Talking more 2.0
Location: Brann and Maus' Room
Timeline: December 3rd Morning
Maus had risen as usual shortly before dawn, despite being up the night before well past his normal bedtime, even though the inspection bell hadn’t gone off. They were on holiday, Thanksgiving was barely a turkey casserole behind them and already their holiday was becoming more and more exciting.
If you wanted to call it that.
Gone are the days that they were simply the uber-stylish orphans and wards of the Stark Academy where they lived and trained to someday be super-spies or terrorists. Now, they come to find out, their training was to prepare them for what’s "really going on", where the world is really full of things that go bump in the night, which apparently, were their parents. And the faculty and that they had enemies that would kill them if they could find them, which is why they were on an isolated private island in an uber-exclusive private academy that raised them all from babies to young adults.
He rose still naked and slid down to the floor noiselessly, Brann was still asleep half-under a blanket, the upper half of his body exposed and the lower half tantalizingly covered. Maus considered crawling into the bed and waking up Brann the way they both liked, but his computer’s alert light was blinking indicating the private share folder was active. That meant something important was in there, but not so important the red panic-button on their cells had been hit (more Maus-ware) sending a help signal to all local friendlies in the immediate area. That put it as important but not an immediate threat to life and limb of faculty involvement.
He touched the twenty-one key sequence on the keyboard that was his encryption sequence and ran his finger across the biometric sensor and the laptop booted, running his decryption and displaying his desktop.
Unlike most people desktops, Maus’ was clear. There wasn’t anything on it except the icon for his company, Maus-Ware, in the background as the wallpaper on a simply black background. Maus ran his programs from commands, not from icons and clickable references, that way the casual user couldn’t see what he had to run. Even the OS menu was locked and required another command and a series of commands to get that open to access the laptop’s controls. Maus wasn’t just paranoid, he was careful and he was concerned about his business and his own less-than-legal activities.
The network reconnected and the folder opened and silently Maus flash-memorized the document and then closed it, considering the content for a few seconds.
"Brann," Maus said softly, "you need to read this."
Brann grunted in the affirmative, having woken when Maus touched him. He hoped for a little private and personal fun but Maus seemed focused on something else. He confirmed it and it sounded serious. He sat up in his bed and stretched mightily, twisting and turning to limber up before drawing his blanket back. He sat nude on the bed, his eyes adjusting to the light from the monitor before combing his fingers back through his hair.
"Whatcha got," he stepped behind Maus with a yawn. He draped his arms across Maus' chest and placed a kiss on his ear.
"Read that while I go get coffee and snacks," Maus replied a little distractedly, "we need to get everybody together." He absently squeezed Brann's junk and then headed out and left, towards "The Bunker".
Brann knew that if he started reading, the others would arrive before he dressed. So, he dug into his wardrobe and paused a moment to silently thank Jericho and the staff for replacing his things. He expected company to arrive before he took a shower so he threw on something fun and casual: a black tank top printed with a stark white human ribcage and a matching pair of panties printed with a pelvis bone. Over this he slipped into a sleeveless black woman's tunic with a zipped placket to the waist. It glittered with shiny ring belt hooks and plenty of buckled straps. A jawless skull peered soullessly from the left placket.
Next, he slipped on a pair of studded black leather chaps and tucked them into thick-soled black hiking boots fitted with rows of shiny straps and buckles. Lastly, he drew a length of decorative chain through a ring on each placket, over his shoulder, through a ring under the back of his trench coat collar, than down his back to wrap around his waist, bucking to a handcuff on each hip.
A silver razor blade ring, a bony hand ear cuff, an ear stud, two shiny rings, and a swipe of black eye liner later and he turned his attention to the mirror. A quick comb of the fingers through his red hair to affect that "stylishly messy" look popular amongst young men, a hit of deodorant, and he still had time to sit and start reading before Maus got back.
He heard the door open and smelled hot food and more importantly--coffee. He reached for his cup, his attention still riveted to the screen. He sat back and shook his head. "This reads like an issue of 'Katana Guy and Headphones Girl' but we're in it." He finally turned to Maus, his eyes full of uncertainty, as if his mind reached and fluttered at the edge of understanding. "Angel had a vision. This is us--or it will be?"
"'Dunno," Maus said with the tray and several bags of things to be popped or warmed in their microwave. He eyed Brann as he moved around, "I was gone a few minutes and you turned into Adam Glambert. Now that’s real magic."
"This is nothing," Brann's lips curled slyly. "I'm saving the real magic for after company leaves."
"Perv," Maus commented but grinned as he laid stuff out for people.
Zach sat up straight at precisely 5:00am like he has done for years. The slow peaceful breathing of Pike filled the still dark air of the room. He hopped down as quiet as a leaf landing in a pool of still water but as he landed he noticed a red light flickering from his laptop. He stared at it for a minute before he remembered he needed to pee away his morning wood. He padded quickly down the hallway quietly and out of habit avoided the well lit spots in the specifically placed lighting in the hallway.
Zach returned to his room and pulled on a pair of sport shorts. He sat down at his computer and pulled it out of sleep. His desktop was covered in icons. Each file name was a given a 6 digit number. He opened up the shared file and read the document that had been recently updated by Angel.
After reading through it once, he re-read it 5 more times. He then stood up, turned on the lights much to the muttering complaints of Pike. He pulled out his note book and then beginning taking notes.
Before going to bed the night before Angel had opened the document on their sky drive and removed the private password though it was still encrypted, then she had added the lines, 'I am Harbinger. I am Executor.' and marked the document and accompanying image important. Only after she'd tucked her computer and tablet away did she crawl back into bed and pass out.
Zach, Angel and Cat’s phone all squeaked twice, softly, where they lay and a little mouse ran across their dark surfaces leaving a text message:
+Meet us in our room, we gotta talk about this. Snacks, coffee and chocolate are here+
Angel had only been asleep for a couple hours when her phone started squeaking. She was trained to wake up to that sound, it was hard wired into her more deeply than almost anything, so the sound had brought her to full wakefulness. Angel was normally a morning person, but after the night she'd had she wasn't enthusiastic about this particular morning. She slide from bed and let her nightgown fall into a pile on the floor with her robe, neither of them were particularly neat, their room usually looked like a clothing store had exploded in it until laundry day. From her armoire Angel retrieved a deep purple knit dress with a scooped neckline with sleeves that went over her hands and a little hole for her thumbs to stick through. Under that she wore a black camisole trimmed in lace set that would peak out from the neck of her dress and make it a little less daring. Finally she pulled on thick black tights and a pair of purple Ugs with a fuzzy interior. Lack of sleep always made her cold. Only once she was dressed and had put on what she considered her minimum amount of makeup did she throw some clothes at Cat, "Wake up, you've got mail then come meet us in M and B's room."
Cat let out a muffled grumble from under her blankets where she had burrowed during the commotion of the morning. "Wa' izat?" She asked as she poked her head blearily from the covers. She was the exact opposite of Angel where her roommate was a very obvious morning person Cat preferred the night and tended to do her best work after the sun had gone down.
"Meeting, he's got food and caffeine, I'll meet you there," Angel mumbled, not herself this morning.
Snorting Cat climbed out of bed and changed from her sleeping clothes, a pair of microfiber boy short underwear and a microfiber tank top, to her day clothes which consisted of a yellow, orange and red swirled halter top and her standard black cargo pants. "Does this have anything to do with the flying leap out of the top bunk you made last night?" She asked with a raised brow as she sat in front of her computer. She was careful with computers or anything with microchips since they tended not to like her, she had released the magic blue smoke more than once and so she leaned toward caution when dealing with them.
Angel was still bleary eyed through her chunky black glasses when she dragged herself into Brann and Maus' room less than ten minutes after he'd sent the text. "g'morning," she yawned before she even got the abbreviated greeting out.
Maus had a gigantic mocha latte with four shots with cream and whip on it, having ran to the rec-room and made some real quick. He had made a beverage for each of them based on what they liked; learning and filing that away in the last few days since they had gotten access to the "Bunker". He was sitting in his chair, feet up on the chest with laptop in his lap and was typing away and staring intently at his screen. He wore his goggles down and the tiny blue-tooth antenna was up on the sides and tiny white reflections were scrolling as he typed. On the screen, it was black and seemingly off.
Angel picked up the purple cup with her name on it and sipped gratefully. The dark chocolate cocoa was just what she needed this morning to wake her up and try to get her ready for the day ahead. "What doing?" she was still in that say only what is absolutely essential mode this morning as she curled into the beanbag chair near Maus.
"Writing new security into the network," he said as he typed, never pausing, not looking up. He pushed several combinations of keys and used macros to place huge wads of code in place and in a moment, hit enter on the keyboard and the characters disappeared in the goggles and he paused and all their phones squeaked, once, in unison. "Squeak-ware enhancement installed," he grinned, pushed the goggles up (which folded down the antenna automatically) and then stroked the keys, activating the screen and showing the document Angel had put up the night before, several parts highlight in various colors each according to each of them, apparently. Cat got red, Brann got gold, Angel got italics, Zach got bold and Maus got blue.
"You're annoyingly cheerful this morning," Angel commented with a mock glare, sipping her cocoa with a shiver.
"Don’t mistake cheer with competence," Maus replied a little grim and gestured towards the display on the laptop on the little table next to them. The toaster oven pinged softly and he took out a bagel thin with toasted peanut butter on it and got it onto a plate before he paused and stared at it for a second. He shrugged and then took a bite, carefully, because it was hot.
Angel yawned, her jaw cracking then lay her head on the bean bag eyes slitted while they waited for the others to complete their morning ritual, "Text Zach, tell him to bring Pike. She of the Dark and Secretive told me we should include him."
"Include Pike?" Maus asked sort of to himself and then leaned over to the laptop and flipped down his goggles and used a macro to bring up something only visible to him, types out something and then leaned back and pushed up his goggles. "Ok, sent."
In their room, Zach received a text on his phone +Z; bring P, he’s to be included+
Zach looked at his phone annoyed. He was just about done with his thoughts and it seemed like the damn thing would not just up. He picked it up and looked at the text from Maus. +k+ was all he wrote back. He turned to his note book and read over his notes and committed them to memory. He then shredded the paper and threw it into his trash can.
+Need 10 minutes to finish analysis. Z+
Since they all got the response, Maus just glanced at his phone and then went back to his food and coffee.
"Pike, wake up we gotta go to Maus' and Brann's room" Zach dropped his shorts and pulled on a jock. He then selected a pair black slacks and combat boots. He pulled over a t-shirt that had a red hand pointing to the right with some kind of white fluid dripping off the finger. In bold white text below it read "He likes it in the ass".
Pike grumbled, rolled out of bed naked and feet hitting the floor lightly, he stepped over and got underwear and socks out and on before going for sweat shirt and sweat pant-suit. His sweats were black and white and looked like a panda’s fur pattern. Then he pulled on a toboggan with panda ears and coloring that had a stocking in the back with a piece of fabric made to look like a piece of bamboo on the tip.
Zach shook his head at the outfit that Pike had chosen. "Do you think that attire is appropriate?" Zach asked with half smile.
"Do you think it's not?" Pike asked in return. "It isn't, after all, dinner with Jericho is it?"
"It is just so...fluffy and cute" again replying with a terse grin.
"I believe "fluffy" is kinder than "fat"," Pike observed with a broad smile, "and I'm unsure how to absorb you using the word "cute" to describe anything."
Zach grinned wide, for him, and opened the door out of their room wide, "Quickly before the moss gathers" and they both padded silently out of the room to Maus'.
Cat walked in after having read the file that Angel had left. She liked the idea of a bag of tricks and her mind was already trying to figure out how to make one. Picking up the cup with her name on it and took a sip of the Earl Grey tea that Maus had provided for her. "So just waiting on Pike and Zach?" She asked looking around at the other three.
"Yep," Maus replied as he finished the other half of his toasted bagel. He wore a long gray t-shirt with a broken heart on it with a caption that read, "I’m the one your momma warned you about" with a pair of black jeans, thick socks and a black hoodie. His sleeves were pushed up and he was wearing his phone-bracer on his left arm.
Zach came into the Maus' and Brann's room biting into an apple. He saw a large clear class with a black Krav Maga symbol and knew it was for him. He walked over and took a deep gulp before finding a place to lean against.
Pike entered and moved to the large mug full of mocha latte with whipped cream on top and nodded and winked at Maus, who had made it for him, just the way he liked it. Maus grinned at his panda outfit approvingly.
"Pike did you fall into a cursed spring?" Cat asked with a grin as she looked at the big guy approvingly as well.
"I haven't had a shower yet," he replied with a smile.
"All the better to snuggle with," Brann offered Pike an affectionate hug and rested his cheek on Pikes fuzzy shoulder.
"Don’t get makeup on my fur," Pike teased Brann with a chuckled but didn’t let go and squeezed him, ever-so-gently.
"If I do, you won't see it," Brann flashed a suggestive grin.
"I will in the mirror," Pike reassured him with a broader smile.
Zach ever focused, "So, Angel, you appear to have the gift of prophecy."
Angel nodded, swallowed the sip of cocoa she'd just taken and looked around the room. "Apparently I should expect to have more visions like that. Pay attention to the parts that are capitalized they are that way intentionally."
"Do we know if this is a 'what must be' or a 'what could be'?" Maus asked.
"I assume you showed this to Jericho. What did she say?" Brann added.
"A lot and not very much at the same time," Angel said with a little snort, "I took my laptop to her office but she wasn't there, Summer was and I told her what happened..." she trailed off as she realized this wasn't going to be as quick a telling as she though. She took a breath and organized her thoughts, "She just kinda poofed out of existance...then another woman came and took me... somewhere, through the veil that some of us can see. She was nice but kinda a pill, treated me like I was 6 instead of 16...She took me to see Jericho and as soon as I entered the room I looked like I did in my vision, I had the wings, the clothes, the daggers... Jericho was tall like freaky tall and there were three others there, a woman in armor, Deanara, a guy that looked like he was made of glass leaves and vines and stuff, my head told me he was Oak-Father, and then another guy..."
Apparently her Vision might be crystal clear but her recolection of the night before was far from perfect. "They said that this will or could come true, they didn't clerify...they said I am going to keep having visions like this...they told me that my grandfather was a Harbringer and that apparently I am too.... Jericho said that she knows some of our parents, mostly one per but for Zach and me she knows both..."
Angel had set down her cup and was holding her head as though she were trying to shake loose other details of the night, "She told me to tell all of you and include Pike.."
She looked up then and shrugged, "Sorry, I was kinda dazed at that point. Jericho brought me home and told me to sleep."
Zach made a mental note about his parents. He would have to follow up about that when he could. "Angel, what do you think this is?"
Pike, who was sitting next to Zach, just smiled and shrugged. “I’ve been seeing stuff since I was about eight. Jericho said I should keep it secret but I could talk to the faculty if I needed to and to wait until you guys caught up.”
"I think this counts, so go on." Brann prompted.
"I started seeing the barriers when I was little and I started to see the Earth Dragons shortly after that," Pike explained. "I've been talking to elementals for about six years now."
"We learned a little about what we are," Brann looked between his friends and back to Pike. "What about you?"
"Since he's started to see Earth Dragons, I would hazard a guess that he's an Earth Elemental." Cat said softly. She had been debating telling the rest of them about her newest weirdness and so had remained remarkably quiet during the conversation.
"Interesting to note that you weren't in the vision though," Angel said.
“I’m not the war-fighting guy,” he replied with a shrug. “I do one thing real well,” he glanced at Zach when he said it and then back at the others, “and a few things okay.”
"I'd say you do a fair imitation of a panda, but what else is your one thing?" Angel asked.
"Zach." Cat said softly. She had noticed the day that Zach had saved her three years earlier that Pike had managed to talk him down, something that no one else had ever been able to accomplish to her knowledge. "He's the only one who can calm Zach down when he's gone berserker on us."
Zach's face turned slightly flushed but his face remained the stoic mask he typically wore. His eyes were relaxed but his pupils were unfocused. He calmly set his glass down on the table but his other hand was clenched so tight that his knuckles were white. "I am leaving, now" he said in a quiet whisper. He looked directly at Pike "You have secrets" and before any could react he was out the door disappearing into the shadows of the hallway.
"Speaking of keeping Zach calm..." Brann looked after him and let his words trail off.
"Don’t follow," Pike said and went after Zach, nearly as silently.
"I think he aimed that at you. I wonder why," Brann smirked at Angel.
Angel blinked at Brann, worry on her face. He'd been right, she was their 'fixer.' She smoothed over ruffled feathers and usually talked their way out of trouble and while she wanted to help Zach, she knew she wasn't the one that could do it. "Possibly because I am the one who usually tries to clean up our messes," she said in a soft voice, "But I know better with Zach."
"I think we all do by now," Maus quipped. "Let's go on with this. I'm going to guess all that," Maus pulled his hand out from his crossed arms used his right index finger to indicate where Zach and Pike had been, "was Jericho's plan, to get things out in the open and let people reconcile issues. They'll be back and we can discuss what we covered with them."
"Makes sense," Brann picked up. He turned his blue gaze to Angel. "What is an Ur-lord?"
"I only know what I wrote there," Angel gestured to the laptop, "but it was evil... to its core and I loathed its existence. When I was in the dream I wanted it destroyed, beyond death, I wanted it obliterated from the face of this earth." She yawned and got to her feet to poke around the food looking for something to eat, "Toggle the layers on that picture, I think I might have sketched it before I passed out but I wasn't organized so you'll have to fiddle with them 'til you find the right ones."
Cat looked down at her hands. "I think that, it might be that this dream is a vision of the future." She said quietly as she looked up at her siblings. "Or at least a very probable future."
Angel nodded, "That's what Jericho seemed to say."
"When you said the word," Maus paused and made a slight face as if he tasted something bad, "'Ur-Lord', I had a reaction to it, in here," he gestured to his chest. "It felt tight and sad and angry all at the same time. Whatever they are, it... 'resonates'... with something inside of me in a bad way. It makes me angry and something about it makes me sad and that part confuses me."
Angel nodded, "Read the part about fallen soldiers rising, I got the impression that the Ur-Lord was responsible for that."
"Possibly, but not necessarily," Brann flipped through the digital images until he came across the sketch Angel mentioned. He stared at it long and hard and something deep down inside him stirred, as if from a deep slumber. A sudden chill shot down his spine and he broke out in a sweat, sickened to his stomach by the image before him. Cold, hard rage, the kind that killed mercilessly rose in his throat like the bitter taste of bile. His eyes flicked up when he heard someone call his name. He set the computer aside.
"Y-yeah," he combed his fingers back through his hair. "If this thing is as poisonous as Angel says--and I..." he paused, his gaze growing distant for a moment. He looked up, between his friends, obviously affected. "I believe her. The spirits of this world would gladly rise to take up the fight. One of us might be responsible for calling them."
"I think we ARE the spirits of this world Brann," Maus observed quietly. "And I think the World is waking us to defend her."
"I meant our raising the dead but you have a point." Brann flicked Maus a dry smirk and then he tilted his head, as something only just occurred to him. "If we have to touch rings and say 'by our powers combined' I'll mix us each a Drano cocktail."
Maus glowered slightly, "I've only got ONE ring that does anything special it it's too big for any of my fingers."
"Stop bragging," Brann snorted.
Angel laughed and rolled her eyes, "I am sooo not touching that ring."
"I'm not touching the topic." Cat said primly, though her eyes twinkled with suppressed laughter.