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Peers & Pressures [Complete]


Malachite
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Time: September 21st through 27th, 2019


No one likes being locked up. No one likes being run through chemical showers and blood tests and poking and prodding of just about every kind a person could think. Psychological evaluations, "interviews" about what happened during the Storm, background checks and invasions into every aspect of your life. No one likes it, but at least some people understand the necessity. And at least some of the soldiers and officials and pathologists running the quarantine at whatever base you'd all be flown into in the desert were as nice as they could be about it. Some of them.

The base itself had been split between the sealed off zones for the "guests" and the free-range areas for everyone else. At the start, there'd just been the large workroom that had been stuffed with cots and blankets for the dozen or so people being kept there, but on the morning of the second day actual semi-private rooms were announced as having been sealed off for people to use. They were paired off and told that rooms would be opened to them by the evening. Workers in HAZMAT suits brought in tables and board games and cards for the internees to keep themselves occupied while doctors tried to figure out if their weirdness was contagious or their if their minds were just falling apart more slowly than all of the people that had turned into monsters immediately. 

"This is the worst," Lucia complained. "Why can't we have phones or something? At least give us movies to watch!" The last was halfheartedly bemoaned at one of the soldiers guarding the communal bubble in the main room. He just shrugged, clearly not about to leave his post to go get a movie for the young woman. Her all-black eyes rolled, which couldn't be seen, and she slumped in her chair. She looked around the room, picking someone out to go say hi to and maybe make a friend - anything was better than another round of Solitaire.

 

Spoiler

So! This is a social thread for getting people introduced to one another. Everyone that's going to the US quarantine (which I believe is everyone but Steve and Kyria) is here. The people at the facility have ranged from clearly afraid/suspicious of you all to quite friendly and excited (usually scientists). All electronics have been confiscated unless you were told otherwise for your character. I will do small time-skips through this week for different activities as the quarantine progresses until you are all released after a month in isolation at this base. 

Ryan - You've gotten a warmer reception than pretty much anyone else. Your military background has been noted during your intake interview (which really was more of an interview than the interrogation some others got), and you were asked to try to help the others deal with being cooped up - to keep them calm and cooperative, especially since some of them have abilities that could make a massacre of the base if they get violent. You're sharing a room with Donald - you're pretty sure they put him with you so you could act as a mentor/father/older brother figure for the younger man.

Emily - You've gotten a fairly warm reception as well. You've been asked to demonstrate your control of water, and then politely asked not to do so again until you're asked. You get the impression they're not sure what to do with you since they can't just take water away from the base if you decide to be a danger. You're rooming with a woman named Deliah, a middle-aged Black woman you've seen staring at flames dancing on her palm. It's not hard to figure out why they put you two together. 

Donald & Renata - You two have been handled somewhat gently, though you can tell the soldiers aren't sure if you're "kids to be protected" or "juvenile delinquents to be watched." Your intake interviews were definitely more interrogate-ish. They wanted to hear what happened in the frat house over and over again before finally releasing you to quarantine. Renata, you're sharing a room with Lucia. She's 19, was doing a gap year, and seems to be a genuinely nice person - despite her black blood and eyes which makes her look super creepy. Donald, you're rooming with Ryan. 

Deezy - Your processing has been one of cool professionalism. You get the feeling that the Laytons haven't earned you friends here, but the staff and soldiers are certainly being careful of you. You've still got the phone the Laytons arranged for you and Davian has texted you pretty much at least once an hour just to check in on you. You're rooming with Karrie. 

Karrie - You know what your deal here is. You're rooming with Deezy and only just finished getting processed.

Eva - I'm holding space for you and saying that you haven't quite made it to the group quarantine. We don't need to finish your intro thread first if you do want to jump in here. :)

There are about a dozen people beyond you six. I'll be working on an NPC thread and putting up a Projects thread like Nina does in WS because that's fun!

 

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Donald had been mildly exasperated through the transport and interrogation process. On the one hand, "kids to be protected" stuck a nerve with him. Had he not been recorded fighting through a horde of zombies and their crazy leader? On the other hand, "juvenile delinquent" was just as absurd and false. Did he look like someone who shoplifted or hung out with street gangs? And most importantly, had he not been recorded fighting through a horde of zombies and their crazy leader? That sounded like grade-A heroics followed by a thankful celebration with Allison Cartwright.

 

But no, he was here, trapped in this place. In fairness, Donald got it, apparently there's been more monsters and super-powered lunatics than straightforward, sensible superhumans. Thankfully, he'd gotten his phone call. Mom, Grandpa and Grandma were fine. Deidre had been worried sick about her baby boy and was reassured by Donald. It was like he was five again. Isaac had assured Donald he was proud of his grandson's bravery and he planned on having someone's ass cough up an explanation about the treatment of his grandson.

 

Ryan, well, it was a bit early to make a judgement on him. Anyway, bored. Donald had been tempted to suggest strip poker as a joke, but the ladies might have taken it the wrong way. So instead, he picked up the top hat. "Anyone for Monopoly?"

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Karrie stepped through the final doorway, into the main quarantine area. It wasn’t much to look at, and hardly seemed welcoming after a twelve-hour flight in a HAZMAT suit and six hours of debriefing through speakers. The dozen or so people looked at her with interest, and Karrie suddenly felt like the new kid on the playground. Only this playground was with superpowered people.

 

None of them have proven violent, she told herself, hoisting her overnight bag a little higher on her shoulder. The CDC hadn’t allowed laptops or electronics, but Dad had sent his assistant yesterday with a bag full of books, magazines, and card games. It had included a note that said when Mom and Dad could visit, they’d bring her clothing and her favorite snack cakes.

 

The question of Monopoy hung in the air as she entered the room, and Karrie smiled. “I have a few more games, and some books and things.” She sat down her bag. “Hey, guys. I’m Karrie.”

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"I'm definitely down for something," Renata groaned from the couch where she was lying with an arm draped across her eyes. "But I dunno about Monopoly."

 

She swiveled around to sit more normally and took a gander at the new girl...and stared maybe just a beat too long.

 

"Hey," she said, giving Karrie a wave. "I'm Renata. Welcome to 'not-prison-but-pretty-close.'" Ren glanced down at Karrie's bag and lifted an eyebrow. She hadn't seen many people with luggage since coming in here. "Want some help with the bag?"

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iOkSQFj.jpgFrom down the hallway that led to the private rooms and the bathrooms, a voice could be heard, at a slightly quieter than conversational...but still quite audible...volume.

 

"No, they said I couldn't bring any telecom devices," she was saying into her phone. "I didn't bring anything in. After I got in, I just...yes, I know that's violating the spirit of the rules, but..." She broke off for a second, listening, then sighed. "I'll be fine. Relax! I said I wanted to come, and I still do. I just didn't realize it would be so...inconvenient. There's like a thousand things I need to look up right now if I'm going to stay productive here. I don't need to be online long." Another pause. "Alright! Alright...okay. No, don't, I'll manage. It'll be fun, like a vacation or something. Weee...I feel a burden lifting from my shoulders already! Okay. Okay, yes. I will. Okay. OKAY! Bye!"

 

From out of the hallway strolled a skinny redheaded woman in a baggy white t-shirt and pair of grey sweatpants. She tucked the phone away in a pocket and gave everyone in the room a thumbs up, beaming cheerily.

 

"Hi everyone! I'm Dorothy, but everyone calls me Deezy and I know the place is kind of a draaaaag, but I'm actually super happy to meet you all!"

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Karrie smiled at the warm greetings and set the bag down. “I’m actually under order from the debriefers here to eat and sleep, but you are all welcome to use the stuff in here.” She started to pull things out, holding up the books and magazines so everyone could see them. “My dad’s assistant packed it though, so it’s going to be generic.” She made a face as she set the latest John Patterson ghost-authored bestseller on a chair.

 

“Though after the first quarantine, I’ll accept a John Patterson book over boredom,” she added, holding up a Five Crowns and Uno deck. 

 

“First?” Lucia asked, frowning.

 

“Yeah, I was in England for The Storm,” Karrie said, “and was quarantined but the Brits for a moment.” She sat down the last of the games and glanced at them. “So, do we wait for food or is there a kitchen? Does someone wanna give me a tour?”

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Renata winced slightly. "Yeah, food. So...we wait. And have been waiting a lot. It's kind of a sore subject. Right now I think all we have left is some of those 'ration' things. The, uh...silver wrapped things over there."

 

"As for the tour, sure."

 

She beckoned Karrie over, and pointed down the hallway. "Rooms are on the right down what way. Bathrooms are on the left."

 

"...and that concludes our tour. And now you know why a bag full of things to pass time with is exactly what everyone needs."

 

Renata shrugged and worked her shoulders for a second to get the couch-kinks out.

 

"So, England. Worldwide then, I guess. Jesus. What's it like over there?"

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Delilah had been rolling the little ball of fire around for what seemed like hours and Emily had been watching almost hypnotized, then her stomach growled. She stood up and smoothed the nondescript tan jumpsuit they all wore, well at least they weren't orange.

 

"I'm gonna go see if i can find something to eat. You want something?" Delilah rolled the tiny fire ball then looked up with just her eyes but said nothing and then her gaze returned to the ball. "Right."

 

Emily stepped out in to the hall then went down the short corridor to the main room. She saw a couple of new people and after going over to the box of MREs she wandered over to the small gathering. "Hi, I'm Emily."

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Deezy, having watched and listened to Renata and Karrie, gave Emily a look...then reached a conclusion.

 

She clapped her hands together.

 

"Hi, Emily. Okay! I have a thing. A...proposal!" Abruptly she was holding a stack of clipboards. Almost immediately the pens skittered out from between them and started swinging by their little chains in unison as she started passing them out.

 

"I just need everyone to write down what their powers are and some kind of brief...like paragraph?...about what you remember about the moment you realized you HAD them. And...I will get us better food. And if you want different clothes, I can do that too. Maybe some wall decorations?"

 

She looked around critically and frowned.

 

"Honestly, some of this stuff I'll do for free. So drab!"

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Donald left appreciative glances at Emily and Karrie, they were amazingly beautiful. Then he blinked as Deezy started conjuring things from thin air. Well, that was a very useful power. He put the top hat back in the box and pushed it aside since there definitely were better options available. And all the eye candy, even if the odds of anyone scoring in a quarantine bubble were next to nil.

 

"Why can't we just gather round and share the stories? I'm curious about what's going on across the pond too."

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"I was in the pond," Emily gives a small laugh that sounds like a teenagers, "well the Pacific not the Atlantic so I guess the other pond. I saw a man fly and open a  some sort of wormhole from the middle of the ocean to Seattle i think. I haven't seen him here maybe he's in another dorm. 

 

And we saw a new lifeform born. It wrecked our ship but I don't think it was doing it on purpose. I think it was originally one of our specimens that got changed like we did. 

 

Aside from the wrecking the ship and almost killing everyone. it was pretty cool." She shrugs then remembers something. "Oh and I could suddenly make water do pretty much whatever i wanted." 

 

She looked around the put her hands together to form a cup and concentrate and pulled moisture from the air to make a small sphere of water. As they watched the sphere twisted into an infinity loop and started moving, becoming an animated Mobius strip.

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"I was at a party," Renata said, tactfully leaving out why she'd been at the party. "This weird bolt of lightning hit a tree right next to me, and...right away I knew something was..."

 

She trailed off thoughtfully. "...not wrong, exactly, but different. I could feel everything around me. And then out of nowhere this crazy laugh, and screams and I ran over and saw people that had gone all rotten looking starting to bite other kids, and right in the middle was the dude just laughing."

 

"So I beat him up." She coughed at that and added reluctantly, "With my mind. I can make things move around. I dragged him across the room over to me, and sort of made my arm hit him really hard. He got like a grip on my head at one point, and I don't know what he was doing but it hurt like hell." Renata nodded at Evo. "He was there too. Threw something at him, hurt him...gave me an opening to take him down."

 

With a grimace she finished her tale, "Then the military shows up, shoots him, and takes everyone in."

 

She shrugged and gave the redhead with the clipboards a wave.

 

"Can you teleport beer in too?"

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Deezy gave her a narrow-eyed look and said, "Yes. Definitely. But it's not teleportation, I have to make it. And I don't see a lot of people here over drinking age, so you'll have to settle for soft drinks."

 

Then she looked nonplussed. "You know, it's weird but I don't actually know how they make soft drinks. There's kind of a lot of ways to dissolve carbon dioxide in water. I don't think most of them will make it bubble though...huh..."

 

"ANYWAY, yes, this is fine. Everyone just talk, and I'll write down the highlights. Actually this is better, because I won't have to decipher anyone's handwriting! Who's next?"

 

She set down all but one of her clipboards, then added, "Oh, and introduce yourselves. It'll save me time and your privacy if I don't have to look you up later."

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Almost as if by magic, Ryan appeared in the room.  Everyone's attention had been elsewhere, so he'd quietly come out from the room he shared with young Donald.   "I'm here.  Though i admit I'd prefer not to be, same as most everyone else, I'd wager."  his voice was deep, and the older man smiled.  "Hello everyone, I'm Ryan, and as Emily mentioned, I can fly and create portals between different locations."

The fact he could leave whenever he wanted wasn't lost on anyone, and yet he was still here with them.  "The kelptapus was unique to say the least, I'll say.  I've seen Octopi before, but that was something straight out of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.   Watching Emily here bend an ocean to her will was pretty awesome."

His steel grey eyes narrowed.  "Aside from the MRE diet, this isn't too bad, but then I was in the Air Force for twenty years."  He'd actually stayed on base, humoring the government, after they promised to make good the losses his company had suffered, and for his lost time, as he was the only pilot.  Given that his boss was also former military, he understood better than most about this sort of thing, but between losing the plane, the cargo, and Ryan for however long this went on, he knew they'd be in abit of a bind.

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Emily smiled at her flying man as he joined them, "Hey Ryan, glad you could make it.'"

 

Emily nods to the hyperactive redhead, "So whats your story?"

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Deezy blinked, then realized she was being addressed.

 

"Oh, right. Well, I was in Cleveland and there was a huge storm splashing water from Lake Erie everywhere, so I made a sort of dam to protect my building, then drove out to the lake...and the whole thing was floating...in the air."

 

She waved her hands over her head, then nodded at Emily. "Kind of like what you do, maybe. Hm! Anyway, there was a huge storm too, and flashes of what looked like lightning connecting the clouds and the lakewater. So I drove around, making big old wind-mill type things to break up the air rotation and generate power to charge a really REALLY big plate I put under the water to discharge the energy downward instead of outward...and boom!"

 

Deezy clapped her hands together. "Lake water fell back down. Storm broke up. I met a billionaire and now we're in business together...kind of."

 

"Pretty standard, really. You guys can call me Deezy, by the way."

 
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Moving to the table with the rations, Karrie dug in, chewing steadily through two of them as she listened to the others talk. When she hit the natural point for her to share, she took a drink of water and straightened a little. 

 

“I stop powers from working,” she said casually. “I and some British Marines were fighting an ice giant. Amusing since one of the other powered people there had weather powers. Lightning and thunder. Like that super-hero movie.

 

“And yes, this Storm was world wide,” Karrie continued. “Every country has been dealing with the aftermath. We’re not sure of the total dead, nor will we ever have more than a rough estimate, I suspect. There will be more injuries, of course, and billions in damages. Our world has literally been changed forever.”

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Deezy's eyes opened wide in surprise at Karrie's confession, and she rushed over to the taller woman.

 

"You stop powers?! Holy cow, that's amazing! Do it to me!"

 

She closed her eyes and winced as if in anticipation of a terrible pain. After a second she cracked her left eye open.

 

"Did you do it? Are you doing it?"

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Karrie laughed at Deezy’s comments. “Actually, I need an active power to turn off. I can’t turn off all powers flat out -- yet. So I’d be happy to demonstrate if someone has a non-harmful power they’d like to show off?”

 

“Sure.” The girl with the black eyes held glanced up at the ceiling and the lights started to dim. Karrie watched her closely, intrigued by the strange black flickering lights she saw around the woman. With her own effort of power, she turned Lucia’s lights off. 

 

The lights immediately brightened again, and Lucia blinked. “Whoa, weird. It’s like I don’t have access to the shadows anymore.”

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Ryan  watched Karrie's demonstration, and nodded.  "That's an impressive power."  He left off the "and dangerous" that he thought along with it however.   It was unsettling, though he showed no outward signs of it.   Ryan remembered in old X-men comics what a power like that could lead to.  He looked to the others.  "Who's next?"  His lips curled in a slight smile.  This was all likely being recorded, but he didn't care all that much.  They were like him, and had probably shown their abilities off in whatever event brought them to the public attention, so there was no point in hiding what had already been seen. 

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"My turn I guess." Donald decided to jump in. "So I was at the same party as Renata, and Laughing Man went crazy and started making people into zombies. Me, I found I could shapeshift. Internally and externally. So when Renata says I threw something at him and it hurt him, I made myself strong enough to throw a mug hard enough that it looked like it broke his leg. He certainly wasn't able to stand on it afterward. Also, strangely I found that when when I did stuff like giving myself two extra arms, it didn't tear my shirt at all. And I'm pretty sure I'm not controlling my shirt."

 

Donald gave Deezy an inquiring look. "Maybe you can build some scanner thing that can show what's going on."

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"Maybe!" Deezy agreed, "but not here or now. This place is AWFUL for any kind of real science. But fortunately I don't have to make a scanner here and now. We already have one."

 

She pointed at Karrie, barely able to suppress her glee. She looked like a kid at Comic-Con meeting an MCU actor.

"We have a power that interacts with powers! That's...really big. Huge. Imma hafta abduct you when we're all done here, Karrie. BUT FOR NOW...once we're done with introductions, we can get started. Ugh!"

 

Deezy threw her clipboard down and kicked the pile of them. "I need a SPREADSHEET." She looked around until she spotted a camera and pointed at it. "Hey! You there! Go get...some...guy who can do things and get him to give me a computer! With a spreadsheet! It doesn't have to be ONLINE, or have anything THREATENING on it...just a spreadsheet! And maybe a CAD. And...and some donuts."

 

She looked around at everyone. "Anyone else want donuts? I could really go for some."

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Emily wondered if the red-head had been this... eccentric, before the storm, or if the storm had made her, well, crazy. But either way, she looked at the unopened MREs in her hand, donuts did sound good. "Donuts would be nice, and milk i would love a big glass of ice cold milk.

 

"Has anyone felt anything but good, since the storm," Emily, changing the subject, asked? " I haven't felt better, I think, than I ever felt before, aside from the outrageous appetite, but even with that I don't feel weak with hunger you know."

 

With that she tore one of the MREs open and handed the other to Ryan.

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Ryan took the other MRE, and nodded politely thanking her,  then openedit, resigned to eat the notoriously terrible MRE for now.  I'd love some good pizza, hell I'd settle for Pizza Hut at this point.     When they do finally all let us out of here, I say we all go somewhere and share a real meal with real food together, to celebrate making it through all of these where we've just got MRE's."   

He smiled, and after eating abit, he shook his head.   "I can say I have felt better than before.   I definitely have more endurance, and can stay awake longer than before."   He shrugged.  "I also tend to have a large appetite when I do eat, but I don't need to eat nearly as often as before."   He considered Donald's powerset, and thought aloud.   "Full on shapeshifting sounds pretty cool, and useful too, have you tried using it here?"   He knew he hadn't in the room they shared, but they weren't together all the time.

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Several others had wandered over, listening curiously. The space around Karrie slowly widened as people found reason to edge away or just blatantly walk to the other side of the group. A young Latino man started to say something, but the speakers in the room squawked to life over him. "Sorry for barging into the conversation," the woman on the other end said with a kindly sigh, "but HAZMAT suits are annoying to put on for a quick statement. We're honestly starting to run out of food from what we had stocked. We've got more being air-lifted in, but it's mostly MRE's until tomorrow morning. If you want to make lists of foods you guys like, we can make that part of the next order. We can't do restaurant food out here, but we can make something close. Ms. Klatta, could you gather a list for the quartermaster?"

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