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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/campfires/item_id/1408086-Freaks-Currently-full
Rated: 13+ · Campfire Creative · Fiction · Fantasy · #1408086
People discover hidden powers.Is it chance? Or is there something more sinister behind it?
[Introduction] Okay, theres pretty much no limit to how many people there can be. Girls or guys. Any super power is fine, as long as its serious. (No Skittle vision or anything, kay? :P) Also, since it's 13+ no cussing, or sex. Violence, when used for, like, action purposes is fine, just no gore. For first addition please put stats. Example: age, hair color, powers, gender, and a bio if you want to. Have fun!
Name: Jake Matthews

Age: 17

Gender: Male

Appearance: Of average height, and on the lean side. Has black or really dark brown hair (depends on what you would describe it as) that fits around his face and falls a little past his ears. Has bangs that are always pushed to the side, but sometimes get in his face, and brown eyes.

Powers: illusions, the product of telepathy, but sometimes its hard to tell whats real. Also
has telekinesis.

Personality: Jake is just one of those people who slip "under the radar". Not many friends at school, not the best athlete or student. Possibly what people put under the catagory "emo". But hey, if you had an abusive father, and suddenly discovered strange abilities, you might be like that too.
(Sorry, took longer than expected...)
Name: Evangeline Fitz-Cunningham
Age: 17
Gender: Female
Race: Irsh/German
Eyes: Violet
Hair: Green (natural)
Powers: Has control over the all growth and break-down processes in her body, this inluding hair, nails, skin, muscle, bone, blood, etc. Also, her hair, as it is "alive" in a sense --being made of a substance similiar to skin, though it is not sensitive to pain-- as an extra appendage, of sorts.
Personality: She is quite a peculiar individual—or at least comes across as such—and overall has a hard time relating to other people, and therefore keeps to herself. She is a deep person, a bit of an eccentric altogether and somewhat of an artist. She is also an utter klutz and a self-professed geek. Despite her awkwardness, she is very opinionated and dreadfully honest and is not afraid to speak her mind; sometimes her mouth can get her into trouble.
Bio: [don't really have a bio right now...that'll have to come out in the story]
A Non-Existent User
NAME: Artur Channing
AGE: 17
GENDER: Male
APPEARANCE: Reddish blond spiked hair, silver eyes, and about six feet tall with pale skin. He's broad in the shoulder and has lean build like a swimmer.
POWERS:The ability to animate inanimate objects. Also had a small amount of astral projection into the past and present.
PERSONALITY: Artur is a simple guy trying to live a regular life. Neither popular or an outcast, he's the type of guy that everyone says hi to in passing but doesn't know all that well. He's friendly, polite and does his best to get along with people even though his sense of paranoia has grown since his powers have started to mature. He's always afraid someone will find out his secret. Between his uncontrollable powers and his parents splitting so his father can come out of the closet, his personal life isn't going as well as he'd like.
Jake sighed. Another day, another Math class. He hated math. HATED it. That was because it was hard, for him at least. It's not that he was lazy, because he wasn't. It's just that as long you know how to do the basic stuff, then you can use a calculator. You don't need to take four stinking years of it!
"Turn in your test's class." His teacher called.
Crap.
He hadn't finished. And the ones he had gotten, probably about half of them were wrong. He handed it in and was about to walk out the door when Mr. Henderson asked him to stay.
"You forgot your report card."
"Huh?"
"You were supposed to take it home yesterday."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry." He said as he grabbed it. He hadn't forgotten it, he had purposely left it.
"And I'm going to need you to get your parent's to sign it. You have a D in this class."
"Okay." He sighed again. He really, really, didn't want to show this to his parents.
"You can maybe get tutoring, you know?" His teacher said.
"Yea, maybe." He smiled. He liked Mr. Henderson.
He decided he had better get home soon. He had to walk, so it was going to take a while.
He really would have to get better grades in Math, he decided. Then he could get into college, then he could leave. It would have to be community college of course, but he was still going to try the best grades he could. He got home at about five so it was sort of starting to get dark. He had dinner with his parents, if you could call it dinner. A burnt meal cooked by his nervous mother, father not saying anything and drinking, of course. When would be a good time to get them to sign his report card? He would try to get his mom to sign it, forget his dad. When his mom was doing the dishes he stayed behind and helped. When they were done he decided to approach her.
"Uh, mom? Could you sign my report card?" he asked, handing it to her.
She took it and after she saw what was inside made an exasperated noise.
"Jake! Your still not doing good in Math?"
"I'm trying. My teacher said I could get tutoring, though." He said.
She frowned but signed it anyway and he put it into his pocket. He really would try harder. For her.
Suddenly he could hear his fathers voice. "What is wrong with this *bleep*ing TV!"
He and his mother locked eyes, then she hurried off to assist his father.
He heard his father yelling more, spewing insults, and he could hear his mother, crying.
He rushed in. "Hey, leave her alone!"
"What do you have to say? Your worthless, just like her." His father said backing him into the kitchen.
"Your the worthless one! She's the only reason we have a house!" He cried back.
"You *bleep*ing *bleep*!" His father said as he shoved him forward.
Jake slammed into the cabinet, causing the top door to open and a glass pitcher fell from it and crashed to the floor.
A Non-Existent User
Artur was slouched down in his seat, sketching the human heart in the margin of his notebook, when his teacher slammed his textbook closed. Half of the class jumped out of their chairs. This included Artur but he tried to play it off like meant to fall of his seat.

“And that class is the circulatory system.” Mr. McDonald said, peering over his glasses at the daydreaming students. He opened his mouth to give a lecture about paying attention in class when bell rang. “Saved by the bell. Go. Get out of here before I decided to give you extra homework.”

Artur didn’t have to be told twice. He slung his ratty backpack over one shoulder and joined the mass exodus of students out the door. Down the hall he got a couple of hey man’s and dude’s as of way of greetings. Artur just smiled back and tapped a few fists. In truth he wasn’t paying much attention - there were a lot of other things on his mind.

Distracted, he elbowed his locker open to put back his books and immediately wished he hadn’t. Taped inside was a photocopy of him in the fourth grade. It was a horrible picture. His hair stuck up in fifteen different direction, his face still had baby fat around the cheeks, and he was grinning like a maniac… crooked teeth and all. Artur tore the paper off and read the message at the bottom.

Look what I found while I was cleaning out from under my bed last night? You think you have problems now, look at you back then. - Curtis

P.S. Hitched a ride so you’re on your own today.


Artur crumpled his best friend's attempt at humor up and threw in the trash of the way out to the parking lot. God, he hoped no one had seen it. The next time he saw Curtis, Artur fumed to himself, there was going to be a definite smack down. And no more rides for the joker either.

Name: Lucy Williams

Age: 18

Gender: Female

Appearance: Average. Average in almost every way. Average height, average build, black hair down to his ears, ordinary brown eyes. Dresses well, but not exceptionally so.

Powers: Lucy has the ability to transform all or part of her body into smoke and back. While she cannot do this to held items larger than a small book, it does affect her clothing. She can control this smoke, though she can be blown and scattered by winds.

Bio: Lucy has always been just above average, meaning she is even less than average in most eyes. She was never the best athlete, nor the worst. Never the best student, nor did she fail classes. Now she has something that makes her unique. And unique she will be.

Personality: Insecure. Proud of her accomplishments, but acutely aware that many others have accomplished much more. She is very good at convincing herself of what she wants to believe, and is very firm in her ambition to become more than the median statistic she so often considers herself.
A Non-Existent User
Name: Flora Rose Knenelien
Age: 16
Gender: Female
Appearance: long blonde hair, freckles, bright blue eyes, red lips, rosy cheeks, dresses like it's a uniformed school.
Bio: Flora is one of those super smart people, who skips like four grades. But she's only skipped two though. Excels crazily in all subjects, much to the dismay of others, and had great friends at her old school, though she's certain she'll make new ones here.
Powers: Flora has two gifts. She's able to read minds, so basically telepathy. She can also control water.
Personality: While very smart, she is also one of those people who is annoyingly perky and bubbly, but also one of those people you can't help but like.
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Flora waved goodbye to her mother and walked into the school, smiling like she always did. She marched to the guidance office, waving at certain people she knew were staring at her. She opened the door and walked up to the desk. "Hi, how can I help you?" the secretary asked, typing rapidly on her computer. Hello. I'm Flora Knenelein, I was told to come here this morning to receive my schedule," Flora told her, still smiling. "Oh, the smart girl. Yes, here it is. Have a nice day dear," the woman said, handing Flora a piece of paper with a locker combination and number and a schedule on it. "Thank you! Have a nice day as well!" and she headed off to find her locker, still smiling.

Name - Susan Bolitar

Age - 17

Gender - Female

Appearance - Light brown hair in a pixie cut with one cooper streak in front. She is of average height and has the body of a dancer. She also has eyes the color of storm clouds, an olive complexion and a large mouth ready to tell you off. Her style runs the gambit from ultra girly to tomboy. The only things that never change are the dog tags around her neck and a worn-down pair of black combat boots she wears.

Powers - Susan can control all things metal. She can manipulate its chemical properties to change the substance (EX- silver to titanium) or change the form (EX- solid to liquid). So far this only works on objects smaller than a lunch box. Also, if Susan concentrates hard enough she can absorb the metal into her body and push it out through tears.

Personality - Everything Susan does has attitude. It doesn't matter if you're young or old, big or small, she'll give you a look that can make you feel puny and vulnerable. Threats mean nothing to her as she takes back talk from no one. Champion of the underdog, Susan plays the "tough girl" act well but her heart is pure gold. She just doesn't realize it yet.

History - When her older brother was killed in the Army a few years back everything in her life fell to pieces. Blaming himself, her father abandoned them, and drank himself into an early grave soon after. Now its just her and her mom who must work double shifts to make ends meet. Susan is mostly alone but she doesn't mind the solitude.
Name: Suri Robins

Gender: Female

Age: 14

Appearance: golden blond hair with layers, commonly worn with a headband that will match whatever outfit she happens to be wearing. Her stunning green eyes are radiant and emerald-like. She wears a lot of warm, bright colors.

Personality: Suri is very free spirited. She's always pleasantly joyful and remarkably sweet, capable of giving everyone diabetes. Her love is infinite and she gives an overly generous amount to everyone she cares about. She is well known for her extremely laughable nature. She often laughs at everything and sometimes nothing at all. Suri spends a good amount time making sure that she look and smell good. She's addicted to music, TV, computer, cell phone and junk food, like a normal teenager should be. She's outgoing and incredibly easy to befriend.

Power: has the ability to hypnotize.

Bio: Suri is the youngest and only girl in a wealthy family of four children. She has always been well loved and cared for. She's some what spoiled but not at all bratty.
Name: Aiden Dartz

Gender: Male

Age: 22

Appearance: Light brown hair, usually worn spiked, and deep, dark blue-grey eyes. Usually wears only a solid black, white, or blue t-shirt and jeans. Athletic. Small goatee same color as his hair.

Personality: Kind, yet mysterious. When he meets most of the others, he acts as a mentor for the group to help them control their powers as he has had his for a longer time. He doesn't like to take up the role of leader, but does so when no one else will. Acts pretty much like a mentor, preferring to let others handle situations, but intervenes when necessary.

Power: electro- and pyrokinesis (Ability to create and manipulate Electricity/Lightning and Fire, though not entirely successful in quick succession)

Bio: Aiden was an orphan that never had a family. He was raised by a good neighborhood until he was of good age. He finished college quickly, and is now working as an interim teacher where most of the others go to school.
Name: William (Will) Everard

Gender: Male

Age: 27

Appearance: Tall, lanky and thin. Jet black hair, gey eyes. Usually wears jeans and a t-shirt, usually with his favourite bands on them.

Personality: While he can appear rough and like a bit of a 'loner', once you get to know him, you realise that Will is caring, kind and considerate. He never betrays a friend, and will never go down without a fight.

Power: Able to transfrom into animals. The only problem is that, once transfroming from the animal back into the human, he has to stay as a human for half an hour, with no exceptions.

Bio: Will has never been able to get along with others easily, as they judge him before they get to truly know him. He gained his power when he was just seven, showed his parents, and they were horrified, so kicked him out onto the streets, leaving him to fend for himself.
Jake pushed all of the things of his desk in anger, then instantly regretted it and stooped to pick them up. His dad made him so mad sometimes! Maybe he would just show them what he could do, that would probably make his dad a little nicer. Jake could make people see and feel things that weren't real. He could make someone see a big scary dog right in front of them, hear the barks, and even feel a bite. All of which were never really happening. He also had slight telekinesis, but he never used it because his illusions were so efficient. He used them to do magic tricks. Maybe he could change the grade on his report card... but no. That wouldn't be right. Besides, when he stopped thinking about what he was doing, it would go back to normal. So he was on his own for homework. Most of which was still scattered on his floor. He stacked it into a semi-neat pile and placed it back on his desk. He sat down and began to look through it. He still had Science, English, and Math left. Joy.

* * * * * * * *

The next day he woke up late and had to run to school. He stopped at the office to get a late slip, which he thought was quite counteractive, because getting a piece of paper that said he was late, just made him later.He hurried to his locker and nearly knocked down girl who was opening hers. "Sorry!" He said. The, girl, who had long blonde hair and freckles just smiled.
"Its okay."
He exchanged the books he needed from his locker. "You new here?" He asked.
"Yea, actually I just moved sch-"
Jake suddenly looked at his watch and jumped. "Agh! Sorry, I have to go, nice meeting you!" He said as he ran towards class.
He finally opened the door of his Science class, gave the teacher the paper, and sat down. It took him a minute to realize that this wasn't his normal teacher. The man had spiky brown hair and a goatee. And was wearing a plain old t-shirt and jeans. Which was surprisingly casual for a teacher.
"As I was saying." He smiled, "My name is Mr. Dartz. I will be teaching this class for a while."




A Non-Existent User
Artur leaned his head against the steering wheel and groaned. The daylight filtering through his windshield was too much to bare at such an ungodly hour. His morning cup of coffee had yet to hit his system and his first class in fifteen minutes.

His day hadn't started well. Luckily he'd been able to dodge his parents' family yet again but it was only by the skin of his teeth. The whole situation was just too weird. It wasn't the divorce that bothered him so much - people got divorced all the time. It was fact his parents had lied to him for years and somehow expected him to be okay with it.

Stuck in his gloomy thoughts Artur nearly jumped out of his skin when someone knocked loudly on his car window. Taking a deep breath, he rolled down his window and glared at the person disturbing his peace. "What!?!"

"Look, Channing, don't give me lip. I need I ride to school or I'm going to be late. Since you're already heading in that direction I thought you might give me a lift."

Artur glanced up at his next door neighbor of years and gave her a puzzled expression. "Do I know you?"

The girl opened her mouth to blast him but Artur held up a hand to stop her. "I don't know who you are but I have to leave now. So if you'll excuse me." Without waiting for a response, Artur rolled up his window and pulled away from the curb in front of his house. He smiled for the first time in days as he circled the block. It was so easy to tease her.

Susan Bolitar stood with her hands on her hips as he stopped the car inches from her feet. She stormed over to the passenger side, her light pixie hair flying, and yanked the door open. She chucked her backpack at his head. "If I want comedy Channing I watch a Will Farrell movie, you got me?"

"Sorry," Artur said laughingly as he held his hands up in surrender. "I just couldn't help myself Sus."

Susan slammed the door shut. "Don't call me Sus." She angrily crossed her arms over her chest and stared straight out the window.

"Whatever you say Sus."

Lucy was sitting in class comfortably when Jake burst in. She smiled despite herself. Jake, whatever anyone else thought of him, was unique.

"As I was saying." the new teacher continued, "My name is Mr. Dartz. I will be teaching this class for a while. I will only be here for a few weeks while Mrs. King has her baby, but I'll try to learn everyone's name long before I have to go, so bear with me please."

Lucy beamed at the substitute with her best smile. "We'll try, Mr. Dartz."

A few rolled their eyes at her while Mr. Dartz turned to her and nodded. "Thank you very much..."

"Lucy Williams."

Mr. Dartz repeated the name a few times to himself, mouth moving silently. "Lucy... Williams. Good. I've got one name now, let's run through the roll and see if I can get a few others."

Lucy's smile remained all through the roll. A couple of students tried to poke fun at the sub when their names were called, and a couple got busted conspiring in the corner over something, but Lucy had already stood out. She managed to get a wave to Jake just after his name was called.

He gave a half-hearted wave back, but smiled as he did. He wasn't Lucy's closest friend, but she made it a point to at least wave.

The rest of class went smoothly. A bit of learning, a couple worksheets to finish for homework, and a bell signaling the next class.

She sat down in her new seat with time to spare, then turned to face the girl taking the seat beside her, normally empty. She was a bit young to take this class, but then it was Lucy's hardest subject so she wasn't one to talk. Freckles, rosy cheeks, uniform. Unusual. Always nice.

Lucy stuck out her hand to introduce herself before she'd even finished seating herself.

A lot of first impressions to make today. A lot of chances to be recognized.
A Non-Existent User
In the middle of the first class, Flora walked in and held out her late slip. "I was putting my things away in my locker- I'm new here." Her smile remained. "Well, nice to meet you, it would seem we are both new today. I am Mr. Dartz." Flora kept smiling. "I'm Flora Knenelien, nice to meet you!" She took a vacant seat next to the boy who had ran away from her near their lockers. She smiled at him and peered into his mind. This class is dumb this class is dumb. Forty more minutes until I get out of here! Flora turned away from him and looked around. A girl with medium black hair caught her eye and smiled at her. Flora read her mind. I wonder where she moved from. I wonder if she's like me. Maybe I'll ask her to lunch or something. Do we have any other classes together? Flora turned away and focuses on the teacher. Alright, let's get to work now, where's that thing she left for me. What class is this again? Flora kept smiled and hoped that she would make friends.
Susan was leaving her first period science class when she felt someone brush up beside her. She didn't turn to the person or try to say hello. That took a lot more effort than she wanted to extend to this person's existence. Plus, after this morning's antics she wasn't in a chatting mood.

"So Sus," Artur said a few seconds later. The guy always had a way of showing up when she wanted to be left alone. "Are you always this talkative or is this special trait something you save just for me?"

Susan grimaced at his laughing tone. What is it with happy people? "Don't you have a toaster to talk to or something?"

"Sshh! Don't say that so loud." He turned his head left and right to see if anyone was eavesdropping. "People might hear you."

"You wanted me to speak, I'm speaking."

"That was an accident." Susan noticed a curious flush to his face. At least he wasn't smiling anymore, she thought with satisfaction. "I had gotten another parking ticket that day and I was a little upset."

Susan scoffed. "A little upset is slamming doors or pulling your hair. You'd have to be a lot more than upset to have the type of energy it takes to make your toaster recite the Emancipation Proclamation."

"Since when did you become a physics expert?" Artur said sarcastically.

Susan gave him a wolfish grin. "Wouldn't you like to know."

The two of them walked into their second period class chuckling. But their mirth died when they caught the name Mr. Dartz on the board. Susan surveyed the new guy. The first thought that came to mind was how young he was compared to the rest of the teachers. At first glance he seemed nice enough which was kind of sad. Her fellow classmates had a tendency to treat substitutes like yesterday's garbage. She almost felt bad for him.
Suri sat in the back of her senior friend's science class, she was skipping her own because she has been taking way too much crap from her science teacher and she wasn't up for it today.

The senior in front of her turned around and grinned at her. "Little girl, are you lost?"

Suri looked over at Scott, the friend who brought her in here, for support.

"Sunny, stand up," said Scott.

She was well known around the school by Sunny for her bright personality.
Scott laid a big pile of books down on Suri's chair and told her to sit on it.

"It'll make you look taller," he explained, amused.

"You still look pretty short," the senior that sat in front of her commented. "Hi, I'm Stanley. What's your name, little girl?" he talked slowly and clearly, as though speaking to a toddler.

"Stanley, you better turn around before things get ugly," Scott threatened. "Hey, what's up, Devon," he greeted the friend who took the seat in front of him.

Devon turned around and eyed Suri curiously, then he shook his head and smiled. "Mmm, dayum you're fine. Wat it do, shawty? The name's Devon, but my friends call me Fo Shizzle Nizzle Bo Bizzle and I'm in the hizzle."

"I'm sorry, I dont speak German," said Suri quietly, flashing a bright smile at him.

Devon laughed. "Oh, I see how it's gonna be. What are you doing here, gurl?"

"I'm skipping. Taking some time off from my freshman classes," she explained.

"Oh, chu comin' to roll with the seniors. Nice timin' too. We got a sub today." He turned to Scott. "You guys going out?"

Scott shook his head sadly.

"Sunny!!!" a guy called as he entered the room. "I've got sunshine on a cloudly day," he sang from the song "My Girl" by The Temptations, "When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May."

The substitute came in the room and shut the door behind him. All the students took their seat. Suri kept her head down and tried to hide behind big Stanley.
Aiden was not having a good day. But he kept that hidden through his first class of science. Now it was his second class, which happened to be the seniors. He looked around, almost amused. Clearly a motley bunch, with different kids from different cultures and backgrounds. But he could sense one thing in common with them, they didn't want to be here either.

He looked to the door as a young man who was late for class. He handed Aiden the late slip, which Aiden took. Then he turned back to the class. The boy did a double take as he realised that this was not his normal teacher.

"As a was saying. My name is Mr. Dartz." He continued his little schpleel on everything. Then he called roll. Miss Lucy Williams was very straightforward. Everyone else did their own thing. It was after he got done with roll, and was looking for the work that was left for him did he feel something strange. His mind was being read. And obvoiusly the person was inexperienced, because it was an obvious mind-read. But which one of these students was it?

He kept that information to himself. One who was experienced and knew of the abilities of powers as Aiden did could block off mind-reading from someone inexperienced. He knew how. He had dealt with many psychics in since learning of his own powers almost eight years ago. But his were dangerous, and he had to control them.

But he got back to the class, and started his first science lesson for the seniors.
Halfway through the lesson, there was a loud knock at the door, followed by a soft thud and a groan. Aiden tried to read the persons mind, but found that he could not, but he could tell that they were in a lot of pain, he could almost feel it himself. Hurrying to the door, he opened it and found the nearly-unconscious shape of a close friend, lying on the ground coughing and spluttering.

Many wounds covered his body, there were rips in his clothes from some sort of weapon, most likely a knife or sword, and there was a large graze on his forhead.

"What happened?" Aiden asked as he bent down.

"They're forming--a dark--side. I was attacked. I--didn't know where else t-to come," said Will between coughing. Blood was mixed with his spit, and his arms were cold to touch. Aiden sidled into the class.

"Everyone stay here, and remain quiet. I'll be back in about ten minutes," he said, emphasising the word 'quiet'. When he came back out to Will, he really was unconscious. Aiden started dragging Will, picking him up enough so his hands weren't dragging along the floor, and hid him in a storage cupboard. The hospital would do x'rays to check if anything was broken, but find something different about Will. They would find out about his power, then he would be labelled a freak, and maybe they would do experiments on him.

Aiden checked his watch. There was only ten minutes left of the lesson. After that was his lunchbreak. He would take Will to his house, that was the best thing to do.
As Jake was heading to lunch he thought he saw the new substitute teacher, Mr. Dartz, put something very heavy into the back seat of his car, then hurriedly drive away. "Maybe he was just going to lunch". Jake thought. But something about it still seemed odd. Oh well. He would have to worry about that later. He looked around the tables wondering where to sit. He usually sat by himself, but people seemed to be occupying nearly all the tables. Lucy, the girl from his Science class, waved at him to come over. He sat down to find the new girl Flora sitting there as well. "That's really nice of Lucy, to reach out to new people." He thought.
"Hey." he said as he sat down.
Artur and Susan came and sat down as well. Jake knew Artur enough to like him, and Susan enough to make sure he didn't say anything stupid around her. So there they were, the table of outcasts. The thought made him want to laugh but he didn't know why, so he kept it to himself.
"I almost feel bad for the substitute." Susan said.
"I thought he was doing okay." Jake ventured. The teacher was nice at least... but then again at this school that might not be a safe thing to be.
"Yea, but he almost ran out of class this last period." Artur said.
That made Jake even more curious.
"Well maybe he's just nervous. We should try to be extra cooperative." Lucy said smiling.
"But anyway, how are you liking this school, Flora?" Lucy continued.
* * * * *
On Jake's lengthy walk home he had to pass through a fairly nice neighborhood. Not to fancy, but not falling apart either. He was absorbed in his own thoughts when something caught his attention. It was Mr. Dartz' car, parked in the driveway of one of the houses. Did he live here? He walked up to the car and looked in before passing it. There was something on one of the seats. It was sort of brownish and looked like... dried blood? "Yea, of course." Jake thought sarcastically. "More likely its dried soup."
He sidled up to the door and looked through the window but couldn't see anything. He should probably just leave... but suddenly an extremely strong pull of curiosity said he should stay. Otherwise he wouldn't be doing what he was doing right now. He made himself invisible, because just as he could make people see things, he could make them not see things as well. He tried the door and found that it was locked. He used his telekinesis to pick it, then walked in and quietly shut the door. He snuck around the first floor then went up stairs. The sudden thought occurred to him that he really shouldn't be snooping and he was about to turn and leave when he heard voices in one of the rooms. He went around the small hall and stopped at a door that was slightly ajar.
Mr. Dartz was sitting in a chair and in the other chair was a fairly bandaged up and weak looking young man with black hair.
"What do you mean they're making a dark side?" Mr. Dartz asked. "How couldn't we have known until now?"
The other man coughed. "They're smart, thats how. They're looking for more people to pull into their ranks. The younger the better. Then they can force all their twisted ideas upon them."
Aiden frowned. "I think someone read my mind today. One of the students."
What? Someone else at that school had powers? And the sub and this other guy must have them too. This was crazy! Suddenly he noticed both of them looking at him in shock. He had lost his concentration and become visible again. Crap!
A Non-Existent User
Artur cautiously opened his locker, expecting another "funny" surprise. His shoulders sagged in relief when everything inside was exactly where he left it. Thank God for small favors, he thought. Just when he let his guard down a meaty fist punched him in the arm.

"Dude!" Curtis shouted. "Haven't seen you around all day."

"Yeah," Artur mumbled as he buried his head deep in his locker. Maybe if he stood still enough Curtis would catch the hint and leave. Then again, that might be too much to ask for.

"So, what's up with you and the Terminator?" Curtis leaned against the locker right next to Artur's. He crossed his linebacker arms over his chest with a particularly odd smirk on his face.

Artur pulled his head out and frowned in confusion. Curtis was a cool guy and everything, but there were times Artur had no idea what he was talking about. "Huh?"

"Dude," Curtis teased as he point over Artur's shoulder. About twenty feet away stood two girls with their backs to him. Artur squinted his eyes for a better look and on closer examination spotted the tell tale combat boots and pixie hair. He was pretty sure Curtis meant Susan and she was talking politely with Lucy Williams. Odd.

"You mean Susan?"

"Of course, man. She's crazy nuts. That girl could probably take out the whole varsity team by herself." Curtis's smirk grew wider. "Heard you had lunch with her today."

Artur shrugged as he slid his backpack over his shoulder. "Yeah, so? She's been my next door neighbor for years." When Curtis just raised his eyebrows in speculation Artur rushed on to defend himself. "We're friends. She's like the kid sister I never wanted."

Curtis placed a hand on his shoulder. He shook his head sadly. "Dude, you can not just be friends with a girl. Especially a girl like that."Artur wasn't sure he wanted to know what that meant.

Without looking, he slammed his locker's door closed... only to have his thumb get in the way. Instant pain rushed up from his hand, making his head swim. The sudden emotional energy of pain and anger surged through his body like a strike of lightning. Artur cringed. "Oh no... please don't-"

"Hey! Who turned out the lights? It freakin' dark in here," yelled a small, squeaky voice from inside his backpack.

Lucy was pleased.

Susan was not well-known for being nice or friendly, but here she was actually seeming to enjoy a little conversation with Lucy. Now if only she knew what she was doing right so that she could do it again.

"I thought the sub was very nice. I was worried that he would get a hard time so I tried to head off the pranksters. I think it worked, too. If they were pulling their tricks they weren't pulling any that I noticed and Mr Dartz didn't seem too distracted or upset."

Susan shrugged before her own answer. "He was nice. He didn't have as much trouble in my class, though..." The girl thought for a second before continuing, "Though I'm pretty sure he didn't get as warm a reception as he would've hoped."

Lucy was about to ask about the strange pause when she heard another voice she didn't recognize. "Hey! Who turned out the lights? It freakin' dark in here!"

She leaned around Susan to look towards Artur and Curtis with a raised eyebrow, but the girl immediately moved in front of her. "You really spoke up to head off the pranks in your class? That was awfully nice of you, Lucy. How do you get up the confidence to do that?"

Lucy let herself be turned around as Susan led her away down the hall. She was rather certain she was being distracted on purpose, but she really couldn't bring herself to mind too much. A smile found its way to her face, a genuine one, widening the whole time they walked as she began talking to Susan about her efforts.

It wasn't until Lucy was walking home later that she began to wonder again who's voice that had been. It sure hadn't sounded like anyone she knew. And she at least knew almost everyone. If there was someone else new to the school, she wanted to know about it. And Susan had really seemed interested. Even if that was just a one-time thing, it had been so nice...

She was so busy feeling good about herself that she didn't notice when she stepped out into the street. The minivan driving towards her had no time to stop, no way of seeing her through the stand of trees at the crosswalk until she was already too close. Brakes skidded and squealed while a horn honked and the driver screamed imagining Lucy as her own daughter for one instant she would never forget before her van struck the girl, who disappeared at the very moment of impact.



Lucy opened her eyes a minute later. She had only had time to widen her eyes when she saw the car before she had just felt it touch her. Then she saw it pass right through her. She didn't have a body, but she could feel the air all around. Panicked, she thought of how very little she'd done, and here she was dead! She had so much more to do!

As she had the thought she felt the air she could feel coming together. She could see it more clearly, dark, wisp-like. It was smoke. It came together in the trees beside the road where a woman was clutching her shattered backpack and looking everywhere in confusion, tears very clear in her eyes. Lucy's body came back together and solidified, and she stepped from the trees in time for a tremendous hug. A lengthy assurance she was fine and assistance collecting her books and she had a ride home. She only stopped there long enough to drop off her books before she ran outside, laughing giddily as she ran through trees and floated through the air.
A Non-Existent User
Flora liked the crowd of new people she had to sit with at lunch. Lucy was nice, but the rest she didn't know very well. She could work on them tomorrow. She was sure they would all be great friends. As Flora was walking home she decided to listen in on peoples thoughts.
"Where is that dang dog?"
"He is so annoying sometimes!"
"I think I'm in love."
Were just a few of the things she heard. As she was passing by a house a thought made her stop dead.
"Why are they looking at me? Crap! I'm not invisible anymore!" It was Jake! She recognized the voice. What was that about not being invisible? Did he have powers too? She tried to focus her powers in the direction of the house. She could hear Mr. Dartz' thoughts for a moment, but then it was as if he were blocking her! How could he do that?
She stepped up to the door, to try to get a closer look inside when it was thrown open and Jake smacked into her. "Sorry!" He said then realized who it was. He scrambled to get off of her. She could hear Mr. Dartz running down the stairs. She wasn't sure why Jake was running, but she had found someone else with powers, and she was going to do something about it. "Quick, make us invisible!" She said.
"How do you-?" Jake asked, shocked.
"Just do it!"
They sat crouched in the plants, Jake's hand on her shoulder. She could still see herself, so she wasn't sure if it worked, but when Mr. Dartz ran out and looked around in dismay, she knew that it had.
"How in the world does she know? What is going on?" Jake thought. She would tell him. She decided. After Mr. Dartz had given up.
Susan leaned back against Artur's 1969 Camaro as she waited impatiently for him to arrive. Since she had covered for him with Lucy the least she could do is check up on him. It wasn't like there was someone at home waiting for her anyway. A reluctant smile spread across her face at the thought of something popping to life in his backpack. She had a bet with herself it was his fancy electric planner.

The replay of the day's events flashed through her mind as she flipped a quarter off her thumb into the air. There was something different about the substitute Mr. Dartz. He seemed like a regular guy but there's was weird quality to his personality. Almost like he was hiding something. Who isn't, Susan sarcastically thought as she caught the coin and tossed it in the air again.

Artur showed up a few minutes later, an uneasy look on his face. He didn't look at her when he said, "Can I help you with something, Sus?" His unusually polite tone put her on alert when a massive object blocked out the sun. Curtis swaggered up behind Artur with toothy grin on his face. The sight of his blinding white teeth made her want to hit him.

"We were going to go over your resume, remember?"

Susan caught the flash of relief in his eyes before Artur stepped into the role and smacked himself in his forehead. He turned to Curtis with an apologetic frown. "I'm sorry, man. I totally forgot."

"Dude. Whose going to give me ride now?"

"You could stop mooching off your friends and get your own car," Susan mumbled under her breath. Curtis pulled himself to full height and turned to her. "What'd you say?"

"Absolutely nothing." Before he could question her further Suan flipped the quarter in his direction. He caught it on reflex. "There's a payphone on the corner. I'm sure one of your other friends can give you a lift."

Artur laughed but stealthily covered it with a cough. Sensing his friend's temper was about to explode he hurriedly pushed Curtis away from the car and unlocked the door. "We got to leave, but I'll see you tomorrow."

Not waiting to be told, Susan jumped in the car before Artur could pull out of the parking lot without her. Curtis just stood there, looking down at the quarter in his massive palm. Knowing she shouldn't but doing it anyway, Susan rolled down the window and poked her head out. "Better luck next time." She winked at Curtis as Artur drove away, turning the coin into liquid silver.
Suri was back in her own science class today, fuming and highly irritated. Her manly female teacher, Mrs. Winters had taken up her cell phone earlier and was now glowering fiercely at her.
Suri grinned up at the teacher and held up a "I come in peace" sign.
The teacher narrowed her eyes and motioned Suri to come up to her desk.

"What is it that amuse you so much, Robins? Why are you always laughing in class and distracting my students?"

Suri laughed, making some of the students laugh as well. It lightened up the tense atmostphere of the room, but darkened the teacher's mood.

"If you think that-" The inappropriate rap song that rang from Suri's phone interrupted the angry Mrs. Winters.
Suri eyed her LG Voyager on the teacher's desk with an overwhelming urge to answer.
There was something in Mrs. Winters eyes that almost dared her to, so without farther consideration, she swiped it from the desk and picked it up.

"Hello?"

The overweight teacher shot out of her chair, her belly knocked over the pencil jar on her desk. With one hand closed around Suri's wrist, she snatched her phone away with the other and slipped it in her pocket.

Most of the class was out of their seat, howling and shouting all sorts of encouragements at Suri.

"Isn't this considered sexual harassment?" asked Suri, trying to escape the teacher's hold.

"I'm calling your parents."

Suri shrugged and lead the way out into the hall way. The teacher screamed something at the class before shutting the door on them. There was an instant silence.
The teacher started to dial the number on the school phone.

"Wait," said Suri. "Wait," she said again, this time in a velvety voice that was too sweet to ignore.
The teacher looked down at Suri, puzzled.

"I need you to look into my eyes," said Suri in the same mesmerizing voice. The teacher complied. The voice warmed her heart. It echoed through her head and faded away, all she wanted was for Suri to speak again.

"Keep your eyes on mine."

Mrs. Winters allowed herself to be lost in Suri's dazzling green eyes. It felt like she was falling very fast, yet her stomach didn't have that sickening sensation. It was pure pleasure.

Suri kept the eye contact. She heard someone walking by. She wanted to see who it was and the expression on his or her face. Curiosity writhed inside her, but it was critical for her to keep the eye contact. When the footsteps faded, she started to speak.

"I'm gonna need my cell phone back," she said, holding out her hand. The teacher gave her the phone back, her vacant eyes still glued on to Suri. "Thank you. I'm now your favorite student. You're going to change my class average to a 94.60 and you're going to allow me to skip the rest of your class. You understand?"

"Yes," her science teacher said automatically.

"Good. Thank you." Suri gave Mrs. Winters a small hug. Her arms couldn't go all the way around the large woman. "Oh yeah, and can I have five bucks so I can get something from the vending machine?"



Aiden had sat down with his old friend and was discussing the emergence of this new darkness when he sensed the presence of two people. He looked around, but saw no one. That meant one of two things: the presences he had sensed left, or they were invisible. He guessed the latter, but made to go back to his friend. Only when he knew that the eavesdroppers had fallen into a false sense of security did Aiden enable them visible.

He sent a small static burst, just enough to make the young kid lose his concentration on keeping himself and the girl with him to become visible. They both looked at Aiden in shock, and he felt the girl try to read his mind.

It's not nice to read someone's mind without their permission, you know, he thought to her. Her eyes widened more, if that was possible.

"Get up you two," Aiden told them. They did as he said, and made their way to leave.

"But I didn't say leave." They stopped and turned back toward him. They were young and impressionable, and, though it would mean taking advantage of kids, Aiden realized that they could help him and Will against the new threat. He just needed to train them up a bit. He could send will to find other recruits, after he healed up some, and they would stand a good chance.
Will had known that the teenagers were there before they became visible. As well as being able to transform into animals, he was able to hear as well as a horse, smell as well as a wolf and see as well as an eagle. These skills came in handy when people were sneaking about.

Unfortunately, they were also his downfall. Affiliates of the 'dark' side had captured him by first using a high pitched noise that only he could hear, and it was excruciatingly painful, then the poured some sort of perfume over his face, so he couldn't breathe properly. His head was pounding and he couldn't fight back when they started tying ropes around his wrists and ankles, then stowing him in the back of a truck, in a small glass container. They obviously knew his powers, if it was a bar cage, he would have become a lizard and crawled out.

Will shuddered at the past, then slipped back into the present. He could tell that the girl was trying to read his mind, and smirked. No mind reader, no matter how powerful, could read Wills mind. The animal brain waves that Will had interfered with his human ones, making it impossible for anyone but him to interpret what he was thinking.

“Don’t bother,” he said, staring directly at the girl. She seemed shocked, but tried to hide it. He stood up, slowly due to his injuries, and walked past the teens, noticing they flinched as if he was going to attack them, to the kitchen, and started listening to the conversation from there. Aiden was better at dealing with teenagers than Will was.
“All right you two.” Aiden said, frowning. He seemed to be thinking deeply. Jake turned to Flora to see by her expressions what the teachers motives were. She just shrugged. Obviously there was some reason that she couldn’t read his mind.
“I know that you have powers, so don’t try to pretend otherwise. I can help you control them, make you stronger.”
What’s the catch?
“So what, you’re just going to train us? For nothing?” Jake asked.
“We could use more people that are… like us. You could do great things.” Aiden continued. “And quite frankly, you guys need some training.”
“How can you train us? What’s your power?” Jake asked.
“And how can you block my telepathy?” Flora said.
Aiden held out his hand and a flame sprung up in his palm. He closed his fist and opened it again to reveal electricity dancing between his fingers, replacing the fire. He closed his hand again and they were both gone.
Real fire and electricity? No fair! All Jake could do was pretend that what he was making people see was real.
“And as for my ability to block you from entering into my mind, well that just takes practice. But if you learn to control it better, it will be much harder to stop you.”
Jake looked to Flora to see what she was going to do.
She hesitated for a moment before planting her feet on the ground and turning to face Aiden. “I’m in.”
Aiden looked at Jake with raised eyebrows.
If Flora is excited, why aren’t I? I’ve found a place where I don’t have to hide who I really am. But can I even trust them? Something about all this seems well, quite frankly, like their not telling us something. I don’t have a choice though, now that they know what I can do. I can’t just walk away.
“Fine.” He said, a little grudgingly. He didn’t like getting pushed into new things so fast.
“Good.” Aiden said, looking pleased. “We will work out our training times later, we’ll have to do it often, though, if your going to actually improve.”
Flora seemed to have overlooked this point.
“What about our studies?” She asked.
“Uh, yeah.” Jake said, creating excuses.
“Forgive my judging of you, Mr. Matthews, but from what I’ve seen of your grades you don’t seemed too concerned with school.”
Jake blushed and Aiden turned to Flora. “You’re a smart girl, but to lighten your load you two wont have to worry about Science homework anymore. As long as I’m your sub, of course.” Aiden smiled.
Was that a bribe? Thought Jake. Whatever it was, it was working, for him at least. He wasn’t very good at Science, partly because it required Math, but less homework had always turned out to be a good thing.
Flora seemed like she didn’t want to get off of work and Jake got the impression that she was much smarter than him. Weren’t all girls, though?
“Anyway, you should both head on home. Lest your parents start worrying about you.”
About two minutes later they were out on the sidewalk. Jake had not expected all of this craziness to come just because he snuck into a house! He had met three other people who had powers in the same day, after going his whole life without encountering one. This was going to take a while to digest. He was so absorbed in the whirlwind of thoughts that barraged his brain that he almost forgot his manners. He turned to Flora. Obviously she had to walk home too.
“Uh, do you want me to walk you home?” He asked.



Lucy stopped and started relaxing, though she was still smiling, after a couple of hours. She'd gotten a pretty good idea of what she could do, at least right now. She shifted, resting comfortably on a bench at the children's playground near her house. There wasn't anyone nearby, the nearest person she could see was a single woman in a suit a couple of hundred feet away on the sidewalk. It'd be a couple minutes before he passed close enough to hear her.

"So I can turn into smoke. I can ignore bars and fly. And I can do this to any small thing I'm holding too. I wonder if I could hide something like that, like a pen or something."

"Something like a knife?"

Lucy whirled, a frown creasing her features. The woman was standing right behind her. She was smiling, and her voice had been pleasant enough, but she shouldn't have been able to get that close that fast.

The young girl's voice was confused, but not afraid. "How did you do that?"

The stranger only shook her head slowly. "You are not the only one, you know. There are dozens of others, each with their own abilities. Even in your school there are more than a few. Your school happenes to have one of the highest concentrations ever seen before."

Lucy sighed. "So you not only know about me, I'm not unique?"

"Oh, you are still quite unique. I have never heard of anyone with a power quite like yours, and you display a remarkable amount of control over it for having only just recently learned of it. At least that's what your little monologue would seem to indicate. I work with a group of individuals, each of whom has unique and extraordinary powers, and I think that you could go very far with us. You can call me Atalanta Dark." She took a small card from her pocket, on which was only the word 'Dark' and a phone number.

"Give me a call if you decide to you want to make something extraordinary of yourself."

The woman turned to walk away, but hadn't taken a step before Lucy's hand caught her shoulder.

"I want to be extraodinary."

The woman turned and rested her own hand on Lucy's shoulder. "Then welcome to Dark."
A Non-Existent User
Flora stopped. Jake's voice had interrupted her thinking. "What?" she asked blankly, feeling more blonde than she already was and a bit stupid. "I said, do you want me to walk you home?" Jake repeated. Flora shrugged. "Sure," so they started walking. Flora sighed. "So, you have powers." she said, more a question. Jake nodded. "Telekinesis, telepathy, and illusionist," he told her. Flora nodded. "I just have telepathy and I can control water." she told him. There was more uncomfortable silence. Flora cracked her neck. "My parents don't even know." Jake said nothing, no doubt thinking about everything that had happened. Flora decided to let the conversation die out, it seemed as though he wasn't very interested in talking at the moment. "So, what are we going to do about this situation?" he asked suddenly. "With those two guys?" Flora asked. Jake nodded. "I just said yes so they'd let us go." Jake stared at her. "Well, do you think they'd have let us go unharmed if we hadn't agreed to their plan?" she asked. "You have a point," Jake said. "So now what do you plan to do?" he asked. "Well, I figure, we can go along with it. If it's as good as he said it was, then hey, we got some benefits. If it turns out to be some evil twisted scheme then we can just break off from it." she elaborated. "Do you really think they'd just let us break off?" Jake asked. Flora sighed again. "No, probably not. But we shouldn't tell them about anyone else who has powers until we know that it's safe, you know what I mean?" he nodded. There was another silence. "So who else has powers that goes to our school?" she asked, changing the subject. Hopefully it would last them until they reached her house. Then she wouldn't have to think about it until tomorrow.
"You shouldn't have done that," Artur said a few minutes later after he'd stopped laughing. They were driving down the main highway, about five miles from their houses.

Susan shrugged. "Probably. But it was too much fun to resist."

The two of them sat listening to the radio for a while, letting the music fill in for conversation. In truth, Susan was thankful for the lack of verbiage. Even though the use of her power had been tiny. at best, she still felt shaky from the adrenaline rush. It was exhilarating and tiring all at the same time.

It wasn't until they rolled to a stop at the stop sign near the park did Susan speak. She pointed to the stereo with a look of disgust. "What IS this?"

Artur bit the side of his mouth. It was a sign he was embarrassed. "Ummm... acmfp uefhksaelouw."

"What?" Susan put her hand behind her ear and leaned toward him. "I couldn't hear that."

"REO Speedwagon," Artur mumbled.

She burst out laughing. "I can't believe it! Isn't that from the 80's?"

"The 1980's was a great era of music."

"Yeah - for elevator rides."

"Don't judge me."

"Too late."

Artur looked out the window on his side so Susan couldn't see his blushing face. But his blush quickly turned to a frown when he spotted the playground. A woman in suit was talking in conspiratal tones with a girl his age. The two people looked very out of place standing in a little kids' playground. Wait, wasn't that..

"...Lucy Williams?"

"Yeah. Wonder what's doing with the creepy looking suit." Susan leaned over the stick shift to get a better look. She had to squint against the glare of the sun. "That woman has as much taste in clothes as you do in music."
Suri was staring out the window during her car ride home when she noticed a wolf limping down the driveway of a house.

"Oh my gosh, stop the car!" she yelled.

Cole slammed his foot down on the brake. "What is it?!?"

"There's, like, a wolf on that driveway. I think he's injured."

"That's a Siberian Husky, and I don't give a- Suri!"

Suri had opened the door and hopped out of the car. She ran a short way up to the mail box of the house and called to the dog. He stood rigid in the middle of the driveway, cautious.

"Come here, boy," she called, waving her arms. She tried whistling at him, but nothing could get him to move.

Cole drove the car up. "Suri, let's go, he's someone else's dog," he shouted through the window.

"They're not treating him like they should." Suri took a look around before using her power. She slowly approached the dog to get better eye contact.

"Follow me," she whispered in a mesmerizing voice, looking directly into his grey eyes.
The time it took for her power to take effect surprized her. Hypnotized beings usually did what she asked right away, but this dog seemed to have hesitated before running towards her and following her to the car. His eyes didn't have that vacant look that they should have had, either.

By the time she got back, Cole was out of the car, looking irritated.

"You shouldn't use your power outside of the house," he said in a low voice.

"No one heard or saw me, and they wouldn't understand what I was doing anyway."

"You never know," he said, opening the door for her. "We can't take him home, Suri."

The dog swiftly leaped onto the front seat, despite his injured leg, before Cole could stop him.

"We can't leave him here. I think they beat him!" she protested, nodding towards the house, "And look, he wants to come with us."

"He belongs to someone else. This is stealing. Dognapping."

"There's no collar on him."



Aiden continued on his way to his current residence. He knew Will was out finding other recruits. Will had recently found the young Freshman girl that had managed to sneak into his Senior class. After doing some background checks, he discovered unusual occurrences with her and other people, he guessed she was a Hypnotist. And not the fake ones who try to steal your money.

Will and transformed into a dog, and she had taken him with her to tend his wounds. So she was kind-hearted. That would be a great asset. But now, Aiden had to prepare for training that would start tomorrow. He had two new students that would need to be trained a great deal, but they seemed like quick learners.

Tomorrow was going to be very interesting.
Will knew that if he was human at that point in time, he would be smiling. Instead, he was lying down as a husky, on a back car seat. A girl, Suri was her name from what he heard, was sitting next to him. He had been deciding what the best way of asking them to the 'lessons' he and Aiden would be teaching the kids, and this was the one he chose.

He transformed at a red light, just to make sure that a car crash would be avoided. Suri started screaming, and Cole was yelling 'use the pepper spray, the pepper spray!' Luckily for Will, he managed to calm Suri down before she sprayed it.

"Don't worry, I'm a good guy. I'm here to make you an offer. as you may have guessed, I have powers too. Seeing as I've had mine much longer than yours, and have been living much longer than you, I have extensive knowledge of how my powers and the powers of others work. If you want to learn how to use yours better, I suggest you meet me at Mr. Dartz’s house tomorrow, 1:00PM sharp.” The car was still not moving, so Will opened the door, changed back into the husky, and ran off into the black night.
Although it seemed like forever, tomorrow was already here. Or, you could technically call it today. Jake hesitated for a moment before knocking on Mr. Dartz’s door. In a moment the man with dark hair he had seen the day before opened it. Was his name Will? Jake wasn’t sure.

Will smiled. “Glad you could make it. When Flora showed up without you we weren’t sure you were coming.”

Jake was about to say that he had to finish some homework but stopped. He didn’t have to explain himself to them! He walked in and Will showed him into the kitchen where Flora was seemingly levitating water from the sink. Reading minds and controlling water? Sweet.
She stopped concentrating and it fell back into the sink.
“Hey!” She smiled at him. “Homework?” She asked, implying to why he was late.
His first thought was how did she know. His second one was, duh. Does the word telepathy ring a bell?

Mr. Dartz turned to look at him. “Have a seat. I’ll get to you in a minute.”
It was certainly an interesting “minute.” Flora could guess, or rather tell, them exactly what they were thinking. They felt it though, a tiny tingling in their heads. And that’s what Mr. Dartz was apparently trying to help her with. Her water control was pretty cool, too.
A few minutes later Aiden was able to turn his attention to Jake.
“So.” He paused. “What can you do? Besides turning people invisible.”
Turning people invisible? Mr. Dartz must not know that he could do illusions!
Jake wasn’t sure if he should tell them, since he didn’t necessarily trust them. But Flora knew… and she might tell them he was lying.
Jake reached out his hand and a flame sprung up in his palm. He was copying Mr. Dartz. Will looked from Jake to his friend in confusion, but Aiden didn’t seemed to be fooled. He did seemed a little impressed, however.
“Illusions.” He said, almost to himself. Then he walked over to him and waved his hand through the fire in Jake’s.
“Your going to have to make it more believable. Make people feel the heat. The burn. Then people wont know what’s real and what’s not.
Jake made the fire go away and from his now outstretched hand came ice, like in a blizzard, shooting towards Mr. Dartz. Some piled up on the teachers shoulders and he almost moved to brush some off, then stopped. He could feel the ice, and his breath was showing. Aiden seemed to be giving Jake a funny look, and Flora was staring at him as well.
“Well done.” Aiden said after a strange silence.
Why was everyone acting so weird? Jake wondered.
The doorbell rang and Will came back a moment later with a blonde girl who Jake had sworn he’d seen before.
“Hi! My names Suri.” She smiled.
“She’s the one I was talking about.” Will said to Aiden. “The one with the-“
Flora interrupted him. “Hypnotism?” She asked.
Suri looked surprised. “How did you know.”
“I have telepathy.” She replied.
“Cool!” Suri said.
“Its okay. I bet hypnotisms fun, though.” Flora said, smiling.
Soon they were both laughing about something.
Girls. Jake thought, rolling his eyes, but amused.
It was amazing how quickly and easily girls could make friends.
He suddenly recognized Suri from his school. Jeese! How many people at his school had powers? He noticed Mr. Dartz still giving him a funny look, but he tried to ignore it. Who knew what that guy was thinking?
A Non-Existent User
Artur woke up the next morning to the sound of heavy pots and pans banging in the kitchen. It was his mother's not-so-subtle way of letting him know it was time to get up. Personally, he didn't care she was making her caramel french toast from scratch even though its was his favorite. Well... he didn't care too much.

He groaned loudly as grabbed a pillow and jammed it over his head. "Sleep. Must. Have. Sleep." The noise downstairs only seemed to grow louder as his declaration.

"Alright already. I'm up!"

Artur stumbled around his room, getting ready for his day at school. Ten minutes later he walked slowly down the stairs, grumbling about the unholy hour, while pulling his t-shirt over his head. But the sight in the dining room stopped him dead in his tracks. His father sat at the eating table, a broad smile of his face, holding hands with a man Artur had never seen before. His parents and this unknown man were laughing their heads off at some joke he'd obviously missed.

"Morning," Artur said, his voice holding a bit of an edge.

Everyone froze where they were. His father's smile grew wider but it shook like he was a little unsure. "Hey Arty. How are you doing, son?"

"Fine." Feeling uncomfortable, Artur turned to go back to his room.

His mother hand shot out and caught his wrist. She glanced at him, pleading with her eyes to him to cooperate. "Please Artur." She whispered before saying louder. "I need some sugar for the french toast and I called Susan's mother but she says she's out. Will you go across the street and see if they have any to spare?"

Artur shrugged and looked away from the cozy scene playing before him. "Yeah, I'll go."
He was out the door before anyone could say anything else.

With his hands in his pockets, he trudged across the street with his head down. Why did this have to happen? Wasn't it weird enough his father was leaving? Did he have to throw it in their faces and did his mother always have to be so friendly?

Head still downcast, he raised his hand to knock only to have the door open before it landed. In the doorway stood the sub Mr. Dartz, looking slightly annoyed, with a few kids from school standing behind him. One of them hand fire shooting out of his hand.

"Holy guacamole," Artur said shocked.

He took a step back only to trip over a wooden leprechaun, sending it flying in the air. Instinctively, he reached out to catch it only to realize his mistake a moment too late. The high energy he'd been holding in all morning rushed through his hands to the lawn ornament. Its green wooden eyes popped up with cheer. "Top o' the morning to you, lad."

A girl he knew vaguely as Suri jumped up from her seat, pointing at the now animated object in his hands, and giggled. "Awesome. He has powers too!"

Lucy walked through school with a smile. She had new clothes: tight-fitting top and pants, calf-high leather boots, and a long gray overcoat covering it all. Amazing what she was capable of now that she hadn't even thought of before. A bit of practice and she could get dressed without even leaving her smoke-form, her clothing shifting as she put it on. Made the new clothes a snap once Atalanta suggested it. That woman had a head on her shoulders.

She was a little nervous about the knife she was carrying. Atalanta had convinced her that someone as unique as she was needed to protect herself, but it was still her who had brought a knife into school. Even if it was just a little swiss army knife.

Her stride was taller than usual. She was feeling much more confident other than the little illeagality in her pocket, though she didn't think her classes were nearly so important anymore. She never had excelled at any of those academic things, and she had a new way to stand out once she was ready.

A pair of heels starting clicking very suddenly behind her. "Making good use of your uniqueness, I see. Enjoying yourself?"

Lucy nodded with a grin. "I am, actually. It's pretty easy now that I've gotten the hang of it." She slowed down slightly in her walking, both to fall in beside the taller woman and so that she'd have more time to talk to her.

Atalanta only smiled. "I'm sure it is. It's a natural part of you, after all. It's what sets you apart from everyone else. You should keep pushing it, see what you are really capable of with it. You might even want to do some research on the specifics, see if you can learn anything that you might be able to do that you wouldn't have thought of before."

The young, stylishly-dressed girl stopped in her tracks, then turned and started towards the library. Atalanta raised an eyebrow for a moment before turning herself and following. "Skipping class?"

A nod was her answer. "Anyone can learn how to do algebra, no one else gets to learn what they can do with a body made of smoke. I'm going to focus on what I'm good at and leave the normal stuff to normal people."
A Non-Existent User
Flora was the first to arrive at Mr. Dartz's house the next day, and a bit nervous. One of the two men, wither Aiden or Will, she hadn't gotten to know them a ton yet, had asked her what her powers were. telepathy, she answered. She didn't trust them, at least not all the way. But them man laughed at her and pulled out a water bottle to squirt her. On impulse, Flora reached out her hand and directed the water the other way. Realizing what she had done, she mentally beat herself. Despite his slight drenching, the man smiled. "I can read minds too, don't forget." So, both of her secrets were out now. her perk was becoming less perky every minute. Where was Jake? The man set her to work with a glass of water, and Flora concentrated. She concentrated on the shape the water retained from the glass and levitated it- just the water. Amazingly, it stayed in the same shape, though it rippled from the top. The man clapped and Flora was immensely proud of herself. Then in walked Jake- and Flora's concentration broke and the water fell back down, into the glass though, with a sharp splash. She tried to look like she had done it on purpose, but there was no getting past that guy. "Impressive, very impressive," he said to Flora. "But you must hold your concentration when distractions are about." he turned to Jake. Jake showed him the fire in his hands and then the ice, which even had Flora shivering. It was amazing. Then another girl came in, Suri. Flora liked her immediately, and hoped that they would be friends. She was a hypnotist, which Flora thought was utterly amazing. Flora then picked up a mind reading, and whirled around. Behind them was another guy from school, the one everybody said that the one Susan girl was going out with, holding a lawn leprechuan which tried to wiggle from his hands. Flora couldn't help but smile at the look of utter shock on his face, and eventually he smiled back. "Awesome, he has powers too!" Suri said. And Flora knew that there were a lot more of Them than she had ever expected.
The lid of the Zippo lighter snapped open and clicked with an easy flick of Susan's thumb. Her left hand fiddled with the keep sake in a constant motion while she chowed down on her marshmallow cereal with her right. This was a typical weekday ritual for her, dreaded as it was. She hated waking in the morning, but unlike her moody next door neighbor Susan figured she'd save her energy for something more productive than grumbling about the inevitable - like trying to find new ways of embarrassing Artur.

She didn't glance over her shoulder as the footsteps of her mother came from behind, although the spoon did stop halfway toward her mouth for the briefest of moments. To say things were tense was an understatement. But at the same time it was a comfortable sort of tension kind of like rundown tennis shoes in which you know they're holey and scuffed and need to be replaced but don't have the heart to get rid of something you've had around for so long. The remaining survivors of the Bolitar family were too stuck in their ways to change. Susan couldn't remember the last time she saw her mother smile.

"I'm working overtime," her mother said as she poured bitter coffee into a blue travel mug. "I won't be back until late. Okay Susan?"

A grunt and the continuous clicking of the lighter was Susan's only response. Her mind was lost in reading the nutritional value of her favorite breakfast cereal. They may be magically delicious but the sugar content was through the roof.

"Susan?"

She wondered how many cups of refined sugar she'd ingested over the years. The math of how many cups of cereal equaled how many ounces of sugar tumbled through her head. Someone somewhere, probably Artur, had made the statement that eating sugar sweeten most people dispositions. Susan could firmly attest that he was full of-

"Susan!?! Will you stop clicking that stupid lighter and answer my question?" The coffee mug slammed hard on the kitchen countertop as mother and daughter stared at each other in disbelief. For her part, Susan didn't know whether to be shocked or angry. Instead she simply stopped using the lighter and let the metal absorb into her palm. Her mother's gave her a disgusted look before grabbing her things and walking out the door. Susan knew her mother hated the magic and often flaunted it in her face when she deemed necessary.

Slowly, Susan finished her breakfast, put her bowl in the sink, and slipped her backpack over her shoulders for school. The small fragments of swiftly flowed through her blood, the rapid transit sending sharp spikes of sensation through her veins. It was a good thing freaks could cry because she was her own personal freak show, liquid metal tears and all.



Suri stood in front of Mr. Dartz's house, acompanied by her two brothers. Since Cole was working, Evan had to skip school to give Suri a ride and Chris just felt like coming.

They rang the door bell and soon after, the guy from yesterday appeared at the door. It was so weird seeing him as a human, knowing that he was the dog that was in her car the other day. Suri's always wanted a Husky. She's never had a pet before.

He wordlessly opened the door and held it open for Suri, watching her brothers warily.

"A 'Hello' wouldn't hurt," Evan said edgily, almost glowering at Will. Suri tugged at her brother's sleeve, pleading him to shut up.

"Hello," Will said curtly.

Evan took out his phone and quickly snapped a picture of Will. "I know what you look like and I know where you live, man. You better not mess with my sister."

Will chuckled humorlessly. "Okay," he said, apathetic.

"Call me when you need me, Suri," Evan reminded before finally leaving.

Suri grinned apologetically at Will before following him into the kitchen where she met the lovable Jake and Flora. Jake amazed everyone with his extraordinary skills and Flora's powers were pretty cool, too. Suri and Flora really got along. They traded numbers, emails, and Facebooks and talked for a while.
The whole experience got Suri pretty excited. When the door bell rang and the strange guy from outside animated the lawn leprechaun, she nearly lost it. The day got stranger by the moment.









Aiden was impressed by the ability of these young people. It took him almost a year to have complete control of his powers. But, then again, he didn't know how long these kids had had their powers. They had the advantage of living in a small community where they could practice their powers in secret, wooded or abandoned areas.

They had quickly hurried the boy and the gnome inside Aiden's house, and sat him down to try to explain everything. He had the ability to create life in inanimate objects. Not the most active of powers, but if he could learn how to use that power in a wide-scale, and control the objects he brought to life, he could very well keep the Dark Ones' busy for attack or escape.

After a few minutes, the power over the lawn gnome wore off, and the annoying thing finally shut up.

"I thought that thing would never be quiet," the boy, whose name was Artur, said.

"In time, you'll be able to control the length of time an object stays animate, or what it does when animated," Will told him. Aiden nodded. They had both seen this power before, but never in such a young person. Usually, it was a power acquired by someone who could create illusions, like Jake.

"Will," Aiden spoke to his old friend quietly. Will nodded, and turned to leave. Suri seemed concerned with the one she knew as a dog starting to leave. He just gave her a reassuring nod, and left.

"Will just has some errands to run. I'm sorry for the secrecy, but we can't discuss too much on what's going on. But I will tell you that there are some really bad people gathering a force, and the world may soon face a cataclysmic war." They stared in shock.

"And that's not tellin' us too much?" Jake asked, taken aback. Aiden simply smiled and nodded. It was a lot bigger than Aiden let on. This was not just isolated to one part of the world. It was all over. This would be a world war, a civil world war between metahuman and metahuman. At this moment, recruitment was blooming from both sides all over the world.

"Alright, that's enough for today. Come back tomorrow if you still want to learn. Oh, and Artur, here's some sugar. Suri told me when she sensed you." And with that, the kids left to go their separate ways.

Will was confused. Suri had looked ass if she didn't want him to go, she was concerned for him. Did she find out where he was going? Or was she just fond of him, in a friendly sort of way. He decided that she definitely wouldn't know what he was about to do, Aiden wouldn't have given her that sort of information. And he knew that Suris powers, while strong, were inferior to Aidens, so she couldn't have stolen his thoughts.

He shoved these thoughts into the back of his mind, he had more important things to do. At the moment, it was to find the headquarters of the Dark Ones. Having been there before, he knew if he came close to it that he would recognise the scent. He had been there for over four months, being tortured and beaten, starved nearly to death, people didn't forget things like that. And his power had another neat trick, every single scent, sight and sound, he would remember.

He ahd decided the most inconspicuous way of travelling would be to transform into a bird. Without another thought he morphed into a dove, not a white one, but an ordinary grey.

He cursed himself. Immediately he lost his keen sense of smell, a relatively bad one replaced it. He landed and cursed again, how could he be so stupid? The bad point of his power, if he morphed into an animal that had bad eyesight, he would have bad eyesight. In this case, he had bad smell. He would have to go back to a husky, more conspicuous, but much better smell.

He morphed behind a bush, then set off, already having caught faint scent of the building. Dodging in between shadows, he was like a wraith, the pads beneath his feet leaving no sound.
Jake walked along the side walk deep in thought, the school in sight. Much had changed in the past few days. He’d found quite a few people who had amazing abilities. Before, he hadn’t even been sure how many other people were like him, and though he had suspected that he couldn’t possibly be the only one, he didn’t think he would find so many! Especially at his school! And now he was being trained, for who knew what. But at least he had real friends. That was new.
It was interesting, at least to him, that all the people he had hung out with had powers. Flora, Lucy, Suri (whom he had actually never hung out with, but sort of knew), Artur, and even Susan! Flora had read Artur’s mind and discovered that. Yes, much had changed. Almost everything. But not exactly everything. He had a bruised jaw to attest to that one.
He’d told his dad to stop drinking, and he now had this pain to thank him for it. He rubbed his face and winced. It still hurt, even though it had happened yesterday. He hoped things at school would at least be better then things at home.

When he was heading to one of his classes later in the day Flora caught up with him.

“How you doing?” She asked, smiling.

“Always smiling. Gosh. Suri must be rubbing off on her.” He thought, then quickly tried to get it out of his mind, just in case she was reading it.

“Great.”

“You’re coming after school today, right?” She asked, referring to their now almost daily meetings at their substitutes house.

“Yup.”

“Cool. Hey…” She said looking closer at his face. “What happened?”

“I tripped yesterday, on my way home from Mr. Dartz’s house.” He lied.

It must not have been a very good lie, because moments later he felt the small tingling, almost impossible to feel, thanks to Mr. Dartz, in his head, and her eyes suddenly widened. His followed.
No way!

He grabbed her by the sleeve and dragged her away from the crowds.

“Don’t tell anyone.” He growled.

“But Jake-“

“Don’t.”

“Fine.” She said after a moment, and he released her. She looked sad, and when the bell rang about five seconds later, she hurried off to her class without looking back.

Jake kicked the locker nearest to him and sat down on the concrete edge of the planter, his face buried in his hands.

(NOTE: By the ways guys: Sammi-Jo and I decided it'd be better if Evangeline were 17 instead of 15...I'm afraid, my good friend, Sam, has, as of yet, forgotten to make the change in my bio block...but she will eventually...I think...)

The wirey, rather tall, young girl slouched down in her seat, her dark, almost black brown eyes searching the ceiling for grey and black smudges, as it seems that most celings seem, no matter how high, to wear such blemishes on their surfaces. It certainly is a wonder, or at least to Evangeline it was, how they even got up there to begin with. Such are things that occupy and wonder the mind of a girl like Evangeline Fittz-Cunningham.

The far off sound of friendly chatter interupted her thoughts.

She blinked, realizing she'd been spacing out, and brushed her dark, almost black brown hair out from her lightly freckled face. She looked over at the woman sitting next to her. Her hair a mass of waves cascading down just to her shoulders, framing her face perfectly. She had the perfect full-time house-wife/mom look going here: anywhere between thirties or forthies, not exactly fitt, but not fat at all, well-done makeup, the regular old mom-like T-shirt and jeans and regular old tennis shoes. She played the part well too. It was all so perfect. Mrs. Fittz-Cunningham takes he daughter, Evangeline May Fittz-Cunningham to see Principal Epidox about enrollment. Yes, too perfect, in deed. This woman, is not her mother. Evangeline's name is not really Evangeline May Fittz-Cunningham. It is however, as of yet, her favorite alias. It certainly is the longest one.

It was quite warm in that cramped, stuffy, ugly, God-forsaken principal's office, and the wig didn't make things better. Her hair squirmed uncomfortably under the hair net.

This is Evangeline's feild. Undercover work. She loved it and hated it at the same time. It was certainly all very exciting...at first. She didn't ever think she'd end up baby-sitting the newbies.

Lucy Williams... she repeated in her head. Not a hard name to remember.

Age eighteen, female, caucasian, around five foot two, about one-hunred-and-fifteen pounds, black hair, brown eyes...

She wasn't ever sure what it was that compelled her to go over such unimportant detail. The girl's stats were hardly of much relevance to the job of which Evangeline had to uphold. She didn't really need to remember all this to be able to identify her. She needed only to know the girl's name, her background, have a good idea of what she looks like and then just to keep an eye on her, keep her out of trouble. She wouldn't have to look for her, because she would already be placed in the same class as her in every period.

Eighteen. She's a year older than me...I hope she doesn't let that get to her head...

"Evangeline?" Mr. Epidox's rumbling voice startled the girl back to reality.

"Uh...yeah?" She glanced at "Mom", who broke character for only a second, before recovering.

"How do you like our school?"

She absently rubbed her right eye. She wasn't used to contacts.

"It's...awesome..." she mumbled. She really wasn't in the mood right now for charades. She didn't need to pretend to be a normal kid. Sure, she was odd, but, these days, being odd is normal for a kid. Therefore, being a kid, she needed not pretend, she need only to forget the comando, brain-washing, propaganda crap which Atlanta Dark wanted so badly to pump into the mind of those who work under her.

She sat through the interview, floating in and out of the conversation, and processing at least the gist of it.
A Non-Existent User
Artur kept his head down as he walked through the halls of high school. His mind was still in a daze from all the information he'd received earlier that morning. It still freaked him out that there were so many others like himself. Even the substitute teacher had powers! The world he had imagined he lived in suddenly seemed so small. Artur was still trying to figure out if that was a good or a bad thing.

Thankfully, he had an excuse to not to linger at home before class, delivering the borrowed sugar to his mom before dashing back out the door to head to school before the tardy bell rang. But after that had been like walking in a haze. Artur couldn't tell what was up or down, in or out anymore. Nothing seemed to penetrate his cloud of confusion, not even Curtis' lame jokes.

This was the reason why Artur found himself colliding into someone on the way to his next class. Luckily, it was Susan. "Hey there, Sus. Sorry for bumping into you."

"Well, watch it next time Channing. Or the next thing you'll be bumping into will be my fist introducing itself to your face."

Okay... Susan's not in a very good mood this morning, Artur thought as they walked side by side. Maybe I should wait to tell her about Mr. Dartz and the whole brink of war over magical powers thing later.

Artur has barely finished his thought when Susan roughly bumped shoulders with dark haired girl. Everything about her shouted new student but that didn't top Susan from showing her displeasure, giving the girl a stare that would shock most people dead. It was impressive even though Susan has to look up at the girl to give it. Artur prepared himself to get ready to intervene should things got out of hand.

It will be amusing to watch though, Artur silently said in his brain as the girls stood toe to toe.

Lucy stretched back in her seat comfortably. She'd gotten much better even just in one day. She had to practice a lot more carefully at school, nothing too blatant, just little things. She'd made a finger change under the desk, move over to a neighbor's pocket and grab what ended up being a ten-dollar bill from his wallet. She could get food from the cafeteria as she wanted it. She'd used the knife Atalanta talked her into bringing to carve that substitute's name into wall of one of the stall's in the men's room. She'd even stayed overnight in the library by just turning to smoke and spreading herself out among the books, and had only needed one phone call just as school ended to convince her mom she was spending the night with the new student. She'd been up most of the night just practicing and trying new things. She'd eventually gone to sleep inside the announcer's room at the football field.

Now she was feeling quite confident in herself. Confident enough not to worry when the assistant principle walked up to her.

"You are supposed to be in class, Lucy. It isn't like you to cause trouble, but you missed all your classes yesterday and now I find you in the library. I don't want to call your mother, because you're usually much better than this. Is something wrong? If you don't want to talk to the counselor, there are many others here who are willing to listen, myself included."

The girl only smiled. "I'm not going to class, Mr. Stein. Would you like to take me to your office to try and talk sense into me?"

He stared at her for a few moments, then nodded. "Either that, or to decide how long you will be in detention, Lucy. Come along."

She followed him with a smile, still wearing the coat and boots from before, but with a new top and pants today, gotten the same way after she woke. She entered his office and sat down as soon as he closed the door. He took his seat, and she hid her arm behind her back, changing it to smoke and letting it disperse around the room.

"Okay, Lucy. This isn't like you, what exactly is going on? I promise what is said won't leave this room. I don't want to give you detention if there's a reason for your behavior."

She started pulling the smoke in around him while she talked. "I just don't think I need to focus on my studies anymore. There are more important things for me to deal with now, and I need a pass from you or one of the other higher members of the faculty in order to keep up my more important learning."

He started to speak, but her smoke began to fill his nostrils and pour into his mouth before he could get any words out. He gasped and choked, hands falling to the desk in front of him as he tried to breathe. "You see, Mr. Stein? There are other things I need to focus on. More important things for me to study." She reached across his desk, grabbing the pass she wanted and filling it out for herself, placing the ready paper in front of him and placing the pen in his hand.

"One signature and this is all just a bad dream. You'll wake up and be able to breathe as easily as you want."

He signed the paper, dropping the pen and collapsing on the desk an instant later. Lucy held the smoke in his lungs a bit longer, then pulled it out and reformed her arm. His body relaxed as it got air again, unconscious and quiet.

Lucy smiled and changed, slipping out under the door slowly enough to be all but invisible despite her smoke's normal dark color. She reformed in the hallway, not at all surprised at this point to hear a set of heels behind her just as she is humanoid again.

"You seem to have taken the inititative with your abilities nicely, Ms. Williams. I see I made the right choice in approaching you. You are already making a very good place for yourself. My associates and I are quite pleased to have your friendship."

Lucy only grinned wider. "Please Atalanta, call me Echo."

The suited woman's smile matched Lucy's. "Echo Dark it is."
A Non-Existent User
Flora walked to Mr. Dartz's home after school, thinking. She didn't feel like listening to the thoughts of others, so she kept them at bay. Why had Jake been so weird lately? Was something wrong? She knew there was, she just wasn't 100% sure she knew what it was. And she was afraid to tell anyone what she had read from his mind, plus he had told her not to. She passed an alleyway and stopped thinking for a moment, long enough to hear a string of someone's thought. How cool is it to be a Dark? Finally something to do with my powers. I wonder who else belongs. Then Flora felt something she had never experienced before. For some reason, this thought almost knocked Flora off of her feet. Her head spun dizzily and she stumbled to Mr. Dartz's house. Clinging to the door frame to steady herself, she waited for someone to open the door. Someone did, and Flora made it inside only to collapse onto the floor. Everyone was looking at her, and One of the men (she could never tell them apart) was looking at her, and she knew he was reading her mind. "What did you hear?" he asked. Flora's brain was so disorientated at the moment she didn't know what to say. She looked around the group of people. Jake wasn't there. Maybe he was just late. Hopefully. "Where is Jake?"
Susan sat back in the passenger's seat with her arms folded across her chest. Today was not one of her best days. The tense situation at home early that morning had only snowballed into a more horrific afternoon. Now she was trying to come to grips with the fact that Artur had found a coven-like crew who had freakish power just like them. And he was trying desperately to convince to out herself to them.

The silence in the car was deafening, unlike the usual companionable since they was used to. Susan couldn't explain it -- this just didn't feel right to her. She'd kept her powers a secret for so long it felt strange to suddenly share with a group of people she went to school with. One of her worst fears was being taken away by some people in white coats and thrown into some padded white room.

As if hearing her thought Artur said, "Stop worrying about this. Everything is going to work out. I promise."

"How do you know that?" She replied, looking at his profile. "You just met these people this morning and already you know they won't turn you in?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. A gut feeling."

"A gut feeling can get us turned into lab rats," Susan murmured.

The car stopped on a street block that looked awfully familiar. It took a second to dawn on her before she realized they were on her street - she could see her house in the rearview mirror. Susan looked over at Artur in shock.

"You mean these people have been here the entire time?"

"Yep. Pretty much."

"Oh, for the love of-"

Suddenly Artur yanked her out of the car and propelled her to the front porch. She went, partly because he was a lot stronger than she was, but mostly because she was curious to see what would happen. At least she knew she wouldn't be alone when they were locked away, being served green Jell-o for the rest of their lives.

The front door opened to the new substitute teacher, Mr. Dartz. The expression on his face was less than pleased. He looked over to Artur with a frown. "Why did you bring Miss Bolitar here?"

"I thought you two should meet seeing as she's has powers like us." He nudged Susan in the side with his elbow. "Show him the thing you do with a quarter."

"What am I, a trained monkey?" When he just gave her "the look", she grumbled as she pulled the coin out of her back pocket. "Oh, alright."

She flicked the silver coin in the air and just as it arced her snapped her fingers for effect, changing it into a golden half dollar. Mr. Dartz caught it in the palm of his right hand.

"Impressive." Without another thought he opened the door wider to let them in. "Hurry inside. We're just waiting for the others to arrive."


On her way to Mr. Dartz's house, Suri saw Jake. He was gloomy, with the storm clouds over his head and everything, and he was heading in the wrong direction.

"Hey, Evan, stop the car," she told her brother.

Jake looked up curiously as the car halted along side him. Suri pushed the door open.

"Hey, Jake, are you lost?" she asked cheerfully, grinning widely at him, hoping to lighten his mood. "Aren't you going to Mr. Dartz's today?"

He kept his head down, avoiding eye contact. "I, um, don't feel good right now. I think I should get home," he said, stuttering a little.

"The walking is just wearing you out. Let's go, we can give you a ride," she insisted, getting out of the car. "You can take shot gun, I'll sit in the back."

"No, Suri, I really don't-"

Evan swore. "If you two don't get in the car right now, I'm gonna leave both of you. I have somewhere to be too, Suri. Sometimes I don't think you realize that I have a life of my own."

Jake swiftly slid onto the front seat. He remained silent for the rest of the trip.
When they arrived, Suri was introduced to Artur and Susan. Jake seemed already familiar with them. Mr. Dartz and the two newcomers worked together in the kitchen.
Suri joined the others in the living room, where Flora appeared to be passed out on the couch. Jake sat quietly on the sofa beside her, there was an odd bitterness on his face. It was like he was worrying himself sick. Will occupied himself by the window, staring into space and thinking about who-knows-what.

"What happened to Flora?" Suri asked Will.

"Dunno."

She waited for more but he turned back to the window and fixed his absent gaze on it.

"You think she'll be okay?"

"Dunno."

"Is this something serious?"

"Dunno." He added, "Don't think so," when Suri began fidgeting.

She giggled. "Am I annoying you?" she asked, more amused than she should've been.

Will smiled at her for the first time, then looked away again.
Jake remained deadly serious.

"Jake, what's wrong?" Suri asked with an uncharacteristic frown on her face.

He looked up at her briefly, and she gasped at the dark bruise on his face. He quickly dropped his head, painfully aware of his mistake.

"Oh my gosh, what happened??" She almost yelled it out.

Will was alerted.

"Nothing," he said, glancing nervously at Will, "I tripped on my way home yesterday."

Suri moved closer to examine his bruise. "You want to know how I know that you're lying?" she asked softly just so he can hear.

"I'm not lying."

She ignored him. "Your muscles tightened, your pupils contracted, and I can feel your heartbeat increasing."

"I just realized I have some socks to fold upstairs," Will said awkwardly before leaving.

"Has someone been abusing you?" Suri asked, her brows furrowed.

"It's none of your business."

"What are you talking about?" She was getting egdy. "You're my friend. Of course it's my business. Whatever the problem is, if it concerns a human being, I can help you. I'm a hypnotist."

He remained quiet.

"Okay, then," she said, drawing back, "take some time to think about it. I'm going to go help Will fold his socks."

















(Just a note before my addition: to Renee, my character is not psychic. He has the ability to block psychics entering his brain from years of extensive practice and training. It is not a natural gift like his electro/pyrokinesis. Just thought I'd let you know for future reference. But, good writing otherwise.)

Aiden walked in on the conversation between Suri and Jake. He saw Suri go off to help Will, and Aiden took the moment to try his best to help. The only thought that bothered him right now was why Will was back so soon. It had only been a day. He knew Will was fast, but something must have gone wrong for him to be back already.

Jake saw Aiden approach and turned to retreat.

"Wait, Jake. We need to talk." It was a simple command, but enough to stop Jake in his tracks. After nearly eight years, Aiden had learned how to persuade others to at least hear him out.

"What?" Jake asked, clearly annoyed, yet some other emotions played across his face. That was when Aiden saw the bruise. He understood as much about abuse. He knew that the situation Jake was in, he needed to either get out of it, or put a stop to it. Being able to create illusions would get him only so far.

"If you need help, and let me emphasize NEED, you can tell anyone in this house." And Aiden left it at that. He walked outside. He stood in his back yard for five minutes before he felt a familiar presence.

"Hello, Aiden," the woman called. This woman was a Miss Dark. She was one of the recruiters for the Dark Ones. Aiden had many dealing with her over the years. They were close in age, she maybe a few years older, but her powers, to which extent Aiden had never clearly discovered the basis of, had caused her to age rapidly, to the point she looked old enough to be his mother.

"Hello, Miss Dark." Nothing was ever said between the two except those simple greetings. Nothing ever occurred. No fighting, though on opposite sides. They were ambassadors for the group. If these two met, no hostilities would occur or resume until they were done. But this time, Miss Dark had something to say. And Aiden awaited her "news."
Will lay on his bed in Aidens guest room, staring at the ceiling. Why would Jake have been abused?

One possible reason, and perhaps the most obvious to Will, for Jake to be abused was if he showed his parents his powers. He was all too aware that parents would lash out at anyone, including their sons and daughters, if something strange and unexplained happened they would put themselves above the people who supposedly loved them.

"Are--are you ok?" Suri's question snapped Will back into reality, as well as giving him a small adrenaline rush.

"What do you mean? I'm fine," replied Will slowly.

"I mean, you've just gone all pale, and I noticed your ears, they're bleeding. What happened? I want answers!"

"Calm down, I'll give you answers. Jake's obviously been abused, we can all guess that, but it's struck a chord with me. When...when I was just seven, that was the age I discovered my power. I showed my parents, and it was as if they didn't recognise me. My mother grabbed for a broom and my father started beating me, forcing me towards the door. The snapped the door closed, right in front of my face.

From then on I was forced to walk the streets by myself, feeding off scraps I could find, begging for money, running as fast as I could when I got into trouble, how often I got the flu! And that's when I met Aiden. Well, Aiden's father anyway. He saw me on the street, by that time I was near death. He took me in, and Aiden and I grew up together.

And in my time living with his family, I learned that Aiden had powers. I had kept mine secret, not even using them on the streets so I could stay safer, but imagine a whole organisation of people who have powers! Finally knowing that you're not the only freak in the world. There you go, you have answers."

Suri stayed silent for a while, and there was a definite awkward tension in the room. "But what about your ears?" she asked in earnest. Will just laughed.

"You don't stop asking questions, do you. Not just you, but everyone, one answer isn't good enough. But I don't think you want to know why my ears are bleeding, unless you don't want to keep your lunch down. Now, let's get started on folding my socks," grinned Will, and chuckled some more as Suri turned and ran back downstairs.
Jake's head hurt. A lot.

Ugh! Everything seemed to be going wrong! He shouldn't have been so mean to Flora... He'd only been that way because he didn't want people to find out about his dad. And it was really useless for him to be like that to her too, considering that now everyone knew anyway. And the reason for that was because he was so stupid! He hadn't "illusioned" the bruise away because he was so caught up in thinking about everything. He was smart enough to hide it when Suri picked him up, but he lost his concentration when he saw Flora like that. So now everyone knew. Why was he so stupid?!
He had a frown stuck on his face and it wouldn't go away. His insides felt like they were burning up. He was so angry, he actually surprised himself. He'd never been this angry before. His breath was coming in short bursts and his shoulders were moving up and down with them. He had only one thought in his mind: and that was that they, whoever had done this to her, was going to pay. Suri ran down at that moment yelling something about Will's ear bleeding. Jake felt some his powers slip out of him, just as he had lost control of his emotions. His telekinesis caused a lamp to fall off the desk and shatter, and caused the glass back door to crack. He knew that Aiden would be mad at him for doing that, but big whoop! Not like he could ever be good enough for any of them. He was always making mistakes. He himself was a mistake. His father had told him that enough. Artur, Susan, and Suri were just looking at him shocked, and he looked away, a little ashamed. They were his friends! They didn't deserve to be treated like this.

"I- I'm sorry." He said.

But his anger was still there.

Will was in the room by now, looking around hurriedly for any trouble that might be there. Suddenly, something caught his eyes. Or rather, ears. Will turned his head suddenly towards the back door and he seemed to stiffen. And that was when everyone noticed Aiden and some unknown woman in the back yard. Jake had a bad feeling about this.

(Check out my bio at top, Sami’s letting me edit it… it makes my character sound too nice. XD She’s got to be more like a trained assassin type person to be working on the Dark side…)

The young Dark agent slammed the steering wheel in frustration, thrusting her foot against the brake, listening to that terrible sound of rubber screeching against asphalt. The truck ahead of her made yet another sudden and unnecessary halt, screaming of what incredible amount of driving experience boy in the driver’s seat, still lacked. The domino effect of his errors caused her to do the same, throwing her body roughly against the uncomfortable seatbelt strap. She barred her teeth, feeling them begin to form into points, growing until the pressed against her bottom gums, her nails beginning to dig into her steering wheels already battered cover, her muscles tensed, swelling, bulking up. Reflexes activated by anger. Morphing into a killing machine was a natural reaction for her.

If he does that one more time, I swear I’ll

“Augh!”

He did it again.

She slammed the horn, pressing down until she was certain it might break, not that she cared. The car was crap. “Low profile,” Atalanta called it. Evangeline just called it crap.

A beat up Gremlin. Not necessarily a bad model of car, just ugly, but it just so happened that this car in particular wasn’t only ugly, but crappy too. The thing rumbled like a lawn mower, making the most unearthly spluttering sounds and shuttering spasms just at being started, as if to plop down on the floor like an indignant child, whining that it just did not want to clean its room.

Oh well, at least she didn’t have to be driven around by “Mom”. Haydee Dark, was her name. The woman had no personality. At all. Hardly a partner. Not like Ethan. Ethan Kim, or more well know as “Emote Dark”, was a real partner, a guy you could count on, that would be there when you got yourself in a jam, and one who never said “I told you so” no matter how bad you screw up. Evangeline, or whatever her name was –even she wasn’t sure- was the only one who still called him “Ethan” anymore.

Finally the guy landed one of the few parking spots that still remained open, parking his vehicle dangerously close to one of the governing white lines that separated its hulking mass from a feeble, more vulnerable Crystler mini.

She breathed sharply, trying to make herself calm down. She breathed slowly, willing her biceps to shrink back to the normal size, relaxing her jaw, and letting her teeth sliding back up into ordinary looking teeth. She relaxed her grip on the wheel, retracting her “claws”.

Get a grip. This is high school. You’re going to run into worse losers than guy. At least don’t need to learn anything.

The learning part had already been taken care of. She’d already spent the last month taking the same classes she was just about to take now. She knew all she needed to know, the homework was done and waiting to be turned in, and the tests would be child’s play. Her only objective here was to keep an eye on this Lucy Williams, or “Echo Dark”, as she apparently preferred to be called. The stupid code names really gnawed on Evangeline’s nerves, hence the reason she never claimed one. She would simply cling to whatever identity she posed as. Became it, got used to it.

Finally she managed to salvage a spot out of all the taken spaces, bringing the tired, grumbling little machine to a rest.

Slamming the car door behind her, a seemingly ordinary backpack slung over her shoulder.

* * * * *


First day, and already making friends?

The wiry, dark-haired girl peered down at this shorter one, who had managed to plant herself right in her path and for about five seconds –yes Evangeline had counted- the two have remained there standing, waiting for the other one to say something: anything, an introduction, a fleeting, mumbled apology, an insult, anything. She observed dark eyes, ambiguous, secretive, grey, like storm clouds crowding the sky. A petite, but athletic body, a, though visibly peeved, pleasant face framed by short, wispy hair. Her whole manner, he stance, her look: it proclaimed her raw attitude, her rebellious moral, her ability to intimidate. Evangeline’s eyes shifted, noticing the boy who was with her, quite a bit taller, a sort of strawberry blond, silver eyes… peculiar eyes. Nice looking though. Her gaze returned back to the girl. Boyfriend?

“Um… sorry,” Evangeline finally mumbled shyly, breaking eye contact to give an impression of uneasiness. She needed to go meek and mild. Low profile.

The other one’s eyes squinted.

“You’re new here huh?” she snorted, looking her over up and down, sizing her up the way a tiger does its prey.

She nodded in reply.

“Well just watch where you’re going, huh?” she snarled harshly, shoving the “new girl” aside and attempting to walk on, only to be grabbed by the collar. It was that taller boy.

“Aw, now, Sus, that’s no way to welcome new-comers?” he said, a hint of chiding in his voice.

He turned her around again. Now she was really peeved.

He extended a hand toward Evangeline.

“Arter Channing.”

“Evangline,” she replied smiling, gladly taking his hand in hers. She liked this guy.

“And this is Susan.”

Susan rolled her eyes.

“We’re gonna’ be late for class,” she grunted, heading down the hall, dragging the boy along in tow.

Okay… back to work.

A Non-Existent User
"Should we do something?" Artur asked as everyone stared out the window. He didn't know what was going on today, but everything and everyone seemed to be going nuts.

He looked over at Will whose whole body was tensed to spring. The muscle to the side of his cheek twitched in agitation. "We wait... Aiden can handle himself."

"I don't like this," Suri said as she stepped closer to the glass to get a better look outside. Will promptly grabbed a hold of her forearm and hauled her back to his side. He never once looked away from the threat.

The tiny tinkling of metal caught Artur's attention. He turned his head slightly, so as not to draw attention to himself, to find Susan pocketing what looked like utensils from the kitchen counter and concealing them behind her back. His eyes widened in shock.

"What are you doing, Susan?" Artur said harshly from the side of his mouth. Now was not the time for extra weirdness. "I think its a really inappropriate time to be stealing right now."

Susan shifted closer to him, slowly stepping down on his foot in retaliation. The pain spiked up his leg but he did nothing but scream fury in his head. Forcefully, he yanked his foot out from under hers while giving her a peeved look. As if sensing the commotion Flora turned to them in question. Artur gave her a strained smile in reassurance.

"I'm not stealing, idiot, I'm prepping," Susan murmured as she stood stiff as a board. "Now keep your eyes front and center."

The second her words left her mouth, a shower of energy hit the skin of his arms like small bursts from a greasy frying pan. It was then he realized she was working the voodoo that she did so well for there were six perfectly shaped metal balls the size of marbles resting comfortably in the palms of her hands... now the miniature Fury was armed. Artur was both relieved and frightened at the sight. Where was a lawn ornament when you needed it?

"We've got a problem." Jake looked back at the rest of the group, fear and anger burning in his eyes. "Looks like mystery lady brought company."

"You have been busy, haven't you? I don't think I've seen so many new recruits in one place at one time ever before. Raising an army, Aiden?" Atalanta's smirk was about as honestly cheery as Aiden ever saw her get. That couldn't be a good sign.

"I am simply trying to ensure that these people know how to use and control their powers. Some of them could be dangers to themselves or others if they weren't able to control their gifts. You know very well I would not pull my students into this."

The Dark woman's smirk grew less pleasant. "I know you would not do so willingly, Aiden, but you are willing to do it if you feel it to be neccessary. Tell me, how is your friend doing? He was pretty beat up last I saw him. Will, isn't it?"

Aiden's face grew grim. "He told me that you were up to something. Forming an army of your own? You'll have to forgive me if I think that to be far more likely."

A laugh rang out from the woman's lips, light and pleasant and dangerous. "Forming an army? No, Aiden." She took a step closer to him, in arm's reach now. "Dark has been an army for a long time, we are simply activating our oaths and organizational abilities."

Aiden's eyes widened. "You're what? What's Dark up to?"

Atalanta only turned her back to him as a swirl of smoke formed on its own beside her. A vaguely human form appeared in it, waist-up and undefined enough to be identifiable only as female. The voice that came from the gaseous form was surreal, smooth, and definitely pleased. "Dark has had enough, Aiden. You and others like you have been interfering in otherwise perfectly acceptable and accountable activities for too long. You have cost too many too much, and so Dark has finally decided that it needs to be dealt with. Your little army here was the icing on the cake." The gray form bounced slightly, as if laughing. "Dark will be moving soon. You have been warned." The smoke swirled faster, then dissipated.

Aiden was quick to speak again. "That was a student from the school, wasn't it?" Atalanta nodded. "Who?"

The woman's voice was cold. "Her name is Echo. I was very fortunate to run into her the very day she became aware of herself. Don't worry too much, though. She may not have looked it, but she was Dark material from the start."

"At least she was after a couple of short conversations with you."

Atalanta smiled. "Of course. You know I only speak truths." She took a few steps away, then stopped. "Aiden. You are the only one being warned. Consider it a sign of respect and professional courtesy. This is your only chance to get those kids out of the line of fire before Dark considers them exactly as much a threat as you." She didn't wait for him to respond. She was simply gone.

******

She found Lucy exactly where the girl had said she'd be. "Well, Atalanta? How was I? The look on Mr. Dartz's face could have meant a million things."

"You did very well, Echo. I doubt he is likely to ever guess who you are from that display, and you quite adequately illustrated the point. He will be nervous and suspicious at the school now, and that will likely make him behave more foolishly."

A satisfied nod and pleased smile were the responses. "Thanks. And in case I haven't said it enough, thanks for the chance. It feels good showing my power like that, even if I don't get to tell anyone it was me."

The smirk from her conversation with Aiden returned to the older Miss Dark's face. "You cannot tell them, but they will remember it. When you do finally reveal yourself, they will already be afraid of you. They will already respect you. And you are very welcome."

"They will, won't they? I like you more every day, Atalanta!"




A Non-Existent User
Flora had finally roused herself. But the scene that greeted her was far different than she had expected. One of the guys- Will?- was staring anxiously out the sliding glass back door, where the other guy- Aiden, possibly, unless she had them mixed up again- stood in the grass, talking with a strange woman. And then it all came reeling back to her- Dark. Flora didn't know what dark was, or how it worked, or who it partained to, but it was certainly evil. She sat up silently and fought the urge to be sick. Suri was standing nearby will, also watching out the back door. Arthur, it seemed, had brought Susan along, who seemed to be stuffing knives into her back pockets. Arthur caught her glance and smiled as if to say I-don't-know-either. At that moment, Flora realized who was sitting next to her, staring off into space. Jake! She was so happy to see him, but then she caught sight of the dark bruise on his face. She stifled a gasp and reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. jake jumped at her touch- he really had been staring off into space- but before either of them culd say anything, Aiden stepped back inside, everyone awaiting his news. "Flora!" Suri cried, and then all eyes were on the mind reading girl on the couch.


Flora forced a warm smile at Suri, struggling to give off the impression that she was okay, before redirecting her attention back to Aiden as the others did.

They waited quietly as Will and Aiden traded long, meaningful looks. The sickening tension that filled the room was almost tangible.

"...What does this mean?" Artur asked, hesitant to break the silence.

Aiden broke the eye contact with Will and stared at his own two feet. He rubbed his face wearily with one hand and took a deep breath before facing them. "This means... Will and I are going to have to make some difficult decisions, and... some things are about to change drastically."

They were expecting more but it seemed like Aiden was done talking.

"Don't be afraid to elaborate," Susan urged.

"Are we gonna die?" Suri asked in a small voice.

"No," Will and Aiden said in unison.



Aiden did not want to discuss the tense situation that was happening to him. He had a choice to make, but at the same time, could not make it. He could neither force these kids to act on their powers and join in the fight, nor could he tell them to leave, hoping to keep them safe. It was their decision in the end, the only problem was, how did he tell them without letting them on to everything going on.

Will looked at him in understanding. He couldn't bring himself to try to explain away the problem. Will understood why Aiden did not speak anymore. Will ushered the others in the other room. After a few minutes, Aiden heard the front door shut. Will came back into the room.

"I told them to go home and get some rest, and that we would explain what happened tomorrow," Will said. Aiden nodded. "You know we'll have to tell them, and let them make up their minds on what they want to do."

"I know," Aiden replied. "I just don't want all that's going on to ruin the lives of these young people. They have everything ahead of them. And this kind of information, and this kind of decision could rip all of that up just like that." He snapped his fingers in emphasis, causing a small flame to erupt. He quickly extinguished it, and headed upstairs to sleep on it.
(Sorry I took so long everyone)

Will aimed a half-hearted kick at the bin, then decided to call it a night. But not before deciding he would visit his parents the very next day. It wouldn't take long to get there, especially seeing as birds can be very fast fliers when they wanted. The weather report on the news had told him that no strong gusts of wind would be passing through to blow him off course, and it was going to be mildly sunny, so it was perfect conditions.

And why did he choose to go see his parents? Why now, when one false move could have the Dark crashing down on them? The Dark's numbers were far greater than his side, easily tripled. 'It seems that mankind are more easily corrupted by power than one would think' Will thought to himself.

'Maybe, just maybe it's seeing all these kids. Getting a proper education, going out with their mates to the movies, playing sports together. The one thing that keeps that all together is their family, more over their parents. Perhaps, if I could re-establish the link with my parents I would be better off'. So he charged upstairs, and after getting into his bed, quickly fell asleep.

***********************************************************

"Are you ready, 3-5-1?" They refered to him as a number. As an animal. A number of captives. How many, how many? Chalk white walls, chalk white, all his world was chalk white. He slept in chalk, he inhaled chalk, he exhaled chalk, chalk white, chalk white, chalk white. And through it all, the pain, he slept in pain, he inhaled pain, he exhaled pain, he ate pain, he lived in pain. When would it end? When? When? When?

"WILL!" He woke with a start to see an anxious Aiden standing by his side, hand on shoulder and shaking.

Will could feel the sheets of his bed clinging do his sweaty body. "They're getting worse," Will siad weakly. Not only had the nightmare been reliving his time at the Dark's headquarters, but he actually felt physically drained, it was unlike any other nightmare he had experienced before.

"What're getting worse?" asked Aiden.

"The nightmares," Will answered. "I have them every night, but not as vivid as that usually."

"But how come you keep having them. Maybe you should go to counselling or something."

"Oh yeah, that'd go down really well. I can imagine it now. 'Hi Mr Counsellor. I'm here to figure out why I'm having these dreams. You see, I've just recently escaped from the Dark side, they have powers. So do I. Should I show you? Should I invite you to call the cops and have people conduct even more experiments on me? I do so enjoy sleepless nights and various drugs in my food, let me rephrase that, various specks of food in my bowl of mashed up drugs. I--"

"Yeah, okay, I get it, but what else can you do? Just make up a story to go along with it, plenty of people on our side have done it," suggested Aiden.

"It wouldn't do any good anyway, my life savings say that these are drug induced nightmares. There's nought I can do but endure them." Aiden gave him a highly unsatisfied look, then walked sleepily out of the room.

***********************************************************

Morning brought thin rays of weak sunshine. Will was already up in the air, ‘posed’ as a peregrine falcon, the fastest flying bird on earth. Speeds of up to 168 mph would ensure a two-hour flight to his parents home. He had left a note on the kitchen table for Aiden, explaining where and what he was doing. It read, ‘Aiden, gone to parents house…don’t ask…had to leave early, should be back by 2 o’clock, latest 3.’

After a few hours of flying, he spotted his childhood home. Well, home for five years. Landing in a nearby park, he quickly transformed, then walked straight to the house, directly across the road. Nerves started to get the better of him, and he considered just heading back to Aiden’s, but then decided it would be a waste of effort to do that.

Will walked up to the front door and pressed the doorbell button before he could talk himself out of it. He knew they were there; there was a TV on somewhere in the house. And he heard footsteps. Soon enough there was the sound of a doorknob being turned. And then, in front of him, stood his mother.

She was in her mid-50’s, and a considerable amount shorter than he was. Grey hairs poked through her brown hair. She had wrinkles on her face, and was starting to get them on her arms and hands. But her eyes were still that striking blue. Will remembered those.

“Can I help you?” Mrs Everard asked quite politely.

“I don’t know,” replied Will, “that I actually need help. Just acceptance.” Mrs Everard opened the screen door that blocked them.

“What is it, then?”

“Do you remember your son? He was about this tall when he…er…left home. His hair was the darkest black you could find around. And his eyes, you always said they were unusual. Grey, like storm clouds.”

Mrs Everard gasped. “Have you met him? Do you know where he is?”

“Ah…yeah I’ve met him.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“You could say that.”

“Well tell him to stay away! To never show his face here. We wanted a child. Not a…a…a freak. Now I must go, I’m terribly sorry Mr…”

“Everard.”

“Oh my goodness. Will?” If his mother wanted to talk to him, Will would never know, because he morphed back into the falcon and flew away as fast as his wings would carry him.

***********************************************************

Aiden came downstairs for breakfast, the decision still unmade, despite the long think he had had. And he spotted Will on the lounge, drinking beer. Empty bottles lay in a pile beside the lounge. Will was drunk.

“Oh my gosh, what are you doing?!”

“Do y’know what it s’like to have parents who call you a freak? Who say they wanted a normal child?” is speech was slurred and slow, and if it had been under better circumstances, Aiden would have joked that Will was wobbling around like Jack Sparrow. “’Cause I know. D’ya know what it’s like to be listed in the Top 3 Most Dangerous People to the Dark Side and have half of thar blimmin’ people chasin’ after you?”

“Well actually I do--”

“Cause I know. Do you know what it’s like to live in pain? To know nothin’ but pain. To ‘ave nothin’ but pain to look forward to? Cause I know.”

Aiden didn’t know what to say. But there was a knock at the door, and he knew that the teenagers had come and wanted to say something.
They all stood outside on the street, exchanging looks with one another. They’d been kicked out on the curb just like that, and they all knew that the adults weren’t telling them something.
Maybe Flora…?

Jake turned to look at her and she avoided eye contact.

“What?” He asked. “Did you hear what they were thinking?”

Everyone watched her now.

She looked like she didn’t want to tell them.

“Uh… yes.”

Artur shrugged. “What is it?”

Suri looked nervous. Actually, everyone did. Even Susan, at least a little bit.

Jake put his hand on her arm. “Flora, you have to tell us.”

She shook her head and bit her lip. “They… we all have to make a choice. That woman was a Dark agent, she-“

“A what?” Susan interrupted.

Artur seemed to be whispering something in her ear so Flora continued.

“She told Aiden that if we didn’t get out of this now, then we would get hurt.”

“So what, they expect us to just… leave? After all this?”

No one said anything.

They’d all been told beforehand that this could be dangerous. So what if an actual threat had been made against their person? It shouldn’t change anything. But it did. Jake didn’t want any of his new friends hurt. Or his family… even his father.

“Wait… didn’t you guys see what they did to Flora a- and Will too?” He asked.

Still no one said anything, so he continued.

“These people aren’t afraid to hurt others. And even if we left and didn’t help out the ‘Light’ o-or, whatever the heck our side is called, who says they wont target us anyway? Do you think that they’re just going to let us go? “

He looked them all over. “Cause I don’t think so.”


4:42 p.m. - No activity outside house.

Yet again, Evangeline had been stuck with one of the less glamorous jobs. Now she had stake-out duty, while Atalanta and her new favorite pulled another one of her eye-roller stunts to get the enemy to squirm. She and Lucy er... Echo decided that Dartz should know what it was they were up against by materializing his backyard with a little theatrics. Now they were in a park somewhere, and they'd left Evangeline here to watch the house. She'd only been there about a half hour now... but it was already becoming boring, and she knew that it would only get worse.

She couldn't help but think that Atalanta was underestimating her potential. Or perhaps that wasn't the word for it. Evangeline was not one to submit to authority, and Atalanta was aware of that. It seemed that she just wanted her out of the way, doing the low-profile stuff that keeps her out of action. But Evangeline was a girl of action. She was a stragetist, yes, and a thinker, but she wasn't one to just sit by on the side-lines watching. She needed to be out there doing. And why not? She had strength, wit, power... but she'd developed a reputation. She'd once been Atalanta's favorite, but then she began to come up with her own ideals, her own way of dealing with things, and soon no Dark officer could fully trust her to follow orders. And, so she was demoted, or at least that was how she saw it. Low profile. She had green hair, for goodness's sake! And dye never took to it, so it couldn't be died. Her's wasn't normal hair. More like skin actually. Live skin. The dye would only become consumed by its pores. The fact that she was only able to withdraw it back into her scalp made wearing a wig easier. And Lucy didn't need watching or guidance. She seemed quite sure of herself. She was a complete snob to Evangeline, and treated her like a little kid. Hadn't Atalanta told this Lucy girl how much experience she had under her belt? This girl was only discovered about a week ago and already she thinks she's Wonder Woman or something.

Evangeline let her gaze break just long enough to un-cross her arms and reach for the Starbuck's coffee cup in the car's un-even and rather wobbly cup-holder. Stupid crap car. She cursed as the hot liquid singed her tongue. She waited a few seconds for her taste buds to grow back again before taking another sip, this time taking extra causion by blowing into the cap's little mouth.

She sighed to herself, expecting more inactivity, but was startled to see a group of adolesence being pushed through the front door. All looking a bit phazed, the group stood around a little in the lawn before regrouping and moving more toward the curb. Evangeline studied each of their faces, recognizing Flora Knenelien, otherwise known as Flora Rose Knenelien, Jake Mathews, Suri Robins, all of which had powers. The nature of these powers were still, as of yet, unknown, though they would no doubt have answers soon enough.

Evangeline squinted. What's this? Two new members?

She remembered these two! They were the first students she'd met on campus! That nice boy, Arther--no Arter and the short rude one... what was her name? Susan.

They had powers? Atalanta was right... this school was crawling with superhuman freaks!

Oh why hadn't they given me more than one wig? she thought, securing the brown baseball cap on top of her head, and adjusting her dark sunglasses. She pulled down the pull-down flap.

She watched them, suddenly more interested. The attention of the others all seemed to be focused toward Flora, the taller of the two blonde girls, the other being Suri. She looked uneasy.

She tried to watch her lips as they formed words, having a clear veiw of her face. Nothing she said was very easily understood other than what looked like the word "what". Then she saw a clear "she was" and something that looked like "dark", and a two silable word which appeared to end with something like "ent". She was a dark agent. The message was especially hard to decode as the girl was apparently stuttering, and this caused Evangeline to miss a lot of the rest of what was said. She'd notice head moving as if reacting in response to what she was saying, but she didn't have a clear view of any of their faces. No doubt they new about the little stunt Atalanta had pulled in the backyard. That was probably the center topic of conversation at the moment.

She looked at her watch.

4:50 - activity outside house. Enemy grouped and conversing.

They continued a little bit longer, and then suddenly Jake's face came into clear veiw, having been facing in the same direction that Flora had the whole time. He had become more animated now, which made his words easier to assume from the bigger motions his mouth made.

She followed him, focusing hard on his lips...

... even if we left ... didn’t help out ... who says ... they wont ... us... do you ink--think... that ... -ing, going to let us go...

She got the gist. They were trying to decide whether to stay and fight, or put all this "Light and Dark" business behind them. Atalanta had said she was going to cut a deal with Dartz, give him a chance to let his recruits of the hook so that "no one would get hurt". Of course, they're safety wasn't Atalanta's concern at all. This Jake guy was smart. He knew she wasn't going to let them off. But he was probably still partly wrong. Right now, Atalanta and Dartz had similar goals. They both wanted to recruit more "soliders" for each other's side. She, no doubt, hoped to snatch these kids up and make them agents of Dark. And if they resisted? Then she'd have them hurt, or more likely killed.

When Jake was finished the others looked at each other.

Then she refocused her attention on Susan. She was the only person who didn't seem to be paying much attention. That was when Evangeline remembered something.

"Stupid!" she wispered.

She still had the same stupid car! The Gremlin! The chances were slim, but it could be possilble that one of the kids would recognize it.

Low profile, my spleen...

This thing was such a pile of scrap metal, someone was bound to recognize it from the school parking lot.

Oh crap.

Arter was pointing.

At her.

And, though, he couldn't see her eyes through her sunglasses, she found herself staring right into his. He turned to Jake and tapped him on the shoulder, still pointing and saying something that she couldn't understand. Then the Mathews boy said something that looked like "are you sure" in response.

Now everyone looked.

Arter started walking toward the car.

Okay. Time to go, no?

She turned the key and pressed the gas petal, accelerating backward and maneuvering to turn the car around in the opposite direction where she planned to make her get-away. She breathed again now, watching bobbing heads in the rear-view mirror.

Then they stopped.

But their faces did not dissapear from the mirror.

She wasn't moving anymore.

She pressed hard on the petal, pushing the gas up to ninety. But still. Nothing.

She released the petal, and looked back at the group of kids collecting in the street. Jake. He had both arms stretched out as if pulling on invsible ropes. Telekenesis? She turned the key and shut off the engine. She was beginning to feel a strange sensation in her mind. Someone was reading it. There wasn't much she could do about it. She'd been trained on how it felt and how to block it, but only on how to block "mind-snoopers", those who liked to rumage through memories and delve into the deepest corners of your concious. Whoever it was, and it wasn't someone very experienced by the feeling of it, would only have access to her immediate thoughts. So she focused on nothing for as long as she could, and began saying random things in her head. "They got me. Now what? Maybe they know me. Do they know that I know their secret?" Regular stuff like that. Evangeline had made up her mind now. She was going to tell them her secret now... not all of them of course... just one. Her abilities. Then she maybe she can form a false alliance with them, inflitrate their ranks. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Even Atalanta, though she wouldn't admit it, would call it brilliant.

Jake was the first to take a few steps toward the car. Finally he got up to the car door and Evangeline rolled down the window with some effort as the roller jammed up.

"Who are you? And why are you spying on us? My friend "--he pointed back at the girl still standing a few feet away--"heard you're thoughts. We know you you know about us..."

"Her name's Evangeline..." Arter said. She now noticed that Susan and Arter had followed close behind. Three faces now appeared in the window.

Evangeline took off her glasses revealing her deep, violet eyes --she'd decided not to deal with the stupid contacts today-- and while the others stepped back, she stepped out of the car.

"I--I'm sorry... I--I didn't mean to spy... it's just that... well I-I accidently found about you guys... and I found out where you guys meet and everything..." she made sure to sound nervous and maybe even a little guilty, so as to give off a sense of vunlerablity, of intimidation, timidness.

"I want to join."

"What?"

"I'm special too... like you guys."

She pulled off the wig, revealing an almost bald head, with hair so short that most of her scap showed. The others had come closer now, and all looked a little taken about. Evangeline was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable, and a little bare as well. She didn't usually show people her head.

The one called Susan gave a funny look. She was the first to speak up.

"Uhh... so you have green hair?" she said sarcasticly, "So? That doesn't make you
'special' that just makes you a punk or something. And why is it shaved off? Do you have ring-worm or somethin--"

Evangeline would have punched the girl in the mouth to shut her up, but thought better of it. Before Susan could continue, however, Evangeline's hair began to squirm, like thousands of tiny little greenworms and then she let it stretch out, growing longer by the second until it finally reached down to her shoulders, where it hung limp.

There was silence. Everyone stared.

"Okay. That's just gross."

She didn't even bother showing up for class anymore when she didn't feel like. She spent far more time just floating about. Lucy had long since grown accustomed to spending time in a less-than-solid state. She could go for hours now without taking any recognizable form. Atalanta had made her pleasure clear. Lucy was still new to this, but she had great promise, and was progressing well.

I have finally found my place!

She smiled inwardly, not having the face to make it external. She gave a little twist in the air, making herself into a whirlwind for a brief moment before calming back down and hanging low to the ground. She was on a mission, after all. Atalanta was counting on Echo Dark. She had been entrusted with the first strike against the Enemy.

* * * * *

"A dangerous time is coming, Lucy."

The girl solidified, only taking a couple of seconds before answering. "Dangerous? Is this about Mr. Dartz? I didn't think he was really dangerous, just that he might be a bit annoying."

Atalanta frowned. "Oh no. I would not speak to a mere nuisance. A nuisance I would simply deal with and be done. Dartz and those who side with him have done far more than simply annoy. Some in Dark have been killed in the past, Echo."

It was Lucy's turn to frown. "Killed? That doesn't sound much like the philosophy you told me they followed. I thought they were about sharing everything? Lifting the weak by taking from the more capable doesn't really sound like something to kill for."

"Not on its own, no, but anything can be taken to extremes. Doesn't it make sense that a group made of individuals dedicated to mastering their own abilities at any cost would come into conflict with a group that seeks to equalize power at any cost?"

The girl became smoky and insubstantial again, concentrating for a moment before forming a semi-solid mass capable of speaking in the same distorted voice as she had used with Dartz. "That does make sense. They have tried to take away from our gains then. Why? They must know it will only cause fighting."

A nod was the answer. "Oh yes, they know. Do they care? No. Their ideology is more important to them than peace ever could be. They will continue trying to hold us back for so long as they can."

The smoky cloud settled down on the ground, reforming into Lucy as quickly as it could. "It sounds to me like Dark has been awfully patient so far. I wouldn't put up with it for very long."

The older woman's smile was ice. "Conveniently enough, we are not putting up with any more. I have been tasked with making a preliminary strike against Dartz and any minions he might have in his immediate vicinity. I've decided to give this chance to you." Lucy resolved her shape just in time for her jaw to drop. "You have proven very capable so far, and I have confidence in your ability and willingness. Would you like this chance to cement an early reputation?"

* * * * *

Lucy stopped. She was in the basement of Dartz's house. She hadn't even bothered looking upstairs to see if he was home, it didn't matter. Her task was simple enough. Her body reformed, still wearing her latest designer outfit. She lifted the tiny tube and lighter in her left hand, then frowned. There was supposed to be something here for her to take. She spotted the little box at the same time that she spotted the pair of dogs getting to their feet beside it.

She dropped the tube and lighter, going gaseous again before they had a chance to see her, keeping back away from them. One arm reached up and across the basement ceiling, then down onto the little box, no bigger than a glasses case. A moment later, it was smoke and in her hand back at her side.

She smiled to herself, then nudged the tube over beside the can of gasoline in the basement. The firestarting paste inside the tube had been meant for anything flammable in the subterranean room, and she couldn't think of better than that can. She squirted the stuff out along the outside of the can, around the base, then lit it with the lighter. She flew the instant the flame caught, flying up the stairs and reaching the landing above before a loud bamf came from below, followed a split second later by a wave of air that sent her reeling into the room.

She could hear movement and shouts now from the upper floor. She shook herself, then realized she was solid again and gasped as the two dogs came up the stairs, growling, one bleeding from one ear. Without thinking, she threw her arms out, both turning to smoke and darting down the animals' throats. She pulled them back, panicking and making them solid as she did. Her entire body turned to smoke, not daring look too closely at what she'd just done as she flew under the door and outside.

She recovered quickly enough. That won't burn too much, but it was undeniable and dramatic. That was easier than Atalanta said it would be. I did it! Now it will be more than just Atalanta recognizing me. I am Echo Dark! No one will stop me from making that into everything I want it to be!
A Non-Existent User
Flora didn't know what to say about this new girl with the green hair. it seemed her sweet innocent voice might be a little bit too practiced. It could be a trap. How else might she know about them? They'd been very low key since meeting Aiden and Will, except for that one lawn gnome thing, but no one was really around to see that. Did this girl know all of their powers? Flora's and Jake's were pretty obvious, seeing how he'd stopped her car and then said that Flora was reading her mind. But Flora didn't have much time to evaluate if the girl was a Light or a Dark, or however sides worked in this sort of thing. her attention was being pulled toward the house. "Oh my God," she breathed. Jake and Suri turned to look at her. "What? What is it Flora?" Flora looked at Jake. "Someone's trying to burn the house down," she said, her face paling. They all turned to the house with a collective look that said: Oh Crap.
Everyone stood frozen as they watched tendrils of smoke rising from the house's roof. The harsh smell burned the inside of Susan's nostrils, reminding her of a time when her father accidentally caught the couch of fire while inhaling a cigarette and finishing off a bottle of tequila. The fire had nearly burned down the entire living room. She knew all too well what damage could be done.

Without a second thought the small metal balls flew from her back pockets into the front door, shattering it into a pile of splinters. A heavy cloud of smoke poured from the hole followed by the group's substitute teacher and his awkward friend. The two of them stumbled outside with hands covering their faces as they tried desperately to gasp for air. The group ran over quickly to aid them.

Mr. Dartz and Will sat at the far end of the lawn as Flora and Suri flanked their sides. A moment later Artur popped into view, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. Susan looked at him in question.

"I ran home... and called... the fire department."

"What happened," Jake asked, sending glances from them to the smoky house.

"The house was set on fire." Flora's face grew paler. "They think it was deliberate."

Something didn't feel quite right to Susan. The fire was one thing, but something just didn't jive with her about the situation. It could be a coincidence but-

"You're quiet," she asked the new arrival. The girl with creepy green hair never took her eyes away from the burning house, her gaze staring straight ahead, transfixed by the sight. Snake girl had something up her sleeve. "What is it?"

The girl tilted her head to one side before meeting Susan's stormy glare. "Where's the fire? There is a lot of smoke but little fire. Why?"

That was an excellent question, one Susan had no explanation for. But the filling the person next to her grow tense popped a red flag in her brain. She looked over to find Artur staring at the rear of the house. He turned toward their teacher.

"Mr. Dartz, do you have a basement?" Artur voice was loud as sirens filled the air from down the street.

The bottom dropped out of Susan's stomach as the group looked at Artur questioningly. She grabbed a hold of his wrist, forcing him to look at her. "I've heard of a blast from the past, but are you out of your mind? The place is on fire!"

The moron spoke as if he didn't hear her. "If I can get close enough and there's the right amount of matter, I might be able to astral project back in time to see what happened."

Susan snarled. "If you're boneheaded enough to take that type of risk you're not going alone."
With Susan's words they all set off running towards the house. All except Suri and Aiden, who seemed to be taking care of an incapacitated Will. And the girl with the green hair didn't move either. Susan used her metal ball trick again, but this time on the lower wall on the backside of the house. More smoke then before flew out and it made Jake start to cough almost instantly. He waved some smoke away from his face and turned to look at his friends who were hesitating beside him.

"Well... lets go! There won't be much of a house left for me to project into if we don't go in soon!" Artur said, diving into the smoke.

Susan ran in after him and Jake and Flora followed close behind. Suddenly Jake heard barking and two dogs ran through the door that lead to the inside of the house to the basement. He pushed the dogs towards the opening Susan had made while Artur seemed to just be standing in the middle of the room, staring blankly into space.

"Flora! Maybe some water?" Jake asked.

Flora nodded fervently and ran outside. He could see her extracting water from the soil. It was coming along. But perhaps too late. Fire was already spreading to the ceiling, and from the sound of it, it could cave in at any time.

"Is he almost finished!?" Jake said, getting a little panicky.

"I don't know!" Susan yelled back, trying to be heard over the sirens and the crackling of the flames.

Flora began to put out some of the flames when, quite suddenly, Artur gave a gasp and stumbled back as if he had been pushed. Susan caught him.

And at the same exact time, the roof gave another moaning, and fell. But it didn't get very far. Jake used his telekinesis to stop all of the pieces above their heads. The weight of it all made his knees and back bend a little.

They seemed to stare in shock at him for a moment.

"Uh...guys," He grunted. "If you could hurry it up... 's heavy."

Then they seemed to get the hint and, with Susan and Flora supporting Artur, they ran out. Jake moved to the door, stopped using his power, and ran out quickly before it could crush him.

He took in a deep breath of air and hurried towards where everyone was gathered. The fireman were finally here and he had to tell them that he was fine for about five minutes before they left him alone. Everyone else seemed to have a similar problem. Finally, though, they were able to get together, and Jake noticed that Artur looked very pale.

"Well?" Susan coughed into her elbow. "What did you see?"

Artur's voice was very quiet. "It's Lucy."

"What!?" Asked practically all of them in unison.

"She can turn into smoke."

"How can that-?" Flora began, then stopped. "The thought... It was her?"

"What thought?" Suri asked.

"I... I heard someone's thought the other day... remember when I passed out? And I felt the same presence here..."

No one said anything for a moment.

"But, why? She's our friend." Flora said.

"Was our friend." Susan interjected.

"Maybe she didn't know what she was doing, you know?" Artur said. "Maybe she just got, like, pulled into it, and she didn't know that it was us she was trying to hurt."

"No." Jake said quietly, and looking at the ground. "She knew it was us. She was outside with that dark agent, remember? She would have seen us through the glass door."

He was sad now. Why would she do that to her friends? And he suddenly remembered the revenge that he swore on whoever had hurt Flora that day. He didn't want it anymore.

Lucy didn't stop until she was over a mile away. Her body reformed slowly, kneeling on the ground and breathing heavily. She looked down at her hand for a moment before feeling a familiarly sudden presence nearby. "I hadn't originally planned on the entire house going up, but all the better, Echo. I assume you were successful in your other task?"

The girl, feeling her age again, turned to look up at her mentor. "I got it. I think I killed one of the dogs, though. I don't see any blood on my hand, but I know what I did."

Atalanta crouched down behind Lucy. "Are you all right? The explosion didn't injure you, did it?"

Lucy blinked for a moment, then shook her head and stood up. "No. Things just started happening very fast, I hadn't expected things to happen the way they did. I got caught up in it, but now that it's over, it's a little much to take in all at once."

The older woman rose to her feet more slowly. She nodded. "Time moves differently based on where we are and what we are doing. Sometimes it goes too slowly, while at others it moves far faster than we can cope with. At first. Soldiers are trained to respond automatically so that when they face that they react before they have time to realize how out of place they are in such rushing events. People like us cannot be trained in that way, because we have no single way to respond, and no specific situation we know we will encounter. We only have fight or flight, and our own uniqueness to see us through." She reached one hand out to squeeze Lucy's shoulder, smiling far more pleasantly than she had with Aiden even at her most polite. "It gets easier as we become more sure of ourselves and our place in life. You are Echo Dark. You are unique. You are exceptional."

Echo smiled, raising her own hand to squeeze the older woman's own shoulder. "I am Echo. I just entered a house of supernatural freaks, went undetected, blew the place to kingdom come, and got out unhurt with what I came for. I am all that you say, and I will not let anyone, friend or enemy, hold me back from becoming everything I can be."

"And everything you desire to be."

Echo's smile widened. "Everything I will be."

Atalanta released the girl's shoulder, Lucy following suit shortly afterwards. "You still have it, I assume? The item I told you to take?"

Lucy held out her hand, a swirling cloud forming there as the box from Mr. Dartz's basement reformed. "Of course. What is it?"

"I will tell you in time, but there is much that needs to be done. I have to inform the rest of Dark that everything has been put into motion, and of the excellence with which you completed your task. I will ask you to hold onto that box for a while, it is of vital importance and I doubt there is much anywhere safer than the cloud of smoke you can hide it in."

The box swirled away into nothing as quickly as it had appeared. "Of course. Tell Dark that I am ready to move when needed. When will the next step be?"

Atalanta answered with an enigmatic grin. "As soon as our wrthy adversaries make their move. I will be close, and will speak to you again soon." She vanished abruptly as she finished, apparently into thin air. Echo just smiled and swirled up into dust and smoke, dispersing into equal, if less abrupt, nothingness.

* * * * *

The room Atalanta walked into was dark, appropriately enough. She smiled at the irony. As foreboding as this place was, it was only a room. She pulled her cell out and flipped it open, dialing the number without even looking at the keys. She knew it well enough. A heavy Spanish accent answered her. "Is it done?"

"The package is in Echo's hands, and the message left at the scene was quite plain. Dramatic, even. There can be no mistaking how seriously we are taking this."

"Good. We have not yet heard back from our other agent in the field?"

"No. I don't expect to for a while. She tends to be very thorough in her work. She will leave no question unanswered. Her report will be complete."

"Then we will move once we receive word that the next catalyst has occurred. You will be watching Lucy alertly for it?"

"Of course. When they move, Dark will know."

"When they move, Dark will end this expensive, pointless struggle."
A Non-Existent User
Flora's head was swimming with all that had happened. Will and Mr. Dartz were okay, it looked like, and so were they. For now. But why was Lucy mixed into this? It didn't make sense. Flora had always thought she was a good guy. Curse her intellect. Why was she always thinking that people were so good? Staring at the wreck of the house and the smoke and the firemen and her friends, she knew she was no longer the young girl she had started the school year to be. She had been through so much; when would it end? Would it ever? She felt tears forming in her eyes. Flora, this is not the time to break down, she chided herself. Go away, she banished her thoughts. She vowed never to trust again, because how well had that worked with Lucy? And now she was trying to kill them? But the little voice in the back of her head refused to shut up. But what about your friends Flora? it asked quietly. You trusted them and now you would give your life for one of them and you know they would for you. Flora also cursed her over-dramatic thinking. But the voice was right, she realized as a tear made it's way slowly down her cheek. And now she was even in love.
Flora brushed the tear away, and the others that had not yet fallen. She made her way over to the group, who was milling around by Will and Mr. Dartz, waiting for instructions. Flora looked around to see the new girl with the green hair. and then something hit her. What if she was with Dark too?
Susan sat next to Artur on the edge of the curb, absently stroking the black smudges on her arms, watching the firefighters do their thing.

The others were scattered in spots on Artur's lawn with his mother playing nurse maid to everyone. Suri was hanging pretty close to Will and he and Mr. Dartz weaved a great tale of how the house was on fire for the police officers on the scene. They weren't lying per se, but they weren't telling the truth either. If she hadn't been there, she would have believed every words they were saying.

Flora sat on the other end of the curb, trying to pull herself together. Although, Susan didn't know her well, she could tell she was a real trooper. And had her lungs not have been filled with smoke, she'd had laughed at Jake's awkward pat on the back to try and soothe her.

But just on the fringe of the crowd was the new girl, Evangeline. Snake girl had her hands shoved deep her in pockets as she watched the mayhem finally return to some semblance of order. She look shaken, like anyone coming from their situation should be, and as Artur's mother lightly tapped her on the shoulder, asking her if she wanted something to drink, the girl nearly shot up two feet in the air before apologizing with an embarrassed blush on her face. It was a normal, common reaction. Maybe just a little to perfect in execution.

Susan's eyes narrowed. "I don't like that girl," she mumbled under her breath.

"You don't like anyone," Artur replied, rubbing his bloodshot eyes with the heels of his palms.

"This is true, but that doesn't mean I'm not on to something."

Artur was still shaking from the trip back to the past and was having a hard time finding his energy again as his sooty frame absently leaned into hers for support. Susan was having a hard time wondering whether she was worried about his state of health or completely miffed that he had done something so stupid. In the end she decided to go with concern and leave the anger until he was more up to her rant.

"So, how are things going back in the future, McFly?"

Artur groaned and buried his face in his hands.

"That bad, huh?"

He lifted his head long enough to shot her his death glare. Susan gave him a beaming smile.

"Thank you, officer," Mr. Dartz called as he shook hands with the man in a police uniform. Everyone on the lawn turned to watch the officer leave before bringing their attention back to their teacher. He looked at them all, lingering over each one of them as if checking to make sure they were all still whole. "We need a private place to speak."

"We can use my house. My mom won't be home until later tonight," Susan offered begrudgingly when no one else could think of an answer. It was the best solution for everyone even if it did make her feel uncomfortable.

Mr. Dartz nodded his head. "Good because this could take some time to explain."
(im really really sorry guys. foreal. idk how long im gonna b skippin myself in the campfires but things r so hellish rite now)
"Basically we need to go into hiding for the time being, until we can contact Headquarters and they become aware of our situation."

"Subtly, I said break it to them subtly, Will," said Mr. Dartz. He was shaking his head, and despite the unfortunate dilemma he found himself in, he struggled to extinguish a laugh. His friend never was one for empathy. ‘Probably because of his time spent on the streets, he mustn’t have had much practise with social skills, although he’s a lot better now than he was when I first met him,’ he thought to himself.

“What do you mean we’ll have to go into hiding?!”

“You mean leave home? Go into the wilderness?” It was apparent that the teenagers did not like this idea.

“Look, it’s out of our hands,” explained Will. “We need to keep you safe! And as far as we know, the Dark could know exactly who you are, where you live, what you’re doing every single moment of your life! The best way to avoid that is to go somewhere remote. At least there, if they try to attack us again, we can actually have a full scale fight. As an added bonus, people who don’t have powers won’t see us using ours.”

“Why would that make a difference if they see or not? Wouldn’t they just think they’re hallucinating?” asked Artur.

“Fortunately for us, yes most of the time they would. But just one person videoing someone using a power and taking it to the police would alert everyone in the whole world to our presence. People would start hunting us down, trying to kill us, drive us from our homes. Do you really think they would listen to us? It would create a major world-wide fear of ‘the mutants’ as we are often referred to in movies.”

“That’s true, but what about our parents? They won’t understand,” commented Suri.

Will froze up. Suri’s words echoed around his head. “I’ll handle it from here,” announced Aiden, realising why his friend didn’t answer straight away.

Will sat down on a lounge in Susan’s living room. He only half listened to the conversation from then on. Anything he heard about parents and families, it always affected him. But nowadays it seemed worse.

He forced himself to concentrate and at least take information in. “We still will not force you to come with us, but there’s a 50-50 chance that it will mean certain death or capture and brainwashing for you,” Aiden paused. Everybody was silent, so he continued. “And Will and I have decided that if you do decide on coming, you will not be allowed to leave until we know exactly what is going on, what the Dark is doing, or until we have orders from the Headquarters.”

“Hang on, what is this ‘Headquarters’ thing? You have leaders?”

“A valid question. Yes, we do, as a matter of fact. Usually their power is an incredible amount of knowledge, which goes beyond that of a normal human. Famous people themselves have these powers, and they have chosen to show themselves to the public. Luckily, everyone thinks that they are just incredibly smart, not that it’s a ‘super-power’. Stephen Hawking, real nice guy. Will and I’ve met him a couple of times.”

“Stephen Hawking has a power?!”

“Yeah, I thought it was weird too. But HQ is just there to analyse situations, help us along when the goings get tough, like now.”

“Where is HQ based?” asked Flora.

“There are a couple, but the major one is in Australia,” replied Will, making himself speak. He was getting over his shock now.

“Australia? Isn’t that a bit of a random place?”

“Random, yes, but clever as well. Not many people think of big agencies with something to hide being located in Australia. We’ve got another base in Africa and a third in the Arctic.”

The conversation babbled on for a bit, all of the teenagers trying to buy more time before the inevitable question was asked and they would have to decide whether they would stay with civilization or brave it in the wild. But finally, Will asked, “So are you in or are you out?”
"Australia, Africa, and the Arctic." Jake thought idly to himself. "All together that would be the AAA. Ha! Triple A." A small snort of laughter escaped from him, but no one seemed to notice.

The situation really wasn't funny of course, he just happened to have the skill of reacting the exact opposite of the way he should under pressure.

"So..." He said out loud." We don't have to go. But if we stay we might get killed, captured-" He counted them off on his fingers. "Or... what was the other thing?"

"Brainwashed." Suri murmured.

"Yes, thats right. Brainwashed. Hmmmm..." He scratched his chin and pretended to actually be debating this. "Well, it doesn't seem like we have much of a choice." He threw up his hands in surrender.

Everyone was silent again.

"But... what about our parents?" Flora asked.

"The safest thing for them is to get you all as far away as possible." Aiden said. "And you can't tell them."

"Why?" Artur asked.

"Well, do you really think that they'd just let you go?" Will asked, raising an eyebrow.

"No." Artur muttered.

"You can write them a note, kay?" Aiden said, trying to keep their spirits up.

"When do we have to leave?" Susan asked.

"Tonight." Aiden and Will said in unison.

A collective gasp followed by muttering filled the room.

"Where are we going to go?" Artur asked.

"I'm not sure yet. Just somewhere... remote." Aiden said thoughtfully.

"Like an Island?" Suri asked, her eyes seeming to glaze over as she thought of beautiful white beaches.

Will laughed. "Probably not."

"And what about her?" Susan said, pointing her thumb at Evangeline.

Susan didn't seem to trust her. And a couple circumstances about her meeting them were suspicious. And she had yet to share her thoughts on the present situation. She'd just been standing there. Observing.

Aiden hesitated for a moment. "I'm not sure if they know about you. But I can't say for certain." He paused. "You may come with us if you like, Evangeline."

Jake wasn't sure if this was the smartest thing to do. After all, what did they really know about her? But then again, what if she wasn't working for Dark and they found her, and...

Evangeline lowered her eyes meekly. "I want to come."

She looked up and Jake realized again the peculiar color of her eyes.

She smiled shyly. "I've never met people before that are like me."

"Well then you are welcome to come with us." Aiden said.

"Cool! We can totally be friends!" Suri grabbed Evangeline's arm and began to hop up and down.

"Alright." Aiden clapped his hands together. "It seems that we have it settled. We'll swing around to pick you guys up at midnight. So go get packing; and try not to be suspicious."

So they dispersed, and Jake took the long walk home to think about what was about to happen.

They were going leave. Leave everything that he had ever known. He was surprised he even cared. What did he have to lose?

"Your mother." A voice in his head reminded him.

What was she going to do without him?

She would be okay. Right?

And most surprising of all, he would miss his father too. Why? Because he loved him. He loved his father, even after all he'd put him through. That's why he hadn't taken up Suri on her offer. He didn't want his father to love him because he didn't have choice. No. He wanted his father to love him... just for being himself.

He pushed impatiently through the tiny chain link fence that surrounded their house.

"Like this little gates actually gunna keep the gang bangers out." He muttered as it clanged shut behind him.

He opened the door quietly, well, as quietly as a creaky old door would open.

His mother was in the kitchen, and by the smell of it she was burning something.

"Oh dear..." She said as she waved away the smoke that came rushing out as she opened the oven.

She pulled out a pan with what looked to be the remains of charred chocolate chip cookies.

"Hey, sweetie!" She set the pan down and hugged him.

"I was planning on making this, since their your favorite, but..." She sighed and motioned to the black lumps sitting on the counter.

"No problem mom." He kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks for thinking about me."

He started to head upstairs when she called. "Where are you going?"

"Uh... homework."

"But its Friday, and its late. You could do it later you know."

"Yea, but I want to get a head start." He lied. "Just tryin' to improve my grades."

She smiled. "Alright."

He had to lean against his door for support when he finally got to his room. He closed his eyes and sighed. This was going to be harder then he thought.

Jake looked around his room for a moment, then grabbed his school bag and emptied its contents onto his bed. He then began to stuff clothes and other necessities into it. He searched around again and again, putting something in, then taking it out again. It was a struggle of what he wanted and what he needed to bring.

He heard someone approaching his room and kicked the bag under his bed.

His mother frowned. "You really need to clean your room, Jake."

He laughed, but it was strained. "I will."

She walked over to him and hugged him again. "Goodnight. See you in the morning." She smiled.

Jake's throat became tight, and all he could reply was. "Goodnight."

She left the room and he slumped onto his bed. He wasn't going to see her in the morning. Was he ever going to see her again?

His cell phone vibrated and he pulled it out of his pocket, curious.

It was a text from Flora.

Hey Jake

can u come over?

I sorta need some1 2 talk 2

He smiled and sent his reply.

Sure :)

He pulled on his backpack and snuck down the stairs. It was late and his mother was asleep. As he walked into the kitchen and set down the note he'd written, he could see the silhouette of his father against the TV screen.

Maybe things would be better between them someday. He sure hoped so.

A Non-Existent User
Flora sat down on her front porch. The street lights cast an eerie glow in the darkness. Her parents had gone to the hospital because Flora's younger brother had broken his leg playing street hockey after dinner. She would be long gone before her parents returned. What would they think of her? Their smart, normal daughter, suddenly gone? Flora bit her lip and tried to distract herself from that thought. She fingered the backpack she had packed. It seemed small but held a lot. Flora had packed the essentials, her toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and hairbrush. She packed a small box with all of her earrings in it, and her USB drive. She packed two shirts, a sweater, two pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of socks, two bras, two pairs of underwear, a pair of pajamas, and her flip flops. Then came the things Flora felt she couldn't live without. A small photo album with pictures of her friends and family. The binder she carried full of her writing. A disposable camera that still had pictures on it. Her cell phone. Her huge book list. Folded up tightly was the bag she'd gotten at camp that was signed by all of her best friends in various colored sharpies. Then there were the books that she owned that were her favorites. She also threw in a comforting color of nail polish and it was full.
"Hey," she turned her head to see Jake. He sat down next to her. "Hi," Flora greeted him softly. "What do you think it'll be like? Where we're going?" Flora asked. "I don't know," Jake answered. "Do you think it'll be like some underground facility or something? Or will it be one of those so-obvious-it-can't-possibly-be type places?" Flora was really just blathering now. Stalling. "Are you gonna miss your family?" Jake asked. Flora nodded, feeling a lump in her throat. "My little brother just broke his leg and my parents are at the hospital. I don't know what they'll think when they get home and I'm not there," she said quietly. Jake nodded. "I'll really miss my parents too. It's every teenage kid's wish to leave their parent's house and now here we are," he said, purposefully not finishing his sentence. Flora nodded. Tears pulled at her eyes. They suddenly spilled, gushing out of her eyes. She buried her face in Jake's shoulder. There they sat, until the car came to take them away, perhaps for forever.













Lucy was cheerful enough the next day that she actually went to her classes. Her smile only grew with each new conspicuous absence. This is respect. Even if they don't know who I am, Echo Dark has their fear and respect, where Lucy only ever had tolerance and polite smiles no matter her efforts.

She took an extra half-hour for lunch, slipping back into class and reforming directly in her seat, leaving the teacher, Mrs. Bennett, quite confused trying to figure out exactly how she'd managed to get into the class without opening the door. She'd just started to tune out Mrs. Bennett's alto drone when her new cell phone started shaking where it was clipped on her hip. Smile returning in full strength at the distraction, especially since the only one who had the phone number was Echo's sponsor.

She frowned on seeing the number texting her. It wasn't one she recognized, though she recognized the first four digits of the number. 327-5. Dark. The message itself was no less shocking. "They know who you are, Lucy. Use caution."

Someone in Dark who knew her name other than Atalanta. Of course, if they found out that the goodie-goodies know who I am it probably wouldn't be too much of a jump for them to find out too.

She checked to make sure she wasn't being watched, then left class again the same way she'd entered, taking her time strolling down the hallway. She still felt invincible, but she had an entirely new question in her mind.

She dialed a number into her phone. As always, the answer came before she even heard the phone ring on her end. "Yes, Echo? Has anything of interest occurred?"

The girl smiled at Atalanta's words. "Yes, actually. I just got a message saying that my cover's been blown."

There was a moment of silence, then Atalanta's voice returned. "Where did this message come from?"

Lucy gave the phone number, barely having finished when the older woman laughed on the other end of the call. "Ah, I see. The source of that information is reliable, if a bit spiteful. Thank you for relaying the message, it was something like this I was waiting for. You've noticed, I trust, how many of your classmates are missing today?"

"Yep. I made quite an impression the other day."

"You certainly did. The real question that we had was what their reaction would be, fight or flight. It would appear they've chosen the second. Normally that would be acceptable as it gets them out of our hair, but this time they took a veritable army of young, impressionable minds with them, all of whom have their own unique qualities."

"You mean we're going after them?"

"We are. Be ready, once the source of your information makes a formal report, Dark will move. I will want you by my side for this, Echo."

Lucy's eyes shone with pleasure. "I am and will be ready to stand at your side. None will hold us back!"
Will looked around the clearing that he and Aiden had chosen as their hiding place. They had to choose carefully as they didn't know how long they would be 'camping out', or how long it would take for the HQ's report to reach them.

The place that they chose was about 80 miles away from any sort of civilization. Aiden and Will had already set up some tents where the teenagers would be sleeping. Aiden had one to himself, and seeing as they were one tent short, Will had volunteered to sleep outside.

Trees surrounded the clearing, so dense that both Aiden and Will would have missed it if Will hadn't smelled the water that ran through the clearing. They found a small track that led into it, which they could barely squeeze through, to find the clearing. To their surprise, a small waterfall and deep lake ran through the clearing, which solved the problem of finding water immediately.

Currently, Will was 'testing' the water and smimming around, waiting for the others to arrive. He silently enjoyed the feeling of the cool water swirling around his bare chest, his board shorts lapping against his legs with the change of current, his hair being ruffled around, occasionally transforming into a seal or a dolphin to refine his skills with animals he was less used to being. Once underwater, his 'seal eyes' allowed him to see that the lake was deeper than it appeared. Even schools of small fish were swimming around, which was good as he could catch them and give them to the others.

A slight noise from the water above informed him that the others had arrived. He changed back into his human form, an lazily rose to the top of the water. He emerged and heard several small gasps from the teenagers. He looked down, wondering what was the matter. Scars. He had forgotten that the teens hadn't seen them before. Scars covered his chest and back, upper arms, legs, everywhere. The water that had soaked them made them appear slightly purple, emphasising the grossness of them. They wrapped around his body. Some were from living on the streets, but the majority were from fighting the Dark. The worst by far was one on his back, which stretched from his right shoulder down onto his left leg. It was jagged and thick. He shuddered as he remembered how he got it. His time captured by the Dark had not been pretty.

"So, are we ready to train?" he asked, ignoring the staring eyes.
Srry I can't be of more help right now. I graduate from the academy on Nov. 7, so I'll be able to really get back into it after then.

This was it. Jake had had it. He was not just going to sit around a campfire while these "Dark" agents run amuck in his town! They had targeted them. So they probably knew where they lived, and where their families lived. They had to do something, regardless of what the grown ups said. So at midnight, after training and far after Will and Aiden had fallen asleep, he'd quietly woken everyone else and told them what the plan was. Dark wanted to fight? Well, they were going to bring the fight to them.

Will was sleeping outside which made everything a whole lot easier.

Jake used his telekinesis and picked Will up.

Will's eyes opened and he opened his mouth but Jake used his powers to close it.

"Suri?" Jake asked.

Suri walked over to Will. "Your going to tell us where Dark headquarters is." She said.

Jake released his powers' grip on Will's mouth so he could speak.

Will laughed. "I have an animals mind. You can't make me do anything."

Jake used his powers and focused them on Will's throat, causing him to gasp for air.

"Tell. Us." He growled.

"Jake! What are doing!?" Flora cried.

"Flora, what's he thinking?" Jake asked, getting a new idea.

"He's thinking he wants to breath!" She said.

"Search deeper. He knows where the headquarters is."

Flora seemed taken aback at seeing Jake's newfound aggression but closed her eyes and concentrated.

"Got it." She said a moment later, opening her eyes.

"Good." Jake said, stopping his power and letting Will fall to the ground.

Will was going to cry out but Jake close his mouth by pinching two of his fingers together.

"Nuh uh. We can't have you spilling the beans on us."

He used his powers to hold Will down until Artur and Susan had him tied up. Susan used metal on his hands and feet and mouth, so there was no way he could make a sound.

"Suri, wake Aiden up then put him to sleep. Artur, you know how to drive, right?" Jake asked.

Suri hurried into Aiden's tent and Artur nodded. "Yeah."

"Good, find the key's to the car that brought us here."

Artur looked everywhere, even in Will and Aiden's pockets. "I can't find it!" He cried.

"Does anyone have a quarter?" Susan asked nonchalantly, causing everyone to look up from what they were doing.

"I do." Suri said, hurrying over to Susan and pulling some coins out of her pocket.

Susan got into the driver's seat of the car and looked over the lock. The next moment she had turned the spare change into a key. She put it in and started the ignition.

"Great!" Artur cried.

"Good, lets get out of here." Jake said. And they all got into the car. Except Flora. "Flora, come on!" He urged. She looked like she might cry. What was wrong? Finally she got in though, and Artur started to drive.

After about half an hour they got out of the forest and into the suburbs, Flora giving the directions.

Finally they pulled the car to a stop, across the street from a very ordinary looking concrete building.

"Alright." Jake said, steeling himself for whatever was ahead. "Lets do this."

They got out of the car and circled the parameter, trying to see what the best way in was, and if their were any security cameras.

"Well." Artur sighed. "My mom always said the best way in to anything was through the front door."

"Yeah, just like the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Susan added sarcastically as a small grumble came from Artur's belly.

"Hey, its not like we got to eat a whole lot-" Artur began his defense but stopped once he was "shhhd" by everyone at the same time.

"Fine, then we go in through the front door. Flora? Be on the lookout of anyone else's thoughts. If we actually run into trouble hopefully Suri will be able to stop them. Evangeline?" He asked, talking to her for the first time this night. "You can be on the offensive with me."

"Everyone got it?" He asked.

There was a collective nod.

"Good."

---------

Susan picked the lock, since they were trying not to be noticed. They all slipped in, and a flashlight turned on. One after another.

"Flora?" Jake whispered.

She nodded a no.

"Alright." He said. "There doesn't seem to be anyone here. We should split up. If you find anything interesting you can tell us through these." Jake pulled out six walkie-talkies.

He dispersed them amongst the group, and then they dispersed themselves. Everyone going in a different direction.

Jake walked from one hall to the next, noticing how oddly still and quiet everything was. He could barely hear his shoe's on the tile floor.

He tried a door and found it to be open. He walked in to find an inside parking lot. He could see stairs across the way. Obviously this place was a lot bigger than they had expected. It even went underground...

He walked slowly across the lot, noting the few cars that were parked there. Nothing fancy. In fact, you'd probably forget them right after they were out of your sight. Which was probably what they wanted.

He opened the door to the stair's and shined his flashlight into it. He followed them down one flight, but noticed that it went far deeper than that. There had to be at least nine levels all together.

"Anything, anyone?" He whispered through the walkie-talkie.

All he got were a bunch of whispered "no's".

He opened the door that he found on the first flight and stepped out into another hall way.

Man. This place had to go on forever.

He walked through the hall and tried to open the first door he saw. It was locked. He used his telekinesis to crush the doorknob into a crumpled heap, then turned it and walked into the room.

It was as if he'd walked into an eight grade biology classroom. There were viles, and tubes, and objects filled with strange liquids. He walked over to a file cabinet and opened the first drawer curiously.

He shifted through the papers and files, when something caught his eye. A file. A file that read: Matthews, Jake.

He grabbed it and opened it. The first thing he saw was a picture of him, paper-clipped to a few pages of facts about him.

They knew everything about him!

His heart was pounding. How did they know all this?

"Surprised, huh?" A voice he recognized made him turn. "Didn't know your little girlfriend has a weakness. She can't hear through titanium."

"Lucy." He said. "Why? Why are you doing this?"

"Because I want to." She said simply. "Dark's done so much for me." Her eyes seemed to glaze over as if she were looking into space.

"But what about the fire, someone could have been hurt! We're your friends Lucy!"

"No your not." She snapped. "I had no friends until I joined Dark."

"What happened to the sweet, smart girl I knew at school?"

"She died. Just like your about to." She growled.

Suddenly she turned her arm into smoke and sent it into Jake's lungs.

He coughed and gasped for air, falling to his knees.

"It's simple." She said. "Join, or die."

His eyes were watering and his lungs burning. He had to do something!

Jake used his telekinesis to actually pull the smoke from his lungs.

He staggered up holding a hand to his throat while Lucy seemed frozen in shock.

He felt anger burn up inside of him. A shadow creeping over his entire being.

He held a hand towards Lucy and her arm returned to normal.

She gasped and looked at her hand. "What?" She squealed. "How-?"

Jake was using his illusions to make Lucy think that she couldn't use her powers.

She looked terrified. And some part of him enjoyed that. A part he never thought he had.

He advanced on her. "So what are you afraid of, Lucy?"

"Spiders?" All of a sudden their were spiders and webs everywhere.

She screamed and backed up but he advanced.

"Snakes?" He growled as suddenly the whole floor was slithering.

He lifter her using his telekinesis. "The dark?"







Lucy's eyes snapped open, her scream turning to a snarl of rage. "I am Dark!" Her body exploded into smoke, flying across the room, one section taking a vaguely humanoid shape. "And I am not going to have that or anything that I am taken away by you or anyone!" A vial lifted into the air, then flew towards Jake, followed by another, and another. He twisted, dodging and deflecting with his telekinesis before finally stopping and grabbing the next three vials, throwing them back through the smoky specter before him. It dissipated instantly, just before Jake felt something hit him in the back hard. He fell forward, turning and lashing out with a blast at the space behind him, a nearly solid Lucy holding the chair she'd just hit him with flying apart into a swirling cloud with a laugh.

"You can't hurt me, your friend can't hypnotize a cloud, I. Am. Dark!"

Her swirling form flew apart again, then again and again as Jake threw his power against her. "You don't have any right to threaten any of us. We just want to live our lives in peace."

The smoky cloud flew apart, but rather than reforming, slipped into one of the room's vents, Lucy's voice echoing out of it. "If that were true, you wouldn't be here, would you?"

Jake waited, watching the vent carefully for a long while before moving back into the room. His back was sore, but otherwise he was no worse for wear. He pushed the button on his walkie-talkie. "Be careful everyone. I just ran into Lucy."

Susan's voice came over the line first. "What happened?"

"She threw most of a biology class at me. Everyone just keep your eyes and ears open."

Flora was first this time. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I've found some files with information on all of us. I'm taking them with me. Has anyone else found anything?"

Negatives everywhere. "All right then, keep your fingers on the button in case Lucy or anyone else decides to drop in again."

He took his time collecting the files, taking a moment to glance through. Artur... Suri... Susan... Flora... Evangeline... Even Will and Mr. Dartz. The only one missing was Lucy. He collected them up and left the room, making his way further into the building with his flashlight leading the way.

* * * * *

Lucy moved through the vents with as much of a smile as smoke could show. I can do more than just sneak around, though I'm not sure how Jake pulled my arm out of his throat. I'm going to have to figure out something other than just making my arm solid immediately, I don't really want to kill anyone. Not if I can avoid it.

She kept glancing down through the grates, looking for the intruders. There's Susan... as pleasant as always... Suri... Artur... Ah! She flowed out from the vent, coalescing on the ground in front of Evangeline. The girl could have killed someone with the daggers she shot at Lucy. "There's a file on you with the others."

Evangeline nodded impatiently. "Of course there is. Did you expect Dark to forget that I was among them when it put together those files for them to find? Besides, you aren't supposed to be talking to me. We aren't supposed to have any contact. What the heck are you doing here?"

Lucy frowned. "I've been told many things about you, but they don't add up with what I saw in your file."

"Yeah, and?"

"You're strong. You have some serious power. You could crush all of those children at once. Why have I been told that you aren't ever given any big jobs?"

Evangeline smirked. "Because I've got my own brain. What, are you starting to worry about what's going to happen to you? Let me make one thing clear: Atalanta is not your friend. You're a useful tool, and the moment you stop being useful you're gone. She'll bury you in meaningless tasks and accusations until you can barely scream. You are her new toy, not her new friend, and certainly not Dark's new golden child. It doesn't matter how self-righteous or snobby you are, when they get what they want you will be shoved into some corner to be forgotten about."

Lucy shook her head slowly. "Atalanta's never given me any reason not to trust her."

"That's why she's so good at what she does. By the time I saw what she was doing behind the scenes, my name was ruined in Dark, and no one leaves Dark once they join up."

"Just because she did it to you doesn't mean she'll do it to me."

Evangeline stepped forward, all but snarling into Lucy's face. "Get over yourself! You aren't anything special. Atalanta has done the same thing dozens of times, I'm just one of the few who were good enough to get out of it alive. How do you think she knows Aiden Dartz so well?"

Lucy fell back a step as if slapped. "What? How am i supposed to believe that?"

"I don't care. Just get out of my way and enjoy your downward spiral. If you survive it, let me know. I'd like to see what a princess you are then."

You're wrong. I am special. Even if Dark doesn't see that. I am! She reached out to grab Evangeline's arm. "Who's to say that we aren't going to fight back?"

Evangeline shook off her grip. "I am. I've seen what Dark does to traitors, and I know what Atalanta specifically is capable of to cover her own rear. You want a way out of this mess, I suggest you start thinking for yourself and come up with something fast. If Dark is letting these kids in here, things will be coming to a head soon."

Lucy stepped back. "Fine then. Keep your ruined reputation. I've got thinking to do."

She jumped, swirling away into the vent again, leaving Evangeline alone in her dark hallway again.
A Non-Existent User
Flora's body shook as she rounded the many corners that all looked the same. How far she'd been or how many times she'd gone in the same rectangle she didn't know. All she knew was that she was scared. And her guilty conscience wasn't letting her forget the scene in the woods when jake took control. How could she have refused? But how could she have stopped them? Her life reminded her of these hallways, always one turn after another, trying hopelessly to fit in.

Flora heard something move nearby. "W-who's there?" she called out shakily. A faint but shrill laughter echoed from the ceiling. "There can't be anybody here," Flora whispered to herself. "I would have heard their presence," she tried to make sense of the laughter. "Foolish girl- I guess Will and Aiden never told you about titanium," the voice rang out. Flora turned wildly. "W-what?" she asked. "Titanium. That's what these walls are made of. And it's the one thing you can't hear through," If Flora hadn't been shaking so hard she would've given herself a good facepalm. She was supposed to know things like this!

"And you're boyfriend's no better. You're all weak, weak and stupid, thinking you can defeat Dark!" Flora trembled as she tried to figure out where the voice was coming from. "Leave Jake alone!" she cried. If there was one thing Flora knew, it was that she'd do anything to keep everyone else from getting hurt. The laughter came back. "He was too easy. Dark will pick you all off one by one," Flora's eyes widened as a cloud of thick gray smoke seeped fast out of the ventilation system in the ceiling. She put her palms out and pulled water molecules out of the air, hurling them through the smoke. "That wasn't very nice," the voice said. Could it be possible that the person was the smoke? Flora hurriedly fumbled for her walkie-talkie, pressing down the button to warn and alert the others of her situation. But before she could speak, the smoke whirled itself at her, making her throat close around the empty air and her eyes water. All she could do before she fell to the floor was pick up her walie-talkie and scream through it, the smoke burning her throat as the cruel voice laughed at her again. She collapsed and the walkie-talkie went skittering across the floor, far from Flora's outstretched hands.
The scream that echoed through made Susan flinch, dropping the walkie-talkie momentarily before she caught it reflexively on the tip of her foot and flipping it back up in the air. Hours of hacky-sack with her older brother had finally paid off.

Before she could even press the button to respond, the walkie-talkie burst to life with chatter. Everyone was speeching at once, making it nearly impossible to decipher.

"Who was that?"
"What happened?"
"Is everyone alright?"

Susan pressed the button, and nearly shouted at the top of her lungs, "Everyone shut up!"

The waves went silent. "Everybody report in. One. At. A. Time." One by one they called in. All except Flora.

"Flora!" Jake screamed. Notes of pure panic and anger clouded his voice. "Flora, answer!"

"Which way did she go down?" Artur asked.

Susan began to run. She didn't know exactly where she was going, but she couldn't stay still and wait. Not far behind she could hear the footsteps of the others. Hall after hall, turn after turn, Susan kept coming up with dead ends. The building has turned into a freaking labyrinth all of the sudden.

"Lucy's got her," squawked the walkie-talkie in her hand. "Watch out for the-"

"Smoke." The word slipped out of Susan's mouth as she stopped at the sight of a large cloud of smoke surrounding Flora's prone body. An eerily cackle filled the air.

"Well looks who's joined the party." The voice - Lucy - tsked. "Its a shame you were the one to get here first. Metal can do nothing against smoke, and I'm afraid your little friend is running out of air."

Susan braced her legs apart, her hand clenched into fists at her sides. The vent above their heads began to rattle, the bolts holding it in place falling to the ground, making the smoke hesitate at the sound. She smirked, the edges of her mouth curling with a hint of cruelty. "I wouldn't be too sure about that."
"Aiden! Aiden hurry up!" Will shook his friend roughly again. No use. Suri had put him to sleep and he wouldn't be waking up any time soon. The longer Will left the kids on their own, the more dangerous it got.

He ran out of the tent, jumped into the air and half way through falling turned into the falcon again. The speed of this animal had come in handy many times, and he was certain he would be at the Dark's HQ in less than five minutes.

The minutes passed quickly. He cursed the teens for their foolhardy plan. What did they think they could do? A couple of people who hadn't even reached level one in the official training program against people who could kill them as easily as breathing was to them. And what was their motive? Were they really so cocky that they could make themselves believe that they could take down the whole agency by themselves?

Finally he had arrived at the HQ. He landed outside, then listened for where people were. Footsteps running down a main hallway, by the way they landed heavily, they were Jake's. A squeal, that was Suri, she was in a large room, judgingy the way the squeal echoed. The closest entrance for Will was two metres to the left, then barge through the wall. Easiest person to get to, first person to save.

What animal should he use? A rhino, easiest to use to barge into a building. He quickly morphed, walked back a few steps, then ran the lumbering run that rhino's use before they are about to crash into something. His head crashed into the concrete, causing some concrete to fall down and a tiny hole was made. Only about a centimetre in diameter. Large enough though.

He was using a lot of animals tonight. Ants. They were very fun to be. He walked up to the wall and morphed into an ant, then crawled into the hole. He had to squeeze through a long, skinny tunnel before he got through. Those walls were thick.

As he thought, Suri was in there. And as he thought, so was a Dark member. But this man was unknown. Will quickly transformed into his normal self. The room was large and filled with desks, computers and stationary.

“What do we have here? Another intruder?” The man smirked. “Today must be my lucky day, I get to kill two people. But who are you? I’ve seen you somewhere before. Surely , you aren’t William Everard?”

“Correct,” assured Will, his eyes narrowing. This man before him wasn’t random. Number 5 on HQ’s dangerous list, this was Blake Warner. Blake’s power: through his imagination, he was able to turn any inanimate object into spears.
“Your power, to turn into animals? A rare power, but it will soon be rarer. Because I am so nice, I will let you have a 2 minute ‘apology in advance’ speech to your...friend, there, as you will not be able to protect her in your current weak state.”

Will’s eyes narrowed even more. However, he did turn to Suri. “Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve in here, but it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of. This guy behind us, one of the most dangerous in the world. And you aren’t even ranked! If I hadn’t turned up you’d be dead already!” Suri looked down at the floor. “Go sit in the corner, NOW! Do not move AT ALL.” Will’s patience had worn thin. “IF you move a SINGLE muscle, you WILL get hurt. Understand?” Suri’s eyes were wide. She hadn’t seen Will this angry before. Quickly she moved over to the wall and sat down, drawing her legs in. Will grabbed a desk and moved it in front of her, the flat of the table creating a shield. Suri’s head poked up far enough for her to watch the inevitable fight.

“Right, now where were we?” Will calmed himself down. Nothing was more dangerous than being blinded by anger or worry during a fight.

“Let us begin,” said Blake calmly. He raised his arms, and in complete synchronisation, some of the tiled floor came up with them, all shaped as spears, long, pointed, deadly.

Will crouched down and braced himself. The spears came hurtling towards him, he threw himself out of the way. One whistled straight past his ear, several flew past harmlessly and stuck themselves in the wall, and another grazed his left leg, nothing serious. It lodged inside his leg for a second before falling to the floor with a metallic clang. Suri squealed again.

Again Blake raised spears, again Will dodged them, but this time he went in for a counterattack. He sprinted forward and morphed into a tiger mid leap, swiping a massive paw towards Blake’s chest. It hit him on the arm. Blake yelled and raised his good arm. Morphing back to his human self, Will said, “Your power has stopped already? From that scratch? How weak.”

Blake smirked again. “My power hasn’t stopped. Right now there are millions of tiny spears hovering in the air around you, all pointed at you. You can’t see them because they’re too small for even animal eyes. Goodnight, tiger.”

Will’s eyes widened as he felt the barely visible spears pierce his skin. Nerves were damaged and he fell to the ground, stunned.

“My best fighting technique. It’s kind of like acupuncture, only it damages, not massages. I’ve pinpointed where your nerves are, essentially paralysing you. Your brain’s messages aren’t able to tell your body what to do, you are at my mercy.”

‘This is bad,” thought Will. ‘He isn’t number 5 for nothing. Now move! Just an arm, a leg, anything! I can’t even morph!’

“What a boring fight. You haven’t even done anything. How come you’re ranked so highly?”

‘Move! Now!’ Will’s right arm twitched slightly. It was enough to move the spears the tiniest bit, sending his brain’s messages to his arm. He pushed himself up, and slowly, regained mobility.

“Oh, what is this? You’re able to move again? Well, that’s at least a little interesting. Now, let us continue.”

“Not continue,” argued Will. “Let’s end this!”

“Well, I was going to save this for later, but if you insist on hurrying things up.” He raised his arm for a final time. A spear rose, this time it was made from the wood of one of the desks. It’s shaft pointed down at Will, then started spinning mid-air. “You should have watched where you were going. If you would like to look, I am in the middle of the room. You are at the left of the room, and you friend is at the right, completely unprotected.”

Will’s eyes widened as the spear stopped, pointed at Suri. She gasped and froze with fear. “NO!” shouted will, and sprinted across the room, racing the spear that was now flying towards Suri. She wasn’t moving, she was too afraid. Will morphed into a leopard, and rushed past the spear. At the last second he spun around and morphed into himself. The spear hit with a thud into his stomach, a bit off centre. Will stood there, feeling blood rushing down his side. Another spear appeared just before him, and lodged itself, this time into his chest. A small grunt escaped from his lips and his vision blurred.

He just had enough time to see the blurry shape of Aiden rushing through the door. ‘That’s good. Aiden will take care of it from here, Suri will be safe. But still, I-’ He didn’t get the chance to finish his thoughts, he crashed to the ground and smashed his head on something sharp.

Vision failed completely. He could hear his heart slowing, irregular. His breath’s came in sharp and ragged, he spears must have split and punctured his internal organs. He could feel a hand holding his head, feel hot tears splashing on his face. They weren’t his own, whose were they? His breathing slowed, his heart slowed more, and the last thing he felt was his body going completely limp. The last thing he heard was a wailing scream.
Aiden stood in front of Suri and Will, blocking any more damage from Blake. Blake's eyes widened. He hadn't been expecting Will, and Will could tell. Blake backed up a bit, then smiled.

"Well, it's not everyday number 5 will get to move up higher in the ranking because he kills number 1," he chuckled. Suri looked at Aiden.

"You're the most dangerous?" Aiden bowed his head slightly. He didn't want anyone new to know about why Dark was so interested in him and Will. The fact that Will was in the top 15 was bad enough for Dark. But when Aiden and Will had joined together and started recruiting, Dark had gotten nervous.

"So you think you can just beat someone without problem? Will gave you a fight, and even injured you. I won't be so forgiving." Aiden's eyes flared up. Blake had five spears pointed at Aiden's heart. With an inhuman growl, he threw the spears at Aiden, only to watch them melt right as they left his control. Aiden then electrocuted Blake, causing him to cry out in a terrible pain. Aiden let his anger get the best of him and burned Blake until he heard the final death throws.

"Mr. Dartz?" he heard Suri's voice. Oh no, he thought, she saw that. He turned to her and let himself calm down.

"I'm sorry you had to see that, but now you realise I'm not number 1 for no reason." Suri just nodded, then looked down at Will. "We have to get him out of here."

Aiden realised as they carried Will to safety that he would eventually have to tell the others of his former standings with Dark, and his former membership. But he had to go find the others first.
"Jake, Susan, Artur!" Jakes walkie-talkie buzzed.

"Aiden?" Jake asked.

"Will's hurt. You children need to get out of here. NOW."

Jake bit his lip and looked around and around. This was all his fault. All of it.

"Jake me and Susan are up on the third floor. Hurry! We can't fight Lucy that much longer!"

Jake ran down the hall until he found an elevator and hit the third floor button.

It opened into another empty hallway but he could hear a scuffle going on around the corner.

He turned the corner to see Artur and Susan fighting Lucy the best they could, and he could see Flora's still frame on the ground.

He looked around hurriedly and found a fire extinguisher in a case on the wall. He used his elbow to brake the glass then ran forward with it.

He let loose the cold spray and Lucy returned to her solid state. She looked extremely scared and confused.

He hit her over the head with the extinguisher and she fell to the ground with a loud thump.

"Didn't think I paid any attention in Chemistry, did you?" He asked the unconscious Lucy.

"Jake-" He heard Flora's weak voice and he immediately knelt by her.

"Flora, are you alright?" He asked.

Tears were streaming down her dirty face as she nodded.

He hugged her tightly. "I am so sorry. I screwed up everything."

He stood and Susan helped Flora to her feet.

"You guys need to get out of here." Jake said.

"What about you?" Susan cried.

"I'm going to fix this."

"You can't-"

"Go!" He yelled. And even thought they looked reluctant, Artur picked up Lucy and Susan and Flora began to limp down the hall.

Flora looked back and her face made him want to cry. But he had to this. The only reason they were in this mess was because of him. His father was right. He was just a big screw up. He prayed that he would be able to carry out his plans.

A man appeared in the hallway, and Jake turned his eyes toward him, his entire being overcome by anger.

The man raised his hands and Jake could see electricity crackling between them.

He shot a bolt of electricity at Jake, but he dodged it, and it hit a circuit instead. Suddenly the circuit box was on fire.

Jake tried to stop the next bolt with his telekinesis but it didn't work. Apparently he couldn't control energy.

The pain went through him and he seized for a moment before landing on the ground.

"Heh. This was too easy." The man advanced on him and he made no movement.

Jake could see a piece of glass, about and inch long, very close to him. It was from when he had broken the container for the extinguisher.

He reached out his hand and grabbed it, just as the man pulled him halfway up by his collar.

The man began to use his powers, and Jake could feel himself seizing again. He plunged the piece of glass into the man and stared him straight in the face as he died.

Jake stood shakily and coughed. The fire had spread and the hallway had begun to fill will smoke.

"Jake, please don't do this!" He grabbed the walkie-talkie that he'd dropped.

"Flora-" His voice choked. "Everyone. I'm sorry." He swallowed, then turned it off. He wasn't going to stop. Not now. Not until this place had burned to the ground.

He used his telekinesis to bring down part of the ceiling, and he put pieces of burning wood and drywall everywhere along the hall, helping the fire spread quicker. He also shot some up above him. He was on the third floor. Now the second one would be burning too.

Then he ran down the hall and into pair of people. Before they could even use their powers on him he had slammed them against the wall with all his force using his telekinesis.

He couldn't help but think about how he had put his friends in so much danger. Pieces of ceiling were falling around him, and he wouldn't have cared. But he had a job to finish.

He ran down the stairway. Down, down, down, until he reached the bottom floor. He had passed a few more people on his way but they either ran or he had taken them out.

The staircase was starting to fill with smoke as well, but he was already out the door.

He was now in the lowest level. He could hear loud bangs and booms as the building above him began to fall apart. The floor shook for a moment, and he stopped moving. But only for that moment.

He hurried down the hallway's, looking in each door till he finally found what he was looking for. A building this big had to have generators. And he had found them. He ran down more stairs and looked about him. Their were three huge generators that towered up above him.

Jake clenched both of his fists together and one of them was crushed. Sparks and wiring fell from up above, and he was only lucky that he hadn't been hit.

"Stupid child." He turned to see the lady that had been in Aiden's back yard. "What do you think your doing?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?" He asked, hatred boiling up inside of him.

"It looks like your making the biggest mistake of your pitifully short life." She said, circling him.

He was wary, because he didn't know what powers she had, so his eyes never left hers. She held her hands up. "And what were you planning to do with the files we planted?"

"Planted-" He was caught off guard.

"Yes, planted. All in all Evangeline did a pretty good job of it. I thought it was her who had led you all here at first."

"Evangeline... she was working for Dark?"

"Yes. But it was not Evangeline who led you fools here, was it?"

They continued to circle one another, the debris falling from above becoming increasingly dangerous.

"No." She continued. "It was you. The brave and fearless leader!" She mocked.

"And do you know what you led them to?" She scowled. "Their deaths."

"Wrong." Jake growled. "Its not them who are dead. Its you."

His telekinesis was out of control. Things were flying about the room. And suddenly Atalanta didn't seem so smug anymore.

He could see the fear plain on her face.

"Its you!" Jake yelled his voice cracking. "You and Dark are dead."

She tried to run but the door was slammed shut before she could get to it.

He let every bad thought out of his mind, and sent illusions all over the place. Spiders were crawling up and down the walls. The ground was slithering, full of snakes. Demons flew about, their eyes red and their forms black. And growing ever present, fire.

Atalanta screamed. Presently the generator nearest her fell by its own accord and he saw her no more.

He backed into the wall, trying to breath. The room was filled with smoke.

He made the illusions disappear, finding himself in a very real hell.

An explosion brought down more debris. His heart was racing as he saw that the door was now inaccessible, as the generator had fallen in front of it.

He looked around desperately, for another place of escape. He had known it might come to this. Know he had to face it.

Jake coughed again, his lungs and eyes burning. He was at the bottom of a building that was crashing in on itself.

He wasn't getting out.

He slid down the wall, while tears slid down his cheeks. His whole life he had been a screw up. But now he had done something right. At least he hoped so. It was all he had ever wanted to be. A hero.

He switched on the walkie-talkie as the thought came to him.

"Guys?" He asked, trying not to let his crying be evident.

"Jake! Thank goodness, where are you!?"

"I'm...um-" He choked out. "I don't think that I'm getting out of here."

He heard Flora screaming from the other side. And Suri too, and he heard Aiden trying to quiet them down.

"Don't say that Jake!"

The words broke his heart. But he couldn't do anything! This place was coming down. And he was under it.

"Just tell us where you are!"

"I-" He sniffed. "-I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything."

"Just keep talking, we'll find you." Aiden yelled, it sounded like he was in the building.

"And I-" He forced the words through his tears. "I love you, Flora."

"Jake." He could hear her shaking voice. "I love you too."

He tried to stand but his eyes hurt, and his lungs. He stumbled to his feet, only to fall to the wall again for support.

The world was spinning.

"Jake? Jake!?" He hears Aiden's voice.

He saw what looked like his teachers form coming towards him, trying to get through all the wreckage.

But he wasn't sure. He couldn't tell what anything was anymore.

He thought he heard his name called again.

Aiden reached him. But he was sure it was just an illusion. He who had been the illusionist, now getting his own medicine. Oh well. It was better than dying alone.

He could swear that Aiden grabbed ahold of him, then he blacked out.





A Non-Existent User
When Jake had turned back after finding them, Flora was weak and confused. Almost just like Lucy had told her. She should have refused. Told them she wasn't coming and tried to stop them. And now, because of her, Jake was going to die. Die.

He had looked back and Flora knew instantly what he planned to do. Flora gasped and struggled against Susan. but she didn't have much strength and Susan was able to haul her outside with everyone else.

"NO!" Flora screamed as tears started rushing down her face. "JAKE!" But Susan held her back. Flora could see the exit now, could see that they would get out alright. But Jake wouldn't. Tears cascaded down her cheeks, and her nose ran, but Flora didn't care.

She heard his voice through the walkie-talkie and clutched at it. "Jake! Thank goodness! Where are you!?!?!" she cried, choking on her tears. "I don't think I'm getting out of here," she heard him say. She screamed, she and Susan together. Aiden tried to calm then down. Artur was silent as a stone. Smoke and crashing sounds escaped the desolate scene of the headquarters of Dark.

Aiden took one of their walkie-talkies and raced down the hall. "I'm sorry. Sorry for everything," Jake said. Flora's sobs intensified. She wanted to say so much to Jake, and she desperately wanted him to live. Artur pulled her and Susan outside. It was dark, or maybe it was just the smoke, rising in huge plumes now. "Flora." she clutched the walkie-talkie tighter, trying to will Jake to live with the intensity of her grip. "I love you Flora." she tried to wipe the tears from her face. "jake, I love you too," she whispered, and then repeated it louder so he could hear.

He didn't reply. They were outside, on someone's lawn, or maybe it was the grass near the building. either way, Flora flung herself down onto the green carpet and sobbed, pressing the walkie-talkie that didn't answer to her chest. She covered her head in her arms, face down on the ground and her hair covered the rest of her face. "Jake," she whispered. she could feel Susan and Artur, and a few of the others, but she was too overcome with her won sorrow to read their thoughts. Everyone was out alive, everyone that mattered. Everyone but Jake.

"It's Aiden!" she heard Artur shout. Flora jerked her head up, no doubt she looked as horrible as she felt now. Sure enough, it was Aiden- and Jake. Flora scrambled up, walkie-talkie forgotten, to where Aiden sat on the ground, and set jake in the grass as well. Flora fell over her own two feet next to Jake. "Jake," she whispered. "Jake, please live. Oh my God," she cried, tears flowing again. Curse her sensitivity, though she didn't think anyone would begrudge her the tears now. She hugged Jake to her chest, unwilling to let go. "Jake, I'm sorry," she whispered. "And I don't blame you. None of this is your fault. None of it."


Aiden turned as the sounds of sirens could be heard.

"We need to get out of here." He said.

Everyone looked up at him, fear plain in their eyes.

"We can't let the cops find us involved in two fires within twenty four hours! And Jake and Will need help."

"Artur, help me get Will and Jake to the car." Aiden, Artur, and everyone else helped and then as quick as they had came, they were gone. Heading back to the forest campsite.

-----

Back at camp they took out the two injured people and began working on them.

Aiden knew Will the best, so he knew how to help him. He started by bandaging the wounds, then explained that Will's body wasn't like any normal humans. He should be okay.

Flora and Susan were over Jake.

"What do we do!?" Flora cried, tears streaming down her face.

"He has a pulse." Susan said, clutching his wrist. She put her face to his. "And he's breathing but-"

Aiden walked to them and kneeled down beside Jake.

"Atalanta." He sighed, and sat down. Looking extremely exhausted.

"What?"

"Thats her power. She can put people to sleep."

"But if he's just sleeping-" Flora tried to stay calm.

"When I said put to sleep, I meant it more in the term of veterinary use." Aiden said sadly.

"No!" Flora screamed. "There has to be something we can do!"

She looked around, trying to find support in any of her friends faces. But they were all empty of hope.

"Please!" She cried in agony.

"We can try to find someway to wake him. But if not-" Aiden stopped. "We'll find a way." He added.

Evangeline was away from the main group. It looked like she had been crying to.

"I'm leaving." She said, everyone turning to look at her.

"But Evangeline, its not safe-" Suri said, sitting next to Will.

"I can't-" Evangeline put her hand to her face. "I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry." Then she walked away into the woods, no one able to gather the strength to stop her.

"I guess I better tell you all now." Aiden began, sitting on the ground. "The reason I knew so much about Atalanta, and Dark, is because... I used to be apart of it."

"What?" Susan roared, enraged.

"I thought they were trying to help mankind. But it appeared they had a different agenda." He sighed again.

"After I learned what they were really about, I left. Started to recruit others. I had a group like this one before." Aiden's voice cracked a little and he looked down. "Dark killed them. Only me and Will were left." He said after a moment. "And when I met all of you, I was determined to not make the same mistakes. I know you don't really have any reason to trust me-"

"Like heck we don't." Susan said.

"- I want to let you know that I never wanted any of you to be hurt. But you don't even realize what you guys have accomplished!" His face had taken on a different tone. "A group of level zero's, taking down Dark Head Quarters all on your own." He shook his head. "Amazing. It will take Dark a long time to become as strong again, if they ever do."

"But what about Jake!?" Flora cried, outraged that Aiden could be feeling even remotely triumphant.

"Like I said. We'll work hard. Dig deep."

Flora looked down at Jake, his head in her lap. He was just sleeping! But somehow, that made everything worse.

A few minutes later everyone had retired, exhausted.

She couldn't sleep.

Then an idea occurred to her.

Lucy.

Flora walked over to the large metal box that Susan had made to keep Lucy in.

Flora grabbed the fire extinguisher that was sitting right next to the box.

"I'm opening the slate, Lucy. If you even try to fly out of here, I'll gas you." Flora growled.

"Fine." A mumbled voice came from inside.

Flora opened the small slate and Lucy returned to her human form.

See, in the box she had to stay in her gas form, because their wasn't enough air, but with the small window open she could assume her normal body.

"What do you know about Atalanta's powers?" Flora asked.

"Just that she can put people to sleep." Lucy looked at her nails, acting unconcerned.

"And how do we wake them up?"

Lucy looked up at Flora. "There's an antidote. One at the head quarters, but since your boyfriend blew it up-"

"Where else?"

"I can take you there." Lucy smiled. "You let me free, your boyfriend gets to live."

"How can I trust you?" Flora asked.

"You can't." Lucy shrugged. "But can you really trust anyone? I mean, Aiden straight out lied to all of you. He'd even had a group of kids killed before but he wanted to try again. He's selfish. All he wanted to do was defeat Dark. He didn't care about any of you."

"Face it, I'm his only hope."

Flora struggled with her emotions. She glared at Lucy then shut the slate. "Hold that thought."

Flora woke up Susan and told her the plan. Susan would use her powers to lift the crate into the truck, and Lucy would lead them to the antidote. If it worked, they let her go free, dangerous, but their only option. If it didn't... well, Flora couldn't bring herself to think about it.

They decided to leave Artur and Suri behind, because they didn't want any more of their friends getting hurt.

"Which way?" Susan turned to look at Flora who was sitting in the back with Jake. They were back in the suburbs again.

Flora cocked her head and listened to Lucy's thoughts. "Left."

About half an hour later they reached a small building that looked like a pediatricians office. And it turned out that that is what it was. Except it was in the middle of nowhere. Darks own personal place of recovery for its agents.

Susan picked the lock and they walked in, the box with Lucy in it levitating behind them.

"We need to go through this room, and put him on the table." Flora said out loud, relaying Lucy's thoughts to Susan.

The girls struggled to lift him onto the table.

"Now what?" Susan asked.

Flora closed her eyes, listening to the thoughts.

"We need to brake into the doctors cabinet, and pull out a vial that's labeled D420."

Susan ripped off the doors of the cabinet by their hinges and they set to work, looking for it.

"Found it!" Flora cried, grabbing a small bottle of dark liquid.

"Now find the syringe in the drawer and fill it to about half way." Lucy's thoughts floated through Flora's mind.

Usually the sight of needles made Flora sick, but this time her hands were steady.

Flora and Susan exchanged glances, then finally stuck the syringe into Jake's arm, and let the liquid go in.

---

Fire. Everything was on fire! It felt as if Jake's insides were burning up.

He seized on the table, and shadows started to leak out from him.

His muscles kept tightening and loosening, putting him into very abnormal positions, and left him writhing on the table.

His eyes opened but he saw everything in a different way, as if he were wearing shades.

Flora screamed as she saw his eyes were all black.

"Augh!" Jake cried in pain, as the shadows grew around him.

"What did you do to him!?" Susan yelled at the boxed in Lucy.

"I did what I told you I would, I woke him up." Suddenly Lucy was out of the box, as it appeared she found a crack.

She stayed smokey so that they couldn't touch her. "Beautiful, isn't it?" She asked. "Atalanta was always looking for someone to test it on." She nodded to the still seizing Jake. "It enhances every bad thought. Every bad feeling, letting your other side take control. This, is Dark." Lucy laughed and then flew through an air vent.

"Jake!" Flora tried to touch him.

He used his telekinesis and sent her across the room.

Susan advanced on him. "Jake, I don't want to hurt you." She said.

"Oh, but I want to hurt you." He lifted his hand and sent her across the room as well, slamming her into the wall.

Jake stopped for a moment, and grabbed his head. What was he doing?! He was hurting his friends! But he couldn't stop himself.

"Jake! This isn't you!" Flora cried as he held her up against the wall by the throat.

"Isn't it?" He growled.

Flora! Jake continued to battle the fight inside of him.

"No." Flora was crying. "It isn't. Jake I love you!"

"Well I don't love you." The words came out even though he didn't mean them. "Did you really think I did? I was just using you. Just like everyone else. You are officially the worlds biggest doormat! I mean, for someone who can read minds, you must just be stupid."

"I am not stupid!" Flora's eyes burned with anger and stabbed him in the shoulder with the syringe.

He let her go with a cry.

Jake touched his arm and saw that his blood was black.

"Flora! Run!" He cried, then was on the floor, struggling against the inner darkness.

"I wont leave you!"

"Go!" His voice had changed, it didn't sound like him anymore.

Shadows enveloped him and he punched the floor and growled.

He had to fight this.

"Jake, this isn't you." Flora said again.

Jake was crying. Crying black tears. He looked at Flora and tried to believe what she was saying. He looked over and saw Susan getting up off of the floor.

Suddenly the fire was back and it exploded from him in a burst of darkness.

Jake coughed and looked up from the floor. His eyes widened as he saw himself. It was him, but his eyes were black and his skin was pale.

He looked around and saw that Flora and Susan had doubles as well.

This had been Darks plan. Let them kill each other! Let them kill themselves!

The other Jake grabbed him by the collar and picked him up, smiling wickedly.

"Wanna play?"




A Non-Existent User
Oh God what was happening? What was going on? Flora couldn't keep her mind from screaming it as she tried to suppress her sobs. She knew she shouldn't have trusted Lucy, but she knew that she was the only one who could help them. Ha- help indeed. Flora felt so stupid! Just like Jake had said. The thought of Jake brought fresh tears to her eyes. What had she done? Somehow she had known that it would all go awry, but she didn't want to believe it. She just didn't. The only thing that mattered was that Jake was truly alive, right? Somewhere in a dark corner of her mind, the answer sounded.

"Maybe you're wrong, Flora. Maybe this time there is no right answer. Maybe all of the answers were wrong, and you chose the worst."

Flora looked up and knew something bad was going on. "Well there's a shocker," her little inner voice said sarcastically. Flora was rooted to the spot as she watched Jake struggle. She couldn't move, and it looked as though Susan might also be experiencing whatever it was that was going on.

For some reason, Flora caught a snippet of memory, when her mom had been reading her a fairy tale. "What if it goes wrong, mommy?" she had asked. Her mother had smiled. "Everything will be okay, Flora sweetie. Love always wins," But that was a fairy tale, not the real world.

The reality was that Flora was responsible for all of this hell that they were going through- if she hadn't agreed and read Will's mind to find Dark's headquarters then they wouldn't be in this mess at all! And she'd just accepted their enemy's help, wishing that she could trust her, but knowing that they shouldn't. And now it felt as though she and Susan and Jake were going to die here. The others would figure it out, wouldn't they?

The weirdest thing about this was that she was now cut off from Jake's mind, and couldn't tell what he was thinking. She knew that much, but she was too frantic to see if she had access to Susan's thoughts. Jake, I love you, Flora thought, like a mantra.

"But he doesn't love you," came the slithering voice from the darkness in her head. "You're wrong!" Flora answered. "But you heard him. He was only using you," the voice retorted, cold as ice and smooth as silk. "I know he loves me!" Flora screamed. "It isn't him! It's whatever that . . . that stuff did to him! He does love me! I know it!" the voice smirked. "Then do you truly love him?" it asked. Flora nodded. "Yes! Yes I love him, more than my life!" she screamed. The darkness chuckled. "If you really loved him, you wouldn't have done the very thing that could kill him. Love sacrifices, isn't that right, dearie? But you were selfish." Flora felt tears coursing down her face but pretended not to notice. "NO! We love each other, and I won't let you tell me otherwise!" she shouted. The snake-like persona grinned wickedly. "Or did he just make you think that? He knew he was going to break your heart. He knew it. To him, You. Are. Nothing."
Lucy didn't waste any time in the vent before letting herself slip back into a solid form. She curled up, smiling and stifling her laughter even as she held her body, her solid body, as close as she could. I'm whole. I'm fine. I am solid. I'm okay.

Fingers felt acorss her legs, her sides, her hair. She was solid. She'd felt... something. But it was gone now. She was back and in one piece. She shivered slightly as she listened to the growing sounds of anger and violence in the other room. Lucy's mouth twisted into a vengeful smile. Her voice was a calm roar through the vent. "Payback sucks, huh?"

Her little jibe done, she turned to move down the vent, remaining solid and crawling. This little place wasn't nearly as extensive as the building Jake had trashed, but Dark never did anything without a secret or two. Atalanta had told her of one, largely because it was one that Lucy was uniquely suited to taking advantage of.

Not too many people could access a vent in a holding cell that was welded shut twenty-five feet off the floor.

It was meant for unwilling test subjects, the building itself being used about as often for research as for medicinal purposes. Dark didn't get hurt very often. Lucy couldn't see into the cell, the room it was in was pitch-dark as a means of control, Lucy didn't even know how to turn the light on, there was no switch. She tried clapping, but wasn't surprised when that didn't work. She held her fingers around the grate and fell through it, the smoke reforming once she touched the bare ground.

The girl shivered again. That feeling had been less this time, but it was still there. Like she was forgetting how to become solid again. How to go back to being Lucy, rather than Echo. She closed her eyes, letting the darkness around her engulf her, and finally felt the stress of her capture roll over her.

*****

When she opened her eyes again, there was only open sky above her. She jerked, body going instantly immaterial and twisting impossibly fast to take in her surroundings. She was back on that childrens' playground near her house. There was only one other person there.

Lucy sighed and let her body reform. She leaned against the playground and laughed. "You scared me for a second there, Atalanta."

The older woman's voice was even and utterly emotionless. "The feeling was mutual. I worried for a while that you wouldn't be able to free yourself at all. Being beaten by a trick you haven't seen yet is one thing, requiring rescue is quite another."

Lucy grimaced. "I really didn't think about the fire extinguisher. I was doing fine up until then..."

Atalanta raised a hand to forestall any further explanation. "It doesn't matter. You'll think of it next time."

"Next time?" Lucy perked up. "I'm not in trouble?"

The business-suited woman shook her head. "Not under the circumstances. In fact, you and I are the only two in Dark right now who aren't. Everyone's reeling slightly. Aiden wasn't so daring as to attack us like that, knowing that it would likely cost at least a few lives, but his little disciples threw a new variable into the mix. If I hadn't been awake to notice them and you hadn't slowed them down so much, they might have gotten some truly important information, or been able to actually catch a sensitive member of Dark rather than simply fighting a few."

"So everyone else managed to get out?"

"No. A few hotshots tried to fight, and accordingly grossly underestimated their opponents. The boy I put to sleep, especially, displayed an almost-impossible amount of power for someone so inexperienced. He did too much damage to the building itself for me to do more than send him to bed."

Lucy nodded. "He tried to do as much to me, too." Her eyes widened as she hurriedly added, "What happened back at the Hotel?"

Atalanta smiled, at last. Lucy visibly relaxed at the reassuring sight. "You did very well. By the time they had gotten themselves sorted out enough to stop killing themselves, they were in no shape at all to actually try and learn anything. I was able to practically walk into the place and burn the few sensitive items, collecting you in the process. They didn't kill each other, but that young man is not likely to completely shake off that serum for at least a few more days."

Lucy stood, stretching herself out, then dissipated and floated down to the ground, reforming still in mid-stretch. She blinked and smiled wide. She flung her arms out and spun in a brief whirlwind of dust and dirt. "It's gone! I'm really okay!"

Atalanta quirked an eyebrow. "Okay? What were you worried about?"

"I..." Lucy shrugged. "I just didn't like not being able to change back for so long after being frozen like that. It felt... It felt a little like it was going to be impossible to go back." She grinned. "Obviously not something I need to worry about." She did another little twist before walking over to sit on the bench next to Atalanta. "So what's going on back at wherever everyone went to?"

The last traces of Atalanta's earlier smile vanished. "Debate. Most in Dark think a re-evaluation of the resources this is requiring needs to be done. That facility was expensive. A few are recommending an immediate attack to try and catch them off-guard. Not many are very much in favor of continuing as planned."

"Are you?"

"Yes. The loss of that building was exactly that, a loss. It is not something that is likely to be repeated, and it will force the idiots treating this like a game to take it more seriously. On top of that, even though you did get captured, you proved yourself to be capable even when you were restricted from using your powers, something that a great many of our more experienced members tend to be lax at. About the only thing that has gone awry from the original plan is that I had to take a more direct stand than I intended to in putting down that boy." Atalanta frowned. "He can consider himself lucky that you needed rescue. Aiden would have needed a week to revive him. It took him almost that long just to revive himself from the same thing."

Lucy scratched her neck. "Out of curiousity, how exactly does that power work? I didn't know there was a way to make the body sleep like that without waking or dying for so long."

The frown turned to a grin. "You can't. The body must wake, or it will die. So clearly what I do doesn't affect the body itself." She leaned back in the seat, stretching out her arms.

Lucy's confusion only grew. "But that telepathic girl couldn't do anything, and neither could Mr. Dartz, so it wasn't hypnotism or anything... What exactly is it that you do?"

A hand reached out to brush one of Lucy's cheeks. "I succeed. More than that is my secret to keep. Just remember the one thing you never see me do. That's your only hint, and only because you happen to be succeeding yourself rather well." Atalanta finished the sentence, and then simply vanished.

Lucy stared at the ground for a moment, then started on her own way home, floating away on the wind.
(I'm extremely, extremely sorry the campfire always gets stuck on me. *laugh nervously* Please forgive my lateness.)

Susan could do nothing as she stared into the deep void eyes of her double. She felt as if something had shifted inside her soul, projecting every wrong thought or emotion and made it into one of the most evil things she had ever seen. The fear sent a cold sweat down her spine. Her double laughed, knowingly.

"Did you think this would all end that easy? Do you honestly think you'll be able to save them?" The double turned her head to glance at Jake and Flora's troubles. "Do you think they'll want your help after they find out all your little dark secrets."

The fear slowly burned into anger. A snarl curled Susan's mouth as her fists clenched at her sides. "You don't know what you're talking about."

"Sure I do. I'm an identical image of you without all the pesky goodness." The double laughed again. "And I know everything evil thing you've done little girl. You can't save your friends because deep down you don't want to. You want all of them to die, and they will. Painfully. And I promise it will all be your fault."

"No. NO!" Susan shouted.

Her double stepped forward, wrapping a hand tightly around her throat. "Yes. It'll be a joy watching you die. But don't worry, I'll make sure you take the blame," she said sneeringly. "This isn't your first brush with death. Accept the darkness within you, Susan. Let it ease your pain."

Susan felt the air in her lungs burn as she tried desperately to breathe. Instinctively, she grabbed the wrist cutting off her air supply, but it held her in a vise. Her mind began to blur with lack of oxygen. Think, Susan. Use your mind instead of your emotions for once and think!

As Susan's chokes and struggles became weaker, the double's smile grew. "That's it. Step into the darkness. Don't worry, I'll take good care of Artur for you."

Every thought and feeling inside of Susan spiraled into one single tunnel. Her life - her love. She cared about all these people whether she wanted to or not. She couldn't let any more of them die, especially like this. And Artur...she had never had a chance to tell him the truth about how she felt.

Focusing the last of her life energy, she used her powers to pull the bolts from the insides of her pockets and out in front of her. Weakly, the bolts held in the air above the double's head. The hand around her throat push down harder. "It won't work. You can't kill me!"

A weak, trembling laugh tumbled from Susan's throat. "Its not you I'm after."

The bolts melded into to one large, flat disk and flew through the air. So determined on his own struggle Jake didn't see the object flying towards his head until it was too late. He hit the floor hard as he fell unconscious. Each of the doubles disappeared into a cloud of black smoke.

With a sharp cry Flora ran over to Jake's limp body and cradled him in her arms. Tears fell from her eyes are she looked sharply at Susan. Love and pain and anger clouded her gaze. "How could you-" She clutched Jake tighter, breathing deep to calm herself while unconsciously placing her hand over Jake's heart to feel his heart beat. "How did you know?"

Forcefully, she tried to ignore all the pain radiating through her body. She was safe for the moment. And more importantly, so were her friends. Susan rubbed a hand over her severely bruised throat, her voice sounding like that of a frog. She gave Flora a sad excuse for a smile.

"A lucky guess."
"Ugh..." Jake groaned as he lifted his head. It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to his skull.

The shadows seemed to be swirling around him. Not touching him, but getting close. It was frightening, but energizing just the same.

"Your awake." Aiden said, observing quietly from the side.

His voice made Jake frown, and the shadows leapt forward.

Suddenly everything came rushing back.

Jake let out a cry and shot up.

"Its alright, their fine." Aiden tried to calm him.

Jake wouldn't listen. He pushed past Aiden and found himself in the clearing.

"Jake!" Flora ran forward and launched herself at him.

"Whoa!" He laughed. Then he became more serious. Jake grabbed Flora by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. "Are you alright?"

"I am now." She smiled.

"Hey Jake!" Suri ran over and joined the hugfest. "Oh, and Will's alright too."

Jake breathed a sigh of relief.

Artur gave him a slap on the back. "Sup, man?"

Susan was standing a little ways back, seeming a little embaressed.

"Hey." She said. "Uh... sorry for clocking you like that."

"No problem. I kinda deserved it." He smiled.

"Jake, I think you should take it easy for a while." Aiden said.

He was eyeing him warily. It made him annoyed.

"I feel fine. Great, actually." He used his telekinises to make Suri float.

Suri giggled and seemed to enjoy her space walk, but Aiden didn't. He grabbed her and pulled her down.

"Just do what I say."

Jake's eyes flashed and he crossed his arms. "Or what?"

A Non-Existent User
(Sorry for the delay! Restricted computer access >.<)

Flora was having mixed feelings. She didn't know who she could trust anymore. She seemed to go from one frying pan and into the next, without warning or delay, or even a bit of time to catch her breath.

She thought she could trust Susan, but now she didn't know. Flora was pretty sure that the girl had done what she did to help her and Jake, but at the same time, could they really be sure?

She suddenly felt vulnerable, and was second guessing herself. Did she trust Susan? Did Jake really love her? Was she really doing the right thing?

The commotion with Aiden and Jake drew her back to reality. She was just being silly. Or was she?

"Jake, c'mere," she said quietly, tugging him away from Aiden. The last thing anyone wanted was was for an argument to break out, especially with Jake's stubbornness or Aiden's need to be on top of things.

"Does anyone know what we're doing anymore?" she asked.

"If we keep doing this, we're all going to waste our lives and die fighting Dark," she said. Flora wanted to plead with him, try to get him to see her reasoning. She knew it was a long shot, but she didn't want to live like this! How could anyone expect this of a girl so young? or a boy?

Aiden and Will. Flora had grown to love them as mentors, but she was scared.

"Jake," she said quietly. "We could leave," Fearing his response, her next words were more hurried.

"Please don't hate me for asking this, but I can't live like this forever! Dark is never going to give up, and we're never going to defeat them!" she cried.

"Their roots go so deep- we'll never get to the source! They're like a weed- they don't end! You think you've severed the last branch, but there's always another one!"

'I think Aiden and Will know it- but they'll waste our lives anyway! For nothing! They know that Dark will never be vanquished!"

Flora turned away. She didn't want to cry in front of Jake again. She knew he wouldn't mind, but she had never felt more exposed in her entire life.


© Copyright 2008 Wiskers, Nicky Knax, Scheherazade, Ascetic of Words, xx-xx, LdyPhoenix, Cloverine, Jason Simmons, `lemur`, (known as GROUP).
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