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The Miracles: Reborn



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Roxie1563

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Claire heard the 'ding' sound of the bell that echoed throughout the entire building and got up to see if the regulars or newcomers needed any help, but it turned out to be the Three Musketeers as Jack and Tyler made their way to her while she could see Snow already at work by the dumbbells. She knew full well why they were here with the exception of Snow and that was to check on her just before classes got started; Granted, she was glad to see them all but she was already eighteen and recently graduated from Lincoln High School yet these three couldn't very well leave her alone enough to actually survive on her own.

Forcing the thoughts away, she smiled at Tyler first then a hug to Jack as her eyes bored into his sky blue eyes. "Hey, guys! As usual, you're right on time; Even Snow is already at work." She spoke to them as all three looked at the young adult as he went on lifting.

Turning around and walking back to the office, Claire offered them fresh bottle of water while reaching for hers that was already in use and lifting up both legs into the chair itself. None said a word, all of them wanting to say something but didn't want to intrude anymore than it already was. The tension was high between both Claire and Jack and it wasn't what she expected.

Finally, she broke it. Looking straight at Jack to ensure it wasn't going to be a lecture, Claire fired away. "Look, I know your dad and mine worked together well enough to call us friends, but this is silly! I'm mature now enough to handle this myself and my grandparents knows it. Tyler knows and Hell, even Snow knows it, too." She explained to him while using her hands to play out her feelings.

"I mean, it's one thing to check in which is fine. But it's something else when I'm trying to live my life out when you or anyone else thinks I'm not ready; Screw that, I'm ready and you guys know it!" Claire spoke to them in a mother-like fashion that reminded of her mother whom she quickly realized it and without giving both boys a warning, she shut down and just stared outside the window for a minute then looked back to them.

This wasn't not what this day should had been for her or for anyone else.
 

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~- Common Threads -~

Jack glanced at Snow to see him lifting weights, something that Snow always did before he went on with the rest of his exercises. He tensed when he felt Claire’s arms wrap around him, and it took everything he had not to back away from her. Seeing the look on Tyler’s face, he dropped his gaze and followed Claire into her office. Taking the water bottle, he fiddled with the cap as he waited for someone to say something. It didn’t escape him on how tense Claire was, which bothered him.

"Look, I know your dad and mine worked together well enough to call us friends, but this is silly! I'm mature now enough to handle this myself and my grandparents knows it. Tyler knows and Hell, even Snow knows it, too. I mean, it's one thing to check in which is fine. But it's something else when I'm trying to live my life out when you or anyone else thinks I'm not ready; Screw that, I'm ready and you guys know it!"

Jack listened to Claire’s gentle chew out, it wasn’t anything new. He did hold her gaze for a while, only to focus on what her hands were doing. He’d heard it before when he’d stopped by for a visit. Seeing the way she retreated into herself after it dawned on her, Jack smiled sympathetically; he knew what that one felt like.

“Why are you refusing? Am I not special enough to you?”​

“I swear, you spend all your time with them! You ignore me, Jackie. I have to beg you for any form of attention. I wish you’d spend just a fraction of the time you spend with them with me!”​

“Shouldn’t you leave Claire alone? It’s not like she cares about you, I care. I get that her father was a cop, but don’t you think it should be dropped. Maybe she doesn’t like it.”

“I bought myself this new dress, what do you think of it?”​

“Come on, it was only a joke!”​
“You tell anyone about what happened, and I’ll deny it and say you hurt me.”

“Don’t tell anyone about this, Jackie. After all, you wouldn’t want them getting hurt, would you?”​


Jack heard the words drift through his head, and he almost covered his ears with his hands. Closing his eyes tight, he quickly started counting in an effort to calm himself. After he was sure things were okay, he opened his eyes and glanced at Tyler. “How about you go play spotter for Snow?” He suggested, and even though he was reluctant to, Tyler bid a quick farewell to Claire before he went to go help Snow out.

Jack tried to stop his hands from shaking as he turned to look at Claire, holding her gaze he said carefully, the stress from the day creeping into his words, “I know you’re eighteen, I know you’re ready to live your life. I didn’t mean to offend you Claire. You’re…” He paused, taking a quick breath to settle his nerves before he continued, “I consider you a friend, and not just because of our parents. You’re a nice girl Claire. I just wanted to make sure you were okay today, all things considered.” It was clear that there was a double meaning to his words; he wasn’t just speaking about the death of Claire’s parents.

A soft smile coming to his face, Jack decided to switch gears on conversation as he asked, “Are you going to watch the announcement of the Particle Accelerator by Dr. Wells?” He glanced around the office, trying to figure out just how soon he should excuse himself so Claire could get her head back on her shoulders for the self-defense class today. “Oh, um, to tell you the truth, one of your former students asked me to stop by and say thank you for the help you gave them.” Jack commented half-heartedly, not because he wasn’t interested in relaying the message, but because he just didn’t know how to proceed without making things worse.

Sometimes he hated talking to girls. He hated seeing them upset, especially if he counted them as a friend.
 
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Roxie1563

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Claire didn't say anything as Jack asked Tyler to leave the room in a subtle way while the young adult tried to make her feel better after that small outburst she gave out to the boys. Swinging her chair back and forth while listening to Jack's comments, she wondered if she should tell him that she was thinking about buying a motorcycle for herself so she won't have to ride the train so much when she got the double meaning of his words.

Holding back her sharp tongue on Jack, she smiled at him and nodded her head so he'd understand that she understood. When Jack asked him if she was going to see Dr. Wells' presentation on live T.V, Claire once again nodded her head as she spoke to him.

"Better than that, I just got the chance to win a trip for tonight's grand opening and I was hoping you'd go with me." She smiled at him then turned to her side drawer and pulled out a white envelope. Inside it was the two tickets: One for herself and the other for any guest; Claire usually asked Jack when it came to them hanging out.

Of course, she wasn't one to ignore others. Claire told Jack that it would be all right if he didn't want to go and that she'll ask Tyler or Snow. Or maybe she'll ask that librarian guy, even the cute nurse she helped out earlier on. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, the girl pulled out the one ticket and gave it to Jack.

"I'll be at your place or you can just come to mine." She told him before it slipped her mind and before she returned back to her work, Claire nonchalantly commented on the fact it was kind of a shindig, so that meant monkey suits for him and a nice dress for herself.

At the same time, Jack told her about her former student of hers. Claire tried to remember who it was, but she was glad to know that her classes were paying off and it also made her more motivated to keep teaching to women who needed help.

"Glad to hear that, Jack," Claire waved her hand, her back behind him as she put her other ticket back inside the side drawer. Satisfied, she turned back to him and started to ask him something off topic when she noticed that Jack was appearing to keep himself calm and wondered if it was from the fallout between him and her ex-girlfriend.

"Hey.. Jack?" She patted him on his shoulder. "You all right? Don't tell me it's her again."

It hurts to see Jack like that when it was clear she had a crush on him ever since her parent's death and meeting him the next day at school. It had been hard on her and it was clear that Jack knew it and they'd hit it off from there. Since then, they usually hanged out until Tyler and Snow came into their lives and everything changed since it was all boys and one girl in the group of friends from different roads of life.

Snapping of out of it, Claire just smiled at him and gently got him to sit on her chair while waiting for his response to the whole ticket thing.
 

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Before General Wells could answer Adam's questions, the elevator doors opened and two pairs of dogs poured into the room like a tidal wave. Wells sighed internally. The highly sensitive and secure underground location filled with classified information and communication links all around the world had been infiltrated by a four man squad that lacked any opposable thumbs whatsoever.
"I don't mind them staying within the compound, Adam, but you'd best keep your friends in line. At any rate..." Wells folded his arms before continuing. "We're standing in a highly developed facility with the sole purpose of monitoring and protecting the city of Arcville and the surrounding cities. Thanks to our numerous satellites, we have access to monitoring of not only the city, but the whole world and are able to react accordingly. Naturally, this information is kept away from public knowledge. As far as anyone is considered, this is just a run of the mill military base. The city would become a huge target to enemies of the States if word got out of our location, thus it's important for both the city, and ourselves, to be kept secret.

"As for why we are located here, there's a simple answer for that as well: S.T.A.R. Labs. My brother--Dr Michael Wells--and his team has been developing a particle accelerator. A piece of technology born of science that could easily reinvent the very idea of science itself. We've been keeping tabs on his progress for years and have persistently attempted to aide him in exchange for exclusive knowledge of what his research brings up. He's refused so far, and today might be my last chance to persuade him..." Wells seemed to lose himself in thought as he went on. "I simply must have him see reason. His vision has been clouded--looking in the wrong direction. He wants to help people, but that same information could be used to protect them from outside dangers. That aside, we're very much aware of the fact that not all might go to plan once it's activated. Should there be unexpected reactions we would be able to help shield him, but only if he agrees to our bargain first..."

The General rubbed his chin in thought. "...And that's it. That's the story about this place and S.T.A.R Labs, anyway. I'm sure you've already heard some of it but a refresher never hurts. As for your stay down here, it would be considered indefinitely. Naturally, should you chose, we can easily arrange your living quarters to be off-base, or even just something above ground. It wouldn't do for you to get cabin fever while down here, after all. As for your new 'handler,' as you so eloquently put it..." General Wells tapped at a nearby keyboard as a side monitor blinked to life. A wall of text appeared, as Wells skimmed through it. "Ah yes. The son of General Paragon. How could I forget. The man saved my ass more times than I've saved his, to be frank. His son is Colonel William Paragon. He seemed like a good kid. Worked himself to the bone, probably to try and get out of his old man's shadow. I've seen it happen dozens of times." Wells faced back to Adam and raised an eyebrow. "Someone you know, son?" He asked at the reaction to the new Colonel's name. "At any rate, we should head topside. I'm not entirely convinced your dogs are housebroken."
 

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Damian couldn't help himself from thinking about what Mrs. Bradan's had said to him about meeting him again someday. He hoped it'd be under better circumstances instead of a emergency room. Not that there was anything wrong with hospitals in general, but they weren't exactly ideal for a meeting place or a date. Especially with how cold and sterile they are. Or the odor that lingers in the air that reminds you of sick people. So why did I pick being a doctor again? Damian laughed softly to himself, slumping over against a wall as he sat on a empty gurney bed. Maybe I could bring Jack a comic book as a get well present? Or would that be too much? Damian let out a sigh, running his hands through his hair as he watched a few other residents come into his special hiding place. ​I really want to scrub in, but the competition is unreal. He stared down at his hands, remembering the brief thrill of being able to diagnosis his first patient but, he wasn't fast enough. And I got Dr. Hades to work with. Just my luck for coming in late, but maybe it'll pay off in the end?

"Hey, you alright? I hear you got stuck with Dr. Hades this week, man. That's gotta be rough, am I right?"

Damian looked up to see a guy's face staring right into his. Unfortunately his forehead collided right into his chin that he went down instantly into a fetal position as he held his head in pain and seethe. "Son of a- You idiot, that really hurts!" After a few minutes of the pain subsiding did he finally remove his hands from his face and glared at the object of his pain. Except his glare wasn't working because, the guy was staring at him with... what looked like longing and affection. Which was proving to be bothersome, cause that was the last thing he wanted from this stranger. "What were you standing there for?! What were you thinking?" Damian growled out, only to soften a bit as the guy seemed to snap out of it with embarrassment, confusion, and hurt on his face.

"Dude, I'm sorry. I tried to get your attention, but you weren't answering. Like the lights were out and nobody was home in that noggin of yours. And calm down, it's not that big of a deal."

Damian let out a sigh as he watched the object of his pain hide his face behind a pair of red glasses and turned the other way. Taking in the sight of his clothes, he knew instantly he messed up because, this was one of the residents he'd be working with until they both passed in flying colors of being doctors. It was going to be a long four years if he didn't apologize for chewing his head off. And the scrubs were what gave it a way that he ran a hand over his face before hopping off of the gurney and fist bumping his shoulder. "No, no, it's not your fault. I was being a jerk just now. Don't worry about it, man." Luckily it hadn't been a girl he collided with because, the bruising would've stood out more and raised a ton of questions. "You might want to get some ice for the swelling, but I'll uh... see you back in there." With a backhanded wave, he hurried out of the room.
 
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~- Can You Repeat that for Me Please? -~

Adam barely kept himself from laughing at Ellis' reaction to his dogs breaking into the compound. He could also tell from the light in Livvy's eyes that, once again, she'd led the others into this whole escapade. He thought over what Ellis said about the compound along with his brother. Unease rolling through his stomach again, he commented offhandedly, "Doesn't he know you just want what's best for people too?"

He wasn't quite sure if Ellis heard him, given the fact he was busy tinkering with the computer to pull up the info on whoever was supposed to be watching him next while Ellis was busy with his duties. Waiting as patiently as he could, Adam noticed that the dogs seemed to have calmed down a little bit, including Panic; and they'd each taken up a corner of the room, being mindful of the electronics in the room. He saw the file that appeared on the screen, and curiosity getting the better of him, Adam moved forward to take a look on it only to see the face of a familiar stranger appear on the screen.

You traitor. he hissed mentally, his eyes becoming cold enough that the titanic when it was sinking would've been warmer.

"Ah yes. The son of General Paragon. How could I forget. The man saved my ass more times than I've saved his, to be frank. His son is Colonel William Paragon. He seemed like a good kid. Worked himself to the bone, probably to try and get out of his old man's shadow. I've seen it happen dozens of times."

Adam heard the words that were spoken by the General. He'd seen it a couple of times himself, and he remembered Will saying that if he ever joined the military, he'd have to do his best to get out from his father's shadow. Adam had supported him, even encouraged his friend, but that had been before the accident that had led to Will coldly turning his back on Adam despite Adam's best attempts to get his friend to talk to him. It had been before Bradley had called him for that final time and told Adam to stop trying to contact them since Will wanted nothing to do with him. It was before Adam had been beaten bad enough he'd landed in the hospital and then had begged Ellis to not send him back to that hellhole, even if he never told Ellis what had happened behind the closed doors. What Adam hadn't noticed though was the sour look that had crossed his face at the mention of Will's name.

"Someone you know, son?"

Adam hadn't noticed he'd spaced out or felt the pinpricks of tears until Ellis had said something to him. Blinking a couple of times to get rid of the fog, he answered in a monotone, "It's nothing sir, Colonel Paragon's just a boy I used to know." He wasn't about to bring up that riding accident, Ellis didn't need the reminder, and if Will was around that meant the Furher was bound to be too. Adam knew that if that was the case, then he definitely couldn't say anything about what happened that day or risk Bradley reprimanding him. The tiniest of throbs from his wrist seemed to reinforce that idea, and he didn't notice it when his left hand reached up to gently massage the tender body part on his right side.

"At any rate, we should head topside. I'm not entirely convinced your dogs are housebroken."

The scowl returned to his face at the jab, he didn't make a move toward the elevator but he did answer the remark with his own quip. "Sir, with all due respect, they are housebroken; you don't have to worry on that front." He did want to go top side, but at the same time he really didn't want to meet Will...not with the way his stomach had twisted itself into a tight knot of bitterness.

He headed for the elevator and his dogs went with him. Sending them up first, he waited long enough until he knew they'd be out and then he called it back down. He didn't turn to look at Ellis as he commented lightly, "I'm okay with the living arrangements being wherever you want me to be; and if it's down here I don't think cabin fever will be an issue. I can think of ways to take care of it, I promise...." His voice trailed off as his brain went back to the idea of Will, which only made the ball in his stomach tighten as more anger settled over his skin. Glancing back at Ellis, he stepped to the side to make it clear he wanted to let Ellis go first on the elevator.

He arranged his face into an almost neutral expression as he waited to see what Ellis would do. It was also during this stretch that he was trying to compose himself for a meeting he truly didn't want to have.

~- Plans Made -~

"Better than that, I just got the chance to win a trip for tonight's grand opening and I was hoping you'd go with me."

Jack smiled in answer to her request. He’d been interested in hanging out with Claire recently, he just hadn’t had the chance to suggest such a thing because of their schedules. In truth, he’d always enjoyed her company ever since they were kids. He’d also come to see her as a little sister since that first day he’d met her; even if she’d developed a crush on him something he’d felt horrible about since he couldn’t return her feelings.

He took the ticket when she held it out to him, a grin spreading across his face as she told him, "I'll be at your place or you can just come to mine."

“I thought it was usually the guy that picked up the girl? Although it’s fine that you want to do it. I’ll still drive and I’ll pay for dinner tonight.” He teased, a smile on his face until she commented that he had to dress up. Blanching in response, Jack quickly recovered as she went back to returning her ticket to her drawer.

The slightly good mood he’d gotten built up because of Claire quickly crashed as the ghost of words circled through his head again, Honestly, why do you try to look after her? Don’t you ever think you should give up on it?

A distant look coming to blue eyes, Jack dropped his gaze to the floor as several more phrases slipped into his head. His breath hitched in his throat, he didn’t want those words moving through his head. He couldn’t stop it though, even as he tried to turn his mind elsewhere it still circled back through leaving him on the verge of running away. It was only when a gentle hand landed on his shoulder that he focused back on Claire. He started a little when she asked gently, "Hey… Jack? You all right? Don't tell me it's her again."

He recoiled from Claire, his eyes showing the brokenness that still lingered from his last breakup. He didn’t fight as Claire escorted him to her chair, and he sat down when she clearly offered it. He focused on the ticket in his hand, his mind struggling to stay in the present so he repeated, “Yeah, I’d like to go to the viewing with you. We can meet at my house if you want, dinner’s on me.”

He remembered the question she asked about his ex, he briefly glanced at her only to drop his gaze again. Even so, that split second would have shown just how much he was being bothered by her memory presently. He knew it was stupid to drop his gaze, given the slight hearing damage he had; but it was a defense mechanism to try and keep Claire from yelling at him. Examining the ticket, he answered softly, “Yeah, she is kind of bothering me right now. I’m sorry, I was hoping this wouldn’t happen today.”

He looked up and smiled at Claire, it didn’t reach his eyes though. He glanced out of the office window and saw a motorcycle outside. This time, it earned a genuine shy smile from him as he commented offhandedly, “Hey Claire, how do you feel about motorcycles?” He glanced back at her, curious on how she’d react. Even so, he was well aware of what time it was so he knew he wasn’t about to make her late for her lesson. It then turned from a smile to an impish smirk as he asked as cheerfully as he could, “Also, how do you feel about using Snow today in your lessons? He’d be more than happy to help with teaching the ladies.”

It was all in an attempt to switch the conversation, not to mention it was in hopes of getting him to focus on something that wasn’t his ex.

~- Brotherly Concern -~

Tyler came up to Snow to see him lowering the weights on the leg machine. He could tell that Snow's mind was elsewhere, probably on the recent fight he was heading for with Jack. Tapping his friend on the shoulder, Tyler saw the way his friend startled at the gesture, almost bringing the weights crashing down but Snow caught it in time to keep it from happening. Seeing the briefest of scowls flit about Snow's face, Ty leaned against the machine and waited for his friend to be ready to talk.

Snow set the weights down and got up to work on cleaning the machine. It was only after he was done that Snow finally spoke, "How's he doin'?"

"I think he's alright, he wanted to talk to Claire alone." Tyler shot back, before stepping away to follow the taller boy over to the dumbbells that were honestly better if there were two people present. He pointed things out to Snow as he saw potential problems, but beyond that no words were exchanged between them for a while.

Until Snow questioned, "Do you think he'll hang out with her today?"

At first it took Tyler a moment to register who the "her" was, but after it did he thought about it. He knew Jack had been wanting to hang out with Claire, but their schedules just hadn't been lining up to allow for them to. Nodding his head, he answered, "Probably. I don't really care if he does, it's whatever he's comfortable with. Besides, you know Claire knows a lot about what happened with Becca."

Snow shot him a look, almost as if the aquamarine eyed young man couldn't believe his friend had honestly said what he had. "You know a lot about what happened as well, Ty. Heck I think you and Claire probably know the most about what happened other than Jack."

Tyler picked up on the hint of hurt from Snow at that fact. A twinge of guilt went through him, it hadn't been intentional to keep Snow in the dark on the full details; but that's how it had happened. Tyler glanced at the clock, counting down the time until the self-defense class that Claire had today. He didn't let his mind go to the fact he broke his promise to Jack and had told Hazel some of the truth after the two had had a fight. It's not that Tyler had wanted to, it's just he didn't want Jack to lose Hazel since she made him happy.

"Trust me Snow, you're best off knowing what you know. Although I will say something, Jack wanted to tell you the truth but he didn't want to upset you given what she did to you too." Tyler admitted, earning him a sideways glance from Snow in answer. He was thankful that Snow decided to accept the answer, and he made a mental note to maybe explain more later if Jack was okay with it.

Even though that answer was likely to be a no.

~- Motherly Affection -~

Lucy had found her way to her son again. Looking at James she saw that other than being a little pale, he seemed better than he'd been before. Irial stood by the bed, watching his son closely as he tried not to let his concern show through. She forced a smile and walked forward, placing a hand on his arm she asked softly, "How are you doing honey?"

Irial looked at her, a worried light in his eyes as he answered, "I'm holding up alright. You?"

She laughed a little bit and parroted back the first part of his answer. She saw the shy smile that spread across his face at her answer, which is something she needed. Glancing at James, she reached out a hand and felt his forehead; he was still too warm in her opinion, but he seemed to be cooling from that morning. She sat down in the chair that was next to the bed, humming softly an old lullaby that her mother had passed down to her. She knew Irial would find comfort in it as much as she did, but more importantly was making sure that James knew that they were there. She didn't doubt her son would be okay, but she was a mother. She worried about her children constantly.

Thinking of Juliet, she shot Irial a look and was about to ask a question when he answered, "I've already asked Cyrus to keep her distracted until later." A smile spreading across her face, she focused back on James since now she knew Juliet would be safe. She could always count on Cyrus for that task.

Feeling Irial's hand on her shoulder, she reached up and gave it a squeeze to let him know she understood. She got as comfortable as she could and decided to do the one thing that would drive her nuts, wait.
 
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Roxie1563

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Claire was in the middle of her thoughts as she watched Jack trying to recover himself when Jack asked her what she thought of motorcycles, she briefly froze up.

'Wait, don't tell me he actually saw the magazine..' Claire thought inwardly while holding back the urge to moan. But after glancing back and forth at her desk, she realized he never did see it and it was just a question after all. 'I'm an idiot for not seeing that through.'

Following Jack's glance at the motorcycle, Claire commented back to it. "Actually, I think it's incredibly dangerous and totally unsafe to the point that if you're not wearing an helmet, you'll die from an accident.."

Claire turned to him, smile on her face. "But my real opinion is that it's awesome and fun. In fact, I've already got my eyes on one and I've saved up money for it; I just need to find a good time to take classes, but the gym is kinda cutting into it."

Now by then the two of them looked at each other and Claire felt the need to tell him what most guys shouldn't want to listen, but this was Jack after all. With a small leap onto her desk, her feet dangling around, Claire brought Jack closer to her as the desk creaked loudly in her office yet the sound was covered up by the activity around them.

"Jack.." Claire began on, her eyes showing the most care for him. "I know it has been tough on you, us, even your friends when the 'relationship' went sour and in some way, I honestly knew it wasn't going to work out that well." By then, the two friends had their fingers intertwined in each other's hands and uncaring how it looks from different people's point of view of them in that charcoal of an office in the far right corner.

"I know you try to cover it up, but I know you; I know you when you're trying to shut down by using that hearing problem and that usually works for others, but not me." Claire pulled out one hand out and gently rubbed his arm, clearly concerned for him as apparent it was to him. "In fact, you saw how women are treated when they got hurt from their abusive husbands, boyfriends, even sometimes friends and right now Jack, you're one of them. You're a victim of an relationship that wasn't meant for you; She took advantage of your emotions for her own twisted needs!"

Claire hated that she had to bring it up after so much has happened since the break-up, but it was time to get the old Jack back up and running. She continued on, "Jack, I think it's time you need to let go of her. Don't let her take control of your life; Because if you let her, you'll never be able to move on and I'd hate for you to be stuck and unable to join me for the unveiling of the Particle Accelerator." Claire added that to make her entire statement to make a point of moving onto better things like his friends and life in general.

She waited a moment before jumping down on her feet and putting one hand on his cheek, a small smile on her face and left the room to pretty much bring Snow into her classes.

Within a few seconds, she made her way to the duo and on a whim slapped Tyler's back with her right hand and got right to business. "Hey, Snow. I see you're working hard.."

Snow gave away a small grunt as an answer to her comment which caused Claire to giggle briefly. "While you're here, I believe it is only fair for you to join me for classes; After all, it'd be an chance for you to get that redhead's number.." Claire teased at him.

~~~~

Dr. Wells walked through the door as it opened up and closed behind him, his thoughts on several items that needed to be checked before his meeting with his brother at 4:00 PM, which was rapidly approaching. One thing that stood out much in his mind was the fact that by tomorrow, the world will be much efficient and clean and it's only the start of many things to come out of it if it goes well.

At this point, the doctor lend onto a bar well above the entire floor where his fellow scientists were at work, trying to get everything ready in time for the unveiling due within several hours before midnight. His eyes briefly ran through everything and it appears to him that things were at this point okay, but that can change at any micro-second, he thought to himself as his phone vibrated in his right pocket of his pant and pulled it out, glancing at the number and name on his lock screen, scrolling it up before answering it.

It was Crystal.

Michael listened to her intensely and was surprised by her results on the Particles. "I'll come down to you immediately and we'll recheck it, see if it's right. Because if not, it's not like we'll have to re-canceled it again." He spoke to her for a few minutes as he made his way to the elevator and hung up.

The door opened and the doctor stepped on, turning around and punched in 'G' (Ground Floor) as the door closed, causing the elevator to move down to the specific floor. While waiting, he hummed along with the music of his choice and within a moment or two, the door once again opened and Dr. Wells stepped out, heading straight for the lab that held the Particles via scooter that took him straight and across the street.

Once there, the good doctor breezed through and into the office of Crystal, whom gave out a brief smile and turned in her reports which Mike flipped open, picking out the latest reports, showing that there has been some sort of decrease in performance of the Particles that was stored inside a ball made to house it.

"Hmm.. Unusual for this to happen..." He mumbled to himself, trying to make sense of it. Finally after what seemed to be eons, he shut the folder close and put it back on the desk before glancing at his watch and letting out a sigh, told Crystal to grab her brother and the three of them will have to undergo another set of tests to determinate the best way to maintain performance and to hold it together before it was to be opened to the entire world.
 
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Cassette-Disk

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Kyle sighed to himself as he closed the internet browser away from the search engine. That gym place the crazy woman on the bus was talking about seemed legit. Good ratings from people, no mentions of missing people or bloodbaths, it looked good. Rick slid behind Kyle on his chair.
"A gym, Kyle? Really?"
"Nothing wrong with taking care of someone's physical health."
"It's a waste of money. Come on, just take a jog. Buy some weights, it'll be cheaper in the long haul."
"I seriously doubt that. I'd have to buy more and more weights as I got stronger."
"Or you can do more reps."
"That would have diminishing returns."
"Fine. I'm just trying to help."
"That'll be a first." Rick sighed again as he rolled away to his desk.
"You know, he called, "I recently read a book about historians. It was a fantasy story where the historians got into pods and went back in time to study history that way."
"Fascinating."
"It was. There was a character in there that reminded me of you."
"Oh boy, I can't wait to hear why that is."
"He got eaten by a dinosaur."
"Figures."
"It was hilarious. I'll let you borrow it if you ask nicely. You done for the day?" Rick asked as Kyle stood from his chair.
"Thankfully. I almost him my quota today."
"And what quota is that?"
"How long I can listen to you before punching you in the face. See you. Or not. I'm hoping not, but...well, I always do and it happens anyway."
"Dude, same. Drive recklessly out there. Play in traffic, the usual." Kyle turned and began to walk away. "Catching the Particle Accelerator tonight? Should be electrifying."
"Rick, the only thing I hate more than puns not said by me are terrible puns that aren't said by me."
---​

Adam sent his dogs up in the elevator. Wells was still baffled as to how they had managed to get down here in the fist place, but let it go.
"Up we go, boy." Wells entered the elevator and pressed for the ground floor once Adam was in with him. "It's already nearly time for the appointment. We'll have a car waiting for us and it's straight to Star Labs." The elevator quietly rose to the top and opened. From the far end of the compound, a black sedan was visible with the back doors open. "That's our ride. Let's hope to it.
-​
Casper peered into the monitor lazily. His work was all done, unless someone came into the room to tell him otherwise, all he had to do was watch the front door and wait for the general to arrive. The door behind him opened.
"Come on, brother," Crystal told him, "we've got some last minute adjustments to make."
"That figures. I was just thinking of taking a nap until we flipped the switch. I'll just set this to ring once Wells enters the building, then." With that, the twins walked away and back to the Dr.
---
"The Next Generation" (Simulated Negotiation Operational unit, aka S.N.O.)​
"Dr Reignhart?" The middle aged man looked towards the door as he heard his name. His hair was peppered with grey and his face showed signs of stress, but he emitted a positive outlook and smiled as his younger assistance walked in.
"Oh, Jeffery. Why are you still here? Weren't you getting ready to see the other scientific wonder in action?" Joshua stood from his seat and placed the screwdriver he was using on the table, next to what appeared to be a woman's body.
"I was hoping to pull you away from your work to see someone else's for a change, Dr."
"Jeff, we've been over this. Call me Josh. Or at least Joshua."
"I swear to god I can't. Every time I try, it still comes out as 'Dr." Josh sighed. It wasn't important, but he could never get used to being treated like someone special.
"I appreciate the thought but there's still plenty of work I need to work on her before she's anywhere near finished. We might have pushed passed alpha and beta's going smoothly, but her shell is still off. Plus there's still the overheating problem, visual receptors, and I'm still not sure how we're going to implement simulation of the digestion tract."
"I still feel as if that last point is not worth the effort, sir. You might be one of the strongest minds in robotics, but I don't think anyone could simulate human organisms perfectly. Not even you."
"Liar," Josh scoffed. He placed a hand over the body's forehead. Her white hair reached to her shoulders, but looked as if it had grown organically from her scalp. Despite Josh's complaints about her shell, Sno's skin was nearly perfect. The pale smooth texture was a large improvement from the alpha design, which was rubbery to the touch. "If you really thought that you wouldn't be on my team.
Jeffery laughed. "You got me there. Stubborn as a bull. Same as always, huh?" Josh stared at Sno's face. Eyes closed, cold skin, and no signs of life. She truly looked as if she had recently passed away, complete with her midsection opened, though instead of organs, a slew of electrical parts were visible.
"I have to be."
"You know, I still think she'd look better with accessories. You know the Japanese market would go crazy over this if you added cat ears, tail, and put her in a maid outfit."
"Don't pervert our base model like that. The finished unit will have full customization, but the first one must be a blank slate. She'll be the first one we reveal to the world, after all."
"If you say so, doc. Sure there's no way I can pull you away for the Particle Accelerator?"
"I'm positive. Go, enjoy your night off. Take a date."
"A date. Right, good joke."

---
"Party⋆Trick" (Donovan and Cecily Fay)​
"...And now, I think it's time to take my career to new heights and go solo!" Cried a man, bathed in a spotlight's radiance. He wore a black tuxedo and top hat, as well as a charismatic smile. Immediately, three people in dark robes and hoods surrounded the similarly dressed woman next to him. The one behind her threw a a black hood over her head, obscuring her completely.
"Wait, what?" She yelled. "What are you--Trick, hang on let's think this through!"
"Sorry dear Party, but I've already decided. Take her away, assistants." As the three assistants dragged Party backwards, a large wooden structure came into view. A small set of stairs on the left of it elevated up to the centerpiece: a guillotine. "Now I don't think I need to explain to you what this is," Trick cried out to the rows and rows of seated audience members. "But I will anyway. The guillotine is a famous form of execution that dates back to the French revolution. It was so popular that rumors say even the man that invented it saw his end from it, just as my dear sister will tonight." As Trick went on with his short monologue, the three assistants forced Party up the steps but halted just before they reached the final stretch. "And before you ask: yes. This is a real guillotine, and yes, Party is in real danger--that's the point, after all. Allow us to demonstrate." On cue, the guillotine fell and pierced through a pumpkin that had been placed in its path. The pumpkin was sliced cleanly in half, with both halves falling onto the stage. "Don't worry, my Party's head will fall safely into the basket. Load her up!"

As instructed, the assistants laid Party on the table and, after a small struggle, forced her head through the small hole.
"As these will be last moments of Party's life, I'd like to fill them with my words. I know she hates the sound of my voice so I think it would be perfect. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say, so how about I just count down the moments until we do some slicing? Alright assistants, on 'three.' One...Two...Three!" Right as he called the number, the guillotine again fell and the hooded figure's head separated from the rest of the body, falling into the basket. "And now," Trick said happily as the three robed assistants went around the back side of the guillotine and back towards him, "'Party-Trick' is no more. Now instead, replaced by just 'Trick.' I think it has a good--" One of the hooded assistants wrapped an arm around Trick's shoulders before pulling of their hood to reveal his sister--Party who was supposedly just decapitated.
"Surprise! I'm here to haunt you!" Trick screamed in horror as the audience erupted into applause. Once the noise subsided, the two bowed once towards the audience. "You're far too kind and forgiving considering you almost witnessed a murder, but whatever. Ladies and Gentleman thank you so much for spending your evening with us. I have been Party,"
"And I was Trick."
"We are 'Party-Trick,' have a wonderful night!" The two bowed one more time to another round of applause as the curtains fell.
"That went well," Trick said.
"I think I got blisters from the slide under the the stairs," Party said as an assistant reached into the basket and pulled out the fake hooded head from the guillotine. "Hey Donny, you ever feel like we could be bigger?"
"Hell yeah. I keep telling you we should head to Vegas."
"No that's not what I-- Never mind."


---
"The Salamander's Call" (Samantha "Sally" Anderson and crew)
The short-haired red headed woman slammed her foot against the hood of the car. Her red jacket and black pants were only illuminated by the nearby firepit, surrounded by various people.
"Boss, calm down, please! That's my baby!"
And we'll be using her to hit up the town tonight, so it if it can't take a simple kick then it's got no business being one of our getaways." She took a long drag on her cigarette.
"But why tonight? Ain't there gonna be a lotta peeps out cuz of that flux capacitor thing?"
"Idiot. It's the Particle Accelerator and only the area around the Lab will be filled. Meanwhile we'll hit up the areas most far away from it. You can bet your ass there'll be cops overflowing the Labs, so they'll be delayed showing up to places with a long enough distance from it. Got it?" No one answered. Good. Someone get me my flame thrower. Let's light this bitch up."
 

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~- Yearning for Happiness -~

Jack gave a shy smile at Claire's bike answer, he could honestly see her riding one. He glanced back at it and was about to offer to help out, only to get distracted by Claire getting up in his personal space. He almost followed through on the knee jerk reaction to move away, but he forced himself to stay put. He allowed her to play with his fingers, listening intently as she tried to talk him around into fully letting Becca go. He'd been trying for the past two years, ever since his dad forced him to break up with her. It was why he had the tattoos that he did, it was why Claire, Tyler and Snow had all done a thorough screening of Hazel before he was allowed to start dating her. It was why he had started training to be a police officer and started taking private self-defense classes.

Couldn't Claire see he was trying?

He started to close his eyes, Claire put an end to that when she scolded gently, "Jack, I think it's time you need to let go of her. Don't let her take control of your life; Because if you let her, you'll never be able to move on and I'd hate for you to be stuck and unable to join me for the unveiling of the Particle Accelerator."

A slight smile came to his face, he knew that was true. He wanted nothing more than to blow everything off and go to that unveiling with her. He looked at her, raising a hand up he touched her cheek as a weak smile danced across his face. "I know, and I appreciate everything you've done for me." He whispered, his eyes holding the same gentleness that it usually did.

He hadn't been expecting Claire to leave as soon as she appeared in front of him. A genuine laugh escaping him, he followed Claire out of her office. He was only a couple of minutes behind her, so he didn't quite catch her smacking Tyler on the back; but he had a suspicion that's what happened based on the fact Tyler was being careful not to leave his back exposed again. Coming up to them, he caught just the tail end of Snow's reply, "...I'll help."

A laugh slipping free, Jack joked, "Good, because you did not have a choice."

Snow shot him a mock hurt look, before he focused back on Claire. A grin spreading across the brunette's face, he asked, "So, do you have any idea of what some of her favorite hobbies are?"

Shaking his head, Jack snarked, "Really? Were you not just crushing on that cute boy in your history class?"

Snow looked at him, a quick eye roll as he shot back, "I'm a slinky, remember?"

Lightly smacking him on the arm, Jack glanced at the time and tried to think of where to go with the conversation. Catching the inquisitive look on Tyler's face, he looked away for a few moments, suddenly feeling as he'd made a mistake. A soft laugh escaped Tyler, reaching them all easily as the darker haired boy commented, "Okay, I get it. Claire, just remember to have him back by dawn, okay? You know how his mom can be with her son."

It was just a joke, all four of them would know that. He did pull out his phone and sent a quick to Hazel, alerting her that he'd be hanging out with Claire for the night. Not that it was mandatory, he just preferred not to worry her. A few minutes later, a gentle ping from his phone drew his attention back to it. Looking at the response, he smiled again as he read it to himself.

Okay, enjoy your night. Tell Claire I said hi and to enjoy her night. I love you.

He put his phone away, deciding he'd tell Claire about the text message later. Until that time and the unveiling, everything was out of Jack's hands. Although this time, he didn't mind it, he was honestly looking forward to the evening.

~- Tarnished Friendship -~

Adam remained still as Wells talked to him, watching as the elevator moved up to the top floor. He nodded his head, deciding that it'd be best to acknowledge that he heard even if he didn't really like to idea. He saw the car that was waiting for them, and he was about to take a step toward it when he saw a familiar yet strange head of brown hair. It also led to him taking a closer look at the figure as they moved to the center of the room. Sure, he heard that they'd had a new colonel transferred to their station but he hadn't believed it. Seeing the new colonel was like a punch to the gut, and despite not wanting to, Adam felt the memory of their first encounter come to his head.

First things first, he hated SACC that forced different grades to mingle. It was annoying as hell. "I'd like you all to welcome William Paragon, he's new here so try to be nice to him."

Adam looked up from his desk, his eyes capturing the grey of the brunette boy. A slight smile coming to his face, he watched as the boy was directed to the empty seat next to him. Looking back at the book in front of him, Adam returned to reading it even as the teacher started talking, resuming where she'd been in the instructions before she let them get to today's task. It took a second for him to register that he was being gently poked by the new kid.

Looking in his direction, Adam was about to ask what he wanted when the swirl of emotions coming from the kid caught his attention. Tilting his head to the side, Adam analyzed them to try and piece together if the kid was one he could be friends with. As it is, he could see that the kid wanted nothing more than to keep to himself. He saw the resentment that was buried way below everything else. Poking at the emotion, he got snippets of the cause of it in his mind as his soul and Will's went on a little field trip.

"What's your name?"

"Adam Jiang, what's your connection to the Furher?"

He saw the blank look on the new kid's face at the term he used. It was clear the boy was intelligent, he probably just wasn't used to someone referring to General Paragon that way. Sighing, Adam asked again, "What's your connection to General Paragon?"

He saw the reluctance enter Will's eyes even as he felt it wrap around him like a blanket. "He's my dad, what's it to you?" Will asked reluctantly.

Adam shook his head, deciding that it probably wouldn't be best to argue on it. Looking back at the book on his desk, he commented softly, "Nothing really, I was just curious. It must be super annoying to be the new kid in town all the damn time."

"Jiang! What would General Wells say if he heard that?"

"Easy, my guardian would ground my sorry ass!" Adam called back. He saw the briefest look of horror on Will's face, a shy grin spreading across Adam's he started to apologize for it when Will cut him off with, "You know, you shouldn't use that kind of language..."

"How sheltered are
you?" Adam shot back, an inquisitive look on his face. He saw the flustered look that crossed Will's face before the slight spark of light fled from Will's eyes. Sinking in his seat, Adam mumbled, "Sorry, I didn't mean it that way..."

"You know Street Rat, the new kid has a point. If you keep it up with that mouth, you'll never be adopted. Is that why your parents gave you up? They didn't want to deal with your brand of trouble?"

Adam felt the stab of pain at that jab, his head spinning from lack of oxygen and rage. The next thing he knew though, he saw the kid on the ground and Will was staring down at him. Grey eyes void of emotion as he intoned, "You shouldn't talk way about others. You never know their history."

Adam's mouth turned up into a ghost of a smile. He muttered a quick thanks, before he returned to doing what he'd been assigned for the time being; or until he got distracted by his new friend.


The young man in front of him was the same one from the memory. Adam fought against the tidal wave of emotions that swelled inside of him. Anger, betrayal, confusion, longing. He saw the way the grey eyes hardened at the sight of him, and he listened as Will asked Wells, "Do you know who I'm supposed to be training?"

Oh hell no. Adam thought, a tight knot of bitterness forming in his stomach. He had been hoping the file had been wrong, there was no way in hell he wanted it to be Will. Even so, Adam watched as spots exploded into his vision as his ability kicked in, analyzing the Colonel's soul and emotions. No, no, no, no.... Adam screamed inwardly, he didn't want this. Looking at Wells, Adam muttered, "Let's go General Wells." He'd be civil as long as he had to be, but this was an encounter he wanted to end and fast.

He tensed as daggers started burning into his skin from the grey-eyed soldier. "Jiang."

"Paragon." He spoke emptily, bitterness and confusion battling for dominance as he sensed the sheer hatred coming from Will. Go f.ck yourself. He inwardly added, he hated the fact he felt guilty for a crime he hadn't committed. Looking to Wells, he again started to say that they should leave when he fell silent. He wanted to get sick as he was bowled over by the intensity of Will's hatred.

"Running away again? It wouldn't be a surprise, you're good at that, Jiang." Will commented, no indication of what he was feeling. Adam knew differently though, the emotion was hot and sticky, burning his skin like a branding iron and closing off his throat. Glaring in his direction, he was about to retort when he decided it wasn't really worth getting lectured again by Wells. Walking toward Will, he kept his gaze to the floor as he passed. He wouldn't give Will the satisfaction he seemed to be trying to get.

Or at least that was the plan.

Hesitating for the briefest of seconds, Adam shot back, "I wasn't the one that ran. You were the coward." He quickly walked away, climbing into the waiting car, Adam slammed the door shut and locked it. Closing his eyes, Adam leaned his head against the window to try and calm down before the appointment with Dr. Wells. He just needed a few more moments to manage it and he'd be relatively okay.
 
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Roxie1563

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Claire gave out a small smirk when Snow asked her about the redhead's hobbies, she gave out a firm answer to no one was even surprised about it.

"Yeah, I know she loves to kicks boys in the ass and sleeps with them afterward," She teased Snow, but it was an sincere answer to his question. Claire soon turned to her attention to the back of the gym and she realized that nearly everybody has arrived for her class which should be starting anytime now.

Adding to the joke between the four friends, she commented back. "I"ll make sure this one doesn't get any bruises, but if he does, I'll make sure the redhead get to take him home... Kidding! But I'll be sure to make sure he'll be home in time for our meet-up, right Jack?"

At this point, Claire didn't hear from Jack and started to ask him when she realized he was texting to someone else. 'Probably Hazel since they're hooked up, thanks to all of our extensive yet speedy background check on her before giving the approval to Jack.' Claire thought inwardly as she grabbed Snow by the arm.

By then, both Claire and Snow got right into it. First, they did all sort of exercises then some pieces of yoga and following up with some rounds in the ring via boxing. At some point, both Snow and Claire had some good practice in while the classes (mainly women) put bets on who won.

Eventually, the day came to an end.

Making sure the gym was locked up for the night, Claire and Snow took the train for a bit until the stop came up for Snow to get off, both exchanging waves and goodbyes as the door closed on Claire. She didn't know that the boy she met earlier on had been on the same train, but her thoughts were on getting ready for the unveiling.

Soon Claire made her way to her apartment, opening the door via her key and closing behind her. She knew the unveiling would start at either nine or ten, but she wanted to be early as soon as possible. Looking at the clock and knowing both her and Jack would need a place to eat beforehand, so Claire took the time to strip down and hopped onto the shower while making sure not to overdo it.

It was an hour later and Claire was already ready; it was just a matter of waiting for Jack to come by and off to some restaurant and right into S.T.A.R. Labs.

While waiting on Jack, the beautiful young lady took the time to check upon herself to ensure she didn't forget anything else. Looking in the mirror, Claire had her make-up on and wearing her black dress that was strapless with the hem close to her knees. Her lips were sealed with light red on it, thanks to Hazel as an gift for her birthday which brought a smile to her face as she remembered the memory of it.

Also, she has slipped onto her black high heels that seems to make her taller, but not enough to reach Jack's or Tyler's height. Claire snickered at the thoughts if those guys ever saw her wearing those heels in public; It'd be funny, but she would slap them silly if they thought she looks like Bigfoot.

Claire eventually calmed herself down enough to look at her heart-shaped choker around her neck that belonged to her mother. She could feel herself becoming sober as she ran her fingers on the heart and rubbing on it as memories of her parents came across her mind. It stayed that way for a moment or two until she got startled by the knocking of her door that deemed the arrival of Jack.

Taking a deep breath and allowing her to smile at herself through the mirror, Claire made her way to the door and opened it to see Jack all dressed up which allowed her to smile at him while cat-whistling as a joke between themselves. She quickly grabbed her small purse and closed the door to her apartment, locking it and putting it back into her purse as they made their way down and into a car of Jack's choice then made their way to a nice place and later to the Labs.

~~~~

Dr. Michael Wells and the Twins had finally finished their latest tests on the Particles to see why it was decreasing in performance, only it didn't show any reason other than annoyance to the brilliant doctor as Mike slammed his hands on a desk nearby which caused both Crystal and Casper to jump slightly.

Mumbling to himself while rubbing his eyes to clear away his frustrations on being unable to fix the procession when he heard the 'ding' and realized it must be four in the afternoon and most of his co-workers were already well on their way home for a spell until their return for the unveiling due by nine or ten at the latest.

Turning to the Twins, he told them to go on and be ready for the unveiling soon. "I'll handle everything from here on, guys; Whatever the cause is will have to hold on until we get this out of the way. See you guys later on tonight!" He smiled at them as he quickly returned to his office just as well his brother, General Ellis Wells made his arrival and into his office.

Chucking for a bit as the two gave each other a small hug and gave each other updates in their respective lives until the due subject came up: Contracts between STAR Labs and the federal government with the military as the primary. Knowing what Ellis will do and say, he decided to take the initiative.

"Ellis, this whole thing between us is not personal at all, okay?" Mike explained as he got up to make himself and Ellis some tea. As he did so, he continued on. "I mean, I know I can see your points about the Particles doing some good with your Army buddies, but I don't trust the guys who would take it as means to win a war."

He turned around, carrying two cups on a plate full of tea and handing one over to Ellis, Mike sat down then sipped a bit of tea which soothed his throat. He allowed it to sink in so Ellis would know where he was coming from and only briefly asked the young man if he needed anything (He wasn't even aware of the man until he noticed him before the tea) which the young man said no.

At this point, the discussion went onto the evening and when the Twins returned, it was quite obvious to them that both brothers hadn't even given each other an inch or two on this very discussion which could turn deadly soon enough, if it weren't for the quick thinking of Crystal as Michael took the time to excuse himself to take a private but quick shower and into a tuxedo.

By then, the clock struck on seven as all the people on 40th floor made their way down via the elevator and through the long corridor and windowless which allowed the cool air to filter through. Finally, the group reached the ballroom where there were clearly people streaming in, only being checked by security guards and making sure they had the tickets with them.

Dr. Wells checked his watch that his mother gave to him the day of his graduation and nodded to himself for it was nearly time for the unveiling. Turning to his elder brother, he gave him his salutations and turned on forward to the growing crowds to make sure things went well.

He would have to check on with Ellis from time to time, but for now he was not going to let the damn military override this night meant for the people of the free world.
 

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General Wells kept his mouth shut once Adam got into the car. Not because of what had just transpired--far from it, he didn't even witness any of it. Instead Wells was busy reading over reports from STAR Labs. Any last minute information he could gather from his reviewing the facts would be worth the effort. Unfortunately, nothing new came to light and he would have to face his brother without an ace up his sleeve. One of his largest annoyances was going into anything without a backup plan, but when it came to his Brother, the general rarely--if ever--was able to make a secret move remain secret. The second Adam and general Wells entered the labs, it was obvious nothing was going to change. Not only would Michael refuse to budge an inch on the topic, but the bustling of all the scientists around the labs made for a chaotic environment, even within the confides of the doctor's private office.
"Ellis, this whole thing between us is not personal at all, okay?" I mean, I know I can see your points about the Particles doing some good with your Army buddies, but I don't trust the guys who would take it as means to win a war."
"Mike, this isn't just about the military. I will admit that the research here would prove infallible to the United States military, but I would be remiss if I didn't also make you think about how this would affect you and STAR Labs. We've touched on it a bit in the past, but god forbid if something went wrong when you turn that thing on. What would happen to you then? To your reputation? To STAR Labs? Those two assistants of yours as well? What would become of their careers?" Ellis opened the briefcase he had placed on the table and laid a sheet of paper down with a pen. "This isn't just me asking you to share information as a professional. This is me, asking as a brother, to let me help you. If anything were to happen, the military would be able to help with damage control and STAR Labs' reputation would remain as spotless as it is now. The military would take the hit for you instead."

It didn't need to be said that Ellis' gambit failed to turn a profit. It hadn't done so in the past, but the general figured that playing into Mike's sympathetic side would be the best attempt in a last ditch effort. The general rubbed his eyebrows tiredly as he and Adam exited STAR Labs from the rear entrance. The front was filled with crowds and protesters, but the rear was deserted, save for the car he and Adam used to reach the Labs. Wells placed a hand on Adam's shoulder.
"Feeling hungry? I could go for a steak before heading back. ...That and a stiff drink."
 

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~- Eye of the Hurricane -~

"I"ll make sure this one doesn't get any bruises, but if he does, I'll make sure the redhead get to take him home... Kidding! But I'll be sure to make sure he'll be home in time for our meet-up, right Jack?"

Jack couldn't help but grin at the banter between his friends. Nodding his head, he waved as Claire and Snow walked away. Looking to Tyler, he tried to figure something out when the Greek-Cherokee boy asked, "Do I have to go tonight?"

An impish smirk coming to his face, Jack laughed, "If I have to wear a penguin suit, you need to go to that book party. Besides, mythology based books? You will have a blast."

"You're being a jerk right now," Tyler mumbled, even though there was a grin on his face.

Waving it off in a dismissive fashion, Jack walked toward the front of the gym to finish his errands up before his sudden "date" for the night. He heard Tyler calling after him, and he hadn't been going to fast, but he still called back, "Hai, hai." (yes, yes)

"Don't you dare start talking in Japanese!"

A smile on his face, Jack laughed, "Naze watashi no shaberi nihongo wa?" (roughly: why can't I talk in Japanese?) Before running out of the gym to avoid the rather angry friend behind him. It took a couple of minutes, from dodging people and trying not to tire himself out, but Tyler rejoined him outside by the flex. Seeing the slight frown on Tyler's face, Jack reached out a hand and ruffled the darker-haired boy's hair. "Come on, don't be that way, Ty. I was just teasing."

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. Jack hadn't had anything to eat, he'd been a little too nervous.

He'd showered, dropped the guys off at that event since Tyler had warmed up during the day and then had driven to Claire's place to pick her up. Knocking on the door, it only took a couple of moments for Claire to open the door. He had to admit, she was gorgeous in her black dress. A smile on his face, he teased lightly, "What? No heels tonight?"

He led her down to his car and opened the door for her, shutting it once she was inside he got into the passenger side and decided to just double check where she wanted to go to eat. After coming to an agreement with her, Jack took them to the restaurant so they could enjoy dinner before the event. Thinking on things, he asked as they drove, "Would it be easier for you if you had some help at the gym?" He glanced at her for a second before he returned his gaze to the road, the music playing through the car was a mix that he'd personally burned for Claire shortly after she'd graduated from high school. He'd also made sure to have his hearing aid in so at least that wasn't trashing their night.

~- Distractions -~

Adam didn't say a word during the meeting, he wasn't even really looking at Dr. Wells. The only form of conversation he had with the doctor was the act of shaking his head when he'd been offered tea. It was at that point Adam made sure to keep his eyes glued to the floor, he was on edge enough because of that encounter with Will, and the last thing he needed was to get even more agitated. Although that didn't mean he wasn't slowly getting more and more agitated, he could feel the emotions rolling off of the Wells brothers. Both were equally determined to get what they wanted, both were concerned (although it seemed Ellis was a little more so) and both were slightly irritated that they couldn't get the other to see their point.

Why? Why would he do that? Doesn't he remember and care about that secret? Adam thought to himself, trying to piece together why Will was acting the way he was. A scowl coming to his face, Adam clenched his fists as he reprimanded himself internally, Stop being an idiot, Jiang. He doesn't care, he left you all those years ago, remember? He ignored you because he blamed you for that stupid accident. It took Ellis moving past him for him to realize the meeting was done, and only a second afterwards for Adam to be following the general.

"Feeling hungry? I could go for a steak before heading back. ...That and a stiff drink."

Adam flinched at the question and the weight of Ellis's hand on his shoulder. He looked around him, trying to process where he was as he was hit with the emotions of everyone up front. Kicking the ground with his boot, he mumbled softly, "I don't care, sir. If you want to get something we can, I just want to get away from all the people." He was aware of the faint ache radiating up from his right wrist, and he instinctively started rubbing some of the pain out with his other hand. He also noticed a faint throbbing ache coming from his left leg, but for the life of him he couldn't figure out what he did to hurt it.

Glancing at Wells again, Adam forced a shy smile and repeated a little more cheerfully, "Yeah, I am. Where were you thinking of going?"

~- Temporary Wakefulness -~

James was dreaming, he knew that one for sure. All he knows is that his head didn't hurt as much as being awake had been. He looked around him, trying to figure out exactly where he was only to become distracted by the sound of his mother's voice. It was calm for the most part, although he could have sworn that there was the slightest tremor of concern in her voice. It made his heart ache, even so whenever he tried to focus on it more, he couldn't manage it.

He heard the trees rustling around him, something he found odd given the fact he didn't remember anything about trees before. Even so, the breeze through the branches was relaxing to him, helping to the soothe the chill that had been settling over him.

At least until he heard the rustle of feathers, turning around in a circle he tried to pinpoint the source of his unease. He couldn't find it, which led to him tensing his muscles as he tried to figure out if he should run or not. The slightest sound of a branch moving to his left had him looking in the direction, especially when he heard a faint yet deep voice whispering, "Po. Po. Po. Po. Po."

His pulse leapt in his veins, making the boy take a step back even as his heart started pounding in his chest. He was acutely aware of his breaths coming in short little gasps, his palms getting sweaty from how much he was shaking. Closing his eyes, James whimpered a little only to feel something touch him and a gentle voice calling out to him. He couldn't make the words out, but even still he found himself leaning into the touch and moving toward it...


"Hey sweetie, how are you feeling?"

The words were soft against his skin, he was also aware of a cool touch on his arm. Blinking a little bit, James tried to figure out where he was only for the light to make him shut his eyes. It was too bright, and whenever he swallowed his throat hurt. "My throat hurts, and my head too." He mumbled, fighting the urge to slip back under the tug of sleep. He just wanted to sleep, was that so wrong?

A slight laugh caught his attention, again drawing him back to the surface of wakefulness. It was also the sad yet relieved sound that had him registering who he'd been talking to. Opening his eyes reluctantly, James looked at his mother and started to ask a question when she said soothingly, "Shoo, it's okay. Rest, we're just glad you woke up."

He saw his Dad leaning against the wall, his fingers tapping against his arm as he seemed to be thinking about something that James wouldn't even start to be able to guess at. Glancing at the clock, he flinched inwardly as the movement sent a rush of pain and dizziness through him. Why did the room have to spin so fast? "Easy there kiddo, you've got a high fever. Don't worry about the time, let me worry on that, okay? Just take it easy and rest." The command from his dad brought an odd comfort with it, and it didn't take much more prompting for James to fall asleep again.
 
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Roxie1563

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  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
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Claire sat inside of Jack's car as they drove on to their local favorite food, Steak-n-Shakes, to eat for a bit until they were sure the doors to go inside STAR Labs would be open and be able to find their seats that she got from her tickets that she submitted to the Archville Times when she first heard that Dr. Wells was planning to unveil the latest invention of his, when Jack hummed off a question to her as she was thinking to herself.

Briefly shaking her head to clear off the thoughts and to focus on Jack's question, Claire turned her head to him and gave off a small nod. She had thought about hiring more people to help out during the days that she was working on, but to do so she'll have to ask her grandparents about it and knowing how they'd feel since it was always in the family, she didn't really raised the issue around them.

Letting out a puff of air loosing through her lips, Claire told him of her grandparent's stance on it. "It's not like they don't want strangers in; It's more of a legacy type of thing for them since they were way younger than we are right now," Claire explained. "But honestly, this kind of thing is killing me!" She teased.

Hearing the song that Jack burned for her made her feel better and when the ending came near, Claire quickly hit the rewind button to hear it again, rather than going to the next. Smiling as the beginning of the chorus came into play, Claire asked Jack if he ever had the chance to burn anymore songs.

"It's not that important to me than getting some kind of badass motorcycle that I've been checking out for a bit." She winked at him as they continued on.

Thinking of motorcycles made her remember her father as he rode one for his job as a police offer back when she was just little enough to remember it. That's when Claire felt the hit of emotions swirling throughout her body and as it was starting to look like she might let out a tear fall through, she took a deep breath and just let it out as it tend to make her stop before it even starts.

Glancing at Jack and back, she wondered if the circumstances between them as a child would be different to the point that it was possible to be in a relationship with each other. But he's with Hazel and she's single, which kinda annoyed her just a bit since she did date a bit back in school; It was hard enough with a job and well, she wasn't one to really looking around for one anyway right now.

"Oh, there it is!" Claire quickly pointed out the restaurant where they'd dine for a bit.

~~~~

Michael Wells forced himself to smile and shake hands with guests that came to see him unveil his latest work as he wondered if his brother was right about this. He knew Ellis was right in a way when it came to taking responsibilities for his co-workers, projects and so on. And for him to have the balls to tell Mike that if anything happened to them, it was on him!

"Excuse me." He spoke to one of the guests as he walked off to reach the twins. Maybe they can help him feel better about all of this, he thought to himself while glancing at one of the giant screen that showed protesters holding signs and banner that were against him and his works, shaking his head as he reached Crystal and Casper with a wave.

"Hey, how are you doing?" Mike asked them and with a wave of his hand, the three of them went backstage and he spoke to them about the meeting and asked them if it was a good idea to leave it off the table.

"I know my brother and we love each other, but for him to say that I don't care about you and everybody else is being ridiculous!" Dr. Wells bemoaned just a tad bit as he walked back and forth in circles while they watched him, trying to encourage him. "Maybe I should just sign it, but with a few deals involving you guys and the Particles Accelerator? It could make things easier if something did happen tonight or the next time we turn that thing on."

Glancing at his watch again and it was showing him at least close to eight o'clock in the evening, it didn't help him untie the knot that was gnawing in his stomach and waiting on the Twins' response to his questions.

'Maybe it's not too late to talk to Ellis to come back and do this in a simple manner..' Mike thought inwardly as he debated on pulling out his phone and calling him or let it go for the time being as he turned to the corner, glad to see everybody was enjoying themselves for the time being.
 

Eternal Dream

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~- Drive by Killing -~

No

Will was frozen, his defensive walls flying up as he shut down. When... why...? Why, after twelve f.ucking years, did Adam have to crop up again? How long had Will waited, praying that Adam would walk through the door? Will had spent weeks in the hospital. so hopped up on painkillers he could barely think, yet he still felt every shard and splinter in his leg, poking and stabbing at him with even the slightest movement. When he finally got released, Will had asked his mom to take him to Adam's first thing, only to have the splintering pain in his leg find its way to his chest when Adam's foster family said that he'd been put back into the system, and they refused to give any more information after that.

Physical therapy; surgery after surgery until Will could have sworn there was more metal and pins in his leg than bone. Nightmares of the horse rearing beneath him, being unable to bring it back under control before losing his seat; the shock and jolt of hitting the ground racing through his body before the horse fell right on top of him, pinning his leg even as he heard the snap of the bone, the pain as femur and tibia ripped through muscle and flesh, staining the ground, his pants, and the horse with so much blood that all Will could see was the red and white of what was supposed to stay inside of him spilling out, causing so much damage in ten seconds that he was still dealing with the fallout over a decade later.

Will held onto the anger and hatred he'd forced himself to nurture since that time, both in a sudden, juvenile attempt to hurt Adam and to protect himself. Will knew what Adam could do; he knew that Adam already knew how Will felt and he wanted the toxic anger to hurt Adam as much as possible.

More importantly, though, was that it was easier to hide behind the anger; it was safer to hate Adam for something Will didn't blame him for. Will didn't want to think about the hurt and isolation he'd felt. How abandoned Adam had made him feel, still made him feel. Adam had left him when Will had needed his best friend the most; he'd left without an attempt at goodbye, to see if Will was okay. It was like Adam never even existed.

And he had the nerve to call Will the coward?

Shards and splinters of pain raced through Will's leg as he stood frozen, refusing to turn to look at Adam after the potshot Jiang had thrown before walking past him. He couldn't turn to look at the private; Will knew that if he did, he'd lose control of himself and beat the shit out of Adam, leading right back to trouble for Will when General Paragon found out. Will wasn't going to let Adam get him into more shit with the General.

He'd learned his lesson last time.

A whine and something brushing against his leg roused Will from his haze. Will looked down, and he saw Starset looking up at him, worry in her blue eyes as she whined softly again. Will reached down, tangling his fingers in her fur as he forced himself to relax.

A spasm ran through his leg as the tension left his body. Will sagged, his stance lopsided as he shifted most of his weight to his right leg. Starset leaned into his side, giving him extra support as exhaustion suddenly crashed over him. For a long time, man and beast stood still in the late afternoon air, the isolation around them just complete enough that Will allowed himself that moment for weakness.

At long last, Will started walking, his gait uneven and his pace slow. The sparring match with Gizmo, the rock hard tension from that encounter with Adam, both had left his bad leg tender, and Will found himself unable to place much weight on his left side as he hobbled along, his knuckles massaging his thigh in an attempt to ease some of the stiffness that was trying to seep in. Starset stayed close against him, her weight acting as something of a crutch, taking some of the pressure off his leg.

It would be an early night for him, Will knew it. He'd pull himself together as they neared the rest of the base; even though his leg hurt too much for him to not limp, he could make that limp almost nonexistent. He'd learned to hide in plain sight, a skill he'd learned from Adam.

That asshole.

As the mere suggestion of people became concrete fact, Will straightened, placing enough weight on his left side that he had to grit his teeth to stop a pained groan from escaping him. Swallowing his weakness, he forced himself to walk straight, a slight limp visible as he favored his left leg. Even so, he felt some of that forced hatred burn out, and Will had to bank the coals again so that the underlying pain behind the false emotions didn't cripple him more effectively than his broken leg ever could. Why?

Why did Adam abandon him?

~- Fanning the Flames -~

He dreams of fire. Red and orange dancing around him, yellow circling up and down, blinding white at the hottest hearts of the flames. The beauty of the flames is achingly haunting, because he knows just how much danger is encased in that small space, some pockets no bigger than the span of his hand. The flames are beautiful, dangerous, and deadly.

He wants them.

His hand reaches out, and the dream fire follows it, illuminating the scenes around him in snippets of firelight, there and gone in a flash so fleeting that he can only catch brief glimpses in the light of the embers. Red and green, solar energy and moonlight intertwining together. Arcane powers of eldritch nature. Speed. Treachery. Cascading water. Death. Danger. Bone, teeth, and claws. Fur and fangs. A man... no, a beast... no, a man that turns to a beast...

The flames dance higher, drawing his attention to them once more. They arc around him and through him, soothing his mind in its never ending race to understand and control. He feels his muscles relax and his breathing grow more even as he slowly sinks into a deeper sleep, his awareness of the dreams fading away as his conscious slips further under.

However, even though the dreams slip from his awareness, he still feels the warmth of the flames.

The fire remains with him wherever he goes.
 
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Story Keeper

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~- The Pressure Starts to Rise -~

Tyler was regretting on what he'd said earlier. Glancing at Snow to see his friend's own discomfort, he smiled a little bit in sympathy. Moving toward him, he mumbled, "How about we ditch this?" Snow glanced at him, the book discussion wasn't either of their cups of tea, not that either one of them drank the stuff. He had to admit, he'd been enjoying it until the pressure in his chest had started to build up. It had started quiet, it always did, now though he felt as if he was being smothered and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

He saw Snow nod in agreement, and the two quickly slipped out of the house. He could tell that Snow was trying to head how sore he was, he was always a little tender after Claire used him as a demonstration since the two would forget to restrain themselves at times; especially if Becca had been mentioned beforehand. Walking along the street, he allowed the comfortable silence fill in the gap between them. Tyler had been hoping Jack would have healed by now with all of their efforts. He knew it was a foolish hope, but it hadn't stopped him from hoping. He thought of the unveiling that was coming up, the Particle Accelerator.

Tyler knew Jack had high hopes for it. It actually broke his heart with just how high those hopes were. It only took a quick glance for him to identify that Snow had a similar train of thought going on. "Come on Snow, you know they'll be okay." He commented half-heartedly, he saw the slight smile that flickered across Snow's face.

He knew without having to ask what was eating away at the country boy. Deciding to change the topic, he asked, "Did you get Shauna's number tonight?"

Snow looked away, a slightly flustered look on his face as he answered, "Yeah."

It was actually kind of cute, given what he'd gone through himself. Tyler looked around him, he tried to figure out what they should do. Hearing Snow clear his throat, Tyler glanced in his direction to see what his friend wanted. "How about we go to Outback? It's been a while since either one of us have gone. Maybe we can catch a movie before I take you home?"

A laugh escaping him, Tyler teased softly, "Are you asking me out on a date?"

A grin spreading on his face, Snow shot back, "Maybe I am, what are you going to do about it?"

"Nothing, I don't mind. Let's go," Tyler shot back, sprinting for Snow's mustang to try and beat his friend to the driver's seat. He honestly didn't mind, as long as his friends were safe and happy he was okay.

~- We Live in the Rain -~

"It's not like they don't want strangers in; It's more of a legacy type of thing for them since they were way younger than we are right now."

Jack laughed at why Claire hadn't hired anyone else yet, it made a bunch of sense to him. He'd met Claire's grandparents, he'd heard them tell the story on a number occasions. In all honesty, it was part of why he was becoming a cop. It seemed as if there was constantly at least one Fair in the police force. Seeing the look on her face, Jack listened as Claire teased, "But honestly, this kind of thing is killing me!"

Laughing at the comment, Jack teased right back, "You look perfectly well to me!"

He hadn't realized just how much he missed hanging out with Claire. A thought coming to his mind, he heard Claire's question. Shaking his head, he answered, "Not yet, I've been busy with classes, sorry." He smiled a little bit at her remark about the motorcycle, he loved seeing this side of her.

Then his heart shattered a little bit once the pain crossed Claire's face. Reaching out a hand, he gently squeezed her hand to let her know she wasn't alone. He knew why she was sad, her dad had allowed him on his motorcycle once or twice when he was off duty. It was terrifying but fun at the same time. He had sometimes played with a what if on things turning out differently, and he wasn't sure how to feel on those possibilities. He let the silence hang in the air between them, and he wasn't about to ruin the slight moment because he didn't want to upset Claire.

Not that he'd ever cheat on Hazel.

He moved over to the chosen restaurant when Claire pointed it out. He pulled into a parking spot and put the car into park, an odd look coming to his face, he asked softly, "Do you think your grandparents would be okay with me working at the gym? We're practically family after all." He wanted to try and make Claire as happy as he could, and he subconsciously reached up and rubbed the back of his neck, reminding him of the tattoo and vow that rested there. A steely light brightening his eyes, he vowed to himself, Whenever possible, I won't let any harm come to Hazel and Claire.

~- It Was Weird -~

Adam suddenly thought of a place they could go to get what the General wanted and postpone him meeting Will again. He decided to take control, besides he loved the bread from there. He looked at Wells and suggested, more at ease than before, "Do you want to go to outback? I know I like the bread they serve there. Besides, I don't feel like heading back to the base yet."

He knew General Wells hadn't witnessed the exchange between him and Will, otherwise he would've talked to Adam about it by now. If he focused he could still sense the hostility coming from Will, something that still sent him for a loop. He'd been planning on telling Will what he'd discovered since the last time they talked, but that wasn't what had happened. All Adam knew was that Will was lying to himself. He hadn't been a coward, he'd tried to get in contact with Will but his supposed friend had shunned him.

"Heyoka? You're a monster. A demon. You're a con and a liar. You should die!"

He cringed visibly at the remembered words, he could feel that foster mom's hands tightening around his throat. He froze, watching as the memory of that physical abuse played out in front of his eyes again. The water trying to fill his burning lungs, his throat was bruise from his mom's grip and his head hurt from when he'd smacked it against the wall. His wrist throbbing from where she'd broken it, the pale skin being stained dark from the bruise...

Adam finally dropped to the ground, his vision darkening due to him not breathing. Blinking a couple of times to clear his vision, he tried to figure out what was true, new pain and what was a phantom ache. He hated his strength as an empath, he hated being an empath in general. He pulled himself up, looking to Ellis he tried to figure out what all of that Ellis had seen, although he was pretty sure it was all of it that happened in the present. Forcing a weak smile, he said nonchalantly, "Sorry, I haven't had anything to eat."

It wasn't a lie.

It was just another reason he hated being what he was.
 

Cassette-Disk

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  • Curiouser and Curiouser
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As soon as Dr Wells and his brother left the room, Crystal grabbed her brother's arm and pulled him to the side.
"It's time," she said. Her voice was low and foreboding, and was well out of anyone else's reach. Casper scanned her face for confirmation.
"You sure you want to go through with this?" He asked. She nodded, but only once. The two left the room as casually as they could, careful not to raise any suspicion. They crossed the central hall packed with visitors, walked through a pair of glass doors, avoided various coworkers, and slipped into the main server room. It was imperative that they avoided the doctor's eyes, and they made sure to duck away any time they thought he was anywhere near. Of course, after the disaster that the meeting was, Casper and Crystal would be the last thing on his mind for a few more minutes.

The server door closed behind them. Towers of computer cases lined up ahead of them in rows upon rows of endless electronics. Various monitors had been dotted along the walls to check the status of all the systems, but right now there was only one thing the twins needed. One program they had hidden from nearly every worker in STAR Labs. One executable that they had gotten past even the doctor himself. Crystal took the monitor closest to the door.
"Last chance to back out."
"Not a chance," Casper said as he manned the monitor nearest her. A few keystrokes later, and the two stared at each other as a timer was primed on the top of both monitors. Five minutes. A total of 300 seconds. Nothing more, nothing less. The twins nodded at each other. Crystal tapped a key. The time began to tick down.

The server room was filled with the sound of quick typing, mouse clicking, and the occasionally cursing, though this was largely drowned out by the soft hums of the many computers and the ever constant fans keeping the room cool. In fact, the room might have been a bit too chilly, and Crystal began to suspect it might affect their performance. Still, it was too late now, as the timer had already dropped from the five minute mark down to 3:34. Two minutes had nearly been used up already, and there was still so much she needed to do. She stole a glance toward Casper and saw a determined grin on his face before returning her attention back on her monitor. She cursed loudly again. Casper only nodded, but a few seconds was all it took for him to do the same. Something unexpected appeared on her screen.
"Times four--" was all she could mumble before Casper hissed out.
"I got it, I got it." His keystrokes hastened even more, and Crystal struggled to keep up. Only a minute and a half left. Things weren't looking good, but she was still confidant. After all the planning and strategizing, things weren't going to fall apart now. She smiled. Casper cursed. There were footsteps outside the server room but at this point, the twins were too invested to care. Thankfully, whoever it was noticed nothing, and continued on their way. The timer neared its end. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

Casper threw his arms up in the air while his sister slumped forward, gripping the monitor in despair.
"How?!"
"Five time STAR Labs Quake champion, baby! Whooo!"
"If that Quad damage hadn't spawned closer to you, I would have gotten it!"
"Excuses excuses. Can we leave now? It's freezing in here." Casper opened the server door and Crystal followed behind, obviously still upset.
"But I had practiced specifically to take you down! I used different movement mix-ups to juke your rockets, I--"
"And I knew you would, so I was ready." By the time Dr Wells reached them, Crystal still wasn't taking the loss very well, but tried to put it behind her.
"Hey, how are you doing?" The doctor asked.
"Just dandy," Casper smiled.
"Fine," was Crystal's response as she returned to her normal analytical demeanor while Casper still glowed from his victory. Then Dr Wells went into detail about how he felt about the meeting with his brother, about whether or not he did the right thing by refusing to sign on with him.
"You're in the right, doctor." Crystal said. "This was all your idea. Yours that you've nurtured and have grown. General Wells was trying to strike at your emphatic and compassionate side by mentioning us and tried to scare you into signing with him by bringing up a worst case scenario situation. Think of all the times he's tried to get you to sign before and you can see that he's been using different tactics along the way. This was his last attempt before we turn the Accelerator on. Thus he needed to go for the most dangerous move, one that would have the highest chance of working. As you doubt yourself now, you prove that the move was effective, but not enough."
"That's a bit harsh," Casper interjected, "They're brothers. Do you really think Ellis would try and use that against Dr Wells for his own goals?"
"Think of us. If there had been only one position in STAR Labs, both of us would have done whatever it took to get the spot."
"I doubt we would use underhanded tactics, but you're mostly right, I guess. I don't like it, but you're right." Casper turned his attention towards Dr Wells. "Either way, we've made our peace. After all, we both agreed to your ideals and want to follow through with them. It's our decisions, and we're sticking with them. Don't let the thought of us come between you and your own choices, doc."

---


"Do you want to go to outback? I know I like the bread they serve there. Besides, I don't feel like heading back to the base yet." General Wells nodded. A steakhouse was, after all, the best house for a steak.
"To be honest son, I don't feel like heading back to base either. As a matter of fact..." Wells fished out his work phone and set it to silent. "I don't really want to be bothered by anyone from base right now at all." Adam made a motion, which caught Wells' attention. "You alright, Jiang?" With that, Adam fell to the ground. "Jesus!" Ellis kneed down and placed a hand on the boy's neck, checking his vitals. "Adam! Stay with me!" It didn't take long for Adam to come around and stand by his own strength.

"Sorry, I haven't had anything to eat."

Ellis nearly laughed.
"Been dragging your ass around all day and I haven't even offered you a plate of breakfast, have I? And it's nearly nightfall to boot. Let's get going." Wells nearly offered to carry Adam into the car, but knew it would upset him so he just walked closely behind instead. He kept asking if Adam was fine the entire ride and though the answers were always positive, they were usually quick, one worded answers. By the time they arrived, night had fallen and only a sliver of the sun was visible. General Wells stepped out but kept a close watch on Adam. After his fall, Wells wasn't sure everything was okay. The area was quite busy as well. People were milling about outside and in the surrounding stores and restaurants, though the Outback itself was relatively quiet. The pair went inside and were quickly seated. After ordering, General Wells asked once again if everything was alright after taking a sip of his drink.

"I know I'm sounding like a broken record at this point, Jiang, but you don't look well. I'm not sure what's happening but I can at least tell you it all gets better. Take my brother for instance. So he didn't agree with me. So we've argued in the past. So what? We still believe in one another. I wanted to help him, but he didn't accept it. Wanna know why?" He took another sip. "Because he has his own reasons. His own agenda. His own ideals and code. People don't do things thinking they're wrong. They do things because they believe they're right. Doesn't matter what it is, we make decisions we think are right and rarely see it from any other perspective. I understand why he made the choice he made, I just wish I could make him see a different point of view. But sometimes you just can't get through to other people. The important thing is that you stay open minded and try.Got it?" General Wells took a second to look at his drink. "What the hell's in this thing? It's making me all sentimental and crap," he smiled before pushing it away. "


---


...Why was the air so hot? That was the only thing Kyle could think of as he stepped off the train. It was unusual. By now the sun had already set and the cool evening air should be taking over. The bus drove off, leaving Kyle behind in the wake of its disgustingly warm fumes. He waved the black smoke away before walking. From a distance, he thought he heard some kind of alarm going off and for a moment thought it might have been that Particle Accelerator everyone was talking about. Maybe something had gone wrong and the city was going haywire. But it was too early for them to flip the switch, and the alarm was coming from the other side of city--away from STAR Labs. Maybe someone had accidentally set off a store's alarm or something? Or maybe it wasn't an accident. Kyle hastened his step. It was probably nothing. Like, some idiot worker tripped the switch and didn't know how to turn the alarm off. Happened all the time. Kyle quietly pulled the swiss army knife his dad had given him from his bag and palmed it.

Thankfully, Kyle's apartment was on the opposite side of where the alarm was coming from, and the fading noise brought him a sense of security. Whatever was happening, he was moving away from it. A sudden police cruiser flew past him towards the alarm, but the sirens were off. He wasn't sure how to interpret that, but took it as a good sign. If the sirens weren't on, then it must not be that important. Still, the air in this side of town was uncommonly warm. More so than when he had left work. It left his throat dry and, though rare, Kyle ducked into a small convenience store he had walked past a dozen times, but never entered. The cozy store had a few racks lined up like aisles, a freezer for ice cream near the counter, and the walls had fridges for drinks. The place was empty, besides the person running the register. The entrance gave him a clear view of the counter, though the elderly Asian man running the place didn't even notice Kyle step inside. He was too focused on the small TV placed on the corner of the wall. There was some kind of movie playing. A woman with short red hair in a crimson jacket and tight pants was standing on the steps of some big building. Kyle couldn't help but notice that, despite wearing a jacket, her shirt was nearly non-existent and barely covered her body, leaving her navel completely exposed. Typical Hollywood. Oh god, was she wearing sunglasses during the night? Come the diddly on. In one hand, the woman held some kind of duffel bag. The other hand had...
"Is that a flame thrower?" He asked out loud. The man didn't look at him, but nodded. "Kick ass." The woman shouted something Kyle didn't catch before spewing flames in front of herself in an arc. Police had surrounded her and though they had their weapons drawn, no one fired. Those near her simply backed away quickly before they could get burned. Once the flames subsided, Casper realized the woman had a few men with her. They all wore loose clothing, had bags that were slung over their shoulders, and were wielding some kind of rifles. One of them actually only had a pistol of some description but was holding a man hostage. His arm was wrapped around the man's throat with the pistol pointed at the man's head. So that was why the police hadn't opened fire. Kyle made his way to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of root beer, but the movie interested him. "What's the name of the movie you got on?"
"Movie?" The elderly man asked.
"Yeah, the flame thrower chick looks badass."
"Son, this is the news."

Kyle paused midstep.
"What?" He looked back at the TV and noticed the tiny logo on the bottom right of the screen. The TV's resolution was so small he had completely missed it the first time. "So...so that's...?"
"That's the bank downtown. She's been torching things all around that area. Not many people around, thankfully." The man turned up the volume a bit as the news anchor's voice finally chimed in.
"...With a large portion of the police overseeing STAR Labs, the few first responders can only watch on as..."
"You said that was the bank? So she went in when there wouldn't be too much security, huh? Damn." Still, it wasn't as if should would be able to get away. After all, there was apparently at least one news chopper filming this and she was surrounded. It wasn't as if she was a ninja or something. The woman yelled one more time before pointing her flame thrower at the air. Fire shot upwards like a dragon, and though it had distracted him, Kyle also saw one of the men throw something at the ground. A black smoke quickly engulfed the stairs leading up to the bank, and quickly swallowed everyone within in darkness. A few seconds passed as the news anchor tried to speak in a calm manner, but by the time the smoke vanished, so too had the woman and her gang, leaving their hostage behind. Mother diddlyer.

Kyle didn't dare step outside. Not when there was a flaming bank robber on the loose. Though he was inside, the open door still let him feel the hot air blowing through this side of town. It was a constant reminder of what was happening. He gripped his root beer tightly. Well, the store's root beer. He still hadn't paid for it, after all.
"You're staying in here for a while," the old man said. "I don't care if you've got a date or something, I wouldn't feel right letting you go out there."
"Don't gotta tell me twice." The old man stood from his stool.
"Gonna lock the door, you can stay in the break room until they catch her. Or morning, whichever comes first. I'll stay in my office." Break room. Fair enough. It would probably have at least a couch or something for him to lay on. Just as the man rounded the counter, he froze. There was...some kind of yelling? coming from outside. Hollering and whooping? It sounded more celebratory than anything, and there were at least half a dozen people doing it. It was accompanied by a loud car engine as it raced down the streets, and some kind of blowing machinery. Kyle put two and two together quickly.
"diddlying--Hide, quick!" He hissed. The man dove behind his counter as Kyle did his best to shrink behind some of the snack shelves. He could clearly see the employees only door, but it was behind the counter, passed a few large windows and the very open door. Hell, not even the old man would be able to get to it without the outside world seeing him. The yelling got closer, and he could hear the car turn the corner as the bass on whatever music they were listening to reverberated against the store's glass. Kyle could see the flames coming from the flame thrower as the woman pointed at the sky, but nothing else from where he was crouched.
"Hey, pull over! I'm out!" She screamed above the rest. Of diddlying course. The car's music continued to play loudly, but the men had largely shut up, and the engine was revving outside of the store. There were two taps of metal against the glass door. "Ay, knock knock." The woman's words were slurred. "Weird. Store's empty, but the door's wiiiiide open." Kyle heard the sound of heavy boots walking across the floor. "Hey old man. Where'd you keep your booze?" Kyle heard the old man try to stammer out a short answer, but largely failed. "Nevermind. Find it myself." He looked towards the closest fridge. It had rows of vodka in it. Shit. Here's hoping she's a Bud Lite kind of girl. Not likely. More footsteps, though these were getting closer to him. Kyle bundled up and kept his head low in a shitty attempt to make himself smaller. Combat boots. She was wearing combat boots. Of course she was wearing combat boots. The boots entered his line of sight just on the other aisle, but he wasn't sure if she had seen him or not, or whether she cared. As long as he stayed alive, it didn't matter. The boots left his limited field of vision as the woman reached the vodka fridge. The door opened. Bottles shifted. The door closed. Then Kyle was pushed to the floor.

"Lemme see your face," the woman said. Kyle squirmed. He had landed on his side and shifted himself onto his back. Short red hair, red jacket, revealing burnt shirt, and tight leather pants. Shit. An empty vodka bottle different than all the other brands in the store were at her feet. Had she drank the whole thing herself? Kyle briefly realized she had used the bottle to knock on the glass when she entered. She holstered the flame thrower on her shoulder, the tip of the flame flickered as she did so, and he could hear the gas that fanned it. What he hadn't noticed on the news was the wooden bat that was hanging from one of her belt loops. Half of it was darkened with flame, but it left an impression. An impression that Kyle was feeling as he tried to crawl away backwards, his heart beating a mile a minute. "Hold up a sec there, lil fella." She grabbed him by the collar of his sweater and easily pulled him up with her left hand. Once on his feet, she gripped his face, smushing his cheeks together. He could smell the alcohol radiating off of her and could see her unfocused, drunken eyes, but the pain and fear trivialized that. Then she licked the top of her lips the way a lion would before biting down on its prey. Shit.
"Name's Sally. Sally Anderson. A pleasure, I'm sure." Kyle let out a whimper. Not his finest moment. Sally smiled. "You remind me of my exe. He was more squirrelly though. I bet you wouldn't even cry for god if I gutted you." Kyle took a shaky breath to try and steady himself. He wasn't going to take control of the situation, but maybe he could find some footing.
"What's a god going to do for a nonbeliever?" Sally's smile turned into a grin.
"You're used to fighting with words, aren't you, cutie?" She laughed. "Used to being a sarcastic asshole fighting other sarcastic assholes?" His asshole coworker, Rick, quickly flashed through Kyle's mind. Sally let go of his face and walked towards the door. "Ay boys. Get outta here. I'm taking this one home with me." Kyle's stomach fell.
"But boss, what about the booze?"
"Get in her and grab it yourself, asshat. And tie up this old man to his chair with tape or something while you're at it." The speed her men worked at was mind boggling. In less than two minutes, six men was all it took to empty out all the alcohol in the fridges, load them into the black convertible waiting outside, and tie the poor old man up with tape they found on the store shelves. While the men were finishing up, Sally dragged Kyle through the employee's only door. The room was pitch black, save for the small flame that burned from the tip of Sally's flame thrower. They walked a few seconds before she stopped. He saw the flame move around the room before stopping. A second flame erupted as a cigarette came into view. She had used the same flame to light up, and her eyes became visible as she took a drag. Sally exhaled, filling the room with the smell of nicotine. "Where do you want to start, babe?"
 
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Roxie1563

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  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
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Claire suppressed her smile that had started to creep upon her when Jack put his hand on hers to comfort her in Claire's time of distress. Only that smile couldn't hide enough and came out as he mentioned that he'd be willing to help out at the gym and the young lady couldn't only smile at that statement but added to it.

"Jack Fair," Claire spoke to him, her tone filled with happiness. "You would do that for me? Me, your childhood friend and all time fan of your songs? Well, since you offered to do this and I certainly will accept, but it also means that the others will have to join in," She smiled at him, hope sparking within her eyes at the thoughts of her friends pitching in at Anvil's Gym.

"Of course, it'll have to be the weekends though.." Claire told him as in a matter-of-fact tone that indict it. With that, Claire opened the door of Jack's car and stepped out as Jack did so then closed it, hearing the locks click while she and Jack walked across the parking lot and entered inside Steak' N' Shakes where they found their seats beside the window as to keep an eye on the car in case any strangers had any thoughts of stealing it.

They were handed their dinner menu and began scanning it for something that was small but enough to hold them in until they were done for the night after STAR Labs' debut of the Particle Accelerator when from the corner of her eyes caught the news of a mysterious woman wielding what she surmised to be an flamethrower in her hand that had appeared to rob a bank in the other part of town, far away from STAR Labs.

Shaking her head, Claire mused to Jack that if something like that happened to him, "I'll come over and kick that woman's ass for hurting my beautiful singer/cop!" Of course, that probably won't happen after the police arrests her when the male anchor quickly gave another update and the live feed showed that the mysterious woman had indeed escaped from the scene, all Claire could do at that time was to wonder if they were safe on the way to the Labs.

Eventually, after eating just enough to hold them in and despite her protests to pay for it to which Jack responded by exactly paying the bill, Claire and Jack made their way to STAR Labs, parking beside a beautiful car that appeared to belong in the 1900s but apparently remodeled to fit the contemporary world it found itself in and walked on to the entrance.

As they got close to the entrance, Claire opened her purse to pull out the tickets and handed one to Jack then shut it when the couple in front of them went on, the guard motioned them to let them scan via the detector beside them. Apparently they must had seen the news and wanted to be prepared for anything, Clare thought to herself as she stepped into the machine and after a minute or so was deemed 'cleaned' while her purse had been handled by the female guard.

After an awkward exchange between the man and Jack, both of them finally gave their tickets and entered inside the grand ball, which was HUGE as Claire had never been inside the actual building while the couple were ushered to their primarily table and chairs. Once presentably and feeling comfortable, Claire and Jack spent the first few minutes chatting about small things when Claire noticed Dr. Wells coming up to the podium and so it was time for the beginning, she put one of her fingers on her lips and winked to him to make him hush then turned to listen to the man whom she admired all the while excited for the many possibilities tomorrow would bring after this event.

~~~~

Dr. Wells chuckled to himself, realizing they were right. 'It's like they know me more than I know myself,' Michael mused to himself as he gave them his thanks and glad they were willing to stick with their captain, even if the ship itself drowned down in the ocean.

"Thank you, Casper and Crystal, for making me see that," Dr. Wells smiled to them. "Now, the night's here and wish me luck!"

With that, the doctor turned around and walked up the steps, reaching the podium within seconds while waving his hands around to the guests he had sent out via invitations by using post offices and contests. After a minute or two, Michael finally calmed the crowd just enough for him to start his small 'speech' as Crystal would point out in recent weeks.

"Thank you, Thank you all of you!" Dr. Wells smiled at them then cleared his throat before continuing on. "In the earlier days of discovering electricity, all thanks to Edison if you will, one man sought to make it even better by making it free for everyone and that man was Nikolas Tesla. Now I'm sure everybody knows the history of that man and the remarkable feats he did, so I won't delve into too much; However we all know that the mystery of the Tunguska Event happened because of him.."

Mike paused to take a breath, gazing into the eyes of his guests and gave a small smile to his friends before plugging in. "While I can testify that I'm not an conspiracy theorist nor do I put myself with them, I do agree that the mystery is that: A mystery. But it is his ideology that inspired me to give this world another chance of having free energy through my Particle Accelerator!" He spoke loudly, raising his arms up and wide to prove his point as he turned, pointing to his creation behind him.

That led to an amazing yet thunderous applause as Dr. Wells smiled at them, but unbeknownst to them, the good doctor's eyes were on the man that had hidden among the crowd but had moved and entered the side door that led to the lab. Worried and alarmed at this, he motioned Crystal to come up the steps. As she did so while Casper looked perplexed at his boss's demeanor, Michael quickly explained to keep them happy and well while he checked on the equipment to be ready for when he flipped it on. "Just do whatever to keep them calm and if you can, have the guards do a sweep of the building including the labs as well," He spoke quietly while keeping up his smiling appearance and walked to the second side door calmly as it was possible for him.

As the door closed on him, the doctor quickly made his way to the lab where he believes the mysterious man were heading for. Walking quickly but stealthily as possible, Mike reached the inner circles of the lab unaware the Twins were in their earlier on and before he entered it, Dr. Wells took the time to take a deep breath and holding the phone in his hand which he pulled out on the way, his finger on the speed-dial and the number of his brother on the ready.

Before he had the chance to enter, the door flew open as Mike became shocked when one of the guards fell beside him, twitching in shock then fell unconscious. Trying to understand what the hell just happened, he slowly put a finger on the man's neck and felt for a pulse.

'Well at least he's alive.. Unconscious but alive.' Dr. Wells mused to himself as he grabbed the gun from the hand of the guard and pulled back to check for any bullets. Opening the slider to check, it appears to be full as the guard never had any chance to fire, Dr. Wells could only wonder to what sort of item that did this to the poor guard.

Taking a very long breath and cocking the gun, Dr. Wells pushed himself to be ready for anything and entered the door, gun drawn out and ready for anything; Only there was nothing to be shown nor the mysterious man Mike saw back in the ball room.

'Strange..' Dr. Wells thought to himself as he made his rounds through and through at least twice. 'There should have been any sign of him and yet there's not.'

At this point, the good doctor had returned to the original spot where he believed the man were standing before he entered the room when he heard the footsteps behind him and spun fast enough to see the man standing and holding what appeared to be an taster in his hand, Dr. Wells had the gun trained on him and unable to begin speaking to him when the man fired at him.

It hit him so hard and quickly as the wires delivered thousands of volts into his body and unable to let out an scream but only a bit then he fell limp, slipping into oblivious. The only last thoughts he had was of his family and friends including his brother and the twins.

'I"m so sorry, you guys.. So sorry!'

~~~~

"What a mess...!" The man muttered to himself as he cleaned the doctor's body free of the wires and reinstalled it back into his taster then set it aside into his long robe. It was supposed to be easy but nothing is when it comes to this kind of crap and he might as well raised the damn rate he was taking to do this.

Sighing out loud, the man managed to lift up the body of Dr. Wells and into some sort of coffin and trying his best not to damage him anymore further as he closed the lid on the unconscious doctor, muttering to him.

"Sorry to do this, doctor," He said to the coffin, a trace of British and possibly Russian could be detected in his voice if one could listen close enough. "But it had to happen.. Hell, it already happened before but this time.. This time might be the chance to correct this before it's too late."

Setting the sets to the appearance of cryo-freezing the doctor as the window cracked and the ice covering the window up, the man managed to push the coffin into a mysterious room that had already been established some time during the late 20th century and sealed it up.

Once that was done and finished with, the man reached into his robe and pulled out some sort of vial. It seemed to have the color of green herbs turned into liquid as the man pulled the cork open, tossing it aside then proceeded to drink it.

"Ugh, that tastes like crap!" He grumbled as he tossed the vial and picking up the cork, putting it back into the vial and stuffing it back inside, his very appearance already well changing into the face and body shape of the frozen doctor. Looking in the mirror and musing about, he quickly turned his attention to the Accelerator and with a quiet sigh filled with resolution, pressed the button causing the machine to turn on and humming to a higher speed than it was meant to.

As it did so, the man-turned doctor walked back out the door and closed it, waiting for the inevitable.

~~~~

For a few minutes, Claire became uneasy about Dr. Wells going somewhere and his assistant had to take care of it. He even asked Jack if something happened because of the bank incident.

"I mean, that woman could be here and we wouldn't even know it until it was too late!" Claire whispered to him as she watched the lady try to handle the best she could when the Particle Accelerator came on as a sudden. Startled, she began to ask the woman about it when it made an odd sound and with seconds came the loud yet terrifying booms anyone ever had heard of.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Suddenly the ground shook high and hard then it stopped. Puffing and huffing, Claire had managed to grab tight onto Jack and began to ask him if he was all right when he pointed at something on the table.

Confused, Claire turned to look and let out a gasp. On the table sat the glass filled with wine, only the wine was floating in the air, bubbles of wine floated aimlessly without a care in the world.

That's when it hit her.

"Jack!!" Claire only managed to get one word out before the entire blast cracked out of the sphere and into the public building and further up in the air where the massive dark energies burst through the roof and causing tropical storms to happen instantaneously that spread wide across the city of Arcville, MO then in later weeks, the world.

The last thoughts that went through her mind was of that of her parents, friends, grandparents and yes, even if it was wrong at the time, Jack Fair as the entire city slipped into unconsciousness.
 

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~- Tie Up These Loose Ends -~

A weak smile spread across his face at the breakfast plate comment. Adam frowned a little when he wound up wrapped up in Ellis's concern, although he appreciated that his guardian resisted the urge to carry him to the car. It would have been embarrassing if that would have happened. Carefully making his way in, he closed his eyes and rested his head against the cool glass. He heard the bombardment of questions, and his replies came out mumbled as he tried to get some rest. He tried to ignore the anxious anticipation that was humming in the air, he knew it was from the Particle Accelerator. It was suffocating with the emotions, and it drowned everything else out do to the large crowd.

He'd fallen into a light sleep in the time it took them to get to the restaurant. Stirring when the car stopped, he stumbled after Ellis as his guardian headed into the steakhouse. Looking around him, Adam was aware of the energy current around the place and was relieved to find the place empty for the most part. Even the emotions that resided within were subdued compared to the supercharge of them from outside. Looking over his shoulder for a moment, he quickly followed Ellis as they were seated.

Adam had just sliced off a piece of bread, ignoring his drink temporarily, when Ellis spoke again, "I know I'm sounding like a broken record at this point, Jiang, but you don't look well. I'm not sure what's happening but I can at least tell you it all gets better."

Adam mumbled, "I know, and sorry sir, it's just been a rough day. The energies from other people is kicking my ass today."

He didn't know if Ellis heard him, and if he did, Ellis decided to do a pep talk instead. "Take my brother for instance. So he didn't agree with me. So we've argued in the past. So what? We still believe in one another. I wanted to help him, but he didn't accept it. Wanna know why?" Adam did have to admit, he was curious on why, and he paused in buttering the bread as Ellis took a sip from his drink. Adam didn't realize it, but he leaned forward like a little kid anticipating a story. It didn't take too long for Ellis to explain his brother's reasoning, nor for him to turn it into some advice.

"What the hell's in this thing? It's making me all sentimental and crap."

Adam laughed, he had been thinking the exact same thing. Shaking his head, Adam was about to say something on it when the waitress came up to them with their food. He gave a quick thanks before she could leave, after it was just them again, Adam moved the straw through his own drink and said thoughtfully, "Maybe it's just the day making you sentimental. After all, when was the last time you'd seen your brother? It's been a couple of years at least that I know of."

He was pretty sure the last time had been while he'd been in the system, and yeah maybe he should be a little nicer to Dr. Wells since someone could say he was Adam's "uncle" but that's a conversation for a different time. Spinning the straw in his drink, Adam almost considered expanding on his earlier comment about what was wrong; but he wasn't sure how to put it into words. After all, he didn't necessarily understand it himself. He watched as two more people wandered in, and it didn't take long for him to figure things out about them. The one with the blue-green eyes was clearly a country boy, and he seemed extremely protective of his shorter friend. Adam watched as they moved past the table, and for just the briefest of moments, the country boy stopped at the table, looking pointedly at General Wells. Adam took in the tattoo on his face. A thin purple stripe and it was clear this kid had more of an attitude than him, but despite that Adam didn't pick up a malicious intent toward either of them.

"Snow, come on. Stop staring and let's move it."

The brunette called a quick reply to his friend, who apparently went by Ty, before following after him. Adam watched him go, jealousy briefly coloring his vision green as he thought of years past. He shook his head, dismissing the emotion with the motion and focused back on Ellis. Buttering the bread, he remarked nonchalantly, "Weird kids. Well, not necessarily kids, but still..." He took a bit of the bread, enjoying the taste of it as he tried to gather his thoughts together. After a couple of more moments, he added, "I'm sorry for my actions today Ellis, I don't know what's up." It was definitely one of his rare gentle moments.

Shaking his head, Adam smirked a little as today seemed to be a weird day all around.

~- Everything's About to Change -~

Tyler looked at Snow, his face unreadable as his friend slid into the booth as well. Nodding in the direction of the two military personnel, he commented, "Know the older one?"

Snow shrugged in answer, before placing his order with the waitress. Tyler did the same, and it was only after she was gone that Snow answered, "Yeah, he tried to recruit me when I was eighteen, I turned the offer down." Tyler could tell that it was closed in terms of further discussion on why Snow refused, and he wasn't about to press on it. Glancing in the direction of them again, Tyler watched the young man that was with the general. He couldn't explain why, but there was something about that boy that seemed special. Something about him just drew Tyler's attention to him...

Tyler snapped back to reality when the waitress put their drinks on the table and offered them the appetizer they'd ordered. Tyler thanked her and started picking at it once she was gone, Snow on the other hand was spinning his straw in his water. He heard Snow talking, but the words were lost to him as his mind tried to figure out what was with that boy. Blinking a couple of times, he glanced at Snow and laughed nervously, "Um, can you repeat?"

"Ty, I swear you'd lose your head if you didn't have me and Jack to look after you." Snow laughed, even if there was a flicker of hurt in his eyes. "I said, what do you think about the unveiling tonight?" There was odd look for a brief moment, but Tyler quickly hid it. It hadn't escaped his notice that in the time they'd been there, the sun had fully faded for the evening.

It was while he was putting his thoughts together that a low rumbling began, a bit uncommon for the area before an explosion tore through the air. Ducking low, Tyler heard the eruption of curses that flew from Snow's tongue as the chandeliers rattled over head, he couldn't see but he was pretty sure that everyone else had taken cover too. Remaining crouched under the table, Tyler looked at Snow and saw the same concern reflected in those sea-green eyes.

How was Claire and Jack?

Another rumble went through the building, and the vibrations made Tyler's already tight feeling chest feel even more so. The tremors were strong enough there, so what did that mean for ground zero? Or were they close enough that they were in ground zero? He could never remember for sure, the vibration sent Snow's water to the bench on his side of the table, splashing the two boys. Closing his eyes, Tyler sent up a silent prayer that his two missing friends were okay. It was also the last conscious thing he was aware of before he suddenly lost consciousness and fell forward into Snow.

~- Ground Zero -~

It warmed Jack to see the happiness on Claire's face. It was something that made him happier than he could explain. Nodding his head, he said, "Yeah, they'd be willing to help out too. And okay, weekends, I'll let my dad know on this part-time job." He pulled in and parked the car, he got out and locked it before following his "date" for the night into their chosen dinner site. He let his amusement show as Claire insisted sitting in an area where they could keep an eye on his car.

"Blue girl? She'll be okay," he laughed even as he followed behind her.

His attention was drawn to the TV and the bank heist that was featured on it. This led to him absently picking at his food, even if he wasn't that hungry to begin with. He heard Claire's comment about how she'd kick the woman ass if Jack was in that kind of danger. Glancing at her with thoughtful blue eyes, he frowned a little bit in answer. "And yet, if you got hurt because of me I could never forgive myself." He retorted softly.

He couldn't stand that thought at all. It made him sick to his stomach and shaky beyond belief.

It was a little after that they finished up eating, Jack quickly paid despite Claire's protests. He smiled at her as he teased, "Come on, let me treat you to dinner tonight." Even as he tucked his receipt into his wallet, his eyes darting to his phone in time to see the text that lit the screen.

I'm okay son, don't worry about me.

He released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, even as the tension swept out of his body. Hiding his phone again, he thanked their clerk and followed Claire out of the place. It didn't take too long for them to get to STAR Labs afterwards, even as he kept an eye out for the gang that had robbed the bank. He knew that even more so, security would be tight at the unveiling. When they got there, he couldn't help the knee jerk reaction to grab his authorized firearm. Slipping it into it's holster, his badge slipped into his coat pocket before he followed after Claire and took the ticket she offered him before he stepped up to the security guard that was doing his check.

He saw the way the guard's eyes drifted to his holster. He was already pulling his badge out as the guard looked at him, suspicion in his eyes. "Do you...?"

"Want to see my right to carry?" He asked casually, flashing his badge to show he was part of the police force.

Apparently the guard saw his last name, because a surprised look showed on his face. This made Jack uncomfortable, he hated the pressure that went with the family name. Looking at the guard, he waited to see what he would do as the guard tried to figure out if he should ask Jack to remove his firearm or not. "Just finish the scan and go ahead, thank you for letting me know a head of time."

Still Jack handed his cop stuff over so he wasn't giving them a false reading. After he was cleared, Jack reassigned the stuff to their respective places before he headed inside with Claire. Sighing in relief, Jack confessed softly, "I hate going through security, it's such a pain."

He didn't mind the small talk with Claire, it was rather enjoyable. Falling quiet when Claire motioned for him to, he shifted in his seat so he could better hear what Dr. Wells had to say. He was a little glad he brought his hearing aid tonight, it reduced the missed words even as he read Dr. Wells's lips. Everything was going smoothly, only for Jack to notice the slight panicked look on Dr. Wells face before he handed the presentation to one of his assistance. Jack followed him with his eyes to see the where the good doctor was going, even as his hand inched toward the handgun.

Something was setting his nerves on edge, a quick glance around the room confirmed the police presence that Jack had suspected there. He even saw his work partner hanging out a few feet from them, a quick exchange of hand signs and Peter was moving on to check a different area of the ball room. Focusing on Claire, he smiled a bit to reassure her everything was fine before he jumped back into making small talk. It didn't take much prompting to find out what was eating away at Claire.

"I mean, that woman could be here and we wouldn't even know it until it was too late!"

Jack looked around to make sure that no one was close enough to hear, before he whispered back, "I don't think so. Peter's here along with a bunch of other cops, they're all at ease. I'm sure everything's going to be fine." He smiled a little, trying to reassure her even more than maybe his words could manage. Reaching out a hand, he gently squeezed hers before he just let his sit on top of hers. "I promise, I'll keep you safe." He added softly.

A faint vibration caught his attention before the humming reached his ears. Twisting back toward the Particle Accelerator he had a tugging sensation in his stomach, and he'd just barely had been able to turn his hearing aid off in his right ear, since it's his worst off ear, right before a series of booms tore through the air. Covering his ears with his hands, he looked at the table and saw the way the liquid was floating.

He was faintly aware of Claire holding onto his arm tightly, but his focus was the wine. Oh shit, that's not good. He thought to himself, he pointed to it and successfully drew Claire's attention to his concern. It hit him at the same time as Claire what was going to happen next, wrapping her in a hug, Jack felt the blast knock him to the floor even as he twisted so he took the brunt of the impact. Landing hard, his head smacked against the floor that his vision swam and his ears were ringing. He couldn't focus well enough to know if Claire was okay, he just hoped that she was. Rolling on his left side while still holding Claire, he was overcome by the strong desire to shut his eyes; and despite trying not to do that Jack slipped under the surface into unconsciousness.

~- Not Again... -~

James hadn’t expected to be back home tonight, so it was a surprise when the doctor had let him go. Sure, he was under orders to take it easy and not to go to school for a couple of days. It was why James had been asleep when Juliet had gotten home from class. It was why he was just waking up but still feeling tired, so he got out of bed and decided to do what a sick kid was typically thought of doing. He got up and went looking for his mom and some ice cream. Moving down the hallway, he heard the soft sounds of music coming from the living room.

His curiosity got the better of him, leading to James making a detour and going that way instead of to his original destination. It didn’t take long for him to see what was up, Juliet was playing while Cyrus was curled up on the couch reading. He didn’t speak, he didn’t want to alert his sister. The plan got ruined though when Cyrus saw him and nodded, drawing Juliet’s attention. He saw the look on her face, it wasn't one he hadn't been expecting, he would've been more surprised if it hadn't crossed her face.

"Why are you up? You should be resting." Juliet scolded, her tone taking on the no nonsense tone it typically did whenever him and Cyrus were being stupid.

"I wanted some ice cream." He explained simply, and even as he spoke, he could feel his head swimming from the fever. He expected Jule to put the musical instrument down on the couch, he expected her decision to move toward him and call over her shoulder to Cyrus, "Can you get him some ice cream while I take him back upstairs?"

He didn't really have a choice in the matter. He went along with it as his sister guided him back up the stairs. Climbing into his bed, he watched as his sister went about smudging the room, the gentle scent of the burning herbs helping to soothe him. He could hear Cyrus coming up the stairs with the ice cream, and he knew he only had a couple more minutes before he was pulled back under the waves of sleep. "Hey sis, do you think everything's going to go okay with the Particle Accelerator?"

Juliet didn't stop what she was doing as she answered, "Of course, they've had this planned for weeks."

It was then that an explosion tore through the air and both siblings looked at each other in concern.

What had just happened?
 
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Eternal Dream

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~- How to Save a Life -~

The classroom was quiet for the most part, just the soft scratch of pencils and pens against paper and the occasional hushed conversation. Professor Banner sat at his desk, the soft click of keys and his fingers sliding against the mouse pad the only sounds that he made as he checked over homework. He enjoyed teaching, and this creative writing class was one in particular that he enjoyed immensely. Many of these students were very serious about their writing, and though it was a hard field to break into and maintain any sort of long term career in, Banner was certain that he had at least one or two in this class that had the talent and promise to become a long term author, personal attachment not withstanding.

The quiet of the room was broken by a loud screeching as someone suddenly pushed them self violently away from their desk. Banner and several of the other students looked up just in time to see Cyrus' tall form pause at the door to the classroom, his backpack slung over his shoulder as he shoved the door open before hastily leaving the room. A few whispers rose among the remaining students, but they quieted quickly as Banner called, "That's enough now. Class lets out in thirty-five minutes; I expect these prompts to be finished by then."

Banner wanted to go after Cyrus, but he couldn't leave the classroom at the moment. Besides, he knew where the boy had gone, and Banner knew that it was just that Cyrus needed a moment by himself. He's so much like you that it's almost painful to think about, Zane, Banner thought, lowering his eyes once again to his computer screen. It was open to his grade book, and he found his eyes drawn to the bottom of the page to Cyrus' name once more. He needed to enter the grades in, Banner knew that much; however, he was fairly certain that he wouldn't be able to at the current time. Instead, he minimized the window, his desktop showing a background of five people. Banner had his left arm slung around his wife's waist, his right arm across the shoulder's of the man beside him that looked like an older version of Cyrus. This man, Zane, held a petite brunette at his side, his free hand resting on the shoulder of a boy that couldn't have been anymore than eight or nine. Banner's eyes traveled from the boy, Cyrus, to the man, Zane, both of them wearing matching grins of mischief and pure joy. This had been one of the last pictures that any of them had gotten with Zane, just six weeks before it happened.

Had it really been ten years already?

Almost an hour later, Banner had collected his things and what remained of Cyrus' from the classroom, taking himself and the papers to his office. Opening the door, Banner found Cyrus sitting in the chair in front of his desk, a mug of tea in his hands and the scent of saffron and passion flower in the air. Banner didn't say anything, and neither did Cyrus as the professor walked around to his chair, placing Cyrus' notebook on the desk before taking a seat behind it.

It was quiet for a few more minutes as Cyrus drank his tea, and Banner's eyes moved to the teapot on top of the filing cabinet. Finally, his attention was drawn back as Cy said, "Sorry about that, sir. It's just... I just..."

"It's quite alright, Cyrus. You don't have to explain yourself to me; I understand," Banner said gently. He enjoyed having Cyrus in his class; there were times that it almost felt like having Zane back, the similarities were so striking. At the same time, the resemblance was too much so, and it was these moments that hurt Banner, having to watch Cyrus go through the same struggles that Zane had. It was true that it had been ten years, but with just how much Cyrus had grown to resemble his father, it was almost as if the loss had happened just days before, making it difficult for all involved to move on and heal.

Cyrus set the mug down, shaking his sleeve down where it had hiked up his wrist, revealing the stain of words that always covered his skin. Noting the charcoal that was still under his nails, Banner said, "So, Juliet got you to take that art class after all? How are those drawings coming?"

"They'd be going better if I didn't have to rearrange the positions as often," Cyrus grumbled, before a smile and a laugh broke across his face. Just like that, the panic that had pulled him out of the classroom in such a frenzy subsided, and Banner and Cyrus just sat there in his office, talking, for the next twenty minutes.

After a short time, Banner climbed to his feet, saying to Cyrus, "There's meeting that I have to attend in a short while, and I believe that you need to pick up Juliet from her music lesson and take her home? Tell your mother that I miss her company; if you would both like, Annie's making pot roast in a few nights. Maybe you and your mother would come over for a visit?"

"I think she'd like that a lot, Uncle Banner," Cyrus said. He had his head turned down, placing the notebook into his backpack, so he missed the pain that cut across Banner's face; how long had it been since Cyrus had called him that? Straightening again, Cyrus said, "I'll let her know, and I'll see you later. Have a good afternoon!"

Banner had seen what Cyrus had written for the day, and he was fairly certain that it was what had driven the young man from the classroom in such a panic earlier. Cyrus was more than a student to Banner; the boy was the son of his oldest friend. He was protective of him. Zane, he's so much like you. You'd be proud of his strength. But Zane, please...

Let him be spared from your fate.


~- Where Do We Go? -~

Diana was bone tired when she got home that night. She leaned against the door, letting her weight shut it behind her as she released a sight that was a tangled mess of frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion. She knew it was going to be rough, but she hadn't expected it to border on near impossible, not like this. Honestly, if it wasn't for Tish and Aqua...

"Another no, huh?"

"Speak of the devil," Diana muttered to herself softly, before lifting her face to meet Aqua's scrutiny. The two young women watched each other for a moment, Aqua trying to ferret out just how out of sorts Diana was while Diana worked just as hard to keep the full truth from her. Aqua won out in the end, reaching out a hand to Diana as she said, "You're skipping class tonight, girl. Hand over the case and get to bed."

A fit of contrariness seized Diana, causing her fingers to tighten around the handle of her violin case as she said, "Honestly, Aqua, I've got this. I can deal with a little rejection..."

"Mattie," Aqua spoke sharply, causing Diana to release an irritated hiss. She hated her first name, Matilda, and any derivative of it; it's why she insisted on people addressing her by her middle name. It was also why Aqua had called her Mattie; it was supposed to get her point across. Green eyes met blue, as Aqua said again, "No one can fault you, girl. Anyone that's been watching can see that you've been working your ass off for years, and you've done a damn fine job of balancing four different responsibilities. I think you've earned a night off, girl. Trust me, a good night's sleep, maybe a couple of shifts that don't have you up at the crack of dawn, and you should be able to land the gig you're looking for."

"Mana?"

A third voice, the voice of a young boy, got between the two of them, distracting Aqua and Diana from what was really an old argument that they'd had in some variation over the last five years. The two friends turned, and Diana said softly, "What're you doing up, Ollie? You should be asleep already."

Ollie rubbed at his eyes, giving his sister a look as he said, "You promised you'd tell me a story when you got home, Mana, so I was waiting for you."

Diana hated her first name and any nickname that could be gotten from it, but she made an exception for Ollie. Handing the violin case at last to Aqua, Diana went up to Ollie, ruffling his hair a little as she said, "Okay, one story, and then you need to get to sleep. I don't want you doing this again, okay?"

He was getting really big, but Diana still swung him up in a hug, and his arms found their way around her neck as she carried him back up to his room. He wasn't going to get his story, however. Because just as she got him back into bed, a storybook in her hand as she climbed up next to him, that's when the Particle Accelerator exploded, causing Diana, Ollie, and Aqua to all fall into that strange sleep.

~- Immortals -~

"Tell me again, how'd you convince your parents to head out for the evening? Given the way James is feeling, I'm surprised they went for it."

It was a typical night for Cyrus and Juliet. She was on the couch, picking out an aimless medley of scales on her guitar, while Cyrus was sitting on the floor, book in hand and his back resting against the couch cushions. He was supposed to be working on a homework assignment for Banner, but Cy was still a little unsettled from what had happened earlier. He didn't even know why it had happened; the words had been coming even easier than they usually did, and he'd been almost finished when most of his classmates had been reaching the halfway point. Then, something had resonated strangely in his mind with his writing, causing the room to be far too crowded.

Bare your sins to the moonlight

"Why are you up? You should be resting!"

Cy was a little surprised by her response, until he looked up and realized that James had entered the living room. A short conversation followed, as well as instructions for Cyrus to get ice cream while Jule ushered James back to his room. Cyrus came into the room to hear Juliet reading to James from one of the mythology books, a story involving the twins Artemis and Apollo, goddess of the moon and god of the sun, and Hermes, god of travel and thieves. When Cyrus came in, James interrupted Juliet by saying, "Ice cream! Hey, can read me what you wrote in class today? I wanna hear it; please Cy?"

Cyrus let out a surprised laugh as Juliet shut her book, her own laugh joining his. Giving the bowl of ice cream to James, Cy said, "I'm afraid I didn't finish it yet, James; sorry!"

A disappointed look crossed his face, but James still said, "Then can you tell us what it was about? That's almost as good!"

"Well, we were supposed to imagine that we had superpowers, and then describe what they were and how we got them. We were also allowed to have a team of heroes, as long as we described their powers too; also, code names!" Cyrus realized how lame it sounded as he said it, and he couldn't help but wonder why it had upset him so much earlier.

James though, seemed hooked on the idea. "What did you decide on?"

"Well, I didn't want powers that had been overdone too much, so I chose the ability to manipulate moonlight," Cyrus said. He then went on to describe other members of the team, saying that he'd given Juliet solar manipulation and James wind bending and enhanced speed, as well as a few other characters. But when he got to the part about how they got their powers, James cracked up, stopping Cy dead in his tracks.

"An explosion? Really? The powers are cool, but the way we got them is, like, every superhero origin ever!" James kept laughing until he started coughing, tears leaking from his eyes as he tried to catch his breath.

Cyrus sat there for a little, his dignity bruised as the Bardán siblings than began talking about the Particle Accelerator unveiling that night. Before Cy could get himself back together enough to defend his writing, however good-natured James' comment had been, a boom and a rumble shook the room, causing all three of them to go wide-eyed and silent.

"What the hell?!" Cyrus asked, half rising to his feet. It was all any of them would get out, however; moments later, all three of them were out cold.

~- Unravel -~

Crime: Daring to assume a gift for dancing; hoping to become a professional dancer; having talent for the violin; being happy; feeling loved; existing

The young woman wrapped her arms around her knees, curling herself into a tight ball as she sat on the floor of her apartment. The window was flung wide open, a gentle breeze ruffling the curtain as moonlight poured into the room, staining a large swath of the carpet and floor with the soft, distilled light. However, she'd found a shadowed corner, one that wouldn't allow the light to touch her, just the papers that were fanned and scattered around her; the moonlight shown on these papers, highlighting words such as 'regrowth', 'inoperable', 'resisting treatment', and 'metastasized'. They were stains of black ink against stark white paper, but the words and their meaning pierced more deeply than even the worst of the headaches that were her constant companion; the words sitting on a sharp edge, hinting at a more dangerous weapon to the body than even the small knife the moonlight revealed in her grip. For the moment, the blade was held in a loose grip in her left hand as the fingers of her right dug into the seem between the calf and knee of her left leg.

Sentence: Execution, to be carried out by the prisoner's own body as the prisoner's cells turn against themselves in a war of self-destruction.

Her fingers released the seam, a battle scar of an earlier war, searching out her phone at her side. She knew, her resolve was strong, and she'd never move on this. However, there was one thing she needed to do. She hadn't seen him in five years, but she'd heard his voice, whenever she'd stolen a moment by calling his phone. She couldn't talk to him, but hearing his voice on the recording was always a soothing experience, and it was one thing she wanted to experience one final time, so she hit the send button, holding her breath as the phone rang... rang... rang...

Hey, sorry I missed you're call. If you can leave a message, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Tiny Dancer, if it's you, please... just come home...

It was all she needed. Ending the call, she sighed, leaning her head against the wall as she clutched the phone close against her chest. Pain pulsed behind her eyes, spreading in an arc around the back of her head, the two daggers meeting at the top of her neck before merging and knifing their way straight to the core of her brain. She was tired, so, so tired...

Date of Execution: Eight to twelve weeks; exact time still to be decided

Her grip tightened on the knife in her hand as she raised her right arm, bringing the point of the blade to rest over her left forearm. She studied it for a moment, the skin pale and smooth in the shadows and bare gleam of moonlight. She traced the veins with her eyes for a moment, waiting out a pulsing pain that wrapped her head in white-hot oblivion. She breathed as shallowly as she could, waiting the wave out, until as last she crested over the pain. Gently, she brought the knife down, tracing the path from her wrist to her elbow lightly, testing the track the blade would take. Satisfied, she brought the blade away from her skin, moving the knife back to its starting point, she took a final breath, ready to make the blade's journey in one quick, clean cut. She would be her own executioner, the time of her end her own choosing.

A deep boom, more felt than heard, rumbled through the floor, distracting her. She turned her head to the window, the one that faced the direction of the distant S.T.A.R. labs. A rumble followed shortly after, causing the knife to slip from fingers numbed with surprise; the blade dropped to the floor, its deadly mission forgotten as, just moments later, the young woman that had held it just moments before slipped into a black nothingness as conscious thought slipped away from her. Even so, she held one thought in her mind, a thought that with all her strength she would try to will into reality.

Please stay asleep. Please, just slip from this world in sleep, never to wake again...

~- The Future is Now -~

"Who are you?"

The aftershocks of the explosion of the Particle Accelerator washed through the community, knocking individuals out one after the other in a radius that expanded up to fifty miles outside the city limits. This wasn't something that could be seen, but it was a fact that could be sensed by the sole figure that wasn't sent under by the energy of the explosion. He was old, far older than any had a right to be, and he was learned in the way of ancient magics and beliefs, an education that his mother had given him when he had still been a small child, and she the most revered Healer and Wisewoman of not only their small village, but of the neighboring villages and tribes as well. She had protected him from the judgment and superstitions of the villagers until he had been able to prove himself, in a time when they saw only the darkest of spirits in him for how pale his skin was, a sign that his father was not one of the men of the village, but one of the white men, an English settler.

That had been long ago, and he had left Australia and his people, even the name of his birth behind him, for they could not go where he needed to venture. However, the teachings stayed with him, his mother's teachings and his own abilities keeping him from being pulled under into the black sleep of change. Instead, he listened; searching, for what the modern day prophetess had said that he would hear.

Listen for the Oracle.

The Oracle?

Yes; for the Oracle will give voice to their cries, and it is these cries that you must follow.


He listened now, both to the sounds of the night, and to that which could not be heard on the night winds. It was difficult to explain, this hearing, even to himself. It was a hearing without sound, one that heard the voices given off by life forces and spirit energies.

Bare your sins to the moonlight

Power as a crown of thorns​

Kneel before the Lord of the Skies​

The warrior unleashed

Uncertain as an ocean tempest​

Behold the Devourer of Souls

He Who Walks in Sorrows​

Fire and iron, forged to steel​

He opened his eyes, an unknown light shining deep within them. There were other cries to be heard, he knew; if they were to be examined, each and all who had received powers that night would have a cry that resonated within their souls that could be heard by those who cared to listen. But it was that final cry that he sought out, for the prophetess' final words.

Seek out the Miracle known as Hephaestus. Fire and iron, forged to steel. Seek out Hephaestus, because he will be the key to ending this. He will lift the curse of your immortality.
 

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The foul stench of alcohol and nicotine mixed together and flowed through Kyle's mouth, down his throat, and into his lungs. He coughed violently, forcing Sally to pull away.
"You little shit, don't you know how to show a lady a good time?" She took another long drag from her cigarette as Kyle fell to his knees. He fought the urge to vomit on the frozen floor. Once he was over his coughing fit, Kyle took a quick glance around for an exit, or anything to help him. The long employee hallway Sally had forced him through was interconnected with all the stores on the block. Right next door to the convenience store was a deli, with their own giant frozen locker. This was were Sally had decided they would have enough privacy. The door they had entered would be no good--Sally was standing in his way. Hanging slabs of large icy meat were hooked and dangling everywhere. Maybe he could use them somehow? There was another door that undoubtedly led to the deli itself, but there would be no way he would have enough time to make it there.
"diddly." Kyle shivered. He felt himself being lifted back to his feet.
"You cold, lover boy?" Sally asked as she pressed him back against a wall. "Don't worry, we can make our own heat." Kyle tapped around the wall and gripped around. Anything he could grab a hold of would work at this point. Sally's lips planted themselves onto his as the vulgar smell once again wafted through his body. He had a sling bag at his side, but nothing sharp or painful was inside. Sally pulled away once again. "See? Niiiice and toasty." Her hand was at his chest, the cigarette's smoke floating up to his face. Kyle coughed once to the side, moreso because of the kiss than the actual cigarette itself. He tried to think of a plan--anything to get him out of here. There was a large binder in his bag, but the idea of pulling it out now and trying to swing it was laughable. Sally grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her before wiping away a stray forced tear that had formed while he had been coughing. Kyle gripped his bag with both hand painfully. He needed to put an end to this. Maybe this was someone else's fantasy, but it sure as shit wasn't his. He briefly thought about playing along and waiting for his chance, but the mere thought nearly made him gag. Once again, Sally grabbed his chin. Kyle decided this would be his chance. Before should push forward in her drunken mission, Kyle looked down at her shorts. "What's up babe?" She looked downwards as well. "See something you like? Cuz it's about ti--"

Kyle swung his bag upward with all the strength he could muster, connecting the corner of it with her lower jaw. He was suddenly very glad for the heavy research he had been given that day as the thick binder's mass was enough to push Sally backwards. Taking the opportunity, Kyle dashed towards the opposite door.
"You mother diddlyer!" An immense pain thundered through his back as Sally kicked Kyle forward, knocking him off his feet. "Do you have ANY idea how many guys would kill to be in here with me? You ungrateful shit!" He looked behind him to see the barrel of the flamethrower pointed at him, the small flickering flame at the tip licked at him, as if it was anxiously waiting for the gas to roar through the chamber. Kyle got to his knees and crawled forward. "Now I'm really gonna get hot!" Once again, Kyle found himself clasping randomly at the frozen surface, trying to find anything he could use. His left hand found a wooden handle. Attached to it was a large butcher knife, pointed away from his body. He gripped it fiercely. "You could have been my pet. You could have had a plushy little life living under me."
"What happened to your exe? The guy I reminded you of?" Kyle nearly choked on his words as he psyched himself up for what he was about to do.
"I got bored of him and torched him until he was nothing but ash."
"Plushy life my ass."
"Those your last words?" Kyle took a deep breath.

Then he let it go. Kyle whipped around as fast as he could and swung the huge knife, using the momentum to his advantage. This also meant he couldn't aim his swing very well, which was already a problem as he was swinging the knife backhanded. Whether Kyle had correctly guessed the swing's trajectory or whether it was pure luck, the blade of the knife had made contact with the flame thrower's central area, and he felt his arm get coated in a slimy fluid. Not expecting the sudden attack, Sally pulled the trigger reflexively, but nothing happened. Kyle took the confusion as his cue and bolted toward the door once again.
"Get the diddly back here!" Sally yelled behind him. She continued to mash away at the trigger and as Kyle pushed the door open, he heard a small blast behind him. The canister he had punctured caused the flame thrower to malfunction, and it exploded in Sally's hands as flames spewed every which way. "Shit! Shit shit diddly diddly diddly!" Without any thought, Kyle jammed the knife in between the the door handle and the metal shelf next to it, locking it. He realized he was shaking severely. Was this shock? He had never been in this kind of situation before and his labored breathing and trembling hands were a constant reminder of that fact. "I'll burn this building to the diddlying ground!" He heard Sally shout. Kyle made a sprint for the exit as an earthquake rocked the building, knocking him towards the wall. Then he heard an explosion from the other side of town, where STAR Labs was doing...something. The Labs were the last thing on his mind as he groped through the darkness. A sudden haze blanketed Kyle's mind as he tried to navigate the endless corridor. Why was his bag floating? Bags aren't supposed to do that. Stupid bag. Didn't it know he was practically molested back there? He didn't need to deal with this. Oh, it was a small book that was floating, and it flew out of his bag. The book looked familiar, but he couldn't place it anywhere in his mind. Journal! It was an old journal! ...What the diddly is a journal? Kyle reached up for it, but stumbled forward face first as darkness overtook him.
-
"I'll burn this building to the diddlying ground!" Sally shouted as the door slammed in front of her. Her hand had been blackened severely from her flamethrower's explosion. She gripped it with her left hand as pain flooded her body. The flames that had erupted from it barred the door behind her in a wall. Firewall. If she wasn't so drunk she might have thought up the pun. Instead she tried the door the punk kid ran through, but it didn't budge. Sally picked up the flamer once more and pulled the trigger at the ceiling. It let loose a flurry of flames, same as ever. It was settled, she'll burn an exit for herself. Just as she began to smile, the floor rocked her backwards, dropping her to the ground next to the flames. The intense heat was contrasted sharply by the icy freezer. As she began to pull herself together, the Particle Accelerator's explosion ripped through the room, knocking her out instantly in her drunken stupor. The flames danced above her body as the ice cold frost crept under her.

---

Crystal mumbled something incoherently as Dr Wells had her carry the party on without him. Still, she kept up appearances and smiled at the guests. Casper did his best to walk casually towards the podium.
"What happened?" He whispered urgently, but with a smile.
"I-I'm not sure. He just...told me to keep everyone happy and maybe do a security sweep through the whole building?"
"Oh, that's not ominous at all." The crowd began to show signs of restlessness as Wells exited out of everyone's sight. The twins stepped forward in an attempt to snip any kind of panic at the bud.
"Apologies for the doctor's abrupt exit," Crystal said, "he just...had to run--"
"To the men's room!" Casper interrupted. "He had a big lunch but was to excited to do anything else all day. You know how scientists can get, hahaha." There were a few scattered laughs from the crowd, but at least this seemed to put the majority of the guests at ease. The two stepped away from the microphone. "What was that about a security sweep?" Casper asked as Crystal pulled out a small walkie-talkie. She began to give the orders when Casper tapped her shoulders hurriedly.
"Wh-what?! I'm busy."
"I know I mostly work outside of chemistry, but I'm pretty sure liquids aren't supposed to do that." Casper pointed at the various wine and water glasses as the liquids began to float away from their containers.
"What the f--" was all Crystal could say before she lost consciousness.
 
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