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A Silence Loud (IC)


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October 23rd. 6:30 PM

He staggered a couple steps, disorientated. There was no explanation, no words, and his mind was reeling. So used to the relative silence he was getting crushed under the oppressive tide of humanity on his head. He could not filter them all out, so sudden was the shock, that he was reeling and then falling to the rooftop as blissful darkness descended on him.

She screamed.

He screamed with her.

Experiences shared when the veil of the self was as pierced as a pincushion.

Shock and forgetting to breathe, then remembering.

Waking as the dreams and fears and presence of them all around him was still surging.

It hurt so much, and it wasn't all his.

But it felt like his, and separating it out was not a skill he had worked out yet.

Coming awake with a start, pain surging and throbbing he pushed himself to his feet, and looking down at himself, his mind acclimating and organizing and sorting. Staggering to the edge of the roof he looked down at Southside, seeing people in larger numbers than he had ever been used to. Drawing in a slow breath, and shuddered he closed his eyes and this time and slowly reopened his his mind, knowing the sea of humanity was there, and instead he touched the thoughts of those around him, carefully, making sure that he was just skimming the surface, trying to get his bearings as Uncle Corso hadn't given him much information before he went back for his mother.

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Heraldo soared elegantly through the air, a glowing trail of golden smoke following in his wake as he swept over the rooftops of Freedom City's southern area. He had been taking recent steps to try and get a feel for what patrolling was like in practice rather than just hearing what his schoolmates said about it. The districts close to his family home and Claremont Academy had been the most obvious place to start, and so Southside had a new flyer in its sky.

He kept a close eye on the ground not far below and a careful ear out for any calls for help or cries of distress, his powerful hearing giving him a definite boost in his ability to find people in trouble. 'This feels..right.' he thought, as he prepared to swing around and do another sweep of the rambling, slightly rundown district when suddenly at the edge of his hearing he caught the sounds of labored breathing, uncertain footfalls and the noise of someone collapsing onto a hard surface. At once he stopped, perfectly vertical in the air with his clothes and grand Banner fluttering in the breeze, before whirling around and darting off towards where the sounds came from, a grimy and water-staned roof on which the sprawled figure of a man could be seen lying.

With a faint rush of wind and a distant cry like soldiers answering a call to arms, along with a thud of his booted feet, El Heraldo landed neatly on the dirty surface next to the other boy, kneeling quickly next to him and placing a gloved hand on his shoulder "Hola! I am the Herald of the Blue Dame of Puerto Rico, do you need help getting down from here, or medical attention? You seem unwell citizen" he added anxiously, glancing over Elias with concern from behind his cloth mask. "Will you tell me your name?"

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Wisp performed a series of flips and rolls through the air between each 'jump' from one rooftop to the next. While she may have graduated from Claremont months ago, she still liked to patrol the areas not terribly far from where other students might be found doing the same.

It didn't take her long to run across one of them either. Noticing the trail of gold smoke off in the distance, the young teleporter adjusted to meet up with El Heraldo, and quickly made her way in a red and white smoke trail of her own.

She appeared beside the Puerto Rican boy, having missed Elias due to being sheltered by Subito's form. "Hey. First time I've seen you out on patrol. How go the rou-" she cut off as she noticed the other young man on the roof. Concern was her first reaction as she kneeled down next to him. "Are you okay sir?"

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Blodeuwedd always patrolled these streets; it helped that she kept a apartment nearby. Today she was simply on her way back to school after maintaining her cover. She wasn’t really looking for trouble so it was a stroke of luck that she looked up to see the mysterious stranger on the roof.

It would have been easy to ignore him and just walk on but then again he could be in serious trouble. Swearing using Welsh that no good girl should know, she began to clamber up the side of the building deploying her cloak around her as she did. By the time she’d arrived El Heraldo and Wisp had already arrived there. She moves silently so she was just behind Subito ear and then asked.

“Fancy meeting you here! Anyone know what’s going on?â€

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And he blinked. People crowding on him, or what he felt was crowding. Used to gulfs of space with minimal contact outside of his mother and Uncle. He could feel them, tremors on the web, and his eyes closed, sensitive even to the lights right now. He slowly edged away from them and back against the wall. Elias didn't immediately lash out, he wanted to, but recognized he was confused, but it was hard to sort it out now. Of course they came on him as he was tentatively reaching out with his mind, and so his scan swept over them. Trying to find hostile intent among them. Hands falling from his head, his eyes still closed, and he drew a deep breath to steady himself, despite the lancing pain behind his eyes.

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El Heraldo smiled kindly down at the other boy, beginning "Citizen, I can assu-" before Cerys' voice suddenly burst out behind his ear, sending him toppling forward with a startled cry, nearly slamming face-first onto the rooftop and catching himself with his freer hand, getting quickly back to his knees and glancing irritably at his friend, rubbing his ear "Come on Blodeu, don't do that! It's funny, I admit, but now ain't the time." he turned back to the clearly distressed teen

"I am sorry. That won't happen again."

Subito's mind was entirely vacant of violent desires towards Elias, busy as he was with trying to assure the other boy that he wanted to help him.

'Alright, alright, that was a bad idea. Need to back off. Wonder if he's part of one of the gangs around here, got into more trouble than he could handle?' he thought as Elias backed away sharply, getting to his feet and stepping backwards, holding out his right hand palm-outwards and saying gently "Don't worry. None of us here have any intention of hurting you, and no bad intentions towards you at all. Can you tell us who you are? Where you live?"

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Wisp felt... something pressing against her mind. She glanced over her shoulder as at nearly the same time a third stranger appeared on the rooftop. After a brief moment of curiosity at the newcomer's identity, she returned to the obviously distressed young man.

She did her best to convey her lack of aggression by not moving forward when the boy pushed himself away, the only obvious emotion on her face being concern for a teenager in an obvious form of pain.

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His eyes open, startling bright against his skin and features, he looked at them carefully, as if not trusting what he felt from each. Especially the one who startled the other guy, as she fended off his sweep. He set his jaw mutely for a moment, and glanced to the city, imposing to him, and he hadn't even really seen a lot of it. "I don't think I have a home..." He spoke softly, his accent hard to place, it apparently having a lot more fluidity on the consonants than was normal. A frown on his face, as the gravity of the situation started to hit him when the pain subsided. "I am lost in where I am supposed to be." He slowly knelt down and picked up a bag that he had dropped. "I am to be at Claremont, is it far?"

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"No home? I'm sorry, I had no idea" El Heraldo said more gently, looking glumly at Elias for a moment. Clearing his throat he went on more strongly and with better cheer "So you have just arrived? Welcome to Freedom City! A super place to be, I can assure you!" he offered the other boy his hand and a winning smile "You were supposed to show up at Claremont Academy? Luckily for you, we have one of the fastest travelers in the city right here" he said with a flourish of his red gloved hand and a slight bow to Wisp at his side. "She can get you there in moments! If she's not able to right now due to needing a prodigious amount of food(as she does), I can carry you there myself" he concluded, with a snap to attention and a clack of his Banner on the roof. He grinned at the teen before adding "Also, I still do not know your name. Can you tell us what it is? Or is it too dangerous for us to know?" he sounded suddenly anxious, and he looked it.

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Glancing at her friend she whispered, "Easy Heraldo. He's looking a bit overwhelmed right about now." Turning her attention back to the stranger, the pressure on her consciousness from a minute ago gone, she nodded, "Like my compatriot said, I can get you over to the school in just a few minutes. I know the campus well and you look like you could use someplace to catch your breath."

"My name is Wisp by the way," the white haired teen said with a reassuring smile as she extended a hand to what seemed to be a likely candidate for enrollment at her old high school.

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He blinked a little bit, as his eyes seemed to scrutinize each of them with a worldliness that was surprising. "Those aren't your names." His surprisingly deep voice did it's odd cadence and twisting in the space between them all. His gaze lingered on them for several moments before he turned his head and looked back over that portion of the city. "I don't think they are expecting me. This wasn't planned..." His voice trailed off, it was hard trying to shut out all those minds out there, like the rush of a wave it kept washing over him again and again. That was what his mind felt like, tidal. "I can feel them. There are so many. I am not use to that. Not used all of them..." Closing his eyes again and leaning his head forward a little in thought, he lifted up his hand towards them without feeling them. "Movement is better than stillness now."

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Blodeuwedd stepped forwards keeping her body language neutral, the man was still confused and she didn’t want to startle him.

“Many in our profession choose to keep their true identity secret for their own safety. I am however Blodeuwedd.†She relaxed her mind the best she could so he could skim her thought, and to her own mind she was Blodeuwedd “It may be different where you come from but many people here dislike others reading their minds without permission.†She kept her tone neutral and matter of fact.

She reached out and placed her hand near him, but not touching.

“You seem still disorientated y your journey. I suggest you take a few moments to regain your composure before we travel onwards. Here is as good a place as any.â€

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Apparently the other boy was still unsure of his surroundings and the people around him. 'Can't blame him for that,' El Heraldo thought to himself 'I'd feel the same myself. I might as well slow down a little, I guess.' he nodded in affirmation of how Blodeuwedd explained the need for secrecy and assumed names, volunteering "She's right. That and it would be churlish of us to put our families and friends at risk, in case we ever anger someone who has access to a phone book. Also, if you want to know something from us, you can always just ask rather than delving into our minds." he said wryly, sliding the flaring Banner back into its ring on his back as he went on "You are wholly right, stranger, my name is not El Heraldo, but it is what I am, the Herald of a higher power, in my case the very spirit and national will of Puerto Rico! This lady is called 'Wisp', because in battle her power to leap from place to place at will makes fighting her like fighting a shred of mist. Which can punch you extremely hard." he gestured to his schoolmates in turn "This other, much more Welsh lady is called Blodeuwedd, for she is very pretty, and can sneak up on just about anyone without their knowing it." he said with an entirely straight face as he sat down facing the extremely strange and tense boy.

"Agreed on waiting at least a little while. Would it help to put you at ease if you told us a little about yourself? What and who you are, how you got here and other such tales? We-" he stopped suddenly, adding "If you don't wish to tell us, then by all means say so, I will never ask again." he said bluntly, with the apologetic tone used also by people asking others if they were talking too much.

'Gah! I'm screwing it up! Perhaps it would help to put you at ease if you did not talk so much? Hey! I say stuff when I talk! Well then, how about not getting so caught up in wanting to impress that girl whenever she enters your sight? ...Fine.'

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Wisp had to bite back at chuckle at Heraldo and his attempts to flatter the Welsh girl. Guess he and Janis didn't work out. Such a shame, they'd have made a cute couple, she thought as she followed her friend's lead however and slowly took a seat on the roof, her back resting against an air conditioning unit. She made sure to keep her hands clearly visible.

"My Puerto Rican patriot friend is correct, a villain with a phonebook or a smartphone capable of connecting to google could pretty much ruin a hero's life. Thus the masks and codenames," she said with an easy smile.

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He took it in impassively. "I understand masks. Better than you do." Normally a pronouncement like that carried extra weight to it, be it ego or anger or something, he said it so matter-of-factly that it was almost off putting, but then he had a strange affectation with how he spoke, like he was half-paying attention to them. And more to something else. He looked at Bloduewedd for a moment, and nodding. "Why would he tell me you're pretty? And not describe Wisp like that as well." His tone conveying surprise, if somewhat stilted. Then his eyes sweeping back to Heraldo, examining him carefully. "Everyone wears a mask, don't they? Honesties they don't share. Emotions buried or hidden... I am Elias. Your word for me is telepath. Those are as much my names as not. My father came for me, and my mother had someone bring me here, telling me to go to Claremont. I do not know this place. I am not used to this many people... shutting them out is... difficult."

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Blodeuwedd couldn’t help but smile, it was true that Wisp was a very attractive woman and currently her face was hidden by the hood. And it was nice to receive a compliment now and again, especially from Subito.

“I’m not sure I’m the right person to comment on that, maybe El Heraldo could enlighten us all?â€

She listened to the rest of the young man’s words with interests, living how she did she’d never had a problem with telepaths though she had been taught a few techniques to block there influences. Luckly she’d never had to test those idea’s so far.

“Well Claremont can help with that but have you not been taught any Meditation techniques? Try to focus your thoughts inwards, I know a few basic meditation techniques if that would help.â€

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"I hope you'll not be offended if I don't believe you there." Heraldo said crisply as he dropped the remnants of his 'hero' speaking style, something about the other boy's manner irritating him on some deep level. Removing his cloth mask with an easy movement, he looked grumpily at Elias. "So, your name is Elias? Nice to meet you, I'm Subito" he said with unfeigned warmth, shoving his irritation bodily aside and offering the other boy his hand with a broad, gleaming smile. "I dunno about everyone wearing a mask, but if you're a telepath, and someone's lookin' for ya, then Claremont's definitely where you wanna be! If you haven't had much practice with controllin' your powers, it'll be perfect." his smile faltered for an instant as he glanced at Blodeuwedd, for a moment he looked almost shy "What? It's true! Besides, that's what Blodeu's hero name means" he added defensively, blushing as he spoke "I..let's go, can we go now? Like I said earlier, me or Wisp can take you to the Academy if you want," he offered "Wisp doing it would be faster, of course. I'm guessing you were doing something around already, Blodeu? This area of town part of your patrol route?" he asked Cerys, casually dispelling the Banner into a golden fog that hung above him and standing at ease, though still awkward and looking more than a little flustered.

'... Oh go on, say it. Say it! ...No, that would be too simple. Next time.'

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Wisp shared a look with Blodeuwedd, amusement clear in her eyes before returning her focus to Elias. "Well folks, Subito raises a good point, Claremont is definitely the place to be if you're having a bit of telepathic overload. Fewer people and trained instructors," she said.

A short burst of autumn wind swept across the rooftop, blowing her long white hair to the side and sinking chilled teeth under her uniform, "Personally, my vote is right for the cafeteria. The headmaster should be there and we can get you a solid meal. No offense Elias but you look like you've missed a few lately."

Rising the young woman added, "As a bonus, I can have us there in under a minute."

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There was a pause and he looked at each of them in turn, and responded to them in a similar fashion. His expression still guarded. Glancing to Blodeuwedd for a moment, his bright eyes searching for something. For a moment he thought about conveying the thoughts to them, then opted against it. "And the feeling is mutual. Isn't it? It is not my thoughts I am worried about. I know mine. I am familiar with them." He weighed his options and then he smiled, amused, before he lifted his head and looked right into Subito's eyes and stepped closer to him, invading his personal space like it was a non-issue, his gaze not leaving, staying longer than was seeming. "You all are controlling your thoughts. Framing them. She trucks in secrets. They ask how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go, that's the phrase? Even when you are not wearing that one, you have at least one more. Or many more." His eyes flicked to Blodeuwedd for a moment, before he took Subito's hand and shook it three times, firmly, as his gaze returned to the larger boy's, his other hand covering both of theirs clasped together. "Less than we think."

Despite his challenging stance there was absolutely malice from him. He released Subito's hand, and stepped back. "More than we acknowledge. I ate earlier. We can go. If I don't irritate Subito enough for him to punch me. Correction, enough for him to want to. Flower is more likely than him. Tie between Wisp and Flower."

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Subito looked remarkably uncomfortable when Elias walked right up to him, leaning subtly backwards as the two shook hands. He was surprised at how strong and smooth the telepath's grip was 'Whoa, nice hand-damnitdamnitdamnit NO. Absolutely nobody but you is this upset about that my Herald. Let it go. No.'

"Alright! Glad we've got that out of the way. And don't worry, it'll take a lot more'n that to make me want to really punch you." he followed where the taller boy's glance had gone " Though I think you'll need to wait a bit before you can go and call a cool girl 'Flower' like that dude. They might be a bit quicker to the punch than I am!" he said with a short laugh "Anyway, I'll bet Mr. Summers will be glad to hear you're good at masks, a whole lot of students at the Academy could use your expertise." he said with a totally straight face "Though springing the 'you truck in secrets' thing might need a little work." he turned to Victoria with a slight bow "Wisp, would y'please do the honors for our new comrade?" he asked politely "I'll come with if you want."

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Wisp moved over to the her friend and the stranger, "I'm a bit slower with the punching unless you're doing something outright illegal. On the way over here I had to demonstrate that on a guy trying in the middle of a carjacking actually. Anyway, I think I can get everyone in one big jump." Glancing at Subito and Blodeuwedd she added with a wink and a sly smirk, "Unless you'd rather make your own way, in your own time."

Taking deep breaths, the teleporter focused on their destination. This would be a tricky teleport given if everyone came along since her personal best was only about five hundred pounds of 'cargo'. Subito alone looked like he'd take up nearly half of that.

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If Blodeuwedd had one weakness if was her insatiable curiosity. Present her with a mystery and she couldn’t help but feel the need to try and find the answers. So far she had kept it in check, and in current line of work it was quite an asset. And this young man was a quite a mystery.

The easiest and best was to follow him back to Claremonts and watch how he dealt with people. Though mainly she just want to help the poor boy out, much like had been done with her when she had first arrived.

“If it’s not to much trouble I’d like to travel back with you.â€

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Elias nodded then, rubbing at the bridge of his nose, as he looked to them, each in turn. It was clear he was thinking, weighing and considering. Though that seemed to be how he was all the time. It was what his mother taught him, plan ahead, have contingencies, be prepared to improvise. The survivalist mentality was not so conducive socially, but he understood how these things went, the necessity of it all. It was then he made brief eye contact with Wisp and gave her a small wary (and weary) smile, before his face tilted down and looked at the roof, with not even a whisper of his telepathic abilities now, as he was clamming out of need, more than anything else.

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Subito nodded shortly when Cerys made her decision "I'll come too." he closed his eyes, and the costume dissipated into a breath of gold, leaving him in his t-shirt, jeans and baseball cap. He stood at ease, smiling as he said to Wisp "When you're ready, Wisp."

'I wonder what this guy will turn out to be... Is it not plain already? Okay, fine, what ELSE he'll turn out to be.'

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"Okay," Wisp said as she opened her eyes and walked between Elias and Blodeuwedd, taking one their hands in each hand. "Heraldo, grab Blode's other hand. The three of you are going to be one the heavier collection of passengers, no offense but my 'cargo capacity' isn't terribly much compared to my usual lifting ability."

Once everyone was holding hands the white haired teleporter took one last deep breath, focusing on Claremont's cafeteria. A place she knew fairly well give how many calories she burned training with the rest of the Irregulars for the past year or so. Seconds later, the rooftop was empty of any evidence of their presence except a quickly dispersing cloud of smoke.

Half a heartbeat later, the collection of teens stood in front of the school's cafeteria, two-toned smoke seeming to roll off their bodies before being carried away by the wind.

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