Location: Stark Academy, Residential Hall
Timeline: November 26, 2011 - 1010AM
Tags: Revelations, Angel, Brann, Cat, Maus, Zach, Dorm Rooms,
Maus had asked the others to get together with him and to meet in his and Brann's room after breakfast , around ten. It was midmorning and on a holiday there wasn't that much to do normally but the new rooms and the entertainment facilities presented new options. Maus had said it was serious though.
As the others trickled in he had set up a hot-water dispenser, cocoa, cream in the fridge and some marshmallows and some chips and was sitting on his bed, fully dressed.
Cat came in and plopped herself down on one of the bunks. She was wearing a tight red shirt that showed off her bare midriff and her typical low slung black cargo pants. "What's up Maus?" She said as she pulled her hair back into a tight pony tail. She had managed to avoid Drake all morning so far, which wasn't really nice of her but she needed some breathing room when it came to him.
Brann sat cross-legged on his bed wearing a pair of comfortable black cargos and a red tank top emblazoned with Pac-man chasing ghosts with a bloody chain saw. He saw the girls, popped his ear buds, set the laptop aside, and rolled across the bed to reach his drink. He scooted onto the floor, playing footsies with the girls while sipping his drink.
Angel yawned as she came in, stretching so a pale swath of stomach showed for just a moment where her gray and purple argyle sweater lifted away from her jeans. She was in just socks, no shoes and had taken only enough time to put on a headband to tame her curls. Since Cat had asked, Angel didn't bother repeating the question. She looked from Brann to Cat, "Twinsies."
Zach walked in wearing a tight black t-shirt with what looked like a parental warning on the front. Written in white letter was, "I know violence isn't the answer, I got it wrong on purpose." Zach had been known for his interesting sometimes insulting T-shirts, one of the few ways he displayed a sense of humor. He was wearing military camo pants and black Nike tennis shoes. He had an apple in his hand crunching loudly as he entered. Strapped to his back was a large bastard sword in a tooled but mostly undecorated sheath. He leaned against an unoccupied wall awaiting the coming conversation.
"I invited you all here to continue our conversation from Jericho's office and to compare notes," he jerked his chin at Zach, "and I asked him 'cause I think he's going to be the next one, if he isn't already."
Zach swallowed the bite of apple he had and replied, "The next one what?"
Angel thought about saying, 'Next one to start seeing all kinds of freaky things and find out that we're not 100% human?' but decided against it. Instead she looked at Zach and smiled, "Just listen for a bit to what we've been going through and see if anything strikes a chord."
Cat nodded as she thought about what Maus was saying. She brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face and it was easy to see the dark circles under her eyes that spoke of having had little to no sleep the night before.
"So we know the faculty is fortifying the castle to protect us and give us a way out and Jericho's being evasive about that," Maus held up one finger, "and then we had our talk yesterday and after I got over the shock, I've got a million more questions but I think we can answer some of them ourselves because she said we should compare notes and talk."
"I'm pretty sure I've told you guys most of it already, other than the fact that Hulga was in the forge yesterday morning and Drake didn't even seem to notice her. He was sitting right in front of her but he didn't seem to see that she was there. Also I knew that she was there, I could feel her even before I saw her." Cat spoke softly as she leaned back and looked over at Maus. "Maybe we should start with the questions we have and then go on to trying to find answers?"
Angel grabbed her purse and pulled out a steno pad and a pen, "I'll try to take notes so we can organize this stuff visually, then we can burn the pages if we need to."
"Right!" Maus pointed at Cat and bounced excitedly. "You know how we can usually tell who is in the next room or in the corridor when we can't see them?" Maus asked, looking around at all of them, "Especially the faculty?"
"Yeah, I get that too," Brann confided.
"I figured out how that works this morning," Maus revealed. "When we're not really thinking about it, we've got this radius of awareness around us and we can tell who someone is by how they feel to us. Like I can tell Summer from Hulga or Jericho, I can tell..." he held up his hands as he searched for language and his hands grasped the air, "I can tell them apart by their colors, I think." He paused and considered, "Yeah, they have different colors to me. And us," he gestured around the room, "we're like them but our colors aren't so strong. The other orphans are even dimmer than us but it's still there. And since yesterday, I can sense wider and my colors are brighter."
"Same here but I don't see colors. I can see what you're like inside. I look at Maus and I see lightning in his eyes. I look at Angel and there is sunlight shining down on her hair and shoulders. I look at Cat and I see fire insider her. There's more to it, though. I 'know' you." Brann paused to find words for what he experienced. "Back in the office I didn't know 'what' you were but I could tell who you were deep down inside. I knew what kind of people you were. It's like I know who you truly are. I can track everybody nearby like that. It comes in handy when I need to sniff out where the toddles and podlings are hiding."
Zach was moderately surprised on the inside. This was not the direction he was expecting this to go.
Angel thought about her own experiences, "In the office I saw physical changes in each of you but now, now it's halfway between the two of you, I see colors and feel their nature, from what it sounds like it's not to the degree that each of you can but the combination gives me the same level of perception... If that makes any sense."
"I see things a little differently from you guys too." Cat said looking over at her family. "I see things like a machine. How the different cogs and sprockets go together, how everything works together. I don't get the colors or the knowing what things are in their core but I see how everything fits."
Angel looked at Zach and raised her brows in question, "Have you noticed anything odd lately? Things that were out of place or just not quite right the way they should be? New gut feelings that aren't exactly your norm?"
"No" was all Zach said honestly. He nodded Brann and tapped the Nodachi on his back "This is the "Dragon's Tongue" after this we can go try it out. To see if I crafted this correctly."
Brann's eyes lit with excitement, "Oh, hell yeah," he beamed but quickly remembered their talk and Zach's particular glitch with language. He sat back, "I look forward to practicing but right now we have important business. Let me reframe Angel's question. We're seeing things that we've never seen before. We were wondering if any of this was familiar to you."
Zach tilted his head, "Yes but it is tactical at its peak and measurement at its most relaxed."
"Maybe that's just it, though," Brann pondered. "Zach, you can read fighting skill at a glance and any experienced fighter can do that but you take it a step further. You can read style and likely moves from stance, physical shape, proportion of muscle in arms in legs. Hell, even the difference in development between one arm to another. Ordinary people can't do that no matter how well-trained or experienced."
"I bet you could look at me and tell that I am an archer even if you didn't know that," Angel tossed out there.
He looked at Angel, "You are correct. I can also tell that you have been practicing with the weight reduction cams turned off." He turned to Brann, "you are also correct, here is where I am different from you all, I was able to do this the day I got the this scar." He referred to the fight that happen 3 winters ago. "I did not understand it at first but then..." he shrugged and left the sentence unfinished.
"So he started earlier," Maus nodded, eyes going blank again as his mind worked it all in. "When I look at Zach, I can see through the thing they put up, that level-four thing. Now that I know it's there, I can sort of feel it, like it's a pressure on me trying to tell me to see something a certain way when I'm actually seeing something else. But that's really part of what I wanted to bring up, the other part is really easy." He grinned and turned to Brann, "How much can you press Brann?"
"Physically," Brann considered. "Bench press, about 600. Deadlift around 500 pounds."
“And what’s an average adult human male lift?” Maus asked, looking around the group.
Cat shrugged and looked back at Maus. "I have no idea."
“Their body weight,” he said softly, “and that’s if they’re fit and exercise regularly. And they’ll look like it. Brann has the muscles of a dork that sits in front of a computer most of the time,” Maus pointed out, sticking his tongue out at Brann to show he was partially teasing. He pulled up his sleeve and flexed his muscles and Maus’ arm stood out with clear-cut muscles as one would expect a gymnast. “I’m small and weaker but I’m built like I should be stronger. I’m not; why?” he asked the others.
"Because we're not human." Cat said simply. "Whatever Brann is, is stronger than whatever you are." She didn't know how to voice her thoughts any better than that. It wasn't that she thought one was less than the other it was just that they each had strengths that were in completely different areas. "At the same time Maus, you're smarter than 99.9% of the population of the earth."
"And you should see yourself through my eyes Maus," Angel said with a smile, "it's almost as impressive as what you can do with a computer."
"Bubbles mentioned 'tears of an angel' and Cat sees how things fit together." Brann mused on what they learned. "We each have something that is helpful to the others. We know that Angel is a Celestial, I'm a Guardian, which is something like a celestial, I think..." He shrugged. "Cat is a fire elemental, and Maus is an elemental too. I would guess air by the lightning I see in his eyes. Zach," He looked over at his sparring partner. "I'm not sure." He peered at Zach, using his new Sight to peel back the painting of false reality from Zach and see what lay beneath.
As the seconds passed it seemed as if the lighting in the room dimmed and Zach's body drew into shadow, becoming more like a silhouette. Something within Zach slowly appeared to Brann's vision. Something strange and fascinating beyond his understanding. He could only relate what he saw.
"Zach," Brann spoke in a dreamlike voice, maintaining his Sight as best he could. "You're the most human I've seen yet but I get a strong feeling that like us, you're about to evolve into a whole new form of life. I see... colored orbs inside you. They're in your head, your neck, chest, and abdomen. What looks like a network of conduits run from them throughout your body. One right in the center of your forehead is cracking open like an eye and I see white light."
"And the weirdness keeps on coming." Cat said with a soft chuckle. She cocked her head to the side to look at Zach, trying to see just what Brann was seeing. When she looked at Zach she didn't see balls of light, she saw a smaller machine, more independent than most but still part of the larger machine. In her view he was covered in tools of all kinds, many were obvious in their uses but there were some that she couldn't even begin to guess about. "Wow... Brann remember yesterday in Jericho's office how you said that Zach was like a tool? That's exactly what he is, with uses that I can't even hazard a guess at yet." Her voice was soft and almost awed as she looked at their friend. "He's a separate machine entirely but part of the larger machine, just not completely dependent on the larger machine." She smiled at Zach. "You my friend are definitely special."
Angel blinked a few times as she looked at Zach. She was still getting used to the idea of opening up this second sight, that it was real. To her Zach had a slight glow, she knew he was basically a good person, that his nature as a Mystic was more internalized than externalized. She found her breath catching as her heart began to beat faster finding that somehow Zach nature was exciting and exhilarating.
Zach nodded and looked at Angel as she gasped out loud, "What do you see?" He also made eye contact with Maus asking the same the question with a small nod.
"I don't see anything specific," Angel said, "but I can feel your goodness, and that your power is all under the surface, and it's very," her hand went to her chest like she was trying to hold her heart in, "I don't know how to explain it."
Zach nodded as he took in everything that was said, "I am what is called a Mystic. It is believed that I am an intrinsic Mystic that is known as a War Master. We find perfection in mastering tactics and weapons of all kinds." While Zach made his statement he focused on Brann and thought of his breathing and clearing his mind like he would just before beginning Aikido practice, he tried to strip away what was presented to him and see Brann as he was, similar to what the others had done.
What he saw in Brann was far, far different than what he expected. In Brann he saw Armor, platen armor made of gold and trimmed with crimson, form fitting with hardly any flourishes of any kind. The armor had no eyeholes or ears, yet a mask that appeared made to look like Brann's face, jaw set, bearing down and determined inside the traceries of a griffon's mouth, the beak wide as if he looked out of it's rage-screaming throat. The armor made Brann look more powerful, if felt more powerful and from between the seams white light spilled, as if barely containing something within. He wore no weapon but there appeared rings for a weapon's baldric and from what Zach could tell, it would be at least a hand-and-a-half sword, possibly a great sword of some sort set to be worn crosswise the back.
Zach's eyes widened in surprise but quickly recovered as his mind started turning over the information of what he saw. Brann was clearly more than he appeared. Raw power contained in a suit of armor that seemed more his skin than any clothing he wore. "Interesting" was the only thing he said.
"What's interesting," Brann pressed, his excitement bubbling beneath the surface like molten lava under a thin crust. "What did you see?"
"You appear to be some kind of white light contained in a golden armor and it is the armor seems to be containment more than protection" Zach shrugged unsure how else to explain it "I think you are meant to have have a weapon yet but it is not there. Large enough to be strapped across your back."
Brann drew back examining his arms and legs with his Sight. "Sweet," he smiled in the self-assured manner of youth. "She said there were four kinds and obviously I'm 'Armor'. Whatever that means."
He saw Zach's expression and elaborated, "I'm a 'guardian' and as far as I can tell that makes me one of four breeds of celestial Special Forces." He cast a sidelong nod at his celestial sister. "Angel is celestial too but her kind fill the ranks and lead as generals."
Zach nodded in understanding and then looked onto Angel.
In Angel he saw a warrior with sharp-shaped falcon-like white and gray wings with black stripes, lightly armed in golden armor and leather straps and barding studded with more gold. Her legs were covered in ribbons of silk with studs of gold all down them colored crimson which wrapped around her feet but left her clawed toes bare. She wore a silvery-white tunic under her armor and it was embroidered with golden thread and seemed like fabric spun of silver thread. Her arms were likewise wrapped in crimson silk ribbons with gold studs and they wrapped her hands and protected her forearms but left her fingers free. And in her hands she carried a bow, a recurved bow unlike anything Zach had seen outside of a fantasy game. It was longer than a traditional short bow and crafted of wood reinforced with golden brackets and clever counter-levers. The string seemed to be a crimson ribbon twisted to make the cord and facing on the outer edge of the bow, carvings of singing faces lined the molded golden plates that interlocked and provided a striking surface if she needed to use it as a weapon. Her hair was pulled back away from her head and wound with crimson ribbons and gold rings forming an interlocking helmet of sort made of rings and ribbons with her hair wound underneath it to hold it in place. Her expression was fierce if calm, ready to protect, her eyes keen and searching, as if looking for something constantly. Upon her hip she wore a golden horn carved like a falcon in flight, it's beak the sounding bell and in sheathes on her wrists, curved golden daggers.
Zach could tell, her weapons were dangerous to touch, even if she wasn't using them on you at the time.
Zach tilted his head looking at Angel, who to him thought the name was not very accurate. "Your wings are very pretty, almost as pretty as the weapons you wield."
"Wings?" Angel said, looking at the others, none of them had mentioned wings, "And my bow is in my room."
"I think I am seeing things according to my nature. Brann looks like a nuclear bomb contained in an armor of gold and red. You look like well, you look like an angel, exactly like the ones you see in that useless art history class. But i know the weapons you bare are dangerous, even when not being used. This is of course an educational guess, well, semi educational. Ms Summer is a quick and efficient teacher" Zach replied
"Summer has been working with you, huh," Brann noted that. "I'm thinking about talking with Odate-sensei about Guardians. Anyway, you're not finished. On to the next victim!"
Zach then turned to Cat maintaining the focus he had found.
Cat was a creature of flame, literally, a flame that danced and twisted. It changed colors and sparkled, it was alluring and entrancing, mesmerizing and fascinating. To Zach she was more interesting to watch than powerful but after shaking the fascination, he realized that what he was seeing was merely a facet to Fire. Not only was Fire ingenious and crafty, it was craft and guile and potential explosive power. Zach took it all in and nodded at Cat.
"Fire, yes? Explains why you are one of the few I know who do not sweat while working in the forge," he stated matter of factly.
"That's what they told me. I think it fits too." Cat gave Zach a grin as she leaned back against the bunk.
"Your turn Mister Maus," Zach stated and he turned to look at Maus focusing as hard as he could cause if there is anyone who was crafty it would be Maus and he did not want to miss any detail.
Maus appeared as he was now but his hair was more wild, more of it, the white spike mass continued down his back and shoulders and though his ears were pointed and webbed-looking, they were shorter than the others. His hair stirred as if in a breeze and at the same time tiny arcs of lightning walked towards the ends. His body was larger, though not much, his muscles were as developed as they were now and he was mostly naked, his torso exposed. But his upper chest and shoulders, this forearms and hands and his hips to his boots were covered in advanced tech-like armor with small glass orbs set here and there with what appeared to be lightning flickering inside them.
Zach nodded. While surprised he saw in everyone he was not surprised that it matched how he understood them. “You look different mouse but it makes more sense than how I see you now. You all make more sense when I look at you this way than the...other way.”
"Well that's my Trueself," Maus confirmed, "not what the faculty call my Mortal Guise, or just Guise. They put Guises on us when we were babies to grow into but we're supposed to be able to generate them ourselves, to keep Mortals from seeing us as we really are cause apparently it breaks their widdle minds."
"Somebody has been busy," Brann favored Maus with a knowing smirk. What Maus said then sank in and Brann fell eerily calm, like the unnatural stillness before a storm. He cast his blue gaze down at his hands. Hands that he had seen every day of his life. Hands that he took for granted and considered part of what made him a unique person. Now those hands felt like strangers. They got in the way of who--and what--he truly was inside.
Flesh and blood smothered and obfuscated the truth and a twinge of indignant fury seized him. The urge to tear his flesh away struck suddenly, white hot in intensity. For a fleeting instant he imagined the wet, sickening sound of tearing skin as nails dug into his forearm. He pictured blood spraying the walls of the forge bright crimson as he ripped muscle and exposed the luminous being drowning inside. A visceral thrill of freedom swept over him at the thought. The fear of mortal death no longer applied to him. Spraying blood, torn flesh and muscle, and broken bone no longer held the same degree of instinctive terror as only a moment ago. Thankfully, the urge passed as quickly as it struck. Brann commanded amongst the highest pain threshold of anyone at the academy, orphan or staff but he still felt it--at least, for now. His lips turned in a dark smile of realization, like a gleeful specter beaming into the reflection of a cracked funhouse mirror.
"Our bodies are...masks," he shared his thoughts. "Kids wear masks on Halloween to pretend they're monsters. We wear masks every day to pretend we're human. There's a lesson in that somewhere. I think it's in Leviticus."
Cat let out a soft laugh. "Well at least we're not the monsters." She said softly looking at her family. They might not be human but they had more humanity in them than many of the so called human Payers. Despite the fact that they only wore human skins, they weren't the monsters that others would fear them to be. They had a code and they had honor, they didn't need to belittle others to boost themselves. They didn't step on others backs without a care. They might have to step on each other's backs to get a boost up but always their hand reached down to help the one that helped them. They were a family, through thick or thin, even in the darkest of times they stood tall and dared the rest of the world to do it's worst because they would always do their best.
"Ember and I had a talk," Maus explained. "A Guise is crafted by someone with the skill or by someone who expects it to be that way, their self-identity. So we look this way because we expect to look this way. Originally, Victor and Ras put these Guises on us, pulling them from our True Selves and fading away, like pastel smudging, all of the things that make people run in terror. If you stab it, it hurts, because we expect it to and because it made from us. But it's kinda like a suit of clothes and under it, our True Selves, will show through if we're not really careful."
Zach thought for a moment and then stood up. "Experiment" was the only thing he said. He focused his mind and ordered his thoughts. He focused on not seeing things as he expected them to be but as they were suppose to be seen. He focused on Cat since the flames around her were a good focal point. He tried to use his will to peel back the borders of perception around her. Trying to see not just the orphans as they really are but the world around in its truth not what he thought was true. There was a small part that wondered what he was doing and how this could possibly work but the rest of him attacked the problem with warrior like focus.
For a moment nothing happened and then the background fabric of what was began to tremble. He felt himself struggling against something he could dimly sense, something he was dimly aware of wasn't real, something he only knew about because it had always been there and it had become as much as a part of him as his rage. It throbbed, it became louder and louder, a rumbling scream of resistance as he fought against something that seemed to have more power in reserve than he did, something that met him erg for erg, every ounce of strength he had with its own strength and then, it repulsed him when his strength began to fail.
Mercifully, his failure only resulted in a dull ache behind his eyes and overwhelming exhaustion.
Brann furrowed his brow at Zach's distress. He helped Zach sit and explained what he knew. "Jericho has a kind of wall up keeping us from seeing what's on the other side--and things on the other side from seeing us. She can lower it but I think we'll have to set up a place and time to practice."
Zach breathed deeply and simply replied, "For now."