Afflictions: Part Three

Welcome to Season 3 of Earth 2! Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Arte was trying to fight off sleep after a long day. Saturday was date night, but given the occasion, Arte had opted for a full date day. It was their anniversary, after all. First they went out for lunch at a bakery, then they’d stopped by the botanical gardens. After that, they had a nice dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse, and then they made it to the theater for a production of Les Miserables. She loved spending time with Ashley, of course, but after a long day she was exhausted.

“Hey Arte?” Ashley rubbed her shoulder. “I’m super happy we decided to stick with Vanessa and everyone. I think being here with you, and doing stuff that really helps people makes me the happiest I’ve ever been.”

“Yeah, I was worried about you at the start, but so far it’s been okay. I’m glad I get to work with you.” Arte sat up, and leaned up against Ashley.

She was quiet for a moment. “I think I’m really just glad I get to be with you at all… It feels like not that long ago I was wondering if I’d ever see you again.”

Arte hugged her tight, and whispered into her ear, “I’ll never let anything like that happen to you again.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They sat in silence for a moment, enjoying each other’s company. Arte really did mean what she said. Now that they worked together, there was no reason she couldn’t be ready to protect Ashley if something happened. She would be ready the next time something happened. She had powers and backup now.

A moment later, Arte felt a mental alarm. The tripwire laser she’d set had just gone off, and it only did that for humans. Someone was sneaking around outside their window. She jumped out of bed and pulled on some sweatpants.

“Is something wrong?” Ashley started to get up.

Arte motioned for her to be quiet, and made her way to the window. It was dark outside. She carefully lifted the blinds, and conjured a small translucent green rectangle. She lifted it up to the window, and looked through the rectangle. A thin young person was tiptoeing around their house. It wasn’t Zoey, since she was on a trip right now, and nobody that lived with her or next door was that size. She slipped on some shoes, and made her way downstairs. Ashley followed closely behind her, holding a pistol that Arte had bought for her. As they reached the back door, Arte motioned for Ashley to stay where she was. She conjured a green triangle and handed it to her. It would change colors if she needed backup.

Arte quietly slid open the back door, and stepped outside. Whoever it was hadn’t come around to this side of the house yet. She set to work making a series of four connected rectangles, about as tall as she figured whoever it was could reach. Once she’d done that, she pulled out her phone and got the flashlight ready. She took a deep breath, before jumping around the corner and shining the flashlight.

There stood, now blinded by the sudden light, a thin teenage girl with long red hair, wearing a purple sweatshirt with a white heart on it. Arte sighed with relief, as the teenager began to scramble away. She’d seen this girl a few times when she picked up Zoey from things. Her best friend, and, as Arte had put five dollars on, future love interest.

“Jessica it’s fine, it’s just me.” Arte was pretty sure it was fine, but didn’t dissipate the cage, just in case.

The teenager hesitantly turned back to face her. “Aren’t you Zoey’s sister or cousin or something?”

“Close enough.” She shrugged. “So what are you doing here?”

“Isn’t this Zoey’s house? She hasn’t been answering my texts, so I wanted to check in on her.”

“Not quite. She lives over there” She pointed in the direction of her house. “She’s out of the state right now. Why don’t you come in?”

“Oh…” She looked down and thought for a moment. “Sorry to bother you, but do you know when she’ll be back?”

“Oh, about three weeks or so.”

“Gotcha…” She sighed. “Oh well. Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll just go now.”

“Do you need a ride or anything?” Arte called after her, as she turned to walk away. She felt a little bad that she came all this way, especially if she walked. She knew Zoey didn’t have a car, but wasn’t quite sure about this girl.

“No thanks! I parked a little down the road.” Jessica smiled and waved. “Sorry again about bothering you.”

“No problem…” Arte shrugged and went back inside.

“So, who was that?” Ashley asked, as she closed the door.

“Oh just one of Zoey’s friends. Evidently she didn’t know that Zoey was on a road trip right now.” Arte shrugged and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. That scare had definitely woken her up.

“Was that the one that I gave a ride to the mall one time?”

“Yeah, we’ve both met her once or twice. I think she already knew I’m a super, so I figure Zoey must’ve told her.

“Gotcha.” Ash followed her into the kitchen and leaned on the counter. “I hope this trip does her some good. She’s seemed a little down lately.”

“I hope so too…” Arte nodded. “It’s a little weird Zoey didn’t tell Jessica about the trip. I think she’s pretty much her best friend. At least she’s the only one she talks about.”

“Does Zoey have many friends at school? She doesn’t seem to talk about them or spend much time with them if she does.”

“Yeah, I’m not really sure.” Arte had definitely been a little worried about Zoey overall. “She only really talks about Jessica, and I think her relationship with her is at least a little complicated… I don’t wanna make her talk about it though.

“I think she’s probably fine.” Ashley moved in close. ”She does have you, after all.”

“That is true. I must be pretty great if you stick with me.” She went in for a kiss.

“C’mon, let’s go to bed.” Ashley winked, before leading her by the hand.


Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hello everyone! I’m coming up on an eventful few weeks, so please don’t be surprised if things run a little behind. I should be able to still get posts out on time, but links and pages may be updated slower than usual, and comments may not be approved for a while.

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part Two

Welcome to Season 3 of Earth 2! Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Vanessa sat in the back seat of Arte’s car with Anastasia, and watched as the familiar wrought iron gate slowly swung open. It had been a year since she’d been here, and it was definitely bringing back memories. She looked out at the lawn, and saw patches of grass were dead. The fountain wasn’t running, despite the fact that it was summer. There weren’t as many people around as there used to be.

Arte followed the driveway up to the front door of the house, and turned around to look at them. “Alright, give me a call when you’re done. We won’t go too far.”

“Good luck!” Ashley smiled.

“Thanks for the ride.” Vanessa nodded and got out of the car. Her dad had offered to send a car to get them, but the last time she rode in one of her dad’s cars she spent the next two months in a concentration camp, so she passed on the offer.

As they stepped up to the door, it swung open. There stood Gregory, wearing a navy blue suit.

“Thank you for coming.” He bowed his head, then gestured inside. “Please, right this way.”

“Is Jean here?” Vanessa asked. It was a little strange for Gregory to be the one greeting them.

“Jean decided to retire after his medical leave last year. Mr. Smith appointed me as the new head of staff. I hope that my services will not disappoint.”

“Oh, okay…” She was hoping to run into Jean, since it had been a while since she’d seen him. She couldn’t believe that Jean had retired. He was getting older, but he seemed to be in good health when she last saw him. Then again, Gregory did mention medical leave, so that could’ve played a hand in it. She resolved to ask her dad when she saw him.

“Please, right this way.” Gregory gestured inside again.

“Gregory, would you mind if we took a walk around the house first? I don’t know how this talk with my dad is gonna go, so I’d like to get the reminiscing out of the way first.”

“Certainly.” He turned to a man inside and nodded. The man ran off around the corner.

“Thanks.” Vanessa smiled, and led Anastasia inside.

Gregory fell in behind them, as they walked into the foyer. It looked about the same as it had before she left. The rug was clean, and the paintings on the walls were dusted.

“I kinda thought your dad would be the one at the door…” Anastasia whispered to Vanessa.

“Well, I planned ahead for this, and asked him to just wait in the dining room. I wanted a little time beforehand to see the place again, in case I don’t come back.”

Her heart was racing. She took a few deep breaths. She still had time before she would talk to him. There was no need to freak out. She could leave if she wanted to, so it was fine. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned to see Anastasia smiling reassuringly.

“Alright.” Vanessa nodded. “Let’s go.”

Vanessa led Anastasia through the halls of the first floor. As she’d suspected based on the appearance of the lawn, the pristine cleanliness ended in the foyer. The staff had cleaned a direct path from the foyer to the sitting room as well as possible, but gave the rest of the house more of a light cleaning. The floors had been vacuumed, but there were still cobwebs in corners, and some of the paintings were covered in dust.

She followed the halls to the back of the house, and stepped out onto the patio. Moss had crept up onto the patio itself, and all of the patio furniture was filthy. She went forwards to see the swimming pool, and saw it was drained. Judging by the appearance, it had a thriving ecosystem in it yesterday, but they hastily scooped it out and moved on. She looked back at Gregory, who was visibly uncomfortable, and decided to move on.

She stopped in at Paul and Jude’s old room, and saw that it had been restored to its default state. She thought about looking in closer, but decided against it. She glanced over to Anastasia before she moved on, and saw her staring into the room with a nostalgic yet sad smile.

“Don’t waste any more of your thoughts on him.” Vanessa took her hand.

Anastasia nodded quietly, then smiled. “You’re right… Let’s move on.”

Vanessa decided to limit their tour to only one more room, to save Gregory any more shame at the state of things. Realistically if her dad had cut back on staff, there wasn’t too much even Jean could’ve done to keep the estate as pristine as it used to be. She made her way upstairs, and towards her old bedroom.

Inside, everything was exactly as she had left it when she moved out. The bed was stripped, the closet and dresser were empty, and everything felt desolate. It was a weird feeling looking at where she lived for so long. It was something like what she used to feel when she’d walk into her mom’s office. A feeling of mourning for the person she used to be, and the life she used to have.

“Well… I think I’ve seen enough.” She nodded, and looked over to Anastasia. “Is there anything else you want to see?”

“I think I’m good. Whenever you’re ready.”

Vanessa took a deep breath and sighed. She’d put this off long enough. It was time to go see her dad.

She turned to Gregory, who was standing in the doorway. “Alright, let’s go.”

“Of course.” He pulled out his phone, and typed something out, before turning back to Vanessa. “Right this way.”


Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hoo boy! I may have planned my time irresponsibly this week, so here’s an underwhelming blurb!

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part One

Welcome to Season 3 of Earth 2! Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Vanessa sat in the living room with Deven, Paul, Anastasia, Arte, and Ashley. She’d been living with them here for a bit less than a year now, and it had been pretty good. It definitely was a little tight, but it was considerably better than living with her dad. After everything that happened last year, she hasn’t spoken to him once. Not that that had stopped him from sending her texts and voicemails.

It was a Friday night, and that meant that everyone got together to hang out. Despite living together, they were usually out and about, doing their own things. At least one of them usually had a mission or something from the DSR, and the rest had a lot going on. Jude, Anastasia, and herself particularly did a lot of public appearances for publicity, since they were part of the original team. The others would occasionally come along, or sometimes had their own things. Being a super seemed a lot more like being a celebrity than being a cop or a government agent.

“So yeah, the desk should get here some time soon…” Ashley trailed off, and the conversation went quiet for a moment. “What about you, Vanessa?”

“Sorry, I zoned out. What are we talking about?”

“What did you get up to this week?”

Vanessa thought for a moment. This week had been a little light for her, and she couldn’t particularly remember doing anything besides shopping, baking, Netflix, and drinking.

“Well, I guess a little bit of baking, some stuff around the house… Ignoring my dad’s phone calls I guess?” She laughed nervously. At least she’d probably done about as much as Paul normally did.

“You should talk to him.” Paul said flatly.

The whole room turned to him. He hadn’t really been talkative lately. He’d mostly hole himself up in his room, mess with random things, or go on sudden outings with Deven. Needless to say, his advice was unexpected.

“I’ll talk to him when I’m ready.” Vanessa regretted bringing up her dad at all, since she wasn’t really ready to deal with that.

“It’s been almost a year. Still not ready?” He stared up blankly at the ceiling.

Vanessa was about to reply, but Arte cut her off.

“What’s your deal?” She was usually the first to call Paul out. She gave him quite the talking to last week when he destroyed Anastasia’s shoes, and refused to explain why. He was going on about how it ‘didn’t work anyways’.

“I mean-” He reached forward, grabbed a chip, and continued to speak as he ate. “I feel like this is kind of important information. What exactly did he have to do with the super concentration camp.”

“Paul, can you not bring that up?” Ashley forced a smile, but she really hated talking about that.

“What if your dad’s a super villain?”

“That’s enough.” Arte stood up, and everyone went silent.

Paul slowly reached for another chip, and sat up. “She’s never gonna do it if you don’t stop coddling her.”

Vanessa was boiling with rage, but at the same time felt a little bit of doubt. While he was being a jerk, he was right about her dad possibly having important information. Maybe she was just being a coward.

“You wouldn’t understand parent issues…” Vanessa mumbled.

“I do understand intelligence issues, and I think you’ve had plenty of time to get your shit together and figure out what his connection was.” Paul shrugged.

“I’m done listening to this.” Vanessa shotgunned the rest of her wine, and went towards the stairs.

“Leaving the bottle for the rest of us?” He called after her.

Vanessa stormed upstairs, and slammed her bedroom door behind her. She jumped into her bed, and buried herself in her blankets. She would talk to him soon, but Paul had no right to say anything about that. It was her business, and her business only. Her dad obviously had connections to the prison, but she didn’t know that. If she didn’t know for sure, that meant that her dad still had a chance of innocence. He’d been doing really well before all of that happened, and she didn’t want to ruin that image of him.

She heard some shouting downstairs, and some footsteps of someone coming up the stairs. A few moments later, there was a knock on the door.

“Can I come in?” Anastasia asked.

Vanessa wiped her tears away, and unburied herself a little. “Fine…”

Anastasia and her had been doing a lot of stuff together lately, and they’d become a little close. It was surprising to see this side of her, since before she’d mostly just been jealous and mad. Yet another awful thing she’d done, but was too scared to talk about.

She opened the door and closed it quietly after she came in. Vanessa could make out the sound of Ashley begging Arte to calm down.

“Things got a little intense out there, huh?” Anastasia laughed a little, and sat on the foot of her bed.

“Do you think Paul was right?”

“Well, no…” She hesitated. “Maybe a little, but he’s still way out of line. You can talk to your dad whenever you’re ready.”

“Maybe I should just get it over with. I don’t think anythings gonna change…” Vanessa paused for a moment. “I’m just scared that we’re right about him.”

“Well, I’m not sure if this will make it any better, but, if you want, I can go with you whenever you decide to go.”

Vanessa’s heart fluttered. “Really, you would?”

“Totally!” She moved in closer. “I’ll do whatever you need me to.”

“Okay… I’ll do it.” She nodded, trying to convince herself. If she had a close friend with her, then she could definitely do it.

She pulled out her phone, and scrolled through the contacts. She finally found ‘Dad’, and clicked call. The phone rang for a moment, until someone finally picked up.

“Vanessa, is that you?” He sounded somewhat groggy. She was a little worried he was back on the drink.

“Yeah, dad…”


Next Part

Hoo boy! Here we go! Welcome to Afflictions everyone, strap on for the ride. I am unbelievably hyped to be here.

Photo Credit: Original

Trials: Recap

Two mojitos later, and with another in hand, Vanessa found herself back on the couch in what had evidently become Caveat’s ‘therapy room’. Previously she might’ve been more worried about a hangover or something, but at this point it didn’t really matter. Everything she’d had before was over, so what was the big deal if she slept until 2 PM and felt like shit.

“Ya know, Caveat.” Vanessa giggled a little at her own joke as she tried to get it out. “I think you might be my favorite therapist, because normally, I don’t get to drink until after the session.”

“Not like I have a license anyways, so there are no rules here!” Caveat laughed, being careful not to spill his own drink.

“Maybe this won’t be all that bad, just me and you…” Vanessa laid back on the couch and sighed.

“Maybe…” Caveat laughed, then shook his head. “Wait, wait, I think I was on to something before the mojitos…”

Vanessa struggled to remember for a moment. “Oh with the whole ‘tell the story up to here’ thing?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Caveat nodded, taking a sip of his drink, then setting it to the side. “I think we were really getting to something. Let’s keep going.”

“Ugh…” Vanessa groaned. “I don’t wanna think about any of that.”

“C’mon, we gotta finish what we started.” He thought for a moment. “Tell you what, I know a bit of the story, so I can fill stuff in. Bit of the added context.”

“Fine…” She sighed as she sat upright. “Let’s see, there was a year or so where we just kinda stayed in the house and avoided eachother… Deven moved in with us which was weird, but we got used to him. Then some more awful shit happened. I think it started with Paul leaving on his trip. He took Anastasia with him, and I think that’s the last time I hated her. We made up after, but I guess it doesn’t really matter what I think of her now…”

“Hey, no need to get stuck on one sad part.” Caveat gave her a pat on the shoulder. “What happened after that?”

“You don’t understand man… It was perfect and she was perfect and…”

“What’s done is done.” Caveat nodded sagely. “What’s not done is the story we’re telling.”

“Fine.” Vanessa cleared her throat and shook her head. “Well, then I decided I would go own my own trip, since Paul got to do one. Then I caused a whole scene and left in one of my dad’s cars. Then I woke up in the camp…” Vanessa shuddered at the thought of it. They needed to finish the story though, so she chugged the rest of her mimosa and sat the cup to the side.

“Alright, lightning round.” Vanessa took a deep breath. “Takeo, he was the dude who ran the prison and he had fire powers basically, monologued a bunch when I got there, then Darryl, who was just a guard but he’ll come up later, and some other dude threw me in a cell with Ashley. I was kind of a dick for a while, but I started to warm up to her. The camp really sucked, but we got by. Takeo did a bunch of weird culty bullshit about honor and stuff. I’m pretty sure he was completely white, so I don’t really get the whole Asian aesthetic he was doing, but whatever.

“Anyways, Takeo would do duels with the prisoners if we messed up. He murdered Johan, who I knew from my dad’s work, and then tried to make Ashley fight him. I stepped in and he kicked my ass. I think I was in the camp for like a month before that. He was really good at fighting despite being a weird creep.”

“Shit man…” Caveat nodded along.

“Hey aren’t you supposed to be writing this down or something?”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I wasn’t writing anything important anyways.” Caveat shrugged, and took another sip. “So what happened next?”

Vanessa thought for a moment. “After that was the cave. Ashley and I woke up in a cave, and wandered around a bit. I think this was how Takeo punished people that he didn’t execute. We ran into Darryl, and I threatened him, but then I read his mind, and he was cool, so we worked together. I combined our powers, his was seeing a few seconds into the future, and scoped out the whole cave. Basically a bunch of the ways just led back to the camp, some would kill you, and one led to the woods outside. We took the one that led to the woods.”

“Hold that thought.” Caveat held up a finger and drank the last bit of his mimosa.

Another Caveat entered the room with two more mixed drinks in hand. These were definitely not mimosas. Vanessa took one, and it had a nice pineapple taste. Once he’d handed off both of the drinks, the other Caveat left. He seemed to be significantly more sober than the Caveat in front of her.

“Pina coladas.” Caveat nodded.

“So hold on, when you’re drinking, do all of you get drunk or just you?”

“Both.” Caveat nodded. “I’ve just got the one mind, so we’re all drunk, granted not as drunk as this one body, but the other bodies can move fine. If I got roofied or something, I could just cut off the body that got poisoned, and it would end. Anyways, get back to the story.”

Vanessa pulled herself out of her general amazement at the ridiculousness of the being before her. “Fine. We got out of the cave, made camp, and talked a bit. Then one of the guards, this one had super speed, came, and got in a fight with Darryl. They both got shot, so Ashley transferred Darryl’s wounds to the other guy, and then we decided to go back to the camp to free everyone.”

“Wow that was pretty fast.” Caveat nodded. “What was everyone else up to? I think they were there at the camp with you to do the whole big fight with Takeo.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Vanessa thought for a moment. She knew what Jude, Arte, and Anastasia were doing, but not really Paul. “So Jude got kicked out by my dad, and was on house arrest from the DSR. He met Arte while she was looking for Ashley, and she moved in. Then they did a bit of superhero stuff with Zoey, who lived nextdoor to the house with her dad. I think they did a fight with the imposter guy here.”

“Who’s ‘Imposter Guy’?” Caveat asked.

“Some kid. He got shapeshifting powers, and I think Felix made him do crimes while dressed like us.” Vanessa felt a twinge of anger at the mention of Felix’s name, but stifled it. This was a good time, so there was no need to ruin it. “Anyways, Paul was doing mystical shit at the monastery, which was some place in the middle east with a bunch of international magical monks. He didn’t really tell any of us. Anastasia was doing some investigating around the monastery. Evidently Jean knew the monastery chick?”

Caveat looked off to the side then nodded. “Okay, so evidently Paul was training his vision powers and found out about… Well, the incident.”

“Ah…” Vanessa nodded. That wasn’t really something she wanted to think about, so she took a large sip of her pina colada, and forcibly redirected her energy. “Anyways, we gotta keep moving. We’ve got a lot of story left to tell.”

“Please.” Caveat nodded.

“So we all met up at the camp, and then everyone insisted we leave Takeo alive, so we did. Jude got blasted by a full blow, but eventually we kicked Takeo’s ass, and hit him with a bunch of tranquilizers. I guess he got arrested or something.” She shrugged. “Nobody ever told me.”

Caveat looked off to the side again, and nodded. “Not arrested, went off with Darryl… No I won’t tell her that yet.”

“Who are you talking to? I feel like you’re talking to someone.” Vanessa looked off to where he was looking, but nobody was there.

“Don’t worry too much about it.” Caveat smiled. “Anyways, you ready to move on or do you need another break. We hit a nice stopping point.”

“Hmmm… Let’s just move on.” She’d like to wrap this up so she could get all the way hammered, rather than partially so.


Previous Recap ———————————- Next Recap

Season 3: Afflictions

Note: Honestly I think Trials is a great read. However, I understand if you’re reluctant to reading a backlog, so this is more or less what you need to know for Afflictions.

Photo credit: Pexels free photos

Season 3: Release Date & Name

Hello, everyone!

Bet you thought I forgot about that whole March release date thing. You would (surprisingly) LOSE that bet! I finished season 3, and I am currently editing it. The official release date is… Technically in March, even if it’s not on my usual upload day…

Tuesday March 30th!

I will be uploading an additional post that week on the Friday, so as to resume my uploading schedule. I put a lot of work (a good portion of it over the last two weeks) into this, and my beta has very high praise for it. I very much hope you’ll like it. I really think I found the direction I wanted the story to go when I did Trials, so if you liked Trials I believe you will like season 3 even more. If you haven’t read it, then no worries, I will be releasing a recap of Trials this friday.

The next matter of business is the official name. After much (about 30 minutes) debate, I finally settled on “Afflictions”. Slightly ominous, I know, but I think you’ll see how it makes sense once it’s done. Afflictions will run for 56 parts with an epilogue afterwards. Each part is around 1000 words, and in total, it came up to 60k, which I’m very happy with. This season I will be using the same header as the featured image every time, rather than finding a new stock image every week. I may change it at thematic points in the story, but not terribly much.

Next, I wanted to give you some insight on the ultimate direction of the story. Following Afflictions, I intend to fill the (inevitable) hiatus with mostly stories involving the main characters. I usually time skip a little between seasons, but this time I think I need to fill you in through more than just recap of what happens. This wouldn’t work so cleanly with a book, but I use the medium of a blog, so I may as well take advantage of it.

After the hiatus, I am expecting there to be two more seasons of Earth 2. That’s right, this story may actually see its ending. After that, I have literally no idea what I’ll do. I have a few projects I’m interested in right now, one being a sequel series to Earth 2.

Lastly, I’m currently considering starting a Patreon. I would upload content relevant to my music (unreleased atm), and my writing. On the writing end, I think I would try to have the story running one week ahead, and have some developers commentary. I think as far as numbers go, the developers commentary was very successful. I may have some kind of list of Patreon supporters I update monthly or something like that. In all likelihood it would be something like 5 dollars per month. I may do some kind of video content relevant to the blog, or a patreon q&a, or some shenanigans like that. Would any of you be interested in supporting me on a patreon? I’d like to have some idea before I put in the work of setting it up. Please let me know in the comments or on the contact page. I may also run a twitter poll.

Would 5 dollars be too much to ask? I likely would have upper tiers, but not much extra for them.

With all that being said, I hope you are all safe and doing well. I love that you enjoy my work, regardless of whether you are willing/able to support me for it.

(Photo credit: Me)

Trials: Epilogue

You are joining the conclusion of an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Mr. Rodriguez finished the last touches on Takeo’s bandaging, and the boy had begun to stir. He looked up and around, and began to flail, but Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Smith, and Darryl held him down. They’d intentionally left him in contact with Zoey’s salt.

“Hold still Takeo, we’re going to help you.” Mr. Smith whispered to him.

Takeo stopped moving, and slowly sat up. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve taken care of Felix for a few hours, so that should give you enough time to at least get off site.” He turned to Darryl. “I called the governor, and explained the situation, and he’s sending in the national guard. You probably want to get going as soon as possible.”

“Very well. Thank you, Mr. Smith.” He nodded, then turned to the other man. “Mr. Rodriguez, you throw a mighty fast ball.”

Mr. Rodriguez started to respond, but was interrupted.

“Darryl, it appears I’ve failed.” Takeo sat up, and the three men immediately returned their attention to him.

“There is no honor in running this place. You have a chance to regain it, by rectifying your mistakes. I hope you won’t squander it.” He reached out his hand, and Takeo took it.

Line Break

Jean stood in a vast desert in central Algeria. His suit was torn and burnt, and a large sandstone pyramid crumbled into the sand behind him, as he limped forwards. Every part of his body ached at the least. He shook his head and chuckled.

“I’m getting too old for this.”

He looked down into his palm, and examined a ring. The band was made of gold, and three green emeralds were arranged on the front of it. He didn’t dare slip it on. He pulled out a velvet ring box from his pocket, and carefully placed the ring inside, before returning the box to his pocket.

He pulled out his phone, and punched in a number.

“Hello, yes. Gregory? I need a helicopter sent to the following coordinates…”

Line Break

Two men in suits sat at a round table with three chairs. The table had something on it, but it was covered by a cloth. One of the three chairs was empty, and two men occupied the others.

“The council will now convene.” The first man said. He had brown hair, pale skin, and was dressed in a smart grey suit.

“I see Mr. Smith has opted not to join us. Does this mean what I think it means, Mr. Weston?” The second man spoke now. He had short black hair, pale skin, and a black suit. His right hand was sleek and white, like plastic not skin. His hand rested on a folder, it read ‘Vertech: Confidential’ on the front.

“Yes, Mr. Vondrasek. Mr. Smith has broken off from us, and has concealed Takeo’s escape.”

“That shouldn’t matter too much. One loose end is hardly worth concern.”

“Still, it is troubling that he was able to get around us, and conceal something. He may end up turning to Jude, and the last thing we need is to be discovered.”

“Yes, of course. However, I believe it is unlikely that he will be able to explain away his involvement with us. This should spare us some time.”

“Yes, in other troubling news, it seems Paul has gained an unknown degree of fine control over his abilities while he was out of my sight.”

“That is certainly a threat. For the good of all of humanity, we need to remain undiscovered.”

“We must eliminate Mr. Smith…” Mr. Weston shook his head. “How is the question…”

“I believe I might have a way. It will take time, but it may be our best option.” Mr. Vondrasek stood to his feet. “I will draw up a plan at once. Is that all?”

“Yes…” Mr. Weston pulled up the cloth, and revealed a horned plate helmet, a folded piece of fabric, and a pair of binoculars. “We may have experienced a setback, but they are still unaware we are even in competition.”

Line Break

A man sat back in an office chair, behind a desk in a classroom. It was dark in the room. He opened his eyes, and got up from his chair. He looked down at his watch, and sighed with relief. Picked up his bag, when something caught his eye. He saw a pair of circular glasses sitting on the center of his desk. This was peculiar, because not a moment ago, he had cleared his desk, and there were certainly no glasses.

Something in him compelled him to slip on the glasses. He stared in amazement around his room, and grinned widely. He put the glasses into his shirt pocket, picked up his bag, and exited the room.

 


⇐ Finale 

(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

If you’re curious about what’s coming next, check out this post for more info.

Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid. 

 

Trials: Part Forty Two

You are joining the conclusion of an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Darryl kicked open the door, and the rest of the group followed shortly after. They stepped into a large charred open space. Rocks, exercise equipment, and rubble were scattered all around, and small fires burned all over the place. The air was dry, and it was sweltering hot. The group fanned out into cover, and Vanessa, Arte, and Jude stepped forwards. Anastasia jumped into cover with Darryl and the guards, and set about reinforcing it.

“Are you the challengers who dare to disrupt my realm?” Takeo stood in the middle of the yard. He was wreathed in flames, and they flared as he spoke.

“Takeo, it’s over. The prisoners are all gone, and you’re outnumbered.” Jude stepped forwards.

“Who are you? Is Darryl too much of a coward to face me himself?” Takeo shouted. The flames grew more intense.

“Takeo!” Darryl called out from behind cover. “We don’t want to hurt you!”

“You know it won’t be that easy.” He took a deep breath, and his flames died down. His arms and legs were lined with fire, as he took a fighting stance. “Now, who wants to face me first?”

Jude stood there for a moment. Did this guy expect a duel? He stepped forwards, and got into his best impression of a trained fighting stance. If this is what he had to do to keep him occupied, he’d do it.

Takeo watched Jude for a moment, then quickly closed the distance between them. He went in for a kick, but Jude narrowly dodged it.

Jude swore. This guy was fast, and knew what he was doing. He had only every really fought street thugs with varying degrees of superpowers. He hadn’t actually had much experience against competent fighters. Jude sent a beam of light towards Takeo, who rolled out of the way, before landing a kick to Jude’s back.

Jude flew forwards, and could feel the heat on his back. That was definitely going to leave a mark. He scrambled to his feet, just in time to avoid taking a fist to the face. He needed a better plan, as ground combat was not working.

Jude took to the sky, and began to shoot beams down towards Takeo. He took enough care to make where he was shooting obvious so he didn’t immolate the kid.

Takeo ducked and weaved around blast after blast. While Takeo was preoccupied, Jude noticed one of the guards lining up a shot. The dart went towards Takeo, but he moved at the last second, causing the dart to whizz past him.

“So that’s your game? What happened to honor?” Takeo shouted, still dodging blasts from Jude. He kicked off the ground and a jet of fire erupted from his feet, sending him flying towards Jude.

Jude was about 30 feet in the air, and wasn’t particularly worried until takeo reached about 15 with no hint of slowing down. He also noticed an increasing ball of fire around one of Takeo’s fist. He got ready to roll out of the way of Takeo’s punch, but he got a burst of speed at the last second.

Jude watched in awe as the teenager’s fist, engulfed in flame, approached his stomach. He figured this was about to be the end. All because he didn’t take this more seriously and try to execute a smarter strategy. He didn’t have too many regrets, when it came down to it. He definitely didn’t want to die, but he knew all his friends would be fine without him. He did wish he would’ve talked to his mother again, but it was too late for that. Jude marveled as the blow landed, and knocked all of the wind out of his lungs.

 


 

Arte watched in horror, as Jude was blasted off into the distance. She started to call out to him, but Takeo landed right in front of her. She swore, and threw up a square plane, about the size of a door, between them. Takeo tried to duck around it, but she kept it between them.

He glanced off to the side, and jumped back, narrowly avoiding a red disc that soared through the space his head had occupied a moment ago. Takeo turned his attention towards Vanessa, and leapt towards her. Vanessa threw a large disc between them, but it looked like Takeo was going to try to blast through it.

At the last second, Arte shot a laser, and clipped Takeo’s ankle. He swore, as his balance was thrown off, and he slammed into the disc. He slid off and landed in a heap on the ground. He began to get to his feet, when he was hit with a dart.

His flames flared up for a moment, and immolated the dart. He tried to get to his feet, but when he put weight on the ankle Arte had clipped, he crumpled back to the ground.

Arte cautiously advanced, when she saw Vanessa level a disc to his throat.

“A samurai fights to the death.” Takeo groaned, as he sat up. He leaned his throat against Vanessa’s disc. “Grant me an honorable end.”

“Keep it there, Vanessa, but don’t kill him. The tranquilizer will take effect any minute now.” Darryl came out from cover.

“Why shouldn’t we, Darryl?” Vanessa kept her eyes trained on Takeo. “After all, he’s dangerous, and he’s killed people.”

“Vanessa, this was the plan we agreed to! He deserves a second chance. He can be better.”

Arte felt a little conflicted. This was the asshole who had kidnapped and tortured Ashley, along with who knows how many other people, and it would’ve been one thing if he died while fighting… But this? “I feel like executing him is definitely not the right move.”

“What’s the difference? A death is a death.” Vanessa replied. “How can you say for sure he will be better, and that he won’t hurt anyone else?”

“Vanessa, I will take personal responsibility for him.” Darryl came forwards, and placed his hand on Vanessa’s shoulder. She turned to him, as he spoke. “You said you trusted me, does that still hold true?”

Vanessa sighed. “Fine, but you’d better not screw up.”

“You disgust me.” Takeo spat, slurring his words, before bursting into flames bigger than they had seen before.

Vanessa and Darryl jumped back, as Takeo began to stumble forwards. He started to say something else, but Arte spotted something out of the corner of her eye. Mr. Rodriguez stepped up to the edge of the prison roof, behind Takeo, wound up, and threw something at him. It nailed him in the back, and his flames immediately went out. He stumbled forwards again, but fell to the ground. A rain of white powder then fell onto him. He moved a little, but eventually stopped.

Arte looked up, and saw Paul, Zoey, Mr. Smith and Mr. Rodriguez all standing on the roof. She chuckled. She knew he had something up his sleeve, but didn’t imagine he would’ve put himself about as close to dance as the people he bossed around.

Arte’s heart sank, as she remembered what happened to Jude. She threw up a ramp onto the roof, and ran up. She scanned the roof, and her heart nearly stopped, as she saw Jude walking towards them. She ran over to him, and as she got closer, she saw he was unburnt. Not even his uniform was burnt.

“Holy shit!” She said, meeting him with a hug. “How are you not dead?”

“Yeah, no clue.” He reciprocated the hug, then broke away. “It’s like when I got punched into the cabinet by Deven. I was lightly bruised, but no real damage.” He shook his head. “I guess I didn’t really get hit all that much until now…”

“We can worry about that later. Let’s get back down to the group.” She ran down the ramp she’d made with Zoey, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Rodriguez behind her, and Jude hovered down beside her with Paul in his arms.

Once everyone got over the shock of Jude being alive, he turned his attention to Takeo.

“Is he alive?” He stared at the pile of salt, but kept his distance.

“Yeah.” Vanessa nodded. “We took him down and hit him with a dart, but then we declared victory a little too early.” She turned to Paul. “Thanks for the save.”

“Well, Zoey and Mr. Rodriguez were the ones who really did the work, so you should probably thank them.”

Vanessa turned to Zoey and smiled. “Thanks for the save, kid.” She thought for a second, and turned back to Paul. “Why did you bring a kid with you?”

Jude stepped in. “That’s a long story, I’m sure we can hear all about it, once we wrap this up.”

Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Smith came up behind Jude. “Let me and Mr. Smith handle things here. The boy will need some bandaging. I don’t want you kids to have to deal with that.”

“Alright, that works.” Jude nodded, and turned to the rest of the group. “Everyone else, let’s get back to the helicopter. Let’s go home.”

 


 

Darryl stood by the helicopter, in a circle with the guards he had come in with. They had all made it out fine.

“Alright. I intend to help to gather up all of the prisoners. Some of them are dangerous, and I’ve just set them loose on the world. I intend to stop them from doing harm, and help rehabilitate them. Any of you who are done with this, and wish to go home, I understand. Get on the helicopter, and go home. Any who wish to stay with me, I’d love to have you.”

“I may just be speaking for myself, here.” Marques stepped up to Darryl. “But there’s no way in hell I’d hang you out to dry like that. I think everyone here agrees.”

All of the guards cheered, and nodded in agreement.

“Alright, then. I’m glad to have you.” He smiled. He turned around to see Jude and Ashley standing behind him. “I appreciate all of your help. We have it from here.”

“No problem. Thanks for helping out Vanessa and Ashley.” Jude smiled.

“Please, I deserve no thanks.” Darryl nodded and turned to Vanessa and Ashley. “Thank you for all of your help. Watch each others backs.”

Ashley nodded, then ran in for a hug. “I’ll miss you Darryl. Thank you.”

Darryl hugged her for a moment, then clapped her back. “Goodbye, Ashley. Go home.”

Vanessa shook his hand, and smiled. “Thanks Darryl.”

“No, thank you. Now, go home.” He smiled and watched as the pair loaded onto the helicopter. He turned and saw Jude was still next to him.

Jude handed him a business card. “This is Mr. Smith’s, but I’m sure he’ll be able to get us in touch.”

“Very good, I will establish a line of contact. I hope to work with you again some day.” Darryl nodded. “I will tell the men still in the yard to move along before they’re left.”

“I hope to work with you again too.” He nodded, and went off to the helicopter.

 


⇐ Previous Part —————————– Epilogue ⇒

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Happy New Years! This is the last part of Trials! It’s been a wonderful journey. Thanks for reading!

If you’re curious about what’s coming next, check out this post for more info.

Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid. 

 

Trials: Part Forty One

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

As Mr. Smith had promised, the jet was waiting for them, and they took off to California. They all had enough time for a little bit of sleep on the flight, and then they moved to the helicopter. They flew for a while, over a vast sea of green, and eventually landed on top of something grey, which Paul assumed was the prison. Everything had gone according to plan thus far.

“This is it, Jude.” Mr. Smith nodded. “There’s something strange going on, though. The prison looks wrecked, there are no guards up here, and I saw people pouring out. Be careful in there.

“Noted. Alright, everyone.” Jude addressed the team. “Let’s move out.”

There was a series of seatbelts unbuckling and footsteps on metal, and eventually everyone that was getting off was out of the helicopter. Paul felt someone tap his shoulder and lean into him.

“I’m warning you. One hair out of place.” Arte growled.

“As you wish.” Paul nodded. Arte was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

After a few moments, the footsteps grew distant. He listened closely, and, over the sounds of the forest, he could hear some shouting off in the distance. It seemed like Vanessa’s plan was going off well.

“Why’d you even bring us if you were just going to make us sit around and do nothing?” Zoey sighed. Paul had figured she would respond like that, but he couldn’t risk tipping off the team.

“Well, we haven’t done nothing. You ever ridden in a helicopter before?” Paul waited a moment for a response, before continuing. “Regardless, I was actually lying about waiting in the helicopter. I brought along a special arrangement of people, and without you this goes catastrophically, and the world will eventually end.” Paul enjoyed the stunned silence for a while. “Now, I trust I have your attention? Mr. Smith, I will describe somewhere I want you to take us, and we’ll need to move on the double. I’ll explain my plan on the way.”

 


Vanessa was about to round a corner, but heard footsteps. She held out her arm to stop everyone behind her and swore. She had been hoping they wouldn’t run into any prisoners, but she supposed it was inevitable.

“Don’t fire, but ready your weapons.” Vanessa whispered. She made a disc large enough to cover the hallway, and quickly swung it out to block anyone from coming near. She then jumped out and saw who was approaching. Her heart fluttered as she saw the white robe she knew all too well.

“Jude!” She exclaimed, before turning back to the group. “I know these guys, don’t shoot.”

They nodded, and she dropped the barrier.

“Vanessa?” Jude stopped short and gawked at them.

She took off her helmet, and ran towards Jude, giving him a hug. Her team slowly advanced behind her. She then turned to the people he was with. There was Anastasia and Deven, but he also brought a girl she didn’t recognize. She was about to introduce herself, when she noticed Ashley stepping forwards.

“Arte…?” She muttered, before taking off her helmet. She looked in shock, as the girl who Jude was with stepped forwards too.

“Ash!” Arte ran forwards and wrapped her arms around her. They were both sobbing hysterically. “I’m so sorry it took me so long!”

“I thought I’d never see you again!” Ashley bawled.

Arte held her a little bit away from her and locked eyes. “I’ll never let you leave me again.” They shared a kiss, and Vanessa turned back to Jude.

“How did you find us?” She asked.

“Well…” He rubbed his neck, “It’s kind of a long story. We’ve got you though, so let’s get out of here. It looks like the prisoners are all gone.”

Darryl came up to them. “You can go. I intend to face Takeo, the boy in charge of this place, and bring him out alive.”

“Is that fire powers guy?” Jude asked.

“Oh, you know of him? Yes.” Darryl nodded. “He’s waiting for us in the yard. He’s just a boy, and I believe he is redeemable. I recommend you leave.” He looked to all of them. “That includes you, Ashley and Vanessa.”

“No way, Darryl. These guys will be a great help.” She nodded to Jude. “Unless you don’t want to, which is okay.”

“Wherever you’re fighting, we’ll back you up.” Jude nodded. “What’s your plan?”

“We all have tranquilizing rounds.” He gestured towards the guards. “Some of us will occupy his attention, and the rest will try to hit him with a tranq. We could overdose him if we hit him twice, though, so we have to be sure.”

“Sounds solid.” Jude nodded. “Arte, Vanessa, and I can keep him busy, while you guys try to ping him. Is there cover in the yard?”

“Not much, but judging by the explosions I’ve been hearing, there may be some more cover now.” Darryl replied.

“Alright, in case there isn’t any, Anastasia, I want you to keep making cover for them. If there is, focus on keeping it that way.” Jude looked to Anastasia, who nodded. “Deven, I want you to hide, but be ready to jump in if I tell you to, okay?”

“Alright.” He nodded.

“Alright, where’s the yard?” Jude asked Darryl.

“It’s a little ways away. Follow me.” Darryl took off, and everyone followed.

Vanessa made her way over to Anastasia, as they ran. “So, you’re back, is Paul with you?”

“He’s back in the helicopter. Are you alright? You’re not hurt or anything?”

“I more or less kept my head down while I was here. At least until the end, I had some close calls, but I made it out okay.” She thought for a moment. “Thanks for asking.”

“I’ll have to tell you about all of the wild stuff I found while I was away.”

“Definitely.” Vanessa was running a little too fast to keep up conversation now. “Good talk.” She made her way back to the front of the pack.

They stopped outside of two larger steel doors with small gridded windows.

“This is it.” Darryl nodded. “Everyone ready?”

He was met with nods all around, and moved towards the doors.

 


⇐ Previous Part —————————– Next Part ⇒

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Happy Christmas! This is the next to last part of Trials!!!! Thanks so much for sticking with me!!!! 

Punctuation overdose aside, if you’re curious about what’s coming next, check out this post for more info.

Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid. 

 

Trials: Part Forty

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Darryl burst into the room with his gun drawn. Vanessa and Ashley followed him in, after they heard no gunfire. What they saw was, as Vanessa had promised, one guard. He held his gun up at Darryl, but his hand was shaking. Behind him was a desk covered with various buttons, switches, and sliders. On the wall was an array of security feeds. Most of them were just of empty corridors, but a few showed activity.

“Darryl, give it up. Please.”

“You know I can’t do that, Tom.” Darryl shook his head. “I also know that you know what’s going on here is wrong.”

Tears ran down the man’s face. “Right and wrong don’t matter to me! The guy Takeo works for, he’ll have my family killed!”

Darryl sighed. “What about all the people here? Countless lives are at stake.”

“I’m sorry, Darryl. You couldn’t understand what it’s like from my perspective.” He sobbed, “My wife and kids, I’m the only thing keeping them from being killed.”

“Marques is gathering up other guards to the cause. You wouldn’t be alone.”

“That’s not gonna help my family.”

“Do you think he’ll just let them live if the prison collapses, and you get yourself killed, rather than helping us? We can figure something out, Tom.”

“He’d know…” He sighed and shook his head, before suddenly shouting, “Remember your word!”

Darryl fired twice as Tom dove for something on the panel. He shook his head. He could shed a tear for him later, but now he needed to make sure he hadn’t alerted anyone to their presence. He made his way to the array of screens and looked over them. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. The guards were returning the prisoners to their cells, since the assembly was over.

Darryl motioned for Ashley to shut the door, as he tucked Tom’s body out of sight. He couldn’t afford to have charged in with a tranquilizer gun out, since that would’ve left plenty of time for him to be shot by whoever was on duty.

“Tom, shut the doors on block A” The intercom buzzed from the panel.

Darryl made his way over to the panel. He had never been shown how this worked, as that was left for only a few to know. Darryl assumed that anyone who was trusted had a similar situation to Tom. He scanned the panel, and found a section labeled ‘DOORS O/C’. It had a switch labeled for each of the blocks, so he flipped the one labeled ‘A’ and hoped.

A few similar orders came over the intercom, and Darryl filled them all in the same manner. Eventually every prisoner was back in their cell. Now they just had to wait for Marques. He began to look over the camera feeds. He had figured out which was which, based on when they closed.

“Did you know that guy?” Vanessa asked.

Darryl looked over from the feed. “A little, yeah. Tom.” He nodded solemnly. “He was a good guy. He spent most of his time in here, though, so I hardly saw him. I was really hoping I could reason with him”

“I’m sorry.” Vanessa gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“It is done. I will mourn him later.” Darry turned back to the feed.

He saw a larger than normal group of guards coming towards the control room. He was either about to die, or Marques had gotten everyone he could.

“Someone is coming, draw your arms.” He pointed his pistol at the door.

A piece of paper slid under the door. Darryl approached, and quickly picked it up before backing away. It simply read ‘Marques’. That was about as good as he was expecting to get, so he cracked open the door.

On the other side stood Marques and an assortment of other guards. They all piled into the room, and when it was all said and done, they had about twenty people. The room had just about enough space, but felt a little cramped. It was better than being outside for what was about to happen.

“Alright, Marques, I’m going to do it.” Darryl moved towards the switches. “After I’ve released them all, I’ll make an announcement for them to liberate themselves, and we’ll hope for the best. Hopefully they’ll clear out enough that we can get to Takeo.”

“Alright, folks.” Marques addressed the room. “You heard the man, today is when this all ends. We’re gonna take down Takeo, and make this right!”

The room was filled with cheers, and Darryl flipped the switches. A couple of moments passed, and prisoners began to meander out of their cells.

Darryl leaned into the microphone, and gestured for the room to be quiet. “Attention, this is Darryl. You are all free now. I and some of the other guards have decided this has gone on long enough. Free yourself! There is an exit in the back of the cafeteria. Break holes in the walls if you can. I will handle Takeo, and assuming I succeed I will help find you and get you to safety.”

After a moment, all hell broke loose. What few guards that didn’t disperse, that weren’t caught in the frenzy immediately, all ran into various side rooms and closets to hide. The prisoners seemed to be escaping just fine. Darryl knew they had some heavy hitters in here, so it wasn’t a problem for them to break through the walls. Some of the cell blocks destroyed the security cameras, so they no longer had a complete visual, but it seemed to be going quickly. It would be an effort to get them all to safety after this, but it was necessary to do it like this.

The guards in the room were all quiet, because they knew this was when the real battle began.

“Darryl!” Takeo shouted from several walkie-talkies in the room. “I accept your challenge! Meet your demise in the yard! I will never stop hunting you if you don’t!”

He nodded, then addressed the room. “If any of you is unwilling to fight Takeo, please run like the prisoners. If you want decreased danger of violence, it might be best if you went without anything identifying you as a guard. As to those who want to stop Takeo, I’d like to take him alive. He’s a teenager, and I’ve seen enough killing to last me a lifetime. If it comes to it, I will, but Takeo is redeemable. If that doesn’t work for you, please leave.”

About half of the guards made their way out of the room, all of them wishing Darryl luck. By the time everyone that wanted to had left, Darryl had eight people, including the two girls. He turned to Vanessa and Ashley.

“You are included in that. If you want to leave, please do. You are young, and have a lot of life ahead of you.”

“I’m not going to abandon you.” Vanessa stood tall.

Darryl laughed and nodded. “And you Ashley? You don’t have a combat power, and you’re not trained. Nobody will blame you for leaving.”

“I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?” She nodded. “I’ll see this through.”

“Alright then.” He turned back to the room. “I’m proud to finally stand up for what’s right. Let’s move.”

 


⇐ Previous Part —————————– Next Part ⇒

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Hello everyone! Yet again, an announcement about season 3 and a potential hiatus, is to come. Possible delay on the announcement, as I have been exposed to COVID, and am experiencing other unrelated health issues that make typing difficult.

Announcement lite: Probably a month long hiatus. I hope to finish season 3 by February. Stuff will be uploaded in the hiatus though, got a couple of things queued. 

Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid. 

 

Trials: Part Thirty Nine

You are joining an ongoing story.

Click here for part one.

Jude floated above the roof of their house. A few hours ago, DSR agents began to form a perimeter around their house, about a hundred yards away. The neighbors for the most part had evacuated, having seen armed men forming up around a house. The agents hadn’t made any move yet, so right now Jude was just keeping watch.

He couldn’t believe that Mr. Rodriguez wasn’t angry with him. He definitely wasn’t happy with the situation, but Jude would’ve been furious with the idiot who led his daughter into such a dangerous position.

Jude noticed a black SUV approaching the perimeter. He wondered if this was Paul or more reinforcements. He looked down at his phone, and saw it was about 7 PM. Paul should definitely be getting here soon. Mr. Smith had confirmed picking him up a little bit ago, so they should arrive soon.

The car stopped at the edge of the perimeter, and one of the agents stood by the window for a few minutes, before waving them forwards. The car eventually stopped in their driveway, and Jude flew down to meet it. The windows were tinted, so he couldn’t quite see who was inside.

The door flew open, and Jude stepped back. Anastasia ran forwards, and wrapped her arms around him.

“Jude! I’m so glad you’re okay! I got worried when I saw the police or something. What’s going on?” She asked.

“I’ll explain everything inside.” Jude nodded.

A few seconds later, Paul stepped out of the car with the help of Mr. Smith. Jude nodded to Mr. Smith, as he stepped around to the trunk, and stepped forwards to give Paul a hug.

“Glad to see you buddy.” Jude clapped Paul’s back. “I take it they didn’t cure your vision?”

Paul shook his head. “No. No time to worry about that, though. We need to get on this.”

Mr. Smith returned from the trunk with a few suitcases, and handed some off to Jude. “Sorry, I didn’t bring any of my staff, because I’m not quite sure who I could trust anymore. Aside from Jean who is indisposed, and Gregory, who is at the house on standby.”

“No worries, probably best to keep this too as few people as possible.” Jude nodded, and took the bags. “Let’s go inside. I’m worried about the agents moving in while I’m not looking, so let’s make introductions quick.”

“No need.” Mr. Smith shook his head. “I told Daniels to give me a couple of hours to work things out. I finance them, so I imagine I have at least one hour.”

Jude nodded again, and led the group inside. Arte, Deven, Zoey, and Mr. Rodriguez were all sitting in the living room chatting, but got up when Jude entered.

“Alright, everyone, this is Paul, Anastasia, and Mr. Smith.” Jude gestured at each person in turn. “And this is Arte, Zoey, and Mr. Rodriguez.”

“I see you’ve made new friends.” Anastasia remarked, after going around and shaking everyone’s hand.

“Yeah, it’s a long story. Not really relevant how I know everyone, I don’t think.” Jude waited a moment for everyone to quiet down, then addressed the group. “Alright, here’s what we know. Vanessa was supposed to go to a hotel in San Francisco, but she never actually arrived, and the driver has been delivering false status updates to Mr. Smith.” He turned to Paul. “We need you to figure out where she is, can you do that?”

“I don’t know where she is. I’m not going to find that out using my power.” Paul shook his head. A wave of despair washed over the room, but Paul continued. “However, I do have some other information. They are being held in a prison in a forest. In the prison, the prisoners all have powers, and some of the guards do. The leader is a teenager who can produce fire.”

Jude was slack jawed for a moment at the sheer volume of information Paul had just dumped on them, before coming back to his senses. “What do you mean ‘they’? Just the other prisoners?”

“No, I mean Arte’s girlfriend and Vanessa.” Paul replied flatly.

“Girlfriend?” Jude replied, but was met with no answer.

Arte jumped up, and stepped forwards. “Wait, Ashley’s in a prison? Is she okay?”

Jude put the pieces together. Ashley was Arte’s girlfriend. “They’re both there?”

“One question at a time. Bodily yes, she is fine. She’ll definitely need intense therapy once she gets back. And yes, they’re both there. The odds of that being a coincidence are low. There is one-”

Arte stepped closer to Paul. Jude was unsure about the look in her eye. “How long have you known about this?”

“I’m not sure of the flow of time where I was, but I assume you’re worried about if it was before the phone call. Yes, it was before I first spoke to you.”

“Did you know Daniels was going to find out about Zoey?” She was right in front of him now.

“Yeah, but-”

Arte clocked Paul in the face, before being pulled back by Jude. Paul slowly rubbed his face where she had hit him. The whole room stood in stunned silence.

“Well, alright then.” He nodded. He looked blankly forwards for a while, before continuing. “Anyways-”

Jude put himself between Arte, who was still fuming. He couldn’t believe Paul right now. “Wait a second. Don’t just ‘anyways’ us, why didn’t you mention that?”

“Well, because it doesn’t really matter. She was the best suited to handle the problem. Frankly it’s on you for not coming up with a better plan if that was your goal.”

“Who the hell is Daniels?” Anastasia stepped into the mix, as Mr. Rodriguez and Zoey stayed back.

Jude groaned. This was devolving into a mess. They weren’t going to get anything done at this rate. “Alright, that’s enough. We’re all tired and tense.” He turned back to Anastasia. “After you had left, and Vanessa went on her trip, Mr. Smith basically fired me, and Daniels more or less put me on comfy house arrest.”

“Listen, I’m sorry, Jude. It’s-” Mr. Smith started, but Jude cut him off.

“I’m not mad, I’m just laying out what happened.” He turned back to Anastasia. “Daniels and I are basically at a standoff right now, and he’s threatened Zoey. So we have like four different situations all going on at once, and we can’t afford to be fighting right now.”

“Now, if I may continue…” Paul waited a moment for objections and carried on. “I do not know where Vanessa and Ashley are, but Mr. Smith does.”

Mr. Smith went wide eyed and began to step back from the group.

“He was hoping that I could figure out her location on my own, to absolve him of association with this.” Paul paused for a moment.

“Is this true?” Arte turned to him with a somehow more enraged look.

Mr. Smith started to answer, but Paul cut him off. “However, I brought Mr. Smith along for a reason. He will be more than happy to personally take us to the site where they are being held. As a matter of fact, Gregory is actually on standby in the private jet, waiting for us to arrive. Isn’t that true, Mr. Smith?”

“Yes. It’s at a site in Northern California. We can fly near it, but we’ll need a helicopter to get us the rest of the way.” He hung his head.

“Now, all that is left is to get there, but I believe Jude already knows what he needs to do for that to happen.” Paul smirked, and gestured towards Jude.

“Fine. Everyone with powers, except for Zoey, get ready to go.”

“Actually, she and her father will both need to go with us. They can wait in the helicopter if you like, though.”

Arte turned to Paul again, and Anastasia stepped between them.

“First, when this is over, you and I are going to have a long talk. Second, if I find out you’re putting Zoey in danger again, I will not hesitate to end you.” She glared around Anastasia.

“These conditions are fine. I would not have insisted they go if it weren’t absolutely necessary.” Paul nodded, “Now go Jude, we’re on a tight clock!”

Jude nodded and went over to Arte and Deven. He easily ripped off both of their ankle monitors, and took off out the door. He soared over to the biggest collection of vans, and threw down the two ankle monitors, before ripping off his own. This had gone on long enough. If Daniels wanted to stop him, he’d have to force him to.

Daniels jumped out of one of the vans and stormed over to him. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Our arrangement is over.” Jude spoke calmly, but stern. “Some of my friends are in danger, and we are going to go get them. If you let us go, and don’t tamper with any of our, I will be more than happy to come to a more agreeable arrangement with you. Are these terms acceptable?”

Daniels took a step back and looked down for a few seconds, before looking back to Jude with a look of resignation. “Yes. My men will leave the scene now. The house and all of your things will be waiting for you when you get back. Please call me, and we’ll set up another meeting.” He paused for a moment. “Good luck.”

Jude nodded, and took off back towards the house. Everyone was already piled into Mr. Smith’s SUV, with Deven in the front seat. He climbed into the last open seat, and found himself next to Arte.

“Alright, let’s go.”

His head was throbbing. He would definitely need a nap after dealing with all of that.

 


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(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

Hello everyone! Again, an announcement about season 3 and a potential hiatus (don’t know if I need one yet, wouldn’t be more than a month), is to come. I’m well on track to finish season 3 in time, unlike I was with season 2 if any of you were around for that. I assure you I have learned my lesson from last time.

Remember, love one another, Black Lives Matter, and trans people are valid.