G First Day of Class - This role Play is open to any and all.

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Kess scrambled to brace herself as Jake swerved toward Max’s house. The more Max spoke to Katy, the tighter Kess wound her French braid. Blatantly ordering Jake around, talking to Katy as if he called the shots now…If Kess hadn’t just been inside his head, she would have thought Max was a little off-kilter from blacking out. But not-Culver had forced her out, and there was the fact that Jake suddenly obeyed Max. Over Katy, even.


Katy had been about to make Max turn himself in, though. Was Jake secretly on their side?


“Wait, wait,†Kess frowned at the back of Jake’s head, then spun toward Max.


“Did you just say I’m coming with you? As in, we’re still turning ourselves in?â€


At least Max had caught on that Kess wasn’t about to stay behind. Maybe that was all he was doing; endorsing her coming along. He had said that sticking together was always the better option.


But that still leaves not-Culver.


Kess buttoned and unbuttoned the sleeve of her grey overshirt. Jake sped in the direction of Max’s house, Katy seemed to have no idea what was going on, and there was no way for Kess to tell if Max was in control of his mind. Kess kept watching him. The tattoo that wasn’t truly there still clung to the side of Max’s neck, moving with the slightest shift of his head. Anxiety ran along the back of Kess’ thoughts, making her arms cross tighter over her knees. That thing was as good as Tony holding a gun on him; there was no way Kess could do anything but go with what Max said until it left.


And if it doesn’t leave? I could do a lot through this kid. Not Key-wise, but: he’s got the potential to be the most solid long-term link if we can just get established. Full link, too, not the partial links most of these kids have to have.


Kess reflexively glared at Max.


Then I’m sure as hell not opening that freaking door. Even if I did know how.


Relief sank into her. Not-Culver was still locked out of the door. There was no way Max wasn’t in charge right now. That being known…


“Max?†Kess ventured, “Are you sure you’re good now? I mean, shouldn’t Katy and Jake know our plan, too, in case something goes wrong?â€


She remembered the warning against responding to a mind-voice too late. Nothing terrible immediately went down while Max responded though, so she figured she was safe this time. The sun was hidden under the trees by now, but it soaked the sky orange and yellow and a deep shade of pink. Kess allowed herself a moment of quiet breath. No thunderstorm by any means, but just as beautiful and possibly almost as good for anchoring a long reset. Kess sorely needed one after attacking not-Culver like that. Something in her was seriously off at the moment if she ran up to mind-people with guns and bit them.


Don’t let things get too weird, Kess, the memory of her father’s voice came through dimly. There’s having an off day, and then there’s needing a reset. Try not to mix the two up.


“Can everyone not bother me until we’re five minutes away from Max’s house?†she requested.


Okay. We’re five minutes away from Max’s house.


“Shut up, not-Culver,†Kess glowered aloud, and crossed her arms to wait.


- - -


Valerie clenched both fists in her pockets. If this brat only knew how much Val wanted a chance to pound a Ruine kid…


“Careful, Kit. Daddy’s not around to back you up right now,†Val tugged one hand out of her pocket, stuck the end of her gun’s suppressor against the window, and shot the SatNav twice through the glass.


“Whoops,†she let a bit of a smirk show, “looks like I’m the only one who knows where you’re going. Oh, and,†she rounded the front of the Crown Vic, shooting out both front tires and one rear on her way.


“I think you’ve got a couple of flats there. But my car’s coming in about 40 seconds, I can help you out. Big Ray can’t come, obviously, but I can take you where you need to go.â€


Val leaned an elbow against the slope of the windshield and lazily aimed the gun toward Kit’s heart.


“This is your other option. What do you wanna do, Kitty?â€


Val tugged a prepaid phone from her back pocket, scanning every minute movement of Kit’s while she dialed Max’s number. Her eyes narrowed after a moment, and she punched in Kess' number instead. When that rang straight to messaging, she left a short, worried-sounding message about Max's house being attacked and shoved the phone back in her pocket.


What has that kid got herself into now?


She masked her concern in an assured, lazy voice.


“So Kitty, you decided yet?â€

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“Did you just say I’m coming with you? As in, we’re still turning ourselves in?†Kess asked and Max turned to face her.


“Of course we are, there’s much more to this than we ever realised Kess.†He said, turning back to look out of the window. “Revenge for John’s death isn’t the only reason to take down Culver.â€


Katy turned in her seat again to face Max. “John’s murder is the only reason I care about Culver and his lot, Max. Don’t forget that.â€


Max smiled before answering. “It’s fine, Katy. I understand now, all of my questions have been answered and I understand. When the mystery is gone all that remains is the anger, the vengeance. But I was never really truly motivated by revenge; it was who, how, why, and where for me.†He didn’t lose his smile but looked out of the window again. “For you it is vengeance, plain and simple; and there is nothing wrong with that. But now there is more at stake than we could have ever guessed.â€


“Why do you think you know this; before, you had no idea what was going on.†Katy replied coolly.


“I’m just more aware than I was.†Max replied cryptically.


“Max?†Kess got in, catching his attention. “Are you sure you’re good now? I mean, shouldn’t Katy and Jake know our plan, too, in case something goes wrong?â€


“Nothing will go wrong, Kess, it is one of Culver’s weak points that he thinks is a strong point; he follows his plan to the letter and without mistakes. Acting like that only gives us the advantage because it means we know what he’s going to do before he does. Right now he is mighty interested in capturing us for whatever nefarious plans he has in place. To stop him, we need to meet him in the location of his operation, so we’ll let him think his plan is working.†Max looked back at Kess with a shine in his eyes. “I’ll explain more later, as I said.†He lapsed into silence with a small smile on his face.


About 10 minutes later, the car rounded a corner onto a street that would pass along Max’s house but Max suddenly leant forward and rested a hand on Jake’s shoulder. “Pull in here Jake, behind that car.†He pointed to a red sports car and Jake pulled in quickly to the curb. Max jumped out and looked down the path to see two figures near a car that was leaning forward unnaturally. It took him a second but he suddenly realised who one of the figures was. A car as coming around the far corner and was slowing to a stop next to the two figures, one of which was now on the floor.


“Kess, Katy, get out of the car now, please.†Max said and quickly jumped out himself, rounding the car to Jake’s window as the two girls jumped out behind him. “Jake, see that black car at the end of the road?†he gestured to the vehicle and Jake nodded. “Would you be so kind as to ram it off the road for me?â€


Jake’s face lit up with surprise, as did Katy’s. “Sorry, you want me to do what?â€


“I’d like you to drive full speed and crash into that black car; roll the windows down to lessen the concussion damage and don’t forget to elbow the air bag back down to prevent it accidently knocking you out. Once that’s done, don’t hang around just get out and make a run for it. Katy will pick you up soon after†Max smiled and turned back to Katy as Jake shook his head in disbelief but pulled away from the curb as the windows all rolled down electronically.


“Katy, you’ll need to call in another vehicle and pick up Jake before anything nasty goes down. Then take him and your crew and set up a ring around the school to keep watch for me and Kess when we arrive. I hope your vehicles aren’t traceable.†Max said quickly before starting to stride down the path towards the two figures.


“You’re crazy Max.†Katy said, loud enough for him to hear. “But you’re starting to sound a little bit like John, so I’ll run with your plan for now; just don’t go dying on me.â€


“Not before I finish the mission; now get out of here and make sure you’re not seen. Come on Kess, I don’t want to leave you behind.†With that said he strode off quickly in the direction of the two figures.


When he was within shouting distance, he slid to a stop. “Hey!†he shouted just as a heavy engine revved into high acceleration and a mighty crash broke the near-silence of the night.




There was a couple of options a person could take if being coerced by a person with a gun trained on them. Option one was to simply do as they said and try to be as cooperative as possible until the ordeal was over. Option two was to immediately go on the offensive and hope you don’t get a bullet to the chest for your trouble. Option three was a mix of the first two, follow any commands until a perfect opportunity arrived to take advantage of and turn the tables on an attacker. Kess taught all of these in her job and usually she advocated the first option, stating that being alive and taken is better than dead and free. However, she also taught that some people naturally fight back and so she gave them one simple rule to follow; if you want to fight back, make sure you do it before you get in their vehicle.


So there Kit was in the same situation she had taught on a million occasions and she still hadn’t decided which option to take; except she knew she wasn’t about to get in the car that this woman spoke of, even when she disabled the Crown Vic her dad had left for her. Even as the woman had her pistol pointing unwaveringly at Kit’s chest, she made Kit’s decision for her by reaching into her pocket and pulling out her phone, dialling a number and leaving a message. She glanced down at the screen as she finished, as 99% of people tend to do when hanging up, before speaking and looking back at Kit. Except Kit was already moving from her position.


“So Kitty, you decided yet?†She was saying as she looked up to see Kit much closer than she was expecting.


Her pistol started to raise and level the barrel on Kit’s chest but she pushed the weapon aside with her right hand and clasped the woman’s wrist tightly. She then pulled and spun around, aiming an elbow at the side of the woman’s head in an attempt to rattler her brain. Kit felt the blow connect but suddenly realised that it had not connected with the head but rather with a quickly raised forearm on the part of the woman.


“Heh.†The woman said, as if she had been waiting for this and suddenly Kit felt a solid blow to her left side. Kit felt her ribs creak under the blow and she took a step back to create distance as the woman closed in quickly with a follow up punch to Kit’s shoulder.


Kit let the attack hit, angling herself so the blow bounced over her shoulder rather than directly hitting it, and then stepped into the woman’s reach and shoulder barged her into the bonnet of the car. The woman grunted but didn’t hesitate to elbow Kit in the back of the head to get her off. Kit took the blow and used the momentum to drop to one knee and wrap her arm around the woman’s left leg. Then with a spinning motion, she pulled the leg out from under the woman and deposited her on the ground where Kit rolled upwards and ended up mounted on top of the woman with her knees either side.


The reason Kit was grappling rather than striking, as she tended to do naturally, was because of another lesson she taught. If facing off against a person who wanted to punch you, the best defence was to grab them; when facing off against someone who wanted to grab you, the best defence was to strike them. Usually this was only against drunken or drugged up people, but Kit found it usually worked on assailants who weren’t expecting it, as this woman had apparently not been.


However, the woman wasn’t the only one not expecting something as Kit started to say something but the woman didn’t hesitate to land a knuckle blow to her throat. Kit grabbed at her throat, gagging on the blow, and the woman took the moment to flip Kit off her and roll her over so that she was on top, with that done she delivered a straight punch to Kit’s head and slammed it against the concrete below her head, rattling her brain and causing grogginess to rise. With the fight seemingly over, the woman stood up and allowed Kit to roll over and rise to her hands and knees and cough at the floor.


“You surprised me for a second there, Kitty. But I’m afraid my training surpasses the training you give police officers.†The woman said with a calm expression on her face.


A voice suddenly caught her attention and she looked up to see a lanky figure sliding to a stop a couple of metres away from her. Before she could respond, a high revving engine roared towards her and she looked up to see a black SUV crash head on with her own vehicle, smashing both to pieces.


“Get the hell away from my sister.†the lanky boy said and the woman seemed to recognise who he was.


“Maxwell Ruine.†She said quietly as Max walked forward until he was a couple of feet in front of her.


“Max…†Kit said with a hoarse whisper.


“Stay quiet Kit, I’ll deal with this.†Max said confidently as he stared at the woman. “So then, Ms Henders, I’ve got  a deal for you; leave Kit out of this and I’ll give you a better prize; me and Kess.†He smiled at the look on her face and continued. “it’s quite simple really; you call your boss, Culver, and tell him that tomorrow morning you’ll be bringing in me and Kess to school where we’ll walk into his hands under our own power. I’m sure he’ll agree to it.†Max cocked his head to the side. “Go on then, give him a ring.â€




No-one had tried entering the house after the last attempt and Ray had received a call from his clean-up crew that they were in position. He had given them the order to hang back for the moment and they had told him that a team was on the way to provide back up and would arrive in about 15 minutes. With that in mind, Ray was deciding the best way to keep Culver’s men around that long for his team to get in a deal with them. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of a silenced pistol from the direction of his car, and Kit.


Shit, don’t tell me there is actually some competent people out there. He thought as he moved to the kitchen door and glanced out. He immediately saw three of his former assailants hiding in the shadows and figured that they were probably waiting for backup as well as he was. As he thought about what he wanted to do, he saw a red laser light its way across the darkening garden a level on his chest. In the millisecond it took him to figure out it was a laser sight from a weapon, he felt a dull thud in his chest.


He looked down with the expectancy to see the spreading of blood but was surprised to see a small dart poking out of his shirt on his chest. Ah, it’s probably full of tranquilizer…what an amateur mistake. He thought before his body started to go numb and he tumbled backwards to the kitchen floor. Man, I’m such an idiot. Was his last thought before he descended into a dreamless sleep.




Katy was sat in another black SUV with another man driving and Jake sat in the back nursing a bleeding forehead. Suddenly, the radio cackled into life with the voice of a man.


“We got him, Ma’am. Ray Ruine is down for at least 12 hours; long enough for you to get to work. The team’s currently marking Culver’s men; if they make a move, do you want us to put them down as well?â€


Katy grabbed the receiver. “Culver must not get his hands on Ray Ruine, if any of his men move in, use deadly force. But leave Ray where he is, I don’t want to get to involved with his side of the government at the moment.â€


“Roger that, Ma’am.†The voice on the radio said before it lapsed into silence. Katy replaced the receiver and leant back in her chair with a thoughtful expression on her face.

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Not-Culver’s indicator was still on Max’s neck, so Kess followed without asking anything. She was trying to figure out why his eyes had gleamed like they had before; it seemed like a far cry from a standard reaction to this type of situation.


“Although,†Kess mumbled as she walked, “what do I know about this sort of thing?â€


Oh, good, she momentarily grinned, talking to myself. I must be getting back to normal.


The people around her were definitely not, however. Kess pushed most of her thoughts to the side and squinted through the near-dark. There were two figures by a car with a broken window, one of them kneeling on the ground. Had she dropped something? The other woman- Kess was close enough to see they were both women now- didn’t look like she was helping to find the thing. Maybe they’d just hit something with their car, which had smashed the window, and now one of them was freaking out? Max yelled toward them, just as Jake the Driver showered the street in a third car’s glass.


“Katy, were there people in that car? In the back, I mean?†Kess spun to ask, but Katy had already vanished somewhere in the layers of tree-shaped shadows.


“Get the hell away from my sister.†Max demanded. Kess finally understood why one woman was on her feet and the other one wasn’t. She zoned in on the kneeling woman first, who tried to say something to Max but couldn’t get her words out. Kess ran to kneel next to her.


“Kit, right? Are you okay? I’ve got some painkillers in my bag, oh, which is at a motel we escaped from, this guy named Tony was chasing us, and kidnapped us, but then Max-â€


Kess screwed her eyes shut long enough to refocus again.


“Sorry,†she finished awkwardly, “I guess I can’t help, then.â€




Max had just mentioned her name. Kess glanced his way, and then the way of the woman he addressed. Another blow of confusion struck her brain.




Max outlined his idea for Val, in the confident voice Kess had heard last year at school. No, two days ago at school. Val eyed him in a silence that stretched Kess’ shredded nerves. At this point, Kess quickly realized she was not up to waiting.


“Val,†Kess repeated, “Val, what the hell?â€


Val’s frown deepened.


“No, no, that’s not right,†she informed Kess. She glanced back at Max, scrutinizing his face for something.


“Okay, Max. I’ll take you up on that deal,†she decided, though she kept a suspicious eye on him.


“Are you working for Culver?†Kess questioned in disbelief. She stood, but didn’t move away from Kit.


“Not the time, Kess,†Val muttered. She flipped open her own phone, hesitated, and held out her hand for Kit’s instead.


“It’s the plan,†Kess silently formed the words to Kit while Val dialed.


“…well, I think it is,†she added at normal volume. Val raised an eyebrow at that, but nothing more.


“Kit, stay there,†Val instructed, “Kess, by me. Max, hands on the Crown Vic and don’t move. That’s your dad’s, by the way.â€


Max’s dad? Maybe he was part of Max’s plan? Kess glanced down the street to look for him, but of course she didn’t see anyone. Val’s grin hovered around her lips while the phone connected. Kess’ eyes trailed back to Kit before snapping up to Val’s face.


“You beat up Kit,†Kess stared at Val, “you can beat people up. You can beat trained police officers up. Why would you-â€


“Yes, Kess, thank you for pointing that out,†Val narrowed her eyes, “the things you learn following your boyfriend around, huh?â€


“What?†Kess frowned, “wait, no, that’s not it. Actually, that’s weird now.â€


It was, too, when Kess thought about it at this point. Thank God she didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Maybe it had been an effect of whatever tried to hijack Max’s brain.


“And anyway, Val, the point is why would you-“


“Okay, whatever,†Val held up a hand, “just shut up for a minute.â€


Kess dutifully shut up. Culver’s deep voice filtered through the phone and caused a shudder through Kess’ spine. Val responded confidently:


“Tony apparently managed to lose these two, because I found them. Yep, Maxwell Ruine and Kessandra Carter, five minutes from Max’s house. They’ll be in tomorrow morning.â€


Val paused, and motioned at the trees. Kess squinted in that direction. She watched shadows within shadows solidify into two tank-built guys about a head shorter than Max.


“Find the driver,†Val ordered one. He one-eightied back into the trees.


I hope Jake’ll be okay, Kess bit her lip. While she was distracted, the other man grabbed Kess’ wrists and cuffed her hands before she could pull back.




She only saw them for a half-second before something else was jerked down over her eyes.




“Don’t panic, Kessa. Just wait for a second.â€


Kess waited. Val took a few steps away from her. Something cracked against the pavement. Kess jumped, then wrung her brain to find where she’d heard the sound before.


“Wasn’t like I could leave Kitty conscious,†Val explained, “Come on, this way. Dammit, I hate small cars.â€


Kess could practically hear Val’s teeth grinding. She ducked Kess’ head into the backseat of a car. Kess squirmed her way to the far side of the car, bashing a knee on the door and getting hair stuck hopelessly between her face and the thing over her head. Kess wondered how in the world they would get Max wedged in his side of the car. Her own legs would barely fit.


The car rolled off soon enough. Kess tried to glance back at Kit, to see if she was okay. Unyielding blackness pushed back at her, as did a deep swell of uneasiness. With no conversation to distract it, her brain zeroed in on her blindness. Whatever was over her face was thick and smelled strange. It wasn’t impossible to breathe, but it took too much effort, it shouldn’t take that much effort to breathe. Especially breathing this fast. Fast breath should bring in air, wide eyes should bring in colors, shapes, at least some bit of light. How could it be so dark? The car swung a curve faster than Kess was expecting; she fell first against Max and then against the door. Someone had attached her hands to the door handle and the cuffs cut into Kess’ wrists. As soon as she felt this, Kess pulled against it, adding more and more pressure until she was using all of her strength. It wouldn’t budge.


“I don’t like this,†Kess murmured nervously.


She tugged sharply at it, at first just once, but then several times, jerking her arms back, twisting her wrists against their restraints, one foot braced against the door.


“I don’t like this! I don’t like this! Let me out! Get this thing off my face!â€


“Kess! Cut it out!†Val snapped at her. Something clicked in the front seat, and Kess automatically pictured Val pulling a gun on her. Unimaginable as that image still was, it scared Kess into silence anyway.


“You’re supposed to be new and improved, Kessa,†Val sounded intrigued rather than worried. The click happened again, and Kess breathed relief. That was no gun. That must have been the glovebox. Val was still talking, so Kess tuned in again.


“What’s flawed? What else has been playing with that mind of yours?â€


Kess tilted her head around where Val’s headrest would be. She stared hard, as if sheer will would give her some glimpse of Val’s face.


“‘What else’? As in you already know of one thing?â€


“Something else has definitely been here,†Val’s voice darkened just enough for Kess to edge back, “you’re supposed to be terrified of authority figures. Here, this might straighten you out in a bit…â€


Something unsnapped up front. Before Kess could ask what Val was getting, something thin and sharp poked into her left arm.


“Ow!†Kess protested, “Hey, what’s…this’s…weird…â€


Val’s voice blurred, the chafing on her wrists eased, even the inky dark of her vision seemed to soften.


“You need to sleep, Kessa,†Val instructed her, “See you in a few hours.â€




When Kess’ head tipped back against the headrest, Val reached back and grabbed a fistful of Max’s hair through the hood.


“And you-“


She stopped short of slamming his head against something when the driver spoke up.


“Val, he needs to be checked over tomorrow, too.â€


Val scowled fiercely and kept her fist tight.


“Why did Culver send you, anyway? I can clearly handle both my original task and this on my own.â€


“I’m here because you won’t control your actions, Valerie. Let the kid be until we’re sure he hasn’t been tampered with.â€


“Don’t call me Valerie,†Val growled. She shoved Max’s head away from her and settled into the front seat.


“Damn Ruine kid. You’re already too much trouble. Don’t go getting comfortable; we’re gonna talk later about that List you stole from Culver’s office. Try to remember where it’s gotten to before we arrive, huh?  Although, even if you don’t, I bet Kess would come up with a couple ideas pretty fast.â€


Val flung her feet onto the dashboard.


“Enjoy the ride, Max-y boy.â€




Kess’ whole being throbbed with her head. That was the first thing she was aware of; a deep pounding in her skull, along with the heaviness of hands dead from the wrist down. She groaned out something between a question and a complaint, and the person carrying her promptly put her on her feet.


Out of the car, then…


Someone led Kess wordlessly down hallways, around corners, down stairs. She was still mostly unconscious until her hands were uncuffed and recuffed around something cold and stiff. This time her wrists had just enough room to let blood flood into her hands again. Kess sucked in a breath at the stinging which came with it.


Not-Culver? Max? Anybody around? Is this really part of the plan?


Kess thought. She blinked into the dark until she felt more awake, spat hair out of her face, and repeated part of her question aloud.


“Max? You’re in here too, right?â€

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Throughout the capture and the car journey, Max had remained silent and kept a sly grin on his face at all times; even as the hood covered his head. When Val grabbed his hair through the hood to jerk him forward, he let loose a quiet chuckle, apparently lost to the two in the car, and let himself relax as she complained about him and her partner. When they arrived at whatever location Val was going to keep them in overnight, Max still remained silent as he was pulled out of the car and walked through a door and through corridors and down stairs. Eventually he heard them open a metal door, cringing as the hinges screeched in protest, and he was led into a room where his handcuffs were released briefly so that they could be fastened around what felt like a pipe running from floor to ceiling.


His footsteps and the ones of his captor were not the only pair in the room, so Max presumed that Kess had been brought to the same place; he didn’t care for the reason as long as they were left alone so that Max could talk to Kess. Sure enough, after the small clicks of another pair of handcuffs, two sets of footsteps exited the room and Max heard the screeching door shut behind them. A heavy clunk told him it was now locked from the outside; not that he had any intention of trying to escape at this point in time.


With the captors gone, Max pulled himself close to the pipe and bent his arms to grab hold of the hood over his head, then with a jerking motion he managed to pull it clear and let it drop to the floor. He flicked his head to get his hair out of his eyes and then looked around the room. It was dimly lit by a bulb in a metal cage and didn’t have anything in it except for a variety of pipes running from floor to ceiling. Max would have said it was a utility room of some sort but there was simply nothing to suggest that, a number of the pipes had gauges and levers on them so he presumed it was something to do with changing the pressure in the pipes or something. The walls were made of the metal and the door looked like it had been taken out of an old school submarine, two heavy bars running from top to bottom told him it was locked.


As he was looking around, Kess seemed to have fully regained her consciousness and was moving her head around. “Max? You’re in here too, right?†she said and Max smiled.


“No panic there Kess, I’m here. You might want to take the hood off though, I imagine sleeping like that would be a pain in the ass.†He said, his voice light and nearly joking; like he hadn’t just been captured by the ones he had been trying to avoid for so long. “Anyway, listen to everything I’m about to tell you carefully, because I doubt I’ll be able to repeat it at any point.â€


“First thing is that I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting this from Val after my proposal, but it doesn’t really change much apart from our sleeping positions. But anyway, tomorrow we’ll be walking back into school where Culver will no doubt meet us and take us down into wherever it is he takes the students he wants. At this point we will probably be separated but don’t worry about that, we’ll meet up as soon as after I’ve escaped.†He paused to draw breath before continuing. “Don’t believe anything you see once Culver has you where he wants to, his ability to alter our perceptions will be strongest down there and he’ll need to access our minds through this ability. Once you start believing what you are seeing, he’ll have you and you’ll be gone; becoming his.â€


“If you can escape at any point once we’re within Culver’s camp, go for it and try to make your way to the centre of the complex. If you can’t escape, no drama just wait and I’ll be along shortly I suspect; it won’t be hard to find out where you are I suspect. You know, with you being some kind of high priority target for them.†He chuckled and then crouched down before dropping to his bum and putting the pipe between his legs so that he could rest his chest against it. “It shouldn’t be too complicated…any questions?†he looked at Kess with a smile, his white teeth shining in the dull light.




Culver glanced down at his watch and then lifted his phone to his ear, hitting a speed dial button as he went. The tone rang a couple of times before being picked up on the other end. “Are they contained, Val?†he said slowly, his menacing tones echoing behind his voice. Val answered on the other end quickly. “Good, I’m not sure why they gave themselves up but you’ll have to keep a close eye on them for the time being. Remember that they will have to walk into school on themselves tomorrow; under their own power. If they are forced over the threshold, it won’t work, understand?†Val confirmed her understanding on the other end of the line.


“Good. Kessandra Carter is the priority here but Maxwell Ruine is interesting in his own right, try not to damage him before I see him; that would be…unwise on your part. I shall continue this conversation tomorrow after I’ve got my hands on those two.†He started to hang up but then stopped. “Oh, your original mission is on hold for the moment, only until you get those two to me. Goodbye, Val.†He hung up the phone and placed it back in the receiver.


“What is your plan, boy.†He muttered; knowing full well that Maxwell Ruine was behind whatever plan the pair had come up with.

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Kess couldn’t help a small, relieved smile when Max responded. It was infinitely better being stuck here with him than being stuck here on her own. He didn’t even seem bothered, which must have meant things weren’t too bad at the moment. Kess hadn’t realized her hood wasn’t tied down or anything, but at Max’s suggestion, she felt the edges of it on her shoulders and realized it would come right off. Her hands couldn’t quite reach it, so she planted one foot against the thick pipe -up by her head, to pin the hood down- and pulled off the hood with her foot. When it landed in a small heap on the floor, Kess stomped on it.


“Gymnastics to the rescue. Right,†she acknowledged Max, and gulped in a breath of fresher air, “listening carefully.â€


She felt much more able to handle the situation with Max in the room and the hood off her face. And hair. She turned slightly confused eyes on the pipe-filled room as she took in everything Max said. Kess was glad the plan hadn’t been disrupted, not glad that it included the center of Culver’s base. Wouldn’t that make it harder for her and Max to get out? And how was Max so sure he could escape from a place he’d never seen? The perception-altering bit didn’t bother Kess too badly, she could find every one of those thrown her way at this point. There was one wrapping the pipe above her head right now, for example.


Max smiled her way. Simple plan. Simple execution. No big deal. Kess voiced her amused thought instead of her questions.


“Your teeth look like a toothpaste commercial. Brighten your dungeon with a Colgate smile, or something.â€


As she spoke, teeth reminded her of food, which reminded her she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Her stomach grumbled in complaint, and all her questions fled across the room.


“Oh, man, when do we eat? No, that’s not my question. Um,â€


Kess tucked one knee and unconsciously tapped her foot, thinking.


“There were three,†she said thoughtfully, and asked each as she remembered. Not all of them were the same as before, but it couldn’t really matter. If they were gone, they were gone.


“One, are we meeting up with Katy or getting straight out? Two…um…two, how are we getting Dad out…three…this one was important…oh!â€


She brightened as she met Max’s eyes again.


“I remember! How are you sure you’ll-um,†the meaning of her question sank in again. Kess bit her lip, but for once she didn’t look away when asking a question she was afraid of.


“How do you know you’ll be able to get out? And my security might be higher than yours…â€


Kess trailed off and went with not finishing. If her brain was really as important as Culver was making it, she ought to be able to think for herself. And her dad was there, too. Maybe the two of them could work together. She had to stop dumping all her fear on Max.


“Never mind," she said quietly, "I just didn’t mean to get involved in any of this stuff. And I really thought Val was...I don't understand, she was helping us...â€


Kess tipped her head back to gaze at the perception filter. Not-Culver’s mark was still stamped on Max’s neck, so she wouldn’t talk about that…Another question that had been in her head since the mall poked at her. Maybe it was safer to ask here, where the cuffs wouldn’t let Max freak out as much if it came to that. Kess grimaced. It had to be asked at some point.



“Max…I know I’m asking too many questions, and I’m sorry to bring this up, but I think it’s important to know, so…so d’you know how John got to be friends with shady people like Katy?â€




Val clutched the phone and fumed.


“Unwise. Do you want the only piece of unsecured evidence back or not?" she muttered, "Here's what's unwise: letting Ray Ruine walk out of that house. There is never going to be another opportunity like this one. He’s unconscious right now, will be for only a little longer-â€


A thought occurred to her that maybe Pierson could get him, but Val immediately rejected it. Val would be the one bringing in the Ruines, not her partner. Not anyone else. Val took one step toward the door, clenched her teeth, and forced herself to walk past it and pace the room instead. If he was still unconscious, what was left of her team would be able to move him. If he wasn’t, well, she still had Max. He and Kit should be enough to reel Ray in any time Val chose.


Val leaned rigidly against the wall. She wasn’t any less angry, but at least this goal could still be accomplished.

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A toothpaste commercial? Max thought and chuckled quietly to himself as Kess spoke. He listened to her questions carefully, allowing her to pause and stutter herself along without interrupting at any point. He had lost his out-and-out smile but the corners of his mouth still tilted up with apparent amusement. When Kess eventually seemed to be done asking questions, finishing on one about his mentor, Max smiled again and leant forward to rest his cheek against the metal bar he was handcuffed to; he angled his head so he was still looking at Kess.


“I suppose I can answer all of those questions, although not in the order you asked them.†He said. “Firstly, Katy is on the outside ready to deal with any hostile forces that may wish us harm on our way out of Culver’s complex. At that point, Culver will no doubt be in a situation of vulnerability that Katy will have to have the initiative to take advantage of; I’m not going to hand-feed her her revenge.†He twisted his body slightly to get more comfortable before continuing. “As for your father, I’m afraid that’ll have to be an on-the-fly deal. We won’t have time to actively search and rescue him but I get the inkling that you don’t really want to leave him behind. With that said, I don’t think he will be in any danger after our escape as long as he doesn’t say anything too suspicious. Culver isn’t the kind of man to randomly punish his subordinates just because they are somehow related to his targets.â€


“As for my escape…that is a certainty. Your level of security will without doubt be higher than mine, as I’ve previously mentioned you are the main target here, but I don’t foresee that being too much of a problem. It’s all been planned, Kess, on both sides. Don’t put yourself in danger trying to escape though, you may be Culver’s golden girl, but the guards may be less liberal. It’s fine to leave it to me…†Max paused briefly before continuing. “Unless that’s too boring for you.†He laughed out loud, rocking his chest against the pipe. “Anyway, back to answering your questions.â€


“Now, John’s history is a little sketchy to me I’m afraid. We didn’t really chit-chat about his past before he took a bullet to the face.†Even as he mentioned the death of his Mentor, Max’s smile didn’t waver for a second. “Although I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one who dragged Katy into the dodgy world of the shady…although he would be too young really for that to be viable. So, sorry about that, but there’s nothing I can share that can shed any light on his and her pasts. I do know, however, that Katy has been part of her little group for a fair number of years, and she is extremely anti-government. Which is hilarious, when you think about it, with her being German had all.â€


Max chuckled again, his voice echoing somewhat around the room. “Oh, I suppose I could mention Valarie and her dubious actions. All I can say is, whatever side she is on, until such a time as she proves to be an ally, I shall be treating her as an enemy and I advise you to do the same. Obviously you have history with her but it may be that the Val you knew has gone, maybe she had a change of heart, or maybe Culver got to her at some point. My point is that you shouldn’t trust her for a second, or things could go badly wrong. On that note, you got any more questions? Or shall we wind down and get some sleep before the aforementioned Valerie rudely awakes us?â€

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As Amy enters the school, wearing her usual torn up jeans and gray tee. She walks into the office and asks the secretary what room she'll be in. 


"Let's see... You'll be in room 408. Hold on, the computer has you registered as female, should I correct it to male?"


Of course, yet another person who thinks I'm a guy. I give up, I'll just tell all of my classmates I'm a guy. See how long they'll think it.


With her Shaggy short brown hair, her voice, and body, it often happened. It didn't help any more with the clothes she wears. After all, she never liked being "pretty" or pretending to be a princess.


"No, it's fine. Just leave it the way it is. Room 408, right?"


"Correct, now hurry to you're class..." she murmurs "Why did I take this job..."


"Thanks?" She walks upstairs to the room. After reading the sign, she enters the room and sets her backpack on the chair. She hadn't gotten a locker yet, for whatever reason. She checks the time. 7:45 She wasn't late, or early. She was right on time, but no one seemed to enter the room. She grabbed an MP3 player out of her backpack, plugged in the earbuds, and sat her head on the desk, waiting for someone to come into the room. Eventually, she fell asleep.

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Max’s laugh was startling and a little loud. Kess had been about to start worrying about her dad again, but his words just then: “Unless that’s too boring for youâ€, had a distinctly familiar ring to them, as if the phrase had been directed at her many times before. Was it Max’s voice she almost remembered hearing? Or someone else’s? His laughing cut her thoughts down, first replacing them with another dose of confidence, then undercutting that with his next answers. Or rather, the way he stated them. There was no way Max could have mentioned John’s death without so much as blinking. Come to think of it, he’d always avoided stating what happened. It was the first time Kess had ever heard “bullet to the faceâ€.


Kess frowned at him around her pipe and Max’s as he chuckled again.


“Sure, Max. Funny…Are you sure you didn’t whack your head on the car earlier?â€


She was reminded again how little she knew about the guy she’d spent the past two days with. Should she even trust him to follow through on the plan? Treating Val like an enemy just seemed wrong. Culver couldn’t have actually got to her, could he? She hadn’t really hurt them. Maybe she was already planning something, too. Kess decided now probably wasn’t the best time to bring up the issue. Val herself could be right outside their door.


“She hates being called Valerie,†Kess automatically informed Max, “but I guess I don’t have any more questions right now.â€


Kess was certain; something was wrong with Max. She had to get that odd not-tattoo off of him, and she had to keep her mouth shut about the girl currently sitting on the pipe above above. Max apparently hadn’t noticed the perception filter around her, and the only way to keep it that way was for him to fall asleep.


“Yeah,†Kess leaned her forehead against the pipe, “yeah, sleep sounds great. We can’t really get much else done, anyway.â€


There wasn’t really a comfortable way to sit, but that didn’t matter as much since Kess was staying awake, anyway. It seemed to take forever for Max to fall asleep, but his breathing finally evened out, and didn’t falter when Kess whispered his name. There would be no reason for not-Culver to fake sleeping, as he would hear and see everything that happened whether Max was awake or not. So, Kess figured everything was as it seemed and turned her face upward to the girl who’d followed Kess since the mall.


“If you’re working with them,†Kess asked quietly, “why are you hiding up there?â€


The girl dropped down by Kess’ right shoulder.


I’m not working with them, she spoke in the odd, silent way of hers. Kess saw the tiniest of tremors shake her hands.


“Are you okay?†Kess nodded at them. The girl met Kess’ eyes, then locked her gaze in somehow.


My brother and I need those keys, she held up a hand. Kess remembered the boy from the library with his reflexive grip, and the way he’d had to fight what his hands started to do.


“I’m sorry, I really want to help, but I have no idea what keys you need or where they are.†Kess found even actively turning her head couldn’t break the hold this girl had on her gaze.


“What are you doing?†she shifted back, but couldn’t really go anywhere with her hands cuffed to the pipe.


Sorry, the girl reached out a hand, I’m gonna have to wake you up a bit to find them.


“Wh-“ Kess started, but something stopped her. Not with a hand on her mouth, more like a block of the path between her thought and her voice. Kess felt her eyes widen, or start to. Even that tiny motion was took forever from her current point of view. Was the room slowed down, or was Kess’ mind sped up?


With a silent shift that felt like rushing air, the room disappeared.


Remember not to talk, Kessa.


Not-Culver! What is this? And don’t you dare use my dad’s voice!


Something was different about him, but Kess placed the difference almost immediately. It was like answering a call and talking to an automated recording rather than a person. Could Not-Culver do that?


I’m not Not-Culver. I’m a memory planted years ago to help you figure this process out. If I’m coming up, it means you need to relearn how to unlock somebody. That, or something has got deep enough into your head to start pulling things out. Either way, you have to stay with Culver. No one else knows how to handle you just yet.


The grin Kess heard behind her dad’s voice sealed it. It was Dad, a long time ago. The voice on the phone hadn’t been Dad, Val had confirmed at the mall. So this memory had to be safe.


Okay, Kess replied. As soon a she spoke, heaviness poured over her in the form of millions and millions of half-second images, layering over each other, urgently pressing against her vision.


First find yourself in the memory, past-Dad instructed. Instict shot a miniature picture of Kess into the rapidly piling images. Before Kess could even wonder how that happened, the images stopped. Kess was in the picture in front of her, along with an elderly man and a red-haired woman. They were sitting in a park somewhere, the couple on a bench, Kess in the tree’s lowest branch. A little ways off was the memory of the other girl, swimming in the lake with a brown-haired boy. Her brother?


Don’t remember this, past-Dad warned, just find the key.


Kess was halfway into the picture already, it took an outside hand pulling her back to keep her out. Kess smiled at the other girl, completely unsurprised to find her there. At that moment, the Kess in the memory spoke while tugging a seed off of a tree branch. She gripped it in her hand, and carefully placed it in her pocket. When she pulled her hand out again, the seed was thicker, more solid somehow, and it drew Kess toward it. She glanced over at the other girl, who nodded and pointed back to the picture. Apparently this was a key. Kess stuck her hand into the picture- her hand moved at normal speed this time- and snatched the seed from memory-Kess. As suddenly as they’d come, the millions on millions of pictures vanished. The seed in Kess’ hand thrummed with bottled energy.


This is so weird, Kess giggled. The other girl nodded back at her before turning sharply to examine some distant image. Kess leaned around her.


Is something wrong? Cause if not, that’s kinda my memory and it’s weird having you able to see everyth-


At this point, it’s almost been long enough to seem strange to those around you, memory-Dad interrupted, unless you’re by yourself, you’ll have to keep this key until later. Go ahead and put it in your pocket, and when you’re back to normal, don’t act like anything happened, okay? People are probably used to you spacing out.


Kess slid the seed into her pocket, and with the same rushing sensation as before, Kess and the other girl were back in the room with Max. It took a bit for Kess to readjust to the comparatively sluggish speed at which her body moved. She tried to ask the girl what to do next, but her thoughts wouldn’t reconnect to her mouth.


“Don’t worry about it, you’ll reintegrate,†the girl held out a water bottle, which Kess greatfully emptied with her help.


“Why’d you try to kidnap me earlier?†Kess questioned her.


“I have to get my brother unlocked so I can find him. Sorry about that.â€


Kess smiled.


“Sorry about aiming a gun at your face.â€


“I could tell you wouldn’t actually shoot me. Anyway, now you have his key, so all we have to do is wait for Max’s plan to take its course. I’ll meet up with you later and then we can-“


The door’s huge lock-bars scraped open. The girl seized Kess’ water bottle and dove for some shadows. A filter’s blurry edges rose around her as Val and her partner entered the room, guns drawn.


“Who else is here?†Val demanded of Kess. Her partner double-took a spot on the floor near Kess. When Kess followed his glance, her eyes found a trail of water drops spilled across the floor. She looked back, wide-eyed, at Val’s partner just in time to see him fire into the shadows. The girl fell soundlessly out of the shadows and her filter. Kess only turned back in time to see her forehead hit the floor. Kess screamed, Pierson flipped keys into his hand and unlocked her cuffs. Val pulled Kess toward the door when she lunged back.


“Pierson! What the hell!†Val shouted. Her face was a little whiter than normal. “Culver needed her for as long as she could last!â€


“She was aiding in their escape,†Pierson stated calmly, and freed Max from the pipe.


“Come on, they’re supposed to be at Culver’s door in an hour.â€


It's been all night already? Kess had room for one confused thought before the library boy and the girl here with them crowded her mind. Just how often did death happen around these people? Just how often was it some kid trying to look out for her brother?


Val steered Kess out the door after they both shot a last look at the girl.


“We can still call…†Kess tried. Val shook her head.


“No. We can’t," Val grimaced when Pierson wasn't looking, "We’ve got to get you back to school.â€




Jenny peered into what used to be Shawyne Clearwater’s room. It was already blank-slated; All of the past teacher’s things were boxed and crowded into a far corner from which Miss Knight would later make them disappear as effectively as their owner. Jenny glanced at the empty desk and then gazed at the chipped grey floor tiles as she approached the lone boy in the classroom.


“I believe you’re one of the transfers, correct?†Jenny asked. She continued before anyone could walk through the doorway.


“A word of advice, strange thought it will seem at present: Please consider transferring out of this class, and any other classes taught by Jordan.â€

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"Huh?" She rubbed her eyes and looked at Jenny. "Why would i consider transferring? And besides, why isn't anyone else here?" She was wondering since she got there, as it did seem out of place. "I'm not gonna be here long anyways. Just for the rest of the school year, then we're moving back to my old town." She moved quite often, because her mother's occupation, but she's actually getting a job in her hometown, and Amy was rather excited. "Hey, who are you? My name's..." She had began thinking of a guyish name. Todd, Steve? What about "Spike"? Nah, too meh. Hm... "Name's Ryan. You are?"

(ooc: sorry post is short, not much to do)

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Max let Kess talk and smiled to himself when she mentioned that Val hated being called Valerie. That just means I’m going to call her that until she’s dealt with. He thought. He glanced over to her again as she spoke about sleep being a good idea and noticed that her gaze was flicking above his head every few seconds. When she leant forward and rested her forehead against the pipe she was handcuffed to, Max looked up but couldn’t see anything. He kept the stare for a couple of seconds to see if there was a filter to break, but there wasn’t even a wobble. If there is a perception filter there, it’s either a really strong one or a specific one for me. Oh well, nothing I can do about it either way. With that thought in his head, he rested his chest against his own pipe and let his head dangle forward; it wasn’t the best position, but it was enough for him to fall asleep quickly.


There was a minute of blackness where Max felt nothing, and then with what felt like a strong wind, his body formed around him and he dropped a couple of feet to a road below him. He stood up and looked around, surprised to find himself in the street outside of his house. Max noticed two cars, one a black SUV, frozen in mid-collision and he realised when and where he was. A quick scan around proved it as he saw Valerie stood over Kit, and Kess and Katy, with another him stood along the path. All of the figures were frozen in mid-movement.


This is the moment I intervened with Valerie; I suppose the moment that the plan was put into motion.


His voice echoed around as it had once before and Max realised where he was, before he could start to wander a figure started moving on the far end of the sidewalk to him. He watched it approach, and watched as its blank features formed slowly into Kess.


What the… Max stopped what he was about to say and cleared his throat. What exactly have you done to me?


Well look at you, expanding your vocabulary; although you very nearly said it again, didn’t you? The Kess that wasn’t Kess said back with a grin on her face. But what makes you think I’ve done anything to you?


Because I’m saying things, and acting in ways I normally wouldn’t. Clearly you’ve altered me in some way. Max replied, walking up until he was only a couple of steps away from Not-Kess.


Ok, you got me. She admitted, and held her hands up in a mock surrender. Your behavioural changes are a side effect I’m afraid and in order for the plan to work, you’ll have to put up with it.


I don’t remember you saying this was part of the plan.


I might have skimmed over it quickly during the planning process, I didn’t want you to freak; kind of like you’re doing right now actually. Kess didn’t even look sheepish or embarrassed that Max’s accusations were correct.


Don’t panic, I’m not freaking.


You’re not-freaking face is noted. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting you to be able to enter here at your will; not for a couple of weeks anyway; although, interesting point of time you’ve chosen as the setting.


I remembered what it felt when you forced me in here and recreated the feeling, although it was a lot smoother this time and it doesn’t feel like someone has smashed something over my head repeatedly.


That’s because you were being stubborn and I had to drag you in here. It’s good to know you can do it at will though; it’ll probably make things easier when we’re inside. How’s Kess doing, is she down with the plan? Or rather, the parts you’ve revealed to her.


I thought you could see and hear what I do?


Usually, I could. But you seem to have been around someone who has had a high level of manipulation so my vision is clouded.


I didn’t know that could affect you. But anyway, Kess seems ok with what I’ve told her. It’ll be mostly down to me anyway, I don’t think she’ll be able to get free before I get to her. Right, I better go; I’d like to get some real sleep before I confront Culver tomorrow. Max started to walk away but Not-Kess caught his attention with a cough.


You’ll uphold your end of the bargain?


Max frowned. Of course I will, stop asking me. With that said, Not-Kess faded away into darkness and the rest of the world followed. The last thing Max felt was his own body breaking up until he was nothing but thoughts floating in the darkness. Then he was woken up by gunshots.


As his eyes flashed open, he heard Kess scream and within a second he was on his feet and looking in her direction. Val and her partner were in the room near Kess but Kess appeared to be fine, so Max followed her line of set until it settled on the dead girl in the corner. She looked vaguely familiar but Max didn’t dwell on her for long as his gaze dropped back to Val’s partner who was holstering his pistol and moving to Kess with a set of handcuff keys.


When he had freed Kess, allowing Val to grab her and pull her towards the door, Pierson moved across and unlocked Max’s handcuffs. As soon as he was free, Max stepped away from the pipe and rolled his shoulders to ease them of the stiffness they had gotten while he had been sleeping. Pierson stepped forward to cuff him again but Max stepped back again and smiled.


“Touch me, Pierson, and I’m going to have to do something nasty.†He said


Pierson laughed, clearly imagining Max trying to do something, and grabbed Max by his arm. “You may be big and tall, but you’re still a child.â€


Max grinned snapped the free cuff onto the wrist of the hand that held him. This left him cuffed to Pierson and the man looked confused as Max acted. Using the handcuff, he pulled Pierson across his body and stepped deftly behind him, wrapping his long arm around his neck by the front and bending him backwards into a reverse headlock. As he did this he grabbed Pierson’s cuffed wrist and pulled it out and down, locking the man’s elbow. He paused to glance down at the struggling Pierson’s face before pulling the arm down while bringing his knee up sharply.


A loud crack filled the room and Pierson screamed as Max bent his elbow backwards, breaking it at the joint. Val, where she had been taking Kess out of the room immediately stepped back in with her pistol raised and aimed directly at Max’s face.


“What the hell are you doing!?†she shouted over Pierson’s screams of pain.


“Just what I promised.†Max said and let go of Pierson, letting him fall to the ground, causing more screams of pain as they were still attached at the wrist. Max reached down and picked up the fallen handcuff keys, freeing himself and turning to Val as Pierson pulled his broken arm into a cradling position at his chest. “Chill out, Valerie. He’ll be fine; you know he deserved it anyway. You might as well put the gun away as well, we both know you are not going to shoot me; Culver might be a little bit pissed. Here Kess.†He lobbed the handcuff keys at her face and she caught them instinctively to stop them hitting her.


“Let us proceed onwards; we wouldn’t want to keep Culver waiting.†With that said, Max stepped past Val and Kess and proceeded down the corridor. Val hesitated for a moment before holstering her pistol and grabbing Kess by the arm to pull her after Max.


“How do you know where you’re going.†Val asked as she followed Max, who seemed to know exactly where he was going.


“Dear Valerie, you only blindfolded me.†He chuckled as he opened a door and started up a set of metal stairs.


“Stop calling me Valerie.†Val said.


“Unlikely to happen, Valerie.†Max said as he reached the top of the stairs and pulled a latch to open a door that led out onto a sidewalk. “Oh, we’re only like 30 minutes from school. I take it you have a lift ready?†he turned as Valerie came up the stairs with Kess. “Oo, that reminds me, my motorbike is currently parked outside of the library. That thing was expensive and if it is there too long, someone will probably steal it. You couldn’t be a dear and send someone to fetch it. They don’t have to take it home but off the street would be ideal.†Max was still smiling, looking up at the sky.




Katy raised the pair of binoculars to her face and the electronic zoom enhanced the image in front of her until the man’s face became as clear as if he was stood in front of her. She watched Culver as he passed by a large set of windows before he disappeared further into the school. She lowered the binoculars and set them in her lap before picking up the radio that was sat on the passenger seat of the SUV she was currently sat in.


“Everyone in position?†she asked, releasing the button on the side so her team could answer.


“Trident 1 in position. No adverse movement at the main entrance; just kids at the moment.†A male voice said clearly.


“Trident 2 in position, no suspicious movement.†This time it was a female that spoke.


“Trident 3 in position, thermal scan shows no movement in Culver’s office.†Another male.


“Trident 4 in position…Trident 5 in position…Trident 6 in position…Trident 7 in position…Trident 8 in position…†The calls kept coming in until Trident 16 confirmed their position. Katy raised the radio to her mouth again.


“Remember, as soon as you get a visual on Charge 1 or Charge 2, radio it in. I want constant surveillance on them to see where they go. I don’t want the Target sneaking them out somehow. Thermal teams, keep your eyes on those monitors while the Charge’s are in the building.â€


“Roger.†The word was repeated sixteen times and Katy called radio silence afterwards. As she started to raise the binoculars to her eyes gain, her phone started ringing. She pressed a button and raised it to her ear.


“What’s the situation.†She said quickly.


“We’re pretty sure all of Culver’s team withdrew during the night, we’ve got no visual on any of them anyhow. Ray Ruine is up and about now but he gave us the slip, we’ve no idea where he’s heading I’m afraid.â€


“Damn. Hopefully he doesn’t get in the way.†Katy said and hung up the phone before slipping it back into her pocket. As she raised her binoculars again, a silver muscle car roared past and screeched around into the school’s parking lot. A couple of seconds later, Katy’s radio sounded again.


“Ma’am, we’ve got a problem.â€




Ray pulled Tony’s car into a parking space and stepped out in the morning sun. He adjusted the pistol holster on the back of his belt before covering it with a denim jacket. As he slammed the door his phone started to ring and after a glance at the caller ID he answered it.


“Sorry, he’s attacking me personally now, I’m not letting him get away with it.†He said quickly, starting to walk towards the main entrance to the school.


“Ray, if you go in there and start some kind of war with Culver, we won’t be able to help you. Come back to base and we can organise a team to rescue your son. Kit’s fine now as well, she’s in our custody.â€


“Not going to happen. I’m sorry.†He hung the phone up and put it away as he reached the doors to the school.


He pushed his way past a gaggle of kids until he came face to face with Dawn Knight sat at her receptionists desk outside of Culver’s public office.


“Ray, what are you doing here?†Dawn said, getting to her feet and making her way around her desk.


“I’m here for Max, where is he?†he asked.


“I know Max isn’t usually late, but it’s still a bit early for him to be in. What’s wrong?†Dawn rested a hand on Ray’s arm but he brushed it off.


“Fine, get Culver for me. I’ve got a few words for him.â€


Dawn could see that Ray was angry and frowned as she told Ray to sit down while she went to fetch Culver; he was currently making rounds around the school.

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“It’s nice to meet you, Ryan,†Jenny sincerely responded, “My name is Jenny Henders; I’m the librarian here and have been for decades. However, I’m afraid there are circumstances at this school which are difficult for any of us to understand, much less communicate in any comprehensible manner.†Jenny was sure this boy would never believe the real story.

“As for Jordan, your current teacher…you’re the only one in this classroom for a reason, young man. He may test your mind to see if you’re fit for the fast-track program, on which you most definitely should avoid being placed, if you decide to stay here at all-â€

Jenny stopped midsentence, and turned to the front doors. Her face paled a shade or two as she identified Max and Kess at the door, and Val between them.

“Valerie Henders, how did you end up like this?†she murmured to herself. She only remembered the boy after Val had seen her and quickly looked away.

“Do you understand, Ryan? Stay off the fast-track, if you stay here at all.â€


Kess didn’t want to feel sympathy for Pierson, but when it came down to it, his screams churned her stomach just as much as her new friend’s death-still body. Kess jumped when the keys flew at her face, and only freed herself after Val gave her a short nod. The trip upstairs ought to have been a relief, but from the moment she’d woken, a knot of pressure had been building at the back of Kess’ head. She figured her brain was just reacting to having a foreign person in it. Apparently too many things had finally happened and her brain couldn’t process any more.

When she’d thrown up her hands to catch the keys, though, six layers of memory had burst over her current vision. Six different sets of hands overlayed her own, catching six different sets of keys and shoving them in various locks she couldn’t make out because everything was piled together like the pictures had been in her mind. Kess squeezed her eyes shut against a spike in her headache, realizing that this was the same one which had started clear back at the hotel. Her foot, and three other vividly remembered feet, made their unsteady way up their respective flights of stairs. When Kess drew in a deep breath, the number of feet before her eyes doubled, then abruptly shrank to just her own again.

“Oh my gosh, quit talking,†Kess mumbled at Valerie and Max. Not only was every word jangling around in her thoughts, but Max was waltzing outside going on about his bike as if he hadn’t just snapped a man’s arm and made him scream in pain. Seeing him smile at the sky so soon afterward was strange and unsettling.

“…They don’t have to take it home, but off the street would be ideal.â€

“Stop it, Max.â€

Kess spoke without meaning to. Val shot her a look. Kess shifted uncomfortably and cut the nervous undertone from her voice.

“Your stupid bike is the last thing we need to worry about. Let’s just go, okay?â€

The stamp on Max’s neck seemed more real than it had been yesterday. Kess stared openly at it, unable to be more subtle while new images transposed themselves against the mark. Apparently there were a myriad of memories in her brain associated with the out-of-place yellow flower. Or maybe the whole thing was Not-Culver. According to past-Dad, staying with the real Culver’s people for a little while was the only way to figure out how to tame whatever this new deal was.

Kess had been so focused on her thoughts that she didn’t process what sort of vehicle she was climbing into, or who was next to her. She spent the entire drive pushing foreign memories out of her sight, keeping her eyes fixed on an object that was actually in the car with her. The closer they got to school, the more often something tried to stretch across her entire vision and become the reality she was looking at. At least, that’s how it felt at the moment. It was like an upgraded version of the key memory from the night before.

The thing that brought her back to the physical moment was Pierson’s voice next to her rather than up front. Val looked annoyed, as if she could tell he’d butted in to say something she’d been about to get to. Pierson spoke in a warning tone, so Kess tuned in to make sure she didn’t miss anything important. All she caught was “And both of you-“, and even that only halfway, as there was a simultaneous wrenching yank on her arm. Pierson’s good arm pulled her wrist across the back of the car.

“Hey!†Kess instinctively scowled at Pierson, until his booted foot pressed her arm down at the elbow, forcing Kess forward until she was bent double in her seat. His hand clamped around her wrist and pulled the opposing way, somewhat mirroring the hold Max had just employed on Pierson’s arm. Kess’ protest died fast as she realized that though Pierson’s method was a bit different, Kess’ arm could definitely end up just like Pierson’s if he chose to push his foot down much harder.

“You toe the line from here on out, children,†Pierson’s breath was a tad ragged- no doubt his snapped joint wasn’t appreciating the spurt of movement. “You pull anything like you did this morning and the results of your actions will be replicated, understood?â€

“Yeah,†Kess shakily responded. Pierson pressed her arm a tiny bit further, and somewhere inside Kess’ head something shifted. Kess felt it whip outward like the mini-Kess had in the memory pile, and somehow rode it straight at Pierson’s left temple. Kess felt a bit of a rippling shock when it hit, but Pierson went completely slack against the backseat.

“Pierson!†Val barked at him. Kess snatched her hand away from his limp one and tucked her knees under her chin. What was that? Was it her? Could she do it again? Her heart pounded against her knees. Pierson was only out for a few seconds, but it was enough. He shot Kess a dark look that just might have held a bit of fear beneath it. But that was probably just Kess’ imagination.

“Things like that. That will be paid for.†He paused, frowned at his arm, and glanced out the window as the car slowed to a stop.

Val signaled Max to follow her outside. Kess caught the tail end of their conversation- something about it looking more natural if Kess and Max seemed to simply arrive at the same time, rather than in the same car. Kess peered out the back window and saw two things: the school flagpole a couple blocks away, and Max’s bike behind the car. Some Culver flunkie gave the keys to Val and headed over to Pierson with a bag that must have contained stuff for his arm. Kess found it easier to just think him stupid for pulling a stunt like he had while his arm hadn’t even been looked at yet. Well, stupid or altered like Max.

Val headed back to the driver’s seat.

“And I’m the impulsive, unpredictable one?†she muttered to Pierson.

“That wasn’t impulsive. That was as necessary as practically emptying that bike’s gas tank.â€

“Which was the best time I’ve had in a while,†the Culver flunkie took Pierson’s seat by Kess, and Pierson moved to the front. Everyone ignored him as Pierson moved to the front.

“I’m not sure how well Max is taking warnings lately,†Val rode the bike’s tail hard enough for revenge on being called Valerie, at least for the minute it took to reach the school parking lot.

“I tried to scare him earlier and he just laughed at me.â€

Kess leaned her head against the car window, where it bounced just the slightest bit (as did the memories of two other heads on two other windows). Having this multi-layer thing long term wasn’t going to work well for her half-sanity. That fact, coupled with Max’s own differentness, finally got Kess to decide. She needed to stick with Culver, just long enough to find Dad and get her brain under control. Max didn’t need to stay, but Kess did. So Max wouldn’t stay. But Kess would. Maybe they wouldn’t even go after him anymore after today. Or at least, wouldn’t go after him as a high priority, like he was when he was with Kess.

Even though she’d chosen to stay, actually stepping out onto the concrete sidewalk with Val took a huge mental push. Max was parking, so Val and Kess walked slow so they all met in the airlock. Val was already on the phone, confirming that yes they were there and no, nobody else was. Kess hoped that Katy’s guys would be able to do their part of the plan as well as Max seemed to think he could do his.

Kess barely looked up at Max long enough to meet his eyes. She wanted to grab his arm or say something- generally signal that they were in sync and had each other’s support. But they weren’t in sync, and Kess didn’t know how stable Max really was. So she focused her attention on the kid sitting in Clearwater’s old classroom instead and waited for Culver’s office door to open.

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“What’s he doing now?†Katy asked into her radio, leaning back with an exasperated sigh. Why are things never simple or easy in this country. She thought as her soldier replied.


“He’s standing in the reception area. He confronted the receptionist and she ran off further into the building. We think he maybe after Culver himself.†The radio clicked silent and Katy led forward.


“Trident 12, you have 2 minutes to find me his mobile number; I need direct contact with him.†She said quickly.


“Already on it, Ma’am. But it’s proving difficult to locate; it’s been scrubbed.â€


“Your time limit still applies.â€


“Yes Ma’am.â€


Katy focused her binoculars on the front entrance, her position making it hard to look inside the lobby, but she could see people going in and out; mostly students. When suddenly three figures came into view and Katy nearly missed them.


“Stand ready, Charge 1 & 2 on location; entering main lobby. Do not lose sight of them.†She placed the radio back down just as he phone pinged with a message. She opened it to see a mobile number staring up at her. Good job. She said and hit the dial button.




Ray was stood with his back to the window, his arms crossed in front of his wide chest, but the reflection of a framed photo in front of him showed the view at his back. It was in this reflection that he caught sight of Max, his height gave him away among the other students, and Ray turned around to walk out and meet him. Before he had even taken a second step, his phone began ringing. Ray pulled it out and glanced at it, preparing to ignore it, but he didn’t recognise the number and frowned. I know all the people who have my number. He thought as he answered.


“Who the hell are you?†he said immediately.


“My name is Katy Luger, I am currently working with your son Max to take out Culver; your presence here will put his plan into jeopardy.†Katy’s German accent made Ray pay attention.


“Katy Luger? I think I know that name; don’t you work for an anti-government organisation? In fact, never mind, just tell me what you meant when you said you were working with Max.†Ray replied, glancing out the window to see Max approaching slowly.


“I don’t have the time to explain. You should know that if you and Max come face to face, you will be placing him in danger. I know you are used to it, but I advise not pushing the same thing onto your son.†With that said, Katy hung up and left Ray to think.


It didn’t take very long, Max’s face told him that he was in control to some degree; he very clearly wasn’t under duress. With that in mind, Ray strode forward and disappeared into the first door he came across; which turned out to be some kind of cleaning cupboard. Great. He thought as he locked the door behind him. I haven’t hidden in a cleaning cupboard in years.




Max could feel the practically empty petrol tank that sat below him as he pulled his bike into the parking lot and slowed to a stop. He pulled his helmet off, sweeping his hair back as he did, and placed it hanging from the handle of the bike before swinging a leg off to stand up. Max had agreed with Val that turning up somewhat separately from Kess was probably a good idea, if only to prevent rumours going around school. He strode over to the main path that led to the receptionist lobby and met Val and Kess at the doors. Val was on the phone with someone confirming that they were there, and they were alone.


A large figure within the building caught Max’s attention and he swung his gaze in time to see the man dive into a door further into the building. He better not mess things up for me. He thought as Val led him and Kess into the lobby and up to Culver’s door.


“Your job’s done, Valerie; scuttle off now.†Max said without even looking at Val.


Val started to reply angrily but stopped when a hand lay on her shoulder from behind. All three of them turned to see Culver, flanked by Dawn, in his sharp suit and blank face looking at them as if analysing them. Culver bent forward to Val’s ear and spoke in less-than-a-whisper. “Ray Ruine is in the building, take him or force him out.†With that said he stepped forward to stand in front of Max and Kess.


Max smiled and stuck out his hand. “Mr Culver, how nice to meet you; my name is Max Ruine and this is Kess Carter. Or do you know that already?â€


Culver completely ignored the hand and stepped past the two of them to open his door. “Please, step into my office.†As Max stepped into the room, a smile still on his face, and Kess followed him, Culver turned to Dawn. “There is a new arrival today; get Jordan and find out if they are suited. If they even show a fraction of ability, take them below.†Dawn hesitated briefly before nodding and hurrying away from the group.


Culver then stepped into the room and closed the door, the click of the latch echoing around the surprisingly quiet office. “Is it how you remember?†Culver said, his voice indicating that he knew Max and Kess had been there before.


Max chuckled and perched on the edge of his desk. “Do you even spend time in here? It looks exactly the same.â€


“Not exactly; I’m missing a list of names I left here.†Culver’s smooth voice filled the room as he spoke with a tone of commanding. He walked around the room until he came to the back of the desk where he reached under the lip and swiped his finger over something.


“A hidden switch under the desk? Why didn’t I think of that.†Max said, mock slapping his forehead. “It’s so obvious for you!†Culver didn’t reply and a second after he had pressed the button, the floor suddenly started descending. “Wow…†Max said, nodding his head. “…You’ve really played along to the ‘secret lair’ thing.†As Max looked up, a faux floor slipped into place to cover the hole left by the lowering floor.


A minute passed in silence before the elevator stopped and a glass door slid open at one end. Culver stepped out and after a second Max followed with Kess in tow. He stopped once he was off the lift and looked around the room they were now in. It was about the size of a swimming pool with what appeared to be dentist chairs running down each side. The floor was tiled white and the walls were painted white; the fluorescent lights on the white ceiling made the room nearly blinding to look at. Behind the chairs, thick cables ran out of the walls and rested on the back of the chair in a hook; smaller wires drooped off the cable with clear patches on the end.


“You have crossed the threshold of your own free will.†Culver said from where he had been watching. “You are mine now.†He raised a hand and 6 burly men dressed in white trousers and t-shirts stepped into the room from the far end and walked up until they were stood behind Culver, looking menacing. “Take the girl to the Central Console; make sure she is not hurt in the process. As for the boy, take him to Bay 2 for configuration; if he resists in anyway, feel free to hurt him in a way you seem fit. Dr Oldman will attend to him, he is a strong one.â€


Two men stepped forward and grabbed Kess by each arm while the remaining four stepped forward and surrounded Max. “Four for little old me? I’m flattered.â€

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By the time she reached the school, River's bag had fallen halfway down her arm; hanging by one strap at her elbow. Facing the towering school doors, she shifted, propping it up on one shoulder. River wore a look of carelessness on her face, which was framed by a tangled mass of bleached-white hair. Black roots were easily visible along the top of her head. Aware of this, River fitted a loose, gray beanie over it. The rest of her was adorned by a loose sweater and black pants that ended at her ankles.


She shifted in place for a moment before looking at her watch. River clicked her tongue; the damned thing had broken again- it's numbers flashing '2:03am' on the digital screen. She fumbled with it before slipping it into her bag; grumbling, as if it was someone else's fault (Truthfully, River had spilled hot chocolate on her watch the night before. The steaming drink had broken her watch- but she chose to forget that detail). 


She pushed open one of the heavy double-doors, slipping through it and entering the school. She found the halls empty, and presumed she was late. Shrugging, River decided to simply wander the school, wearing a look of confidence as she strode.

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((OOC: Heyoo! I'm really new to roleplaying in a forum so please offer me any tips and tricks you have! If I do something wrong tell me as soon as possible. I hate being the last to know if there is an error in my information or spelling. Thank you! I'm really looking forward to this!))


The loud resonating beeps of the alarm clock is all that could be heard in the young high school kid's home. The mother was off doing whatever protest was supposed to be caught on television and the father was working in his boring and frustrating bank job. As some time rolled past with the slightly hypnotic beeps she finally smashed her palm down onto the button. Long raspy groans and yawns swirled throughout the still air in her home, eyes crusty from sleep. Too bad summer was over. The girl sat up, rubbed her eyes, stretched her arms till the joints popped, and stood up as slowly as a person probably could in all of man-kind. Though, this doesn't really tell you who this girl is so let us backtrack a bit.

This so called young girl was Moumita Molpe Soyinka. Apparently being adopted to an American family made her parents freak out a bit about her heritage. As if she even knew what her 'people' were like. Regardless, her silly name had over the years become Mou rather than some offering up to where she was born. If you had to place her style of dressing anywhere it would be somewhere between boho chic and 'I picked all these items off of my floor in a dark room'. Other than her lovely complexion and style Mou's height was something to ogle at as well as she stood at a whopping six feet tall. But rather than ramble on all day about her silly looks let us move into more important issues!

Just like every other time Mou had to go to school she showered and flung on some clothes. Nothing special really just some jeans, a sweater, and an old scarf tied loosely around her hips. Well those and her scuffed up ratty old sneakers from the year before. Ahh recycling, am I right? With her clothes and hair done she went onto the rest of her routine until finally it was time to head out. Bag hoisted up on one shoulder and sunglasses on Mou began the slow boring trudge to the school she'd come to...Well, not hate exactly but defiantly not love in the slightest.

Squeaks filled the air of the mostly empty hallways as she passed by room after room. Which was hers again? Oh it was right here. Not wanting to draw too much attention to being late she shuffled in and sat at one of the remaining seats, bag smashing a bit loudly into the wall as she tried taking it off. Wince.

"So sorry about that," she sighed, cheeks tinged softly with a red color to show off her embarrassment. Of course she couldn't get through the first minute of class without causing a mini seen. "I'm Mou by the way--" the girl interjected softly to the teacher. At least she would get partial attendance for the day... right?

((OOC: Oh I don't feel terribly positive with this post but I am really rusty with this whole thing. Sorry guys! I'm really hoping to be a bit better really soon!))

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"What's the 'Fast-Trac-". Her questioning was cut off when she noticed the door open and two others stepped inside. "Erm, who are you two?". Before she got an answer, another ran into the room, this one familiar. "Alec, what the hell are you doing here?!"


"I need you for a moment, if it's alright with your three little friends here." It was her step-brother Alec. He's 19 years old, about 5'6, and rather muscular in build. They'd been siblings since he was 6, so they've known each other most of their lives.


"Alright..." She stood up and walked out of the door. "So, what do you need me to do?"


"We need someone to trace this IP, it's important." He handed her a slip of paper with the IP written on it.


"Couldn't you have gotten someone else to do it... I'm at school, if you noticed." She had been rather savvy with computers, and figured she'd use it to learn hacking. White hat, of course, although she could lean towards gray hat sometimes. "Did you bring my laptop?"


"Right here." He handed her the bag. Amy took it and opened it.


"Alright, I'll work on it... In the meantime, don't mess anything up." She sat on the floor and started to trace. After about 4 minutes, she wrote down the address and handed it to Alec. "In the mean time..." She started doing something, and in a few minutes, she told him. "Done! You're now going to school here.

"God Amy..."

"Call me Ryan. Anyways, I wonder what's going on in the teachers lounge..." She got onto the cameras and started looking through. When she hit the entrance camera, she noticed something strange. She flipped backed to it, and realized that there were windows there that hadn't been there previously. "The hell?! Alec, come over here and look at this."


He checked the computer. "There weren't windows there before, were there?"

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