were not in cuffs.

"Hey, check this out" a voice rang from another room, causing both the couple's hearts to leap. Another faceless soldier came in holding little figurines. "Animaniacs. I use to love these guys when I was a kid, where'd you get these?" Letting out a small chuckle of relief, the husband perks up, "I'm an antiques dealer. It kinda went from hobby to passion, I guess." An uneasy silence follows the still hanging hope that this close call is almost over.

Finishing with their inspection, the troopers begin to depart. With the last squeak of the floor boards came a sound which stopped all heartbeats below. The infant girl sneezed. The Psi-CON officer paused instantly, looking back. Those soulless eyes scanned the couple as well as the room, before looking down again. The silence drags on for a small eternity before he finally lifts his boot, causing the board to squeak again. "These types of homes were always horrible with their noises." "Yes.... especially around this time of the year...." The door was finally closed, and the two embraced each other, thankful that it was finally over.

They don't see the officer outside hold up two fingers, rolling his wrist twice for the signal. The few moments of peace are shattered as gas grenades are fired through their windows. The door is broken down as the two are tasered and dragged away. All subtlety forgoed, it doesn't take long before the basement is flooded with tear gas. A loud voice booms down the stairs. "Remain Where You Are. Do Not move Or We Will Open Fire." Of course, this announcement comes in the middle of the panic and chaos. It was little more than a formality, really. Psi-CON soldiers storm down into the hidden area, rifles trained on all target. Those who can fight try their best to protect their families....

And then the shooting starts....




Wind howled through the narrow confines of the alley, slithering along like a river through a canal. It grated against warm bodies and robbed them of their heat. In it's place it left nothing but tokens of chills and despair. This is why good shelter was so hard to come by for those that traverse the back alley streets of the lower East Side, and one such traveler was learning this lesson rather hard. A lone figure in tattered clothing fought against this foul wind as he searched for a place to shield him from this horrid night's cold. With arms wrapped tight, he shivered profusely to escape the chill in his body before pressing on. Winter was always the worst time to be without a home, and every step was simply reminding Thomas of that more and more as he trudged past a played out mural depicting a cartoon city.

He paused a moment to gawk, taking in the literal Stormtroopers with cherry lights on their heads, the many eyeballs leering out of the sides of each building and even the sky, and of course the towering depictions of Psi-CON troops in flowing white robes and hoods, "CON" was written in large red letters on each of their fronts. On the far left side stood a row of faceless soldiers surrounded by bright red fire. On the right was a very Grim Reaper-like figure, complete with dark wings and dressed in an all-black robe. The only difference was that instead of a skull peering out from under it's hood, it was only two rounded purple orbs.

Thomas didn't seem to be much for art, especially when survival was in question. He had to pick up his pace anyways, as an old familiar feeling crept up his spine. Something was following him. With newfound vigor in his step, he turned to begin a dash down the darkened corridor. Being active helped with staying warm, so running may do some good in either case. Thomas did miss quite a sight when he turned, the black figure looming away from the wall to watch him dart down the alley. Peeling from the wall, the work of an artist's imagination took shape as a physical being clad in a long, dark coat, complete with those piercing eyes.

"Huh.... Interesting."



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D 3d LyT3 leaned out from his hiding, having taking shelter in his illusion mere feet from his target. He knew the boy had not suspected anything, but still worry was on his mind. More than caution, but not quite fear. This was it's own feeling, one earned from experience and years of being on the run. This was something that could be utilized, and D 3d LyT3 liked that. Xiaoyan was right, this one was indeed worth watching. The boy was fast, too. Within a few moments he had fled the field of D3d LyT3's telepathic influence, and not long after that all mental images of the boy's presence vanished from his mind. This might be some fun after all. Taking not but a single step, a burst of raw force underneath his foot shot him up to the rooftops. His heel came to a muffled landing on the edge of the buildings cap, cushioned by the same power used to reach this height. Leaning forward, another blast launched him forth after his quarry and across the gaps between roofing.

A gloved hand gripped the ledge of a good vantage point, the rest of his cloaked figure not far behind. He lurked above his target's head, both to keep watch and in a small way egg him to run further. Always he kept the boy in his awareness, spying him from the roofs in a way no waking eye ever could. D 3d LyT3 kept his distance, but always kept Thomas close enough to see a few precious seconds ahead. At this rate, it wasn't entirely necessary. Having had such a close encounter with the lad, D 3d LyT3 could very well track his thoughts through several blocks beyond his normal range before losing track of Thomas. Though a pesky thought not of his own ceaselessly pestered him, so he gave some space to his game. He loomed over the world below him with all the presence of a stone gargoyle. He sat and spoke aloud, and though no visible company was present, he knew his words were being heard.

"Got close enough for a read. Stray, unchipped from birth." "...." "None anymore. Cons. Suffered a bad loss fairly recently. Friend. High level Psi. Popped by local PD." "....." "Yes. Tragic." "....." "Couldn't get an age. Rough count says maybe seventeen. Not a lot of references in his memories, so give or take." "...." "I can promise, but I can't promise to keep my promise." ".............." "I make no promises." "........." "Immaturity isn't my game, you'll want one of the other's in here for that." "......" "Can't say. Kid's heading into an area with eyes all over. 'Renovation' I believe was the lie. Too many camera's go out from me getting too close, and, well...." "...." "Definite loner, though not one by choice. He's edgy, paranoid. The useable kind. We could use him, but there are better. Much better." "....." "All I got was 'he jumps good'. Kid's quick on his feet, though I got nothing beyond that." "....." "This sounds like punishment. I wasn't the one who started shooting." "........." "Alright, alright. I'll watch how this plays out, but only because I'm curious."

D 3d LyT3 did not get curious often, for that usually implied he missed something. A rare thing, made more so when he'd admit it. This one definitely held his interest, whether that be for good or bad. With a dive and a few great bounds he'd caught up to his mark, keeping his unblinking gaze centered on the boy's every move. "I wonder.... If this pawn is so special, then will he feel the weight of the hand which moves him forward? Or will he remain in blissful ignorance of the game he's stepped into?" In the middle of his musings, a subtle alert crept into D 3d LyT3's attention. A threat in small numbers. On foot, aggressive, predatory.... and Psionic. It seems Psi-CON has done a poor job of ridding this city of it's Reaver nuisance. A sudden twist to the game.

But not entirely an unwelcomed one.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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"Oh fuck... Well! Fancy meeting you here!"

"Dont you think that may have been slightly cliche?"

The voice was a musical chuckle, chiding Samuel from a bright place in his own mind.

Xiaoyan wasnt there of, course. Wrapping her hands around a chipped mug, she enjoyed the heat and comfort and light that many others in the Bones could only dream about. She had a sturdy if often-repaired chair beneath her, a string of decorative lights cast a comforting glow around the masonry of her so-called office and home, and if she closed her eyes and hoped /really/ hard, she might still faintly taste the tea leaves that graced the bottom of the cup weeks ago.

Here at the center of the proverbial web, it wasnt long before her attention was inevitably tugged away, and Samuel would be aware that the light touch at the periphery of his attention moved away, leaving him alone again like the sun gone behind a cloud.

Spreading her fingers across the papers before her, she wasnt worried. Samuel could handle himself, or she wouldnt have trusted him alone. Xiaoyan's ephemral presences may occasionally flit to look over the shoulders of her agents; but it was an act of curiosity rather than mistrust. She didnt get out much, herself, when there was so much work to do behind the scenes.

The newspaper smuggled from above detailed the uproar caused by her latest machinations. She'd known that sending a man into the fire would be unpleasant in the extreme. The reaction had been what she'd expected. Abrupt backpeddling from his long-term supporters. Cries of condemnation. A letter of resignation that couldnt be filed fast enough. But the commotion and uproar it'd caused had given the underdogs hope. It might be only prolonging the inevitable, but for that window of time Psi children would get a chance at education.

With a soft sigh and a curious leafing through pages of sports and buisness dribble, Xiaoyan lifted the paper off of her scavenged metal desk and cast it into the ever-hungry firepit that dominated the corner of the room; giving warmth against the damp and cold of the water-level Bones where the Priory made its haven.

A report of supplies - always dangerously low - required her to juggle the needs of her sanctuary; sending a team of the Priory out to scavenge while others she sent away entirely to lessen the burden. Someone wounded in a skirmish with a Psi-CON ambush had an update on a route that was no longer safe. Another suspected his partner of being a spy. Paranoia, simple dislike, or very real threat?

Finally, with the most pressing tasks sorted, Xiaoyan sighed and closed her eyes. Letting her mind go with the breath, she plucked at the threads of light that floated around her. Most of those closest were satisfied, if ringed in fatigue and the vague unease of the hunted. She sought farther; away from the bright nest of light and life that was the Priory and into the dark, fearful skitterings of the Bones. She was familiar with who she sought, but spotting him still took care when he was 'hunting' as he was now.

Even then, the sudden tangle of dark, twisted threads that jutted and grasped took her by surprise every time, and it was a long moment before she picked her way delicately through the thorny, dangerous tangles that desparately grabbed at her as if to catch and smother her light.

She didnt speak - just watched for a moment before reaching out again with D3d Lyt3 as a starting point until she found the bright thread she was looking for. Alone, hurt, and scared.

Reaching out with warmth like a friendly smile, Thomas would suddenly be aware of a movement from behind his shoulders. Small and non-threatening, a bird flutters to a perch near a tunnel junction. Small with brilliant black eyes and bright yellow-gold feathers that looked like they cast their own light in the gloom.

Tilting its head this way and that, and looking up as the sounds of something heavy hitting concrete, the bird leaves the broken rebar and shoots down a tunnel that he may not otherwise have considered, setting on a piece of rubble to look at him again. As escape routes go, it wasnt one he might normally approve of - strange animals that had no right to exist down here and all - but there are distant scrabblings in the rubble that suggest whatever happened back there was making enough noise to attract things. Things attracted to trouble in the Bones were never good news.

Take his chances with the Reavers, or see just how deep the rabbit hole went?

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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#, as written by Raidose
Dipping, darting, lunging, sprinting, diving head first into the unforgiving labyrinth in ways attainable only to one not hindered by sight. Dark shadows sprinted like tempted wolves after a fleeing hare, being surveyed yet more by eyes of the mind and madness. With every turn, he was waiting. With every leap, he watched. Every pause the boy made was one not alone. Always were the hairs on the nape of his neck on end, though for reasons Thomas was never fully aware of. This presence was both that of judge and spectator. All moves were analysed and adjudicated, but none ever halted the spreading of that twisted smile upon D3d LyT3's weathered lips. Oh, Thomas was fast alright. He had been all his life, and D3d LyT3 could see it now. With a shift and a turn, the boy could alter his own center of gravity at will. Each step carried the bounce of a feather yet the momentum of a roll stone, exerting minimal energy to propel oneself forward and yet having the control to turn on a dime.

With every breath of time that those grasping hands grew ever near to clutching the back of Thomas' shirt, D3d LyT3 knew this should be something he disliked. And yet that grin only crept further. Though there was one thing he admired more than the boy's perseverance in the name of survival, and that was the nightmares which plagued him. Oh how he silently cooed in adoring, much like one would do with a child and their first bicycle. A darling attempt with such potential. Though they were still lacking. The tricks of the elder, diving into one's subconscious to find that they fear most, were missing here. The vision of the artist, deriving the beautiful from the mundane world to produce works of art, whether spellbinding or simply obscene. The imagination of the dreamer, to take what one knew as his own mechanisations of insanity and project them forward as twisted and chilling scenes of the most macabre nature. So many things did it take to craft true horrors and nightmares in one's mind, and this young pupil lacked so many. He pitied her.

Though the most beautiful chord in the orchestra was in the guise of a sharp knife, wrote in an ink of arterial blood. Thomas was proving more and more fun the longer this progressed, though visions of the imminent happening showed that this must be the crescendo. It could not progress any further, lest it end in the boy's death.

We have to help him. We are going to help him, right?

Mmmmm..... Time for some fun, then?

Is this method really the most appropriate? Even in the Bones, violence draws attention. You know she will not approve of this.

Hmhmhmhmmm.... Brutal necessity, as it were....

In an explosion of dust and glass, Thomas tumbled after his dance with the telekinetic. He rebounded quickly, but the signs of a concussion were obvious, his vision blurred and thoughts whirling. Stepping forth as the man he was may not have been the best of ideas, so D3d LyT3 stood instead as the man Thomas was. That mischievous smile crept back, seeing the boy's mind squirm with confusion about his doubled self. Though time was pressing, and timing was everything. Before Thomas could ask any questions, his mirror spoke.

"Run"

The boy followed orders very well, barely even skipping a beat as he vanished into darkness. The entrance to the little room burst off it's hinges as the Reaver woman stepped through, still obviously infuriated about her little nosebleed. What she saw as her culprit offered not but a smug grin and a condescending chuckle. His payment was to be catapulted back the way "he" had come. The landing was not easy, twisting and rolling to a slowed halt atop the crumbling roof that now made this little island in the Styx. The droning laughter began again as his hand lifted him to his feet, and not long after was hoisted up by the invisible strings not his own. Her index finger signaled her prey to be drawn closer, with D3d LyT3 levitating inches away from her face. She stared at him, a poor attempt to provoke fear, but instead betrayed her curiosity. Was he humming? Oh, indeed he was. A Merry little tune from the few retained memories of youth he possessed. In her curiosity, she did not notice how his hand had become free of her telekinetic bindings. A strike across the face refocused her, staring in disbelief at that ever-arrogant smile.

"There's no strings on me...." he said very matter-of-factly, landing on the floor at his own accord. Hubris, very easy to taunt. She exuded it in waves, and all D3d LyT3 needed to do was provoke it. As he had seen, she lashed forward, gripping his head tightly with both hands in an iron-clad grip. His own hands clamped down on her wrist, though not in an attempt to remove her grasp, but rather to forcefully reaffirm it. Of course she could not understand why, until the pain started. Burning, like her entire nervous system was stripped out of her body one string at a time, and her bone marrow became like molten iron. Muscles contracted well beyond their limit, exposing the web of veins along her skin. Her thoughts raced as she tried to break the connection. Why was this happening? She had never felt this before when she fed. Then, she realised it, the resonance she was feeding on was her own. It was the reason Reavers not fed on each other, because trying to assimilate one's own resonance was always fatal. Struggling and kicking, she finally broke free of the connection, though was now to weakened to resist the grip around her throat.

It was quite the demoralising sight, seeing their leader launched thirty-feet straight up and crashing to the ground. Her body going limp before their feet. The male and female exchange glances of panic, before she attempts to stare "Thomas" down. "Covered in insects...." she hissed, and her imagination soon had them crawling all over. Itching, biting, stinging, skittering, and not resisted at all. D3d LyT3 simply tilted back his head and began cackling, continuing so as the creatures began to completely enclose his face. The mocking laughter never ceased, and soon those two eyes of brilliant dark purple burned their way through the bugs. It was only seconds after that all the insects looked as though they burrowed into his skin, revealing neither the boy nor whatever haunt those eyes belonged to. It was a figure not familiar to any save the male Reaver. The figure looked for all the world to be his drunkard of an uncle, the man who raised him.

"Yer still useless...." the ghost of a man hissed. "More than you use t'be, Timmy... Yer still that worthless whiner, ain't ya boy? Still the balling babe I found on th'street, eh? You never stopped yer cryin' and you never will! Now you ain't nothin' but a thief, like yer God forsaken old man! Still a spineless lil' coward. Always takin' more and more! You took my brother away from me, and you took yer mother away from him!" The apparition berated him over and over, leaving him stupefied and shaken. His fellow Reaver tried again and again to summon more illusions, but found her powers failing to even take form. "Look at ya now! Lil' scared-of-the-dark Tim-tim still too chicken to stand up for himself! You gonna cry, boy? Huh?! You gonna cry like you use to when I had to lock ya in The Room?" Finally a bitter memory brought forth the rage needed to snap him back, and the Reaver lunged forward with a fist shrouded in flames. His hammering strike made contact, though resulted only in the figure dispersing in a swarm of billions of tiny, black fly-like insects.

The torrent of bugs howled around the room, spreading the hair-raising laughter of at least four different voices. Caught stunned by the event, the Snipe never once noticed the thickening swarm behind him. The bright flash of those eyes was followed shortly by the plunge of a knife. The living miasma dispersed, revealing D3d LyT3 as his physically was to her. A sign of respect from one crafter of delusions and dreams to another. Though he fancied this moment, she was all too quick to take up arms. Her fingers gripped the leashes as they formed within her hands, trailing down the the collars of two terrible hounds straight from the fanciful tales of Sherlock Holmes. She let them loose with the added cry of "Havoc", though at their freedom they did not budge. There was no chasing, no tearing of flesh or screams of anguish. They merely stood there, and then turned back to her. Froth dripped from their fangs, deep growls raised their hackles as they eyed her down. A sudden gnash of those horrid teeth caused her to stumble and fall. She knew these things were not real. She had made them only moments before, figments of her own imagination brought to life at her own beck and call. She knew they did not exist.

But then, why is it they now felt so real?

A full pack of the accursed dogs surrounded her, trapping her in the center of the platform. she felt the very Earth quake and tremble beneath her, as the man in the black trench coat vanished into a cloud of buzzing insects. The surface of the platform she sat upon cracked open, seeping black sludge in small bubbling pools. The whole area began to twist and deform, breaking all laws of reality. The very rivers of the Styx now rushed up the walls with a fervor, as if gravity had actually sanctioned this action. They roared and splashed as white rapids up to the ceiling, becoming thicker and darker with the foul black tar. These four new rapids clashed together far above her head, arching down as if to crush her, but halting eerily in the air. It twisted and contorted, revealing itself as sentient, and then revealing those eyes again. They burned so bright from the center of such terrible blackness, pinning the woman in her place with only the sheer power of that glare. With a deep rumbling howl did a hole tear open in it's face, deepening into a bottomless maw derived from the depths of insanity. This lord of nightmares leaned so close, he could easily swallow her whole had he desired.

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An enormous hand, made solid from a torrent of the black ichor, reached out to her. In the age it took, she could see trapped within the palm the faces of every Psi she had ever fed on, every life she ever took. They writhed and screamed, arms lashing out eager for the moment where they may grab her. As the clawed hand fell, so too did darkness with it.....


The sounds were soothed to the soft rumble of the waters and the tapping of boots against the concrete floor. D3d LyT3 gazed down upon the girl, smirking at the frozen expression of fear upon her features. Her skin was stark wight, eyes wide open, still staring at the ceiling above. She laid there tense as a bowstring till finally her mind simply could not hold out and just let go. Her life left her as a breath as it relaxed. D3d LyT3 knelt down, closing her eyes her two fingers. "Such a shame. Such wasted potential....." Though this was not the end. The other reavers of this pack were already descending down into the Styx, and in truth he was in rush to finish this quickly. Pulling his two sharpest knives from his coat, his head purred with the excited voice of the Scarecrow, eager for more violence. Oz reached out his thoughts to that of the bird.

"Xiaoyan, I hope you can take the boy from here. I may be a while...."

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny
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Thomas wrapped his arms across his chest trying to keep warm in the cold sanctum of The Bones. He was too tired and cold to muffle his footsteps, and so they echoed throughout the tunnels. The sounds of crashes from behind shot through the corridors like sonic waves, but as Thomas distanced himself the booms became fainter and fainter. Water permeated Thomas's hole filled boots from stepping in the many puddles that dotted the cold floor of The Bones, some areas containing shallow pools of water which only further soaked Thomas's boots. The cold breeze that occasionally swept through the area made matters worse. Slowly Thomas's fingers were becoming numb and his mind began to wander. Thoughts of Aunt Aggie and Kenny flooded his thoughts, his movement slowed, and finally he fell to one knee. His strength, like a fire losing oxygen, dwindled and flickered before dying out. His face met the floor, almost half of it submerged in water. He had no thoughts on what was happening, it was like falling asleep. There was no fear or worry, just ignorant bliss as his mind trailed away from his body. Once more he was stolen away from death as he felt a warm presence behind him. He mustered enough strength to raise back to one knee. Flying past him was a small bird, a golden canary. It landed on a piece of rebar sticking out of the wall. In front of him was a junction, a three way. The canary seemed to motion its head to the left passageway. Thomas knew normally to take right turns as they would keep you in the center, while left turns would take you further into the unknown Bones. The bird began to take off down the left tunnel, seeming to illuminate the area around it. Thomas, lacking any real choices and unsure if he was even still alive at this point, forced himself up to his feet and began his trek following the canary.

The routes taken by the bird were new to Thomas, he had no idea where they were or where they were going. His pace was slow and at times he would have to take a second to lean against the wall, but the bird would stop and wait for him every time. After more than half an hour had passed, footsteps could be heard up ahead accompanied by voices. Thomas, in no condition to run or even evade the possible hostiles ahead, relied on the Canary to maneuver around them using alternate tunnel ways. At one point they came across a gap created by part of the tunnel caving in. The only way past was to jump the 20 foot gap, which Thomas could usually do easily, but in his state of near death it proved to be a challenge. Upon making the leap he failed to land it, and it seemed he wouldn't be able to catch the ledge either. Just before dropping shy of the ledge, he saw a golden arm reach out and catch his hand. He barely blinked before noticing there was no arm, instead he was holding onto the ledge. With a struggle he pulled himself up and spotted the bird waiting for him. It was not long after that when the bird landed on a grate on the ground and began pecking at it. As Thomas walked over to it the bird flew of of it for Thomas to lift it. It wasn't very heavy, and so Thomas had little trouble moving it out of the way. He dropped down into the hole and landed in a crouch, using his hands to keep from falling over. He found himself in a narrow passageway that led out to some kind of Atrium, but he was too tired and it was too far away for him to make anything out. The bird had disappeared, but it did not stop him continuing. When he came to the end of the passage, what he saw was something he'd never had expected to be in The Bones, a place he would soon be able to call home.

Image


It was some kind of small village, a community built in a large atrium of the old sewer system. It was flooded, but on top of the water were wooden platforms and buildings on top of those. There were some wooden catwalks build from platform to platform, but small motor boats were used to cover large distances. While it wasn't a sprawling metropolis, it was indeed large enough to hold a resistance that could lay a new foundation in this world.

Thomas, finally having arrived and ready to just drop to the ground, took a step froward from where he was onto an old wooden catwalk. Had he been more observant and not so close to death, he may have noticed that it was falling apart before he even stepped foot on it, but given the situation, he did not. His weight, which really wasn't a considerable amount, was too much to be supported and Thomas fell right through and into the water. He tried to swim up, but all he could manage was to slowly wave his arms up. Peacefully he began to sink down. He could still see the torches that lit up the atrium from under the water, which were the last things he saw before his eyes closed and his mind drifted once more.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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It would be easy to give up, wouldn't it? Many others had before him, and many more would after. But drowning was a hard way to go, once your lungs finally unsealed and let in the cold water. It caused involuntary spasms of muscles as the body seized and the mind jerked between the will to die and the instinct to live. Drowned men may look peaceful, asleep almost, but you just had to look into their bulging, frozen eyes to know it'd been a terrible way to shake hands with Death.

The hand shaking his isn't skeletal, though. Rather than pull him down into the depths of brackish decay, it pulls him back up towards those gleaming torches. The rushing sound in his ears isn't his faltering heart, but the quick speech of the shadows above him. Hell spits him back out of its black mouth, ice water racing off of him and leaving only the cold in its place. The cold and the rough handling of someone that pounds him on the back repeatedly even as he's held upright, forcefully expelling the water out of his lungs with every blow between his shoulderblades. The voices continue as the sensation of being carried becomes a very real one; planks of wood creaking and ropes straining as lantern light overhead passes in and out of vision.

Time is a lucid thing in his condition. It may be seconds, or it may be hours later that the moving stops and the cold in his bones is chased away by the rattling hum of a space heater. Somewhere in his stupor the shredded and bloodied rags he'd come down here with were replaced with loose jeans and a stained shirt. Tight wraps and fresh stitches deftly applied hold his abused flesh together. There's even a makeshift IV of a ziplock bag and some mystery clear liquid - saline by the smell - funneled into his arm through the courtesy of a colored plastic tube that sure as hell wasn't hospital issue.

He isn't alone.

There's someone at the chair next to the door. Well, I say 'door', but what I mean is 'privacy cloth to keep the heat in'. A short woman with long black hair and Asian features looks to have fallen asleep with her hands neatly folded on her lap. His belongings - such as they are - are stacked neatly beside the table. They've been gone through, but nothing taken. Beyond the flap is the sound of a small, working community. People walk around, someone calls out to another, boat motors idle by and fires for both light and warmth crackle. It all echoes dully around in the pocket of air here at the water level; pushing back the dead and eerie blackness of the deep Bones.

Miles away, darting in and out as the darkness twists and defies her attempts to alight, Xiaoyan's presence is irritatingly persistent, and defies the attempts to drive her away again and again. At last, she finds her opening, and dives into the black heart of the Psi she was following in the ethereal. D3d was always hard to reach when he was like this. The others drove her off, threatened to infect and consume her in their madness. Her interference tipped the balance of power too often in the Wizard's favor, and they resented her every drawn breath like dogs resented the leash. Seeking him out was dancing through a thicket without touching the thorns. Speaking to him was trying to sprint through rain without letting the drops find you.

Somewhere in the morass, in between the howls and hisses and rantings of the others, she plucks out the vocie of reason. Well, that was a lie. None of it was reasonable, none of it was pleasant. But there were some in the dark, twisted reaches of D3d's mind that were able to be reasoned with. It was one of the Others that was having his fun. The sort of fun that made Xiaoyan take care not to /watch/ what he was doing over his shoulder. But while the bloody display rages out in reality, the little bird whispers into Oz's ear.

The boy had been found, and saved, and was safe. Now he should be too. Blood attracted blood - she didnt need to tell him that. Too much attracted more than dogs. Scarecrow had had his fun. Xiaoyan didnt like to encourage him.

Back through the darkness into the nest of light, as Thomas stirs in earnest with the mind to take his things and be out before the woman woke up, she does. Just opens her eyes abruptly and smiles across the room at him.

"Welcome back to the living. It seems like you didnt have the Boatman's fare."

Standing, she's shorter even than his emaciated frame, and looks about as threatening as a butterfly. Not that appearances meant spit if she was Psi, but at least she wasnt making him halucinate while she tried to eat his resonance, so take your improvements where you can. It was hard to imagine the slight figure harming anything.

"To the questions you're going to ask: You're safe, I'm a friend, and yes; you are free to leave whenever you like, but I'll hope you'll stay for a hot meal and a rest."

Her cheeky smile suggests she was having fun anticipating his questions /without/ reading his mind. A shadow falls on the curtain and someone knocks on the frame. The little Chinese woman turns and draws it back, revealing a scruffy black man with a patch over his eye and nasty burn scarring on the side of his face and neck, holding out two bowls of something hot enough to steam in his massive hands. With a nod of thanks, the woman takes them both.

"If your timing was any better you'd be Psi, Lawrence. Thank you." She turns to Thomas, offering him his choice of what looks to be a thick stew of whatever was still edible, "This is the man that fished you out when you... 'dropped in' for a visit."

If he takes one, she sits in her chair with the other. If he mistrusts the bowls, she sets it temptingly on the stand beside his belongings and still cradles her own as the curtain falls back into place and the man leaves. Allowing the heat to seep into her delicate fingers for a long moment before tipping the bowl back to sip at the broth, she eats in a calm silence that leaves itself open to the questions Thomas might ask. If he choses to not ask any at all, she doesnt press him. But questions -begged- to be asked, because this sort of hospitality and good fortune simply didnt exist in the Bones, especially not for him, given the run of bad luck in his life recently. They were deep, too. Deep enough to be at the water table, for fuck's sake. That was beyond dangerous and well into Crazy.

Throughout all of these conflicting and confusing thoughts, that small woman just continues to sit there on her chair and smile serenely at him, like they were chatting in a living room over tea.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny
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Thomas was plunged out of the water by some unknown bystander. His consciousness faded in and out, and all he remembered was falling in and being dragged out onto the wooden walkways. After being placed in a bed, his body stirred about while his mind attempt to come to grips with the denial of death. He didn't know how long he was out for, but it was long enough for his body to warm and his survival instinct to once again activate. At first he was startled, tensing up quickly and scanning the room, but his concerns were mostly put to rest when a woman's friendly voice reassured him.

"To the questions you're going to ask: You're safe, I'm a friend, and yes; you are free to leave whenever you like, but I'll hope you'll stay for a hot meal and a rest."


She had a certain peace to her, a confidence that radiated throughout the room. It was, in itself, a warming presence (literally it seemed) that left Thomas feeling perhaps too safe considering the situation he found himself in. At first he did not say anything, taking it all in and enjoying the warmth and comfort of the bed he was in. It didn't take very long for the curtain that covered the doorway to be approached and then opened by the woman, a black man on the other side. He looked a little beat up, but there was some kind of familiarity to him. In his hand he held two bowls, steam raising from them. Thomas smelt them before seeing them and his attention narrowed. There was now only three things in the world: Thomas and the two bowls of mystery stew.

""If your timing was any better you'd be Psi, Lawrence. Thank you.""
She took the bowls and then turned her head to Thomas.
"This is the man that fished you out when you... 'dropped in' for a visit."


The woman offered Thomas a bowl, to which he graciously and unflinchingly accepted/snatched and began to smother his face into the bowl. He was so invested in the stew that Psi-CON could have been banging on the door...or window...curtain(?) and Thomas wouldn't even blink. The stew had been transported from the bowl to his stomach in record time, which created an awkward silence when he looked up to see the woman had just barely taken a bite of hers. For a while Thomas just stared, unblinking and slightly squinting at the woman, waiting for this hallucination to cease or the catch to be made apparent. This caution and suspicion was short lived, however, as once again the very atmosphere brought on by the woman just put Thomas at ease. He opened his mouth, ready to speak, but then shut it and looked down at the ground awkwardly. A moment went by and he gained back his composure.

"The...the bird, that was you?"

It would have been more polite and perhaps smarter of him to wait for a response, but his mind was on a roll and he hadn't dealt with other people in a long time.


"What is this place? Does Psi-CON know about it? Is this a prison? Why was there another one of me that distracted the people trying to kill me? Thank you for the food."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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"The...the bird, that was you?"

Xiaoyan didnt have to answer as the boy's curiosity took him and ran. The questions couldnt spill out of him fast enough, piling on top of eachother in the rush to get out. She waited, patiently, taking another drink of the stew in her bowl until Thomas finally had to come up for air, so to speak, and the silence settled again.

"This place is Home. I wish we had a more creative name for it, but there you have it. We live here. I imagine Psi-CON knows of it. They'd dearly love to find it. But no. They dont know where we are or how to get to us. You know how the Bones can be. So many tunnels that shift and collapse and never quite get you where you need to go..." She smiles knowingly, perhaps with some small ammount of sly pride.

"It's only a prison if you want to see it that way. Like it or not no matter where you go as a Psi you are a prisoner." She shrugs with a wistfull sadness.

"You're welcome for the food. There's more of it when you want it; we try to keep a hot pot on at all times. People come and go at the oddest hours down here. No sun to keep a rhythm, I think."

Finishing the last of her stew, she takes his empty from him and stands, comming up to his nose if she's lucky. She smoothes her hands over the wash-worn sweater and jeans she wears as if maintaining a fine silk suit - and honestly she makes the ratty garments -seem- like upscale attire - and peels back the curtain to show him the vast space outside of his tiny room. It's all catwalks and balconies built into leaning pre-Dawning masonry. A maze of activity.

"You can follow your nose to our 'kitchen'. Just ask Lawrence for food. I'd say the man's a teddybear, but he isnt. Mind your manners." She laughs brightly, "You're free to wander anywhere the fires are lit and no one's there to shoo you off. Get to know the place, I dont mind. If you feel like you could pay us back by staying on as an extra hand around the place, we've always got a warm bunk waiting."

With a wink, she slips out, catching the cloth before it falls a last time and sticking her head back in.

"Oh. Before I forget. I say stay within the light as a warning. Not because we want to keep you here, but because if you leave without an escort... we're very close to the Dead Zone. You dont want to be there in your condition. Or any condition, really."

And just like that she's gone again, leaving him with the mental image of being lost, alone, inside the resonance-drenched crater that lurked just outside the warm and cheery atrium. If that wasnt a good detterrent to wandering off alone, I dont know what is.

--------
Elsewhere
--------

"How long is this going to take?" A harsh whisper in a dark alleyway between two cramped buildings.

"How long until you shut the hell up and let me work?" Ungloved hands run across the cold metal door.

"Jesus could you be any louder? Just get us in and let's get this done! I hate being up top this long." Someone fidgets at the end of the alley, watching the occasional passing car with an intense scrutiny that went beyond mere suspicion.

Finnaly, there's a click, and the telekinetic's teeth flash in the dark as he grins at his fellows, "We're in."

This small pediatrics hospital on the edge of the buisness sector might seem like an odd target for a midnight raid, as the three men pile inside. The pharmacy wouldnt have the kind of powerful drugs that an adult could find much use for. There were no expensive computers worth stealing. But there was a prize here, nonetheless. They didnt risk flashlights. But, clasping the fidgety man on the shoulder, they let him lead them without fail.

"You sure this is it?" His comrade asks, fumbling against a door.

"Records, plain as day. I'll know what cabinet when we get the hell in there."

They ease the swinging doors open, but there is no one inside to greet them. One of them flicks on the lights, startling his two fellows who curse him unto five generations in harsh whispers. It DOES make their search easier, though, and it isnt a minute later that the Kinetic has broken open the lock on the files they now flip through.

"June.. July... August.. Holy fuck, man, they must've been tagging Psi-likely births for years."

"Wait a minute.... Hey Paul that August one, kid named Lillith?"

"Yeah. Died at birth. Why?

"Says in this one Lillith was 'transfered to Bravo for special consideration'. Doesnt say shit about being dead. No name on the place, though. Just 'Bravo'. The fuck does that mean?"

"Fuck.. Does that mean what it sounds like it means?"

"Sounds like CON is telling parents their kids are dead when they aint."

"Jesus... this isnt just testing, guys. This is heavy shit! We've got to -"

Boots ring down the tile hallways. Several pairs. In a panic, the three grab what they can stuff into their jackets and burst back out into a stream of flashlight beams. No one bothers to yell 'Freeze'. They just shoot.

"Look out!" With a yelp, the skinny man throws out his hand, and the rounds intended for them 'blink' out of existance as the trio runs with everything in them for the doors. The bullets return a flash later, facing the opposite direction, and delay their attackers momentarily. Lights blaze on as psi-CON security teams respond to the silent alarm in this otherwise nondescript little hospital.

"Are there any outside?!"

"You know I cant See on the run! Just open the door!"

"Oh fuck! They locked it!"

"The hell they did! Get out of my way!"

With a great noise of grinding metal, the Kinetic blows open the doors, staggering out of them with the effort as his comrades help him stumble into the alley. They run for the factories with the sounds of pursuit behind them. And above. A lanky CON mech vaults the rooftops overhead and lands with a sickening THUD only a few lengths at their heels.

Luck is looking in extremely short supply for the already tired Priory team...

Setting

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Cecilia Wolfe Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore
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Samuel stood there as the boy thought. He was waiting, patiently, and mostly still. His foot however, inside a penny loafer dress shoe, continued to tap the stone floor with soft echo's that filled the silent with Bones with a resounding tap. It even had a rhythm to it, but that was beside the point. While they waited there was that noise alongside the silence of a Bones making an eery orchestra.

"Alright, lead the way to your 'safety'."


The man would come straight back to attention and give yet another one of those smiles. He'd clap his hands together and nod once before turning into the slanted pathway that he entered from and walking toward it as he spoke. The English voice filling the empty room.

"Right-o. Follow me then. I promise I'll be quick. Whats your name by the way? You can have mine. I'm Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn, you may have seen it about."

With that he'd enter the tunnel and towards the top he'd pause. It was more like a jerking and startled pause than anything. He felt something nearby. Moreso, someone. Samuel was a moderately powerful telepath. He couldn't quite find out where this entity was or what it was but he knew something was there. He stayed paused and grinned; a plan soon in mind. Then he carried on into the darkness that was the Bones.

Samuel would lead Jonathan and his follower through the tunnels if whatever was on his tail continued to follow. It was a pathway that took many ups and downs through many broken and beaten tunnels. There were heaps of broken steal and concrete and the occasional gunshot and scream that echoed the labyrinth. Now and then Samuel would stop and noticeably scan the corners of the walls as if peering at something. Sometimes he'd go down these halls and other times he'd avoid them.
It was a long journey. Three or four hours passed by as Samuel tried to make idle small talk and discern small things about the male accompanying him such as age, place of birth, more notably if he were chipped.

That would all cease however as up came the sound of rushing water. Now Samuel's trap would come into place if the entity was still on his trail. They were now well-within the confines of the Priory's haven which was like a telepathic hornet's nest. Xiaoyan and many other telepaths of various levels had a constant watch on the place. Samuel was visibly grinning as he jumped from the tunnel onto bridge of pipes that ran over a chamber of water. Voices were heard below and coming towards them in the tunnel on the other side as well as torch light. Samuel picked up the pace; jogging across the bridgeway before leaping into the tunnel full of light. There he'd wait for Jonathan to meet him as a few people appeared behind Samuel.

"Welcome to the door to of the Priory, friend."


He then quickly thought a message to Xiaoyan. Nearly praying she'd hear it, not out of fear but more out of amusement than anything.

"Hey, boss. I'm home and have a guest... Maybe two..."

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Cecilia Wolfe Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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#, as written by Raidose
Darkness. Sweet, cradling darkness wrapped him, letting him lounge slothfully within his own mind as he slid out of the pilot's seat. Sensations came as faint echoes. The flick of muscle, the sinking plunge. The slight resistance given by tissue as it was pierced. The warm, slipperiness slowly coating the grip. A twist, a pop, and that was all. It all came in passing waves, ushered on by the cackles of his cohort. Scarecrow made this boring little plays so energetic, filling it with so much enthusiasm, that at times it was hard not to share his enjoyment. It was quite infectious. To constantly fight urges, to constantly battle for control, it was simply not feasible anymore. The damage from the war still needed tending to. And then it came, a parting light to his blissful dream. A flittering, feathered figure perched upon his gate to consciousness, a small gleaming bird which still shined for but a moment. The message, though was clear.

Mmmm.... Little birdie.... the malignant being hissed, inching closer with hands of knives. His grinned and chittered as his inched closer, till his advance was halted by the tar at his feet. Groaning, roaring, howling in complete objection as the ooze crawled up his legs and a thousand spindly fingers dug into his flesh. A single massive hand shot up, latching onto his face, prying the mask away from his control. Sinew and tendons stretched and tore till finally the meat surrendered and the mask was ripped from the front of his skull. Another fist of twisting darkness manifested, hurling the manic apparition into the bleak nothingness yet again. Bubbling up from the primeval slime, Oz slid the mask once more over the flesh of his own features, banishing away the architecture of this minds insanity away and bringing back the light of reality. A blood-stained knife in his hand, three more bodies at his feet. Blood attracts blood, indeed.

His foot shoved the lifeless mass into the rivers of Styx, cursing it to drift endlessly into oblivion. No one who cared would ever know, and no one who knew would ever care. The Bones had a neat way of staying clean. Reavers were territorial, but they were not stupid by any length. More may claim to covet thy neighbor's home, but if they found bodies, they'd be out for blood. Ah, but how easily things could vanish. Another kick, slosh, and splash committed another soul to the ferryman. He leaned back on his heel, feeling the ball of telekinetic energy build up underfoot, before the burst sent his soaring back into the shade of the tunnels. Maybe it was time to pay a visit to the boy, if only to mutilate his perception of reality a bit more. Yes. Harmless, sweet fun. Very well, then home awaits. Boots impacted against stone, puddles parting from the burst of power. A dart of shadow, racing through the tunnels that snaked in and out of the original earth, speeding along till he found something new to catch his eye. This one was odd, ethereal, ephemeral. She touched this would from a dream, lingering about like a wayward spirit. Still she drifted ever searching, nearing the voice D3d LyT3 knew all too well.

"Right-o. Follow me then. I promise I'll be quick. Whats your name by the way? You can have mine. I'm Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn, you may have seen it about."

Hmmph...

Dropping his name so carelessly like that. Idiot.

All the more attention away from us.

Why is he her right hand, again?

Could be that he doesn't have a committee in his head.

As the ghost peered on them, he peered on her. Stalking the stalker, hunting the hunter, till finally she became aware of Samuel's plan. While scaring her away with a virtual telepathic blender was quite clever, it still let her vanish away with who he was. Worse yet, she now had some clue where the Priory was, vague though it may be. So many questions about her floated in D3d LyT3's mind, and slowly they all began to fill themselves in. The more he clung, unseen and unfelt, to her shadow, the more of her memories he was able to peek on. He may have blushed if he could, but still he searched on. A birthday party, and her present was the end of the world. A new family, which eliminated the old. She held few loyalties, only to her and hers. She dipped into things a little girl like her really shouldn't know, and oh how juicy the details. She had a very proud amount of intel, enough to contend with Samuel. Ah.... that was it. Competition. Her and hers. She was a survivor, and a survivor gets by from never having to worry about a competitor. This made Samuel a threat to her, and with her outlook, it made her a threat to the Priory. This night was getting quite eventful.

She did figure out Samuel's trp before it sprang, flying home to her corporeal form. Though her memories of home betrayed that location, and D3d LyT3 had set off nearly an hour before. Lights blurred by in a hypnotic display, lining the tunnels with long, florescent trails of illumination. With each accelerating dash, the space between him and the surface world grew smaller. The manhole cover to the lands above burst open and he crashed back down unto the snow laden asphalt, exploding into a flurry of snowflakes towards his target. With each step, a small circle of snow cleared under heel, launching him through the air before the next lungeing stride. He felt her presence again as she slung back to her body, but by that time he already lay below that very windowsill. He stood next to her as she sprang to life, unbeknownst of the spectral presence. Remaining in silence and she went about the room. The dress was indeed becoming of her. She fastened a necklace around her nape, striking D3d LyT3's curiosity. His fingers traced down the side of her neck, gliding over her shoulder as she made her last adjustments. She never would feel a thing, all information of D3d LyT3's presence blanked out of her consciousness. He brought his hand away as she began to move on. "Hmmm... Nothing."

He walked just behind her, grinning a vile smile that could be only felt rather than seen. He watched as the young one, named Alanawent on about memories she had stolen, which then D3d LyT3 had stolen. He watched as Ms. Wolfe gathered her little protectors around her, and then sent them on their way. It was when she had donned her complement of hidden weapons that she felt the safest, which he so wanted to shatter. But no. He would watch, and he would wait. Her thoughts, her motives, were in a flux. No way to tell how things could proceed, though one could always hope.

Watch, and wait....

Watch, and wait....

Watch, and wait....

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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"Hey, boss. I'm home and have a guest... Maybe two..."

Xiaoyan heard it. As soon as Samuel brought up her face in his mind, there was a tickling in her own. Like a sneeze that couldnt get out. Setting her paper down, she listened to the sensation, and Samuel's chuckleing amusement bubbled through.

She reached out, and saw them. Two on the fringes of their home. There was a whisp of leftover -something- around them, but it was long gone cold. Xiaoyan frowned and tapped Samuel.

'You know better than to bring projectors this far down.'

The proximity to the Dead Zone and its energy fluctuations kept Psi-CON's many attempts to follow Priory agents mentally with their own projecting Psi, but that made them no less paranoid. Xiaoyan often said the biggest threat to the security of the cell was the laziness that had infected it before she'd arrived and taken the helm.

Done chiding her agent, she turns her attention to Jonathan, watching over his shoulder gently.

Smiling slyly, Jonathan would be aware of a brief impression of something small and bright fluttering passed him, disappearing as soon as his eyes tried to focus on the movement, but he could swear there'd been a bird down here.

'3279'.

The next sequence of numbers to his mental recitation pops up, unbidden.

Xiaoyan returns to Samuel,

'He's hungry and cold and scared. Get him some food and show him around. I might pop up.' She chuckles with the mental impression of a completely innocent smile.

Half of the Priory knew someone with a bird projection was in charge, but most never knew Xiaoyan as more than a mild telepath that wandered around the Priory grounds in her worn jeans and sweaters. She preffered it that way; it gave her a clearer picture of what went on in her home, and it made meeting new people a clever little game for her; one Samuel knew she was very fond of playing.


----
Kayla
----

A Kinetic, a Displacer, and a Seer walk into a bar....

Sounds like the start to a bad joke, and the night was seeming like one to them. They were running for their lives, one of them already so exhausted from using his limited powers that he stumbled on the loose gravel, and a Psi-CON security unit was eager for their blood.

When the shots fire, they fling themselves to the ground, certain that they'd made it as far as the universe would let them. But none of them are hit, and the sounds of chaos behind them reigns. They turn, and sit on their asses in cold alley muck, watching as the scene unfolds with mouths agape.

One of them finally reaches out to slap the shoulder of his compatriot, jolting them out of their daze and getting them moving again as they scramble to their feet and put distance between the fight and themselves.

At the sound of persuing footsteps, they turn, but find their rescuer, and continue a weary jogging slog into the factory district.

"Saints alive, where did you even come from?!" The displacer asks

"Hell itself could've spat her out for all I care. Thanks for that intercept or we'd be paste." Replies the big kinetic, still red in the face from fatigue and being supported on the shoulder of the third, who shoots her a long, calculating look.

"Yeah. Pretty freaking convenient you just -happen- onto a psi-CON ambush..." Trust the Seer to be the paranoid one.

The displacer argues back, and the kinetic drops in his two cents, which the seer shoots down with cold logic. The gist of it - despite innoculous phrases and 'inside info' looks - seems to be that they're debating wether SHE is a Psi-CON agent, and wether or not they should even be letting her follow them.

Finally, as they reach a particularly nondescript drainage ditch in a particularly nondescript construction yard, they stop in the entrance and turn to her.

"Fine. You can come along, but you do what we say. No questions, no 'why this way' or 'where are we now's. And if you're a CON snitch... well.."

"She'll know. And she'll kill you." the seer's grin is a nasty one, as if he's seen the results personally.

Without further invite, they help the Kinetic into the black mouth of the drain, and down into the Bones they go. She'd need to hurry if she wanted to keep sight of them in that horrible maze. From that heated discussion and the deadly threat left hanging over her head, Kayla may have stumbled onto more than just three unchipped Psi trying to make their way in the world...

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore
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'You know better than to bring projectors this far down.'


Those were the first words he heard in his mind, he paused right about as he was going to speak Jonathan. He'd turn from the male again and send a message back, communicating with Xiaoyan. To him it would feel like minutes bu it the waking world it was less than a few seconds.

Aye. I know Boss whatever it was set upon me in the tunnels and I had no defense but to return and I didn't want to endanger the boy with me. Regardless... I think it left before it got far enough to know our location exactly. It was curious though felt like something whispered to me. I may take D3d Ly3T and investigat- I take that back its likely best to go on my own."

With that his summary ended and he soon got his next set of orders before snapping back to reality. He'd once again twist and look at Jonathan with that nearly careless smile that set well upon his face.

"So... what happens now?"

"Now? We get you some real food and water and then I show you 'bouts while I send out a couple lads to find you a place to sleep for the night."

Samuel would then turn about again. He'd wave over his shoulder for Jonathan to follow as they passed through three people. They'd go down a torch lit tunnel and at the end would be a large atrium. The home of the Priory. They were on the second floor of the area. In front of them was a catwalk which linked to others and wooden platforms that held up small makeshift huts and buildings. Samuel took none of those however, instead he'd drop down a ladder that led to a concrete platform. It was another maze like the Bones except this was much less long, far more warm, and far better lit. Along the way Samuel would point out key structures. At the end of this maze was a large shack with several mismatched tables.

"This is the Mess Hall of sorts... Stay right here, I'll be back Jonathan."

After such Samuel vanished into a flap at the end of the small building. There were one or two people eating or drinking at the tables but most in the complex seemed to be at work with various tasks and jobs. There were voices here and there and a laugh once or twice. In a couple minutes Samuel would wander back out this time bearing food. It was a hearty stew in a wooden bowl with water in a metal can. He'd set them down in front of Jonathan with a soft clink on the wooden table.

"Eat up and then I'll take you to your quarters when you're ready."

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore
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A strange sensation came over Jonathan as the words left his mouth. It was as if he would hear something behind him, but couldn't, but could also feel it. Like his mind was connected with it in some way. He resisted the urge at first to turn and find what was causing the sensation. But, after a couple of seconds, his curiosity got the better of him. As subtly as he could manage give the fact that a group of vigilant men watched him he peered over his shoulder. There was nothing. The sudden feeling, like a fluttering around him, caught him to the side, and he shifted his eyes in that direction. Despite feeling it, he again found nothing. Jonathan closed his eyes and turned to Samuel to just catch the end of his sentence.

"...while I send out a couple lads to find you a place to sleep for the night."

Jonathan gave a quick nod in thanks to the group in general, then addressed Samuel personally.
"Thank you..." Jonathan faltered ever so slightly on the name, but tried again to cover up his failed attempt. "...Samuel. That's very kind." Jonathan had been told before his unneeded manners would end up getting him hurt by his mother, but it was one thing he couldn't give up no matter how hard she tried to break him.

Jonathan began to follow as Samuel started into the illuminated tunnel. The smell of the damp tunnels began to fade slightly as he began closer towards the men. All of a sudden, the fluttering soared past his eyes again. Deciding not to pass it off as nothing, as he knew there was something messing with him, he turned quickly, his entire body, and stared into the dark abyss. And he was surprised with what he saw. The teen's eyes widened in disbelief.
'Is that a... a bird?! In the Bones?' Jonathan pulled his eyes and thoughts away from it with a quick raise of his eyebrows and followed beyond the men, giving polite nods to each as he passed them.

The pathway led to a large atrium, at which point Jonathan stopped. This was the Priory. This was everything he had been searching for all these months. He could finally try and help people like he wanted to do. Psi, and humans too if he could. He had been at the end of prejudice towards his kind before, but he still didn't believe that every human being was entirely against them. Regardless, it didn't matter what he wanted to do at in the future. He had found what he had been looking for, and he was content with that for now.

Their journey went down a ladder, through some well looked after tunnels, past key structures (which Sam was kind enough to explain about each time they passed) which ended in a shack, big enough for a good few people. Tables were lined up in order in as best condition as they could find them.

"This is the Mess Hall of sorts... Stay right here, I'll be back Jonathan."

Unsure for a moment, Jonathan finally sat down on the uncomfortable seat after Sam left. A minute of relative silence, only broken by the hushed whispers of the few people who kept looking over at him. They were in no way mean in their observations, merely curious. Most didn't pay him any attention, from what he saw, but there had been a few on the way too who had. His mind began to become focused with his worrying and panicking. He tried to resist, but soon found himself reaching for his bag. Pulling out a hand sized metronome, he placed it on the table and started it up. The movements and his muttered counting soothed his raging sea of worry. By the time Samuel arrived with his food, Jonathan had started showing signs of impatience rather than panic.

"Eat up and then I'll take you to your quarters when you're ready."

"Thank you, Sam," he said with a small smile, his southern accent starting to come through stronger again. He tried to avoid using his real accent and names when making transactions. Pack Rat, from New York before the Dawning, was a lot safer than Jonathan Moore of Seven Oaks, Texas. Unless, of course, he was up against a telepath. He had little ability to prevent them getting information like that. Thankfully, he was too low a threat to even be noticed in the city of New Boston. Tapping the metronome again to keep it going strong, Jonathan pulled the wooden bowl closer and began to eat slowly.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny
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With the blessings of the woman whom he assumed was some form of faction head, Thomas decided he would indeed venture out and explore the area. He pushed back the make-shift curtains in the doorway to reveal quite a sight, the same one that stained in his mind before plunging into the depths. For most it would have looked like a slum, a place where the deprived and desperate reside. Thomas was of a different perspective, to him it looked like home. The smell was not that of sewage, the water collected there must be composed of rainwater. In fact, on closer examination, Thomas could see fish in the water. It was curious, as it was not salt water, so they could not have strayed from the nearby ocean. The water had a weak current to it, but no drainage grates could be spotted. Whatever the circumstance was, all that mattered was that Thomas saw fish and was simply amazed by it. He even attempted to catch one bare handed, which went unsuccessfully, but only barely. When his fun was over, he decided he'd explore a little bit. Walking one of the paths was Laurence, heading towards one of the shacks. Thomas decided he'd go over and ask for a tour. Now, he had been away from human interaction for quite some time, so his next action fell back on what he did know to do. Like a freaking ninja, Thomas crouched down and began running towards him, not a sound being made even on the creaky wooden planks. Thomas was quick to catch up with him and stayed to the shadows, which were numerous because of the dim torches that were spread about. Laurence arrived at the shack and climbed the stairs to the second level. Just as the nursery had, his quarters had only a thin sheet covering the doorway of the shack. He simply pushed it aside and turned right, taking of his worn boots and taking in a deep breath of home. As he turned to face the rest of the small area that made up his living space, he paused. In the room with him was a small two seater couch which faced the open window, a wooden rocking chair, and a doorway to a small bedroom. Casually, Laurence walked over the the bedroom doorway and reached his hand around, grabbing something on the other side of the wall. Without any hesitation, he snapped back 180 degrees, a shotgun in his hands and aimed at Thomas's head. Thomas jumped, staring down the barrel of the gun. Laurence held it for a moment and then smirked, pointing up the shotgun.

"You're quiet kid, though you may want to work on your breathing."
Laurence put the gun back in his bedroom before looking back to the kid.
"Now, is there something I can help you with? Are you still hungry?"


Thomas's eyes blinked while he processed what had just happened, leaving a moment of silence.
"Uhh, ya...ya I'm still hungry."


Laurence pointed to the ground beneath Thomas, telling him to stay put. Laurence walked out and returned minutes later with another bowl. He handed it to Thomas and and then headed to the bedroom.

"You're probably tired, so just sleep on the couch tonight. Don't touch anything, not that there is much to touch anyway."


Thomas could hear Laurence fall onto the bed in the other room, followed by loud snoring merely minutes later. After finishing the stew, Thomas put the bowl on the floor near the couch and laid down. It didn't take him long to pass out, but in the short time before he did, Thomas wondered if a bear had eaten Laurence and stolen his bed, because it sure as hell sounded like it.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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"This is your stray, Sam?"

A light voice announces the arrival of a tiny asian woman with long black hair and a soft, bright smile. Old jeans and a worn sweater two sizes too big made her seem like a child wandering in a grown-up's world. She had dainty fingers wrapped around her own bowl, cradling the warmth out of the soup that steamed within.

"Do you mind if I join you? The fire always reaches these tables best."

She would wait quite politely for Jonathan to mumble or nod an assent before taking a place across from him, as if he were master of the house and not merely a new guest fighting back the panic of the uncertain. Speaking of, rythmic counting and metronome asside, everything about the woman encouraged a sort of calm to descend around her. Like they were chatting at a cafe in the sun before the Dawning; warm, friendly, safe, and - dare I say it - like home.

"Sam, are you aware you smell like a sewer? Again?" She says with an amusing expression that required her to scrunch her upturned nose and turn sideways to the taller Brit, before looking at Jonathan as if for help, "Please tell me he didnt bring you through the cistern? He'll roll around in that sludge every chance he gets, I swear it's like a puppy in a trash can!"

Wether it was true or not didnt matter; the good humor was infectious. There were no questions. No interrogation or threats. The woman just stuck her tongue out at Sam and lifted the bowl with enough manners that you'd think it was fine china to sip at the stuff within.

'D3d Lyt3 still hasnt come back yet, but his boy is here.'

Xiaoyan didnt open her eyes or betray any other hint that she had just reached out lightly to Sam to communicate in silence.

'We can expect another, too. One of the teams got into some trouble, they're bringing the one who helped them. You're a better judge of fighters, could you intercept her? I'll stay with these two until you return.'

She sets the bowl down with a satisfied sigh and a smile, "It's not exactly haute cuisine, but at least it's filling, yes? I imagine you have questions, though. Ah! There you are!"

She looks up, seeing Thomas backing out silently from the flap that almost rattled with the snores of a very large man. Lifting a pale hand, she beckons him in a friendly manner.

"Thomas, Jonathan. Jonathan, Thomas." The woman hadnt asked their names, and yet there was the introduction. "Come, sit. I'm here to help with all of the confusion you're probably dealing with right now." She laughs sympathetically, "It isnt every day you find a place like this and get invited in for soup. My name is Xiaoyan. I'm Psi, and so are you. That's why you're here."

She continues the soft smile, hands folded neatly around the bowl, "Welcome to the Priory of the Free Mind."

----
Kayla
----

They move at an easier pace once they're underground. Through abandoned pipes to abandoned buildings and down abandoned stairs they descend deeper and deeper into the Bones. Occasionally, they stop and listen; waiting until the coast is clear of Reapers and the occasional scavenger.

They speak very little to her, except for the off 'Watch your step' or 'Here, use this cable'. It's all very clandestine and hush-hush. But eventually, after it seems like even THEY might be lost in the maze of the old city, they stop.

It's an old school courtyard. Bent and rusted playground equipment provides an exceptionally eerie backdrop to the faint light filtering in from random sources in the levels above. Trash and a good foot of dirt choke out any attempt at growing vegitation where children once screamed and laughed. A cold, dead reminder of the way the world had once been as 3 grown men shiver in the shadows of broken bleachers.

"He aughta be here.." Grumbles the Kinetic.

"He is." Says the Seer after grimacing and closing his eyes.

Turning and pointing across the courtyard, a dim flashlight flicks on and a shadowy figure beckons them all across the street and into a leaning apartment building.

"You guys are late." This strange new gatekeeper says; a tall man in a black coat that was full of dust. He looks at her with the same cautious mistrust before the Displacer just waves him off and helps him move a book case away from yet ANOTHER hidden tunnel.

"You're going down two levels and into the old Blue Line subway." He tells them, clearly guiding them along a safe and ever-changing path to get wherever they were going. This was a terrible lot of trouble to hide their destination. "Someone's gonna meet you there about her." Here he kicks his chin in Kayla's direction.

The Displacer pauses in the opening and looks over his shoulder at Kayla with a shrug,

"Last chance to back out, chick."

But I imagine that Kayla is no coward. All of this secrecy smacks of adventure. Down here in the Bones, shuttled amongst these secret byways and suspicious characters, one could imagine that even Psi-CON's gaze couldnt find them. She may begin to feel more free now than she ever did huddling in the shadows of the street; playing hookie from the Law itself.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore
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While he ate his meal slowly, the teen tried his best to clear his mind. For a while now he had been trying to improve his abilities, and find new ways to use them. Recently, he had started to make some progress, which was the reason he carried around the metronome. Slightly hunched over the table Jonathan had his hands round the bowl set on top of the table, absorbing all the heat he could from it, while he stared at the pendulum swing left then right, left to right, left and right, his focus entirely on the motion and ticking. For a moment, he let the world fade away from him. He left all distractions behind, including Sam. All that mattered was the metronome. His gaze intensified as he attempted to use his abilities. Nothing happened. He tried again, putting everything into it. His gaze, now more of a glare, was fixed on the swinging. His breathing was becoming heavier as he attempted once again to use his abilities. A throbbing began in his head from the effort. It seemed as if it wasn't working at first, but Jonathan soon noticed that the swing was slower. Triumph washed through him. A grin spread on his face, his concentration broke and the metronome returned to its initial speed. Jonathan sighed and gave the device another tap to keep it going before continuing with his meal.

"This is your stray, Sam?"

Jonathan jumped slightly and looked up to the voice. A small Asian woman, around a foot or more smaller than him he would guess, stood before him holding her own bowl. She had long black hair, perfect skin and one of the warmest and most inviting smiles Jonathan had seen in a long time. He looked straight up, unable to pull away from her dark eyes that just seemed to draw him in, and couldn't help but smile back slightly.

"Do you mind if I join you? The fire always reaches these tables best."

Jonathan shrugged and reluctantly pulled his hand away from the heat to gesture to one of the seats.
"By all means. I am your guest after all." Jonathan viewed the woman with uncertainty at first, but there was something inside, deep within, that encouraged him to trust her, to feel safe in this place. His instincts told him to run, as they always did, but everything just seemed so calm and peaceful. How could he run from it? It would have almost felt like home, if Jonathan had ever known what a home truly was. Due to his powers and mother, he had never stayed anywhere long enough for it to feel like home. He had a few questions that were playing in his mind, but before he could even open his mouth, the new woman - who must have been at least mid to late twenties or early thirties - she spoke to his guide into the Priory.

"Sam, are you aware you smell like a sewer? Again?" She crunched her nose playfully and turned to regard Sam, before returning her bewitching eyes to Jonathan. "Please tell me he didn't bring you through the cistern? He'll roll around in that sludge every chance he gets, I swear it's like a puppy in a trash can!" Before he could stop himself, Jonathan joined in on the humor and chuckled quietly. She merely stuck her tongue out at her friend and drank from the bowl. Jonathan stopped eating his own to watch as she lifted it with grace and elegance, as if this were a pre-dawning fancy dinner and it was fine china.

He looked down at his own bowl and sighed quietly. Having to spend every day eating when he could, often on the go, without any need for manners of any sort, he hadn't had much practice stopping himself from looking a little like a slob when he ate. But, he kept it clean and didn't do anything overly strange when he ate, so the few people he had eaten a meal with hadn't had any reason to complain. His eyes caught the movement of the metronome and his eyes widened slightly. He stopped it with his hand before returning it to the fading heat of the now practically empty bowl.

She placed the bowl down and sighed, which urged Jonathan on to finish his soup and place his down also.
"It's not exactly haute cuisine, but at least it's filling, yes? I imagine you have questions, though. Ah! There you are!" His mind had begun to go through the different ways he could have improved the meal - cooking was one of the few skills his mother had taught him, which she had learned from her own mother and with experience - when a man around his age was beckoned over.

"Thomas, Jonathan. Jonathan, Thomas." Despite the calming aura she was giving off, Jonathan's body stiffened and a vague panic went down his spine with a chill. The fact that she knew their names gave one unappealing suggestion. Jonathan viewed her with a new light now, but still felt the pull of her powers. She was a telepath. Since he was very young, he had always had a slight distrust towards telepaths. His powers were only able to affect the physical world, he had no control of the mind. And, therefore, no defenses against intrusion. The idea of someone looking about his head, scagging the information they could, like he scavenged the items within the Bones was disconcerting at best. He nodded to this new man, Thomas, politely.

"Come, sit. I'm here to help with all of the confusion you're probably dealing with right now. It isn't every day you find a place like this and get invited in for soup. My name is Xiaoyan. I'm Psi, and so are you. That's why you're here. Welcome to the Priory of the Free Mind."

Even as she chirped on, and the happier side of him remained, a slight distrust lingered. Jonathan brought his eyes back to the woman and focused directly at her. He didn't have a clue if this would actually work or not, but he was going to try. Concentrating, he tried to direct a thought within his mind at her.
"Stay out of my head." It wasn't a threat, but nor was it a joke. It wasn't aggressive, but nor was it playful. She seemed like a nice enough person that he was managing to get along with better than most, but he didn't like having people in his head. He was protective of his thoughts and memories, guarded to a fault.

Despite this message, Jonathan had questions that he wanted answered and this seemed one of the chances he would get. "When I met," he hesitated again at the name, old memories of his missing brother resurfacing, "Samuel in the tunnels, he said that he had been monitoring my whereabouts. That he wanted the reason for my particular routes. If you don't mind my asking, how long exactly have you been tracking me?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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"Thank you, Sam,"


Samuel gave a nod at that and waved his hand politely as the boy ate. It was a simple and non-verbal way of saying your welcome or its nothing. However, Sam himself was busy eating and looking about the area. That is until he saw the metronome. His own eyes narrowed on it in focus as he noted Jonathan trying to. Eyes slowly tracked the metal bar swing back in forth on its gentle arc, his sense of sound consumed by the tick-tock-tick-tock. Then the note-keeping device suddenly slowed as if it were jammed. His gaze once again feel on Jonathan. That was interesting. However before he could express in thought in word all that hit him was a voice from behind.

"This is your stray, Sam?"


"Jaysus!" It was almost a yelp, and the Brit jumped as well. He had been so focused that Xiaoyan had managed to sneak up on him and he didn't even sense her presence. "Don't go scaring a bloke like that! Bloody hell man!" While he spoke his hands were busying themselves readjusting his suit to save whatever was left of his dignity for the moment while mumbling something about not getting any soup on himself.

"Do you mind if I join you? The fire always reaches these tables best."


'D3d Lyt3 still hasnt come back yet, but his boy is here. We can expect another, too. One of the teams got into some trouble, they're bringing the one who helped them. You're a better judge of fighters, could you intercept her? I'll stay with these two until you return.'


Those were the last words Samuel heard before plunging himself into another mental conversation. It was interesting. The man couldn't actively interact with both "worlds" when he spoke telepathically. He could hear both at the same, he could sense both, even feel. Something made him have to have to concentrate while he spoke though and during those times everything else cut out and he'd stay in place like some kind of signal receiver with clouded eyes.

"I can check it out briefly, I have my own business to go abouts today. By the way, another food shipment should be showing up in the tunnels a bit north of our location. Send a couple to go out and retrieve it, would you?

After that he stood and dusted himself off before looking between the two. He had his orders, his own agenda, and his stomach was now full so it seemed the perfect time to get a move-on. "I have a few errands to run abouts," he always added an unneeded 's' to about, "Xiaoyan don't terrorize the boy." He'd grin and actually give her a friendly pat on the shoulder before twisting on his heels and taking leave.

Right as he exited he nearly ran head first into Thomas. "Sorry." He'd mutter simply and carry on. He'd never seen the boy before and he concluded that it was the straggler that D3d Ly3t had dropped off. It was none-the-matter, Samuel would introduce himself another time.

Samuel was rather fast when he wanted to be. He hastily followed the blue telepathic line in his head that Xiaoyan was leading him to the new girl's location with. Upon arrival he paused and took a deep breathe, composing himself from his jog through the tunnels before peeking out at Kayla and the three men. He stepped out from the shadows with a grunt. All of the men turned to him defensively but they'd soon turn into faces of recognition and even a small amount of confidence. Samuel was indeed well know among his fellow rebels. He was nearly the Priory's public outreach face...

"Top of the Day, gents! And lady." He nearly bowed but more so inclined his head politely. He then feel silent, just standing there as he had a mental conversation with one of the Priory boys. Attaining all the information he could before turning and gazing at the female. He placed a hand on his chin in thought as his eyes squinted. She obviously had some kind of martial skill to get down here and cunning too. Her stature and just everything about her was deceptive of those facts too. It hit him though, if she were Psi-CON though she'd know who he was. But he had a nagging feeling that was far from the truth. In the end he waved her along, speaking to the three she was. "Take her back to the base with you. Follow the lower tunnels and avoid the Styx. I saw quite a bit of Reaver activity on my own way though."

He'd then relay back to Xiaoyan.

"She's most certainly a fighter and I doubt she's a Con-man. I'd have D3d Ly3t take her out on a trial run. Make sure he goes easy on her. For now I'm waving her through with your goons. If this comes back to bite us in the ass, I'll deal with it."

It was a risk every time they let someone new into the Priory.

The three men would all make various signatures of acknowledgement before waving at Kayla to follow them back to the head quarters. Samuel would say one thing to the female before she took off though. It was a low and underlined threat for security purposes. "We're your friends and you'd better return the favor."

"Right-o! Its done Xiaoyan. Now while I'm out I'm going to investigate something... I'll be back by supper hopefully!"

Samuel hoped that Xiaoyan had set this meeting place close enough to the base that she could pick him out. He was about ro span a good distance. Nothing like her however, not even close. He'd stand and watch as the four dwindled into shadows in a nearby tunnel before leaving once more.

It was a couple hours hike to the surface entrance that set him near to the image that was beamed into his head only hours before. Or at least he thought it was nearby. Samuel had to be careful on the surface even as an unchipped Psi. There were other ways to track a criminal with a half a million dollar bounty on your head and he know. Its why he kept his head down and remained as inconspicuous on the surface as humanly possible. The supper thing was completely false. On the surface it was already night again. The cities' massive skyline danced like the aurora on the horizon and the stead hum of vehicles was in the air. The air was worse than down in the Bones. It reeked of carbon pollution and even human suffering. He wasn't in the best part of town either. He noted something as he went down the rode the image he drew into his mind got clearer and clearer as if it were a puzzle- then it struck him. He knew exactly where he was going. He had never been there himself but he'd heard of it. It was a brothel. There had been whispers among the underground market of the place. In fact one of Samuel's clients frequented the place. Sam himself tended to avoid brothels. He'd only stepped foot in one once. That ended in a shoot-out the local law enforcement that he barely escaped from. Either way his pace quickened.

It wasn't long before he managed to sniff his way through the backstreets of the district to the brothel in question. Give or take another hour or two. Something about the hotel unnerved him and he made sure that both his knife and old M1911 where in the suit pockets under the blazer. The gun was a relic but it was a damn good piece of equipment and was damn reliable. Sure everything was in order he stepped around the building and then into its front doors. Closing them as silently as possible before trying to sneak up the stairs, checking around until somebody popped up. He was here for the meeting he didn't even have knowledge about.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Cecilia Wolfe Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: D3d LyT3
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#, as written by Raidose
(Collab with Shadow)




Watching and waiting, ever still, ever always. He watched and he waited till the seams of his mentality strained against the burgeoning pressure of his own manic side. To wait and to watch till finally he could wait and watch no longer. The screams and cries of so many voices urged him on, and he was not entirely rejecting. To let slip the blade, to plunge the knife deep down into bone and know the joys of life and loss. Oh no, that would be too sudden, too quick. First a game, a test of will and mind, then trap her in her own little box of a world and shake it till she shatters. Not just her, but the others, too! Oh what a lovely game it could be! The more the merrier, even if the only one reveling in the merriment was D3d LyT3 and his voices three. Such wonderful images he could craft, twisting all of their thoughts and forcing each others fears onto the next. All the loveliest ingredients were here. The strongest guard held deep-seeded night terrors of Ophidiophobia, with two other girls sharing the same fears of Suri and Arachnophobic natures. Rats and Spiders and Snakes, Oh My! And just when it had all come to a boil, D3d LyT3 felt the tapping of a presence that made him groan in annoyance. Samuel the ever-well timed had finally arrived. It only took him a whole two hours.

A writhing smirk cracked across his aged lips, hidden behind his mask as Cecilia laced her blade with the vial's contents. An image of slightly sensual conversation and conniving bribery, of razor-like claws gliding over tender skin, of sedation, ropes, chairs, and that young telepath he'd met earlier, and of course, a subtle, silent knife against Samuel's throat. Her cards were laid out on the table, and now D3d LyT3 eagerly played the bated audience to this little show. She had her back to the door when Sam was "escorted" in, her face only three inches from D3d LyT3's. He watched her eyes twitch and squirm ever so slightly as each new thought was formed, before he peered at the final product in her mind. Other beings fascinated him, even to this day. Though he could grow bored fast, he still loved to watch, to see them act as they did in their own little way. To compare one to the other, and then maybe even to himself. To see what, if anything, in him was human of mind and nature. He did not reveal himself to Samuel initially. D3d LyT3 wanted to see his reaction at it's fullest, and of course to witness the friction it would cause.

And when Cecillia finally turned to greet her guest, Sam played witness to her very own shadow standing on it's own just behind her. No sound nor presence emanated from it, as though his mind knew it not to be real, or rather, was allowed to know such. The shade's silhouette twisted in on itself till it stood well taller than her. It's stance was distinctly masculine and threatening, with it's newly formed eyes betraying it's identity. Samuel was now having a bit of trouble paying attention to both, and much to D3d LyT3's delight as he simply placed a solitary finger to his mouth.

'Shhhhhh.....'




Samuel had shown expert self-control on ignoring the females as they escorted him to the room. But now he was faced with this, the every malevolent image of D3d Ly3t behind a female who'd he'd been brought too. There was anxiety in his eyes for a brief moment before they snapped like marbles back toward Cecilla. Questions now flew through his mind like a freezing river. Why was he brought her? Who was this woman? Why did she give him the image of this place? And why the hell was D3d ly3t stalking her and now telling Samuel to keep the maniacs presence hidden? It at least seemed that way.

It didn't take him long to recompose though, in fact it would have been less than a brief second before his face curled in a cocky, careless grin at both figures really. His arms crossing in front of him in a relaxed and rather non-threatened as well as non-threatening posture. At the same time he silently raised a telekinetic barrier beside him and around his flanks. It would be hidden by his body and hard to notice even by someone behind him. His piercing, almost ice blue eyes darting through the room to take in every detail it held with a quick once-over. One of his fingers instinctively tapping his antique wristwatch with a clip-clip-clip-clip noise as the metal band rattled softly. The first thing that came from his mouth wasn't exactly diplomatic but it wasn't aggressive, rude, or hateful just merely cocky and questioning. His accent now up close most certainly Manchester English.

"Mind explaining why I'm here madam? I hope you aren't trying to set me up as a new client. I don't take to bordellos. Personally more of a Speakeasy fan."



How dull. Pleasantries? Such things could wait. An advantage of being an imminent precog, seeing the four minutes of time he'd be missing in his absence. Though one thing did tick in his mind. The thought that she could pay Sam off or simply erase him.... It was in it's own little way a delightful arrogance, the kind which D3d LyT3 overjoyed in mangling like a kitten with a ball of yarn. It was just a simple thought, but it was one she felt was without consequence. How one motive can speak so much, to say that she did not fear or respect the Priory.... Oh bother. The Priory. Xiao would be ever so cross with him if he performed anything.... unnecessary. Death threats would not be authorized here, sadly. Oh, but there had to be something! He had to rend her safety bubble somehow....

Now there's an idea....

Turn the best tool of a survivor against itself.

Caution into Paranoia....

Greatest asset into greatest weakness!

Psychological warfare.

A harmless prank, you might say.

And Xiaoyan can't get mad at us!

But the message will be oh so very clear....


It has been said that D3d LyT3's smile could peel paint from walls and turn sinners to prayer, that it was a rare thing never seen but always felt. A sudden cold air, the raising of your cackles, an out of place silence. This was no different. No one was the wiser as he slithered out of the room, unlocking the door from the other side through telekinesis. To everyone else, the door had never moved an inch. No sights to be seen, sounds to be heard, or sensations to be felt. This is what made D3d LyT3 a true nightmare, that he could go about unhindered and unfelt nearly anywhere guarded by no more than the waking mind of blanks and Psi alike. He could simply walk right into her personal quarters as if he owned every right in the world. Predictably anyone in the business of appearance would be in possession of a vanity mirror, and as seen in her memories she was no different. D3d LyT3 liked mirrors. he liked them very much. Eyes, it is said, are the mirrors to one's soul, then so too must the humble mirror show the truth. Or perhaps it served only as a tool of hubris. Either way, he still liked this mirror as much as any other, sitting down in front of it. It was strange, to feel one's own being peering back at him, to feel the Dead Lights casting upon his own face and features, to watch them watching him watching back.... It felt like he was teasing them. He let his finger trace out his own eyes on the mirror's surface playfully.

"I~ See~ You~....."

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Samuel Maccabeus Hawethorn Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore
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Thomas, after what wasn't even an hour, jumped to his feet from what he could only imagine to have been a loud roar from the next room. Of course, it was Laurence. Thomas was still very much on edge, and the cool draft that made its way into the shack only heightened the chilly feeling. Perpetuating through his mind was the nightmare he had experienced earlier. The feeling of dread was not one easily shrugged off, and its effects permeated deep into the mind. The scariest part of his reflections wasn't the telepathically induced fright fest, it was his encounter with the one reaver. Particularly, it was the conclusion of the encounter. It was murder, that's what it was, and it was not something Thomas could become accustomed to. With a shiver of fear, or maybe just cold, Thomas backed out of the shack. Before he had even cleared the sheet that covered the doorway he was being beckoned by Xia. With her was two others, one more middle-aged man and the other a kid about the same age as Thomas. He didn't bother to take the stairs, and instead just dropped down onto the rickety wooden platform, surprisingly not making a sound. Thomas then walked over, his obviously guarded posture relaxing as he came into Xia's presence.

"Thomas, Jonathan. Jonathan, Thomas."


Jonathan nodded to Thomas, to which Thomas responded with silence. He had not been around people for quite a long time, and the current circumstance didn't give him any more desire to interact with them. Xia gave a warm introduction to the Priory once more. The other man, Samuel, walked right into poor Thomas. Well, really, Samuel walked towards Thomas, and then Thomas seemingly teleported a few feet to the side. Thomas faded back into what dark he could find, staying still close to the conversation at hand, but not taking any attempt to participate in it. For a little he would stay and listen, but should nothing hold his interest or nobody address his directly, he would find a nice shack rooftop to spend the rest of the night and catch up on some well needed sleep.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Thomas Kenny Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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Xaioyan's smile never faltered, but a tilt of her head puts it in a sad light as she looks to Jonathan.

"I only heard that because you thought it 'at' me, if that helps you make any sense of anything." She confesses, unwrapping her fingers from the bowl to splay them in a gesture of honesty, "As for knowing your names? Yes. I'm a telepath. But even as I understand your paranoia, you must understand mine." Xiaoyan sighs wistfully, and her words are matched by an earnestly apologetic expression.

"This is our home, and many of us are unchipped, or on the run, or just too dangerous for Psi-CON to let us live. They know Psi are finding a haven somewhere under their feet, and they are not content to simply let us escape the fate they have planned for us. Every day an agent works to get closer, every day a scavenger sells his knowledge of some piece of graffitti he thinks marks a path. We are constantly /afraid/ of people around us, and that's no way to live for people who have done nothing more wrong than to be born."

"That's where people like me come in. I know /you/ were looking for us, if only for the sake of your own freedom." She smiles and nods at Jonathan, "And I know /you/ were in trouble with no place to go." She turns the smile to Thomas. "That's all I know. I did not poke around into your pasts or look for secrets, because I didnt have to. I know you are not Psi-CON, and that is enough for me."

Smoothing the front of her threadbare sweater, Xiaoyan sighs, "It's a necessary sin, in times like this. But I know that is the excuse of every dictator through history. So, as long as you are here and as long as you give us no reason to think that you would bring the authorities down on our heads... I will go no farther without permission, and nothing I know leaves my lips."

The smile returns as bright as ever and she laughs musically at Jonathan, letting Thomas slip back ingo the shadows since he's clearly exhausted, "Asside from you thinking knives at me. I cant help but hear it if you're -throwing- your thoughts at me, so that is YOUR mind intruding into MINE."

Turning the tables on him in teasing good humor, she answers his next question with a shrug, "Only long enough to realize you were looking for something in particular. That's when Sam was sent to see what you were about. We have eyes in the Bones just like Psi-CON does. It's sort of a constant chess game that very few people are aware is even being played, with very real lives the pieces on the board. If you'd =kept= looking, Psi-CON may've taken an interest in you, which is why we acted first."

She folds her fingers into her lap, "I'm sorry to say that, in forcing /our/ hand, you may have Psi-CON's interest too, now. The man you killed made his money bringing in rogue Psi in the Bones; whether alive or a corpse. His friends will be quick to report his death. It may not be safe for you to return to whatever life you were living."

----
Kayla
----

Vetted, in a way, by the handsome Brit, Kayla's escorts wouldnt be long leading her down -one more- set of impossible to remember passages. The air grows damp and cold, the sensation of being watched by the ghosts of the Dead Zone almost palpable. But through a tunnel and across a rickety bridge of scavenged wood and old cable... there it is. Her destination.

Buildings above the waterline crowd and tilt under the pressure of the Bones above. Platforms and bridges and ramps link around and through them like the messy constructions of drunken ants. Fires beat back the darkness, and the sounds of Life echo dully in this artificial amphitheatre.

The three men sigh almost as one with expressions of relief, and disappear quickly into the maze of doorways and balconies. The men that had escorted Kayla after Sam's introduction eye her momentarily before pointing her down a particular walkway and to a clearing of tables and fire barrels from which the smell of food wafts.

Sitting at one of those tables, in the middle of the fires' heat, is a young American boy and an older Chinese woman chatting in a friendly manner. Xiaoyan looks up at Kayla's entrance into the circle of bright light, and beams an inviting smile along with the wave of a hand to join them.

"Ah! Good! I was beginning to think you'd gotten cold feet. Please! Sit! My name is Xiaoyan. I am told you helped someone.... May I ask why?" Her curiosity contains no hint of the suspicion and malice Kayla has been met with thusfar. The tiny woman carries herself and her conversation with the utmost care and grace, making the shabby constructions around them seem like the finest halls.

As if on cue, another hot bowl of assorted somethings finds its way in front of the newest guest, steam curling up from the chunky stew.

"I think this is the busiest I've been with new people in ages." Xiaoyan ponders aloud, smiling with such an infectious joy that it's difficult to prevent oneself from smiling back.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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Jonathan lowered his head slightly as she explained. It all made sense why she would go inside his head, why she would pry into his private thoughts. For all she knew, he could have been there to infiltrate the Priory and destroy it from the inside. He gave a quick glance around. Considering that the majority of the people there were likely Psi, he was almost glad he wasn't trying to destroy them. Xiaoyan seemed lovely, but he had seen respected mothers, who helped Psi and human alike, kill to save the ones she loved. Jonathan gave an apologetic look and thought the word "sorry" towards her. Though, he instantly regretted this when she joked about him intruding her own mind. Giving a light chuckle, he looked down into the empty bowl in front of him.

'If this woman is a higher up in the Priory then she might just be able to help me find Sam, or at least might know someone who can find my brother.' Jonathan looked to her with an appraising look, trying to determine whether r not she could help him, or if he could even trust her. Everything told him to trust her, but he knew that now was not the time to ask favors of her. Jonathan was more than used to the favors system, and still had a few to redeem himself. He didn't overly wish to have an obligation to someone he barely knew.

"I'm sorry to say that, in forcing /our/ hand, you may have Psi-CON's interest too, now." Jonathan's eyebrows pulled together in confusion as Xiaoyan spoke. "The man you killed made his money bringing in rogue Psi in the Bones; whether alive or a corpse. His friends will be quick to report his death. It may not be safe for you to return to whatever life you were living." Jonathan froze. His mouth hung open for a second, before he closed it and looked to the side trying to regain his composure. He had hoped that the man in the tunnels had lived, Jonathan hadn't realized that he had hit him that hard, but had expected him to have died. It didn't make it any easier to hear however. This was his first kill after all.
'He died by my hands...'

Jonathan closed his eyes, a pained expression on his face, and drew in a shaky breath. He released it in a steady flow, and returned to the conversation only to see that someone new had entered it. Jonathan's hazel eyes scanned her athletic figure, making his way up to her face and then large eyes. Her pale, and strangely almost glowing, skin was emphasized by her dark wavy hair. Jonathan's eyes remained for a second on her seemingly colorless eyes before he drew them away, realizing he was staring. "I think this is the busiest I've been with new people in ages." He smiled at Xiaoyan's words, and looked down to the table letting the two women speak. He had a lot to think about.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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Xiaoyan can see the pain written on Jonathan's face, but it'd been a calculated reveal. Shielding him from the truth of his actions would've just hurt him later on if he'd felt safe enough to leave and been run down by vengefull Psi hunters. So she lets him have his silence and holds her attention on Kayla for the moment.

"Well, I'm grateful you decided to 'have their backs', then. You're right, helping eachother out a little bit is probably the least we can do in times like this." She nods in agreement.

Then she chuckles again and spreads her hands to them both, "What I plan on doing with you is letting you go sleep. I've been here yammering on and you're about to pass out in your bowls."

Lifting a hand, the slender chinese woman points at the catwalks above them where leaning building doorways have been closed off with curtains or makeshift doors. While precariously perched; they all seemed sturdy and secluded. A few had lights burning low in them, some had crude scrawling marking them with owners' names, but many were open and invitingly silent.

"Up there are what passes for our living quarters. You can go ahead and pick whichever is your fancy. The farther out you go, the colder but quieter it gets. It's all quite safe as long as you dont leave the catwalks or the last lanterns. You can always find the kitchen here, there'll always be -something- edible available, just mind your manners around our chef Laurence."

Swiveling, she points at the rest of the clustered lights in the underground amphitheatre, "The rest of the place you can wander when you're feeling right. We have a few meeting spaces, but unless there's someone there to shoo you away, you may feel free to explore. If you want to help out before anyone asks, try your hand at fishing. We do get some down here that arent contaminated."

And then she stands smoothly, still short enough that she couldnt loom over them if she tried, but she motions her hands in a 'shoo' gesture. "I've kept you too long for my own entertainment. Just stay inside the lanterns. We arent far from the Dead Zone, here, so if you wish to leave we'll have to get you an escort. But now? Rest. Go on. Get."

Motherly command thus issued, Xiaoyan smiles again and makes a slight bow out of her oriental heritage before leaving the would-be cafeteria. Stopping to chat cheerfully, briefly, with others on her way, she breezes out and is gone.

Beyond that ring of warmth, cheer, and food, Xiaoyan sighs and rubs the bridge of her nose with a delicate finger. Sleep sounded wonderful, but would have to wait. Three new mouths to feed. With luck, one or two might stay on and prove willing to help. Two of her best were still out there, somewhere. And now three others were waiting in her office to give her such a grim report that she could -feel- their dread hanging over her head like a wave waiting to crash down.

Sometimes she envied others their ignorance.

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Character Portrait: Xiaoyan Jin Character Portrait: Jonathan Moore Character Portrait: Kayla Mackenzie
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Jonathan gave a tired half smile at Xiaoyan's motherly dismissal and pushed himself up from his seat, his body swaying slightly because of how long he had been awake. He gave a quick glance up to where he would sleep for the rest of the night and sighed with relief before turning his eyes to Xiaoyan as bowed and began to turn.
"Thank you," he said quietly, though loud enough for her to hear. He had learned the hard way that it's best to be polite in these situations, even if he didn't completely trust those at the receiving end. He watched her small, retreating form then lifted his hand to cover his mouth as a yawn crept up on him.

For a silent second, Jonathan stood looking down at the dark haired woman still there with him after Xiaoyan left. She looked exhausted, as if she'd fall asleep right there on the spot. His eyes lingered for a moment, drawn in by her ethereal glow, before he turned away, conscious of the fact that he was now staring. Focussing on the light from the makeshift houses above them, he cleared his throat softly.
"Well, uh..." he swallowed to wet his throat and started to take a step back. "Goodnight." Nodding, happy that he could at least manage words, he turned slowly and started for the empty house of his choice, a small makeshift hovel with a door in between two already taken homes. The idea of being near the end of the lanterns where it was cold and isolated brought a sense of wariness to the teen. He ran his long fingers through his hair with a sigh and ascended to what he hoped would be a comfortable sleep.

The pungent tang of dampness assaulted his senses as he pushed open the door to the dark dwelling. Jonathan cast an appraising eyes across the walls and floor and gave a tired smile. It wasn't anything special, it wasn't a luxury room, but it didn't matter. He had found what he was looking for. The Priory was everything that he had been looking for all of his life. He lifted the messenger bag from his body and dropped it on the floor, pulled off his boots and threw his coat beside them. He crouched down to the bag and searched through it for the nearly finished candle. The flashlight would have been preferable, but he only had a few batteries to replace it yet. He balanced the candle on the bedside table and stretched with a yawn.

As his eyes fell on the wick, an idea came into his head. He hesitantly lifted his hands. Jonathan's abilities weren't always entirely reliable when he tried to use them in a more refined form. The possibility that he could blow a three, four foot wide hole in the wall was a very real danger. He drew in a breath, and pulled back his hands. He opened his hands in the usual way to use his power but with a twist of his hands. A crackle and flash burst from the wick and a flame came into existence. Jonathan smiled, before lifting the candle and dropping wax to the table and putting the candle into it to add to its stability. Dropping to the surprisingly comfortable bed below him, the teen closed his eyes and let the darkness engulf him, the lingering memories of the day before slowly corrupting his dreams within.