The Goldmar Incident: A Superhero Role-Play { Accepting Applicants via PM }

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"Hey, hey!" Upon seeing Adam walking around, a pair of nurses rushed him and forced him back into his bed. In his groggy state he was easy enough to overpower. "You are in no situation to be walking around. You've been through a traumatic ordeal, you need to rest," one of them sternly told him. "You're in Elixir Hospital. Just try and relax, everything is going to be fine."


When the last of the survivors woke and became coherent enough to hold a conversation, names were taken and relatives were called - or not called, in Kayla's case. Plain-clothed police arrived at midday to introduce themselves to people - a team had been assigned to the Goldmar case, led by Detective Sergeant Gideon Karell - and inform them that their possessions were being held in Stonefalcon's 3rd Precinct of the SHPD. Everything had been checked for contaminants and cleared: it was all ready to be picked up.

When asked whether the Silverhollow Police had any information on the attack, Detective Sergeant Karell always gave the same answer: it was their highest priority to gather what information they could. Only once they had the details they needed could they take any actions. Karell also informed each survivor that they would be visited at their place of residence in the interest of giving statements on what had happened. In the aftermath of the bio-weapon attack, Goldmar University had been quarantined until further notice.

Lisette had asked how many had not survived. The body count, according to Karell, was one death by what was presumably a firearm and twenty-four dead "as a result of... whatever it was this 'Nefarious' person has unleashed". There were roughly sixty survivors, all told.

At around two in the afternoon, once everyone had been given final check-ups and cleared to be discharged, Elixir staff released the survivors in groups of ten, accompanied by any relatives who had visited while they were still bedridden. Lisette had been released alongside that Adam fellow she remembered seeing, as well as a tall woman with brown hair, a petite... Asian girl? Lisette couldn't quite pin down her ethnicity, and half a dozen others whom she didn't recognise. One of them had a guy with him that looked like a street-ganger. He wore a trio of green bandannas, the mark of a member of the Titans. Lisette steered her family clear of the ganger and his friend - or brother, whichever it was - as they exited the hospital.

"You sure you're alright, Lizzy?" her father asked. Lisette had been visited by both parents, but not her brother: Chris had been busy at the time.

"Yes, Dad, I'm fine. I feel fine, I sound fine... I'm okay," Lisette answered for the umpteenth time. Her dad worried too much, she thought, a little exasperated. Malcolm Gray was a tall man who had salt-and-pepper hair, a jovial but sometimes serious outlook on life and a strong devotion to his family. By contrast, his wife Nadia shared Lisette's blonde hair, need for glasses and slight build.

"You're absolutely sure? You can stay with us tonight if you want..."

"I'm fine." How many times did she have to say it? "If anything comes up, I'll call you and Mom as soon as possible. For now... I just want my stuff back, and then to go home."

"Alright. Let's go then." The Gray family piled into their car, Malcolm at the wheel, and began heading towards the station that Detective Karell had mentioned.


The trip was quick: it was five minutes' drive from Elixir Hospital. Lisette asked that they avoid listening to news on the radio while they were in the car. She wanted to get her bearings on what had happened without the media putting a spin on things as it often did. Soon enough the Grays pulled into a parking space, and Malcolm led the way into the station. "Can I help you?" the officer on duty asked from behind his desk.

"Yes, I would like to collect possessions that were placed in... a contaminant-free zone, I think they said," Lisette answered, a little hesitant about talking to a police officer as she often was. "Name's Lisette Gray."

"One moment..." The officer tapped a couple of keys on his keyboard. "Ah, yes. A list of names was called in as being the owners of things collected from the... Goldmar University attack. Could you describe your possessions, please?" Lisette did so, describing her satchel and its contents.

"Okay. I'll have your items brought out to you, and I'll need you to sign for their release. For now, please take a seat," the officer instructed before picking up his phone and making a call. Seeing no other alternative, and not wanting to disobey, Lisette and her parents complied, sitting on one of the benches in the lobby.

"Would you like us to wait in the car for you?" Nadia asked after a couple of minutes. Lisette shrugged. "We'll wait outside then... there was a café down the road. Do you want us to get something for you?" Another shrug. Lisette wasn't that hungry.

"Alright. See you in a bit, then." Malcolm and Nadia both rose from their seats and left the station, leaving Lisette to her own devices.

The news of impending release was met with great relief in Kayla's mind, as well as confirmation that their belongings were going to be released. After a quick chat with one of the officers, she learned where exactly the police station was. With no reason to go there before, she had to confirm the exact location and directions, and she was able to do that quickly. Great, that means I can take the 24 down to it...if I didn't leave my bus pass in my bag. Dammit.

Final checkups were annoying, Kayla hated being poked and prodded, but it allowed her and what appeared to be nine others get out of the door. One of the girls who was released at the same time hopped into a nearby car with what looked to be her parents and siblings, while other recently discharged patients walked off towards the parking lot with relatives or partners. Kayla adjusted her glasses for the sunlight and started trudging off in the direction she was told, to get to the police station.


The fifteen minute walk did nothing to ease Kayla's mind over the events of the past day, and the bus that zoomed by her on the walk made her curse it even more. I guess it's lucky that this happened in summer, but why did it have to happen at all? What path necessitates me getting gassed and stuck in a hospital? I doubt Laozi himself could explain that one. It seems to be more a detour than anything. An unnecessary one. It seems so diametrically opposed to wu-wei. So what's the deal?

While puzzling over the metaphysical properties of what had happened, Kayla's trip to the police station was relatively shortened, as she arrived at the big brick building. A couple of the cars were parked out front, but the majority were the garish black and white Crown Vics with "SILVERHOLLOW POLICE" emblazened in ugly mock Diamondback font. It was another reason not to want to deal with the law enforcement agencies of this town. Let's just get this over with.

Upon scaling the steps and heading inside, there didn't appear to be much activity going on. A lone officer sat at a desk behind some glass, while behind it him cubicle walls cordoned off the activities beyond from view. The girl who Kayla saw getting into the car back at the hospital was sitting there, probably for the same purpose she was. Great. If she still hasn't gotten her things, that means they're going to take forever to get my belongings.

She moved up to the deck where the officer had just gotten off the phone. "Yes, can I help you?" he asked, sounding a bit weary.

"Yes. I'm here to get my things? I was told they were done being cleansed."

"From Goldmar?"

"Yes."

"Name?"

"Kayla Lin."

"And what are they looking for?"

"It was a large forest green laptop bag. It has my ID and other identifications in it, if the color isn't enough to guide the search, as well as my laptop, my physics text, my cell phone and a few other inconsequential trinkets."

"All right, I'll let them know," the officer assured her, inspiring little confidence as he picked up the phone. "Please wait on one of the benches and we'll have you sign for it once we bring it out."

Great. More time lost. "Thank you," she said curtly, as she took up a spot on the nearest bench. Can't even do anything while waiting. No reading, no texting, just looking at criminal mug shots and the other people stuck in the same boat as me.

It had been a long time since Saya cried in front of her older sister. She was a tough girl, but after everything that had happened... and that voice-mail, she couldn't be expected to hold it together. Noel, on the other hand, was a sap and this would be one of many times she'd wept on her little sister's shoulder. Saya had managed to get there a few hours before her sister was expected to be released, and had plenty of time to kill after Noel's final checkup. Unfortunately their father was out of town on business, but he'd managed to get her on the phone to ensure she was safe.

Noel had seemed like her old, flustered self when Saya showed up--a side of her only Saya and their father were privy to see--but something didn't seem quite right. After sharing a laugh Saya broke the awkward silence, "Hey Noel... y-you... you okay?" The concern in her voice was painfully obvious.

Noel nodded and forced a smile, "Yeah, Saya. I'm okay now."

Saya didn't buy it, "You don't need to act like a super woman, you know. I'm not a little girl anymore," She smiled. "I can afford to see my big sister's not completely unshakable."

Noel was silent for a moment, "You know that boy who they said got shot through the chest," Saya leaned in closer. The suspense was painted on her face. "I-I... I was sitting next to him in the lecture hall."

Saya's expression sank as she grasped Noel's wrist tightly and dropped her head, "Jesus, sis," After several moments of silence she met Noel's eyes once more. "It's okay, we'll work through this. Dad can get you the best therapist in town! He'll--"

Noel shook her head, "No, it's okay. I'll be okay. I just need some time," Noel pulled her hand away. "With all the stuff that's expected of me I... I wouldn't have the time for that anyway."

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
Saya dropped her off at the police station before leaving for her part-time job. Their father had called ahead to ensure they'd set aside her belongings. Though she didn't like relying on her father's connections like that, at least she'd have a head start in catching up on everything she had missed since being knocked out. It had been awhile since she'd been to this particular station and couldn't quite recall for what reason she'd come here in the past. Perhaps it was for a fundraiser of some kind? Maybe it was for her bike that had been stolen last semester.

She cracked a smile as she mulled the possibilities over. It wasn't likely many others who'd crossed this threshold were here for anything other than a few nights behind bars. She glanced at the occupants of the rooms as she beelined for the front desk. Enough of her precious time had been wasted lying in a hospital bed, "Name?"

"Noel Brandt," Noel said with a smile.

It didn't appear her attitude did much to alleviate the officer's mood. That was until he realized who she was, "Oh, Senator Brandt's daughter! Oh, uh... sorry ma'am. We'll have your stuff to you in no time at all," He gestured toward the benches. "Please sit over there until we call your name."

She nodded, "Thank you!"

Noel sat down in the lobby next to a black haired girl who appeared... quite perturbed for whatever reason. It seemed she chose the wrong seat. She could almost taste the precipitation oozing from the storm cloud over her head. After a few moments of consideration she decided not to introduce herself... she wasn't feeling all that great either.

She let her eyes wander and performed a rather obvious double-take when she scanned the woman sitting across from her. It was the girl she'd sat next to that morning...

Noel spoke without thinking, "Y-you..." The blonde girl turned to look at Noel with a confused expression. Noel grabbed the sides of her face and blushed. OH! Uh..." She started laughing nervously and nearly slapped herself to regain her composure. Those hospital drugs had really done a number on her. "Sorry, I was going to ask... did I sit outside the lecture hall with you the morning of the, uh... the attack?"

Noel was usually more articulate than this. After all that had happened though... she could afford to look like an idiot.

It didn't take long for Dominic and his mother to receive the news of release. A nurse revisited him as the word circulated, with one of city's detectives following in after her. He told the two how they could retrieve their confiscated items. Dom gave thanks for the advice as the nurse completed her checkup, and gave him new bandages for the stitches. Checkout was quick, and before long, Maria insisted on driving him down to the precinct house. "Are you sure? I could just, take the..." he tried to protest, patting himself down for his wallet. For naught was the action, as he concluded the police must've confiscated his wallet and phone, along with his clothes and rucksack. Maria raised an eyebrow in a smug "I told you so" type of manner.

"Okay, you got me there. But you have class, don't you? What about the kids?" He asked his mother, reminding her of her status as a Kindergarten teacher. "What, you didn't think I was gonna call in sick after I got the news that you were at the hospital? This whole event was bigger than you think, Dom. The news got around so fast, everything was so urgent! We had to empty out the school before lunchtime, y'know. Once I told the principal that my son was involved in all of this, he didn't have any problem with me taking any days off." As she talked, the two piled into Maria's car. All Dom could think of, was how compassionate his mom's boss was.


The transition to the station house was a brief one. The station was a familiar location for the mother and son, the two having been here numerous times over the course of Horatio's lengthy career as a police officer. It was only natural that both knew knew some of the officers on a first-name basis, Maria more than Dominic. Neither, however, could seem to place a name to the individual that sat at the front desk. "He must be new." Maria approached him first, putting in her son's name and a request to recover the articles confiscated. "Alright, what does it look like?" The officer queried, breaking the boy's vow of silence.

"Uhhh, like light brown, leathery. Vintage. One of the straps looks more worn than the other." He described. The officer began typing things into the computer he sat in front of. "You kids are coming in fast. This place'll be crowded within minutes." He murmured before looking back up at the two. "There are others that came in before you, so you'll have to wait until they get their belongings and sign out before you can get yours. We're doing this whole process one person at a time so we won't risk any mix-ups." Dominic shrugged at the directions.

"That's fine with me." Maria seemed to agree with his answer. Quickly after, he retorted with a question. "Hey, is Officer Hernández in right now?" The officer receptionist did some more clacking away at his keyboard. "Yeah, as far I should know. Her desk is-" He was soon interrupted by Maria. "We know where it is, thank you for your help." She admitted as politely as possible, before moving into the main area of the station. With a short glance, the waiting area was easily noticeable from most parts of the office. With the two traversing through the area, Maria leaned in close to her son as he got a good look at the individuals that were waiting to be called on.

"Were any of those girls at the hall during the incident?" She whispered, Diverting her gaze before she realized she was beginning to stare. "I remember seeing the blonde and brunette sitting outside the hall before everything went down. I don't think I remember the Asian girl though." He murmured back, soon spotting a desk not too far ahead. A brown nameplate signed "OFC. Paz Hernández" was easily noticeable, and a young woman sat at the desk, alternating between filling out paperwork, and tapping away at her computer. Too involved in her duties to notice the boy and his mother approaching her desk, Dom couldn't help but crack a smile.

"How's investigations coming along? Any lead on the whereabouts on the guy that bombed us?" Dom asked with a tone of causality. "We're working as hard as we can, but nothing's popped up as of yet..." The sound of Dom's voice sunk in some, and she looked up from her work to see the boy and his mother standing ahead of her. "Dom!" She exclaimed, springing from her seat to hug the young man. "How're you doing? I would've picked you up myself from the hospital if I couldn't get in touch with Maria!"

"Well, I got hit on the head pretty hard, and had to get stitches. Other than the impending headaches i'm going to get in the upcoming days, I think i'll be fine." He replied through some sheepish chuckles. "That means you should take it a little easy then. I can already imagine these next few days are gonna be stressful for everyone involved with what went down at the university." Paz advised. Dom began to consider all the questioning the witnesses (himself included) would be subjected to. "All this is definitely gonna get in the way of class, and work." He said through a bit of a sigh.

"I dunno. After the incident, they're probably gonna put Goldmar on quarantine. That whole area's most likely contaminated with traces of...whatever came out of that device." It was a variable Dom hadn't thought of considering. Soon after the conversation, Dominic thought it best to migrate over to the waiting area, where others obviously waited. "How long have you guys been waiting?" He asked as he was in earshot of the other students, Maria trailing closely behind him as he took a seat beside the two talking students, familiar to the way they conversed just the morning before. One's flustered mannerisms contrasted the other's more confused expression.

"Y-you..." Lisette looked round to find a girl roughly her own age sitting opposite her. She was confused. Did she know this person? She wasn't sure that she did.

"OH! Uh... "Sorry, I was going to ask... did I sit outside the lecture hall with you the morning of the, uh... the attack?"

Her voice sounded a little familiar, though. Was she a Festival customer? No, Lisette would have seen her before. Then it dawned on her after a few seconds. The amber-haired girl outside the lecture hall, talking on a phone. "Right, sorry. It took a while to remember. We haven't been introduced." She took a moment to glance over to the Asian girl, sitting quietly and occasionally looking around. "I suppose I should start us off. Name's Lisette Gray. I, er, ah... wasn't really studying anything in particular. Been on the fence a long while now in regards to my studies. What about you? What're your names?"

Another voice chimed in. "How long have you guys been waiting?" Lisette looked up to find another guy standing nearby. Lisette took it upon herself to answer. "Um... maybe ten minutes? Not entirely sure. I don't have my watch or my phone." She hadn't been checking the clock on the wall either.

"Right, sorry. It took a while to remember. We haven't been introduced."

Noel smiled warmly and nodded in response. She was thankful the blonde girl brushed off her awkward inquiry.

"I suppose I should start us off. Name's Lisette Gray. I, er, ah... wasn't really studying anything in particular. Been on the fence a long while now in regards to my studies. What about you? What're your names?"

Noel's smile grew larger as a thought occurred to her.

She takes initiative... I like it.

"I'm Noel Brandt. Political Science major," She stood up and took two steps across the gulf to offer Lisette a handshake. "Nice to meet you."

She briefly wondered if her rather... formal greeting put Lisette off, but banished the thought almost as soon as it came. She wouldn't hide who she was. Though, if someone had recognized her from inside the lecture hall that may be a problem. The last thing she wanted was someone prodding her about that boy. In fact, she was actively fighting not to get consumed by that memory. That terrified expression. The hopelessness in his eyes.

As she sat back down another student spoke up.

"How long have you guys been waiting?"

Noel crossed her arms and pouted to herself.

Too damn long. I probably have like... fifteen-million phone calls to return at this point...

"How long have you guys been waiting?"

"It's been three minutes for me," Kayla informed the man asking. There was nothing to do but stare at the clock until the talking started, so she was sure of her statement. In all honesty, she was glad there was talking now. It was something to do to alleviate the boredom of the station waiting room.

"My name is Kayla," she informed Lisette, the only girl who had her beat on wait times, by a substantial amount. "I'm in my last year of finishing a double major in English and Physics, and I plan on moving onto Theoretical Physics next year." I guess it's just pleasantries then. No one wants to talk about what the heck happened in that room, and I don't blame anyone for it. I can't be certain it was all a bad dream myself.

Adam could only look around in dazed confusion as people in blue and green easily herded him back to bed. He fell asleep as soon as his head it the pillow. He couldn't be sure how much time passed later, everything just devolved into bouts of heavy sleeping or coughing his lungs out.

All his things had been taken away when he was admitted into hospital but luckily the police or the hospital or someone called his family.

His mom was all tears and hugs and she made those howling noises that only mothers could in moments of anxiety. His dad quietly hovered on the edges while Adam tried in vain to struggle free of his mom's rib crushing hugs. She carried on about how worried she was and how happy she was to see he was safe blah blah blah.

His dad tried to say something along the same lines but Adam shrugged him off.

The police came around to everyone in turn and asked for any information people could give while giving as little as possible in return. One thing he did get out of it was that he could pick his things up at the station once he was out of there. At least he'd get his phone back and - more importantly - his ipod.

* * * * *

The Car stopped outside his dorm building and Adam moved to get out.

"You sure you don't want us to come with you, Hun?"

"I'll be fine, Mom, thanks."

"I'd feel better if we came with you." She said in that tone that never failed to make Adam feel guilty.

They'd already had part of this conversation on the drive there. Adam had backed down for the most part and agreed he'd move back home, at least for a while but his parents seemed determined not to leave his side.

"I'm just going to get some of my clothes from dorm and get the rest from the cops."

"Then we can give you a rise to the station."

Why wasn't there an easier way of saying that he wanted to be alone?

He gave a half hearted excuse and waved them off once he was out of the car. He made his way up to his room, not bothering to turn the lights on and slumped onto his bed. Part of him knew he should do something, that he should get up and pack. But he couldn't. All he could do was lie in the dark starring up at the ceiling. He was so tired but sleep wasn't an option. They'd made him sleep in the hospital and each time he had the same dream. Every time he woke up he could still the burning flesh, taste the gas in his throat. Was he crying?

Come on Ad, man up!

Adam clenched his fists and forced himself to get up. A quick shower drowned out the cobwebs and helped him feel a little bit better. He could do this, he just had to put one foot in front of the other.

* * * * *

"Adam Chambers." He stated to the bored looking officer behind the desk. They gave him a line about having to wait a little while and that they were trying their best to get his belongings out of quarantine as quickly as possible. Adam got the feeling they'd had to say the same thing over and over today.

He turned to the waiting area. It looked like some of the others from the lecture hall had gotten there before him. There were still some empty seats but Adam wasn't in any mood to stay still. He leaned against the far wall for half a minute before starting to slowly pace up and down the waiting room. The eyes of the others making him self conscious of how he was acting but he was too restless to stop, only making glancing eye contact with any of the others.

Once she had been given some final checkups, Chris walked out with her family, who had all come to see her, and nine other people, at least one of which she recognized, if only barely. It was the tan skinned man she'd tried to help, and it made her feel better knowing that he was alright. She stepped into her family's car, sitting in the middle backseat with each twin on either of her sides who didn't want to let go of her after what happened. She didn't do anything to take them off her since she was relieved to be alright and soon to be home. First, though, they had to go to the police station to get her stuff.



They reached it fairly quickly, and Chris insisted on going alone inside, with her parents and twin siblings waiting outside. If it would take a long time, then her family could go to the nearby café to get themselves something. The twins didn't want to, but they reluctantly agreed to it as Chris walked towards and then into the police station, seeing a few people had already arrived of the nine others who had left the hospital with her.

She went over to the front desk where a man sat there and looked towards her when she stopped in front of his desk. "Can I help you?" he asked her. "Yeah, I'm here to retrieve my things that were put here after the attack on Goldmar." Her voice didn't carry her usual musings, but that was to be understood after what happened. "Name?" the officer asked her again. "Christine Harper." She never liked her full first name, preferring Chris, but when giving her name, she had to give the full version. "We'll get to it soon enough. Just take a seat and wait for your name to be called." he said to her before going back to work. "Thank you." she answered and turned around to take a seat. She didn't feel chatty today, really, choosing instead to just sit down and wait.

In a way that was true to that receptionist/secretary/officer's words, two more individuals (that were most likely students) appeared in the waiting area. The constantly fluctuating surroundings was not at the fringe of Dominic's attention however, he more lost in his thoughts than anything. Swirling thoughts about the event, about missing class, about getting to work (and if he was even going to go to work, in which-knowing the boy-of course he would), about finishing his finals project (and if this whole event would put him off schedule). He made nary a reaction as the girls around him conversed and introduced themselves.

The one other boy's pacing barely went noticed in Dom's eyes, but, as if it were a subconscious reaction, he began tapping his foot against the ground. His posture changed some, with him leaning forward to meet his interlocked fingers in a raised steeple. His gaze sharpened as he pondered into a wall's texture. It was safe to assume that the boy's actions were beginning to rub off a little on Dominic.

The girl quietly entering the area brought him from his gaze as he made a reflexive glance in her direction. It didn't take long for the boy to make the connections between her and the incident. "She didn't sit that far from me on Thursday..." He began to wonder how his plight from that morning might've looked from her angle, thinking of beginning to initiate a conversation about it. The thousand yard stare she seemed to be displaying told him to cancel the questioning, and his mind began digressing back into the event as a whole. Soon after, his mother nudged him the ribs less than a second after Kayla made herself known. Using not-so-subtle hand gesturing, she wanted him to do the same. "Oh, um, I'm Dominic. It's my last year too." He turned towards the direction of the girls. "But in Criminal Justice...not Physics." He hastily added for some reason, feeling the need to clarify his areas of study.

Marcus and Dontez left the hospital at the same time with a group of nine other survivors. The lack of information provided by the police, and the fact that Marcus now had to go to a police station in order to get his possessions back, were annoying to say the least. Still Marcos persisted in silence until they were checked out of the hospital.

"So did you bring the Expedition?" Marcus asked Dontez as he looked over the rest of the group that was leaving.

"Didn't drive. Wasn't sure if you'd give up your ghost or not. You're not supposed to drive after you lose someone; couldn't do that to dad. But you didn't, so no worries; I'll message my ride." Dontez replied as he took out his phone and texted someone. Fifteen minutes later a man with three white bandanas rolled up to the hospital in a Honda Civic, and took off to the police station upon Dontez's word.

Once they arrived, Dontez and the Titans recruit sped off leaving Marcus to enter the station to retrieve his possessions. The familiar walk into police station was a bit unsettling; although there was a keen difference in the fact that we wasn't there to bail someone out of jail for the first time. There was a less than concerned officer sitting at the front desk that Marcus approached.

"Can I help you?" The officer of duty asked in a tone that carried the fact that he had asked the question several times in the last couple of minutes.

"I was informed at the hospital that I could pick up my possessions here, since they were taken into contamination. My name is Marcus Wickliffe, and there should be the suit that I was wearing, an IPhone 4S with an urban camo phone case, and a black wallet with a driver's license, Goldmar student ID, bus pass and fourteen dollars inside." Marcus replied promptly knowing that he'd likely have to wait for them to process his stuff before he would get it back.

"It'll take a bit get your possessions. You can join everyone else who showed up before you in the lobby." The officer replied as he finished writing down the information on a form.

Marcus nodded and mumbled thanks as took a seat in the lobby. A man with a lighter tanned skin was introducing himself at that time before stumbled at the end of what he was saying.

This guy will probably bite his tongue off if he keeps talking like that.

"My name's Marcus. I just finished the first year of my accounting degree," Marcus said before throwing his head back for a second. Criminal Justice, Physics, Accounting. Marcus' email had stated that it was supposed to be a lecture that wouldn't exactly benefit two people finishing their degrees in such fields. It left a question in his head that he at least thought would be safe to ask. Near death experiences were often talked about where he came from right after they happened. Why would these people be all that much different?

"So why did the rest of you show up at the lecture hall? I know the email I got said it was a senior partner at a prominent Michigan based accounting firm, but clearly it would have to be something else that got everyone else to show up there." Marcus said calmly as he shifted his head back down in order to look at everyone else in the room.

"Clearly it was just a ruse," Kayla said matter-of-factly. It was the same tone she had when dissecting poems and explaining physics solutions in class, and it was the only confident tone she had in her Michigan arsenal. It did make her sound like an insufferable know-it-all though. "Whoever that man is, or is working for, sent that email out tailored to each recipient to try and lure us there for that attempted mass gas chamber death." It worked didn't it? I fell for it without a second thought. "Mine suggested that it would be a lecture given by a world-renowned particle physicist. Instead the only particles analysed were whatever ones got inhaled or settled on our things."

Kayla stopped talking after that. The information was out, there was no need to continue. The crowd around was growing rather large as well. Tall guys that made her feel even smaller with her butt plonked on the bench, and another girl that looked just as thrilled to be here as she was. Why'd I have to shoot my mouth off like that? I don't know exactly what happened there. I was just as stupid for going to the thing in the first place. Great the first time I speak to people and already the foot is lodged square in the mouth.

"I know the email I got said it was a senior partner at a prominent Michigan based accounting firm, but clearly it would have to be something else that got everyone else to show up there."

"Mine suggested that it would be a lecture given by a world-renowned particle physicist. Instead the only particles analysed were whatever ones got inhaled or settled on our things."

Noel considered this for a moment before speaking up, "Mine was specifically tailored to me as well," She paused, biting her thumb, before continuing. "If the same can be said regarding the rest of the students I think it's safe to say that this... 'Nefarious' was looking for diversity in his experiment. I mean, wouldn't it have been easier to just invite the entire physics department and be done with it?"

She glanced around the room at the rest of the students, "I mean... this is a rather 'unique' collection of students."

Noel slowly began to put the pieces of the puzzle together in her heard. However, she still didn't have an answer for question numero uno. What exactly did Nefarious do to them? She crossed her arms and began pondering possibilities.

"I figured we we're gettin' played the second that guy started spouting sensationalist transhumanism bullshit." Dominic contributed with murmurs, soon after the Asian talked of a ruse. Maria nudged him in the ribs a second time. "Language!" she warned in a whisper. Ignoring her, he wished he had got out of that hall when he had the chance. He began to wonder if the chance of returning to a normal life would be possible for him, or any of the students involved. Then, some of the words he managed to hear played back in his head, words he heard before he lost consciousness that day.

"...a genobomb, a biological tool devised by yours truly for one specific, non-lethal purpose..." He recalled, recited by that Nefarious person. Soon after Noel pointed out the diversity of the crowd, Dominic had his own words to say. "D'you guys remember some of the things that man said? He said that bomb was non-lethal...and yet they're probably still picking dead bodies out of the hall. It just makes me wonder...where does that leave us? Why did we survive? What did we do?"

"...genobomb...biological tool..." replayed in his head. "Biological...?" He began to wonder just how immune he was to whatever was released unto he and his peers. Or better yet, what it would do to them if they weren't. Was the immunity just a fluke? What if wasn't meant to be survivable (despite the terrorist's words)? What would his body go through next? His mind began to plague with the questions, and his heartbeat began to increase in rate. The thoughts of acting against this act followed after, and began to question just how helpless he was against it all.

"Some people are just unlucky," Kayla said coldly as she shrugged. "It's like being allergic to peanuts or something, and getting force fed a king-sized Snickers. Even in biological cases, there are certain people that can't handle that sort of thing. At least, that's how it was explained to me back in high school. My parents were pretty abrupt about it. In any case we should probably be grateful that we had the necessary body structure to avoid ending up like those poor bastards."

At this point, Kayla was praying for the call out to come. It couldn't take that long to find some bags, could it? If it did, it offers a good reason for why such an event was allowed to occur and people in the hall were allowed to pass on to life graduation.

"I wouldn't call them poor bastards; at least not yet anyways. If he was trying to kill us Chlorine gas would've been a lot more effective or those guys in suits who had those weird weapons. Instead he tells us that we're supposed to live. It sounds like were part of some fucking experiment; a lab rat rather than a survivor. I definitely wouldn't call the people who died poor bastards," Marcus said as he shook his head in his hands. The cops needed to hurry up and get there stuff this topic was getting depressing and fast.

So what now? What do we do from here on in? I know I can go on just like this was another drive by or jumping, but what about them? They probably have no clue how to deal with something like this, and I'll just bury it away with the rest. I'm not helping either and fuck, someone needs to change the topic because I've got nothing.

"It sounds like were part of some fucking experiment; a lab rat rather than a survivor. I definitely wouldn't call the people who died poor bastards,"

Noel furrowed her brow and looked up at him. She thought back to the boy she'd watched die. She was grateful she didn't share his fate, "There's no point in jumping to conclusions. There's no evidence to suggest any of us are about to sprout wings or go blind. And even if we did, I think that'd be preferable to simply getting shot through the chest," Noel summoned all the willpower at her disposal to keep her emotions under control, but a pained expression had clearly found its way onto her face. "Those kids died with their whole lives ahead of them. They didn't get a choice whether they would live or die..."

Noel sighed as she closed her eyes and dropped her forehead onto her fingertips, "I don't know about any of you, but I'm not going to take my life for granted."

She couldn't get that face out of her head. That terrified expression. The look of a boy who knew his time had come.

Maria let out the quaintest of gasps at Kayla's less-than-appeasing words. "One should have more respect for the dead!" She murmured irritably. Quietly whispering to Dominic that she'd wait in the car, the mother collected her things before exiting the area in a bit of a huff. Dom sighed slowly before turning his attentions back towards the students still conversing on the subject of current events. One of the girls denied the possibilities of any sort of outwardly mutations as a result of the bomb. "At least, nothing too drastic, i'd hope." he thought as he looked on. He couldn't help but slink in his seat some as she continued to drably comment on the already bleak situation. He sighed another sigh as he looked into his hands.

"I don't know about any of you, but I'm not going to take my life for granted." Noel added lastly, burying her face into her hands. Dominic shook his head, his expression sharpening some. "I'm from the 'fields. I stopped taking life for granted a long time ago." He stated plainly, crossing his arms. "If anything, this event only further defends against that way of thinking."

"So why did the rest of you show up at the lecture hall? I know the email I got said it was a senior partner at a prominent Michigan based accounting firm, but clearly it would have to be something else that got everyone else to show up there."

Instead of answering verbally, Lisette instead thought over the question. The email had said that the guy was a geneticist... not exactly something that would draw her, specifically, to the lecture hall. The answers the others gave seemed like the emails had been... tailored, as Noel had put it, a bit better to their chosen courses. Though that was probably because Lisette didn't have a defined career choice of her own yet.

"D'you guys remember some of the things that man said? He said that bomb was non-lethal...and yet they're probably still picking dead bodies out of the hall. It just makes me wonder...where does that leave us? Why did we survive? What did we do?" one of the others, Dominic, queried.

"I don't remember exactly. Once that man was... was shot - " Lisette choked on the word a little " - I think the guy said something about... some kind of non-lethal purpose for whatever that thing was. A genobomb, I think he called it." What does that even mean? Genobomb? Some kind of biological weapon, like a terrorist attack? But surely it wouldn't have been 'non-lethal' if the guy was a terrorist... I don't know. It was giving her a headache just thinking about it.

The conversation was eventually interrupted by the officer on duty clearing his throat. "Er-hem. We've found your possessions. They've all been cleared of contaminants and authorised to be released. Just need you to sign for them," he explained, producing forms and passing a handful of pens around. Lisette gave the form a quick read over just to be sure - it all seemed to be standard issue, including a hand-written description of her satchel and its contents - then signed it. There was a slight waver to her signature that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Her hand was a little shaky, most likely a result of having not hand-written anything recently.

She passed the form back to the officer, who soon collected the rest that he had distributed and disappeared into a back room. Within a few minutes he was back, accompanied by a few others: they were sharing the load between them.

Lisette gratefully accepted her satchel from one of the officers, thanking him as she did so. After resuming her seat she promptly rifled through the satchel to make sure everything was still there, just to alleviate some mild paranoia that something had gone missing. That was not the case, although the battery of her phone had been removed and set aside. Gah. Why'd they do that? I charged it a couple of days ago, it would have survived. She snapped it back into place, turned the device on and quickly fiddled with the settings to restore it to its previous condition.

Once that little necessity was concluded, she was a mite conflicted over what to do next. Her parents were waiting, of course, but Lisette felt like she wanted to spend a bit more time with her fellow students. So she got up and made for the door, but took a spot leaning against the nearby wall instead of leaving.

That was a new one. I know I was being a little blunt but driving someone off? Damn, I've really got to back it up a bit, I guess. I forget some of these midwestern types...or Latin-American types are hyper-religious. There wasn't much time to dwell on it as the desk jockey came over to the group of students announcing the return of their belongings with the wave of a pen. I don't see why ALL this info is necessary, I just want my stuff back. She filled out the release form quickly and the papers were returned to the office behind the glass.

After a few minutes, a sigh of relief quietly escaped Kayla's lips as a couple more of the officers emerged with the in-the-shop cop from the back room with an assortment of bags hanging off of their arms. Her laptop bag was clearly visible, the dark green contrasting enough with the usual assortment of blacks and greys to stand out. She grabbed it off the arm of the policeman holding it and started going through it immediately, making sure everything was still in there. The fact that both the batteries on her laptop and phone were removed was a bit annoying, but still all her belongings appeared to be in place. She snapped the battery back in on her phone, and it slowly began to boot up.

While waiting for her phone to come back on line, Kayla started to move towards the door. Can't wait to just get this whole thing behind me. Don't need to be come back to this station any time in the near future. Hopefully the bus is coming soon. The bars finally showed up on the ACER phone, the only phone Daddy would allow her to have, despite her desire for an iPhone like everyone else. At least the internet is fast enough. A quick search of Silverhollow's transit website pulled up the number of the stop closest to the police station, and she dialed it up, eager to find out if she'd be getting back soon. The automated voice gave her the cold message.

The next bus on route...24...is scheduled to depart in...25...minutes. For information on another route, press one!

Oh fuck off! Seriously? I'm not going to wait here another half an hour...But I don't want to walk... The other girl was still here, the one who got a lift. Am I really...no, she'd never give me a lift. Not after the looks I got...but what do I have to lose? She says no, I never see her again, whatever. Kayla slowly approached the blonde haired woman as she leaned against the wall. "So, you're the one who's got a ride, right? You wouldn't happen to be going anywhere near Larchwood Avenue would you?"

Not before long, officers began into the area, brandishing bags and forms in their hands. It was a lot faster than Dominic was anticipating, but he wasn't complaining. "Smart move. Get us out of here before any more kids start showing up." He thought, spotting his rucksack with ease. Some signatures later, the pack was back in his possession. A quick rummage through the sack let him know that everything confiscated had been respectfully returned. "Wallet, phone, clothes, classwork..." They even cleaned out some of the unneeded papers and junk that had accumulated at the bottom. "Huh. That was nice."

He felt it was time to move on after that. He got what he came for, and didn't really see the need to linger about any longer. He made his way past the two girls conversing at the threshold, the act probably seeming much more disrespectful than he was thinking. Though as he made his way out, he figured he could at least let Paz know he was leaving. Soon, he approached her desk where she still sat, having working through what remained of the mountain of paperwork she had.

It was a lot easier to notice the the footsteps approaching her desk this time around, and she looked up to see the student nearing her. "I'm going." Dom said, giving her a short wave. "Hold on!" She stopped him before he could fully take his leave. "How're the other kids doing?" She asked, rising from her seat to stand at his side. Dom didn't know how to fully answer the question. "Fine...? I mean, most were good enough to introduce themselves and talk about the event...some of the others kept to themselves, one girl seemed to still be pretty shook up about it..."

"Annnd...?" The officer interrupted his elaborations. "Did you talk to her?" Dom visibly seemed to look for words to answer with. "I was going to, but I didn't want to say anything that could upset her."

"Well, you should have told her something...Actually? No. You need to tell her something. Comfort her, y'know? And not just her, but all that would need it. You'd be surprised at what a few choice words could do to someone's life. It's one of our jobs as police to make sure the populace is safe, both psychically and mentally. With you on your way to becoming an officer, you should've known that." The pseudo-stern tone brought forth by her short spiel softened some, she looking into Dominic with a light smirk.

He sighed in admittance to his wrongdoings, for she was right after all. He made his way back towards the holding area, an idea beginning to churn through the cogs of his mind. He stopped short of the two girls still standing at the threshold, one trying to coax a ride out of the other. He waited for a low point in the conversation before excusing his way in. "Lisette, Kayla...it might sound like i'm coming completely out of left field with this but...d'you think we should stick together? All of us, I mean. Out of those that got involved with the accident, not everyone would've gotten back on their feet as quickly as some of us did. They could use the help, especially by those that they can relate with. We've all been brought together by a relative event, the least we could do is try to make something out of it." He said to the girls.

Finally...

She quickly scribbled a mockery of her usually elegant signature and returned the forms to the officer, "One second ma'am."

Noel crossed her arms and leaned up against the wall. She had been a bit flustered from the prior conversation and was quite anxious to get her stuff and leave, but after taking a moment to gauge the lobby's atmosphere... was there anything she could do for these people? The mental wounds were still fresh and many of these people wouldn't likely forget the grim details of the attack as long as they lived. It was simple enough to put them all behind her so as to not be reminded of their plight, but Noel couldn't do that.

As her mind wandered her purse appeared before her eyes, snapping her out of her trance, "Should be everything, ma'am."

Noel nodded in thanks and started sorting through her things. After slapping her battery back into her phone she booted it up and quickly made her way for the exit.

Only 10 missed calls? What have I been doing wrong?

Noel stopped outside the station to catch up on what she'd missed while in the hospital. At least half the calls were manic voicemails left by friends and family. They didn't exactly make Noel feel any better, but she listened to the entirety of the messages out of respect, if nothing else. After revising her mental to-do list she put her phone back in her purse and was about to start the long trek back to her apartment when she looked back at the police station.

Lisette and Kayla was it?

The two girls were speaking near the door.

I should at least say goodbye to them. Maybe I should leave my number if they needed someone to talk to about this... whole thing.

Noel shouldered her purse and walked back into the station. Dominic began speaking to the two of them just as Noel was entering the station.

"Lisette, Kayla...it might sound like i'm coming completely out of left field with this but...d'you think we should stick together? All of us, I mean. Out of those that got involved with the accident, not everyone would've gotten back on their feet as quickly as some of us did. They could use the help, especially by those that they can relate with. We've all been brought together by a relative event, the least we could do is try to make something out of it."

Noel smiled and approached the small group, "Sounds like a plan to me. We should exchange contact info." Noel's smile was frozen on her face for a moment before she realized what she'd just done. Her eyes were set on Dom as she spoke as if directing her words to him specifically. She blushed for a moment and mentally slapped herself across the face. She laughed nervously, "I-I mean, all of us should exchange contact info!" She explained motioning to the other students in the room.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! Fix this Noel!

"This whole thing... I don't think it's going to leave me anytime soon, but I'm willing to discuss it if anyone else here needs someone to talk to."

"So, you're the one who's got a ride, right? You wouldn't happen to be going anywhere near Larchwood Avenue, would you?"

Lisette looked over to find Kayla standing nearby. "Larchwood... I think I know where that is. It's a little out of the way, but sure, I can get you a lift there, no problem," she answered with a small smile. Kayla's comment about Lisette having a ride probably meant that the Asian girl - Lisette often had trouble differentiating between Chinese, Koreans and Japanese - didn't have transport of her own. Saying no, and leaving her to find a route home on her own, was a bit of a harsh move.

Not long after Kayla had made her request, the guy Lisette recognised as Dominic approached the two girls and spoke up. "Lisette, Kayla... it might sound like I'm coming completely out of left field with this but... d'you think we should stick together? All of us, I mean. Out of those that got involved with the accident, not everyone would've gotten back on their feet as quickly as some of us did. They could use the help, especially by those that they can relate with. We've all been brought together by a relative event, the least we could do is try to make something out of it."

Lisette took a moment to think over the proposition, tucking a stray lock of hair behind one ear. The offer seemed sincere... maybe if she ran into other survivors of the incident, she might stop and talk if she had the time. And now that Goldmar U was quarantined, she had all the time in the world.

"Sounds like a plan to me. We should exchange contact info. I-I mean, all of us should exchange contact info!" Noel chimed in soon after Dom finished speaking. The group seemed to have split up into a few splinters now: those standing near Lisette, and those who were scattered around the lobby to examine their personal possessions, having collected them.

"Hmm... Sounds good," she answered both Dominic and Noel with the same response. She pulled out her phone and offered it - hoping they would ignore the texts, voicemails and missed calls that she hadn't dealt with yet - for someone to take and add their contact details. Her phone was a simple one, a little archaic in that it wasn't a smartphone, but it got the job done.

"As for sticking together... well, that detective guy back at the hospital mentioned that Goldmar's been quarantined, so I don't have much else to do except stay at home. I have no major plans. If I'm allowed back at work, you'll probably find me there. You know The Festival? It's a café and bar just outside of the university," she explained. "Hmm. I'm probably going to end up seeing a fair bit of Goldmar while it's in lockdown, since I both live and work near there." She didn't sound particularly enthused by the idea.

Chris got up once most of the others had gotten their belongings and proceeded to fill out the form she was handed, handed it back once it was all signed and grabbed her belongings. She sat down while she went over everything, which wasn't a whole lot, really. It was just her handbag, sketchbook, pencil, phone and keys. Her phone battery had been taken out, so she snapped it back in and turned it on, seeing a few missed calls from her family and friends. Once she listened to them and put her phone back, she made her way towards the exit. A few of the others had gathered around there, but she didn't really want to talk to them right now. She just wanted to go home and forget all this.

Although, what they were talking about did somewhat grab her attention. Talk of sticking together, and another one of them mentioned exchanging contact info. It did sound like a good idea to her. She may not have been feeling chatty, but if the others wanted to stick together, then she wouldn't mind participating in that. She stepped closer to them and took her phone out of her handbag. "Here, you can put your numbers in here if you want. My name's Chris, by the way." she said in her soft voice as she offered the others her phone to put their numbers in.

A few of the others tried to fill the awkward silence in the lobby. Adam tried to work up the energy to try and join in but it just wasn't in him, what could he possibly say? What could anyone say about what had happened? An officer came out laden down like a pack mule, with everyone's bags hanging off their arms. Adam picked his bag out of the line up and scribbled up the signatures they wanted. He took his sweet time searching through it, even though he hadn't taken much with him the day of the 'lecture' checklisting his things gave him something to think about other than his current situation.

Now he had to go home. God, I don't want to go home...

He got up to leave and unwound the earphones looped around his beloved ipod. He tried turning it on, only to find the battery was dead. It must have goten turned on in his bag... great. He wandered over to the exit to find some of the other students gathered around, exchanging numbers and talking about getting in touch with eachother, support group style. It didn't sound like SUCH a bad idea, what else was he going to do, sit around the house and brood about it? He'd been pretty quiet though, it would be awkward to just blurt in on the conversation, he didn't know any of these people.

Come on Ad, don't be a douche.

The whole reason he went to Goldmar was to be more proactive, to take control of his life.

"As for sticking together... well, that detective guy back at the hospital mentioned that Goldmar's been quarantined, so I don't have much else to do except stay at home. I have no major plans. If I'm allowed back at work, you'll probably find me there. You know The Festival? It's a café and bar just outside of the university," she explained. "Hmm. I'm probably going to end up seeing a fair bit of Goldmar while it's in lockdown, since I both live and work near there." She didn't sound particularly enthused by the idea.

"Yeah I thought I recognized you earlier." He said, placing himself into the conversation. "I could get in on all that I guess." He passed his phone around to anyone who would accept it so they could exchange numbers. "Uh - Adam... by the way." He said, giving a small, crappy wave and a half-smile.

Sticking together? I don't really want to remember this happening and everyone wants form a club around it? Why? That's like Red March survivors reuniting to reminice. But when more people, including the girl she was banking on a ride from started to join in and offer their phones for contact info, it appeared that Kayla was going to have to go with the flow.

"All right, here's my phone," Kayla said, adding her device to the rotation. "Do your best to break it, I could use a new one."

As they passed around the phones and she started entering info in each one, Kayla tried to think of the place Lisette mentioned. Festival...OK, the little coffee place with the nice seating by the bay window, that's right. Good reading light, able to block the sun while working on the comp, and then all those lights at night. Huh, that means this girl quite possibly could have served me coffee at some point. And now we're linked by more than a tall green tea frappe. This world works in weird ways sometimes.

Talk seemed to be turning to plans. "I won't be doing much. Just more reading I suppose. All I seem to do." Though this does mean I could try a couple of the more complex recipes I got. That coconut shrimp looked pretty good...

"Hm." It seemed some had responded to the idea a bit more positively than Dominic was expecting. He was expecting at least one of the students to decline the offer, or tell him off. Instead, Noel approached the three and suggested they exchange numbers. "I-I mean, all of us should exchange contact info!" Flustered, she corrected her herself, and looked away from Dominic. He didn't fully realize the implications of her suggestion until he saw the tint of red that grew in her face. He smirked some before reaching for his phone. "Yeah, i'm down for that."

Before he could comment further, others in the area began to gather, and exchange pleasantries, including the more quieter ones. Chris introduced herself, as well as Adam. "Here, you can put your numbers in here if you want." She offered her phone. Taking incentive, Dominic accepted it, fiddling with the device some as he went through the menus needed to add his info to the phone's address book.

"Chris, right? I'm Dominic." He looked up from her phone in that second, offering to shake her hand. "I've been meaning to talk to you...about how you're feeling. I remember you sitting next to me that day." He hesitantly followed up. "Are those even the right words to say? Am I doing this right? Paz said I should be more comforting, but I don't want to come off as insensitive in the process." He thought in an unsure, somewhat scolding tone.

After putting his number in, he called it using her phone. Expectantly, his vibrated in his pocket, signalling that he had her number as well. "...Uhh...Okay, that's my number. I'm (most likely) gonna be working on my graduation project for most of this week (if class'll be out), so if you call, i'll answer." He told her with the slightest of smiles as he handed her the phone. A wince on pain interrupted the motion, and put a hand to the gauze and wrappings on his head. "Welp, that expected headache's startin' up." He thought, moving to add his info to Noel's phone next.

Marcus signed the release papers and received his personal effects from the officer. Everything appeared in to be order, but the fact that his phone battery had been removed annoyed Marcus. The back plate battery door was held in place by two screws, and Marcus lacked such a screw driver on his person. Instead he put the battery in and slid the back plate into place, before pocketing the bag with the two screws he'd have to reinstall later.

Quickly he restarted his phone and once booted the battery bar showed a quarter life span; plenty of time before he'd get home. Quickly he checked to see if the video was still there, and to his surprise it was. Maybe they copied it, maybe they didn't know it was there, but Marcus only knew that it was still there.

Marcus began to pull up his previous conversation with his brother and text him to comeback, but the group of people from the hall talking about exchanging phone numbers and passing their phones around. Quickly he reverted back to the main screen and opened up his address book and joined into the circle.

"I might as well get your numbers as well. You never know if something comes up that everyone needs to know about. My program is done for the summer, so I should be available at almost any time," Marcus said as he passed around his phone while entering his number into others. In truth he was worried about side effects from the gas, not the stupid wing bullshit that someone said earlier, but actual problems like tumors or lung conditions arising.

After having finally calmed down, and getting visited by a understandably relieved roommate, the time came for Amanda to leave the hospital together with a group of other Goldmar students. Not before having a short talk with the police though, but that had been graciously brief. Not that Amanda had anything against the police, but she was still feeling a little bit shaken from the incident, and while the prospect of recounting events in full at a later date didn't exactly appeal to her it was something that she agreed was necessary. The officer had been rather nice though, arranging for her to get a phone call back home to let her parents know that she was doing well, much to their relief.

Once she had left the hospital and the other survivors in her group had gone off on their own, she and Maria, her roommate, had started walking towards the police station where her belongings were being held. Amanda had initially wished to just take the bus to the station and get back home quickly, but Maria had convinced her that she needed to just take things easy and calm down properly. Something Amanda felt she could hardly argue with considering the initial state she had been in when her friend had come to visit.

Taking it easy the two friends eventually got the Stonefalcon's 3rd Precinct, thanks to the map on Maria's phone, but their leisurely walk seemed to have put Amanda at the very back of the line when it came to reclaiming her belongings. Walking into the station it seemed that every one of the people that had been released at the same time as her was already here, either waiting for their things or having just finished waiting for them to be returned.

Walking up to the counter, Amanda briefly looked around at the assembled students and people she gathered were either friends of them or relatives as she noted the way some of them were talking. Seemed that some tensions were still running high after the incident, but it wasn't surprising, she could hardly say that she'd gotten over it herself. Still, with quite a lot of them standing near the entryway and chatting they seemed a lot more... Well, cheerful than she had first thought would be the case.

"Hello, can I help you?" The officer on duty asked her after a loud cough, drawing her attention back towards the desk in front of her and the officer sitting there.

"Ah, yes. I would like to retrieve my possessions... From Goldmar University." She answered with a little pause, Goldmar University was still liked heavily to the immense feeling of despair she had felt in the lecture hall, something that she was sure wasn't going to change in the near future. Not after she had heard about how many of her fellow students had lost their lives there. "Uhm... Name's Amanda Zegers."

What followed could be described as the usual back and forth of bureaucracy, with the officer asking her to describe her items, which she did, and him asking her to sit down and wait for them to find the correct items.

Thanking the police officer, Amanda and Maria found a vacant spot on one of the benches near the other students and sat down to wait for her belongings to be returned.

Chris took the offer and shook Dominic's hand back, then blushed a little at how he seemed to have been concerned for her. They barely knew each other and he cared about how she'd been feeling after this? Once he was finished talking, she responded to it. "W-well, I'm feeling about as well as someone would after what happened to us. I'm glad to see that you're doing better, considering the head wound you received back then."

When she mentioned that, she remembered that she did have a question of her own for him. "Do you know what happened to the sweater I used to put pressure on your wound? I didn't have it with me at the hospital, so I assumed you might have it." Maybe he didn't even know about the sweater, but she had to ask. It wasn't a big loss for her if it wasn't with him, but it would still have been annoying to lose a perfectly good sweater. Her phone was still going amongst everyone else, so she wasn't thinking too much about that at the moment.

"Sweater?" It was clear Dominic didn't know about the sweater. But by the way Chris described things, such an simple article of clothing might've played a bigger role than he could've expected. "It was that bad, huh?" He smiled earnestly through the steadily throbbing headache. "Now i'm really glad you were there. I probably would've bled out otherwise." As he talked, he brought his rucksack to his front, blindly rummaging through it to see if they left the sweater in his possession. Sure enough, after digging through the first layers of things that inhabited the bag, Dominic brushed his hand against something soft.

He pulled for it, the item squeezing past all the other things that had been placed atop it. What surfaced was a pristine white sweater (one of which Dom half-expected to be covered in blood, yet wasn't, he assumed they must've washed it before giving it back). "Was she wearing this when I first met her?" He couldn't remember. "It's a nice sweater either way." He folded it some before handing it to her. "So, I guess this means I owe you, right? What, with you basically saving my life n' all." Dominic queried with a playful smirk as he placed his bag back to its original position on his back.

Chris just smiled a bit when Dominic asked whether it had been that bad. "Well, I just did what I could do before the gas hit me and knocked me out. I'm just glad that you're alright and didn't bleed out." She gladly took the sweater back, took her handbag off her shoulder and put her sweater back on before placing her handbag back on.

She giggled awkwardly and rubbed the back of her head when Dom then said he owed her. "It was nothing, really. I couldn't just leave you there to bleed out when I noticed your head wound. You don't have to owe me any more than you feel you should." She didn't want him to feel like he owed her too much. It had been the least she could do for him, and it was enough for her to know that he was alright after all that happened.

Brent slouched out of his old bed. After being released from the hospital, his parents insisted he stay with them for at least a little while. Given that his father was a doctor, that was probably the best idea. Despite the comfortable and familiar surroundings, he was hard-pressed to find some rest. The trauma of the attack was still fresh in his mind, and he felt somewhat feverish. His attempt at a nap was mostly tossing and turning. After a while, Brent gave up and read the clock.

2:32 PM

His cell phone was still in the possession of Silverhollow P.D. so he had no alarm to wake him up. Not that he minded very much. But in any case, Brent still needed his phone back. It was being held at the police department, along with everyone else's stuff. He changed out of his sweaty clothes, showered, and got dressed. He threw on a black t-shirt and jeans; he wasn't in the mood to dress up. His parents gave him a ride over to the station and waited in the car as he went inside.

Brent recognized a few of the faces in the police station as he approached the front desk. The man behind the counter looked up from his keyboard.

"I'm Brent Foster...I was at Goldmar," Brent said quietly. "My cell phone's here, I need it back."

"Sure thing. First, I'm gonna need an ID," was the clerk's reply.

Brent produced his state-issued ID from his wallet and handed it over. The clerk examined it for a second and handed it back, satisfied.

"Can you describe the item in question?"

"An iPhone 4. Black case with a black-on-white plaid design on the back."

The clerk nodded. "It'll be a few minutes, Mr. Foster."

"No problem," Brent replied. He stepped away from the counter and leaned against a nearby wall. Some of the others were engaged in conversation. He didn't feel much like intruding, so he kept quiet.

"well it was... nice meeting you all." Adam said, going through the motions of social interaction.

He was still totally stumped with what to actually say to them after all that had happened so he stuck with the comfort of the familiar. When in doubt stic with the cliches, it was the family way! He took his phone back as it made its way around the circle and back to him. He shoved it in his pocket and shouldered his bag. Time to get going before things got awkward... again.

"Guess I'll head out. Um, see you guys around I guess." He moved through the door. "Bye." He waved, half turning back to them.

He thought he'd head to The Festival before going home. He still dreaded spending any long period of time with his parents more than the time he spent in the hospital somehow. I need a drink. Screw it if it's only early afternoon, I've been through a trauma! Yeah! That was enough to justify it to himself.

he walked on in silence, humming to himself. Adam had never like the quiet, he didn't know why, it just made him feel restless. Eventually he found his way to The Festival and managed to bag one of his regular spots in the corner, greedily hogging a group booth. Been through trauma! He told himself as a passing group glared at him and his self satisfied bag.

MAybe he should have invited the others?

The last of the numbers were soon exchanged, with Adam leaving soon after. "I guess we should go as well... see you around," Lisette noted, gesturing to Kayla that they should leave together. Her parents were a little surprised by the request for a lift, but agreed without any issues.


Nefarious' Journals:

Project Transcendence Log Update: Operatives within Elixir Hospital report no major activity for at least eighteen hours. That is to be expected. Passive subjects often cultivate the best results. Experiments 14 through 34 have shown that conscious minds do not cope as well with the transcendence procedure. Their bodies try to reject the serum. They feared the unknown: they should have embraced it. The same could be said of the Goldmar subjects...

Some survivors are apparently socialising with one another. They are not yet aware of the first signs. The changes will show themselves, soon enough.

Personal Entry: The incineration cannon schematics need some fine-tuning. Got to make it lighter: I want this thing to be man-portable. Two people in a team lugging the thing around would be a waste of manpower... Could it be fixed to a trooper's back and shoulder? Possible, possible. Would have to replace the SRT unit though. Strength over mobility in that case.

New plan. Fit the main part of the casing on the suit's back, build half a dozen prototypes and pick a handful for testing them.


Over the course of the next few days, the students were subjected to more than just the police knocking on their doors for witness statements. Groups from the press and news networks quickly took to setting up outside their homes or places of work, hoping for snippets of information, interviews or the opportunity to build on the developing story that was the Goldmar incident. Soon the President himself had visited Silverhollow personally to address the media and converse with a few of the survivors.


It was six days since the attack now, and Lisette was thoroughly sick of people knocking on her apartment door. She'd taken to both locking it and keeping the chain in place to deter people from badgering her with questions. If they had the look and mannerisms of a reporter - of any kind - she slammed the door on them after the third day. Always the same questions, poking at the details of the attack... she'd taken to slipping out the back of her building and taking a bus to The Festival. There had been some staring, but at least no-one was whispering behind their hands or anything.

Then the day after the Presidential visit - Lisette had stayed home to avoid getting caught up in it - federal agents had shown up at her door. A pair from the FBI. That had been a drastic change from the usual.

- - -

"You understand, Miss Gray, we have to look into every possibility. This might seem outrageous, but we need to know if you have anything at all to do with the attack."

"What?! No! I wasn't... involved with it, if that's what you mean. I got an email inviting me to a one-time lecture," she explained, surprised they even considered the idea that she had contributed to the attack. "The guy claimed to be a geneticist... at least, in the message I got. Some of the others said he had other professions."

"Alright... We asked because as far as we know, only a small portion of those who were caught in the attack were killed by the... 'genobomb', it was called. Let's move on. We have some video footage taken at the scene. Do you recognise this man?" One of the agents held out a slightly blurry still shot. Camera footage, slightly shaky, enlarged from the original size. But the face was clear enough. Lisette nodded. "Yeah, that's... that's the guy. Nefarious, he called himself." Her answer was rather quiet.

- - -

That had been yesterday, now. She was tired of sitting around at home during the day to avoid the press, and sneaking out to get to work. She'd been told by her boss, a slightly rotund man by the name of Mitchell Johnstone, that she was to take some time off to recuperate from the events. He'd pulled some strings and gotten others to fill in for her absence. However, the day after that, she'd refused to take 'don't come in' for an answer. She needed to get back to work; she didn't want to sit around like an invalid when she could be working.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon: Lisette wasn't due in for an hour or so yet, but she didn't really care. She wanted life to just return to normal, even though she knew it wouldn't for a long time. The Goldmar attack would be on the news for weeks, months even. All the same, she was trying to live as normally as possible. So she made her way through her apartment building, paying no heed to any of the handful of members of the press that were sitting around except to shield her eyes from their cameras.

The trip to The Festival was much easier by car than by bus. Once parked in the staff lot, Lisette breathed a sigh of relief. Here she could get away from the rest of the world. The Festival was a flashy enough bar, but it kept its ostentation down a bit compared to some of the others in Silverhollow. Where you could normally hear loud music coming from other bars or clubs, this one kept rather quiet. Just some music at the bar and the TV, more noise if a game was on. It was quieter than other bars, a little less frivolous.

Lisette liked it that way. She hurried inside, changing into appropriate clothing and affixing a name-tag to her top. Mitchell was manning the kitchen with a couple of others. "Lisette! You're early. What's up?"

"Nothing serious, boss-man, just needed a change of pace," she explained. "Need a hand anywhere in particular?"

"Haven't seen Monty yet... could you get behind the counter for a while with Roxy and serve drinks?" Mitchell asked.

"Sure thing," was Lisette's response as she slipped back out to the front of the bar. One other bartender was already present, a curvy brunette girl doing tricks with a cocktail shaker while a few guys sat at the counter and watched her work. "Hey, Lisette. How's things? People still knockin' on your door?" Roxy queried as she poured her shaker's contents into a glass, produced a garnish by sleight of hand, and slid the drink over to one of the waiting men with a wink and a smile.

"Yeah... it's not fun," Lisette noted quietly. "Couple of guys from the FBI, this time. That was... bleah." She took up an empty shaker, occasionally spinning it with a flick of her hand. "It's one thing to read about the whole Goldmar thing in the paper or watch the news... but another to be involved in it." Her expression turned sombre as she remembered the panic in the lecture hall. The screaming, the gunshot, the bomb... the past did not paint a pretty picture.

Roxy stopped and hugged Lisette, who returned the gesture. "Aww, I'm sorry. Let's get off that topic, eh? 'Sides, we got people watching. Sorry, gents," she added, turning back to the guys sitting at the bar. Most of them shrugged, save for one who raised an empty glass and a newcomer taking a seat, oblivious to the lull in activity. Roxy took the refill order, leaving Lisette to deal with the new guy. "Hey, what can I getcha?"

"Just a Bacardi and Coke, thanks," the guy answered, sliding the cash over with a generous tip. Lisette promptly got to work: she took up a glass, found the appropriate bottle from the bar's ranks of alcohol and poured a decent measure. There were no fancy tricks involved in this particular drink, at least none that she knew of. After filling the rest of the glass from a soda gun, she slid it over to the customer.

Both of them failed to notice the frosted handprint she'd left on the glass. It was soon obscured by condensation.

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