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A sudden beeping snapped Slate out of his daze, and he realised he had been in the shower for much longer than he had anticipated. He turned the shower off, stepped out of the cubicle and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around himself as he headed out of the bathroom. The beeping was coming from the phone on his desk, which he picked up and held to his ear.
[b]
"Hello?"

"Mr Slate,"[/b] replied the voice on the other end of the line, which Slate immediately recognised as Welsh's,[b] "I need to see you in my office in ten minutes. I've got a surprise for you!"[/b] He hung up at the end of the sentence, not allowing Slate any time to argue. He looked at the phone, confused, for a while, and then placed it back on the hook.

He dried himself off and gingerly pulled on a fresh set of clothes, taking care not to further damage his broken ribs. They were pretty tender, but the painkillers Elena had provided him with had taken the edge off significantly, numbing the pain but without the side-effect of drowsiness that strong painkillers often caused.

[i]Non-narcotic painkillers...I should remember to ask Elena where she gets these...[/i] he thought as he headed out of his room, pulling on a zip-up hooded sweater as he went. He moved slowly, grimacing a little as shreds of abdominal pain slipped through the drug-induced haze, his mind drifting back to what had happened in the bank.

He was furious with himself for leading the team into a situation like that, and even more furious after he'd seen what had happened to Autumn - he'd led her into a situation that had literally scarred her for life, and he hated himself for that. His anger was tinged with worry, however, as he realised that Starlighter had attacked them at night, when his power was greatly reduced, and had still beaten them easily. If he was the least skilled of the Big Five, how were they ever going to face The Patriot?

He realised he had reached Welsh's office, and had been standing outside the door for the past few minutes. Welsh's secretary looked up at him, confusion etched on her face.

[b]"Sorry...?"[/b] Slate murmured, and she rolled her heavily made-up eyes.

[b]"You can go in now,"[/b] she replied, gesturing to the door. He nodded vaguely, shook his head to focus himself, and pushed the door open.

Welsh's office was a cavernous room, with black-and-white painted walls, filled with glass and brushed chrome, a number of paintings and objet-d'art on various surfaces throughout. In front of the door, but set back against an enormous wall of windows, the clear blue sky filling them, was a large chrome-and-glass desk, behind which sat Welsh, and in front of which sat a second man, and an empty chair.

The other man was lean, yet relatively muscular, and even though he was sitting down, Slate could tell he was around the same height as him. He had sandy-brown hair and blue eyes hidden behind thin-rimmed glasses, and was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie over it.

[b]"Ah, Mr Slate,"[/b] said Welsh, gesturing to the seat next to the newcomer. Slate walked over slowly and took a seat.

[b]"Yes, Dr Ambrose informed me you'd taken a bit of a beating,"[/b] Welsh said, registering Slate's apparent discomfort, [b]"Still, that's what lack of experience gets you."

"You sent us into that situation with almost no training," [/b]replied Slate, wary of raising his voice in case he put any unnecessary strain on his ribs, [b]"It was your fault as much as ours that Starlighter took us down."

"Well I assumed you were powerful enough to take the least skilled of the Big Five, particularly at a time when he was at a diminished power level,"[/b] Welsh said, leaning back in his chair, [b]"Apparently I assumed wrong."

"He's still more powerful than any of us, even at night. If I hadn't done what I did, he would have killed us!"

"If he was attempting to kill you, believe me, he'd have killed you,"[/b] said Welsh coldly, [b]"Aren't you curious as to why he used non-lethal attacks? He used concussive blasts and low-power lasers, when he could easily have sliced you all to ribbons. He was warning you against fighting them, you idiot, trying to turn you to The Patriot's way of thinking."[/b]

Slate almost slapped himself - how could he have missed that?

Welsh clearly saw Slate flinch as the realisation hit him, as he grinned widely.

[b]"You're finally beginning to figure out how these assholes work,"[/b] said Welsh, [b]"That's a start, but for the rest you'll need training, and lots of it. That's where Dr McKnight comes in."[/b] He gestured to the man sitting next to Slate, who turned to him and outstretched his hand.

[b]"Pleased to meet you, Mr Slate,"[/b] McKnight said, his tone official and formal, clearly he was an employee of Geist,[b] "I've read a lot about you, it's a pleasure to finally meet you in person."

"Who the hell are you?"[/b] replied Slate, refusing the doctor's offered hand. He gradually withdrew his hand and sat back a little in his seat.

[b]"My name's Michael McKnight,"[/b] he said, [b]"I'm a member of Geist's Advanced Biology Division, and I've been tasked with studying you and your team. I must say, I'm impressed with your power levels, but your training definitely leaves something to be desired."[/b]

Slate's eyes widened in anger, and he was about to say something when McKnight clearly realised how this comment could have been construed and corrected himself.

[b]"That's not an insult, Mr Slate,"[/b] he said quickly,[b] "Your skill levels are undoubtedly impressive for a team with no formal training, but you will benefit from an improved training regime."

"What's this all about?"[/b] asked Slate, looking from McKnight to Welsh.

[b]"Dr McKnight is going to be joining the team, Mr Slate,"[/b] replied Welsh,[b] "He will be your trainer and official liaison to Geist Industries."

"Wait..." [/b]murmured Slate, piecing things together in his head, [b]"You're a super?"

"I have some abilities, yes,"[/b] replied McKnight, [b]"But I am somewhat...out of practice. I will be training alongside the rest of the team, and I will accompany you on your field missions."

"You're...you're a super," [/b]repeated Slate, getting out of his chair,[b] "And you're working for [i]them[/i]? After what they did to us?"

"We anticipated you might have a reaction like this, Mr Slate,"[/b] said Welsh, [b]"But it will be to your advantage to have Dr McKnight on the team. In fact, if you don't, I don't believe you stand a chance of defeating the Big Five."

"This is ******* insane!"[/b] shouted Slate, no longer concerned about exacerbating his physical condition. In any other situation, he would have used his abilities to lash out, but in this situation all he could was turn and impotently storm out of the office. He heard Welsh and McKnight murmuring behind him, but couldn't make out any words, and slammed the door behind him and stormed down the corridor.
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Tyler sat on the couch in the community room nursing his very bruised ribs and lost in thought while he watched a rerun of some crappy sitcom he'd seen years ago. He hadn't even slept a second after returning from the mission, though he wasn't sure why. Sure it pained him endlessly knowing he ended another life, but that was a weight he could live with; especially with the knowledge that the man would've killed one or everyone in that room.

He couldn't live with the fact that he was of absolutely no use to his team. Sure he'd discovered a new addition to his power that would provide an excellent offensive advantage, he also discovered that his powers had more limits than he previously knew. He knew he had to have some sort've visual or auditory signal to his brain to trigger what he always thought of as luck, instead of a 'power'. He found that out when the man who'd given him his scar almost cut out his eye, now he found that his power didn't matter if he was dealing with a being of superior power.

The door to the room opened and in stormed Slate, who appeared to be in a mood worse than Tyler's. [b]"Hey bossman how's it..."[/b] without breaking stride he exited out one of the other doors. [i]"I wonder what the hell is bothering him?"[/i] Tyler returned to his program and thoughts. He thought about how useless he felt, and his team role was listed as 'undeterminable given collected data'. Even the guys who kidnapped him weren't sure what purpose he should serve.

Again the door opened, this time a young lab assistant entered the room. At least that's what Tyler assumed he was, he was cleancut and wore a white lab coat. His age seemed to put him to young to be one of the doctors, [b]"Mr. Vegas? I was told by Mr. Geist and doctor McKnight to give this updated dossier on you. It should clarify any blank spots from your previous one, I was also asked to inform you that you should try and get some sleep, there is a new round of training to start as soon as some of your comrades heal up a bit."

[/b]With a tiny bow the man turned and left the room, leaving Tyler to his dossier.

Opening the folder he found a much more descriptive, but still slightly disheartening panel of information along with photos, even some of the mission.

[i]Subject's abilities have manifested an offensive capability with the help of a projectile weapon, also subjects power seems to still be mostly subconscious, but are likely to manifest consciously with training.

Subject is now classified as 'Recon' per the results of training sim, multiple projectiles can be deflected.

Subject is being upgraded from initial Level 4 power to Level 3 and will continue with team per results of initial mission.

Tyler layed the dossier at his side, a new sense of purpose giving him a small boost to his confidence. "Looks like maybe I need to step my game up a bit...I wonder if anyone is using the gym?"

[/i]Rising up, slowly to nurse his ribs, Tyler walked, and half limped, to the door in the direction of the training room. He hoped it would allow him equipment like it did with Riona's lighter during the team's first training sim together.
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[color="#8B0000"]Esfir awoke with a start. She had heard a scream. Was it hers? She couldn't remember her dream, but she didn't think it had been a nightmare. She heard the last of the screams and thought it sounded like Hood's voice. Was he okay? Where was he and where was she? It was still so dark. Esfir sat up but she felt like there was something strange. Why did the sound of her own breathing sound so different?

She thought back to the bank mission and remembered Starlighter. She had tried to jump over to help Phoenix out and maybe surprise the Big Five member at the same time but that had turned out to be a big mistake. When Phoenix's flame went out of control from Starlighter's flash, both the flash and the flame had hit her and she went flying past Starlighter and crashed into the wall.

[i]"Wait, the flame...Did my face get burned?"[/i] Esfir thought to herself nervously.

She had never been a very vain woman, but Esfir didn't want her looks to match what her powers had made her. Just some freak, to normal people at least. Or that was how she always thought they would act to her if anyone normal found out.

Her gloves on her suit couldn't reach her face. Soon, her vision came back to focus and she saw why. She could only see everything in a yellow shade. Esfir let a scream out of her own now. However, it sounded electronic thanks to the speaker on the helmet.

A red-headed woman was trying to keep Esfir from taking off the helmet. She had never seen her before, but Esfir finally calmed down. The woman sat on the bed next to Esfir and smiled.

[b]"Hello, Collins. I hope you don't mind being called 'Collins'. I just can't pronounce your last name very well and I thought that Collins would fine."[/b]

Esfir just nodded, eager for an explanation.

"My name is Dr. Ambrose. Both you and Phoenix should be thankful that you aren't blind right now. However, I suggested that you be given some extra protection for your eyes so that you can recover without any side effects. Ms. Viedt agreed with me and we both agreed that we would use a part of the original costume that Geist had planned for you. So for now, you'll be wearing a space helmet. It has visors to protect you from too much light and a microphone for communication. You'll be launched to Venus tomorrow."

[b]"What?!"[/b] Esfir asked in surprise, about to jump out of the hospital bed.
[b]
"Relax, I'm kidding. I'm trying to get you to relax but I guess it didn't work. Well, just don't remove the helmet until you see me first. It won't be able to come off though unless we need it too. It's stuck on as much as your power inhibitors are. I have to go check on some of your other teammates, but tell me if you have any vision problems right away okay?"[/b] Dr. Ambrose stood up, smiling again.

Esfir nodded as Dr. Ambrose left her bedside. The doctor didn't warn her to stay in bed, so Esfir tried to stand up. She was a little wobbly and ached all over but she could still stand. She decided to walk around and maybe hide out in the training room. She didn't feel like being seen with her head in a big bubble of a space helmet at the moment. It could be useful against Starlighter in the future though, but she doubted it could stand a full concentrated blast of his powers.

No one should have felt like coming in here, after a battle with a Big Five super, but she seemed to have guessed wrong. Closing the door behind her, Esfir thought she had heard someone.

[b]"Hello? Is anyone here?"[/b] She called out, although she wished she hadn't. Her electronic voice echoed off of the training room walls. The speaker on her space helmet made her sound almost like a robot. Why did it have to be a space helmet anyways? She felt like she was one of those dogs with a cone around her head. Couldn't they have just given her some cool looking sunglasses instead?

Suddenly, it came back to her. Addley laying there on the ground after saving her. This brought back a rush of emotions and Esfir sobbed loudly. She no longer worried about her face being burned or not. She was now more worried that Addley was badly hurt somewhere.[/color] Edited by Lilt
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Dererk laid on the crisp, cool sheets of his mattress in his bedroom, only suffering from minor fractures and pulled muscles in his right leg, the boy was allowed to reside in his own chambers for the evening while he healed up. The fight with one of the Big five members was quite a shock, and threw everyone off their A-Game, if that's what they were on when they took down all the Blanks in the building. It seems like they were on top of the world when they almost completed the mission without any faults besides the deaths of their enemies, but when Starlight came crashing in, everything just went to hell. The boy rolled on his side, taking a huff of air as pain radiated through his body from his injury, looking down he could see a metallic casing surround his ankle and lower leg. Almost as if it were a cast, but metallic and more heavy as the lights on the side panel continued to beep on and off, slowly injecting the necessary liquids the boy needed to heal his joints and muscles. Derek was released shortly after they knocked out Riona to giver her treatment for her eyes, with the new metal brace and arm band pumping liquid into his body, along with a few minor bruises, he was good to go back to his own quarters to rest up. He had to hand it to Riona, she was right, hospitals were just creepy and weird, thankfully Derek was blind for most of his life, so the sensation never really struck him as hard as it did moments ago, seeing all the blood and the smell of sterile equipment was just unsettling.

([b][i]Well, at least it's not itchy like a regular cast[/i][/b]) Derek thought, there was another device on his left bicep of his arm, similar to the one on his leg, but it simply injected some hydrating liquid into his veins to keep the boy refreshed and cool. Before joining this team, Derek would get dehydrated when using his powers on a continuous stream, though he always thought he had stressed himself out to the levels of sickness, this corporation seems to have figured everything out without even asking. Still, it was nice that they were at least keeping a roof over their heads and training them, even with the power enhibitors on their bodies, it was still slightly a home to them. Derek looked across the room to see his dog Silver sleeping on a large, and comfortable looking dog beg, surrounded by treats and his water dish. ([i][b]At least they're keeping you comfortable boy....or maybe they're just using you as collateral....[/b][/i]) The thought scared the boy as he tried to rid himself of thinking such things, but it always came back. Derek sat up in his bed and leg his legs drop to the floor, wincing in pain as his body reminded him he wasn't one-hundred percent healed yet, he reached up and removed his visor for a moment, opening his eyes once again to darkness as his hands messaged his eye lids, remembering back to the infirmary when they were all brought in from the mission. Derek remembers the doctors and medical staff baffled at the sight of the young team, but they rushed into work to make sure everyone was stable and well medicated while they performed work under the watchful eyes of Geist. It was a miracle they all made it out of the fight alive, something the boy was truly thankful for. Derek placed his visor back over his eyes as he finally saw the world besides pitch blackness, reaching over to the end of his bed he took hold of his crutches and slowly stood up from his spot, the pain was tolerable as he took a couple of steps, and only hurt once in a while as he made his way out of his personal quarters to wonder around the halls for a moment. After a while, no one was in sight, no one in the kitchen or living room area, not even in the sauna to relax any sore muscles. Derek brushed it off, the others probably went to their own rooms like he had to rest up, if they were not still resting in the infirmary. Taking a couple of turns, Derek managed to make his way towards the training room, seeing someone at the end of the hall as he approached, it was "vegas". Derek was happy to see him up and about, the impact he recieved from the fight had Derek wondering if he would be in a coma or not, seems like the medical experts here are holding their heads up high for doing such a good work on him.

"I didn't expect to see you up and about so soon Tyler" Derek got the other teens attention as he drew closer, Tyler in turn cracking a smile.

"You kidding me? My lucks better than ever, especially after that little surprise ass whopping we got back there. But hey, they don't call me "Vegas" for nothing" Both boys laughed a bit, Tyler wincing as he tried to calm his breathing and chuckles. Derek leaned against the wall, rubbing underneath his arms from the pressure his crutches were giving him. "Glad to see at least the Dynamic Duo is still in one piece, we got lucky ya know"

"You're really going to say "we got lucky"? Now that's something I wouldn't have thought to hear come from you mouth" Derek smirked. "We did though, and I'm just glad to know everyone came back...alive, that is" Tyler nodded.

"It doesn't seem like you're too worse for wear, consider yourself one lucky son of a *****. So, what are you doing roaming the halls? Seems like you should stay off that leg until its better" Tyler rubbed the side of his chest as both teens walked a little towards the training room.

"I dunno, just needed to get out for a little stroll. I'm guessing there's still some of the team back in the infirmary, I haven't seen anyone in the kitchen or living room. I'm thinking about taking a quick dip in the hot tub and relaxing there, sounds kinda nice at the moment" Derek responded as they both stopped right in front of the training room entrance, there was a little control panel on the side of the door blinking on and off with a small red light, Derek raised an eyebrow. "You ever see it do that before?"

"Nope, but I was headed here anyways. Wanna go in with me?" Derek thought about the idea, it wouldn't hurt to hand out for a little bit, then he could hit the hot tub for some relaxation.

"Sure, why not" Both men walked close enough so the doors would open on their own, but it seemed like they weren't the only ones who inside the training room as well. Just as quickly as they entered, the doors closed behind them, leaving the duo in the darkness.

[b]OOC[/b]: This is all I really had to work with, so sorry if it's short and not pushing anything along.
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[font="Book Antiqua"][font="Book Antiqua"]Addley could feel his blood pour into his mouth as he fumbled away from the caged Starlighter. The blow to his face had filled his world with red, and he couldn't follow the voices of the others because of Starlighter's enraged screams. No-- not just Starlighter's screams. Somewhere nearby, Addley could hear a female voice yelling as well, which he quickly identified as Martian, who had been injured somehow, and couldn't move. He tried his best to navigate towards her, and eventually he felt her hand shoot into his. He tried his best to comfort her by smiling in her general direction, but he imagined that the blood spilled over his teeth and down his face might be more disconcerting than anything else. He knelt down and scooped her up in his arms.

[b]â??Hold--â? [/b]before he could say 'on', the world around him began to spin. He collapsed into a nearby wall, causing Martian to scream again, but even her screaming was fading away. He blinked rapidly, trying to clear his vision, but instead found that he couldn't see anything at all. Fearing for his and Martian's lives, he focused with every inch of his being and opened a worm hole to the roof. But when they reappeared in front of the others, a crying Martian was kneeling over the unconscious, feverish body of Addley.

*****

[i]Addley's eyelids pried apart slowly. His whole body felt sluggish and exhausted, like he had been running for miles. He lie still, half consciously staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling fan. He could hear voices talking in the background-- a man and a woman. He couldn't make out what they were talking about, but he could just barely hear the man say, 'you'll be alright'.[/i][i][b] [/b][/i]Oh good, I'm in the infirmary, [i]he thought, relieved. That explained why he felt so tip top-- his body, aside from feeling oddly heavy, didn't feel in the least bit injured. Even his nose, which he was sure had been broken, felt as good as new. He reached his hand up to feel his face, but stopped abruptly when his hand came into viewâ??or rather, didn't come into view.

[/i][i][b]â??What... What the ****?â? [/b][/i][i]Addley stared blankly at the space where his arm was supposed to be. He was still too tired and too groggy to wrap his mind around his seemingly non-existent arm. Before he could figure out what had happened, his arm faded back into existence, but now it was translucent, with an unearthly glow. He blinked a couple of times, expecting his arm to reform entirely. But after a few fruitless minutes, Addley's fear started to sober him out of his sleepiness. He waved his arm back and forth frantically, and with his arm still refusing to reappear fully, panic overtook him completely. He stumbled to a standing position, although he almost pitched himself across the room doing so. Now that he was completely awake, he found that his body was almost weightless.

[/i][i][b]â??What the **** is going on here!â? [/b][/i][i]he screamed out. He had expected to see the inside of a Geist laboratory around him, probes and nodes lining his body. Instead, his barely visible physique remained entirely unmarred and unprobed, standing in the middle of an unfamiliar kitchen. Everything in the kitchen seemed dated by a few years, and looked like they had gone through a period of serious disuse. Addley grabbed a nearby cabinet and attempted to open it up, but his hand phased straight through. [/i][i][b]

â??Oh,â? [/b][/i][i]he mumbled. He could feel his fear hardening into dread. He pulled his hand out and looked at it for a second before shoving it back through the cabinet. A nervous laugh escaped him.

[/i][i][b]â??I'm dead,â? [/b][/i][i]he stammered. What else could explain this phenomena? His phantom-esque figure. His inability to interact with his surroundings. The fact that despite having screamed bloody murder a few minutes before, not a single person seemed to hear him. He gazed down at the feet, when a question sprang into his head.

[/i][i][b]â??How the **** am I standing then? Just what the **** is happening to m--â? â??Aaaaah!!â? [/b][/i][i]A scream from outside of the house tore through his thoughts. Without a second thought Addley bolted out of the kitchen, through the adjoining living room and straight through the glass wall in the back of the house. The screamer was a young woman in a wheelchair clutching her head. An extremely tall, muscular man stood next to her, cradling something in his arms-- a baby, most likely, but compared to the giant it looked like a skipping stone. The man tucked the baby under his arm like a football and knelt down on one knee in front of the screamer.

[/i][i][b]â??C'mon!â?[/b][/i][i] his voice boomed, startling Addley, who had been expecting something much, much softer in tone. [/i][i][b]â??How can you be so upset? I mean just look at this little ****!â? [/b][/i][i]He took the baby in both hands and tossed him up in the air. The baby screeched with joy all of the way up and down, and the man had a wide toothy grin spread from ear to ear. Even Addley couldn't help but smile, forgetting his own predicament for the moment. The woman ceased screaming, but her face was locked in an expression of terror. Instead of wailing she began muttering under her breath.

[/i][i][b]â??Please god just get him away from meâ??All of those people died on that bridge--I killed him, I killed himâ??he'll end up like me!â? [/b][/i][i]She rambled aimlessly. The sadness in Addley's heart grew again as he listened to her speak aimlessly. It seemed that although she was somewhat aware of her surroundings and her situation, she could do nothing to escape her madness. [/i]What kind of a trauma could have driven her to this[i], Addley thought somberly.The big man frowned at the woman and stopped tossing the baby around.

[/i][i][b]â??Look at him,â? [/b][/i][i]he said in a gentle tone, placing the baby on her lap. [/i][i][b]â??He won't be nothin' like you. We'll take good care of you. Just hang in there ----â? [/b][/i][i]The last word came across as little more than a dull buzzing to Addley, whose mind had been filled with other voices; first he could hear his teammates, and then Welsh, and then a series of unfamiliar ones. Addley fell to his knees as the voices got louder and louder, overwhelming his senses.

[/i][i][b]â??What the **** is happening to me!â? [/b][/i][i]he roared in agony. The world began to spin around him and his body felt weak. He recognized this feeling. This had happened to him at the bank, right before he had blacked. Why was it happening again now? What was even happening? His hands fell from his head to the floor, and he struggled to keep himself propped up. As the vision began to drain from his eyes he reflexively took one last glance at the couple, although his last sight chilled him to his core. The woman was no longer sitting in her wheelchair. She was kneeling right in front of Addley, her eyes no more than an inch away from his face.

[/i][i][b]â??What is happening-- all of the children were taken-- no, still nothing--who are you? How did you get here?â? [/b][/i][i]her eyes widened with every question, and her voice rose louder and louder, so that now she was hollering at him. [/i][i][b]â??How did you ******* get hereâ??I don't want to die!â? [/b][/i][i]Her baby was crying again in the background. In a flash the man was at her side and attempting to talk to her, all the while oblivious to Addley's presence. He pulled her and the rest of the world away from Addley. Floating in a sea of white, Addley only heard one thing.

[/i][i][b]â??Please don't let the baby cry,â? [/b][/i][i]spoke the chillingly calm voice of the woman. [/i][i][b]â??If he starts crying now he'll never stop. I'm so sorry.â? [/b][/i][i]And then Addley felt two cold objects press into his temples, and the light erupted.[/i][/font][/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][font="Book Antiqua"]*****[/font][/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][font="Book Antiqua"]â??[b]He's awake!â? [/b]Someone mumbled over Addley, though it sounded more like a blasting horn to him. He flinched away from the voice, but the motion caused pain to shoot throughout his body. [i]****!![/i] He howled in his head.
[/font]
â??[b]Are you alright, Mr. Raines?â? [/b]the voice inquired. Addley slowly opened his right eye to get a better look at the person who was currently assaulting his senses.[/font]

[font="Book Antiqua"][font="Book Antiqua"][b]â??Oh my god,â? [/b]was all he could manage. The speaker was a beautiful, redheaded doctor. Addley looked back and forth, hoping sincerely that she was talking to him, whether he was dead or not. When she continued to stare at him quizzically, his mouth gaped open and close with unbridled excitement for a couple of seconds, which garnered a smile from her.

[b]â??Something to say?â? [/b]she mused. Addley shook his head quicklyâ??[i]jesus ******* christ my face!--[/i]and focused hard on responding.

[b]â??Uh, I... Its just a bit hard to speak... With all of this blood in my mouth,â? [/b]he ended absentmindedly, noticing the taste of dried blood. To be honest, the taste of blood was wonderful--it meant that, without a doubt, he was still alive. The doctor frowned and bent over to help Addley up. He expected it to hurt more, but he could feel the medicine they had pumped into him beginning to take hold. The doctor brought over a glass of water and a bowl to spit in. He obediently gargled and spit, although he winced violently at the sight of his blood saturated saliva. Addley saw the doctor start back as well at the sight. She hurriedly stuck something in his neck.

[b]â??Wah?â? [/b]he moaned before he fell back into his bed, asleep. After what seemed like a second he opened his eyes again, feeling disoriented. Before he could collect himself, the doctor from earlier rushed Addley to his feet and dragged him to a nearby sink, and then demanded he rinse his mouth out. Addley obliged.

[b]â??My apologies Mr. Raines--â? â??Adrey!â? [/b]Addley spat half-consciously through a mouthful of red. The doctor smiled nervously and nodded.

[b]â??Uh... My apologies, Addley. I had to knock you out so that I could re-stitch your wounds. When you were brought to me a decent amount of blood had pooled in your mouth,â? [/b]she explained to Addley, who was happy to see that his spit had lightened dramatically. [b]â??We cleaned you up, but the bleeding began again after we fixed your nose. I had been checking on you every couple of minutes to ensure that you didn't drown but something strained your body and caused your wounds to open again when you regained consciousness,â? [/b]she finished apologetically. Addley splashed some water on his face and stared at the doctor in the mirror.

[b]â??It's not your fault, Doctor...â? [/b]he trailed off, hoping she would correct him.

[b]â??Dr. Ambrose,â? [/b]she confirmed, much to Addley's relief. He finished washing and drying his face off and then turned to face her.

[b]â??If it wasn't for you, Doctor Ambrose, I could have drowned in my blood at least twice,â? [/b]he said with a chuckle, with Dr. Ambrose reciprocated.[b] â??I owe you my life. As do the others, I'm sure. How is everyone doing?â? [/b]he asked. Dr. Ambrose gave him a run down of the others' conditions. Addley sighed at the news. Despite whatever injuries they had sustained, they were all still alive. He was worried about Esfir though; even though Ri's flames had burned her, he felt partly responsible for not getting her out of danger quickly enough. If only he hadn't-- his smile wavered as the memory of his experience flooded into his mind. Dr. Ambrose placed her hand on his shoulder apprehensively.

[b]â??Is everything alright, Addley?â? [/b]Addley forced a smile and shrugged.

[b]â??Just worried about Esfir. Do you know where she is now?â? [/b]Addley liked this Dr. Ambrose enough, but she was still working for Geist. If he told her about his... vision or whatever it was, she would want to run tests on him. In addition, Addley needed to flee the infirmary. The person he did want to talk with the situation about, Slate, had already departed to his room. After Addley checked on Esfir, that would be his next stop.

[b]â??You all are a handful,â? [/b]Dr. Ambrose interjected through Addley's thought. [b]â??As soon as you're awake you're running off somewhere else. I'm going to have my work cut out for me. Anyway, I saw her head off in the direction of the training room, as well as a couple others. Please be careful, Addley.â? [/b]Addley nodded and thanked the woman again, before leaving the infirmary. If Esfir already had company, the last thing she probably wanted was additional people asking her questions and making her uncomfortable. He would have to check on her later. Addley trekked down the corridor toward their living quarters, when he saw a very angry looking Slate stomping down the hallway. [i]Yikes, [/i]he thought.

[b]â??Uh, hey Slate!â? [/b]he said tentatively with a wave of his hand.

[b]â??There's a ******* super working for them!â? [/b]Slate yelled back. Addley clenched his jaw shut, half from surprise and half from fear of Slate. Why would a super work for Geist? Addley rubbed his eyes in with disbelief.

[b]â??Today is just ******* full of surprises...â?[/b] he growled. Slate shot him a confused stare, deducing from Addley's tone that he was talking about their unexpected skirmish with Starlighter.

[b]â??What happened to you?â? [/b]he inquired. Addley took a deep breath and leaned against the wall, silently thanking God that he hadn't simply passed through it.

[b]â??Where do I start?â?[/b][/font][/font] Edited by Vongola
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[font="Garamond"]Autumn snapped awake as her limbs convulsed with the terrifying sensation that she was falling. She lay in her bed, tangled up in her sheets and blankets, nearly indistinguishable from the pile of covers. Autumn looked over at the alarm clock on her bedside table, the green glowing numbers confirming what she already suspected from the amount of light in the room.

'4:00 pm? When did I even fall asleep... what day is it?" She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and disentangled herself from her bed gently, careful not to disturb the cut on her middle too much, the aching blissfully dull for the moment. She made her way into the small bathroom at the back of her room and groaned at her reflection, before slipping out of the rumpled hospital-chic pajamas and hopping into the shower.

Sometime later, Autumn emerged from the bathroom, her skin scrubbed pink and her hair still wet around her shoulders. Curiosity got the better of her and she slowly unwrapped the gauze from around her abdomen. It fell on the floor and Autumn stared at the puckered pink line that made its way lazily across her skin, interrupting the ghost-pale pallor of the rest of her. The stitches looked like a set of black teeth, giving the wound a mouth-like appearance. She turned away quickly and chose some comfortable clothing to throw on that wouldn't rub against the now exposed cut too much.

A loose pair of jeans and an oversized knit pullover and Autumn felt almost as good as new. She walked out into the hallway, pulling her door shut behind her. She hadn't seen Slate at all since they returned and she wanted to check in on him first and foremost. She was certainly more than a little obligated seeing as he had taken care of her useless self while they were dealing with the Blanks. She moseyed down the hallway, realizing she hadn't actually been in anyone else's room yet. There was Esfir's nearby to her own and she Saw Riona and Cody's rooms too.

'Ah, there you are!' She read the nameplate on his door. "Jacob." She stood for a moment awkwardly, introverted habits of being unsocial were quite hard to break. She raised her fist and let it hang for another moment before committing.

[i]Knock, Knock, Knock[/i] It was gentle, but not inaudible. She dropped her fist quickly and clasped both hands together, fidgeting.

Footsteps, the clack of a lock being turned. Slate stood at the door looking incredibly grumpy, but no worse for wear. He looked surprised to see her but maybe a little less grumpy.

"Autumn! I'm surprised you're out of the infirmary so soon, how are you feeling?" He swung his door open and beckoned for her to come in. He sat down on the edge of his bed and Autumn perched herself on his desk chair.

"Me? Oh I'm fine, just a scratch, you know." She laughed, resting her hand gently on her stomach. He looked relieved to hear that.

"Tougher than you look, it seems." Slate smiled.

"Definitely. Very tough." she nodded, grinning. "And how are you? Almost everyone was in the infirmary still when I woke up... Are you relatively unscathed?" She tucked some hair behind her ear to get a better look at him. He looked mostly unharmed, just tired.

"We're twins, almost. Some broken ribs. No big deal."

"Oh good, so we are injury buddies." They both smiled a little at that. Autumn noticed Slate's dossier sitting open on his desk. "So..." They were silent for a moment. She pointed at the file. "Do you mind if I maybe...?"

"Go ahead. It's pretty standard I think. Stuff we should know about each other." She grabbed the file and flipped it open, skimming over the pages. His power sounded almost limitless. Geist definitely had their eyes on making him go above and beyond his current abilities. There was a lot on his personality and what made him a good leader, and finally there was a section that basically ranked him. "'Power level 2. Higher-than-average strength, proficient with his control, particularly with the new suit he has been outfitted with.' Wow, Slate. That's impressive. From all this information in here it sounds like they think they can get you to level 0, and fairly soon, at that."

"Yeah, well, Geist thinks a lot of things..." Slate shrugged, not even wanting to think about Geist anymore for the moment. He seemed tired, so Autumn decided to head out to do some more exploring. She stood up to leave.

"I'm really glad you're okay, Jacob." She nodded at him. "Thank you," she continued, "For having my back. I'd be dead without you." She slipped out of the room before he had a chance to reply, clicking the door shut softly as she went.

//////////////////

Back in the hallway, Autumn decided to go in a direction she hadn't gone yet. She made her way passed the other's rooms and turned a corner where she was faced with a long winding staircase, curling up and out of sight. She looked around quickly but saw no Geist employees nor signs that indicated that she wasn't allowed so she began making her way up the stairs. As she rounded the bend she caught sight of a huge set of metal doors, a sign arching above that read "Archives."

As Autumn approached the door she again looked for any signs to indicate that she wasn't welcome there. But she saw nothing so she pressed on. With great effort, Autumn managed to pull open one of the great doors and slide in before it slammed shut behind her. It was dim but after a moment her eyes were able to make out shelves and shelves stacked high with books, many of which looked like large medical texts.

"Hello? Who's there?" A gruff voice floated out from behind a large pile of books sitting on a desk to her right.

"Umm... hello?" Autumn called back, folding her arms across her chest. "My name is Autumn, I uh, live... here... I guess..." An unkempt head of graying hair poked out from round the book pile and a set of lively brown eyes peered out at her from behind a set of thick, black glasses rims, set in a craggy face.

"What do you want?" The head was joined by a body as the man stood up. He was tall. [i]Very[/i] tall. He raised a cigarette to his lips and looked at Autumn expectantly as he puffed away.

"I was just, uh, wanting to see what you had in the archives, I'm-I'm just curious, is all." Autumn stammered, suddenly feeling more than unwanted, and very self conscious.

"Curious about what?" He moved out from behind the desk and into full view, now standing between Autumn and the bookshelves, resting on his cane.

"About, well, Geist. If I'm forced to 'work' for them, I might as well learn about them..."

"Hmm." He looked her over for a moment and the girl resisted the urge to bolt out right then and there. "Alright," he flicked his head in the direction of the book stacks. "Have at 'er. But do not make a mess. I'm the Curator for the archives here and I do not stand for messes. And Miss, Autumn, was it? Stay where I can see you." Autumn gulped but nodded, scurrying past him and into the first row of books. She wandered down the aisle in awe, running her hands across the spines of the books, enjoying the scent of it all, the pleasant muskiness of old books and the faint stale cigarette odour that was somehow not unpleasant in here. It was an interesting contrast to the rest of the state of the art facility that was near hospital levels of white and fluorescent. She made her way back up the next aisle when she remembered what she was told by Adam.

"Um, excuse me, Mr Curator, I'm sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if you might, maybe, have some books on the Advanced Biology Division of Geist? I just, uh, heard about it and am really interested..."

"Well of course I have those books, this is an archive." He tilted back in his chair scowling at her, and then got up slowly with the help of his cane, shuffling down towards the far end of the room. He stopped and turned around to look at her. "Coming? I don't have all day, you know." Autumn nearly sprinted over to the man, desperate to not screw up her only chance at getting this information.

Sometime later, Autumn was seated at a large mahogany table, a large stack of papers sat in front of her, bound by a heavy leather cover.

"Thank you -" She called to the curator but he simply waved his hand in dismissal, limping back to his own desk. She opened the cover and began reading. This 'book' was simply the composition of all of the research, lab reports and studies undertaken by the division. She and began reading. Within a few pages, Autumn's eyes were open wide in apprehension.

Background Information: May 15th, 1989. "Doctor Richmond Anders has been a boon to our foray into research of the possibility of Super Powers. His own research has been outstanding and there is no doubt that we are closer than ever to a breakthrough here. Hiring him is likely one of the best decisions we have made as a company, his invaluable knowledge and knack for discovery put him at the top of scientists that we currently employ here. There would be no Advanced Biology Division without Dr. Anders.

With his urging, we made the choice to use our first human test subject. The tests with the lab animals could only go so far - the human spirit is the one factor that is unable to be synthesized by science. We scanned the headlines every day for a good candidate to use and finally one was found. A young boy was reported to have manifested powers and so we tracked him down and told his parents that we could help him. We were given permission to take him under our care and began our experimentation's right away. Subject Zero was restrained and kept under sedation at all times as we examined his genetic makeup to try and find the link between normal and super, and various other tests, the results of which can be found through the rest of his case study attached in this file."

Autumn flipped through a few more pages. "Findings: As this went on, more children began to apparently manifest powers. Subject Zero was useful but every new child had a different power and we needed to be able to study them all. Geist set up a team that began to track down these other children and bring them back to be used as test subjects. Most were kept sedated much like Subject Zero, but some scientists, whom we must stress were rogue and not acting at all according to Geist protocol, thought it would be best to dissect subjects for a more comprehensive view of super powers.

Dr. Anders set up more facilities to do research in, but was unfortunately killed when word got out of the test practices on children."

And the last entry. "Subject Zero: Test subject underwent extreme laboratory testing but was able to escape with the growing strength of his powers, the totality of which we had no idea. Subject destroyed most of the original facility of the Advanced Biology Division, through - " The rest had been censored out. The last entry for the human experimentation was dated ten years ago.

'Children as test subjects? Children being dissected?' Autumn felt nauseous as she took it all in. But as she sat there, she realized Adam had to be right. The team had to escape from Geist - and she had to be the one to help them.
[/font]

sooo i basically just wrote an entire novel of a post, I'm sorry you guys TT_TT Edited by OMNOMNOMALY
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[b]"That's pretty intense,"[/b] said Slate, hunched over the canteen table, playing with his cup of weak coffee. Addley sat opposite him, his own coffee drained, having just told Slate about his dream. He looked traumatised, he had dark rings under his eyes and bruises around the bridge of his nose from the fight with Starlighter.

[b]"Yeah, it was kinda crazy,"[/b] replied Addley, rubbing his eyes, [b]"I just wish I knew who those people were, maybe that would make things easier. Or even when that conversation took place - I mean, it could have been happening right then and there, or it could have happened fifty years ago for all I know. Maybe it didn't even happen at all!"[/b]

[b]"It's probably best not to think about it too much,"[/b] said Slate, slowly taking a sip of his coffee, and grimacing as the bitter, watery liquid ran across his tongue, [b]"You'll go crazy if you start over-analysing it."[/b]

[b]"You're probably right,"[/b] sighed Addley, [b]"So what about you? You said there's a super working for Geist?"[/b] Slate nodded, resting his head on his hand, and his elbow on the table.

[b]"Some guy named McKnight,"[/b] he replied, [b]"He works for Advanced Biology, or something. Welsh said he's being inserted into the team before we take on the Big Five, to train us."[/b]

[b]"Sounds like it could be a good idea,"[/b] said Addley, [b]"With some proper training, we might stand a chance against the Big Five. We've got no hope, the way we're going, Starlighter could have destroyed us if he'd wanted to."[/b]

Slate looked up at Addley, the realisation that he was probably right doing very little to soothe the anger Slate felt when he thought about the idea of a super working for Geist.

[b]"But...a super, working for them? After what they've been doing to us, after what they've probably done to countless other supers just like us? That's pretty messed up, don't you think?"[/b]

[b]"A little, I guess,"[/b] replied Addley, [b]"But you're judging the guy before you even know him. Maybe they're keeping him here like the rest of us. Did you see any power inhibitors?"[/b] Slate shook his head.

[b]"There was no scar on the back of his neck either. He clearly isn't being held here against his will."[/b]

[b]"Well, there must be some explanation for it. Maybe the Geist healthcare plan is [i]really[/i] good?"[/b] Addley joked, and Slate couldn't help but laugh. As angry as he was, he couldn't help but admit Addley was right - there was bound to be something more sinister in McKnight's past than he was giving him credit for, this was Geist they were talking about. They didn't exactly play by the rules.

[b]"I should get some sleep,"[/b] said Slate, suddenly realising that he felt completely fatigued. Addley nodded, and Slate got to his feet, slapped his team-mate on the shoulder and ambled out of the canteen, heading back towards his room.

He had just made it into the room and locked the door behind him when there was a faint knock. He sighed, turned around and unlocked the door, opening it to reveal Autumn standing there. He was tired, but seeing Autumn standing there made him feel slightly guilty - he felt like he owed her a conversation at least, after what had happened to her at the bank.

[b]"Autumn! I'm surprised you're out of the infirmary so soon, how are you feeling?"[/b] he said, as cheery as he could bring himself to be, and he swung the door open and gestured for her to enter.

After a short conversation, in which she leafed through his dossier, she slipped out of the room, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

[i]Why had she seemed so interested in my file?[/i]

The thought crept into his head and popped up unannounced, and at once he shook his head, chastising himself for not trusting Autumn. He was sure she was probably just curious, it was probably just being stuck in this place making him paranoid. He sighed, threw the file off his bed and onto his desk, and flopped down face-first on the mattress.

---

He awoke much later to a loud knocking on his door. He groaned as the light crept under his eyelids, and forced himself up out of the position he had collapsed in, shuffling over to the door and yanking it open, to reveal the last person he wanted to see.

[b]"McKnight,"[/b] he groaned, and the sandy-haired man nodded, [b]"What do you want?"[/b]

[b]"First training session, Slate. Get down to the training room ASAP, in full uniform,"[/b] McKnight replied, [b]"And bring your A-game, I'm not going easy on you."[/b] He walked off at the end of the last sentence, not giving Slate any time to retort. He groaned again, slamming the door and grabbing his uniform off the back of his desk chair. A familiar, yet long-dormant feeling crept into the back of his head, and a single thought accompanied it.

[i]I don't wanna go to school today...[/i]
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[font="Book Antiqua"]Addley watched Slate leave the canteen and slouched into his chair with a sigh. He didn't want to admit it to the already paranoid Slate, but the idea of a super working for Geist was a little offputting. [i]I mean, [/i]Addley thought, [i]I'm sure he's not working for them entirely of his free will. And if he is, it must be to better our situation or something along those lines. How could anyone sell out their own kind? [/i]The thought gave him a slight sense of relief, but he couldn't help but still feel antsy. He jumped to his feet and marched off toward the training room. He hoped silently that Esfir was alone, because he really needed to talk with her. She would quell the concerns he had been harboring for her, and she would also keep his mind from racing. [i]Or something worse, [/i]he thought with a shudder, his earlier vision filling his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't shake the feeling that he knew those two people somehow, even distantly, like passing them on the street or seeing them on the news. Had he really me those people? Or did they simply seem so familiar because they had been created from his subconscious? Frustrated, Addley pressed his hands to his temples.

[b]"What did Geist do to me?" [/b]He asked angrily, pushing the doors to the training room open. Tyler and Derek were in there, standing on the opposite end of the room, chatting. Addley calmed down enough to flash a smile and give the two a friendly nod, before noting another figure in the corner of the room nearest to him. A small figure was sitting in the corner, with its knees pulled into its chest. Addley couldn't make out who the figure was, but when the shape hiccuped from a sob, Addley knew who it was immediately, despite the person's electronically distorted voice!

[b]"Esfir!" [/b]He exclaimed. It had meant to be a question, but the surprise of seeing her in a space suit had overtaken him. The figure raised its head up, and Addley could see Esfir's face behind the visor. Even with the odd colored tint of the visor he could still see the redness in her eyes, as well as the tears streaming down her face. Addley could feel his own eyes watering now. How could he have let this happen to her? She was under his command. He should have been paying better attention. She blinked away her tears, obviously frustrated that she couldn't simply wipe them away, and stood up.

[b]"Addley? I'm so glad you're ok---" [/b]Before she could finish her sentence, Addley rushed over to her and pulled her into a tight embrace. Neither of them said anything for the entire duration of the hug, Esfir being too shocked and Addley feeling too guilty. Here he had been cursing Geist for the visions that were plaguing him, when he should have been angry about this. He should have been angry with them for Aimanan's nightmares, for the injuries Esfir sustained that forced her into this helmet, for everything that happened to each and every single one of the team on that last mission. As the anger swelled in Addley's chest, he silently swore to master his ability so that he could protect the others... and prevent Geist from doing this to anyone else.

[b]"Um... Addley?" [/b]Esfir's buzzing voice disrupted Addley's thoughts and cut through his anger.

[b]"Oh, sorry," [/b]he said sheepishly, letting go of the almost strangled Esfir. She gave him a nervous smile, which he returned. After another period of silence, he scratched his head and shrugged.

[b]"Well at least the helmet looks good on you," [/b]Addley said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood. Esfir merely stared at him for a while, causing his smile to waiver, when suddenly she exploded into laughter. Tyler and Derek looked over with confusion at the two of them, and Addley waved his hands to indicate that they were okay before looking back to Esfir. [i]She's an odd one, [/i]he thought humorously. But that didn't bother him in the slightest. He couldn't help but take to Esfir; in all honesty, he had taken to everyone here, although he hadn't really shown it yet. He had always been a big brother type in his friend groups, and he felt no different now, but the circumstances really hadn't given him the chance to get to know everyone as well as he'd like. But that would be different now, he decided. As Addley finished his train of thought, he realized he had been quiet for a long time again and quickly went to apologize to Esfir, but she had only finished laughing right then, and was completely oblivious to Addley's silence. He shook his head with amusement and sat down. Esfir abruptly stopped laughing when Addley hit the ground, and perched on the ground as well.

[b]"Besides, the suit/helmet combo should prove to be beneficial," [/b]he reasoned to both himself and Esfir. [b]"The enemy won't expect a spaceman as an opponent, so you've got the element of surprise. You're also protected from fire and light, meaning you'll fare better against Starlighter. Aaaaand, you won't drown as quickly as the rest of us, so Hydro-Girl will have to try harder to kill you. And I don't know what extra do-hickeys they have installed in there, but you could always ask Geist to modify it further for you, and maybe put in an oxygen filter and a controlled environment inside the suit, so you don't get too hot or cold. Just think, built in air conditioning! And wrist mounted rockets. Or shotguns. The possibilities are endless!" [/b]Addley finished with a broad grin and a wide sweeping gesture. Esfir laughed, having perked up quite a bit. The two talked for a while longer, before Addley began to feel the wear of fatigue. He offered to walk Esfir back to her room, which she obliged. When the two got to the door, Addley turned to her.

[b]"Try not to worry to much about the helmet. I think it will prove to a blessing in disguise. Try to get some sleep tonight, and I'll check on you in the morning,"[/b] he said. She nodded her head in agreement and the two exchanged good nights. As soon as she was gone, however, Addley could feel a weight return to his chest, so he ran over to the infirmary to check on anyone who was left in there, as well as checking in on everyone he ran into, before finally collapsing into bed, exhausted.

*****[/font]

[font="Times New Roman"][size="3"]OOC: Sorry the ending was so rushed, but I wanted to give Lilt a chance to write in some of the conversation as she pleased. In addition, anyone feel free to interact with Addley in your upcoming posts. I feel like he really hasn't opened up to anyone yet, and I'm hoping to change that a little. :][/size][/font]
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[size="1"][b]"Are you ready to go Aimanan? You are fine to leave."[/b] He hardly heard the doctor talk to him, his legs pulled up to his chest as he simply at their quietly now. He had hardly noticed as each and every member had made their way out of the infirmary wing, each one having a destination in mind or seeking the comfort of their own quarters. Aimanan had hardly moved since he had become fully aware of the world around him, he had no desire to leave, he had no drive to be anywhere near the shadows. The well lit infirmary gave him some comfort in the fact that the shadows couldn't reach, and as long as he didn't leave these confines, he would thought he would never feel the phantom pain of those teeth tearing into his flesh again. The doctor simply stood there for the time being, trying to get him to look at her long enough to trying to understand his mental state, to see if there was anything more she could do for him. Aimanan was so consumed with his terror, his own nightmare, that he missed the beautiful face of Dr Ambrose before him. When he had come out of his nightmare and had thrashed around, he had hardly felt the restraining hands; he only recalled screaming for them to not put him back to sleep. He did remember Ri cradling his head, trying to keep calm him but finding it difficult to pull him back to the real world.
[b]
"I don't want to leave."[/b] He whispered quietly as his eyes scanned quickly to see if the shadows had crept any closer. He felt almost like a paranoid wreck, everything seemed to be after him, as if it was plotting against him to put him in the perfect place for the hound to get him. He felt a gentle hand on his arm then, looking at the hand before looking up to the face, his mind still to strung out to even recognize the doctor clearly.
[b]
"You can stay as long as you want, but let me see if you are doing alright Aimanan."[/b] He gave a weak nod as he slowly lowered his legs; Ambrose pulling out her stethoscope to check his heart rate, feeling the cold metal against his skin was a relief, it was just enough to lightly bring his mind to the world. Breathing in deeply every time she asked, he still watched the darkness around him, making sure it wasn't moving but his paranoia was fading slowly as the check up went on. Checking his iris' gave her the opportunity to take a careful look into his mind, trying to see what was bothering him most. He blinked and pulled away from her then, curling back up into a ball as he forced her away as he withdrew from everything again, she sighed then as she rose from the bed. Reaching for his chart then she jotted down a few notes, looking at Aimanan for just a moment before finishing and setting it down again and walking off.
[b]
"I'll never leave this room again."[/b] His eyes focused on the floor then, staring at the pearl white flooring and catching a glare from one of the florescent lights. His mind wandering for the thousandth time as he kept running through the hallways, the howling following him constantly and other times the shape changed to some other monstrosity that he had invented years ago. But the hound was the most prominent, the only one that was constantly in the shadows waiting to leap at him and finish its work. He would always run from it, always look for the next hiding place, and he could only hope he would find the light at the end of the hallway to escape the creatures. He suddenly became aware of another presence standing beside him, his eyes lazily sweeping to his left to see a man in a suit standing there. He could see a white smile from the man, but the smile was anything but happy, it looked dark and gave the distinct feeling that there was menace behind his eyes. Aimanan wasnâ??t sure how he could tell what this manâ??s intent was, but he just chalked it up to instincts, knowing they were typically spot on when it came to people.
[b]
â??Hello Night Terror.â?[/b] The man said with his smile still in place, Aimanan kept his feet pulled up to his body then, looking away from his gaze.
[b]
â??My name is Aimanan Fathi, I want to go home.â?

â??Yes, yes, I am aware of what your name is young man. I am Zachary Welsh; of course you must have known that already.â?[/b] Aimanan made no effort to confirm or deny the truth of it, he knew who he was, and normally he would have been shaking a little in his presence but right now his mind was haunted by other monsters.
[b]
â??I see you havenâ??t left the infirmary yet, everyone else has.â?

â??I like the light.â? [/b]Aimanan responded instantly, not desiring to share his real fears with the Giest Corporation lead. He looked to Welsh once more to see the look of a man who knew all, who understand exactly why Aimanan remained in the bed while everyone left.
[b]
â??Well, Iâ??m glad you so enjoy the lighting we have in here. We spared no expense when it came to this facility.â?[/b] Aimanan stayed silent then as he just waited to see why he was here, Zachary Welsh of Geist shouldnâ??t be in the infirmary for one boy. Especially one that was one of the weakest of the bunch, as far as Aimanan thought about everyoneâ??s power. Welsh had his hands laced together then, looking at the boy as his smile faded.
[b]
â??I know the real reason you are still here boy, and for intensive purposes, it really doesnâ??t matter. All that matters is that you get out of this bed, and get to your training Fathi.â?[/b] Aimanan simply shook his head then, holding on to his legs tightly as he resolved not to budge from this bed, to remain in the light as long as possible.
[b]
â??So itâ??s going to be like that, fine, this is what you should know Aimanan. If you do not get out of this bed soon, leave the infirmary and get prepped for your training session, Geist will no longer see a use for you. Decided quickly, Night Terror.â?[/b] Aimananâ??s eyes had grown wide listening to the obvious threat in his voice. His toes tingled from being in his current position for so long, and he let his mind go over the choices. None of them were perfect, but then again, this whole situation was far from perfect and he thought about it carefully with the few moments he had. Pulling the sheets from his right side he flung them off, uncurling his legs as he turned and then hung them over the bed. Gingerly setting his feet to the ground, letting his weight settle before he stood then, his heart hammering then as the shadows were so close but he did what he could to push the fear aside. He then felt lightness around his neck and his wrist he hadnâ??t noticed before, touching both he found his Mala and his Misbaha missing. Looking around quickly he found them settled on a silver tray, quickly grabbing them and putting them back on, and he felt whole again. It was enough for him to have a slight form of confidence, enough for him to not look back at Zachary Welshâ??s smug smile as he walked out of the infirmary.

He walked through the halls rather shakily; staying in the light, knowing he had made the choice to conquer the monsters rather than be killed hadnâ??t made it any easier to accept the darkness. Arriving at his room quickly, he cleaned up as swiftly as possible, the lights on all over his room, turning them off only as needed. He dressed then, his heart hammering too much for him to even attempt to sleep, he was dressed in only a few moments before departing his room again, leaving the lights on as he left. As he walked through the hall, he looked at all the doorways, trying to keep his mind off the feeling of the shadows closing in on him until he saw a door with Addleyâ??s name on it.
He didnâ??t know why, but he felt a pull then, as if something called to him somewhere deep inside of his mind. It pushed the fear of the darkness far enough back that it was a slight whisper, creating a weightless feeling in him.He stopped firmly before his doorway then, staring at it for several moments before finally working up the courage to knock. He stood firm as he gave three firm hits on the doorway, feeling his heart beat a bit faster now.
[b]
â??Addley, itâ??s me, Aimanan. Are you in there?â?[/b] He hoped he wasnâ??t talking to empty air before deciding to simply push the door open, hoping to see Warp sitting in his room.[/size]

[b]OOC: Sorry it took me a little longer then expected, hope I didn't step on any toes with this one.[/b]
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The wall exploded into rubble as the young man's limp form smashed through it, an impact that would have killed a lesser man, but this one merely slammed to the floor and shakily got to his feet, dusting his black-and-blue costume off, and yanking the cowl down into a hood as he stood up.

[b]"You stupid kid!" [/b]growled the man standing in front of him, his own costume emblazoned with various patches of red, white and blue, his own cowl pulled down in a manner similar to the younger man he had just hurled through the wall. The older man's hair was golden-blonde, short and sticking up in tufts, his blue eyes blazing with rage.

[b]"What did I do?"[/b] pleaded the younger man, his hair jet-black, matching his eyes, thin rivulets of sticky red blood running down his olive-skinned face from cuts just below his hairline.

[b]"What did you do?"[/b] boomed the older man, his voice now seeming huge, [b]"As if it wasn't bad enough hiring a bunch of amateurs like the Blanks to do your dirty work, you actively engage the new Geist team in combat? Are you ******* braindead?"

"I was...I was just sending them a warning, John,"[/b] the younger man stammered, before another sledgehammer blow caught him in the solar plexus, throwing him back into the wall behind him. As he crumpled to the floor, a spider-web of cracks became visible in the wall behind him.

[b]"Don't. Use. My. Name,"[/b] snarled the older man,[b] "I've left that name behind, we've all left them behind."

"I'm s...sorry,"[/b] sobbed the younger man, still slumped in a heap by the wall, clearly in some pain.

[b]"I'm sorry...what?"

"I'm sorry...Patriot..."

"Much better. Now get up, Starlighter,"[/b] growled the Patriot, watching as the injured man slowly pushed himself up the wall to his feet.

[b]"What are we going to do about this new Geist team, Patriot?"[/b] asked the hulking man standing behind the Patriot, flexing his muscles and cracking his knuckles as he spoke, [b]"Are we gonna kill 'em?"

"Eventually,"[/b] replied the Patriot coldly, [b]"For now they're just a distraction. If they ever become more than that, then we can eliminate them."

"So what's the next move?"[/b] asked a silky voice from behind the Patriot, and he turned to see a stunning young woman dressed all in ice-blue appear from another room, an ice-cold drink in her hand.

[b]"We need to consult her,"[/b] replied the Patriot, a small smile creeping across his face as he said it,[b] "We need to know exactly what Geist are mobilizing against us. If there's any chance this team is more than just a bunch of amateurs we must know about it so we can act accordingly. That, and we need to know what we do next."

"Should I wake her?"[/b] asked Starlighter shakily.

[b]"No,"[/b] sneered the Patriot, [b]"You've done enough. I'll talk to her."[/b] He turned on his heel and walked through to the next room. The lights were dimmed down to almost nothing, the curtains closed, but the midday sun still blazing through the point where the two curtains met. The room was sparsely furnished, with just a double bed pushed against the wall and a small bedside cabinet to the right of the bed, which was covered in pill-bottles of various shapes and sizes.

A young, but frail-looking woman lay on the bed, her chest moving up and down gently as she slept. Her skin was pale, and her eyes had dark rings under them, and her head was framed by thin, light-brown hair, falling down to her shoulders.

The Patriot made his way over to her slowly, gently taking a seat on the bed beside her and brushing his hand over her hair softly. She smiled a little in her sleep, before her eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright, her dark eyes racing around the room, her smile gone and her breathing ragged and panicked.

[b]"It's ok, it's ok,"[/b] said the Patriot softly, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close to his chest,[b] "I'm here."

"I saw him...I saw him again..."[/b] she stammered, her terror obvious in her voice, [b]"He's coming...coming to kill us all. There's no way we can stop him...not even you..."

"Don't worry about him,"[/b] the Patriot whispered, [b]"He's long gone. I'm really sorry I have to do this, but I need some information. I need you to tell me what I have to do next."

"Soon...destruction...you will destroy so much. Everything...everything will change. The blood, the fire, the rage...and when you do it will bring only more death..."

"What do I have to destroy? What do I need to do next?"

"The...the city...drowned...so many dead..."

"Drowned? You mean it's something Hydro-Girl has to do?"[/b] The young woman nodded furiously, her eyes still betraying her fear.

[b]"The pretty lady...she will stand over the destruction and laugh..."

"Which city? What's our target?"

"The place...where it all began..."

"Where what all began?"

"You..."[/b] she stammered, looking into his eyes, a single tear rolling down her cheek. He stared back for a moment, before he realised what she was talking about. Smiling, he wiped the tears off her cheeks and held her close again.

[b]"Thank you," [/b]he whispered in her ear. She didn't reply, but sobbed into his shoulder.

He reached for a bottle of pills from the bedside table and popped the cap off. Disengaging from the embrace softly, he tipped a few of the pills into his hand and handed them to her. She looked down at them, then back up at him, nodded and placed the pills into her mouth, taking the bottle of water the Patriot subsequently handed her and washing them down with a generous swig, then laid back down on the bed, her eyes becoming heavy and gradually closing.

[b]"Sleep well,"[/b] murmured the Patriot, leaning over her and kissing her gently on the forehead, before getting up and quietly leaving the room.

[b]"Well?"[/b] asked Freight Train as he reached the other side of the door, [b]"What'd she say?"

"She told me we're about to change everything,"[/b] he replied, a devilish smile crossing his face,[b] "Hydro-Girl, I have a job for you."[/b]
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[color="#000080"][font="Comic Sans MS"]Ri lay on her bed, her head pounding, and she jumped as there was a knock on her door.
"Who the hell is it and what do you want?"
"McKnight, get your gear, your up."
She grumbled and buried her face in her pillow.
"Go away..."
"No can do Sharp, lets go."
Releasing a string of curses she rolled from her bed and grabbed her suit and lighter from the dresser she walked over to her door and flung it open glaring at the man infront of her.
"Fine, lets get this over with."
"You have everything?"
She nodded and followed him through the halls towards the training room, once there she ducked into another room to change into the formfitting suit and stepped back out in to the room to see him waiting for her, he walked over and took the inhibitor from her forehead and tossed it aside giving her a knowing smile.
"Now, before we begin, show me what you can do."
She took a deep breath, flipped open her lighter and sparked it to life, snapping her fingers the flame jumped from the wick to her hand instantly and she felt the familiar warmth of the flame spread through her like a drug, she loved that feeling. The flame was small and it flickered happily in her palm as she watched it dance in the air.
"Make it bigger."
"What?"
"You heard me, show me how large you can make the flame."
"I'd rather not, I don't know how far I can control it...I've never tried."
"You in a controlled facility. Do it."
She nodded and looked at the flame in her hand willing it to grow in size, it did with out much give, almost reaching 3 feet high in no time before she felt the warmth begin to spread from her arm throughout her entire body, holding out her other hand the flame seemed to manifest with out her even asking. Gasping she took a step back and looked from one hand to the other.
"I just...the flame..."
"You made your own fire."
"I didn't think I was capable of that."
"You are, apparently. Keep going."
She looked up at him uncertain but nodded slowly none the less, now curious her self to see what she could do. Closing her eyes she took a deep breath and let the warmth spread til her entire body felt as if it were engulfed in a warm glowing fire, it felt natural to her and she sighed contentedly til she felt the spray of cold water, yelping in surprise she opened her eyes and held out her left palm to block the water jet aimed at her, steam filled the room instantly and she frowned putting more power behind it as it grew in strength. Her body getting hotter by the second as she did, the flam in her right palm growing in size til it nearly reached the ceiling, her skin beginning to glow slightly.
"Alright, enough!."
She tried calling the flames back, but blinked as they refused to listen.
"Sharp, I said enough!"
"I can't!"
She cursed as the flames only grew hotter and higher, her skin over heating and beginning to steam now as it glowed a soft red.
"Hose her down!"
Ri felt her body cool instantly as the pipes around her spit out a thick foam, covering her from head to toe in the thick mess, sputtering and coughing she wiped it from her eyes and looked at McKnight.
"You have a higher grade of control than you think, who knows, your control might go beyond fire to it's other elements. More training is going to be needed, but from what I can see right now, you might be the strongest link we have to taking down Hydro Girl. Keep that in mind Sharp. Training starts for real soon, so be ready."
She nodded and trudged from the room, the door sliding open than sliding shut, she wiped her face again, more than ready for a shower when she heard chuckling from down the hall a little ways, Carter leaning on the wall and shaking his head.
"You look like you had fun."
"Shove it Carter."
He held up his hands and watched her go as she trudged down the hall to her room, opening her door she closed it and headed for the shower stripping as she did, once in the bathroom she turned on the water, stepped under and sighed as the mess was rinsed from her skin. Washing her body and hair she stepped back out and dried quickly before getting dressed in a pair of shorts and a red top, flopping onto her bed she folded her arms under her chin and looked at the clock on her desk. What she wouldn't give to be back home...working in the kitchen and smoking a cigarette right now...[/font][/color]
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[indent][font="Tahoma"][size="2"]Originally this was going to be a group training session between Michael and the rest of the team, unfortunately I just became too complicated to write so Iâ??m going to break it down into Michael and Slate, then groups of three or four depending on what Michael views as the area in need of improvement i.e. power, control, varying technique.

[HR]50[/HR]

Michael was leaning against the opposite wall to the training room entrance when Slate finally arrived, his eyes closed and his expression contemplative. Ten minutes. He imagined some of it was still trying to figure out why a super like McKnight would choose to work for a company like Geist, probably rationalising it into either they held some kind of leverage over him that enabled them to control him, or that he was just so devoid of concern for his own kind that he'd throw his lot in with a group who'd experiment on children. It didn't matter, the incident with Starlighter had shown Welsh that the team were nowhere near ready to even contemplate taking on the Five and now it fell to Michael whip them into something resembling shape for the upcoming battles. He smiled at the stupidity of it, even if Slate had the potential to become a Level 0 on par with Patriot, the latter had more skills, variety in power and control than any raw Alpha coming gunning for him. The whole thing was the definition of ludicrous.

[b]"What's with the grin?"[/b]

The tone was unfriendly, wasn't that a shocker, not that he supposed he could blame him. Slate's problem was a lack of perspective and come the end of the training session, well he'd have a little more perspective and maybe if he was smart enough and lived long enough he'd eventually understand something of Michael's perspective. Opening his eyes he winced slightly at the glare of from the spotlights dotted throughout the ceiling for illumination.

[b]"I was remembering something funny Zachary told me" [/b]

Slate's eyes narrowed.

[b]"Something you can share with the rest of the class?"[/b]

Michael shrugged and leaned away from the wall, removing his glasses and running a hand through his hair.

[b]"Oh just that you and your "team" are going to kill the Big Five. We had a big laugh about it at the time, then I laughed even harder when he told me he was serious. God, it must've taken a solid two minutes for me to even be able to breathe properly after that one."[/b]

[b]"You son of a *****."[/b]

He waved his hand placatingly.

[b]"Tsk, don't take it so personally. I'd have done the same to any team Geist wants to send out against the Five. Sure, after your little stunt against Starlighter you've proved you've got maybe Level 2 power when you push yourself to the breaking point but given they're a collective group of practical or actual 0s then surely, even someone like you Mr Slate, can see the stupidity of such a move."[/b]

Slate advanced, bridging the remaining distance between them until there was only a handful of steps between the pair.

[b]"I can see you're a yellow ******* coward who's prepared to turn on his own."[/b]

All geniality between the pair disappeared.

[b]"No Jacob, I'm merely taking advantage of that survival instinct our ancestors so marvellously evolved in the face of greater and more dangerous predators. Currently my survival is threatened while Welsh and Geist want to pursue this suicidal aim of taking down the five currently most powerful Supers on the planet as part of this little special ops group. Therefore"[/b] He raised two fingers. [b]"I am left with two choices:"[/b]

Michael folded one finger back down. [b]"[u]One[/u]: I join the squad and allow you all to take advantage of my greater knowledge, skills and experience in the hope that in the time before Zachary bravely marches us out in the name of freedom and justice, we manage to bring you to Level 0 and the rest to Level 1 which might, possibly, maybe, unlikely, give us the numbers and firepower to take down the Five for good."[/b]

[b]"Alternatively, [u]Two[/u]: My survival instinct kicks into overdrive and I kill or break each of the rest of you to the point where Zachary Welsh and Geist have no team for me to join and then almost certainly die on. As you said, it seems I'm already quite comfortable turning on my own to save my own skin."[/b]

McKnight smiled slightly, open aggression painting his face.

[b]"Now, depending on which choice I make, or indeed have already made, why do you think I asked you to come to a training session alone while the rest of your team recovers?"[/b]

Slate took a reflexive step back and brought his arms up in a defensive posture.

[b]"Good. Logical. You're a special power-type, need space and materials to ensure you can keep you opponent at bay in order to defeat them. Unfortunately..."[/b]

His fingers flicked out and Slate found himself dragged off his feet and hurled against the opposite wall of the training room hard enough to make his teeth rattle.

[b]"Your level of control is appallingly low as is the tactical application of that power. Instinctively you want to grab the biggest piece of metal in the room and hurl it at me right?"[/b]

Slate recovered quickly, using his powers to tear segments of the metal plating lining the wall to his aid.

[b]"I'm gonna ******* kill you McKnight!"[/b]

With that he hurled two of the huge metal slab directly at his opponent.

[b]"See, just as I said. I'll bet you don't even control them after you throw them. You just hope these blunt missiles will be fast enough to catch me."[/b]

Reaching out with both hands, Michael stretched his fingers out wide. Slate could only watch in rapt horror as the two chunks of metal seemed to dissolve into smaller and smaller pieces until they vanished entirely. Clenching his fingers together, hundreds of small metal spheres reformed and began to circle around one another in complex patterns.

[b]"I, on the other hand, am a special control-type. Less direct power, a lot more variety in what I'm actually able to do. For instance, I can take those sheets of metal you thought were actually worth a damn in this fight, which they weren't, and turn them into my weapons because my control exceeds yours. I can also, for my own entertainment make them dance in a very particular way, tell me Slate what do you see?"[/b]

Casting his eyes up Slate gazed at the patterns, a group of the spheres were held tightly in the centre, with others circling around them at a distance. A distinct sense of irritation broke across his mind when he finally realised what he was looking at, pointing to one about half way between himself and McKnight he replied quietly.

[B]"Oxygen...Carbon...Hydrogen..."[/b]

Michael smiled pleasantly and clapped his hands. Even without apparently concentration the elemental models made no overt changes in their pattern or movement.

[b]"Excellent. You know in this situation most people don't get that. They're too busy looking at them all together to look at the individual patterns."[/b] He looked off into the distance. [b]"Elena loves this trick, it was one of the first ones I ever showed her."[/b]

The use of Dr Ambrose's first name with such familiarity formed an unexpected knot in Slate's stomach.

[b]"I'm glad she's not here to see it being put to such a violent use."[/b]

Before he had a chance to react the spheres broke from their defined orbital patterns and darted towards him. Bringing up the remaining two pieces of steel he'd torn from the walls as a barrier, he felt several strong impacts, like bullets ricocheting off them. True to his word however the next lot merely altered their trajectory, slipped between the gaps in his defences and striking his body directly. Any attempt to move his barriers into the path of fine was met with a maddening redirection on the spheres' behalves, after the tenth the pain caused a momentary lapse in his concentration and he found his two barriers were, like the previous pieces, dissolving and reforming into yet more spheres. Slate could only look on in horror as the pattern changed once again and the spheres began to circle around him in decreasing radii but moving with such speed he was certain an impact would be lethal.

No. He wouldn't let it end like this. He'd fought for so long, he wouldn't let McKnight just kill him and walk away. Lashing out with all the strength he could muster he felt his power overlap and contend with McKnight's own over the spheres. Even though he was a Control-type, Slate could tell straight away that Michael currently possessed even more power than he did, but likewise, he wasn't controlling the metal spheres through magnetism. The spheres began to fluctuate, the neatness of their pattern breaking down, many of them colliding with one another before skittering away. Pushing even harder, Slate could feel his vision begin to darken but McKnight's control also recede further, with a roar he pushed all at once and the spheres exploded away from him, hammering against the walls of the room. Grinning in assumed victory Slate sank to his knees and tried to clear his head before he lost consciousness.

The sound of footsteps shattered his concentration and he watched disbelieving as McKnight approached, applauding and without a scratch to be seen on his body.

[b]"Not bad Slate. I figured you wouldn't be able to handle the spheres, even large ones, this early but I guess your control is a bit better than I gave you credit for. Maybe you are Level 0 material after all."[/b]

With a wave of his hand Slate found himself dragged to his feet by an unknown force, the same force he assumed had allowed McKnight to so casually toss him against the wall earlier and now it seemed, deflect the lethal spheres. Christ what was he?

[b]"So I suppose this brings us back to those two choices I mentioned earlier. Right now your powers have ebbed down to their low points, which means with a flick of my wrist I could break your neck and end probably be biggest thorn in my side outside of Zachary and the Big Five, because I can assure you, the rest of your team are going to give me far less trouble.[/b]

He drew up so there was less than a foot between the two men.

[b]"Hell if I wanted I could bring them in in groups and then use the collars to make sure they couldn't even fight back.[/b]"

[b]"Bas...tard"[/b]

It was all Slate could manage to grit out.

[b]"I imagine you noticed I don't have an implant. I imagine you've rationalised that I'm so tight with Geist they don't believe they need to keep me on one. You're wrong. The reason I'm not collared is because they wouldn't work on me even if Geist tried to implant one, I'm not in the habit of designing technology which can be used against me."[/b]

[b]"You...made...these?!"[/b]

The response was an inexpressive nod.

[b]"Why?"[/b]

The restriction around him slackened and Slate found himself falling to his knees once again. Gingerly McKnight leaned down, and spoke barely above a whisper.

[b]"Because Supers are dangerous Jacob. Because we start to think we're better than normal people, that we're modern gods and get to do whatever we like. You only have the look at the Big Five to see the corrupting influence of power. You only have to look at people like you. Some of us didn't get into this game for vengeance or power, some of us just wanted to live up to childhood ideals of heroism and good. Then we found out that childhood ideals are best left with one's childhood and that as a whole, Supers are a plague that needs to be put down one way or another, and personally I find my way to be the most merciful."[/b]

[b]"Yeah...like mercifully collared...animals. Go boy...kill...the bad guys."[/b]

[b]"You think you've got it all figured out don't know? I'll tell you what Slate, if you're half as smart as you think you are go investigate Project All-Star and then maybe you'll be more than a collared animal. Until then, get ready because I'm going to run you into the ground to make sure you can be a good boy and kill the bad guys."[/b]

Releasing his control completely, McKnight stood up and walked past Slate without another word until the only thing Slate could hear was his footsteps echoing down the corridor.

[hr]50[/hr]

Well that came out a good bit longer than intended but covered all of the bases I wanted. As you can guess, McKnight picked option 1 in the end because he's not a completely nihilistic dick. Word to the wise though, it's going to be a while before he attempts to be anything more than Dr Sergeant Nasty to everyone outside of Elena.[/size][/font][/indent]
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[b]"What do you think is taking so long? That ***hole McKnight better not do anything to Slate," [/b]Tyler growled to nobody in particular as the ones who were in the training room, and subsequently booted by Mcknght and Slate, sat and pondered their leaders training.

[b]"Calm down Ty, if Geist wanted to have any of us killed he would just press his little button and end it. McKnight was probably just acting tough to push Slate." [/b]Ri chimed in as she worked on the teams lunch, he wasn't sure what it was by the smell, but he was sure it smelled delicious.

[b]"You weren't there to see the disgust in both their eyes Ri, I honestly thought they were going to tear into each other before we even left."[/b] Tyler looked to Esfir who was sitting at the table nodding in agreement with him. He still had been perplexed at the girls helmet, he felt bad since it seemed she was less inclined to talk then she had been before.

[b]"He even had the nerve to talk about laughing at Welsh when he mentioned us killing the Big Five, I hope he turns that collar off and Slate really lets him have it,"[/b] Derek added.

Tyler eyed Derek funny, though he didn't even realize he was doing it. The two hadn't spoken while they were in their, at least as much as he could remember. Apparently catching the look Derek tapped on his ears, [b]"Your body compensates for the loss of sight when you're blind, and with being born blind I have an even bigger advantage"

[/b]Tyler felt his face turn a bit red for being called out, [b]"I hate that stupid visor, how the hell am I supposed to make faces at you?"[/b]

The comment brought a few smiles on some tense faces, the teams first trial wasn't even long enough ago for most of them to recover, but yet here they were faced with another. It wasn't a reprieve because it was in a 'controlled' enviroment, instead they were with another man who, by all accounts, was an arrogant *** with nothing better to do then help major corporations kill his own kind. It made Tyler sick, it also worried the hell out of what kind've powers McKnight must possess that Geist trusts him to be able to fend off all of them during training. The thought unnerved him to no end. Edited by Drizzt
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[font="Garamond"]Autumn flopped onto her bed stomach first, face down and rested like that for a moment, her mind still trying to process all the information that she had learned in the archives. She propped herself up on her elbows and reached for her laptop, too lazy to get up and hoping it wouldn't tear out her stitches. It hurt a little, but she was lucky and in just a moment, her laptop was open in front of her and she was already typing up another email to 'Adam.'


[i]RE: Advanced Biology Division

'This is insane. These people are insane. Normal people call [b]us[/b] monsters? Geist has the market cornered on that one... They abducted and killed children, for God's sakes... So what's the plan? What happens next? Please help us get out of here, I am worried we don't have much time.'[/i]

As always, the familiar 'ping' accompanied by the "1 new message" icon popped up on her screen. She double clicked it.

[i]Re:Re: Advanced Biology Division.

'I know. This is why I needed you to look it up, Autumn. I could tell you but you wouldn't believe me unless you read the documents with your own eyes. I'm sorry that you had to read that but I couldn't think of any other way to convince you: I am on your side. All of you. Do you have any information for me on your team?

-Adam'[/i]

Autumn's fingers hovered for a moment above the keys. She did have the information on Jacob but part of her felt like she was betraying him. He had quickly become a friend to her and easily one of the people she trusted most here. She was sure he felt the same about her and wasn't sure that she could justify giving up this information.

[i]Re:Re:Re:

'Are you sure you need the information about everyone else? If you're worried I can't handle this, well... I'm stronger than I seem. I can do it alone, I'm sure of it.'[/i]

An almost instantaneous reply.

[i]Re:Re:Re:Re:

'I thought you trusted me. Autumn, you are a more than capable girl but you cannot take on this large corporation on your own. The sooner you give me this information, the sooner I can compile a detailed plan and get a hold of the rest of your team. Please, Autumn. I've done what I can to show you I can be trusted. I need you to do what I ask.

-Adam'[/i]

She scratched her head and covered her face with her hands for a moment. Autumn had read what Geist had done to children with her own eyes. If they could do that to defenseless children, what would they do to a bunch of full grown young adults with solidly manifested powers? 'Sorry, Slate, everyone,' she muttered, 'but this is what I gotta do. Please forgive me for not being honest.'

She typed up a short response to Adam, on the information she had collected from Slate's dossier. She noted what his power was, the level it was ranked at as well as Geist's apparent big plans for him, and with a quick prayer to the cosmos that she was indeed doing the right thing, she squeezed her eyes shut and hit send.

Again, a few minutes later, a new message was received from Adam.

[i]'This is perfect, Autumn, this is exactly the information that I am needing on everyone. Please get that as quick as you can and forward it to me when you have time. I'll be waiting.

-Adam'[/i]

Autumn shut her laptop and draped her arms across it, resting her chin on top thoughtfully.[/font] Edited by OMNOMNOMALY
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Stripped down to his skivvies, with a dozen electrodes stuck to him reading his vitals, and what they told him was a â??spirometerâ?? shoved down his throat to measure his lung capacity, Carter couldnâ??t help but think they the scientists were just screwing with him at this point. They had slapped the nodes back on him, rending him vulnerable again, to take blood. Then they left him sitting, breathing into the mutant breathalyzer, for the past twenty minutes.

Carter let out a frustrated sigh and got to his feet, feeling the taught pull of the wires attached to him. This was the moment the doctor found it most convenient to return. He sauntered into the room reading what must have been medical charts. The man had thinning grey hair, putting him around his sixties.

[b]â??Please sit back down Mr. Grey.â?[/b] The man said without looking up from his clipboard. Carter groaned and sat back on the examination table. [b]â??My name is Doctor Gutterson, I am here to debrief you.â?[/b]

Carter spit out the harness of his mouth, strings of spittle sticking to it. [b]â??And that required me being stripped down and hooked up to God knows what!?â?[/b] Carter spat agitatedly gesturing to the machines.

Doctor Gutterson looked up from the charts, shooting a glare at Carter with cool blue eyes. He sat on a stool and wheeled his way over to a desk. [b]â??During training we have recorded that you were able to incapacitate one of our turrets with a single punch.â?[/b]

[b]â??Yeah, that suit you gave me must have augmented my strength.â?[/b] Carter replied rubbing the bridge of his nose, pulling on his wires once again.

[b]â??And you were able to break one of The Blanks masks with a single punch as well?â?[/b]

[b]â??Yeah, that too.â?[/b]

The Doctor sat thoughtfully writing notes down on his clipboard and giving Carter no mind. He stood pacing over to a cabinet and produced an odd looking device that looked like a metal bike grip with the brake handle. He pulled out a small dial and scale with it, and connected the two together with a spiral hose.

[b]â??This, Mr. Grey, will measure youâ??re grip strength with this.â?[/b] He handed the handle to Carter, holding onto the dials and scale.

[b]â??And I just squeeze it?â?[/b]

[b]â??Yes, once in each hand please. Just squeeze and hold it for about twenty seconds.â?[/b]

Carter shifted the grip to his right hand and squeezed. The grip barely budged, the high tension surrendering very little under Carterâ??s strength. He repeated the process with his left hand but fared no better, faltering a few second before Dr. Gutterson called the time. Carter set the grip aside, shaking his hands and massaging the palms. Gutterson made a few more notes and sat his clipboard down. He pushed a button on the intercom on the desk next to him.

[b]â??Gentlemen, could you please come in and oversee the remainder of the examination?â?[/b] Doctor Gutterson let go of the button. Instead of a reply over the intercom, four well dressed guards entered the room, lining up against the wall facing Carter.

[b]â??Please donâ??t take this as a symbol of mistrust Mr. Grey, It is just a safety precaution needed when we remove your nodes.â?[/b] The doctor approached Carter with his hands out, he made a timid gesture towards the nodes on Carterâ??s head. In a motion that Carter couldnâ??t get a good look at to repeat, the Doctor was able to remove the nodes.

The feeling was instantaneous. Carterâ??s minor aches from being prodded and poked vanished, and a warm natural feeling grew over him. He couldnâ??t help but smile and give a little shudder at the feeling. The monitors and machines reported a spike as his vitals improved.
[b]
â??Would you please test your grip again?â?[/b] The doctor asked handing him back the grip.

This time the handle gave way with little effort, with both hands. The doctor wrote down the measurements and produced the nodes from his pocket. Carter gave him a wary look and shifted his weight and tensing up. At this, in unison, all four of the guards took a step forward, one of them reaching into his jacket where a pistol must be holstered.

The doctor gave him a kind look. [b]â??Please, Mr. Grey, I donâ??t want any harm to come to either you or the gentlemen behind me.â?[/b]

Carter stared hard at the guards behind Gutterson. [b]â??Alright doc.â?[/b] Carter let out in a listless tone. [b]â??Just be quick with it.â?[/b]

Just as the feeling of warmth came, it was gone in an instant, Carter was weary and tired. The tones from the machines slowed as his vitals returned to normal.

The doctor wheeled up a stool and sat across from Carter. [b]â??We are going to have to keep the nodes on you for our safety from this point on. You see, your anatomy is evolving, like many of your fellow supers, your powers will change.â?[/b] Gutterson said in a clinical tone.

[b]â??And how exactly will they change?â?[/b]

The doctor straightened up. [b]â??Well, for instance, your suit was never designed for strength augmentation.â?[/b] Gutterson paused and let this sink in for Carter.

[b]â??Meaning thatâ?¦â?[/b]

[b]â??That your natural strength is growing.â?[/b] Gutterson stood crossing the room, facing away from Carter. [b]â??From what we speculate, it is the fortitude of your body structure that lends itself to the exponential growth in your musculature. You see, due to your, well invulnerability, and that of others with the same abilities, the only way we can get an in depth examination, is with the nodes, which-â?[/b]

[b]â??Would then make the examination useless.â?[/b] Carter interrupted.

[b]â??Quite.â?[/b] Gutterson said with a smile, turning back to Carter. [b]â??Now that we are aware of your growing abilities, we can start training you to refine them. Many have problems with simple motor skills when they are first developing their strength.â?[/b]
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Derek leaned back on his chair to relax a little as Ri continued cooking lunch for the team, the odor was more than delicious, and having already tasted her and Critter's meal prior to their last mission, he knew it would be something to fill their pallets and put their stomachs at rest. Still, the memories from their first, and almost last mission still lingered in Derek's mind like a never ending movie loop. Everything had went so well in the beginning, but once Vegas and himself were on the roof, and the killing of the two Blank soldiers happened, it was a little more than the boy had bargained for. Not to mention the sudden appearance of Starlighter threw them all off balance, healing time was slow for some and more for others, but at least they were getting back to normal status. Derek stood up from his chair and walked towards the kitchen, seeing Ri hard at work and focused on her task for making their next meal; the boy was use to making his own specialty dishes while he studies: Ramen Noodles and Buttered toast. It was nice to eat something besides that for a change.

"Do you need help with anything?" He asked.

"Not unless you have some nicotine, then no" Ri snapped quickly as she continued to chop more potatoes, Derek simply nodded his head a couple of times before going to the cabinet and grabbing a drinking glass. Making his way over to the fridge, he opened the door quickly as the light sparked with life, shinning as the beams reflected off his silver visor. But when he looked inside, everything was red, the color of the liquids, the food, almost as red as blood. Derek blinked a couple of times before taking another look, but it was the same thing.

"Whoa, what's up with the stuff in here?" He asked, Ri raised an eyebrow as she peered over while Tyler stood next to his team mate looking inside, he too wondered what the problem was.

"I know, too many eggs and not enough salami. It's a crime" Tyler stated as he grabbed the salami stick, Derek blink a couple more times before looking inside the fridge, now the colors were regular once more: the orange juice, the eggs, the meats on the bottom, everything was back to the same color.

"Everything looked like it was covered in blood...how odd" Derek stated as he closed the fridge, placing his empty glass on the counter as he took off his visor. Taking his fingers he massaged the bridge of his nose and rubbed his eyes slowly, that's when Esfir spoke, still sitting at her place around the table.

"Maybe wearing that thing puts stress on the body, I mean you are naturally blind and it's giving an added boost to a dead area in your brain. Kind of like a head rush when you stand up quickly, you see spots and get a sense of vertigo" She spoke softly, Derek nodded at the statement as he leaned against the kitchen counter top. He noticed the metallic brace on his leg was getting lighter and lighter, the grip from the machines coils must have been loosening, the boy thought it was due to the fact his body was healing quicker thanks to the medicine and support they gave.

"This stew wont be ready for another hour, go an get some rest while you can...**** off Tyler, it's not ready yet!" Ri yelled as she tried to block Tyler from taking a taste of her broth. tyler, holding a silver spoon, tried his hardest to sink it into the dark brown broth as the vegetables and potatoes floated carelessly on top.

"Just a small sample, I'm hungry" Tyler whined, his free hand almost made it to the food, almost until Ri grabbed tight around his wrist and twisted it behind the boys back, turning their bodies away from the stove.

"Not until its ready" She stated, Tyler groaning in slight pain from the sudden movement. Derek laughed slightly, even hearing the fussing was enough entertainment. But taking the advice given, he was going to try and find a place to relax for a little bit. After placing his visor back on, the boy left the kitchen and made his way to his room, he wanted to read more on his dossier and skim through the information the he didn't read before. His dog Silver greeted him as usual as he entered and grabbed the information. Both left and wondered around the massive air ship base they were in, sometimes it still feels like they were on the ground, even Derek couldn't feel the slight vibrations and movements from the ship shifting in the air. It took a bit, but they were able to find a spot of solidarity, and wonder at the same time. It was a large indoor lounging area, comprised of a small coffee shop with two workers attending the store.

"No way! The others have got to see this part of the base" Silver barked happily as he found a large dog bed labeled with his name on it, it sat next to a row of leather recliner chairs. the space was ample, The walls were all glass windows to see the outside, Derek sighed as he watched the clouds float slowly by, but their base of operations seemingly stayed still. Taking a seat at his recliner, the boy opened up his dossier pack and started on a new page, a page containing information on his powers.

[b][i]..."Subject "Flare" inexplicable usage of raw light energy is still a wonder, thought theories can be concluded it's an added incentive in exchange for his handicap. Our researchers have discovered that the raw source comes from the subject's mind, but the storage of such raw energy is focused in his veins. Scientists have discovered a separate channel of veins that store his energy powers throughout the body, almost like blood, but with pure energy. The power is amplified by a stronger light source. It is our hypothesis that subject "Flare" can store light energy and be able to use it, even when there are no alternative light sources around. Almost as if he were his own personal power core, more studies and training will hopefully prove these theories"...[/i][/b]

Derek was almost excited to read more, but he did want to have a drink of something. Getting up from his spot, he made his way over towards the coffee shop and grabbed himself some hot chocolate. The staff was a little uneasy with him being there, but since the guards didn't protest to Derek hanging out in the lounge, then it was alright for now. The boy looked down into his cup, but once again, the contents of the liquid looked blood red once more.

"Why does that keep happening?" Derek whispered.

"Something wrong with your drink?" The worker asked, Derek looked up but dropped his cup quickly and backed away scared. He saw the man who Vegas had killed standing in front of him now, he seemed so real, but the blood from his wound poured down his uniform. Derek was scared ****-less to say the least, quickly removing his visor he dashed away, knocking into a couple of chairs and table tops as he tried to get back to the others. He kept his eyes shut and heard the echoes of his dog's footsteps close behind, his heightened senses coming back as the vibrations bounced throughout the corridor he shuffled down, after a while the boy was lost, but he refused to put his visor back on, at least for that time. Suddenly, someone placed their hands on his shoulders, causing the boy to yell and spasm quickly.

"Derek? It's Cassandra, what's the matter with you?" She raised an eyebrow as the boy shivered.

"Blood....I keep seeing blood, and a corpse from our last mission...in my visor" He panted, trying to explain everything he could, Cassandra Veidt escorted the boy back to the infirmary to do a check up, and to examine his visor. Derek laid on his back shivering more, almost violently as he gazed at the ceiling, his dog whimpering as it laid next to his bed. The test results came back negative for any malfunctions with the visor, and Derek's vitals, although high from his scare, were normal.

"Wait right here, I'll get you something to relax" She smoothly whispered before leaving his side. Derek simply nodded, finally opening his eyes to welcome the blackness of his world, he only saw red. Shouting could be heard outside the infirmary, coming from Derek as the medical staff tried to subdue him and his hysteria.
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Slate slowly hauled himself to his feet, his muscles screaming at him after the combined stress of the punishment McKnight had just dished out and his own response to it. But the thing that hurt the most was the realisation that McKnight was right. Not about his theory that Supers were a 'plague', Slate knew he was way off the mark on that one; but about his own training. If the team went up against the Big Five as they were now, they would be taken apart without a second thought.

He walked slowly over to the wall he had ripped the metal panels from and grabbed the bent edge of the next panel along, yanking it a few times until it came loose and hit the ground with a loud clang. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and stooped to pick the panel up.

Struggling a little, he hauled the heavy metal slab over to the training room's pommel horse and leaned the slab up against it. He placed a hand against the slab for a moment, and took several deep breaths, his eyes closed.

Once he had recovered, he turned and began walking away from the makeshift target, reaching out with his abilities as he moved, tapping into the magnetic fields present in the room and drawing as much of the metal debris from his training session with McKnight towards him. Breathing deeply, he did his best to block out everything else in the room, from the bright halogen lights above him to the sound of the metal spheres clattering across the floor towards him.

Once had reached approximately fifteen feet away from the slab, he stopped walking and turned around to face it. He felt calm, the pain in his muscles subsiding and his mind clear of everything except the task at hand.

He reached a hand out, and felt one of the metal spheres rise slowly from the ground until it was hovering in front of him, gently rotating. He flicked his hand forward, and the sphere shot off much faster than he had intended, spinning away into the back wall of the training room, where it impacted with a clang and fell to the floor.

Slate flinched, disappointed in himself, but didn't let it put him off. He reached for a second sphere, and waited a moment before flicking his wrist this time. He tried to control the direction of the sphere, but lost power and watched as it flew in a lazy arc and hit the ground, four or five feet away from the slab. Calming himself with another deep breath, he reached for a third sphere, closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, before flicking his wrist again, this time making sure he willed the sphere forward with his ability, keeping the speed and direction of the projectile steady as it went.

This time, the sphere slammed into the very centre of the slab, punching a hole straight through it and embedding itself into the back wall of the training room. Slate smiled, and reached for another sphere, going through the same motion as the previous sphere, and directed this one directly through the hole he had just made, the sphere not even touching the side as it went. He smiled again and tried it three more times, gaining more and more confidence as the spheres passed through the hole each time.

[b]"No control, my ass..."[/b] murmured Slate, although his thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice from the entrance of the training room.

[b]"Slate!"[/b] it shouted, and Slate cursed under his breath as he dropped the sphere he was holding and turned to the doorway, seeing Tyler rushing across the room towards him.

[b]"What the hell did McKnight do to you?"[/b] Tyler asked, seeing the bruises on Slate's exposed skin.

[b]"He opened my eyes,"[/b] groaned Slate as he got up,[b] "He might be an arrogant asshole and a traitorous ******* *****, but he was right about our abilities. We need training if we're going to beat the Big Five, so that's what I was doing. Training."

"Jesus, I don't wanna know what he's gonna do to me,"[/b] said Tyler, looking Slate up and down as the latter made his way slowly out of the training room, [b]"Wait, what [i]can[/i] he do?"

"Huh?"

"What can McKnight do? What's his ability?"[/b] Slate paused, looking at the ground, before turning back to Tyler and responding.

[b]"I have no idea. Some kind of fine telekinesis or something. He made those,"[/b] he pointed at the spheres on the ground, then moved his hand to the slab leaning against the pommel horse,[b] "Out of a couple of those."[/b] Tyler looked at the two objects in awe, clearly worrying about what they were getting into.

[b]"Good luck with the training,"[/b] Slate said, making his way out of the training room and heading back to his room.

As he got there, he sat down on the end of his bed and cradled his head in his hands. What was it McKnight had told him to look at? Project...All-Star? How was he supposed to find that out?

[b]"Hey Slate,"[/b] said a voice from his doorway, and he looked up to see Autumn leaning on the doorframe,[b] "Tyler told me what happened, are you ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine,"[/b] mumbled Slate with a nod, [b]"I mean, aside from having my ass handed to me by a scientist."

"Nothing wrong with that,"[/b] she replied, [b]"The geeks shall inherit the earth!"[/b] Slate laughed, and Autumn turned to go, realising that he needed to be on his own.

[b]"Wait, Autumn," [/b]said Slate as she left, rushing to the door as she turned around, [b]"This is probably a long shot, but do you know where to find any information about Geist? I wouldn't have any idea where to start."

"Yeah, sure,"[/b] said Autumn,[b] "If you go around the corner there's a staircase, head up it and you'll get to a door marked 'Archives'. There's an old guy in there who just calls himself 'The Curator', and he seems pretty knowledgable about Geist. If you ask nicely, he might even give you access to the digital archives."

"Thanks, Autumn,"[/b] replied Slate, [b]"I owe you one."[/b] He smiled, and she grinned back. He dashed back into his room, yanked the fridge open and grabbed a six-pack of the beer Geist had provided him with.

[b]"Man's greatest bargaining chip,"[/b] he murmured, rushing out of his room towards the staircase Autumn had directed him to.
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Tyler stood open mouthed as Slate exited the training room. It was apparent he was tired, pushed to the point of exhaustion and it was even more evident he was ****** off about it. It was easy to tell Slate had been a loner before the mission, a trait Tyler shared with the man. After the first mission he thought Slate had gotten over it, and it was still apparent.

Sure it may have seemed like he was ****** about McKnights attitude or that he was stronger, but in reality he took the role of 'leader' more serious than most would have. The way the man looked when Autumn was blasted by Starlighter was all the proof Tyler needed to know he was a man he'd follow. The way he looked now was one of a man carrying a heavy burden, a burden Tyler decided he was going to do his best to help lift, even if it killed him.

As if on cue the door to the training room opened and Autumn entered, during his initial shock Tyler hadn't really given the woman in the group much thought. They were all pretty, which was surprising with the context they were all brought in, but he really hadn'd had the opportunity to get to know any of them.

[b]"Hey Autumn, are you feeling better?"[/b] He always found that concern, feinged or not, was a man best friend. This time it was true concern for the womans well being.

[b]"I'm doing much better, thanks. Hey have you seen Slate?"[/b] Tyler couldn't tell if his mouth truly fell open or if it was just in his head. The one time he felt like taking a chance and he was shot down before he even got started.

Tyler explained the abrupt conversation he had with the team's leader just moments before, and just like that Autumn thanked him and exited before he had a chance to say anything more.

As Autumn left a younger man, dressed in a white lab coat, entered. [b]"Mr. Vegas, Mr. McKnight would like you to track down Mr. Brawler and Mr. Critter and meet back in the training room in two hours. There is a group before you to train next, and your group will follow."[/b]

Tyler's first thought was Flare, the two had made a good team in their first mission, and he didn't want to lose that. Sure he and Brawler worked together for a split second during their first team training session, but it was more Tyler turning bullets while Cody got the glory of smashing one of the turrets.

[b]"Excuse me sir,"[/b] He began as the man left, [b]"I was sort've wondering which group Mr. Flare was in?"[/b] He mocked the Mr the man put before each of their names subtely, but apparently noticeably. [b]"The teams were handpicked by Mr. McKnight and Mr. Welsh, if you have issues you can just deal with them."[/b]

Tyler smiled as the man exited, he had gotten under his skin quickly, [i]"I suppose I better go get suited up before McKnight shows up with the first group. I really don't want to see what he can do, I don't need the nerves to take over anymore than they already are."[/i] He thought to himself as he exited the training room and headed towards the rooms.

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

Coming around the corner, Tyler noticed Aimanan sitting on the ground with his knees drawn up to his body as if he were hugging himself. From this distance he wasn't able to tell if he was asleep or crying, Tyler really hoped for the former.

As he approached Aimanan stirred and got to his feet, his eyes were red as if tears were going to fall, but he stood tall as if he hadnt yet.

[b]"You okay Magic Man?"[/b] Tyler asked, remembering the 'nickname' he'd teased him with during their first time to relax in the community room. It was then Tyler noticed Aimanan had been sitting in front of Addley's room, and not his own.

[b]"Yeah...I'm fine. You don't happen to know where Addley is do you?[/b] He asked almost as if he was in another place.

[b]"He's part of the first team to train with McKnight here soon. He may have already been told and gotten ready, that's actually where Im headed now. You need to talk?"[/b] Tyler had been used to being the one to cause somebody to have to 'talk' by taking all his money and sending them back to their future ex-wives broke, he wasn't sure how to go about even getting a feel for what was bothering Aimanan.

Leading the way Tyler swiped his room key, the door whinned a little as it opened up into his lavish room. He was certain the others rooms were designed for their max comfort as well.

Gesturing for him to take a seat, and then gesturing at the bar Tyler made his way to the bedroom portion of his room to change into his suit.

[b]"If you go for a drink I wouldn't suggest making it to strong. Geist didn't waste any expense and that top shelf stuff will leave you hurting, plus this McKnight is apparently a power player. He took a steel beam and seperated it into its elemental forms, then was able to manipulate the elements into these giant orbs."[/b]

Stepping out he noticed that Aimanan had collapsed into one of the overstuffed chairs and had his head buried into his knees again.

[b]"Why do they want to teach us to kill so bad for? Isn't one overpowered group of supers running around killing people enough to satisty Welsh? Isn't it bad enough we've already..."[/b] As Aimanan's tone grew more and more sharp and his attitude went from sad sack to anger Tyler realized what had happened.

Putting up his hand for Aimanan to stop Tyler, without a word, went to the bar and poured to fairly weak Jack and Coke's and handed it to the man.

[b]"Don't let them win, don't let them change you Aimanan,"[/b] Tyler wasn't sure if the use of his real name instead of 'Magic Man' coming from him took him back, or if he had made the drinks stronger than he thought widened Aiman's eyes, [b]"I know how you feel...the first thing I did when I woke up was ran back here to get some familiarity....and then I wept for the man who's life I took...but I refuse to let Geist change who I am as a person, I refuse to become the cold killer he wants."[/b]

Tyler paused as he felt his own anger start to spike, for some reason the inhibitor on his neck stung him just a bit, as if it was telling him to relax.

Downing his drink he flopped down on a second chair in his room, he found himself calmer again, more focused on the situation at hand.

[b]"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interupt...I just can't stand what Geist is doing.[/b] He felt his blood start to boil again, and resigned to let Aimanan talk a little.

He did take solace in the fact that he wasn't the only one who didn't want this, he wasn't the only one who could be redeemed for what he was about to do.
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[indent][font="Tahoma"][size="2"]He wandered through the anonymous hallways of Geist for what seemed like minutes before he finally managed to reach her door, the rush of actually using his powers properly for the first time in years had seeped away and left nothing but a pounding migraine in its place. She mustâ??ve heard him coming, or someone had phone ahead because the door slid open before heâ??d even raised his hand to knock.
[b]
â??Welsh said youâ??d probably be calling in the next few minutes, he seemed more pleased with himself than usual. You look like you could use some attention.â?[/b]

Her expression and voice were carefully neutral, she moved aside and allowed him to enter wordlessly before he collapsed down on the examination table and began massaging his temples in the hope of stemming the pain. She half-turned, still at the open doorway before speaking.

[b]â??How bad?â?

â??About an 8.â?

â??I meant how badly did you hurt them Michael?â?[/b]

He chewed his lower lip for a moment, he didnâ??t want to lie to her, theyâ??d never lied to one another before.

[b]â??I only fought Slate. He looked pretty banged up when I left but heâ??s strong, I doubt I did any lasting damage.â?[/b]

She didnâ??t say anything, and that in itself said almost everything. He felt himself clench with anger and tried to force it back down with limited success. He sighed quietly and covered his eyes with his right arm. The silence between them lasted about twenty seconds before she spoke again more quietly this time.

[b]â??You said you didnâ??t want to fight any more.â?[/b]

Leaning up he stared at her, her arms were folded around waist. He sighed again and shook his head slowly, wincing at the pain.

[b]â??I donâ??t.â?

â??Then why...â?[/b]

He cut her off.

[b]â??It wasnâ??t my choice.â?[/b]

She digested the response for a few moments.

[b]â??Welsh?â?

â??Who else.â?

â??You could have refused!â?

â??No I couldnâ??t and you know that. We only have the lives we have here at Geist so long as weâ??re useful to them, and as Zachary rather frankly explained to me, they get to decide what constitutes useful. For the time being that team is more important than the ADB.â?

â??â?¦You were going to kill them?â?[/b]

He blew out a breath in response.

[b]â??I went there with every intention to, yes.â?

â??And what stopped you?â?[/b]

He laughed.

[b]â??I donâ??t know. Somewhere in the middle of fighting him I guess I decided maybe we had a chance against the Five.â?

â??And the rest?â?

â??Push them until theyâ??re crawling in here sweating blood and cursing my existence more than the Big Fiveâ??s. After that I can only hope that itâ??ll be enough.â?[/b]

She reached inside her coat and he hissed as he felt the jet-injector expel its contents through his neck. Within seconds his vision and cleared and the migraine was gone.

[b]â??Thanks.â?

â??Itâ??s what I do.â?[/b]

Getting up off the table he ran his fingers through his hair before walking over to her and wrapping his arms around her. She rested her head against his chest, the sound of his heartbeat soothing.

[b]â??You were never going to kill them you know.â?

â??What makes you say that?â?[/b]

She looked at him, an open, trusting expression marking her face.

[b]â??Because I know you Michael, and youâ??re not a killer.â?

â??â?¦we both know thatâ??s not true.â?

â??I mean youâ??d never kill an innocent person.â?

â??I hope youâ??re right Elena, because Iâ??ve done things which arenâ??t too far off.â?

â??Weâ??ve all done things we regret, thatâ??s been the price of staying safe for the last five years.â?

â??Maybe. Iâ??d better get back, the next group of them should be appearing soon and Iâ??m sure each of them wants to try to take a piece out of me.â?

â??If they can.â?[/b]

He smiled wolfishly and broke them embrace before striding toward the door. Pausing before the threshold he furrowed his brow and turned back to face her.
[b]
â??I told him about All-Star. If he comes asking, donâ??t lie. He needs to understand what power will do to him if he keeps developing the way he is.â?[/b]

[hr]50[/hr]

They didnâ??t say anything to him when he walked back in, though he watched as all four of them tensed. Good, he wanted them as wary of him as possible for the time being, theyâ??d come at him harder than if they thought of him as a friend. Clearing his throat he extended his hand towards the nearest of the quartet.

[b]â??Riona Sharp, codename Phoenix. Pyrokinetic with poor control and a required ignition source. Nicotine addict.â?
[/b]
The girl stiffened even more.

[b]â??Aimanan Fathi, codename Night Terror. Capable of creating illusions up to and including tangible ones, albeit apparently without the psychological strength necessary needed to kill with them.â?[/b]

[b]â??I would not call such a capability a strength.â?[/b]

He ignored the statement and moved on.
[b]
â??Derek DeWitt, codename Flare. Disabled photokinetic. Research indicates subject is capable of storing energy within himself to compensate for the lack of an external light source. Subject may also possess other currently undisclosed abilities.â?[/b]

The last girl practically froze when he turned his gaze to her.
[b]
â??And finally Autumn Finley, codename Echo, sonokinetic. Capable of generating high power soundwaves to disable targets. Lacks range and control.â?[/b]

He paused slightly before continuing.

[b]â??Ladies and gentlemen my name is Dr Michael McKnight, chief of Geist Industryâ??s Advanced Biology Division, Level 1 superhuman and, as of this moment, responsible for your further development. I will not lie, if you do not give everything to this training when the time comes for you to face the Big Five you will die and worse you may take members of this team with you. I will not allow this to happen.â?[/b]

The group exchanged quiet glances with one another but otherwise remained silent.

[b]â??Each of you represent a particular kind of elemental kinetic. Among our enemies you have the most in common with Hrydo-Girl and Starlighter, the latter of whom you have already had contact with. Therefore it will be more efficient for me to train you as a group, and if necessary individually, to harness greater power and control over your abilities.â?[/b]

Turning he moved about thirty feet back from the group, towards the centre of the group.

[b]â??Sharp I want you to concentrate as much of your power as you can and try to hit me.â?[/b]

A bewildered expression broke across the Riâ??s face.

[b]â??What?â?

â??You heard me.â?

â??But, that could kill you!â?

â??At your level, I have a better chance of getting sunburned. Come on, I figured at least one of you would want to get me back for Slate.â?[/b]

He needed to get them mad, they were still holding back.

[b]â??Or maybe youâ??re just afraid of what Iâ??ll do to you.â?[/b]

He flicked out a finger and sent the girl tumbling backwards. By the time she righted herself, Rionaâ??s face was contorted in anger, and the lighter in her hand was already flicked open. The gout of fire which roared towards him was easily eight foot across but before it had even bridged half the distance it spluttered and died. Phoenixâ??s face paled as McKnightâ??s eyes bored into her.

[b]â??The aim of this training isnâ??t just to make you more powerful however, thatâ??s half the battle. The rest will involve overcoming your own weaknesses. In Rionaâ??s case, her fire is most certainly dangerous, but if someone can extinguish it before it hits them, then frankly, itâ??s worthless. Like your enemies however, Iâ??m not going to explain how I did it, youâ??re going to have to figure that our as we train.â?[/b]

Adjusting his labcoat he extended his hand in open challenge.

[b]â??For now, I want each of you to come at me as hard as you can and the first one to land a hit gets a gold star and bragging rights to Slate.â?[/b]

[hr]50[/hr]

Thatâ??s all the training for now, Iâ??d like for anyone whose character is involved in the current training session to use this to focus on trying to use their powers differently, or to recognise weaknesses. For the time being Michael is going to counter pretty much everything you throw at him but wonâ??t actually attack directly.

For those not currently training, feel free to watch or do whatever.[/size][/font][/indent]
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[color="#696969"][font="Tahoma"]Cody made his way from the infirmary to his room just down the hall and around the corner. He took a moment and ran his hand across his embossed codename on the door. [i]Critter, eh? So far I can only turn into three animals... only one of which is a critter by definition. Surely I can obtain more forms.[/i] he dropped his hand to the doorknob and walked into his very plain but quaint room. He grabbed his dossier from the desk next to his bed and opened it up to the first page, skimming past the parts he had read before it was updated.

[i]Power Level 3. Below-average strength in Human form but incredible strength in Gorilla form. Subject has exceptional control over their ability but lacks variety. The more forms the subject obtains the higher their power level will become, pending how strategic they are with said forms.[/i]

[b]"Lacks variety?"[/b] Cody scoffed and threw the folder onto his desk. He slumped onto his bed and flopped backward staring at the ceiling. [b]"How am I supposed to obtain more forms if none of these animals will lend me their power?"[/b] Cody reflected on the three animal contracts he'd obtained over the past decade.

The Gorilla Spirit had come to him as a child in a time of need while the Cheetah Spirit actually found Cody shortly after that incident, eager to lend his power. The Tarantula contract, on the other hand, had proven to be the most difficult to get. It was the first time Cody had ever entered the spirit world intentionally as the other two times were triggered by the animals and not himself. He remembered wandering through a mist of blue and pink for a long time, images of opaque animals rushing past him before finally everything went black and a small blue ghost of a tarantula stood at his feet.

The Tarantula basically interviewed Cody, asking him why he wanted his power and what he would be doing with it. The two talked for an hour before Cody finally convinced the Tarantula to lend him his power, promising never to tarnish the pride of the spider and to never use the power for evil. The final words of the Tarantula spirit echoed in Cody's head.

[i]Should you ever kill an innocent with the power of the spider, I -Je'tala, the Spider Lord- [i]will[/i] find and punish you.[/i] Cody shuddered at the thought of the spirit of a spider lord coming for him but was grateful for the contract. The Tarantula had proven useful as a "stealth mode" for Cody.

That was also the day Cody realized each animal was represented by a Spirit Lord. Some were male (their spirit being completely blue) while others were female (their spirits being pink). Other times there were two Lords, one of each gender. Cody wondered if there was a Human Spirit Lord but quickly shrugged off the idea. If there was, he'd know about it.

He sat upright and took a deep breathe. It was time to enter the Spirit World once again and find a new contract. If he was lucky, he'd have a new form for the training session with McKnight. Cody closed his eyes and clasped his hands together as if he were praying. He attempted to reach outwards to the animal spirits, but nothing happened. He couldn't even feel the presence of the bird perched outside his window, which he normally would've felt subconsciously. It was then that he realized he couldn't feel [i]any[/i] animals [i]anywhere[/i].

[b]"Ah ****."[/b] Cody felt the back of his neck and tapped the power limiter latched onto it. [b]"How am I supposed to accomplish anything with this stupid thing on all the time?"[/b] Cody sighed and flopped onto his bed again, worn out from attempting to tap into the spirit world and failing. He didn't like that he was getting used to [i]not[/i] constantly feeling the presence of animals. He'd never felt more alone before than now.

[i]Well, I can't go there now but I should consider what animal form would be useful to have. Maybe if I go into the Spirit World knowing what I'm looking for I'll find it much quicker.[/i] Cody thought. He went over this three contracts. [i]Let's see... There's Gorilla, my power house. I can fight anyone and anything as him. Tarantula is great for getting behind enemy lines and the Cheetah is a the perfect travel form. What more do I need?[/i] He remembered the way he'd brutally murdered the man as a Gorilla and winced with guilt.

[i]Maybe an animal that can incapacitate enemies without killing them...[/i] For a moment he considered using the web of the Tarantula but quickly scrapped the idea. [i]That would take way too long...[/i] He got up from his bed and sat down at his desk, opening his provided laptop. He opened up a search engine and typed "animals that can paralyze" into the search field, clicking the Wikipedia link for paralysis near the top. He scrolled down to "paralysis in the animal kingdom" and began reading the entry aloud to himself.

[b]"Many animal species use paralyzing toxins to capture prey, evade predation, or both. Perfect!"[/b] he skimmed past the part about poisonous fish and toads, not looking to cause permanent damage to anyone. He gagged at a part about wasps paralyzing grasshoppers, bringing them into the nest and injecting her eggs into the poor grasshopper who would then be devoured by the hatching maggots. [b]"The **** nature..."[/b] and then he saw exactly what he was looking for.

[b]"Many snakes also exhibit powerful neurotoxins that can cause [i]non-permanent[/i] paralysis or death. Brilliant!"[/b] Cody exclaimed, reading more into neurotoxins and snakes. [i]How did I not think of snakes before? Sneaky bastards.[/i] he then continued to read into different kinds of snakes, trying to find one that wouldn't cause death shortly after a bite.[/font][/color]
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[font="Garamond"]Autumn blinked in confusion as the people around her erupted into a flurry of movement. Riona had flicked her lighter open the moment that McKnight had finished speaking, and appeared to be seething as her flames grew. Derek had jumped back and began to collect energy to funnel into an attack. Aimanan however, looked just as panicked as Autumn felt. She looked past him just in time to see a large flame coming toward them.

Autumn's voice caught in her throat, but she launched herself at Aimanan with all her strength, tackling him to the ground just in time to see a column of flame explode above their heads.

"Sorry!" came Riona's voice. Autumn rolled her eyes and looked down to realize she was essentially pinning her teammate to the ground. She turned scarlet and quickly pushed herself off.

"Sorry, sorry.. I'm so sorry, I just.. the words wouldn't come, and --"

"Oh for God's sakes Finley, do something with your powers. That is why we are here. Not for you to be polite." She turned an even brighter shade of red at McKnight's words and Aimanan smiled lightly at her, amused at her awkwardness and thankful that she had protected him.

"It's okay - thank you. Shall we?" He gestured towards McKnight and Autumn nodded and turned her attention back to their trainer.

Autumn scrunched up her eyes for a moment as she inhaled, before opening them and unleashing what she felt was a particularly strong shriek. And still, McKnight was standing. He didn't even look remotely pained. McKnight barely even glanced at her as he fended off the attacks of the others. She wrinkled her brow at this but decided to try again. Her power was known to be touch and go, so Autumn sprinted closer to him and filled her lungs again. As she opened her mouth to scream, nothing came out. McKnight's power had somehow rendered her voice to naught.

"What?" she said and realized that no sound was coming out. He had disabled her entirely, making her totally useless, just by silencing her. She reached for her throat worriedly and a lump in her throat rose - she was scared. This was only training and yet she was terrified. First real training session in and McKnight had made her realize just how dependent she was on her one and only power. If they ever fought a super that could silence her like McKnight, she became less of a teammate and more of a liability.

"Again." McKnight looked at her and suddenly Autumn realized she could hear herself whimpering; her voice was back yet again. She inhaled deeply and let out another roar - faster, this time, a higher pitch. Still no reaction from McKnight.

[i]"****."[/i] Autumn thought.[/font]

sorrry it's short, I just wanted to post something for training while I've got some free time! I hope that's okay >____> Edited by OMNOMNOMALY
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  • 2 weeks later...
Slate raised his clenched fist and knocked on the door marked 'Archives', hearing the clang resonating through the room on the other side of the double doors. He waited a few moments and raised his fist again, although just before he made contact this time, the door opened and a scruffy head appeared in the resulting crack.

[b]"Yes?"[/b] the head asked abrasively. Even from a few feet away, Slate could smell the cigarettes on his breath, and his hair was poking up wildly in a number of different directions.

[b]"Umm...are you the Curator?"[/b] Slate asked.

[b]"Maybe. Who's asking?"

"My name's Jacob Slate,"[/b] he replied, [b]"I'm a member of Geist's new team, I was hoping I could pick your brains about something."

"Sorry, it's all pretty busy in here,"[/b] the Curator replied gruffly, [b]"I've got a lot of...filing...to do."

"I brought this,"[/b] said Slate, holding up the beer he had brought.

[b]"Well, you'd better come in then, hadn't you?"[/b] said the Curator hurriedly, opening the door and welcoming Slate in. He walked in, handing the Curator one of the bottles and grabbing one for himself.

[b]"Take a seat,"[/b] the Curator said, gesturing towards a chair on one side of a small table, covered with towering piles of books and files, which Slate promptly sat down on. The Curator shuffled over to the table and took the seat opposite Slate, taking a generous swig of the beer as he did.

[b]"This is good beer,"[/b] he said, looking lustily at the bottle, [b]"Geist give it to you?"

"Yeah, it was in my fridge when I got here,"[/b] replied Slate, taking a swig of his own drink,[b] "At least they got one thing right!"

"It's about the only thing they've got right recently,"[/b] smirked the Curator,[b] "So tell me, kid: what was it you wanted to know?"

"What can you tell me about 'Project All-Star'?"[/b] Slate asked, leaning forward in his chair.

[b]"I guess I should have expected something like that,"[/b] replied the Curator, smiling, his eyes glinting behind his glasses as he began flipping through the books and files he had stacked around him, [b]"The All-Stars...ah, yes. They were a super-team, formed around four years ago by Geist, handled by a man named Frank Kildare. They were looking to take the branding in a younger direction than the Big Five were at the time, increase the demographic of the superheroes, so they found these kids with abilities and pay their parents a hell of a lot of money to take them away and make them superheroes. Bear in mind, these kids were no older than eighteen, and Geist essentially took away their identities and rebranded them as the 'new generation' of heroes."

"That's pretty sick..."[/b] murmured Slate, leafing through one of the files the Curator had given him. The members of the team were all listed, complete with photos, run-downs of their abilities and each one stamped with the word 'DECEASED' in blood-red ink.

All except one, and it was one that Slate recognised.

[b]"Jesus,"[/b] he said, fishing the pages out of the file and turning them over to the Curator,[b] "Is that who I think it is?"[/b]

The photograph showed a young man with sandy brown hair and blue eyes, wearing a leather uniform much like the ones Nation's Pride wore, only coloured red, white and blue. He was a little younger in the picture than Slate knew him, his face a little less heavy with the weight of the world, and actually looking much happier than Slate had ever seen him.

But it was unmistakably Michael McKnight.

[b]"Oh yeah,"[/b] said the Curator,[b] "McKnight was a member of the All-Stars, back when he was just a kid. There's another member in there you might recognise, too." [/b]As he said this, he slid over another bundle of pages, these ones stamped 'Deceased'. The girl in the picture was incredibly pretty, with glossy red hair and green eyes. Slate recognised her instantly, but lifted up the photo and saw the name.

[b]"'Cura', aka Victoria Ambrose..."[/b] he murmured, [b]"She was Elena's sister?"

"Yeah, just a year younger,"[/b] the Curator said, a vague sadness clouding his eyes, [b]"She was an incredible girl, with even more incredible abilities. She could manipulate biological material on the cellular level, and she could use it to heal almost any affliction - with a little more training, she could have easily reached Alpha-Level. Her death is one of the most tragic things that has ever come out of this company."

"So, what about the rest of them?"[/b] asked Slate, trying to focus on finding out as much information as possible, spreading the pages from the All-Stars' file across the desk in front of him.

[b]"Well, the leader was a kid called John Parkman, but they called him 'Sentinel'. Makes sense, with his ability; he could throw up telekinetic shields, they could block all but the most powerful attacks. Then there was Daniel Jones, codename 'Vector', he could run almost as fast as Freight Train, but he had a lot more control than the big guy; Donald Bishop could phase, re-arrange his particles to move through solid objects, so naturally he was codenamed 'Soul'. Victoria and McKnight rounded off the team. They were all powerful when Geist found them, but they had no training, no control, and Kildare pushed them hard, trained them for months before they were allowed to go out on their first field mission."

"Looks like Welsh has a different approach to Kildare. He pushed us out into the field after one training session, and we almost got killed by Starlighter,"[/b] Slate replied, looking through the files.

[b]"You got that right,"[/b] replied the Curator, jabbing his fingers towards Slate, [b]"Kildare didn't like taking any chances. Welsh is more of the seat-of-your-pants, long-shot type. It's just unfortunate that no amount of training could stop the inevitable, really."

"The inevitable? What happened?"

"Well, the kids did fine in their first mission, cleaned up great, made a good impression on the public, all while maintaining their distance from Geist. As far as the public were concerned, the All-Stars were just a group of amateurs with superpowers, following the Big Five's lead. Then they get sent out on their second mission, to round up a bunch of rogue supers, old enemies of the Big Five, but ones that had kind of slipped into obscurity. What they don't realise is this group of supers have been mobilised by Payback, a powerful Russian super, and they've got a whole heap of firepower between them."
[/b]
He leaned back and took a long, deep drag on his cigarette, exhaling a large cloud of noxious smoke, almost directly into Slate's face.

[b]"So the All-Stars go into this fight without knowing what they're getting into,"[/b] he said, more smoke emanating from his mouth as he spoke,[b] "And these rogue supers start laying into them. Soul was the first one to go down, some jerk-off made his ability go haywire, he re-constituted himself while he was half-phased, basically tore himself in half. Payback wades into the fight, slices Vector's throat straight off the bat, and then turns on Sentinel. Now, Payback's ability was to absorb energy and then blast it straight back, so he just walks straight through Sentinel's shield, absorbs the energy and snaps his neck with a T.K. blast."

"So what about Michael and Victoria?"[/b] asked Slate.

[b]"Well, they're the smart ones. They're hanging back, trying to work out an actual tactic, instead of just wading in like the rest of them. But Payback finds them and attacks, trying to kill the healer, but McKnight pushes her out of the way and takes the full brunt of the attack. Damn near kills the kid, but people do crazy things for the ones they love."

"Wait, what?"[/b] interrupted Slate,[b] "Were Michael and Victoria together?"

"Damn right they were. They were the best thing that happened to each other, and they were totally, sickeningly in love. So McKnight saves Victoria from the worst of the attack, but Payback starts moving on her, attacks her too. And that's when they arrive."

"The Big Five?"

"Got it in one. They got the call the second Soul went down, but they were too late to save the rest of the team. So the Big Five are fighting Payback, and all the while Victoria's trying to save McKnight, trying to heal him. But he's hurt way too bad, and she can't save him unless she does something drastic. So she forces herself, pushes herself harder than she ever has before, and his wounds close up. But saving him took everything she had, and she died a couple of hours later, before McKnight even wakes up. He never got a chance to say goodbye, and she died without knowing if she'd managed to save him, if he'd ever wake up."

"And then what?"

"Then nothing. Kildare is terminated, Geist maintains the illusion that the All-Stars were just a bunch of plucky amateurs who got themselves into a situation they couldn't handle, and the whole thing is swept under the rug. The only loose end is McKnight, so they decide to employ him in the Advanced Biology Division. A few years later, and he's the man you see today."

"And what about him and Elena?"[/b] asked Slate, possibly a little too eagerly. The Curator smiled a little at this, but didn't mention it.

[b]"Nothing, really. She's the first person he sees when he wakes up, and he thinks she's Victoria. Then she has to tell him that her little sister died in order to keep him alive. It eats him up inside, he blames himself for Victoria's death and so does Elena, for a while at least. But she comes to forgive him, and they become friends. I don't believe McKnight's ever gotten over the loss of Victoria, but the grief goes away little by little each day, and he's forged himself a home here. You shouldn't be so hard on the guy, he's dealing with things the only way he can."

"Shouldn't be so hard on him? He knows what Geist have done, and he sat back and did nothing while they formed our team. We could get killed out there, and he knows that better than anyone. All this just goes to show he's an even bigger traitor than I thought."[/b] said Slate, getting to his feet.

[b]"Don't alienate McKnight, kid,"[/b] said the Curator, struggling to his feet, [b]"He's the best chance you've got of beating the Big Five."

"Oh, I'm going to do more than alienate him,"[/b] snarled Slate, storming out of the Archives.

---

[i]Two days later[/i]

Slate sat cross-legged in the training room, his power inhibitor inactive due to a work-around McKnight had installed which deactivated the inhibitors as soon as they crossed the threshold into the training room. Strange, metallic grey dust lay in piles around the seated man, as well as a number of metal pipes and cables, twisted and contorted into intricate, winding shapes.

He turned his head slowly as the door to the training room opened.

[b]"A rematch, Jacob?"[/b] McKnight's voice boomed through the room,[b] "Are you [i]that[/i] desperate to be humiliated again?"[/b]

Slate got to his feet slowly, turning to face McKnight. He was standing a few feet away from him, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, his glasses discarded. He registered the smallest hint of a smile on McKnight's face, but did not return it.

[b]"I know about the All-Stars,"[/b] Slate replied, and McKnight's expression didn't change at all.

[b]"Of course you do, Jacob,"[/b] said McKnight, [b]"I did tell you to investigate it, after all."

"You knew that Geist have done this before. You knew that they see us as throwaways, expendables better than any of us, and you let them abduct us. Hell, you didn't even just sit back and let them, you actively helped. Yes, you just sat in your lab, but you may as well have been the one abducting us. For all your high-and-mighty ****, if any of us die, you may as well have pulled the trigger."

"You really think a guilt-trip is going to work on me, Slate?"[/b] replied McKnight, [b]"I've long since dealt with whatever guilt Project All-Star left me with, and I'm trying to help you. You know as well as I do that I'm the best chance you have to beat the Big Five."

"Not trying to guilt-trip you, McKnight,"[/b] said Slate, [b]"Just letting you know that whatever you do, however you may try to atone, in my eyes you will always be a traitor to your own kind."

"So this rematch is what? You trying to defend the honour of your friends? Of all supers out there?"

"No. It's to show you that, with just a couple of days' practice, I can do so much."[/b]

On the final word, Slate flicked his hand out, sending four of the metal bars scattered around the floor hurtling towards McKnight, propelling them forwards with his ability rather than just throwing them and letting their momentum guide them. McKnight smirked and raised two fingers, dissolving the bars into dust and smiling as the cloud of dust flew towards him harmlessly.

With a small exertion, Slate moved his hands and formed a small, but powerful magnetic field around McKnight, which the metallic dust was attracted to, swiftly coating McKnight in iron filings, and before McKnight could react, Slate thrust his hand out and sent his now-metallic opponent flying backwards, slamming into the wall behind him. He hit the floor, and slowly got to his feet, looking ruffled and more stressed than Slate had seen so far.

[b]"You've gained more control,"[/b] he said, brushing his hair out of his face with one hand, [b]"Good. But you're still little more than a heavy hitter."[/b] McKnight thrust his palm forwards, sending Slate flying off his feet, tumbling head over heels through the air.

Slate concentrated, and felt the metal filaments running through his uniform, felt the charge between the metal in the soles of his boots and the metal in the wall, and increased the pull, his feet clamping to the wall. He crouched, placing his hand on the wall, stared directly at McKnight and saw vague surprise in his face. With a thrust, Slate propelled himself across the room, directly at McKnight, who held a hand up and stopped him in mid-air.

[b]"Interesting,"[/b] said McKnight, looking at Slate, who was hovering in the air in front of him, [b]"Thinking outside the box, using your environment more effectively. Still flawed, of course, but much better than your last attempt."

"Th...thanks."[/b] snarled Slate, struggling a little to break McKnight's hold on him,[b] "But I've got a few more tricks up my sleeve."[/b] He focused on one of the metal panels behind McKnight, tearing it from its moorings and pulling it towards him. McKnight held a hand out behind him and shattered the panel into dust as he had done before. With a burst of energy, Slate yanked three more panels off the wall and propelled them towards McKnight from different directions, causing him to drop his concentration on Slate in order to break down the multiple panels. Slate dropped to the floor in a slight crouch as McKnight became engulfed in a cloud of iron filings from the panels.

He raised himself up, took a step towards McKnight, slapped a hand on his opponents' shoulder, spinning him round and slamming his fist into McKnight's face. McKnight fell to the floor, clutching his nose as he went down.

[b]"I may not be perfect, but I've got what it takes,"[/b] said Slate,[b] "Now get yourself cleaned up and report to the hangar. We're being deployed."[/b]

---

Ok, sorry for the novel I just wrote, but it should get us back on the right track. Until I next get the chance to post, just write up either your reactions to Slate (just) beating McKnight, or give an idea of what your training allowed you to do (you would have had your training in the two day gap within this post), and I will post as soon as I can, getting us to the fight with Starlighter. Thanks for your patience, but this thing should step up a gear now!
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Tyler stood mouth agape as he watched McKnight go down, he pondered whether it was McKnight's arrogance or a bit of Slates true potential shinning through that gave the young leader the victory.

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

[i]The day before[/i]

Tyler stood in the training room eyeballing McKnight with a mixture of anger and fear on his face that McKnight either didn't seem to notice or didn't seem to care, Tyler assumed the ladder.

[b]"You know why we're doing this little one on one?"[/b] the man asked in a way that screamed 'don't answer that'

[b]"I figure it has something to do with the fact that you enjoy beating up on us and I'm one of the easier targets."[/b] Tyler's quick comment brought a smile to the corner of McKnight's mouth, it was vauge but years of card experience had allowed Tyler to miss it.

[b]"Half right, I brought you here because you're the weakest member of the group. At level 4 you shouldn't be allowed to take on a normal security guard, let alone someone as powerful as Starlighter. You need to learn to take control of your powers, and not act on instinct alone."[/b]

Before Tyler could react McKnight snapped his fingers and three turrets sprung from the wall and began firing slow bursts of rounds, Tyler flinched but the rounds were whizzing by him.

Reaching for the two 45's fitted around the new belt he had Tyler drew the weapons and took aim at the weapons and began firing. Again McKnight snapped his fingers and the rounds seemingly evaporated into thin air.

The weapons began firing at an increased rate, causing a few rounds to slip past Tyler's power and one by one they began striking him, driving him to his knees, the pain began screaming throughout his whole body.

[b]"You do realize that if even one of Starlighter's blasts actually strike you there's no chance you'll survive right? He took it easy on you guys last time, this time you will die if you can't get control Tyler. Concentrate, feel the rounds move towards you and steer them before they get close to you. Your suit gives you 30 feet of range easily, even more if you can gain control. I can't honestly believe you, out of all the people on your team, were able to get a kill in your first mission. That man deserved his fate, to be bested by a 4th class super."[/b]

McKnights words struck Tyler with a force that brought an anger in him he'd never felt. How dare he talk about a man's death like it was just something he deserved. Nobody deserved to be killed, nobody had to die unless it was necessary.

Tyler felt a pain deep inside wrenching at him, twisting and pulling himself. He felt lost, angry, scared, all at the same time, and that's when he felt it, or rather could see it. He could actually see each round moving as it was fired, he could feel the energy of the rounds themselves. As if all the theorys of physics were something he could see, feel, and even touch.

Pushing one hand out Tyler could see the rounds begin vearing away from him earlier and earlier as they left the barrels of the turrets. He had one round left in the chamber of the .45 in his right hand, he fired it towards the turret on his right and grabbed it with his conscious mind and took it straight towards McKnight who vaporized it giving Tyler just enough time to reload.

Pointing his guns at .45 degre angles from himself he began firing round after round, concentrating on the trajectory he wanted it to take, each one McKnight easily atomized as they turned and veered.

Tyler felt himself get discouraged for a moment as he reloaded, the constant fire from the weapons was wearing him down. He could feel his energy drain, and even a few rounds managed to strike his body, draining even more of his fighting spirit and physical strength.

[b]"I guess Geist was right, you truly are incapable of growing,"[/b] With another snap the weapons ceased their onslaught, and Tyler, not realizing how much physical strength he used holding himself up against the rounds stumbeled forward, only to have McKnight throw him back with ease with his powers, [b]"I guess I get to be the one who gets the pleasure of freeing up the space you're taking up on the team."[/b]

With a cold look in his eyes McKnight raised a hand, and at once the three giant metal panels that housed the coveres over the turrets lept from the wall and shot towards Tyler at bullet like speeds. Tyler rose to his feet and pointed his weapons, he fired his left weapon and right weapon at the tumbling pieces of metal and dove to the floor being narrowly missed by the massive steel projectiles.

An explosion rocked the training room seconds later, as Tyler's targets had been hit perfectally even without sight. He'd fired the rounds and steered the first into the barrel of one of the now exposed turrets, and the second hit the trigger mechanism causing a brief burst of fire that jamed the weapon, the plugged barrel blew open in a shower of metal shrapnel that slammed into the walls all around the training room.

Rising to his feet Tyler jumped to the side to allow a hurried McKnight to get past him as he made his way to the door. Without looking at him the man mumbled [b]"I'll tell Geist you're okay to keep on the team, and tell him what I think."[/b]

Tyler stood scratching his head, he knew the man was too strong, and to quick to have been hit by any of the shrapnel. He would have atomized it before it came close to him. He was more worried with whether or not the man would have allowed the giant metal panels to crush Tyler, or if he would've steered them away at the last moment.

He wondered that the whole day until he witnessed the second fight with Slate. He realized at that moment that the man truly wanted the team to survive, whether he admited it or not was a different story, but Tyler was happy to have an ally like McKnight. He just hoped the rivalry between Slate and McKnight could be kept outside the team. He would follow Slate no matter what, but he was honestly more worried about having to fight McKnight than he was starlighter after his one on one with the man.

Tyler picked up his duffel and headed towards the hangar, he already had his weapons and suit on since today he was going to do some training before he heard about the mission. It was time to fight again...possibly time to kill...that thought troubled Tyler more than any up until that point.
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Tyler stood mouth agape as he watched McKnight go down, he pondered whether it was McKnight's arrogance or a bit of Slates true potential shinning through that gave the young leader the victory.

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

[i]The day before[/i]

Tyler stood in the training room eyeballing McKnight with a mixture of anger and fear on his face that McKnight either didn't seem to notice or didn't seem to care, Tyler assumed the ladder.

[b]"You know why we're doing this little one on one?"[/b] the man asked in a way that screamed 'don't answer that'

[b]"I figure it has something to do with the fact that you enjoy beating up on us and I'm one of the easier targets."[/b] Tyler's quick comment brought a smile to the corner of McKnight's mouth, it was vauge but years of card experience had allowed Tyler to miss it.

[b]"Half right, I brought you here because you're the weakest member of the group. At level 4 you shouldn't be allowed to take on a normal security guard, let alone someone as powerful as Starlighter. You need to learn to take control of your powers, and not act on instinct alone."[/b]

Before Tyler could react McKnight snapped his fingers and three turrets sprung from the wall and began firing slow bursts of rounds, Tyler flinched but the rounds were whizzing by him.

Reaching for the two 45's fitted around the new belt he had Tyler drew the weapons and took aim at the weapons and began firing. Again McKnight snapped his fingers and the rounds seemingly evaporated into thin air.

The weapons began firing at an increased rate, causing a few rounds to slip past Tyler's power and one by one they began striking him, driving him to his knees, the pain began screaming throughout his whole body.

[b]"You do realize that if even one of Starlighter's blasts actually strike you there's no chance you'll survive right? He took it easy on you guys last time, this time you will die if you can't get control Tyler. Concentrate, feel the rounds move towards you and steer them before they get close to you. Your suit gives you 30 feet of range easily, even more if you can gain control. I can't honestly believe you, out of all the people on your team, were able to get a kill in your first mission. That man deserved his fate, to be bested by a 4th class super."[/b]

McKnights words struck Tyler with a force that brought an anger in him he'd never felt. How dare he talk about a man's death like it was just something he deserved. Nobody deserved to be killed, nobody had to die unless it was necessary.

Tyler felt a pain deep inside wrenching at him, twisting and pulling himself. He felt lost, angry, scared, all at the same time, and that's when he felt it, or rather could see it. He could actually see each round moving as it was fired, he could feel the energy of the rounds themselves. As if all the theorys of physics were something he could see, feel, and even touch.

Pushing one hand out Tyler could see the rounds begin vearing away from him earlier and earlier as they left the barrels of the turrets. He had one round left in the chamber of the .45 in his right hand, he fired it towards the turret on his right and grabbed it with his conscious mind and took it straight towards McKnight who vaporized it giving Tyler just enough time to reload.

Pointing his guns at .45 degre angles from himself he began firing round after round, concentrating on the trajectory he wanted it to take, each one McKnight easily atomized as they turned and veered.

Tyler felt himself get discouraged for a moment as he reloaded, the constant fire from the weapons was wearing him down. He could feel his energy drain, and even a few rounds managed to strike his body, draining even more of his fighting spirit and physical strength.

[b]"I guess Geist was right, you truly are incapable of growing,"[/b] With another snap the weapons ceased their onslaught, and Tyler, not realizing how much physical strength he used holding himself up against the rounds stumbeled forward, only to have McKnight throw him back with ease with his powers, [b]"I guess I get to be the one who gets the pleasure of freeing up the space you're taking up on the team."[/b]

With a cold look in his eyes McKnight raised a hand, and at once the three giant metal panels that housed the coveres over the turrets lept from the wall and shot towards Tyler at bullet like speeds. Tyler rose to his feet and pointed his weapons, he fired his left weapon and right weapon at the tumbling pieces of metal and dove to the floor being narrowly missed by the massive steel projectiles.

An explosion rocked the training room seconds later, as Tyler's targets had been hit perfectally even without sight. He'd fired the rounds and steered the first into the barrel of one of the now exposed turrets, and the second hit the trigger mechanism causing a brief burst of fire that jamed the weapon, the plugged barrel blew open in a shower of metal shrapnel that slammed into the walls all around the training room.

Rising to his feet Tyler jumped to the side to allow a hurried McKnight to get past him as he made his way to the door. Without looking at him the man mumbled [b]"I'll tell Geist you're okay to keep on the team, and tell him what I think."[/b]

Tyler stood scratching his head, he knew the man was too strong, and to quick to have been hit by any of the shrapnel. He would have atomized it before it came close to him. He was more worried with whether or not the man would have allowed the giant metal panels to crush Tyler, or if he would've steered them away at the last moment.

He wondered that the whole day until he witnessed the second fight with Slate. He realized at that moment that the man truly wanted the team to survive, whether he admited it or not was a different story, but Tyler was happy to have an ally like McKnight. He just hoped the rivalry between Slate and McKnight could be kept outside the team. He would follow Slate no matter what, but he was honestly more worried about having to fight McKnight than he was starlighter after his one on one with the man.

Tyler picked up his duffel and headed towards the hangar, he already had his weapons and suit on since today he was going to do some training before he heard about the mission. It was time to fight again...possibly time to kill...that thought troubled Tyler more than any up until that point.
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[color="#8B0000"][b][i]Two Days Earlier[/i][/b]

At her room door, Esfir turned around and looked up at Addley.

[b]"Try not to worry to much about the helmet. I think it will prove to a blessing in disguise. Try to get some sleep tonight, and I'll check on you in the morning."[/b]

She smiled and nodded. Feeling comfortable with someone for the first time, she even gave him a hug. Stepping back, she smiled.

[b]"Thank you, Addley. You get some rest too. Don't worry about me okay? I feel much better now that we talked. Also..."[/b] Esfir stopped mid-sentence, the electronically distorted voice was bothering her and she hoped that Geist Industries could fix it somehow. Although she wondered if she put it in as a design, to make her sound more alien.

With some difficulty, Esfir finally found what she was looking for on her helmet. It popped off of her suit and she removed it slowly. She closed her eyes quickly, thanks to the helmet they still had to adjust to the lighting in the facility. Esfir blinked a few times, feeling like she was waking up for the first time that day and then continued her thought.

[b]"No matter what happens, let's stick together."[/b] Esfir smiled, happy she could say this thing without her helmet's microphone distorting her voice.

After saying her goodbyes, Esfir had a good long rest in her room.

[b][i]One Day Earlier[/i][/b]

Esfir was fully suited up and ready to go. She was wearing her space helmet again but this time, it had been modified for her suit to be pressurized. She also had two CO[sub]2[/sub] tanks attached to her suit with a cooling system. This was going to be a field run for her prototype gadgets as well as her training. In theory, with these canisters she could actually fly if she used her power at the same time that they were activated.

Esfir looked around in the training room and spotted Addley. She waved and walked on over. She was glad that she had someone to share the training room with today. Since their powers were both similar, she and Addley were asked to have a group training session. Before Esfir could say anything to Addley though, McKnight entered the training room. Any feelings of happiness, quickly departed from Esfir. This was her first time seeing McKnight, but from the stories she had heard from the other members on her team, she didn't like him already.

[b]"I am Michael McKnight, as you both probably know. I have called you both here because your powers, although different from each other, could both be labeled as 'transportation' abilities. Compared to the big five, you are both most like Freight Train. Hopefully that is the only thing you have in common with him, although I suspect a mental deficiency isn't out of the question."[/B]

Esfir wanted to punch him at this point.

Esfir listened as McKnight described Addley's powers and tried to get under his skin. She wasn't sure if it worked, but hearing what he said, it got to her. Then, McKnight took his turn to look over Esfir, like she was a lab specimen. Which she felt like all over again. She hadn't felt this way since she had arrived at Geist Industries. She looked away.

[b]"And Esfir Veselov, 'The Martian'..."[/b]

McKnight stopped at this point and turned away.

[b]"I'm sorry, I thought I asked for the Martian to join you for training, Warp. Not Flash Gordon. I can't even tell if there's a person under all of those gadgets."[/b]

This was the last straw for Esfir, she stepped forward and tried to swing a punch at McKnight.[/color] Edited by Lilt
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