Society of Justice 3: Crisis on the Earth

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In the Mindscape...

Jason found himself busily at work in his mind, he and Erebus repairing the damaged confides of his more dangerous side's prison, spiritually welding and hammering away at the large, heavy door that kept it at bay. Halfway through completion, the door exploded open, knocking the duo off their feet. Stunned, Erebus struggled to get up as Jason slowly rose, his eyes glued in the direction of the now opened door. His expression went blank as he slowly approached the darkness that seeped from beyond the prison. As he neared, the darkness grew, tendrils and tentacles lashing from beyond the confinement, large claws forming and reaching towards Jason, icy cold and dripping drops of black. Erebus slowly began to rise, the sound of panic in his voice.

"What are you doing?!?"

"Can't you hear it? It...needs me...I need it...It says that it can help...it can help it all end..." Jason replied softly, a hand of his reaching out to one of the claws. Erebus begged to differ however, quickly scrambling to his feet, rushing and tackling Jason before he and the abrupt force of evil could ever connect.

"No! You're dreaming! Wake up!! You hear me?! You have to wake up!!" He exclaimed, shaking Jason's mental manifestation as a large claw of darkness began to loom over them.



Jason jumped into consciousness, breathing heavily as he wiped drops of sweat from his brow. He got out of bed, distraught at what previously unfolded.

"It can reach me in my dreams now...I was so defenseless...what am I gonna do?" He said exasperatedly, turning on his TV as he sat at the foot of his bed.

"We need to stay vigilant. As the monster nears, we must persevere. Mediation has been helping us for this long, it only makes sense that we keep at it." Erebus replied as Jason found himself slowly losing control of an imminent danger.

Richard had walked down by that point. He still had a few small bites and scratches and he knew at least a few of them would leave some fairly nasty scars. Not even the nanites could keep him from scare tissue. For some reason he knew by the end of this he would probably have more scar tissue than actual skin. He had heard Garrus talking about adamantium and decided he could have a little fun with that after being nearly eaten yesterday.

"You would be surprised what gets classified even above you Garrus. Sometimes the only people who know what does and doesn't exist are the highest levels of government, the guy who created it and his team, their boss, and the guy who owns the company." Richard said as straight faced as possible as he sat down nearby.

"It doesn't exist! It can't! Why would it be in comics if it was such a secret? Why would the government let them tell the world that? I think you're just trying to mess with me," Garrus replied stubbornly, slightly uncertain as to whether he was actually right or not. It was then that he noticed someone that he hadn't seen for a number of weeks sitting across from him eating a bowl of cereal.

"Holy shit Ethan...I forgot you existed," he said. Ethan finished letting the milk drain from his spoon before replying to Garrus, making a number of beeps before taking a bite. There was a moment of awkward silence before Ethan scrolled what he had said across his visor.

"Oh, well there was a zombie attack where we all almost died. Except for Mr. Sleeping Beauty over there. We managed to beat them though; saving Halloween in the process. However the Promenade needs to have another month or two of construction work to fix the damage," Garrus responded, waiting for Ethan's next message to scroll across before continuing, "Yes, everyone. Including her. I think she's fine. Nice to know your priorities."

" Well I think I might have thought of a way to get to Promenade to fix itself. I can access a power source for it, but there are some other components I don't have and some research I need to do, but I've got a hunch some of the answers will be among your library Leland. What do you think? Should I ask Richard for a research grant?" Tommy had finished his breakfast by this time and was simply leaning on the table. " That way you'd never have to hear construction again because this place would quickly and quietly fix itself."

Levi exited his bedroom and closed the door behind him. The metal lock turned itself seemingly of its own accord as he walked away. Entering the Lounge, he saw that a handful of the team were already there. Some eating breakfast, and others simply talking. He approached the group in time to catch Garrus mention the imminent repairs to the Promenade.

"...the Promenade needs to have another month or two of construction work to fix the damage"

"I thought we'd never have to deal with that construction crew again," Levi quipped as he passed by Garrus. He pulled open the fridge in search for something to eat for breakfast. Thankfully the zombies were kind enough not to raid their food when they attacked.

"It's not my fault we have to have more construction. What I did was necessary...or at least it seemed to be at the time," Garrus replied to Levi after folding up the newspaper and placing it on the table. Seemingly his chance to read it had come and gone, and there was no point trying to hide behind it anymore.

----

"That's a good idea Tommy...definitely get the grant too if possible. I know of a few books that mentioned it, I'll point them out to you whenever you want to start. Can't be today though, I have a meeting soon enough. Should be short though, so maybe tonight if you're up to it?" Leland asked, both interested in the idea of no more construction and looking through the books for the information.

"Sounds good, I'll put in our application." Tommy leaned out until he had a clear line of sight to Richard, his chair creaked as he did so. "Rich! Hey Richard!" He shouted, trying to get Richard's attention.

"I'm gonna pull 4 million out of the Society account to buy some magic shit, is that cool?" He asked casually

"Who's gonna believe a comic writer? If they haven't seen it put to use they won't be as ready to believe it exists." Richard continue to joke before looking at Tommy.

"I don't know, are the magic items baby proof? Or at least going to be put out of arm's reach. Would rather not have the baby find a wabbajack that works on people too or something." He said sarcastically.

Jason's usual morning ritual was a short, quiet one. After dressing himself, he exited his room, making his way towards the commons. No pep in his step, not whistling a jaunty tune. Instead, he kept his eyes affixed on his sneakers as his mind raced with thoughts of defenselessness and paranoia.

"I...I need some help."

"You have me bro, you know that."

"Yeah...I know. But it's not enough. You saw what happened, hell, you prevented it from happening! But I don't know if you'll be there every time to prevent something like that."

"Well, I am integrated into your DNA, so it's not like i'll be going anywhere anytime soon..."

"Obviously, Ero. But that's besides the point. I need to find assistance from an outside source. I'm tired of facing this problem alone." Jason decided bluntly. Looking up, he realized that he arrived in the kitchen, taking notice of the classic scene that usually takes place in the area. He began to scan the room, noticing that the person he wanted to talk to was right in the room.

"Levi? Can I talk to you for a minute...I-in private?" He quietly asked the master magnetic.

It was a cruel irony. The Society had almost every decent breakfast food imaginable, but Levi still couldn't figure out what to eat. Hrm. He wasn't in the mood to cook anything, so that ruled out eggs and bacon. He also didn't feel like cereal or cold foods either. Maybe when the morning sluggishness passed he could decide...

"Levi? Can I talk to you for a minute...I-in private?"

Levi closed the fridge and turned to face Jason. His tone of voice implied that he was concerned about something. What it had to do with him, he could only guess. "Yeah, of course," he replied. Dropping his tone to a more sober one, he continued. "Is there something wrong?"

Jason nodded solemnly, eyes shifting anxiously as he led Levi out of the kitchen. After moving to a less populated area, Jason cleared his throat quietly before talking.

"Victor...I'm sure you had him within you, possibly longer than the time you've spent with the Society. I just wonder, how did you keep him at bay for so long? Did you undergo some sort of mental readjustment? See a therapist? Did everything just fall in place subconsciously? I mean, yeah, there was that one time at that museum, and the time when we actually went into your mind to fight him, but...I just want to know how or what you did to keep him from doing any real damage while he was a part of you. I've been meditating, but it's not enough..." Jason asked in length. While his statement started off calmly, the talk grew into frantic rambles varying in different speeds, the last sentence blurted out almost mistakenly.

"Hey, look, I apologised countless times for sleeping through the entire dang mission," Rowan answered Garrus at the mention of him being called Sleeping Beauty. "I get that I screwed up. That's twice now, but I have every intention of redeeming myself somehow for those mistakes. It won't happen again." He went back to his cereal, ears reddening out of embarrassment. Maybe he would go down in Society history as the guy who slept through a zombie invasion... that would not be amusing.


"Right, that's about as done as I can be bothered to do right now. Finish it later," Katie declared at the sight of the half-complete hedge statue. The life-size green Taryn was missing her head and shoulders, plus a lot of the details in her clothing. True to her word, she would go back to the topiary later; her stomach had begun to poke at her despite having eaten a fair bit three hours earlier.

Maybe a small snack would do, though Katie's breakfast had been grown from the wall of her room. She wanted something that she didn't have to produce herself; the kitchen had such things. With that in mind, Katie wandered out of the gardens and through the hall to the kitchen. A fair few of the others were sitting around the table: Rowan, Garrus and Tommy were among them. Leland, however, was on the couch over in the lounge, and Katie hadn't seen him that morning. A snack could wait. She took a seat beside her boyfriend on the couch with a smile, giving him a kiss on the cheek and sliding an arm around his waist as she did so.

"Hey, how's it going? Any word on the repairs? 'Cause I don't wanna have to put up with construction workers everywhere for another month or two," she said with a slight grimace.

There was a pillow tossed haphazardly on the carpeted floor. The pillow was slowly being squished by a sock-covered foot. Taryn's foot. Still in her pajamas the young technopath was seated on her bed with one leg stretched to continue its prodding of cotton. From the phone pressed against Taryn's ear a fast-talking accented voice was telling her to come home. Mothers tended to do that after seeing their child's home invaded by the undead on the six 'o clock news.

"But I'm fine, really." It was the assurance Taryn had been giving since the phone call began. Some forty five minutes ago. Some of her exasperation much have showed because her mother finally switched topics. But only slightly. Taryn stopped moving her feet when she replied. "Tell Tío James he can stop building his monster truck. There are No. More. Zombies. And I'm pretty sure those blades he stuck on the front aren't legal. Yes, I got the picture. He sent it twice, actually." While she had been impressed with her uncle's craftsmanship Taryn wondered just how long he'd had the vehicle modified. Ah no...now they were back to how dangerous the Promenade was to live in.

"I know what the news is saying." The swarm of reporters after the fight had almost been as bad as the zombies. Mostly because the team wasn't allowed to silence the living humans no matter how vocal they were or how personal the questions they asked. Taryn had been asked about her change in costume while under the effects of some powerful headache and pain-killer the Doctor had given her. The nosy reporter's question wasn't about the obvious lack of protection and injuries but rather the obvious showing of skin caused by the fight. Taryn still didn't recall what she'd said to the European reporter exactly.

"Wait, they said I said what?" But it certainly hadn't been that! "No, no, they lied, Mama. It wasn't that...bad." There was a slight pause and some static as someone pulled Taryn's mother's attention away from the conversation at hand. For which Taryn was grateful. Until the question was repeated for her. "You can tell Tía Carmen, for the third time, that I'm not getting her any 'zombie apocalypse' souvenirs. She can sell that ancient sofa of hers if she wants something for eBay."

Taryn's mother relayed the answer and an indignant snort was just barely audible in return. "So", there was a noticeable change in tone. Taryn tensed instinctively, uncertain what the next question would be.

"How is Levi?"

'Aiyee...' Taryn sighed quietly as she hung up her phone ten minutes later. She'd relayed the nice dinner she and Levi had a few nights ago. Though she'd left out the half-bottle of Chambord liqueur they'd enjoyed. Taryn grinned slowly. It had been a nice night...

"Ack!" Reminiscing was put on hold when Taryn caught sight of the clock. 9:30 The numbers blinked bright green and vibrant, completely unapologetic for the time she'd lost. Much later and it was going to be time for lunch! So much for her pancakes plan... 'Better get going.' Tossing her phone on her bed Taryn gathered up some clothes and headed for the bathroom.

After a quick shower Taryn dressed and made up her bed. As she passed her desk she flipped open her laptop and hit the power button. The chipper start-up noise sounded, accompanied by several loading bars appearing on-screen. "Aww." She'd forgotten to shut off the network drives. 'This might take a while.' With another quiet sigh Taryn ran her fingers through her short hair. "Food it is then." Leaving the machine running Taryn secured the doors to her room and began to walk down the hall.

"Stop messing with me Rich. I know you're lying," Garrus told Richard before hearing Tommy ask about taking a large sum of money out of the Society account. "No! That's too much! Do we even have that? How will we pay for anything else? I think that's a bit steep there Tommy...surely it doesn't cost that much, right? Or is everyone really just trying to mess with me today?" he asked partially to himself, wondering if he should just take the day off. 'It's not like there is anything going on that I'm needed for right now. Yeah I think I'll do just that,' Garrus thought, a smile forming on his face as his phone started ringing.

He took it out of his pocket and looked at the number, his smile disappearing as he recognized it. Putting the phone to his ear he braced himself for what he figured was coming. "Hello? Yes...really? Do we have to? I suppose so...fine. Yes we know where it is." Garrus closed his phone and placed it on the table, about to say and expletive before looking over at his son and simply saying, "This sucks."

----

Leland smiled once Katie took a seat next to him, returning the kiss before saying, "Construction begins tomorrow. I'll be staying at the Lodge for the duration of it, you can join me too. So not the greatest beginning of a day, but it's not that big of a deal. I have a quick meeting today too, but it should be quick so I should be able to get back here within an hour of leaving or so. How are you doing today?"

"Well..."

Levi paused briefly to figure out what exactly to say. The unexpected question had struck him like a freight train. Even in the months after the incident inside his mind, he was still reeling from the trauma Victor managed to inflict on his way out.

"...I tried a lot of things. There was a lot of meditation involved. A lot of mental conditioning. I used to do a lot of prayer as well, back when I believed it would work..." After another moment of thought, Levi's eyebrows furrowed and his attention refocused on Jason. "Why do you ask?" It was a legitimate question. Why did the Keyholder suddenly have an interest in how he contained Victor?

"And if I may ask, what seems to be bugging you?" he added on top of his previous question. It was obvious that Jason was in distress. If he had a guess as to what was troubling him, it was at least tangentially related to Victor. But how?

"Mmm... could be better, really," Katie answered with a small sigh of discontentment. "The gardens are more or less fixed up apart from a couple of things. Damn zombies tore clean through my room and nearly wrecked a few of my more exotic plants. I had to practically re-create the Bimini you gave me; it was ruined near to the point of dying. Still, I saved it." She cuddled up to Leland as she spoke, resting her head on his shoulder and lightly poking his foot with one of her own.

"Apart from that... I guess I'm just a little sick of things being destroyed once they're back in working order," Katie continued quietly. She hadn't liked having to rebuild the gardens after the Union attack, and while the construction work had proven to be of decent quality, Katie liked things to remain standing once they were built. If something had to be taken down, she thought, then its replacement should be better in some way to the original.

"Isn't there something you could do to make the Promenade indestructible, sweetie?" she asked, reaching up and giving him another playful peck on the lips. She briefly thought up some things that could probably be done with magic: if Tommy had made a pair of Taryn's pants indestructible for Christmas, the same could probably be extrapolated to cover the whole building, she reasoned.

"Why do you ask?...what seems to be bugging you?"

Jason sighed reluctantly at Levi's questioning. He knew that he wouldn't get through this conversation without referring to the more crucial details of his dilemma. For a microsecond he considered lying to his friend, trying to back out, out of fear of what might follow. Just as quickly as the thought was sprung, he decided against it. Levi's intrigue was practically the reason why Jason approached him in the first place. He figured that if he told a friend that had a problem similar to his, that he would feel a little better about his well being, knowing that someone knew about the problem. However, even as he expected this inevitable outcome, Jason found himself mentally stumbling for words that he could use to describe the apparition that was imprisoned in his subconscious.

"A power...an unwavering power. Referred to as a 'Keybeast' by my family, I've only heard about it one other time through a bedtime story, like a boogeyman that would get me if didn't eat all my vegetables or something. It's been described as a powerful monster that will destroy everything, including the body and soul of the host that brought it forth. What stays behind is only the armor of the former Keyholder. It takes full advantage of the armor, becoming indestructible, and forming powers that could easily level mountains...at least, that's what I've heard. Since it is mindless, it lacks any strain of rational thought, and it cannot be reasoned with. All it knows is destruction. All it feels...is rage." Jason said, letting the thought sink in before continuing.

"I've been considered by some to be a fairly emotional person. However, ever since I've joined the Society, certain emotions in me have brought out a evil force that I cannot control. If I find myself losing my temper, or getting too excited, I feel myself losing grip over my actions. Eventually, it dawned upon me that I may have a Keybeast of my own. Every emotional incident has caused a chink in my armor, so to speak, leaving this crooked crack in my faceplate, along with other physical traits and actions that could be said to be related to nonhuman species."

"I've been able to keep it at bay through meditative techniques, strengthening some mental abilities in the process, but it hasn't been enough. Recently it attacked through a dream, where I was defenseless. Even through my mental prison, it was able to reach me. That only means that it's getting stronger. That's why I approached you. When we learned about Victor, it let me know that someone else out there contained a force that had to be apprehended. It told me that I wasn't the only one in the world slowing losing their sanity on a parasite that fed on their will." He admitted, almost feeling a weight lifting from his chest, now that he's been able to tell one other the truth.

"Umm Garrus, you do know we have the money right? I mean me and Lillian do happen to cover the vast majority of your expenses if not all of them except the ones that are paid for by grants from world governments. So we have the money, I just want to make sure it is baby and or idiot proof." Richard replied.

Levi listened to Jason's plight with a sympathetic understanding. It was odd, knowing that he wasn't the only one who knew what it was like to fight an incomprehensible evil inside his own mind. The 'Keybeast' even operated in the same way Victor did, if the description was any indication. Levi would never forget the ways that the British apparition attacked him in his dreams. Whispering in his sleep about how he would destroy everything he knew and loved. How he would watch as Victor spilled Taryn's blood...

Mark my words, Bartholomew. I will ruin you. I will destroy you.

One mistake, and you lose everything

You will watch as I tear her limb from limb.

It is inevitable.

YOU WILL NOT HOLD ME BACK FOREVER, BARTHOLOMEW!

Levi inhaled sharply. He let the breath out shakily. "I...uh...sorry. It's still a tough subject for me".

He took a moment to regain his composure.

"I know how it feels, Jason. Victor tormented me in my dreams for years. Constantly eroding away at my will, trying to take control. And as you know, he's succeeded more than once. I've only been able to regain control of my body after he's taken a severe beating, when he was weakened and vulnerable. But even then, I never stopped fighting him. I think it damn near killed me, but I fought Victor until the very end".

"I guess that's what I can say to you. No matter how grim it looks, never stop resisting the Keybeast. The moment you resign yourself to failure is the moment it wins. If meditation isn't working as well, double your efforts. You at least have a voice of reason in your head as well. I had to face Victor alone. And if you need any help, don't hesitate to ask me. If you need someone to meditate with, spar with, whatever, I'm here. I know what it's like. And it's something you definitely don't want to face alone".

"That still seems pretty steep though Rich. I'm sure it can be lowered," Garrus replied after he made a quick call, standing up and announcing to everyone, "Listen up, we have a mission. Seemingly our favorite mad scientist is causing a ruckus over in Kent. From what I was told there are numerous 'unidentified flying vehicles' spotted around his house, though most of them have parked if the information is right. The way the officer described it makes it sound like a party or some sort. I guess we'll see what's going on. We leave in ten."

----

"Tommy brought up something that could potentially work with some time. Imagine the Promenade being able to just fix itself...it could be the best thing ever if it's done. It will probably take some time though, but it should be worth it in the end," Leland replied quite cheerfully, his expression changing when he heard his brother's announcement.

"Seriously? Well I won't be joining you guys, at least not immediately. Do you want me to drop by once my meeting is done?" he asked his brother who nodded. Turning back to Katie, Leland continued with an amused smile, "Guess something will be happening today. Let's just hope it's a routine check and not anything worse."

"You say that now, love... but if anything insane happens, anything at all, I blame you for jinxing what could have been a peaceful day," Katie half-jokingly chided, her smile vanishing at Garrus's heads-up. She had wanted to spend a bit more than a week with some downtime; she felt that the whole Society needed it. Nonetheless, she kissed Leland goodbye for the moment and left the lounge to grab her gear.

You never knew with mad scientists like Mordtoten. Katie began to speculate what he had done this time... maybe he had taken DNA from past encounters with the Society and combined them to form a bizarre hybrid with everyone's abilities. Or faked an alien invasion of his home to spice up his day... or invented some kind of laser grenade that, when detonated, shot lasers everywhere.

Amused by her own imagination, Katie wove herself a fresh suit of plant armour which once again incorporated the two special plants in her possession; she worked the healing Bimini into one leafy hand and razor-sharp leaves in the other. Ready to fix whatever Mordtoten had screwed up - even though she really didn't want to have to deal with him that day - she began to head back to the lounge.


"Our 'favourite' mad scientist?" Rowan asked, slightly confused by Garrus's description. "I do hope you mean that crazy whackjob Mordtoten, the one who built that mind-swapping device. 'Cause I don't want to find out someone's gone and resurrected the other mad scientist I know..." Rowan shuddered as he remembered the confrontation with Cadizki, and how he had nearly killed the shapeshifter with a new strain of his virus. Such things tended to stick in one's mind.

The shapeshifter cleared away his plate before hurrying out to his room to grab his communicator, just to be on the safe side. He did have to remove it every time he shifted, though, which was a minor annoyance. Still, communication was an important part of both Society life and the acting that he had studied for many years.

Tyson sat at the table quietly and ate his breakfast as everyone talked. Upon hearing the announcement Tyson doubled his eating speed to finish his food with enough time to get into his newly rebuilt armor. It took him three days to remake it after all the plate supports got destroyed during the zombie attack. Despite focusing n his food Tyson saw Rowan running back to his room and couldn't miss a chance for another shot at him for sleeping through the whole attack.

"Rowan! Are you going to go take a nap or something? Considering what happened the last time we went to Mordtoten I won't really mind it if you slept through this one." Tyson yelled after the man not sure if he heard him or not since he was already down the hall before he could choke down his current mouthful of food.. Quickly shoveling the rest of his food into his mouth before putting his dishes into the dishwasher and headed off to his room in order to get changed into his armor and grab his weapons. Tyson returned to the lounge waiting for the rest of the team to get ready as well.

Levi's encouraging words caused Jason to crack a small smile. The fact that he knew that their was someone on the outside willing to help put Jason's mind at ease.

"Thank you. I...really needed to hear that." He replied, making eye contact with his teammate. Almost immediately after, Garrus made his announcement. Jason looked into the kitchen.

"Maybe this mission'll help me clear my mind. Thank you again Levi. I would tell everyone about the Keybeast, but letting the others know would just make me a liability, or force them to lose their trust in me. If my father taught me anything, it would be to put the team before myself." He said to Levi, looking in his direction once more before going into the kitchen. Upon entering, Erebus spoke out to him.

"So, where do we go from here?" He asked.

"Someplace good, I hope. Levi's willing to go that extra mile, and because of it, I'm able to continue my day."

"Ok cool, Because i'm hungry." Erebus replied bluntly.

"But you don't eat."

"Doesn't mean that we don't share the same body." He interrupted. An inconvenient truth, Jason agreed with his inner protector as he felt his stomach begin to rumble. Quickly, he prepared some toaster pastries before trotting back to his room to prepare for the upcoming mission.

"You're welcome, Jason," Levi replied with a sincere nod.

"Listen up, we have a mission. Seemingly our favorite mad scientist is causing a ruckus over in Kent".

Activating his comm, he replied promptly. "Roger that. I'll get the Merriweather ready for takeoff". Mordtoten never ceased to make a day interesting, that was for sure. As he made his way over to the garage, Levi wondered briefly what the scientist had in store for them today. Hopefully it's not another body switching machine. Or something that mutates pet lizards.

Once at the garage, he quickly entered the Merriweather and settled himself in the pilot's chair. It had been a little while since she had seen any action, so Levi ran the pre-flight diagnostics three times to make sure all systems were green. Although he and Taryn performed routine maintenance, it never hurt to be careful.

After confirming that everything was running within acceptable parameters, Levi activated the comm again.

"Levi here. We're clear for takeoff as soon as everyone boards".

When Tyson's jeer reached his ears, Rowan paused in the hallway, biting back the harsh response that sprang to his lips. He was sorely tempted to put a bolt through the other man's face, or at least his food just to prove a point, for bringing that up again. He had already apologised more times than he cared to count: why did people have to keep jabbing at him every chance they got? Rowan despised bullies and their kind; people who made themselves feel better by picking on others. Their own weaknesses drove them to provoke others and bring them down to their level.

One more joke. Just one... that's all it'll take, he mentally seethed. Hands clenched into tight fists of anger - he could feel his fingernails digging into his palms - the shapeshifter stormed into his room, grabbed the earpiece on his bedside table, and headed out to the Merriweather, purposefully taking the long way around to avoid the kitchen. Specifically, Tyson.

Upon entering the garage, Rowan promptly boarded the ship and took a seat in silence. To help calm both his nerves and his anger, he began to cycle through a few of his favourite appearances. Nathan Fillion in his many guises was among them, as well as his girlfriend Sabrina, Jean-Luc Picard, a blue-skinned asari from the Mass Effect video game series, a couple of other disguises he usually used, and David Tennant.

"Not more Godzillas." Taryn muttered as exited her room for the second time that morning. A quick circle had allowed her to pick up the rest of her gear. The weight of her laptop, secured in back of her jacket, was just barely noticeable. Her third set of Indestructopants were as clean as ever even in their altered state of having been colored dark to match her jacket. Finding something that would actually color all of the material had been an interesting task.

Her brief bout of reminiscing continued until Taryn reached the garage. Levi's voice over the small comm headset announced that the Merriweather was ready to go. "All aboard." Taryn said with a grin as she jogged up the ramp. Like a child with a favorite toy she was becoming excited to be on the ship again. The routine cleaning and upkeep was nothing compared to actually having the ship in the sky. Taryn paused at the doorway to run her hand along the polished metal. Minute vibrations traveled up from her fingertips. The ship was thrumming with potential; Its hardware, software, and fuel were working seamlessly together to power the ship.

Taryn was surprised to see Rowan, or rather a series of people she assumed were all Rowan, already seated. She offered a brief wave to her teammate before moving to the co-pilot's seat. The soft leather chair provoked a quiet sigh of contentment. Many an accidental nap had occurred in the chair. Taryn shifted to grip the harness loosely in one hand. She glanced over at Levi as she secured the heavy straps.

"Everything look okay?" Taryn asked. She'd noted the green lights across the console but it never hurt to ask. There was more to the ship than the ability to fly.

Brian didn't feel like getting up today. After the rush of helping defeat the mass of invading zombies, he was feeling on top of the world, but then his old nemesis had to appear and show his ugly face again. The Doctor had spirited away his wounded comrades before he could even attempt to do what he was brought in to do, and he was reminded that even with all the shuffling creatures back in the ground, there was still one that wanted him dead. Even as the healed people emerged from the sick bay, he still felt that cold specter looming over him, as if he always had to be on his guard.

The fact that the Promenade was now converted into an open-air facility until construction would be started back up again didn't do much to help matters. At least the rooms were still untouched. Brian resumed his pattern of holing up in there, playing Xbox with occasional quick trips for food when a crackling came over the communicator on his desk.

"We have a mission. Seemingly our favorite mad scientist is causing a ruckus over in Kent."

"What the hey?" he asked tossing his controlled to the ground. "Oh great. If I end up in the body of a cat or something, I'm going to be right ticked there."

He grabbed his jacket and scythe and headed out the door towards the garage where the ship was already up and running. Walking up the ramp, he took a seat and started getting strapped in. "Will be good to get out of here for a little bit, eh?" he said to the members assembled on the ship, which would be a changing mass that had to be Rowan, and either Taryn or Levi in the front seat, possibly both. At least for a little bit from that bastard. Maybe the place will be stormed or something while we're gone. And then no more Doctor Evil.

Tyson waited till a few more members made their way over to the ship. In the time that he waited he was trying to zone himself in encase he had to use his powers. Worry was constantly being washed on and rinsed off of him at the question of whether or not he'll be able to stop the Vesper from taking over and exactly how far he can use his powers before losing it. Still he had a job to do and sucked it up as he followed people out to the ship over hearing Brian's comment about not wanting to become a cat.

Soon Tyson was on board the ship and took a seat at the back before spotting Rowan still inside the ship. Not sure if the man had heard his previous remark he still wanted to get another in and he figured he could Brian at the same time as well. "Hey Hypnos, Rowan, could you fall asleep on the way over so that Ice Princess over here can stop pissing himself over being turned into a cat?" Tyson yelled pointing to Brian to indicate by who he meant as the Ice Princess.

Rowan snapped.

Tyson had pushed him too far with what he assumed was simple joking around on his part. But he would put up with it no longer. Reverting back to his original form, he clapped one hand to the side of his head and pointed the other just short of Tyson's feet. The shot was meant as a warning than an actual attack on his teammate; it impacted on the metal floor of the ship with a loud bang, leaving a scorch mark.

Within a second of launching the bolt Rowan was up and out of his seat, storming over to Tyson and completely ignoring the concept of personal space in doing so. "Shut up, listen hard. You've been pushing that far more than you need to. Yes, I have made mistakes in my time here, but that gives you no right to keep calling me out on it time and time again. I don't care if you're joking around or deadly serious, I will not tolerate these constant jokes being made at my expense. Do I make myself clear, Tyson?"

Rowan didn't care that he was making a scene in front of the other Society members aboard the ship. He wanted the taunts and the thinly disguised insults to end. That was all he thought about at that point in time.

Tyson stood up from his seat when the bolt was fired at his feet and was ready to one punch Rowan but decided to wait to hear what he was going to say. Tyson instantly regretted not punching and was disgusted by the arrogance of his words and decided to let Rowan have it with no holding back. "You naive fucking child. You think I want to hear this bullshit about what you will or will not tolerate. Are you so conceited that you can't take a few fucking jokes? Do you not realize what your actions so far have even led up to or are you blinded by the foolish concept of apologizing makes everything better?

So far you have switched everyone's minds around putting a lot more people at risk than you could possibly realize. You wanted to just lock Levi away and watch what happened to him when he was fighting Victor for control of his body, a concept of which you have no clue what it feels like. Finally you sleep through a massive zombie attack in which almost every other member of the team got injured in. Anyone one of those things that I just listed would have gotten kicked out of most teams if they didn't seriously injure you or kill you instead. If this was my old team." Tyson paused in his rant. He had gotten too worked up and brought up something he wasn't ready to bring up. Still he had to finish what he started before it lost all meaning.

"If this was my old team you'd be hospitalized for the same time that it took ever other member to recover combined if you slept through an attack. Wanting to condemn a teammate would of had you condemned. Fucking with something that you have no clue what it is would have gotten you a straight line punch across the face for doing something that little children are taught not to do. Any repercussions would have to be dealt on a case by case scenario. Swapping everyone's minds would have had you on shit detail for a year because you literally compromised everything at once. So the fact that I only make some stupid fucking jokes at the fact that you do so much stupid shit that puts so many people in jeopardy should make you feel like you've gotten a blessing.

Above all else the most important thing that you haven't realized is that you are part of a team. Times will come when other people will have to rely on you to do something. When that time comes I don't want to have to worry that you'll fuck with something you shouldn't be, or that you'd just watch me have to dig myself out of some wayward corner of hell instead of helping me, or face the chance that you fell to sleep somewhere and someone can't get you to wake up in order to help in a situation that could very well mean the death of everyone else.

Basically right now I won't be able to trust you to do anything. It could be pushing a button, it could watching a door, or it could even be you having to jack off to save the world. I would always have this voice in my head yelling at me that you could easily fuck up and screw over anybody else. Do I make myself clear, Rowan?"

Tommy rushed to his room and quickly changed into his suit. He grabbed his elemental MMA gloves, his extending chain, indestructible vest, and finally his knuckle-dusters, which he slipped into one of his vest pockets. He briefly paused to regard his calendar and the time of year before running into his closet dimension and grabbed a short spear that was wrapped in cloth. He went straight to the Merriweather from there and ran inside.

He saw Rowan and Tyson arguing inside and stopped. He hated watching team-mates fight but honestly had no idea what to do. On top of that he still felt that everyone still harbored some resentment from the 31st. He decided that the dispute was best left to Rowan and Tyson, or someone else. So Tommy sat down, strapped in, and immediately closed his eyes. He had spent every-night since Halloween awake, helping to clear away the debris and securing the Book so no one could their hands on it again. It was hard describing how he felt, it wasn't exhausted, it took more than a week of all-nighters to make Tommy exhausted. Rather it was a kind of malaise that began to set in, something that he had been trying desperately not to show. Letting his body relax Tommy settled into a comfortable position, even with Tyson and Rowan fighting he found it surprisingly easy to fall asleep.

"The mind-switching was sheer accident and you know it," Rowan shot back, infuriated. "I remember being told to shut the machine down. There were two switches, it was a fifty-fifty shot. I just happened to get unlucky and compromise the team. I didn't know the fucking Union was going to show up and trash the Promenade. And I'm pretty certain none of us had any idea that there was going to be a god-damned zombie invasion, for Christ's sake.

"You're damn right I have no idea what it's like to have a voice in my head that isn't my own. Sorry, Levi," he added, shooting a glance at the magnetic before returning his glare to Tyson. "But I wasn't going to fucking watch a teammate, and a friend, suffer. I'm not that cruel. I just didn't know that there was more to it than what I had seen myself.

"And don't you even think I don't know what it's like to work as a team. I led Alex and Richard into Cadizki's laboratory with no clue what he had in store. I was responsible for anything that happened there and we would have all been perfectly fine if that bastard hadn't shot me at the last second. I didn't know he had planned that.

"Long story short: there is a difference between ignorance and genuinely not knowing something. I hope you realise that." Rowan spun on his heel and made to leave the Merriweather, having no desire to travel with someone who clearly thought him a severe liability to the team. He would, however, remain in the garage to watch the ship go. If people think me a failure, then it's better that I just don't fucking bother. Some people just don't get it.

Levi quickly stood from his seat and whirled around to face Rowan and Tyson. "Hey, cool it!" he pleaded to the both of them. He didn't think very highly of Rowan's dereliction of duty and thought the shapeshifter deserved the reprimand he received, but Tyson's constant hounding on the subject was entirely out of line. In any case, Levi wasn't about to have a fight erupt on the Merriweather. Especially when they had a job to do.

"Tyson," he continued slowly. "This isn't the time or the place to bring this up. And Rowan, I'm not about to have you start something on this ship. I suggest that the two of you stand down and save it for another time". Levi let his words sink in for a moment. "Now if you'll sit down, we'll be taking off in a minute".

Richard had gotten into his suit at this point and walked out to see Tyson and Rowan fighting.

"Both of you shut the hell up. You two fighting will solve absolutely nothing. Did Rowan screw up, yes. Does he know it, yes. Does he deserve to be constantly ridden about it, no. Now can we please all shut the hell up and start acting like a god damned team. Rowan, just don't back out again, and Tyson stop talking about your old team. You aren't with them anymore, and for all your talk of teamwork how does treating him like shit make this any better? If you two can't get along then stop fucking talking to or about each other. Fucking newbies." Richard was getting sick of the new guys never being able to work together.

Fuck this is going to be put on my ass too now isn't it. Plunge my mind into the depths of insanity twice for these guys, let alone risking my life in a foreign body in order to save Garrus' kid. This shit's really making it hard to stop questioning joining this team.

After a few seconds of thought Tyson started to follow Rowan out of the ship but stopped beside Richard on the way. There were several things Tyson could have picked apart from his little blurb but one thing stuck out that he wouldn't let go. "Say another word about my old team from that mouth and tongue of ignorance again and I will rip your helmet off and break your jaw. Your suit is far from resistant to my power. Keep that in mind." A cold bitter tone left Tyson's lips as he finished his threat before simply continuing his walk outside before Exiting the ship a few feet away from Rowan.

"Things you need to improve on next time you try to make an argument. Number one bringing up topics about things the person you're arguing against has referenced or in anyway related to your fault is a terrible way of defending yourself. It just makes it seem like you are trying to cover your ass on the topics the person did bring up and reference. Number two when you are trying to make a statement about genuinely not knowing something compared to ignorance only works if you don't display ignorance in your defense for one of your actions. However because other people don't know how to keep their opinion out of this and I now have a different person to pick a bone with so I'll be willing to make a deal.

We call that mind switch incident Garrus' fault because of his own stupidity and attribute your part to new guy syndrome. Seriously, who tells a new guy to turn off an unknown machine when you have a technopath on the team?

I'll leave you alone about the sleeping through the zombie attack because you'll likely end up with that as your identifying event by the public in the near future.

Finally you have to admit to your ignorance about wanting to lock up Levi instead of attributing it to 'genuinely not knowing something.' You made your statement about how you wanted to put him in a cell and hope that he overcomes it himself. Several people who've know him for longer said that that idea wouldn't work and yet you still stuck to that idea before being told we were going into his mind. I would excuse the first idea but when you stuck with it after being told it wouldn't work it became ignorant.

That's it. Seems beyond reasonable to me but probably barely reasonable to you. Your choice if you want to rejoin the team for the mission now or are you going to let one person make you run away from helping out? Oh yeah and if you want to settle this in a more physical fashion when we get back I won't argue." Tyson finished his statement and walked back into the ship.

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