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Vigilantes [M]


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Somewhere, in an alternate universe...

Lucius Roscoe swore under his breath as he was buzzed through the gates of the imposing five-story building. Press could dress it up any way they wanted, this place was a goddamn prison for powered people. Security cameras? Security doors? High walls and barbed wire? Damn. Were they trying to keep bigots out, or keep the residents in?

For him, it was definitely prison. Or as close as he'd get, for now. Having made a mess of things back home, he was now here as per his deal in court. Get a grip on his power,s straighten up and fly right, join an officially licenced (or unofficially accepted...) team, or else, he'd be sent to a facility that was qualified to hold powered people, and in all likelihood never see the light of day again. Part of him was still weighing that option.

He walked through the spacious grounds to the tall building. They were on the far side of New York City, but ground this big... still a luxury. Then again, probably no one wanted to be a very close neighbor with people who could create lightning and turn into jaguars and whatnot. Or... people like Lucius. Wearing torn jeans and a leather jacket, with a beat-up duffle bag slung over his shoulder, despite his young age he was the kind of person decent folks gave funny looks at. Even without knowing why he was wearing thick, elbow-length gloves in this nice spring weather.

Lucius whispered one last "fuck me" before he sighed, and rang the doorbell. This place was going to suck.

@Sara

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"That's the service entrance." She called out, eyeing the newcomer warily, flicking the barely smoked cigarette so ash dropped onto the blossom beneath the bench she was lounging on. She was not a habitual smoker, she did it when she was stressed and when she was nervous or when she was angry. Okay...so not habitual, but not sparingly either. She cleared her throat and stubbed it out, tossing it into the trashcan next to the bench. 

She'd been here for just under a year now, since she was eighteen and things had started to happen. It wasn't exactly a haven but her family - of course - had bartered for the best room, which was in effect its own apartment on the top floor, alongside the very best instructors. Money went a long way, even in a place like this. Still, despite its imposing barbed wire walls and dominating buildings, it was home, and not a home she liked being invaded. 

She gave the man a cursory once over as she stood up, smoothing out invisible wrinkles in the expensive pleated pants and cashmere jumper she was wearing. He looked like no good which, in her experience, suggested he was no good. "Can I perhaps help you with something?" She called out, folding her arms over her chest. "Or are you here for a delivery, perhaps?" 

 

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"That's the service entrance." 

"What is this, fucking Downton Abbey?" he quipped back, turning to look at the source of the voice. The girl looked like she bled money. Hell, in a place like this, she might have. She put out a cigarette and stood; Lucius' eyes flicked at the stub, sensing the faint flicker of a flame going out.

"Can I perhaps help you with something?"

She did not sound like she wanted to help with anything.

"Or are you here for a delivery, perhaps?" 

"I don't know, what are you delivering?" Lucius smirked, looking her over. She was a few years younger than him, probably - not many, since powers only manifested around 18 the earliest. It was weird, but it saved the world some superpowered toddlers. She was also not bad-looking, but she clearly did not like the idea of someone moving in. "I'm the new guy, I guess. Court mandated and everything. Where do I get the chip stabbed into my neck or whatever it is you people do?"

@Sara

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She tilted her head to the side, tossing long black hair over one shoulder and did not dignify his quip about deliveries with a response. Instead, she stared him down. The new guy. Really. She suppressed a groan. There were enough arrogant men here who thought their ability to warp water or bend spoons was Gods gift and warranted fawning attention and affection from everybody, Camilla herself included. She had no time for it. The fact that this one was court mandated spoke volumes.

"It's in your arm, and it's a tracker. Follow me." She jerked her head and set off at a genteel pace around the side of the building through the grounds. She didn't spare him a glance. Of course, had she really wanted to she could have just made him follow her but that wasn't the sort of introduction she wanted to make. Besides, establishment rules forbade using powers on other residents. "You could, perhaps, look more enthused being here." She called back to him and then finally spared him a glance. He looked older than her, but not by much, and the gloves caught her attention immediately. Curious. "It's prestigious." 

 

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"It's in your arm, and it's a tracker. Follow me."

Lucius' face fell.

"Are you sh... that was a joke!"

He did follow anyway, as she walked around the building to the... non-service entrance? Although he did consider bolting again. Helloo, Big Brother. One would have thought powers came with more freedom.

"You could, perhaps, look more enthused being here. It's prestigious." 

This time, he actually laughed out loud. It was so damn funny. Prestigious... Where did this girl even come from? "Let me guess. Your power is that you bleed blue and your shit don't smell?"

@Sara

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Camilla's lips twitched. It wasn't a joke, but his horror was amusing. His second comment wasn't though. "Ugh." She rolled her eyes and straightened the jumper over her waist, drawing to a stop, half-way around the building. 

"You are ten seconds into your court-mandated new life and you are already not making any friends." She tilted her head to the side and studied him. "Would you like a suggestion?" She offered it anyway, her red lips twitching in a sly smile. "Don't act so special here. Because you're not. I can guarantee that whatever you can do, somebody in there -" She gestured with her head to the building, "Can top it. So don't." She eyed him - the ripped jeans, the leather jacket, the duffel bag. He wouldn't fit in here which, she hoped, meant it would be a very short stay. 

"But I'm so sorry, forgive me, I'm being terribly rude. Camilla Birch." She thrust out one of her hands to shake his. 

 

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"You are ten seconds into your court-mandated new life and you are already not making any friends."

Well duh. He was not here to have pajama parties with the budding superheroes. And it was not like she was being very friendly either. Lucius tilted his head, holding her gaze as she spoke.

"Would you like a suggestion? Don't act so special here. Because you're not. I can guarantee that whatever you can do, somebody in there - Can top it. So don't." 

That was... oddly reassuring. She didn't need to know that. 

"But I'm so sorry, forgive me, I'm being terribly rude. Camilla Birch." 

"Lucius Roscoe. I don't shake hands." he stated; she could get a clue from the gloves, or just conclude he was being an asshole again. He smirked at her a little. "So... should we be friends, Camilla Birch? Maybe we can braid each other's hair."

@Sara

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"You'd have to wash yours first." She offered. "And given you think my hands can't handle yours, I won't entrust my hair to you. My haircut was not cheap." She gave him a smug, self-satisfied little smile. 

"But no," She turned on her heels and pivoted back to walking towards the entrance. Nobody else was milling about - they were likely either in practice or spending their time with their own hobbies, few of which interested her, "Let's not be friends. We might be teammates and friendship would complicate that." She was on good enough terms with those the instructors had placed with her, but not close. They said it was better that way - if you didn't let your emotions get the better of you. "So would you like to talk about the elephant in the room?" She called out, "What's with the gloves, Lucius Roscoe?" 

 

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"You'd have to wash yours first. And given you think my hands can't handle yours, I won't entrust my hair to you. My haircut was not cheap."

"Yeah I'm starting to get the idea" Lucius muttered as they walked on. Nothing about this girl was cheap. He winced at her comments about his hands and her hair, but she didn't notice. Probably. 

"But no. Let's not be friends. We might be teammates and friendship would complicate that."

"Fine by me" he muttered. Complicate things? It wasn't like he'd asked to sleep with her. The girl had nerve...

"So would you like to talk about the elephant in the room? What's with the gloves, Lucius Roscoe?" 

"Oh this?" He shrugged. He didn't like being called out, but she was going to find out sooner or later, so he tried to play it cool. He had paperwork and everything. Court making sure he couldn't hide his powers. "I set shit on fire."

@Sara

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"You...set things on fire?" She glanced over her shoulder and slowed to a stop again, brow quirked. "For fun or just...?" That was a terrible joke but the smile on her lips was genuine. She was intrigued. They had another guy here who could control fire, warp it and bend it - like he could do with water as well, but not anybody that could actually cause them. 

"Just by touch?" She glanced down at his hands, a little wary. "So if you took off your gloves and touched that tree," She gestured to it - "Poof, up it goes in smoke? Or a person?" That...sounded wildly inconvenient. No wonder he was here to learn how to control it.

 

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"You...set things on fire? For fun or just...?"

Lucius rolled his eyes. Now she was making jokes? Why was she way more curious about his powers than she was about him?

"Just by touch? So if you took off your gloves and touched that tree... Poof, up it goes in smoke? Or a person?"

Lucius winced again, squirming under the questions. "Not... quite how it works. But yes, things tend to... catch fire when I touch them. Hence, gloves. They promised me better ones for training." He tilted his head, staring back at her. "Your turn."

@Sara

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"Well, I'm sure I'll see exactly how it works tomorrow in class. Newbies always get to demonstrate." She gave him a smug little smile again and then shrugged. Setting things on fire was...well...impressive. It was visual and easy to see. No wonder the court had made a fuss (she made a mental note to google him later). Hers was...well...tame by comparison. 

She cleared her throat, "I distract people. I use a sense...it's hard to explain. I push out energy and people turn and look at me. Follow me, come to me." She shrugged. "It's useful in its own way." The two times she had been out with her team on small missions she had felt almost embarrassed. All she was good for was being dropped in the middle and being used as trap to lure others to their doom. 

 

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"Well, I'm sure I'll see exactly how it works tomorrow in class. Newbies always get to demonstrate." 

"Funsies." Lucius groaned. The last thing he wanted was to show off his powers in front of a bunch of other judgmental pricks.

"I distract people. I use a sense...it's hard to explain. I push out energy and people turn and look at me. Follow me, come to me. It's useful in its own way."

Lucius blinked, looking her over. "You are... your actual power is being the center of attention?" That explained so, so much. He grinned at her, shaking his head. "And they put you on a team?"

@Sara

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She wrapped her arms around herself self-consciously and straightened her spine. "Yes. I suppose to put it crudely." She snapped, before adding; "And of course they did. When you're faced with an army and need a distraction and don't have one, be sure to think of me." He'd already gotten under her skin and they'd only been talking for five minutes. She knew hers was not the loudest or the proudest of powers, she probably could have gone through life undetected if she'd really wanted to, but their was glamour in recognition and her parents had pushed for a place for her here. 

She clicked her fingers and gestured with her head. They were only half-way to the door. The campus grounds were...excessive. "May I ask what you did that the court felt this was appropriate punishment?" She asked, trying to divert conversation back to him. "You know you actually have to put in work here? You can't just quip your way through?" 

 

TAG: @Chevi

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 "Yes. I suppose to put it crudely. And of course they did. When you're faced with an army and need a distraction and don't have one, be sure to think of me." 

"Fair point." The girl could glamour an army into following her? Okay, now it was impressive. Also, terrifying. She did not look like she was cut out for that kinda responsibility. Also, it was dawning on Lucius that she could just make him follow her if she wanted to. What a freak show.

Instead, she snapped her damn fingers.

"May I ask what you did that the court felt this was appropriate punishment?"

"We're not there yet, princess."

"You know you actually have to put in work here? You can't just quip your way through?" 

"Starting to get that" he sighed. "So... how does this... team thing work? Does everyone have to be on one? Do I get to pick?"

@Sara

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"I'm not your princess." She offered him a glare over her shoulder, but nonetheless was helpful in acclimatising him to his new life. "We're not there yet Lucius." She chuckled, "First you have your medical and then fitness tests and then you have your power demonstration with the instructors and head of the establishment watching. Then they..." She shrugged, "Watch you. You attend class and instruction and training, and they see what your skills are and what needs work," clearly a significant amount, in your case"And then no - you don't get to pick, and yes you have to be in one. They assign you a spot and then you train together." 

It was a simple system, but it was effective. The teams were well-complimented in terms of powers and skills. Not so much personalities, but that seemed almost incidental to their instructors. "Why? Desperate to be on my team are we? Sorry," She grinned at him, "Mine's all full up. But I hear there's a couple looking for a new elemental. One of them can bend and stretch his body and the other," She sniffed, "Can produce smells. I'm sure you'll have a terrific time." 

 

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Well, that sounded like a whole lot of pain in the ass. Especially the being watched part. Lucius had been just fine on his own; being evaluated and judged, and being on a team... none of that sounded like fun.

"Why? Desperate to be on my team are we? Sorry. Mine's all full up. But I hear there's a couple looking for a new elemental. One of them can bend and stretch his body and the other. Can produce smells. I'm sure you'll have a terrific time." 

"Bend and stretch?" Lucius raised an eyebrow. "Met a girl once who could do that. Not sure it was a power though." He chuckled. The last thing he wanted was to be on Camilla's precious team. No doubt she bossed all of them around. Lucius sighed. This was going to be a long ordeal, and he was not looking forward to any of it. "They better have a training facility that's fireproof."

@Sara

 

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"Are you always this crude to women you've never met before?" She asked with amusement somewhere in her voice, but she was trying not to show it. Damn him. 

"They do." Her lips twitched as they finally pulled up to the main steps of the grand old house that doubled as the establishment. Or was a facade for it anyway. She arched a brow and gestured with her head. "Ready, recruit Roscoe?" She didn't wait for an answer as she took the steps two at a time and then scanned the chip in her arm to open the door. And then again for a steel-plated internal door. It slung open to reveal a sprawling complex. There was already somebody waiting for them the moment they stepped inside.

 

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"They were not kidding about the chips..." Lucius muttered, following Camilla through the doors.

The check-in was a hassle, as he'd expected. He did get chipped like an expensive fucking pooch, and had his paperwork filed and registered. He got dorm keys and room assignment and training schedule and a fucking uniform, all ready to go. And then, as the cherry on top, he got Camilla as a tour guide, because... well, because she was there, and maybe because everyone already knew that she was an overachiever. He was told she'd fill him in on the ground rules, and that was basically that. But hey, at least he got a room to himself, because elementals like him required insulation.

"Alright" he sighed as he left the office, rubbing his forearm where the chip had been injected. "I bet this is your favorite part. Tell me the rules."

@Sara

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Camilla waited, tapping her heeled foot impatiently as he was checked in. She knew where to take him (the canteen, the grounds, the gym, the rec room) and where not to (the isolation wards, the infirmary, the instructors offices, her apartment etc). Still, the smug smile on her face spoke volumes as he reappeared with his sore arm and bundle of things to carry. 

"So many I don't know where to start..." she chuckled, "They're in your paperwork but...key ones are, this way-" She said as she tried to direct him past the grand staircase and through a labyrinth towards the canteen, "You can't use your powers on any other resident, you can't enter into a relationship with any other resident unless they sanction it," although 'relationship' was loosely defined and thus, the rule was frequently flouted as the gentlemen whose room she'd slept in for the past two nights would attest, "You can't leave without permission...what else...what else..." She tapped a finger to her chin as she thought, "Oh, obviously using your powers for unsanctioned missions is..." She drew her finger across her neck and made an 'eek' noise. "What else do you want to know, recruit?" 

 

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"So many I don't know where to start... They're in your paperwork but...key ones are, this way-"

Lucius followed along. He should probably see his room first, but he wouldn't find it without her, so he was basically at her mercy. He didn't like it.

"You can't use your powers on any other resident, you can't enter into a relationship with any other resident unless they sanction it,"

"Seriously? What is this, a nunnery?"

"You can't leave without permission...what else...what else... Oh, obviously using your powers for unsanctioned missions is... What else do you want to know, recruit?" 

Lucius still bristled at the 'can't leave' part, and frowned.

"I'm gonna assume smoking is okay, because I don't think you'd break the rules. Does this place have booze, though? Because it sounds like I'm gonna need some. What else... do they give us the cutesy nicknames, or is that just a superhero fashion thing?"

@Sara

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"Not a nunnery," she chuckled, "But think about it - two residents are in love and they go on a mission together and something goes south?" She winced, "Recipe for disaster." it was the same reason they didn't promote the friendly, collegial atmosphere they tried to portray to the outside world. It was easier to cope with losses - and there had been some - when nobody really liked each other. 

"Smoking is my one vice. Feel honoured you saw it, and no, no booze. Most of us are under twenty-one." She rolled her eyes. "But you can go to a bar if you're that desperate and have permission and sign out...monthly, I think is the rule." For much the same reason they didn't want residents in love, they didn't want hem drunk either. "And no, no cutesy nicknames, don't worry Lu." She smirked, "Here -" She gestured to an oak panelled room as they finally made it, "Is the canteen. Breakfast is at 6, lunch is at 12, dinner is at 7. Anything else you want you're going to have to go out and buy...if you get permission and sign out." This was going to be fun.

 

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"Not a nunnery. But think about it - two residents are in love and they go on a mission together and something goes south? Recipe for disaster." 

"Whoa, princess. No one was talking abut love." Lucius rolled his eyes. They were all adults in this building; forbidding relationships seemed a bit problematic. Sure, yeah, company policy and whatnot... but it wasn't like he'd signed up to be here voluntarily. Duh. Maybe there wasn't even a person in this joint he'd like to sleep with anyway.

"Smoking is my one vice. Feel honoured you saw it, and no, no booze. Most of us are under twenty-one. But you can go to a bar if you're that desperate and have permission and sign out...monthly, I think is the rule."

Smuggling booze it is.

"And no, no cutesy nicknames, don't worry Lu."

"No."

"Here - Is the canteen. Breakfast is at 6, lunch is at 12, dinner is at 7. Anything else you want you're going to have to go out and buy...if you get permission and sign out." 

"Thanks. I hate it." Lucius sighed. Meal times and permission slips. Freaking prep boarding school. "Can we go find my room now?"

@Sara

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She chuckled, despite herself, at his sarcastic quip and rolled her eyes. “The food is actually good.” evidently he was still stuck in his high school mentality of thinking it was cool to imagine that everything sucked

“You don’t want to see the gym? The pool? The rec rooms? The training facilities?” She arched a brow, “Fine, come on then new boy.” She jerked her head and strode back down the ornate corridors up to the sweeping staircase that led upstairs to the dorms. She didn’t wait for him as she started to climb. She overheard where he was. Turns out court-appointed training didn’t mean funding nice digs. She smirked and relished the thought of her own pristine apartment on the top floor. 

“Oh, another rule - you can obviously leave with permission to see people but there’s an open day for visitors at the end of each month. You just need to put the names behind the front desk for those you want to come.”

 

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Gym. Pool. Training facilities. This place really had it all. But Lucius felt like his brain was about to explode, and it wasn't even the afternoon yet. He needed a place to be. Not like he'd feel at home in it, but at least it'd be... quiet and Camilla-free.

"Whatever" he shrugged at the idea of visitors. He didn't really care about that. He followed Camilla to the dorm wing.

"So, if you're not twenty-one yet" he ventured "You what... graduated straight here from prep school? Was this the actual career plan?"

@Sara

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