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TheAbsurdist

Among the Sea of Faces (IC)

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November 5th, 6pm

One had to give him credit. He was quiet. Of course as other students had learned he didn't need to say a word to convey things. Fortunately they were used to telepaths. It helped ease the transition, as someone who could pierce into the innermost sanctum of one's thoughts could raise a lot of questions of whether someone was to be trusted. Fortunately that wasn't the cause of his issues in dealing with people, no that stemmed from his lack of having really dealt with a large number of people, and he was having to shield himself to a greater extent than he had previously, and until he adapted to the people around him, he felt his power would suffer. Of course his standoffish nature was noticed by others, including Heraldo, who decided the younger boy needed some time among others. Errant didn't feel like arguing with him, so it was easiest to go along with him, and take the time to practice being around people, as well as practice with his powers... along with this whole skateboarding things.

The hood of his sweater was pulled over his head, and he cruised alongside Heraldo, focusing on three things at ones, his web, his telepathy, and the skateboarding. It was tricky, especially when he was trying to listen to him as well.

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"...And that's Markovi's Greek diner down here" Subito rattled on briskly, walking with surprising speed as he kept pace with the other boy he insisted on calling Elias. "If you need a job, and don't mind dealing with fish for hours, it's not a bad choice." he added, with the air of long experience in such situations. 'What is with that skateboard? How does...it's like John and his guitar, just baffling'

It hadn't taken the extremely extroverted teen long to figure out that the reserved telepath was uneasy around people, and as was his wont he took it upon himself to try and get Elias acquainted with the fine art of being around his fellows in humanity, offering to show him around the areas of the city that he knew best, which were mainly Southside and the Lincoln district. The slightly run-down and crowded southern regions of Freedom City were where he had spent most of his life since his family had moved to the city, and on nearly every block there was some store or restaurant where he had worked for a while and every street they went down someone greeted him with a friendly wave. "Yo! How's it goin' Mr. Markovi? Good business? That's awesome, have a great day!" he called over to the wispy-looking owner of the diner as they passed it by.

He turned to the young psychic, gesturing to the busy streets in the waning light around them, deftly dodging around a harried-looking woman carrying several pieces of luggage and a baby in a sling on her back "So, what d'you think so far, El?" he asked eagerly "Feelin' any better?"

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And times like these Elias would respond in an incongruous fashion, even if it was tangentially related. At least he stopped answering questions that weren't asked, though it was hard to tell sometimes how much Elias was hearing. "I can gut and descale a fish easily." In truth he was moving slowly on the skateboard and frowning a little. He effortlessly dodged to the left as a bicyclist came up behind him, something Subito had seen him do quite a bit. He stopped then, abruptly, kicking up the skateboard, and he picked it up tucked it under his arm. "I still hear them Subito. I can feel that bit of trash fluttering across the street, at 7 o'clock. Feeling these things is not good for keeping a positive view of others, right now I'm trying to get them to be background noise, but it's like standing by the sea." He sighed a little and shook his head. "It is still new. Still... raw."

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"Feeling all those minds touching yours, rushing around you with all their alien thoughts and emotions?" Subito asked glumly, nodding in understanding "I have some idea whatcha mean Elias, back in the spring I was exposed to that Proteus mutagen, it gave me uncontrolled telepathy for a while. It was horrible. I kept sending my thoughts to other people and receiving their terror as the voice spoke int heir head" he admitted quietly, the stocky teen leaning against a lamppost as he explained, waving a powerful arm for emphasis "It was just for a few days. I can only imagine how it must be for you, yours seems a lot more powerful." he squinted at the darkening sky for a second before lowering his gaze back to the lean psychic. "Okay, we're runnin' a bit late. You wanna start heading back to the academy? We can try one of the less populated areas around town next time" he suggested with a bright smile.

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He blinked a little and looked up for a moment, craning his head back to do so. "They aren't alien." He said it flatly, without inflection, apart from his accent. "The are familiar. Their thoughts, their feelings, they rush in, and I know they aren't mine. But I accept them as mine. I remember them as no different than any other memory and I do not forget. This is not... horrible. This is... I am a blind man who can now see. This is... context I did not have before. It is just overwhelming. A little." This was an admission he had been dreading, because he knew that he was saying that he should be watched, that he had something of a timer to garner further mastery over his power. Or the tidal force of the minds of others might overwhelm him. Of course, revealing that he couldn't forget the thoughts his mind touched... that was a bit trickier, as he had the sanctity of minds impressed upon him before.

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"I meant alien as in 'not yours', which I guess is a pretty weird way to use the word" Subito admitted, feeling more than a little awkward. Apparently his own experience with the melding of minds wasn't nearly as close to Elias' as he'd hoped it to be. Casting about for how to proceed, he decided 'Elias, can I ask you what it's like to remember totally random thoughts from other people, and not be able to get rid of 'em?' Aloud he said "Glad to hear you say that it's not quite so bad as it was, partner! Keep it up, and you'll only sort of make folks wonder if you were born to space aliens" he said with a broad grin. He began to set off at a slow saunter, glancing casually around at the very familiar and much-loved storefronts, most of them bringing slightly dulled memories of hard work for little pay, though there wasn't so much as a trace of resentment about that. In fact he was almost fond of the places with their often dimming or flickering neon signs, clusters of jittery and unnerving Freedonians huddled in their shadow, the faint smell of decay and soft air of disrepute almost made him favor them the more.

"My family lives just a couple of miles west of here," he commented idly "there wasn't much work to be had in Lincoln, so me and Galanta, once we were big enough to pass for it, started doing jobs around Southside that we could find. Most of 'em weren't anything I'd like to do for any length of time, but it was always better'n nothing...hey El," he asked abruptly, sliding with all care around a small family talking loudly and laughingly amongst each other "what d'you mean, you've got context? Could you not parse thoughts as well when you showed up on that roof?"

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The way Elias flicked his eyes to Subito, it was clear that while he was not overtly reading his mind, that he could flat out just read people like books. For a kid to admitted to having limited human contact he seemed rarely surprised by the actions and the reasonings of people. But Subito knew that Elias' telepathy was not a subtle thing, his eyes flicked over to the family, and he just sort of stopped, and stared at them, his eyes searching. "Like I said. Blind man. Being around a handful of people means I wasn't used to the noise. Had never lived it. ...You know, you can just ask a question, worst case... I rip your mind into itty bitty pieces, and make you think you're Celine Dion." Said in such a dry way, that it was a little hard to tell if Elias was being serious.

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Subito glanced at Elias in irritation for a moment before suddenly growling "You know what El? I should introduce you to Sam sometime. You'd get along great. Leaving aside my latent inferiority, I understand your meaning better. A lot of us at Claremont had trouble at first dealing with their powers, it can take a lot of practice to refine and use 'em right." he shrugged, a little uncomfortably "I was one of the lucky ones in that I have a teacher constantly telling me in my head when I screw up." 'He has marginally improved. I have to correct him much less than used to be necessary.' intoned a deep, feminine voice that while loud sounded like it came from a great distance.

"So, how do you deal with other people's memories being in your head, and never leaving?" Subito asked curiously, his earlier irritation forgotten.

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He shrugged at the growl, his expression placid. "I didn't say you were inferior, I made a joke. Ha. Ha. People here weave around avoiding talking about things. Maybe it's because they're scared of me hearing their thoughts. But they do it with each other. Kind of hard not to just reach out and find out what they are hiding." A roll of his shoulders, and he glanced to the side looking at the people around them.

"I remember everything I experience. I think. Hard to test. That helps. I always remember my powers, so they... are a part of me. Mind like an ocean. It's about understanding which current feels right." Frowning a little bit, and he furrowed his brows in a scowl. "Not an answer. Sorry. I can show... but that might not be good."

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Subito looked deeply chagrined "Alright, I'll take your word for it. Sorry 'bout that," he added ruefully "that was an overreaction. I wasn't totally sure if you were makin' fun or not, is the thing. I'll borrow Cerys' Chessboard goggles next time, so I can see your smile's ghost. As for the weaving around subjects," he went on more thoughtfully, and less sullenly, pushing back his baseball cap emblazoned with the Freedom City Heroes' logo, ignoring the often unfavorable looks directed at him as he spoke "A lot of the time it's just because what they don't wanna talk about is too painful and difficult to say, like tellin' folks something shameful or evil you've done. If you just come out and say it, sure you won't be hiding something anymore and might get kindness and forgiveness, but it also might do them or someone else more harm than good to tell, and that chance some people just won't take. Or it could be they don't want to get into arguments or discussions that will just make things more bitter and difficult, and don't know how to find a way through the verbal minefield." He followed Elias' gaze as the leaner boy inspected the surrounding rush of Freedonians. He wasn't a native of the city, but he had lived in it for so long it felt like home to him, and only the distant and deep memory of rustle and bustle of people living even tighter together than here, of song and driving music reminded him of his real home.

The powerfully-built teen laughed outright at the errant New Freedonian's analogy ""Mind like an ocean"? Dude, that's a great description! You should take up poetry, I bet you'd love it." he sobered abruptly, looking curiously at Elias "How do you mean, El? Y'mean showing me might do something to my head, or what?"

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"Fear is a good enough reason I suppose." Said it evenly as he glanced to Subito and then gestured around them. "I know, I have not really been around a lot of people but... I have seen horrible ones before. Felt them. Know them. I can read people without using powers. It isn't really the telepathy you all call it, it's just be being honest about how little there is separating us. Tremors on the web. Eddies and currents" He looked at a couple, his hands slowly clenching into fists. "Know yourself, you know what memories are yours, the others feel like yours, but fighting them doesn't help, rejecting them doesn't help. Accept them. Let them flow around and over. Reach for them when there is need, but do not let it change yourself. That is as hard concept to grasp, I can show it better than explain it. Words are... hampered, imperfect. Thoughts are more pure, lacking the weights that draw them down...." He makes a face, and lifts his hands a little bit. "Like I said, hard."

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It took a few moments to fully comprehend what the telepathic teen was talking about, but at last Subito nodded slowly. It at least made some kind of sense to his undeveloped mind "Yeah, I kinda get what you mean. People's minds, they're a little like an ocean around you? An ocean that your own mind draws stuff out of, like emotions and memories?" he rubbed the back of his head, raising an eyebrow at Elias "Show me? You can do that? How?"

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"Words and speech are trying to translate the concept from your mind. I can... talk directly to your mind. Though I still tend to... You would call it 'shouting.' My first few tries caused a grand mal seizure. That doesn't happen anymore. But I can replicate that if needed." He said it in such a matter of fact, not conveying really a whole lot of emotion when he did. Turning his head to look at Subito then. "I project the concept to you, and you see it in your minds eye that I would see. Though most people are afraid of doing that, or do not like the concept of that." Then his voice went distant as he looked at two people walking on the other side of the street, his hands moving up to pull the hood of his coat over his face. "Especially when you realize that controlling another's mind is the same thing, you just aren't trying to keep your thoughts separate. You murmur quietly. Lull them. So that their mind isn't even aware the thoughts aren't theirs. That fear is understandable. Lines blur. Especially when you do not watch for them."

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Ah, that explained it. Trying to demonstrate what he meant was deeply dangerous for the one attempting to understand him. 'No wonder you're like this' Subito realized 'Your powers must make it hard to be any different.'

"Yeaaaah, El, might want to keep the 'give people seizures' thing as a last resort. If that." he cautioned bluntly and in a low voice tilted to only carry to Elias' ears. He walked on in silence for the rest of the brief explanation, nodding at the closing words and jumping lightly over a coin-operated newsstand that blocked his way "Okay, that makes sense, if we're not careful it might turn from you showin' me the world as you see it, into you controlling how I see and think about the world. That's a problem I've never even thought about with psychic powers" he admitted "I always assumed that everyone knew on some instinctual way that their thoughts were their own, and others not, and could sift through them that way."

After a moment's thought he said quietly "Elias, I'm sure you'll be able ta keep yourself from doing that. And mentally, I'm not totally helpless" he added with a cheerful laugh, smiling encouragingly at the teen telepath. His smile vanished abruptly when he happened to turn at just the right moment, and see something he had definitely not expected.

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"I was five. And some people's heads are echo chambers. I didn't mean for it to happen." His expression was a bland and looking a little confused at Subito. "You're doing it again. You make a face when you aren't saying something. She thinks it is cute. Probably." Shrugging and looking off into the distance, walking along without any trouble. "No, I can stop myself from... controlling people like that. Just... I couldn't keep the information to just you, other people would feel it as well. That's not good. I-" His words cut off as...

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GM

Explosions are common. Sometimes. Sometimes. In this city more so than others. Still people weren't unaffected about it. There was shrieking and screaming. It was around a bend, and off in the distance, so it was hard to tell, hard to see. What wasn't hard to see was the metallic man that crashed into the hood of a car, or more accurately he landed onto the hood of the car and his feet and legs ended up through the engine block. Subito heard the explosion, and true to form Elias was paying attention to several other things and seemed oblivious to this. So the emblematic hero managed to have his wits about him in time to see the man crush a late model station wagon, and even the look of confused terror in the faces as something more than genuinely startling happened to them.

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'To battle, my Herald! What, wait, where did..alright, fine. Grant me your power, O Dama Azul!!'

Ducking into an alley while the Southsiders around him jostled each other to either get closer or farther from the bizarre metal man, Subito found a small hiding place behind a mass of dumpsters. Concentrating, he suddenly burst into a flare of golden light, a sound like many marching feet, and a lusty shout like soldiers preparing for a charge. Resplendent in his costume as El Heraldo, he soared over the crowd trailing golden light that illuminated the evening crowds and blazed off of every storefront and car in the block, calling down joyously "Have no fear, citizens! You shall not go unprotected this day!" before landing next to the man tearing the car and throwing his arms around the strange invader, trying to get a grip on him before he caused any more havoc!

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GM

The metal skinned man pushed himself up out of the heap of the front end of that card. He looked like a like most anyone else, except with metal and carbon plates over his body, seemingly mimicking the musculature and ligaments. Shaking his head, and looking at Heraldo as he surged to him then. Pushing himself out of the car, managing to kick himself up and away from the car, trying to use the force of the leap and swung arm wild and wide over Heraldo. With the momentum of it all carried him to the asphalt, before speaking in a metallic, hollow sounding voice. "... You look like an idiot."

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Elias has been a little wrapped up in the dance of a plastic bag across the sidewalk. Then it was a warzone, and he winced, just a little. The next thing that happened was simple instinct, responding to the feeling of the impact, and he moved, dodging behind a parked car and hunkering down, looking around the bumper, and making sure his line of sight was an minimal as possible. That really mattered. Considering he felt the car get crumpled like origami paper.

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The cold, measured words didn't faze El Heraldo in the least.

"Well then, we have something in common already!" he laughed, cocking his feathered hat at a jaunty angle and smiling up at the eerily human-like being. 'Okay, whether or not he's human, he'll trip like anyone else! Not wholly accurate, but it will serve for now.'

"Your steel limbs are speedy indeed!" he added, jumping backwards as he took a deep breath, exhaling sharply "But let us see if they make you fast enoUGGGGGH!" he bellowed, a sudden gale of wind bursting out of his lungs and turning the previously still air of the street into a miniature gale!

Rocketing up into the air with a flash of red, white and blue, whipping his Banner into position, tensing himself for the sign of the man's next attack. 'I can't let him get to one of the the civilians...'

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GM

The blast of wind knocked him down as he was recovering from his mad attack and dodge of Heraldo's grasp. He hit the ground hard, and then pushed himself back to his feet. Analyzing the only available target. Hands clenching and unclenching. "... Just leave me alone. I don't want to fight some adolescent idiot. I have plans. You will not interrupt them." Having no urge to stay, he geared up the servos preparing for another jump. Knowing that this costumed ninny would stop him. He picked up the bag he had been carrying earlier. Watching Heraldo intently all the while.

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Looking at the metal carapaced man for a moment, he felt everything around him slow down, processing all the information that was assailing. Still aware of that bag suddenly leaped away, buffeted away. It was something that was constantly happening, he had tried to explain it to others before and failed, just like he failed in trying to explain to Subito what things were like for him. However it all tied together, as he was aware of the bystanders. All of them. Their thoughts. Their fears. It made this easier. As he took all that information and reached out to the cyborg's mind, and he funneled it into him. Firing synapses in that mind, turning everything on, overloading him with information, and making it fire across both hemispheres simultaneous. There was no outward sign, until the man's eyes suddenly lost focus, going glassy before rolling up in his head, his mouth hanging open as muscles went slack, and he started to tremor.

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Staring in amazement as his enemy started shaking and slackening their jaw blankly, Heraldo hovered for a second before landing, looking uncertainly at the metal-skinned man. "Errant," he called over to where he knew the other boy was "Thank you for stopping this man. It is still discomforting though. Let me try and punch him out." He declared, stepping back, balling his hand into a fist that flared with national power that burned gold in the sun, and stepping forward to slam his fist straight into the head of the bizarre robo-man who apparently hated cars.

'What is WITH this guy? Who is he, what was he even doing here?!'

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GM

The metal man arched back with the impact of the blow, his muscles being held rigid by whatever it was that Elias was doing. Shortly after the impact happened it was clear the hammer like blow from Subito's hand knocked him out on his feet. In the course of the follow through he slumped to the ground, and was unconscious.

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'For the love of God, now I feel guilty about this!' Heraldo thought in frustration, shouldering and sheathing the Banner with a twirl and a flourish for the crowds nearby. Turning to the Southside residents nearby he proclaimed grandly "And thus the day is won! Worry not, citizens! Whenever such as this man appear to imperil you, we are only moments away!" he said with a sweeping bow, adding to a nearby and relatively well-off woman "If you could call the police about this fellow, miss, I would be deeply grateful!" then turned his attention to the car that had been crushed by the sudden meteoric landing of the man with flesh like steel, and the other one that had been crushed apparently out of spite. "Also, I should probably get these off the road." he said aloud, sliding neatly underneath the car, and slowly lifting up, his powerful muscles straining under the weight of the car that had been holed by the impact, carrying it with all care to a clear and slightly overgrown parking lot nearby. Getting out from under it he took a moment to recover, smiled dashingly at the Freedonians around the crowded street and repeated the process with the other vehicle, parking it in the faded white markings next to his other cargo.

Dusting off his hands he searched for the steel-fleshed guy he had just punched out, keeping a careful eye on him until the squad car arrived.

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