Refraction III [Closed]

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Flint
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Refraction III [Closed]

Post by Flint » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:58 am


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"MOTH HUNT" - PIT STOP
Subject: Axiom (Arno Flint)
Location: Solar City, California
Objective: Inform Sandersons of Danger

"Protecting your life became a priority for me. I told you to get lost because I never wanted to have to choose between saving your life and someone else's, because I knew I'd pick yours."

Flint hated Kelly's house.

He saw it in guilty dreams, and he dreaded the day he'd need to come back. Three times he'd paid it a visit, and three times he'd paid a price. The last time had been the least costly, though. After Kelly had helped him fight off an assassin in the middle of Millennium City, he'd owed her thanks. Other than that, it was just about hoping she wouldn't go into the superhero business.

Chevron was dead. Invictus was dead. Garrick was probably dead. Hector was in a coma. Teja was in a coma. Francine was recuperating, and as the squishiest member of the SOS, it was a miracle she'd gotten out of Alaska alive. And Brock LaVerne had gone crazy before another miracle had snapped him out of it, and finally sent him to a place where he could have an ending.

Ever since Kelly had made him hesitate that fateful day in Morro Bay, for some reason, Arno was dedicated to making sure she never had to deal with the Herculean burden that was being a superhero. It was Herculean not only in the sense that it required great strength, but in the sense that it was wrought with such unnecessary tragedy, so many accidents of fate or malice from the gods that would chip away at a person until there was nothing left.

If she were older, that'd be another story. Tremor had started out at around the same age, something he also didn't approve of - but she had the personality for it. She was harder than Kelly. She trained, and she was willing to - to -

Goddamn it.

It was no good trying to think these things through. Kelly was just different. Under no circumstances could she be let into this life of pain.

But it looked like it was coming for her anyway. The Wilde Jagd. Arno's punishment.

As usual, he'd messaged ahead. Make sure your parents are around, he sent.

It was time. He reached out and knocked on the door.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by illirica » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:51 pm

“I got it!” The voice on the other side of the door was naturally familiar, still full of characteristic vivacity, and the opening of the door a moment later revealed Kelly Sanderson, former teen heroine, currently just... teen. She was wearing a high school cheerleading shirt, blue jeans, and rainbow colored socks that didn't match - each other, or anything else. "Hey, Mr. Flint!"

Her smile was bright as usual, but he knew well enough to notice the little shadow of worry in her eyes, even if she was doing her best to mask it with her standard exuberance. Arno Flint was too busy a guy to just drop in, after all, especially with everything going on with the whole SOS right now. If he was here now, he was here now for a reason... and she really only knew one reason that would have been important enough to come calling.

"Mom and Dad are in the kitchen," she offered, since he'd requested their presence as well. She was trying not to think of that as just another confirmation. "Come on in." She stepped aside, making way for him to join her in the house and heading back to the kitchen area, where her mom was stirring something on the stove. She offered a quick hello, but no further comment.

Her dad was at the table, reading something on his tablet, though he glanced up at Flint's entry and gave him the sort of look that said I don't care if you're a superhero, if you hurt my baby girl I will have your head on a platter - though it passed quickly and capriciously, and all he said was "Coffee?"

"So..." Kelly hesitated, since it seemed no one wanted to break the ice, "What's going on?"

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by Flint » Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:23 pm

Arno was surprised her parents were actually here. It always seemed like it'd been a sort of John Hughes thing. Part of him wanted to blame them. He'd thought, sometimes, about what he'd say to the Sandersons - what he'd do. Call it exhaustion from the endless battles, but he wasn't in the mood to get into a fight with them. That, or Solar City's power dampener was taking the fight out of him. It was diseased air, making him feel softer, weaker. The hyperactive healing factor that prevented any sort of exhaustion was slipping. Still there, but less intense.

"Coffee would be great. Thank you," he replied with a nod, acknowledging Mrs. Sanderson as well. He took a seat across from the father, lifting up the chair rather than scooting it along the floor. He always hated when people did that.

"You might want to sit down for this," he warned Kelly, eyeing a chair.

Accepting the mug with a tight-lipped smile, he took a small sip before putting it on the tablecloth. It tasted hotter than he was used to, which he supposed was probably the dampener having its effect again.

Well. Bad news first.

"I think your family is in danger," he said, addressing Mr. Sanderson directly. "I made direct contact with Arin Gestalt two days ago. He," Flint paused, "- is running a paramilitary outfit made up mostly of children in Syria."

Reaching into a pocket, Flint unfolded a number of paper documents. Uncreasing them, he let them sit on the table. There were blurry pictures taken from battlefields, photos of the Wilde Jagd in action.

"I have reason to believe your household may be a target. I saw photos of Kelly in a file on his desk. What's more, he's employed some sort of child-assassin, who I consider one of the more dangerously unstable people I've ever encountered."

He gave them a beat to absorb the information. This wasn't like briefing soldiers, it was telling a family they were in physical danger.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by illirica » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:22 pm

Kelly wasn't generally one for sitting down, particularly for any period of time longer than about five seconds, but something about Mr. Flint's tone suggested maybe she'd better, so she took the empty chair next to her dad, frowning slightly to herself while her mom handed Mr. Flint a cup of coffee.

He thought the family was in danger, which they all knew meant he thought Kelly was in danger. She saw the look her parents exchanged, over her head, but neither said anything right away, instead letting Mr. Flint continue. The name he spoke next wasn't a surprise.

She'd known.

She'd known two days ago. She reached over and pulled her dad's coffee to her - not to drink, but just to hold the cup, warming her hands or just having something to hold on to. A frown creased her features, remembering a moment of pure, unrestrained rage.

And she'd known, too, that it was for her.

Syria. Why was he in Syria? Where even was Syria? She was pretty sure she'd known that at some point during her junior year, but she didn't have any geography this year and boy could she not remember. A quick consultation with her phone while Mr. Flint set out some papers got her up to date so she wouldn't look like a dummy about that. The papers were... worrying. Pictures. A bunch of kids, with guns.

Maybe kids like Arin, who...

Who what? Had nowhere to go? That wasn't true, though. He could have come here. He could have always come here. Maybe he didn't remember. Maybe.

He had her picture on his desk.

That probably wasn't supposed to make her smile. She did, though. It turned a bit melancholy after a moment, and she let it fade away - not regretted, merely set aside. There was a moment of tense silence, and she realized that her parents were waiting for her to say something.


"...Okay." As a synopsis, she was aware that it left a lot to be desired, but it was enough to start with, enough to let her collect her thoughts. She glanced back and forth between her parents, understanding the questions they'd be thinking about. "I, um... I want to stay here. In Solar, I mean. I don't want to change schools. It's just a few more months."

Her eyes wandered over the pictures. Robots. Of course there were robots.
"Do you have any pictures of Arin?" Not because she didn't believe him, but just... she wanted to see him. Even if it was only a picture. Just to know he was...

She didn't know what he was, not any more. But to know he was something, anyway. Somewhere.

Syria.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by Flint » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:40 pm

Arno's throat closed up a little. The coffee was alright. He usually didn't drink it.

Why are they looking at her? he thought, keeping an eye on the the parents' expressions. There was no anger, no shock. They were just...silent. Processing what he was telling them.

Kelly had other concerns.

Flint rubbed his temples with his hand, massaging his eyes a little with his fingers. He had a headache. It had been months since he'd experienced anything like a simple headache, given his abilities. It was this place, these people.

"I didn't get a picture, Kelly," he replied. "I'm not sure if you heard me. I do not think you are safe. Arin is killing people over there," he emphasized, looking back to the parents.

Just be cool.

Flint put the coffee cup down on the table, firmly.

"I infiltrated his base and tried to get him to come in without a fight. Instead, he nearly put me through the ceiling with his psychic powers. I cannot discern his motives. I am strongly concerned he will try to involve you and your family. You need to find somewhere to go until the situation is contained," he said, fingers tightening around the mug.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by illirica » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:02 pm


"No, I heard you." She released the coffee cup with an expansive gesture that sloshed the liquid inside, spilling some onto the table. "And I think you're being totally unreasonable. Look at me, Mr. Flint. Do you know what I am not saying right now? I am not saying 'Well let's go over there and talk to him and I will solve everything with a hug and the power of friendship,' because I listened to you. Okay? I'm not saying that. I'm not saying I'm going to find out where he is and zip over there by myself, even though you apparently went there alone. Okay? And I am not saying that he wouldn't do that, or that he must have a good reason. And if you know anything about me, then you can take five seconds and appreciate how hard that all is!"

"Cupcake-"

"Don't Cupcake me, mom! It's not fair! I already gave up being a superhero, I am not giving up everything else! No. Just no. I want to finish high school, okay? There's absolutely no guarantee that anywhere else I went would be safer, or that whatever happens wouldn't just happen there instead." She glared at Mr. Flint for a moment, then unleashed a dramatic sigh and got up to get a paper towel and wipe up the spilled coffee.

"Okay." The momentary action seemed to have calmed her somewhat, but her voice was still tense, shaking slightly, like it wanted to break but she was refusing to let it. "What's Plan B, then?" Because Plan A wasn't happening - and someone like Mr. Flint always had a plan B.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by Flint » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:02 am

Kelly had made a point about him going to Arin alone, but it wasn't the one she'd intended. If Teja were awake, Arno would've asked her to go in his place to confront Gestalt. He'd ask the same of her when dealing with the Sandersons. The fact was that he was just too close to this job. It was almost inescapably personal, and he knew it was affecting his judgment. The problem? Teja was out cold, somewhere in a government facility. She couldn't just be retrieved at his earliest convenience.

He shouldn't need to ask for backup from her parents. If they were good at their jobs at all, this conversation wouldn't even be necessary. "Cupcake." Christ almighty.

He let go of the coffee mug; he'd been in danger of shattering it.

"Mr. Sanderson, Mrs. Sanderson - may we talk in private?" he requested, face stony.
Last edited by Flint on Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by illirica » Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:39 am

He didn't like it - of course he didn't like it, and instead of maybe talking to her about the problem or something, he decided to pull the talking to her parents behind her back thing, because of course he did. There was another one of those exchanged glances between her parents, while they tried to figure out how to handle this one, but Kelly Sanderson was handling this one on her own.

"Oh my gosh, I am not THREE!" She slammed the used paper towel down on the table, which wasn't very satisfying, then left the kitchen in a storm, going up and slamming the door to her bedroom.

That was a lot more satisfying.

.
Playlist: ArinTunes
Now Playing:
Broken Boy - Cage the Elephant
Kelly grabbed her headphones and put them on, cranking the volume up - because as tempting as it was to listen in on the conversation, it would only make her angry.

Definitely not her usual sort of music, but she'd never quite been able to delete the playlists of stuff he'd listened to. Even if she didn't listen to them all that often, it was nice just... knowing they were there, in a way that he wasn't.

Lay me on my side or hold me up to the light, yeah

It was good for angry music, though, Kelly had to admit that. Seriously, what right did Mr. Flint have to treat her that way? If she tried not to get in the way and all he wanted to do was lock her up in a jewelry box like some kind of fragile snowflake, why didn't she just do what she wanted in the first place?

I was bit by the whisper of a soft liar

If Mr. Flint was so desperate to save someone, Kelly could sure make some suggestions about people who could use some saving. Not her, because she was fine - but if he was going to keep at this, then she wasn't going to be fine. The first time she'd met Arin, hadn't he said something about always having people telling him what to do, for his own good?

Broken boy - How does it feel?

Maybe he'd run off to Syria because it was the only place he could find where he could get away from all that. Or maybe he just thought that Syria was safe for him, in a way that Solar City would never be. He'd always worried about bringing danger to her, back when he'd been... himself. But... he'd always let her decide whether or not she wanted to face it.

Lay me on my side or hold me up to the light, yeah

She wished he were here, instead of Mr. Flint.

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by Flint » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:23 am

Kelly left.

Arno remained seated.

His eyes were fixed on Mr. and Mrs. Sanderson.

He listened to Kelly stomp up the stairs.

Boom.

That was the her door.

Arno picked up the mug of coffee and swirled it around for a second.

He took one -

- long -

- drink, and put it back down on the table.

"What - the Hell - is wrong with you two?"

He didn't wait for an answer.

"Not only do you let your child get involved in bar none the most dangerous occupation in the world, in which it falls on others to supervise her during life-or-death situations...you adopt a psychic who was used as a puppet to wreck a city and kill my men."

Pause.

"I want you both to know that because I have had to babysit her in situations she should never have been in, my attention was drawn away from other people who needed me. In light of that fact, it is likely that people have died who otherwise would have lived."

Pause.

"It is likely that people I knew have died who otherwise would have lived, people I cared about."

He squeezed one fist tight, one that had been resting on the table.

"I want you to know that, Sandersons. I want you to know what exactly it is you've done here."

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Re: Refraction III [Closed]

Post by illirica » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:49 pm

If the Sandersons had anything to say about Axiom's outburst, they were at least quite well versed in dealing with immature tempers, and waited until he'd finished. Sometimes, after all, people just needed to feel like they'd been heard. Once he'd stopped, there was a silence, for a moment. David Sanderson glanced up the stairs, likely wondering how much of that his daughter had heard, while his wife remained looking fixedly at Flint.

"Please remember that you're a guest here." Her tone was mild, maybe even deceptively so, the sort of voice that had weathered an impetuous toddler, the outbursts of puberty, and all the vagrancies of childhood combined. Some things were important, others not so much.

"Kelly already knows exactly what you think of us." Her father had reclaimed his coffee, and sipped at it quietly. Another one of those parental tones, one that suggested maybe that was a statement worth thinking about. From the unsurprise, so did the Sandersons themselves. He shook his head, slightly. "Don't blame my daughter for the choices you made."

Mrs. Sanderson walked over to the table, putting a hand on Flint's shoulder. "I know it's hard. You want someone to blame. Maybe that helps now, but I think some day you'll regret it. Once you know a little more about life, maybe." She gave him a smile, turning the gesture into a pat. "Some day, Arno Flint, I hope you have a child exactly like you."

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