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Damocles



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Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:37 pm
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Europa says...



The Experiment

The world is a place full of danger and evil. It is an irreversible fact of life. Irreversible, that is, until Project Damocles.
Headed by Dr. Caleb Tucker, a team of scientists set out to create a force of powerful guardians meant to protect the human race from its own failings. However, their mission proved more difficult than they thought. Some subjects couldn't handle the strain of the process and died in its initial phases, others who made it through were too weak to safely handle anything more than a street scrap. None of the subjects made it past their first field test. As the process drew on, Dr. Tucker never lost faith in his vision, but in humanity itself...

After thirty long years of checking and rechecking, trying and failing, the team working on Project Damocles was about to give up hope. Dr. Tucker had long since withdrawn into his office, his existence almost forgotten. It was agreed among the team that they would make one last attempt. If it failed, the project would be shut down forever. The process was once again reworked, algorithms checked and corrected. New subjects chosen.
Perhaps it was that factor which changed the outcome. The scientists had tried every age demographic from preschool-aged children to adults and none had succeeded to the level they needed. This time around, the subjects chosen were infants still in conception. The introduction of powers in certain phases of development ensured the foreign traits would be accepted and integrated normally. As the subjects grew, their powers developed along with their changing bodies and minds.

This was the first batch of subjects that was a complete success.

And This is Where You Come In...

You were born and raised in the lab with barely a glimpse at the outside world, aside from the infrequent field missions. Supposedly to help you adopt your role as a divine guardian, you were also given the name of a powerful deity or weapon. Your life was extremely routine, consisting mostly of training and school, with breaks for meals in between. Of course, you're a teenager, and this tiny life is starting to feel at least a tiny bit constricting. It's more than a bit of a surprise when today Dr. Tucker, who you've only ever heard of, calls you up to his office, then tells you he's setting you free.

He wants to set you loose in the world to purge it of all evil, in his words to become "The Gods of Destruction". You're not too sure about that (Or maybe you are, your choice.) But who are you to refuse freedom just being handed to you like that? He is the head of operations after all...

and so, you find yourself out in the world with no one but your fellow subjects. You have no identification, you chose a new name for yourself when you ventured out into the world. No one who knows you exist besides your friends and the government, and no idea what to do next. Up until this time, your needs have all been met for you. Now on top of trying to survive in a world you barely know, the government has caught wind of what Dr. Tucker had done, and will stop at nothing to recapture you and the rest of the subjects. It is the ultimate test of your battle skills and your bonds with your teammates, only this test has no rules, no safety plan, and no way out.

At least, that's what it looks like...

The Boring Stuff

Rules
Spoiler! :

1. As always, keep language and romance PG.
2. Please discuss any plot ideas with the rest of the group before you introduce it.
3. No God-Modding.
4. Not that I think this will be an issue, but be sure to respect your fellow writers.
5. All other YWS SB rules apply.


Character Sheet
Spoiler! :
Code: Select all
[b]Given Name[\b]
[b]Chosen Name:[/b]
[b]Why they Chose it[/b]
[b]Age:[/b] (Between 14 and 16)
[b]Gender:[/b]
[b]Ethnicity:[/b]
[b]Appearance:[/b]
[b]Personality:[/b]
[b]Power:[/b]
[b]Gods of Destruction? [/b](How do your character feel about that?)
[b]Romance?:[/b]
[b]Other:[/b]


Character Slots
Spoiler! :

1- Ivy(@Europa)
2- Dawn (@Europa)
3- Cyra (@kat13254)
4- Nova (@AliceinBluue)
5- A'isha (@corvidconvalescence)
6- Cogito (@Chaser)
7-Angel (@Oswin1800)
8- Lucas Shine-Forge (@citrus4nite)
9- Teresa Polta (@Tortwag)
10- Lux (@EthanHoover)


Hah...I haven't done an SB of my own in a while! I'm looking forward to working with you beautiful writers, old and new!
Last edited by Europa on Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  





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Mon May 28, 2018 5:27 pm
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Europa says...



He watched from the roof as his squadron of planes took off over the horizon. Only he knew where they were going. Only he knew which of them held the subjects he had just released, and for now, only he knew what power he had just unleashed on the world.

Dr. Tucker chuckled amiably as a storm of uniformed officers rushed onto the platform. "You've gotten slower."

"Where are the subjects?" An officer demanded.

Dr. Tucker blinked, keeping his face pleasant. "Saving the world! That is what they were created for, after all."

The officer who had spoken gritted their teeth in frustration. "Tell us where you've sent them."

Dr. Tucker clicked his tongue in disapproval. "Now, if I did that, you'd stop them. How are they supposed to destroy evil from inside these walls?"

"Enough of this!" It was a different officer that spoke now, and that seemed to end the pleasantries. The officers rushed forward as one. Dr. Tucker stood still as they grabbed him, and forced his hands behind his back. He smiled pleasantly as he felt the handcuffs retract around his wrists.

"I suppose I have the right to remain silent?"

One of the officers flashed him an irratated look. "That's right."

Dr. Tucker shrugged as best he could with their hands weighing down his shoulders. "Alright then."

He let his captors lead him back down the halls of his lab, content to let his secret lay behind his pressed lips.

In only a few hours time, his gods of destruction would begin their work. The Earth would finally be cleansed.


Ivy


"Dawn!" I shouted over at the plane next to me. "Quit touching the controls!"

My twin leaned back in the pilot's seat. "It's on autopilot!" She objected. "What's it gonna hurt?"

"If you move the controls too much you might shut it off." I explained patiently. "Do you know how to fly a plane?"

Dawn folded her arms "I might."

"She doesn't." Cyra stated flatly on my other side. "the instructors offered no piloting classes, therefore there's no way you could have learned."

"What did she say?" Dawn yelled as the wind began to pick up.

"She said you don't know how to fly!" I replied.

"I mean, I was joking anyway."

"I know that."

"What?"

"I said--oh forget it." I turned to look over my shoulder at the back cockpit. Cogito was siting cramped against the plane's wall with Argo, my dog, sitting beside him. Occasionally the wind would blow too hard in Argo's ears and he'd shake his head, whipping Cogito in the face with his floppy ears.

"How you doing back there?" I called back to him.

Argo sneezed, and Cogito pulled a face as the wet spray hit the side of his neck. "Why couldn't he ride up with you?"

I smirked. "Hey, man. First come, first serve. Unless you wanted to try and wrestle him into the front."

Argo yawned and laid down across Cogito's lap.

"You could have just told him to move." Cogito wheezed as the dog pressed his weight up against him.

I shrugged. "I guess, but this is so much more fun to watch. Besides, he likes you."

To emphasize my point, Argo barked happily and dragged his large wet tongue across my friend's face.

"Aw gross, dog!" He exclaimed, wiping the slobber off his cheeks.

I smiled a little and turned back around to face the front.

The ground below us was a blanket of emerald green, cut into sections by a shining band of water, the wide river breaking into smaller streams like the tentacles of a monster.

"Hey Cog, check it out!" I called out. "Kinda looks like looks like one of your monster forms."

Cogito peeked over the side just as the plane gave a tremendous rattle. He whipped back inside the cockpit, pressing his back against the seat.

"Ivy, what's going on?"

"I don't know." I searched the dashboard for a clue. Argo whimpered. I cursed as my eye fell on the little red light by the controls. It was off. "The autopilot's shot."

"What?"

"The autopilot's--"

"I heard you!" Cogito interrupted. "Do something!"

"Do what? I can't fly this thing!"

our plane as accelerating, the green below us getting closer to quickly.

"Ivy!"

I turned around to glare at him. "Well what am I supposed to do?"

"Heck if I know--just pull at the wheel and see if it does something!"

Well, it wasn't like I had any other ideas. I grabbed the wheel and pulled it back towards me. The plane slowed its fall and I felt it start to pull up. We both let out a breath of relief. The nose of the plane thumped against the top of a tree. Cogito yelped and grabbed onto Argo's neck. The plane rocked as it spiraled below the tree line.

My fingers tightened on the wheel. "Brace yourself!"

The plane careened into the river. I remember my head hitting the dashboard. Before I passed out I can clearly remember seeing my blood dripping into the water. I don't know why that was the thing that stuck for me, but I can still remember the pattern as it swirled away downstream.

Through the ringing in my ears I heard Cogito yelling something. Maybe my name, I'm not sure. The last thing I remember was a pair of arms circling around my chest and being pulled from the pilot's seat before my consciousness finally slipped away.
  





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Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:48 am
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Chaser says...



Cogito, Ergo Sum


I nearly lost consciousness when my head splattered against the side of the plane. The only thing that kept me awake was the pain of Argo’s body slamming into my rib cage. That graceless salvation was going to become a habit on my way to godhood. My ever-changing body crumpled in the seat, slowly re-forming as I took in our situation.

Water was licking at the windows, gurgling higher as the plane sank into the river. The crash had torn a hole in one of the doors, flooding the cockpits with water. Argo was shaking his head in a daze, but he seemed fine. But when I looked to the front seat, the dashboard was stained with blood.

“Ivy!” I shouted, tearing away what was left of my seatbelt and clambering over to her. Her head was hanging down in her seatbelt. I unbuckled her quickly and hauled her out towards the back of the plane, which was quickly becoming the top as the nose began to sink.

I shook Argo, looking into his eyes and hoping he understood the seriousness of what was happening. “We need to get out of this plane,” I told him, half to explain and half to review it myself. “I can open the door, but once I do, the plane will sink fast. Got it?” I didn’t really wait for his answer, and slammed the latch down on the door. “Go!”

Water sliced through the opening of the door, dousing me as I heaved it further and further aside. When the opening was large enough, Argo set his paws against the current and forced his way through. I watched him paddle away towards the riverbank and sighed. Next, Ivy and I had to sink.

I held her to my side, keeping her head above the water. Reaching the side compartment, I retrieved an oxygen mask and kept my eye on the door. I couldn’t fight the current while carrying Ivy, so the only option was to wait until the plane submerged, then swim for it.

The water was up to our necks now; I looked at Ivy and chuckled. “So, this has all been a lot to take in. Any thoughts on our situation?”

And even if she could hear me, the thoughts were still too many to list. None of us were truly sure how to feel about it, and when the adrenaline died, we would feel the weight of that missive. Dr. Tucker had freed us for one purpose, a purpose that he’d personally painted onto every plane he’d used. Well, if I wanted to see that magnificent graffiti, I’d have to exit the plane.

The cockpit was nearly full. I pulled the mask over Ivy’s face and plunged us both beneath the waves. I swam down towards the door, latching onto it with barely fingertips. Blasted by the current, we passed through the opening, and from there it was a frenzied kick towards the daylight.

We broke the surface like an uproar, and I tried to make sense of my surroundings. There was Argo barking on the shore. I thrashed towards him in a half-blind paddle. Gradually, the muddy river bottom rose to meet me, and I slogged out of the river with Ivy in tow. I pulled off her mask, laid her on the ground and then sat beside her, staring at the river.

Dr. Tucker’s plane was submerging, and only the tail remained above the water. Still, even from this distance, I could make out the shocking words he’d written onto the fuselage.

Hail the Gods of Destruction. Similar messages had been written all over the plane, running up and down wherever space could be found. It was a twisted message, because upon looking at them, we’d instantly known who those gods were going to be: all of us, the subjects of the Damocles project. For now, I was glad to see it sink.

Dr. Tucker had freed us in rebellion against the project, against mankind. Our modified bodies made us perfect for extermination, or really any form of godhood. Well, if I was to be a god, I would at least be dignified.

“Benevolent, too,” I decided. With that motivation, I tended Ivy’s injuries.

Her dark hair had been matted by a head wound that was still bleeding. I pulled Argo over to me, grabbing his harness and pulling out a small canteen of water. Gently, I unscrewed the cap and washed Ivy’s cut. After that, I checked Argo’s harness for bandages; there were none.

I sighed. “I can’t believe I’m doing this for you,” I said, pulling on my shirt sleeve and holding it out to Argo. “Argo. Shred.”

I nearly shed a tear as Argo ripped away my sleeve, the fabric coming off in a long, silken piece. I tore it off at the end, reaching beneath Ivy’s head to tie it into a bandage. That would do for her; now, to assess the damage.

“My appearance can’t be too muddled up, can it?” I pulled out a locket from beneath my shirt and opened it. In one half, there was a mirror to show what I looked like, and the other half held my actual face.

“Guh. Well, water does make you lose physical awareness.” In the mirror, my eyes had drooped slightly, while my face had flattened a bit, possibly from the force of the current. Focusing on the other half, I studied a photograph of the true Cogito Ergosum, my face and features. Gently, deliberately, my face began to match.

“Perfect,” I said, closing up the locket. “Now, next order of business. Where to buy new clothes?” Our Damocles lab uniforms weren’t going to help us blend in, but besides that, I really wanted to go shopping. Well, I had all the time in the world to think about that.

I slung Ivy over my shoulder and walked up the riverbank. We had landed at the mouth of a river, where it flowed out and spread into a vast marshland. If someone had landed there, I prayed for their shoes. Still, it would be too easy a location for the government to sweep. Anyone landing there would probably have gone upstream to regroup.

I sighed and looked at the plane. Since it had flooded, our communication systems were shot. All we could do was meander around and look for signs of the others.

I followed the river upstream, where the greenery thickened to a forest-like setting. Argo walked beside me, sniffing at the ground. Were Dobermans good at sniffing? Would we ever find the others? Was Ivy honestly a bit heavy to carry? Yes.

I put her down and sat at a tree trunk, resting beneath its vines. Ivy seemed to be resting more peacefully now, at least. I wrung out my shirt, smoothed it out, then sat back and relaxed. And I would have lost consciousness then, too, if not for Argo, again. Except this time, he was growling.

The vines had gotten lower. When my eyes had cleared up enough to look at them, I also realized that they, or rather, it, wasn’t vines.

A giant snake looped down from the treetops. It had coiled itself around the branches, and its head was gliding down directly in front of my face. Its eyes were flicking between me, Argo, and Ivy.

I breathed out shakily, extending my hand. “Argo, get back.” I stared into the snake’s eyes, watching for any hint of its movements. From its size, it looked too slow for snapping necks. Did that mean it had venom? I didn’t know, and all I could think about was shifting to dodge if it struck. Fear began to sweat out of me, almost as if I was melting, and if I felt it, maybe I was melting. All I could do was wait until something unexpected happened.

The snake plopped into my lap and began licking my face incessantly.

I breathed a sigh of relief. “So you’re awake.”

Ivy moved herself to a sitting position, wincing a bit. “Is Argo okay?”

“Argo’s fine, but I’m afraid I didn’t survive the crash. I’m sorry.”

Ivy waved her hand, her power compelling the snake to coil around me. “That’s a Burmese python, by the way. A constrictor, so it probably can’t hurt you.”

“Aha,” I said as my new scarf slithered around my shoulders, “I knew that.”

“Anyway,” Ivy went on, “we should probably get moving before the laboratory tracks the plane.”

“Maybe so,” I murmured, looking up at the sun-shaded forest, “but before that, have you noticed something?”

Ivy frowned. “No. What is it?”

“We’re free.”

After that, we just leaned back on our hands and stared at the world for a while. At the very least, a god should be allowed that haven of respite. It was a hard path ahead.
The hardest part of writing science fiction is knowing actual science. The same applies for me and realistic fiction.
  





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Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:38 pm
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Europa says...



Dawn

Our plane went down a few minutes after Ivy's. The ground came up so fast I had to close my eyes to keep my head from spinning and grip the sides of my seat with all my strength.

"Dawn," Teresa shouted from behind me. "Grow something!"

"What?" I had to think about it for a moment before I understood what she was asking. "Oh. Oh! Right! I got it."

I opened my eyes, trying not to vomit as I saw the ground spiraling up to us, and focused on the trees. I imagined their branches reaching out to hug our plane. It only took a moment of focusing for the trees to respond. Their branches began to grow rapidly, curling around the plane tightly until our fall jerked to a stop.

"Phew." Theresa sighed, undoing her seatbelt. "Nice going."

"Thanks for the idea." I unbuckled my seat belt and opened the cockpit. We slid out onto the branches and carefully picked our way down. The branches ended halfway down the trunk and we had to jump the rest of the way. My shoes squelched in the mud when they hit the ground and I scrunched up my nose. "gross."

"It's not so bad once you get used to it." Theresa slogged up beside me.

"How are you used to the stuff when it's only been five seconds?"

"I think the question is," Theresa poked me in the chest. "How are you not used to it? Mud's a part of nature, isn't it?"

"I only work with plants, and generally plants aren't squishy and desgusting."

Theresa shrugged "whatever you say. Anyway, we should probably figure out where we are or something."

At that, I brightened up. "You mean like exploring? I'm down for that!"
....

After about an hour of wandering, we concluded that the only thing for miles were cypress trees, water, and lots of mud. Theresa and I flopped down on a solid patch of ground and I lay back, looking through the trees to the little patches of sky in between.

"You think the others are alright?" I asked.

"I don't know." Theresa replied.

"How long do you think we have before the government finds us here?"

"I don't know."

"I bet Ivy is loving the snakes up there."I pointed to one I had spotted curling around a tree branch.

Theresa shrugged. "Dude, I wouldn't know. She's your sister."

I stopped and thought for a second. "Yeah, she's loving them."

We stayed quiet for a bit and watched the world around us. A bird flapped out of a tree and splashed down into the river nearby. Back at the lab, we never would have gotten this much downtime. We'd be busted for skipping training. But now, we had all the time in the world to do whatever we wanted.

"Well, I don't know about you," Theresa gave a giant yawn and flopped down on her side beside me. "But all that adventuring has me beat. I'm not going anywhere until I've had a nap."

Now that she mentioned it, I could feel my own eyelids getting heavy. The heat was seeping into my skin making me feel drowsy. "Yeah, I guess I could go for a nap."

I'm not sure how much of what I said actually reached Theresa, because she was out cold and snoring in about five seconds flat. I stayed awake and listened to the birds, lazily making the flowers dance as I watched the sky for helicopters.
  





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Tortwag says...



Teresa – Onward


The snoring stopped the very moment a regular respiration was heard on top of it. Teresa opened an eye, then the other. She turned her head towards Dawn, who had finally stopped her observation to fall asleep. It was somewhat funny that she still fell for that trick, but in a way, also adorable. It was as if she hadn’t changed, as if no amount of experimentation or brain-washing would ever destroy the happy-go-lucky persona that Dawn had decided to forge for herself. Something to be admired, no doubt, that… rejection of other people’s imposed wishes on an unbreakable innocence.

“...Too much poesy,” the rest of the team would say.

But enough contemplating sleepy mud-splattered, mildly attractive teenage female faces: it was time for action, and no amount of happy exploration would make Teresa forget her objective, or the fact that people would be on their trail – potentially for the rest of their lives.
Teresa let herself float until she silently reached an upright position. It had been around an hour now since she sent a few of her poltergeists scout the area in several directions, and though Dawn hadn’t noticed, Teresa’s immaterial body had begun to manifest as a result. By her estimate, they should be back rather soon.

Lady Thousand! something whispered in her mind. We have returned with your valued items!

Teresa let a brief smile decorate her face. Ah, how she adored that nickname. Didn’t it sound perfect and wonderful? Teresa Thousand. It just screamed of… awesomeness.

Welcome back, my pretties.” Teresa said in an otherworldly voice heard only by her ghostly minions. She extended her hand. “My bag, if you may.” Teresa’s shoulder bag floated towards her and equipped itself to her as if from its own will. Opening it carefully, Teresa saw that the few things she had brought – which mostly encompassed her various notebooks, pens, and jewels that she used for focus – were all present, ready to be useful once more. They’d make good servants, If they were to be human. Ah, and the last thing – a pack of earplugs, put away in a small, separate pocket. “Put this in her ears, will you? Lady Thousand is busy working.

Your will is our command!

The Poltergeists proceeded to take a pair of earplugs from the tiny pack and ever so slowly placed them on Dawn’s ears – whose slumber appeared deep enough that she did not feel it. Then, Teresa called them back, and her loyal minions fused with her. She was whole once more, and so, her body regained its material nature. Humming softly, Teresa removed her shoes and placed them on Dawn’s lap before walking away, barefoot.
Teresa took a few seconds for herself, enjoying the slightly cold breeze as the mud, dirt and grass were squashed below her naked feet. Disgusting? Certainly not. It was invigorating, distant from the lab and, most importantly, new. New sensations that her feet had barely grown accustomed with.

“Anyway...” Teresa whispered to herself. “Back to business, Lady Thousand. We got enough distance, now.” Her eyes turned black, save for the bright blue pupils that kept on shining as her other power activated, once again making her body transparent. Smiling in anticipation, she lifted her hands, and a giant rock about twice her size came from down below, slowly lifting itself up, and Teresa along with it.

Embrace my form.

A second rock, just as large as the previous one, leveled the grass and merged with the first one. Smaller ones came to join in, until finally, the formation made designed the rough shape of a large oval tower with a flattened top on which Teresa sat down, reviewing her notes with care.
Hmm... Considering the direction of the plane and where they crashed, it was likely that they were somewhere in the United States of America – and considering how rural their surroundings were, they were somewhere down the south part of the giant country. Teresa nodded to herself. Perfect. It was quite close to Brazil and its Amazonian forest, which were her first destinations to enjoy herself playing “God of Destruction.” All she needed to do was to make sure everybody would meet, then expose her plan. She doubted many would follow it. She wouldn’t force anyone to do so, but… Would they force her to remain with them as a group? If she went to execute her idea alone, she’d be in danger the more time passes. Little to no communication with a group that hypothetically wouldn’t care much, temporary allies in humans who may turn on her out of fear – she’d really have to manipulate the emotions of those well – and a forest that represented the last bastion between the planet’s well-being and advancing ruin.
Teresa let out a heavy sigh. Things were bound to get complicated. If they stayed as a group in a single place, their influence would be extremely limited, unless made legal. Some would treat them as weapons, and everyone would want a piece. Or maybe a way to replicate them. She didn’t quite think everyone was aware of all this, or would care once she and others expose it whenever they talk.

“Separation could lead to a fight among ourselves, staying together would lead to a separation anyway, and a higher chance of getting caught or attracting attention…” Teresa whispered to herself as she closed her notebook. “Well, isn’t that wonderful.” Closing her eyes, she let a part of her semi-immaterial body fly within her construction once more. It was stable at last. She deactivated her position and focused on summoning her Poltergeists once more: this time, in an attempt to scout the territory and find her lost comrades. The sooner they had a serious talk, the better.

“Teresa?!” a voice suddenly exclaimed somewhere down below. “Teresa, did you make this?”

Ah, the plant princess was up. Just in time, too. Teresa would answer her, but she’d rather let the poltergeist she had left with her possess a small little platform below Dawn's feet and lift her up. A minute and a cry of surprise later, said poltergeist brought Dawn all the way up to the top of the construction, while Teresa hummed to herself, gazing a the horizon. All things considered, this was a good view, and the wind wasn’t much of a problem.

“Jeez, how can you just… Sit there, with this wind? It’s a bit co–” Dawn didn’t finish her sentence as Teresa turned around. What Teresa believed to be a sympathetic gaze appeared to her friend as a murderous shining blue glare surrounding completely black eyes - a sight that Dawn wasn't yet used to see.

“What wind?” Teresa replied. She frowned, noticing that Dawn had frozen in place. “What?”

“Um… Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I didn’t interrupt something, did I?”

“No, I expected you to come here. Was your nap alright?”

“It was! Yours?”

“I didn’t nap.”

“What? But you fell asleep before me!”

“I faked that.”

“...Why?”

“For the same reason I gave you earplugs. I needed to think, and you needed to sleep.” Teresa’s eyes looked at the horizon once more. “I’m done thinking, though. You can sit. And keep the earplugs. I'd like my shoes back, however.”

“Okay...”

Teresa began to think about Dawn's behavior as she put her shoes back on. Hmm, the uncertainty of the tone as well as the slowness of the steps that led Dawn to sit next to Teresa suggested that she was potentially intimidated. Perhaps meaningful social interaction would break that.

“You’re cute when you sleep, you know.” Teresa declared as Dawn properly sat, letting her feet dangle at the edge of the construction’s top. “A bunch of flowers showed up around you before I left. It’s fun how that still happens.”

“I noticed, actually.” Dawn admitted. “Thanks. I’m so glad there’s so much grass here, it’s awesome! I’m glad we’re finally out, too. There’s so much we’ve heard about that we’ll get to explore.”

“It’ll probably change once we reach the big cities.” Teresa’s eyes turned back to white as she looked at Dawn. “You, though. Never change, okay? Stay just the way you are. Bubbly and energetic and talkative and innocent. Well, I don’t know about the innocent part. But everything else is doable.”

Dawn seemed taken aback. “Why do you say that?”

“Because the view is beautiful, the sun is wonderful, and everything its light touches belongs to someone else.” Teresa allowed herself a giggle. “It’ll probably stay that way for a while, and you’re not the type to take places by force. That means you’ll remain walking in stranger’s territory for the rest of your existence. So…!” Teresa fondly poked Dawn’s cheek. “Don’t change. If people like you get desperate along the way, then the world is seriously messed up.”

A loud silence took place after Teresa’s declaration, sometimes interrupted by the wind’s presence.

“Thanks.” Dawn whispered. “Thanks a ton. I'll do my best.”

And boom, one ally down. Well, no. One friend down. Dawn didn’t deserve to participate in any sort of machination Teresa had begun to come up with unless she wanted to. A shame: she'd be such a perfect protector of the Amazonian forest, but well, better to leave her as happy and hopeful as she’d hopefully always stay. Ah, yes, speaking of hope…

“Don’t mention it.” Teresa replied. I’m just glad I drew my scariness away. Found Ivy and Cogito, by the way.”

Dawn’s eyes widened and she let out a gasp. “What?! Really?!”

“Really. I sent my Poltergeists to look for them. They’re around half a kilometer away from our position. My boys can’t see their plane, though.”

“Are they okay? Is Ivy okay?”

“They’re napping.”

It was Dawn’s turn to giggle. “I wonder if all of us are gonna start that way.”

“I’m already disqualified, but if the others do, y’all are hilarious.”

“...Did you really watch me sleep?”

“Yes.”

“Do I... Do I snore?”

“Your natural elegance apparently prevents you from being afflicted by such a deadly curse.” A silence. "Means no."

“Thank goodness!”

“And by the way?” Teresa’s eyes once again turned back as she raised, looking down at her friend. “I don’t snore either.”

“But you could!”

“Guess I’m just lucky.” with that said, Teresa let herself fall from her tower, whispering something as a part of her construction came off to float until it came under her feet, gently stopping her descent until it came to a stop, centimeters away from the ground. Teresa jumped down, waiting for her "transportation" to fly back up, take Dawn on itself and letting her reach for Teresa's position, arms crossed and a playful smile on the face.

“Pff.” Dawn exclaimed. “Show-off!”

“Baby, you know it.” Turning back, Teresa lifted her arms. “Embrace my form.” With an earth-shattering noise, the construction began to fall back into the ground, separating into tiny rocks that reached the size of gravels, until everything was properly buried, with patches of dirt and severed grass being the only proofs of its short-lived existence.

“Shouldn’t we do that with the planes?” Dawn suggested.

“No, let’s them think we’re dumb and leave it there. If we hide everything, they’ll understand that we’re trying to hide, and will be a lot more cautious than they already are. I don’t think we need that.” Also Teresa was quite tired from testing her powers the way she did, not that Dawn needed to know that. They'd both recuperate during their walk, anyway.

“Oh, okay. Wow, you really thought this one through.”

Teresa shrugged modestly as the pair began to walk in the direction of their lost companions. “Someone has to.” she replied simply.

“Is that you trying to be modest, or are you picking on me?”

Teresa let out a laughter. “Yes.”
"Is there a limit to how much living I can live with my life? How will I know if I've gone too far?
And why did I spend my life savings on sunglasses for a whale?
I shall find the answer... to these questions."
  





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Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:22 pm
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Chaser says...



Tucker's Fortunate Mistake - The Zeroth Damocles


After all the pomp and brutality of the military guards, they’d settled on restraining him to a chair. Dr. Tucker nonchalantly grated his wrists against his shackles; when they began to bleed, the guards asked him to stop.

He was in the interview room used for subjects, in order to test their mental wellbeing or otherwise. The one-way glass in the wall was heavily reinforced, while the microphone in the corner served as their audio link.

He scoffed internally. To think that they’d once restrained the gods of destruction in this way. Looking back on it, this must have been incredibly demeaning. He should never have allowed them to take control of the project.

“I hope you realize just what you’ve done,” a voice droned over the speakers.

No formalities, no legal accusations. So he would not be executed today, not until they’d pried enough information out of him. He was all too happy to supply.

“What I’ve done, General Arbogast, is fulfill the true purpose of this program.”

Arbogast’s voice remained calm and ageless. “You launched 41 small aircraft, our entire transport system. Each plane was identically marked. For all intents and purposes, the subjects are lost to us.

“We did manage to recover one of the planes, however,” Arbogast continued. “So now I’d like you to personally explain your vandalisms.”

“From memory?” Tucker asked, looking thoughtful. “Let’s see…’Hail the Gods of Destruction’ refers to my holy children, while ‘Humanity shall be judged’ is of course their goal. I believe the rest were reinforcements of that same message. Should I be concerned of your difficulty understanding them?”

If Arbogast was insulted, it didn’t show. “We could execute you a thousand times over for this. Never mind the legality; what you have done, Caleb Tucker, is release eleven superpowered adolescents to the world in an attempt of nation-wide terror. Hell could not punish you enough.”

“You’ve always had a poetic way of seeing things, Arbogast,” Tucker replied calmly. “They are the Gods of Destruction. Their purpose is to destroy, and this will improve the world. That is all.”

A gear in Tucker’s mind clicked off of a word Arbogast had said. His tongue flicked up against his teeth as he spoke. “Did you just say eleven?”

“Yes. Damocles Zero through Ten were released that night.”

“I didn’t release Damocles Zero.” Tucker had his head down, but couldn’t hide his smile. “I thought you said he had been decommissioned? Too dangerous, you said.”

Arbogast’s silence only egged him on. “So it’s true!” Tucker exclaimed, straining against his binds. “You military dogs just couldn’t keep your paws off of his power. Oh my. Oh, my.” He tilted his head up to stare at the ceiling.

“Be careful when you seek power, Arbogast,” Tucker said, cold, quiet, and clearly. “The power you discover doesn’t always belong to you.”

He burst into laughter, tears and blood streaming down his body. “Zero!” he screamed. “It seems I have neglected to give you my blessing. Go out, as the others have done, and destroy! Destroy this humanity that sought to use you! My god, Zero!”

He kept ranting until the door was opened, guards dragged him up, and a taser’s electrodes stabbed into his chest.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Morning light. That was the first difference he perceived. It filled him with a new sensation, quelled the tide that had been rising in him since his imprisonment.

His eyes opened a stark black, greedy for the light and refusing to let go. He rumbled his hand against the door, pushing it open with a screech of metal. His skin was a magmatic blister, crackling over him in a pulsing shell.

He climbed out of the plane, bracing against the warmth that washed over him. His plane had crashed in a cornfield that faced the sunrise. But he had stopped, because he had also stepped out to face the barrel of a shaking shotgun.

The man at the other end of it seemed to be saying something, but his words were half-formed, rambling fear. The gun, though, he kept focusing on. Because the scientists in the lab had used guns too, taking him down whenever he tried to escape.

His face fell as he realized that this gun’s intent was no different.

As he moved closer, the man steadied his gun abruptly, aiming for his head. He was not sure why this would be a valuable target. He covered the barrel of the shotgun with his thumb, then cocked his head. “Are you an enemy?”

The man gasped. “What-”

He never finished his sentence, as his gun exploded and disintegrated half of his head. As the man toppled to the ground in lifeless shock, Damocles Zero wiped a tear from his eye.

“So many enemies,” he whispered. “Oh well.”
The hardest part of writing science fiction is knowing actual science. The same applies for me and realistic fiction.
  





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EthanHoover says...



Lux


I turned the small grey tile in my pocket over as the conversation dragged on. I had switched off the radio a while ago so I could use this one the others Thirty minutes of this drudgery conversation on shoe material preferences, which neither of us had, and it was finally time for the payoff. "Are you sure your opinion can't be... Suede?" I chuckled was I swiveled the pilot's chair to face Nova in the back. She looked rather sick, and I couldn't tell if it was more from the flight or from the joke. "You're an idiot, Lux." Replied Nova from behind her half-filled paper bag. "Not taking the flight so well, mate?" i asked in my faux, yet thick, Australian accent. She merely looked at me with annoyed eyes as she rolled them. "Ah, well. Some are meant for flying, and some are meant for frying, I suppose."
She looked shocked and turned away. Oops, I did it again. Nova had a little sore spot due to one certain scarring memory. She tended to be rather sparing with the use of her powers, because the first time they showed, they killed one of our "caretakers." She never talked about it, but all nine of us saw it happen. I decided to drop the accent. "Nova, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." She was crying. I hate it when she cries. It makes me feel like everything's my fault. Well, this time, everything is my fault, but that's beside the point. I was at a loss for words, and this time my choice in them was very important. Last time I made her mad, it took two weeks to regrow my hair. "I didn't mean it, honestly-" I was cut off by a sudden beeping behind me at the console. I turned to check what as wrong. The red light next the the controls was blinking. Well, great. Autopilot off.
"What is that?" Nova asked in alarm, her voice cracking and her eyes puffy.
"Um, autopilot off. But no problem, I'll take control."
Her eyes widened with reasonable terror. "But you can't fly."
I shook my head. "Correction: I don't know how to fly." She shrieked something that I didn't understand, and I pulled up hard on the controls, and the plane nosed. "You're right, I can't fly." I looked out the cockpit glass as we leveled, then dived. "Come on, Nova, zap it!"
"What?" She cried from directly behind me. It seemed she had moved closer.
"You know, the glass! There's plenty of energy to absorb."
"Oh, right!" She closed her eyes, and the nearest lights went out. A bolt of electricity flew from her hands forward. It deviated from it's course and hit me in the head. "Ow!" I screamed. "What was that for?"
"Sorry," she shouted, "my powers freak out when I'm upset or angry." Well, I couldn't help but feel guilty for that one. The plane was at a pretty steep grade, and I quickly formulated a new plan. "Grab on to me!" I shouted as I threw off the harness. She did so with some hesitation. I clenched my fist and focused on it as hard as I could, imagining it to be as heavy as lead. I leaped forward at the glass, fist recoiled as if I were about to give a punch. I felt Nova pulled with me as I neared the glass and I let my fist fly. The glass fractured and gave way as soon as my bod slammed against it. Should have strengthened the rest of me, too. As the air opened in front of me, I panicked. I hadn't really thought this through to well, and the ground was rushing up toward me. Quickly improvising, I envisioned I was lighter than air... Lighter than air... I felt Nova fall past me as I changed my body.
Oops.
  





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kat13254 says...



Cyra

I'm sitting in my cozy chair on the plane, adamantly watching A'isha talk on about whatever she's talking about. I'm not particularly listening, but I love watching how animated she is while talking, and how fiery she is when she cares about something. My eyes are focused on her energy, my ears tuned out.

The plane makes a noise, a not very good noise. She stops dead mid-sentence, running to the cockpit of the plane. I jump up after her. I see her flailing when it comes to the controls.

"Uh, pardon?" I gently squeeze my way in front of her, putting both my hands on the control board, the circuitry taking over.

"Engine down. Self repair activated." The plane keeps rapidly descending.
"Can not repair, emergency landing system activated." I pull the plane into a better position to land, without even moving my fingertips off the control panel.

"Prep for landing. Emergency landing activated." I drop the wheels, bracing myself for the landing. I slow the engine as much as I could, trying to line us up over a cleared field. The other engine starts to give and I give it a zap, trying to keep it going for as long as I can.

"Warning. 1000ft. 800ft. 400ft. Rapid descent. 200ft. 100ft. Emergency landing." The airplane speaks through me. We hit the ground, although no near as bad as it could've been. I see out of the corner of my eye A'isha clutching the handle conveniently located near her, and, like a plug being pulled from its socket, I feel myself crash into, and through, the front window.

~~~

I hear a, interesting selection of words in the south-easterly direction from my current location, as I feel myself coming back into consciousness. The plus side of all my blood being attracted to my hands, is I don't bleed all too much. I slowly open my eyes, the darkness allowing my eyes to adjust easier. I turn my head in the direction of A'isha's voice and I see her pacing. A fire near her, allowing warmth to blanket us, as well at deterring any unwanted wildlife from pestering. I adjust myself into a more comfortable position, and blood rushes to my head, making me nauseous. I turn and allow my stomach contents to leave me, before wiping my mouth and sitting up fully.

"A'isha?" My voice comes out horse and quiet, but she hears me over the crackle of the fire and runs over to me.

"Oh good. I thought I was going to have to burn your body at some point." She has a devilish grin, but I know she's just joking.

I cough clearing my throat. "How long was I out for?"

"Eh about a day or so." She hands me what is clearly a handmade bowl, made from scrap off the plane, shaped by her, filled with water. "It's clean, I boiled it."

"Thank you." I take a sip, and it's like a river floods through me and I quickly drink the rest.

"You got us to a good place. Theres a lake about 5 minutes from here through that wooded area. I can't really make out where we are other than by the looks of it southern US."

"I'm guessing there's been no contact attempt from any of the others?"

"Nope. Although I'd hope we'll be able to track some of the others down."

I stand and walk towards the fire, and see something on a stick being warmed over the fire. I scrunch up my nose at the sight and A'isha just shrugs.

"Gotta do what you gotta do."

She grabs the stick and bites into what I assume is a chunk of squirrel, or possibly bird. She hands me the stick with a generous helping of whatever roadkill she managed to collect. I hesitantly bite it, the hunger overtaking the disgust. I dig into my hoodies pocket, thankful to feel my phone and my handful of specially designed batteries in there. I pull one out and look over its intricate design. These were specially made for our release. 'God's of Destruction' is written across the surface of the battery in a deep red, the colour matching that on our plane. Speaking of which,

"What did you do with the plane?"

"I carried you out of the area once most of your bleeding stopped, after I wrapped it of course. I scavenged a lot of what I could for various things. Kindling, if there was any edible food, the like."

I pull out the phone, despite the screen being absolutely destroyed I hold it in my hand as I create what's basically a hologram screen in front of me. Taking some charge out of the battery sharing my hand with my phone, I pull up all I can on the following: "planes" "crashes" "God's of Destruction" "southern us" and compile what has been talked about since our release. I pull up what I feel would be relevant in front of me in a nice little chart, with an accompanying map of the areas of a reported plane crash.

"So the nearest one is approximately 128km north-east. No known people involved in the crash, no one located in the area." I say as I start wandering in the direction.
After walking for about an hour, we come across a truck stop located off a small road connected to a larger highway.

"What if we steal a car." A'isha says flatly. I look at her my eyes wide.

"What?" She shrugs. "You can control it. It's electric. We don't need to know how to actually drive it." She walks up to a car pulled up at the back of the truck stop. Mentally I'm flicking through an infinite number of guides on various car based articles. How cops can catch a car thief, how to use cars. Anything I can think of, all whole A'isha is toying around trying to open the door.

"Hurry up, we need to get out of here."

I put my hand on the metal door and immediately all my nerves are calmed as i unlock the door, hearing a beep as it unlocked. I open the passenger door and get it, eyeing A'isha as I know she wants the driver side. She looks much older than me anyways. She hops in and does her seatbelt.

"I can get the car going and control it, but, you need to make sure you handle the steering wheel. It's the only thing not electric."

"No problem Cyra. I got this." I sigh and laugh a little, trying to calm my nerves. I put my hand on the dashboard, as the plastic interior would block some of my electricity. I zap the car to life, and instantly everything comes to me, as I feel the car take to me instantly. A'isha let's out a cry of laughter, and I back us up, the clutch moving without touch from either of us.

"Hmm. The steering wheel is control able, but still. Keep a hold of it." I speed out of the parking lot, instantly used to the feel of the car, my hand not moving. Thankfully this thing is full charge, so I won't need to waste any power charging it. I quickly speed up to 100km/h as soon as I hit the main highway.

"Faster!!" A'isha yells out, the windows wide open, her hair wildly whipping around. Mine is attracted to my hands, and so is not flapping around. I sigh and comply, speeding up to 120, which according to what I read is acceptable on major highways. At least A'isha is enjoying herself. She cranks up the radio, and relaxes in her seat.

"Let's find everyone!" Her laughter echoing through the car and out the windows. Well. This is a fun way to start our rule of "God's of Destruction"
Mew ฅ(⌯͒• ɪ •⌯͒)ฅ❣
  





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Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:16 am
AliceinBluue says...



Nova

Nova was officially freaking out.

The flight itself had been bad enough with her stomach deciding to revolt against her, but then Lux had brought up her Incient and it felt like she had been slapped in the face. She gagged as a flash of memory flickered behind her eyelids. The caretaker’s panicked eyes as she had grabbed his arm, yanking his energy force.

Lux was saying something but it was as if he was talking to her from far away. She tried to force away the memory of the little gasping breath the caretaker had taken as she had lost control of her powers.

She was brought back to herself as the plane started to flash red. Nova stood up to go join Lux by the beeping console and was drawn up short as she felt a dampness on her cheeks. She swiped the heel of her palm under her eyes, trying to erase any evidence that she had been crying and hoped that Lux had not noticed.

“What is that?” Nova asked, internally wincing as her voice cracked on the question as she came up behind Lux as he started at the flashing lights.

“Um, autopilot off. But no problem, I’ll take control.” Lux said, his eyes scanning the control panel.

“But you can’t fly,” she said, urgency coloring her voice.

“Correction,” he said as he grabbed hold of the controls, “I don’t know how to fly.”

Nova let out a wordless shriek as Lux pulled up on the controls and the plane took a hard nose dive. She grabbed hold of the back of the pilot's chair, trying to keep herself upright and in place as they fell.

“You’re right, I can’t fly,” Lux said as he let go of the controls. Nova wanted to snap at him. Ask him if he was done messing around with their lives now or maybe rub his nose in the fact that she had been right, but he was already onto the next idea.

“Come on, Nova, zap it!” He yelled at her.

“What?” She asked, trying to figure out where he was going with this.

“You know, the glass! There’s plenty of energy to absorb.”

“Oh, right!” She closed her eyes and concentrated on the energy around her, trying to connect with it and make it do what she wanted. The feel of the energy around her buzzed through her veins. She breathed in slowly, gathering as much of into her skin as possible and focusing it in her hands. She started to add a twist of her own energy to ensure that it would do what she needed it to do, but before she could get more than a drop in the image of the dying caretaker flashed through her mind again as the plane shook around her.

Without her meaning too, a bolt of energy flew from her hands. Nova tried to get control of it as it flew, tried to make it go where she wanted it to go. Instead it broke free from her and hit Lux instead.

“Ow!” He yelped, his hand going to cover where the energy bolt had connected, “what was that for?”

“Sorry my powers freak out when I’m upset or angry!” She snapped at him. Lux should have know this, they had grown up together, spending most of their lives together!

“Grab onto me!” Lux shouted as he threw off his harness and Nova wanted to tell him no, that she had enough of his lackluster plans. But she knew that he was doing his best to save her life, so she bit her tongue so hard it started to bleed and wrapped her arms around him.

He lunged towards the window and Nova has a second to think that they are definitely going to die before he had punched through the window.

They tumbled through the air and Nova could only focus on the ground rushing up to meet them. She tightened her grip on Lux, terrified of their death rushing up to meet them. Then Lux was pulling upwards and Nova was hurtling towards the ground by herself.

The energy she had tapped into up in the plane was still humming just underneath her skin as the ground loomed ever closer. At the last second she threw out her hands gripping all the extra energy she had as well as a significant portion of her own energy and threw it out letting it form a bubble around herself.

As she hit the ground, she took the energy from the impact and fed it back into the bubble, reinforcing it even as her face slammed into its curved wall and broke her nose.

She bounced a few times before rolling to a stop on the ground and letting the bubble fall away. She groaned as she pushed herself to her feet and watched as Lux drifted to the ground.

“Brilliant plan,” she snarled at him, gingerly touching her nose to confirm it’s brokenness, “Did you mean to almost kill me or was that just a happy accident?”

“Nova, I’m really sorry,” he started as she braced herself and then set her nose as quickly as she could.

“Save it,” she snapped as she dropped her hands and started scanning the area around them. The sky showed no other planes in the sky that she could see and she wondered where the others were.

It struck her for a moment how surreal this all was, she was used to knowing exactly where everyone else would most likely be and exactly what they would be doing. Her whole life had been spent inside one area with all the same people. Having all this open area around her, with only one of her people around her was disconcerting to say the least.

She tried to take a steadying breath and was instead struck by the dormant energy that practically swamped her. Her knees buckled and she had to stumble forward to keep upright.

“Whoa, what’s up with you?” Lux asked, and she could tell by his tone that he was trying to force some levity back into their situation.

“I’m fine, let’s start moving.”

“Great!” Lux said, bouncing up to Nova, “You got any idea where we’re going?”
  





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Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:06 am
citrus4nite says...



Lucas


The blue sky filled Lucas's mind with wonder. he stares out deep in trance from being so close to the stars he thought about so much.

"Hey!"

Angel called out from the front, Lucas snapped back to reality

"yes?"

Angel's dark hair distracted him as much as the sky did and he continued his gaze onto angel.

"you haven't said anything since we left...just wanted to make sure you weren't dead"
Angel didn't move as he talked, he was focused on what was in front of him.

Lucas smiled and exclaimed with sudden joy "Oh I'm good I'm just enjoying the view, sorry I'm not boring you am I?"

he could hear angel chuckle as he shifted his weight into a more relaxed position "well the silence would usually put me to sleep, but I'm just to-"

he was cut off by the sound of deep rumbling. An unbelievable annoying beeping noise started up and angel looked around the panel almost frantically. Lucas moved up and looked at Angel confused "what happened? what did you do?"

Angel's face was stern as he tried to take back control "I don't know I didn't touch anything" the plane jerked down and Lucas flew back hitting the wall with a loud THUD.

he opened his eyes and his ears ringed as he got up slowly. as his hearing came back he could make out Angels words

"Lucas!! were falling outta the sky!!"

once he came back to his senses Lucas grabbed Angel and put his hand on the metal floor, his hand glowed and heated the air around it melting it open enough for them both to slip through. Angel and Lucas fell outta the plane and into the trees hitting branches as the went down, finally splashing into a lake. the water steamed as Lucas exploded up with Angel still in his arm gasping for air. they both watched as the plane went down and disappeared behind the trees and crashing into the distance. Angel pushed away from Lucas a swam to shore, Lucas followed behind. Angel sat down calmly to regain his thoughts as Lucas flopped onto the ground steaming as he heated his body to dry off. they sat in silence for a few moments until angel spoke up

"we weren't the only ones..."

Lucas looked up "what?"

"everyone else planes crashed same as ours...they're searching around to regroup"

Lucas redirected his attention to the sky "are they anywhere near us?"

"I can't tell, it's getting a little hard to pinpoint them right now,

" Lucas thought for a second "then how about we wait and take a nice rest I think we need it"

silence filled the air again and Lucas called "Angel?" he looked up to find him fast asleep, Lucas smiled looking back up at the sky again getting lost in its seemingly magical appearance.
  





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Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:22 am
Europa says...



Ivy


"I still think you're not actually trying." Cogito frowned at me, pouting in a way that would have made Dawn swoon but only made me roll my eyes.

"You're making a stupid face again."

"Well did you try or didn't you?"

I sighed. This really wasn't helping my headache. "Like I told you the first three times. Snakes have iron wills, and pythons like to squeeze things. He's not gonna let go just because I asked him nicely. I'd have to make friends with him first. Seriously, you'd think someone would learn more about people's powers when they grew up training together."

Cog let out a little sniff. "You didn't try"

"Look, you. I got him off your neck, didn't I? Still haven't heard a thank you, by the way."

Cogito grumbled. Taking another step behind me, heaving his left leg forward with a bit of difficulty. The python was wrapped contentedly around his leg and well up his middle, and still a good foot of his tail was dragging along the forest floor. Argo trailed behind all of it, occasionally bowing his head to sniff at the tail.

"If it makes you feel any better, Argo doesn't like him either."

"Excellent." Cogito muttered, trudging through another muddy patch of ground. "I'm covered in mud in the middle of a swamp with a giant crushing monster in my leg, but a least the dog doesn't like it." He took a deep breath to huff indignantly, and I felt the snake itch to tighten his grip at the movement.

I reached out with little invisible fingers of influence. It was easy to slip into an animal's head. Angel had it tough with people, but animals never kept much of a guard up. The python didn't put up a fight as I weaved my little threads through its instincts. The urge to crush was thronged in my head now. I felt it burning in the back of my own mind. I sent my thoughts down the link, trying to make my thoughts sound firm

Don't you dare. I scolded it We've been through this, remember?

I felt the python's resentment. The want to tighten around Cog, to squeeze the air out of his body, grew stronger.

No! I swear I could almost see the snake give me the stink eye. Don't think I won't have Argo chew on you.

The indignation didn't go away, but some of the rebelliousness simmered down. Good. Now stay that way, understand?

The rest of the fire burned down, leaving behind grudging resignation. I punched Cog in the arm.

"Stop breathing so deep! Every time you do that I have to wrestle with the snake to keep it from crushing your ribs!"

"Not my fault you thought it was a good idea to give me a reptile scarf!"

"Would you please just breathe shallowly?"

"It's harder than you think it is okay?"

"You want to know what hard is? Fighting a Constrictor's instinct to constrict! So maybe if you don't want to die when I eventually lose a battle of wills with that thing--"

"Okay, fine!" He rubbed his arm morosely. "You know I'm regretting ripping my shirt for you."

"Cogito Egrosum," I sighed, gingerly touching my throbbing temples. "Your giving heart truly knows no bounds."

"Thank you."

Like pretty much every other time something important was about to happen, Argo let me know. His sense brushed the edge of my consciousness.

"Argo found something" I informed Cogito quickly before letting Argo take the lead through the marsh and speeding after him.

"Hang on!" Cog pretested. "I can't go as fast as you!"

I heard him dragging himself after me, and slowed down so I was beside him again. "Sorry."

Cog shrugged. We slogged through the marsh together in silence for a bit, then I looked back down at the snake. it had fallen asleep. I glanced up at Cog. "He won't stay on you forever."

"You mean he probably won't."

I frowned over at him. "If I meant that, I would have said it."

Cog shrugged. "You don't really have to. it's written all over your face."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"I mean you kind of have a face when you're telling a half truth."

I smirked. "I always have a face, Cog."

Cogito looked over at me in shock. "Did you just...make a joke?"

This time it was my turn to shrug. "Maybe."

Cog looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, "It's better when your sister does it."

I punched him again. "Oh, screw you."

It didn't take more than a half a minute of splashing through the place for Argo to find what he was looking for. He practically tackled Angel, whipping his tail back and forth. Angel yelped in surprise, then laughed and gave Argo a friendly pat as the Doberman licked his face. I let out a little breath of relief. Angel disentangled himself from Argo and grinned up at us.

"Oh hey! You're not dead! Nice snake, Cogito."

Cog glared at me. I gave him a winning smile "he brings out your eyes."
  








When all think alike, no one is thinking very much.
— Walter Lippmann