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Broken Heroes | An original superhero mystery RP [R]

Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
Downstairs Sitting Room, The Institute


Jared passed through the entrance on the way to the sitting room and watched in alarm at first as Cameron had taken to swinging from the chandelier as if he were a child trapped in an adult's body. The impressive fixture didn't immediately collapse, which was very good. ...Now that he was studying it, that wasn't the same chandelier, was it? Watching Cameron act out what must have been a childhood fantasy made Jared think about how angry their parents would have been in this situation. There was nobody to stop him now... Jared realized with a pang that it would have been Lucas here to coax Cameron back to safety. Lilith ran out and hovered anxiously underneath Cameron like a mother under a set of monkey bars. He sighed and turned away to shuffle back into the sitting room, frowning as he glanced around. At least this room was more modernized - it felt less like the rest of the manor, which was definitely refreshing.

Jared glanced up as Lyn called him over upon entering, enthusiastically calling him over to claim what he wanted out of the house. Jared cracked a smile at what he assumed was a joke, at least until the others genuinely started talking about what they were hoping to get their hands on. Jared shifted uncomfortably. "I didn't come here because I wanted to claim anything," he said, deciding to leave it at that. He wanted the truth, and that was all. Surely it weighed heavily on the others' minds too... right? Though... what would the family fortune be worth? This could be life-changing. Maybe not for him, but certainly for his village back home.

There was a loud noise and two Janets - both with visible damage, including one with a golden arm, no doubt courtesy of Devin - walked in and happily announced that they had a surprise for them, to the confusion of the Janet that Nathan had left in charge. Jared felt very wary right away; there was definitely something eerily wrong with these two units. But he jumped up as soon as one of them grabbed hold of Devin and followed in case he needed to intervene. Devin was visibly struggling against the Janet who had a death grip on him, and Jared watched quietly as a golden hue crept up her other arm. Eventually Devin broke free, and Jared reached out to steady him as he retreated backwards while holding his arm and wincing. The odd behaviour from the Janet made him more nervous about whatever it was they were being led toward, and especially after the shock at being called 'rangers' earlier, he was mentally preparing himself for the worst.

The two androids held their arms out as if revealing a surprise party, but instead it was the twelve suits they had been forced to wear whenever they went out in public. Jared's suit, marked obviously with a large white X, sat among them, completely intact despite the amount of times he had... He tore his eyes away but his vision just landed automatically on the suits of his siblings who were no longer with them. Jared bowed his head and muttered a short prayer - the same one he'd been repeating for the last week for Lucas. He felt Devin back away and glanced up, scanning his siblings to gauge their reactions. The atmosphere was understandably uncomfortable. Devin hurriedly tried to change the topic to get them out of there, but the damage had already been done.

Lilith broke first, and she separated herself from the others and literally shrunk away from them with her head in her hands, trying desperately to hide her tears and emotions from her siblings. Jared frowned, his heart aching from seeing one of the kindest people he knew in pain. He crouched down in front of her and gently put a comforting hand on her small back. "I'm sorry you had to see that," Jared said in a low voice. He was trying to block the images out of his mind too, if only to keep his voice steady. "I know it's really hard coming back to someplace where so many horrible memories were made. The last place that we were all together... all twelve of us." Jared hesitated, the truth of his own words stinging him. But it needed to be addressed if they wanted to move on. "We should go back to the sitting room," Jared decided. They all needed to decompress. He stood up, trying to coax Lilith to do the same.
 
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Monster Guy

Fairy type Trainer
Cameron Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire


Cameron was having the time of his life swinging from the chandelier. A few of his siblings gave him looks, but Cameron wasn't too concerned. Lillith ran beneath him, “Oh Cameron dear, be careful!” just in time too, because Cameron's palms were getting sweaty. He really hadn't thought this through. Swinging from the chandelier was just something that looked like fun.

He eventually started to slip, and fell downwards. Lillith caught him in her arms. The young man wasn't at all phased by falling. "Thank you for catching me Lilly! That was so much fun!"

Just as this was happening, a Janet dressed entirely in pink came running out. "Oh thank goodness your alright!" It was Janet number 10. His favorite Janet. She was the one that raised him, and she put him in the pink frilly dresses that Gale always refused. "Don't scare me like that again! I don't want my widdle cammy-poo to get hurt!" She kissed him on his forehead.

"It's alright Janet. I'm a grown man." Cameron couldn't help chuckling at the grown part. "Well, maybe not exactly grown but... I am 30... I'm good! Nice to see you too 10."

Then, another Janet came into the room, and announced that their was a surprise for them. "Oh, boy! I love surprises!" Then Cameron raced past the others. Like a child expecting gifts on his birthday.

When he got to the dining room, there were Janets standing on either end. They held out their arms, and revealed the surprise. It was their old Ranger costumes. Perfectly preserved, and displayed on mannequins. "Oh, cool! I always wondered what became of these!" Cameron exclaimed. He didn't notice that he was the only one excited to see these outfits again. He walked up to his suit. The light blue and white one with the Greek Letter iota on it. "Hm, I wonder if I could still fit into mine? The rest of you grew a lot, but I wasn't exactly blessed in the height department."

He looked up to see the reactions of his siblings. None of them were as enthusiastic as he was. Lilith was clearly upset, and everyone else was somber. Cameron frowned. "Aw, come on guys. What's wrong? I know "mom and dad" were mean to us sometimes... Ok a lot of times... But.. we were superheroes! We saved lives! People loved us! It couldn't have been all bad? Or... is this about the ones not in this room right now?" At which point Cameron bit his bottom lip. "I miss them too..."
 
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VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire


“It's a little more than that,” mentioned Morgan when Lilith picked up on the banister being part of what he was referring to. Though that was just the tip of the strange iceberg here. Morgan glanced backwards, watching as Devin turned the glass on the photo of their 'parents' to gold, completely obscuring them from view. Before mentioning inheritance, as if he didn't have enough money. This prompted Lilith to change the subject to what they hoped to get. Morgan couldn't imagine wanting anything here, an opinion Jared voiced first, and he agreed, “Me neither. I don't need or want any reminders of this place.”

But some did have suggestions, and they actually made sense once he had a second to think about it. He could understand Lyn wanting medical equipment given her. . . condition. And well, maybe his telescope was still tucked away in the attic? But could he bare to have it, simple because he knew it came from here?

Meanwhile Cameron was jumping on the couch and swinging from the chandelier. Oh crap. Morgan didn't need to do any calculations concerning gravity and velocity to know this was dreadfully bad idea. And Lilith was waiting below to catch him, yeah, there was no way that was going to go wrong. Yet somehow it didn't go wrong, and she managed to catch him without changing size or collapsing.

But avoiding one disaster doesn't mean avoiding another. Just then a couple of defective Janets burst into the room announcing that they had a surprise. Considering he'd just been told that defective Janets were not on the network, Morgan found this a tad concerning. But like the rest of the group he followed these Janets into what he remembered to be the formal dining room.

What followed was a gross display as the defective units 'stretched out' their arms and showed off their surprise. . . the Ranger's suits, marked with the symbols of their oppression, not just the trident-like symbol on his Psi suit, but all of them, even those of the fallen members. And Cameron sprung forward excitedly speculating that he might still fit into his suit, because he was short. Never-mind that they all would provided they'd not gained too much weight, since they didn't leave until they were eighteen, and fully grown. Seriously, seeing him again, Morgan had to wonder if he had some sort neurological disorder.

Devin on the other hand tried to dismiss the situation, asking about paperwork concerning their inheritance. And Lilith shrank back, and literally shrank. Morgan switched from looking at the mannequins wearing their suits in disgust, to looking back at her in concern. His mouth fell open a little, but unfortunately he didn't know what words were appropriate. Thankfully Jared was there to comfort her, as Morgan rarely knew what to do in these awkward social situations, as if anything like this had ever happened to him before. Jared suggested to her, and the group in general, that they return to the sitting room. Morgan nodded in agreement, “Yeah, we should all do that. . . Or just leave in general.”

He turned and looked at the Robots and suits once more, and Cameron trying to make sense of why the others were upset, and his disgust turned into anger. He marched over to the nearest of the two defective Janets, raising his voice to them. As much as he went out of his way to avoid confrontations with people, these weren't people to him, at least not since he'd grown old enough to realize they were computers with arms, “I know you can't feel shame, but even mechanical monsters like you have to have some idea of how messed up this is!”
 
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GoldenHouou

antagoonist
Theodore Caswell
The Angel's Rest, London


Perhaps it was his own fault for lingering, but the budding conversations were cut short just as Theodore managed to inject himself into one of them. He’d gotten out a few hellos and how are yous, but nothing truly substantial before Nathan drew their attention with a clap. It was time to go.

Theodore looked around nervously. Gale was still unaccounted for. Had something happened to her, or had she simply chosen not to come? Either option sounded just as likely, knowing her. All he could do was hope for the latter. Really, he should’ve been glad so many showed up in the first place - it wouldn’t have been a surprise if Morgan or Evelyn had not, in particular.

As he was looking around in search for Gale, Theo’s eyes happened upon Jared. He quickly looked away.

With a quick bow to end his current conversation, he motioned after Nathan. “Shall we?”

--​

En Route to the Institute

The ride to the manor was, as he’d feared, an awkward ordeal. Words were exchanged here and there, but it seemed that the familiar scenery had made most everyone fall into a contemplative silence. At least, that’s what Theodore told himself. It wasn’t his presence, simply the circumstances.

... Heavens, was he truly this paranoid?

The sudden crackle of speakers and the announcement that followed made Theodore jump in his seat - for many a reason. He hadn’t even noticed the scorched ruins outside until a familiar, sinking feeling gripped at his gut; a lie.

Whatever had brought down the building had not been a candle.

Theodore stared at the ruins for as long as they remained in view.

--​

The Institute, Cambridgeshire

If the path to the Institute hadn’t managed to rouse unpleasant memories, the sight of the building itself definitely picked up the slack. Though the siblings had grown quite a bit in their time of absence, the house continued to loom over them, imposing as ever. It brought back many a memory, most of them unpleasant. Yet Theo couldn’t help but feel a sense of familiarity - even relief - wash over him. For the first time in over a decade, he was united with his siblings, about to step into a house he used to call home.

Home.

Theodore shook the thought away.

Once inside the house proper, the differences started to mount. They were admittedly small, but Theodore’s entire career was based on noticing the details. Everything that stood out. Everything that seemed wrong. The rug, the stain underneath, the new chandelier, the replaced piece of wood...

Had something taken place in the foyer?

The old chandelier had been a huge, decorated thing. If it had fallen, it would’ve certainly made for a big crash. And had it fallen onto someone, well, that would have been quite a deadly affair. Enough so to stain the floor. But would a chandelier that had held for so long simply fall on its own?

Or--

"Hello Rangers, it has been 'eRRoR fiLE nOt fOUnD' since your last visit."

Theo was pulled out of his investigative mood by the arrival of another Janet. Unlike the one that had collected their luggage, this one seemed to not have changed much - for better or for worse. Both its appearance and data seemed to be from years past. It even referred to them as Rangers, a word that many of his siblings seemed to take offense to. Understandable.

He couldn’t bring himself to do the same.

--​

Downstairs Sitting Room, The Institute

Once they entered the sitting room, the silence many had held on to begun to crack. Morgan was the first to speak, his words reassuring Theo that he wasn’t alone in his observations. Lilith chimed in with her agreement, and so he supposed it’d be fine to do so as well.

“I’m afraid I cannot help but care.” Theo’s tone held a tinge of dry humour, but his expression remained serious. “The less I’m told, the more I want to know. The troubles of an inquisitive mind. I’m sure you know what I mean, Doctor.”

Theo smiled a little at the title. He was proud of Morgan’s accomplishment - and so very guilty that he would not have known of it had he not overheard it mentioned among the few conversations in Angel’s Rest. Perhaps that was partly why he used it now; to give the illusion he’d always known. That he’d kept up with his siblings, just like Lilith had. That he wasn’t such a---

"I can't believe they're actually dead. Let's just get the financials over with so we can leave."

Theo froze.

Ever so slowly, he turned his gaze from Morgan all the way to Devin. The man was putting away what Theo could only assume had been a family photo. Now, it was a solid block of gold. Devin didn’t seem to care.

More importantly, him not being able to believe they were dead was... not true.

Theo’s mind was brought back to a courtroom, going over potential reasons for a detected lie. Maybe it meant nothing; Devin could have just assumed something would befall them eventually. A reasonable enough an assumption, considering their characters. Yet maybe... he knew something more. He had come to hate their so-called parents quite a bit, and had been awfully quick to change his name and country of residence when everyone went their separate ways.

Hmm.

From somewhere to his left, Theo vaguely heard Lilith ask if anyone was after something specific-- as far as inheritances went, he supposed. A clever way to start an important conversation, but Theo was too deep in thought over Devin to partake in it, or even fully pay attention to it. That was, until another unpleasant jab in his gut made him glance towards Evelyn. He’d been listening only partly, but the lie alerted him of her condition - she was not okay - and made him try to rewind what he’d heard. She wanted to take something with her? What did she say it was?

He wanted to ask, but Jared entered the room and stole his chance.

Theo knew it was unintentional on his part. Yet he couldn’t shake the thought that had Jared known, he probably wouldn’t have minded.

It’s me, it was my fault.

One thing after another kept interrupting Theo’s thoughts today. This time, it was the shockingly loud singing coming from the foyer. Out of sheer reflex, he peeked back towards the way they’d come from, fully expecting to find Cameron twirling on one foot in the middle of the room. The singing was unmistakably his, after all.

What he saw was indeed a singing Cameron - but not on the floor. Much like the lyrics implied, he was actually hanging from the chandelier, making it swing back and forth precariously. Theo’s heart dropped. Suddenly, images of his previous theory came to life, painting a gruesome picture of Cameron crushed underneath a fallen chandelier.

“Cameron!” Theodore thundered, practically stomping his way to his younger sibling, eyes wide from fear. “Get down from there! If that thing falls, you’ll--” he couldn’t finish the sentence or the thought - and as it turned out, he didn’t even have time to. Cameron’s grip loosened, and he fell.

Theo tried to take the last few running steps to catch him, but Lilith was faster and managed to get a hold of their 'younger' sibling before disaster could befall him. Theo skid to a halt, heart still racing. He was equal parts relieved for Cameron’s safety and Lilith’s quick reflexes - and disappointed in himself, for having been unable to help. For... having been bested by Lilith once more.

Another sinking feeling visited him, but this one was not from a lie. It was out of fear. Now that they no longer had parents whose punishments he could divert to himself... did... what did they need him for? What could he offer them that Lilith could not? He didn’t even know any of them, not truly. In the end, he really was... an outsider.

If only we’d never left.

As if on cue, three more Janets made their way into the room. These ones were... not okay, and Theo found himself cringing at their appearance. Particularly that of #12; the subtlety in its unnatural expression was far more terrifying than a crippled walking cycle.

They announced a surprise and lead the siblings to another room - where they came face to face with ghosts of their past. Their old uniforms, looking awfully small now, stood neatly lined up in the middle of the room as if waiting to be donned once more. One for each of the siblings present, one for Gale, one for Lucas, one for Garret, and...

Theo could not tear his eyes from Marron’s.

A flood of emotions and memories whisked his mind away. He was taken back to the past, to the time he and Marron spent together; the laughter, the jokes, the tears -- the nights when he collapsed onto his bed, exhausted and pained from all the punishments he’d redirected unto himself. He remembered the way Marron would look at him with concern. I’m fine, he’d say, and it would be the most painful lie he ever told. She probably never did believe it. That’s why she stayed with him until he felt better.

But when she’d needed his help a few years ago, what had he done to repay her? He’d turned his back on her. He’d helped convict her.

Theo had never thought it wrong before. She was guilty, despite what he’d told Jared. She’d taken the life of their brother. Of another human being. She was suffering a due punishment, as dictated by law and moral.

And yet, he could not help but wonder...

Was it truly right to convict her?

His gaze traveled across the rest of the uniforms, recalling each sibling the way they’d been, twelve years ago. They’d suffered, but they’d been close. Everyone had been alive. No one had been imprisoned.

Zeta felt his hand curl into a fist.

If only we’d never left.
 

Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Dining Room (East Wing), The Institute


As Ginny had expected, she was not the only one to experience a negative reaction to seeing their old suits. Of all the siblings, Lilith was the one who appeared the worst affected by this sight, crying loudly and beginning to shrink as her emotions got the better of her. Jared was quick to go to her side and comfort her, suggesting that they return to the sitting room. A wise idea, Ginny thought. After this sudden shock, they could all do with a moment to decompress, before eventually settling down for dinner.

Cameron and Devin seemed less bothered by the suits, or at least outwardly anyway. Devin seemed more interested in sorting out matters about the estate. It seemed a little crass given their current situation, but Ginny couldn't help but wonder if his eagerness to get to legal matters, was bought on from wanting to leave this place. Unlike the other siblings, Cameron seemed actually quite excited to see the suits again. Although it admittedly rubbed Ginny the wrong way for him to be so excited about it, it did fit with his personality at least. Despite his excitement, she was glad to see he wasn't completely oblivious to the pain their other siblings felt, explaining that he too missed their siblings who weren't present.

#4 and #12 seemed unfazed by the various reactions of the group, continuing to proudly speak of their 'surprise'; only Morgan's sharp words seemed to get a reaction from them. #12 merely stared at him, her face still stuck in that eerie smile. #4, on the other hand, started to laugh, unfazed by the harsh words spoken to them. "This isn't messed up!" She laughed, attempting to wave him off, an action which didn't come across very well due to her arms. "This is a wonderful surprise!"

Ginny seriously doubted anyone in this room felt exactly the same - surely even Cameron could see how wrong it was. One of her siblings who hadn't said much was Theo, and Ginny could sense he was likely having a hard time with all of this, especially seeing Marron's suit given how close they were. She would tentatively walk up to him, resting an arm oh his shoulder comfortingly. "Hey, Theo. Are you doing okay?"

The group were stuck in the room for a few more minutes, when a plump woman came striding in through the doors, gently brushing past Jared and Lilith to make her way to the Janets. Ginny recalled her as being June, the head maid and one of the human staff at the estate. She was an elderly woman who had served the family since the children were first bought to the Institute. Ginny could remember her as being a firm but fair woman. She turned to #4 and #12 and with a sharp voice began to speak. "Janet unit 12, Janet unit 4, begin manual shutdown mode. Authorisation code: J-Alphaoverride-shutdown protocol-auto confirm."

All of sudden both Janets seemed to go limp, their arms drooping as they were shut down. The older woman pinched her nose and sighed deeply. "My apologies children," she said, turning to the group and looking sympathetically at them. Ginny noted her gaze lingered on Jared and Lilith for longer. "These units should not be allowed to wander like this. Nathan has them linked to a specific server to prevent such autonomy."

She walked up to the shutdown Janets and shook her head, before glancing at #11. "Would you be so kind as to put these units back in their place? I will take the children to dinner.

***
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute

Following the old maid, the group were taken to the other side of the Institute, to the western dining room. According to June, it was the only one still set up for its intended purpose at the moment. As they stepped inside, they could see Nathan making the final adjustments to a placement of a plate of food on the table. He looked up and raised an eyebrow when they walked in. "Did something happen?" He asked, glancing at June.

She gave a curt nod. "Yes, I will tell you about it in a moment. Don't bother the children, they just experienced a bit of a shock. They could do with some hearty food in them."

And hearty it was. There weren't many elaborate dishes on offer, with the food being homier if anything. To bowls of broth had been set on either side of the table; one a vegetable broth, and the other with some meat. There was a small roast chicken in the centre of the table, with several smaller plates of vegetables, bread, and various condiments placed around it. There were various drinks on offer too, ranging from alcoholic beverages such as wine and cider to non-alcoholic options including water and juices. There was no desserts on offer for the moment, but as they began to pick at what they wanted, Nathan assured them the chef's had prepared a Victoria Sponge for them to enjoy later if they so wished.

June and Nathan stepped away to one side of the room, talking quietly among themselves, and leaving the group to their meal. Ginny wondered if they were talking about the Janets. In an effort to find out, she walked past them as she got a drink, but was unable to hear much chatter. For dinner, Ginny stuck to the meat broth - which turned out to be chicken - with two bread rolls and a glass of white wine.
 
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Skillfulness

Well-Known Member
Lilith O'Neil
The Institute, Cambridgeshire


The hand on her back snapped Lilith out of her trance. She heard Jared, as if through a fog, as her thoughts started to solidify. He was comforting her, apologizing. That was silly, he didn’t need to apologize for anything. She quickly reached into her purse for tissues and her stone while Jared kept talking. It was really nice to hear his voice again. She really wished Melissa was here, but she knew what she could be getting into when she left for her childhood home.

She tried to discreetly blow her nose as she straightened and started to grow again. It was a little embarrassing having her powers go off on her like that, but she was around a few of the only people in the world who would understand. She avoided letting her gaze linger on the suits again.

“Thank you, Jared,” she whispered. The sitting room would help her reground herself. In the meantime, she had her pebble. During one of her early therapy sessions, the doctor recommended that she keep an object with her at all times. If she started feeling anxious, or her emotions were getting the better of her, she could pull out that object and hold on to it. It was a grounding technique Lilith was told. Holding something would help her to take the focus off her feelings and onto the object instead. Since then she’s kept a small, pretty rock in her purse to help her when she started feeling overcome.

With the stone in hand, she rubbed her thumb over it gently, only vaguely aware of what was going on around her. Cameron was putting a positive spin on things, like he always had. Lilith offered a strained smile, the memory of their brother’s cheeriness being a nice contrast to the hurt in her heart.

The rock was rough in her hand, mostly. She had worn down one edge of it over the years when she needed it. Going over that spot reminded her she could overcome her own feelings. Morgan was yelling at the Janets which was probably appropriate. They brushed off his reprimands, unaware, simply machines.

Jared stayed by her side and she was genuinely grateful for that. Rolling the stone around in her hand one more time, she took in a slow breath and smiled. No longer needlessly filled with sorrow, Lilith was back to her usual self. The suits were still there, but she only felt a small pang of regret compared to her earlier outburst. She was only able to glance at Theo, sensing the hurt in his own heart, before June burst in.

"My apologies children," the head maid said, turning to the group. Lilith noticed June looked at her a moment longer and she shifted her gaze to the ground. She shouldn’t be embarrassed, but crying in front of others was always somewhat uncomfortable. And she called us children. I know she was our caretaker for many years, but it would be nice to be treated as adults. It seems they’ve been pulling us around like children this whole time... Lilith shooed the annoyed thoughts away. Perhaps she would bring it up later to her siblings, but she didn’t need to bother with those things right now. "These units should not be allowed to wander like this. Nathan has them linked to a specific server to prevent such autonomy."

June instructed the last Janet to remove the other units then led them to the dinning room. In the West Wing of The Institute, Lilith had a huge grin plastered on her face as they walked in. The smell of food was comforting and a welcome distraction from the harrowing events of the day. A hearty meal would further improve her mood, take her to a happier place. Nathan and June exchanged a few words to the side that she noticed, but ignored.

Lilith gladly sat and waited for the rest of her siblings to be seated before digging in. She took a serving of the meat broth, a few small pieces of chicken, a bread roll, and some broccoli, her favorite vegetable. With the wine on the table, she briefly considered having a glass, but opted against it. Her emotions were hard enough to control when sober, a glass of wine would only complicate things. Instead, she poured herself a carbonated cranberry juice to enjoy with the meal. And enjoy it she did.
 

Schade

Party.
Devin (Caswell) Pichard
The Institute


While Devin was, for the most part, unaffected by seeing the suits again, not all of his siblings shared that sentiment. Lilith in particular took the sights of their past and their relevance to the present very heavily, and she begun shrinking as she weakly mumbled through her crying. It was a sad sight, and Devin considered going over to her to offer support, but stopped when he saw that Jared was already on the case. She started to grow again as she calmed down and collected her thoughts, all while Morgan was yelling to the Janets about the messed up "Surprise" they had planned out for them. The Janet's were completely unphazed by this, and kept their creepily happy demeanor. "This is a wonderful surprise!". Cameron seemed to be happily remembering the times they ran around as superheroes and saved people, and while Devin shared the sentiment to a little degree, this was neither time nor place to be digging for the "Good times".

The group stuck around in the room, even though most of them stood with their backs turned against the Janet's "Big surprise". Everyone needed some time to collect themselves from this, and Devin placed himself by the doors, ready to go wherever they were headed next. While he was definitely affected by the suits and their signifficance, he still didn't feel as strongly about them as most of the others did. He had left that life and all of the memories behind him, and he wasn't about to open up that box anytime soon.

Then, breaking the relative silence and somber atmosphere, came a plump woman through the kitchen doors. She moved surprisingly quickly over to the Janets who had prepared the suits. "Janet unit 12, Janet unit 4, begin manual shutdown mode. Authorisation code: J-Alphaoverride-shutdown protocol-auto confirm." she said, immediatly shutting both Janets down. The Janets went limp, with their arms and heads hanging forward (Or slightly to the side in #12's case it was all very creepy). "My apologies children," the woman said, turning to the group and looking sympathetically at them. Devin recognized her as June, though only vaguelly. She was an elderly woman, and one of the few human staffmembers of the institute. Devin hadn't seen her since before he left all those years ago, but he remembered her to be sort of a strict but fair caretaker. She instructed the remaining Janet to take the other two back to their stations before gesturing for the siblings to join her in the dining room.

Entering the neatly decorated dining room, Nathan was already there, placing some plates of food in their correct spots. He turned to the group, but his face quickly turned into a concerned look as he asked if anything had happened. June gave him a nod before asking him to prepare the food, saying she would let him know what happened later.
The dinner in question wasn't the most picture-esque dinner Devin had ever seen, but he recognized some dishes that used to be both his and his siblings favorite dishes as children. Looking at the meat broth, which used to be one of his favorite things as a kid, it somehow didn't seem as appetizing to him now as it had before. He prepared himself a serving from the vegetable broth, as well as some side with broccoli and a tall glass of water. He kept his portions minimal and kinda poked around the food with the fork before starting eating it. It was pretty good, and it gave him the homey feel of eating a huge portion of this back in the day after missions. Immediately remembering Lucas and him used to share favorite dish put a hamper on the happy memory though. He turned his attention towards Nathan. "Thank you so much for preparing this meal for us, it's just as delicious as i remember.", he said, giving Nathan a smile.
 
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Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
Dining Room (East Wing), The Institute


Lilith had stayed quiet while Jared tried to talk to her, but she eventually fished into her purse for a tissue, blew her nose, and grew back to her normal height. She avoided eye contact and was pointedly staring away from the suits. She thanked Jared quietly, and Jared nodded slightly in acknowledgment. She seemed embarrassed from reacting more emotionally from the others did. Though Jared was now examining his siblings' expressions, and she was far from the only one to look shaken. Cameron, on the other hand, reacted enthusiastically, reminiscing about tales of them being beloved heroes that Jared found difficult to relate to. He knew better than to dwell on that for too long right now, and he especially knew not to stare at Cameron's pouting face for too long either.

Jared looked at Morgan as he snapped at the defective Janets who had led them here, saying what everyone else was probably thinking on behalf of the group. They didn't give much of a response and certainly didn't seem to understand what they'd done wrong. Great – and how many more of these were roaming around the manor? Devin wasn't going to be the only one suggesting they figure out inheritances and leave if this kept up.

Admittedly, it was Ginny suddenly moving that shifted Jared's attention first. He managed to catch sight of Theo before Ginny got to him. Theo hadn't moved since they'd gotten there, and, as if in a trance, he was staring intently at... yes – Omicron, that was Marron's suit. Jared stared with him for a few moments, his mind's eye rewinding back to the trial. 'No...' Marron's trademark smirk flashed across his memory. 'she didn't do it.' The bang of a gavel, the last time he would see his sister's face, and the last time he'd see the face of the man who put her away. Until now.

Not that it was out of the ordinary for Jared to wish he could change superpowers, but right now he'd give just about anything for telepathy. What was under Theo's stare right now? Fear? Guilt? He knew he shouldn't, but he found himself hoping Theo was starting to crack under the weight of that decision five years ago. He deserved that pain. Marron deserved it.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to make out anything Theo said to Ginny before the head maid – June – walked briskly past him and Lilith and turned the two defective Janets off. Her gaze lingered a little too pointedly on him and Lilith as she apologized. Jared looked at Lilith, who had shifted her eyes to the ground. The functional Janet was instructed to put its defective sisters away while June was meant to lead them to dinner. She kept calling them children, which was irritating – Jared glanced at Morgan, expecting him to act as the spokesman of the group again and tell her off like he had the Janets. He supposed he shouldn't be relying on Morgan like that, though – he'd talk to June in private later if this kept being an issue.

***
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute

Lilith's face lit up as soon as they entered the dining hall, to Jared's relief. The housing staff had laid out what was not exactly a grand feast but was definitely reminiscent of their childhood. Jared settled himself across from Devin, his eyes skimming over the foods on offer. He helped himself to all of the vegetables and the bread and broth. It was a little weird to smell chicken again after being immersed in a vegetarian lifestyle for over a decade now. Weirder still was everyone digging in without praying first. Jared clasped his hands together and bowed his head anyways, murmuring a quick prayer for his meal in Hindi. Honestly, he wasn't sure if he felt better or worse after praying, because this food was bringing back memories of all of them being instructed to fuel themselves before a mission. He took a bite of cauliflower and had to really focus on not spitting it out. It tasted bland as cardboard, but even worse, it tasted like childhood.

Partly out of desperate need for spice, and partly to mask the familiar taste, Jared reached for the hot sauce and absolutely coated his vegetables in it. He tried a piece of broccoli. This was a really sad attempt at trying to make it taste more like Indian food, but at least it had some spice and definitely didn't remind him of meals from when they were kids. He tasted the broth and added chili flakes to that too. If there were a few more options on the table, he might be able to turn this into an okay soup, but he shouldn't be trying to play chef with a meal that was graciously cooked for them anyways.

Devin smiled at Nathan and politely iterated his gratitude for the meal. Jared quirked a brow. That sounded like something Lucas would say. Who was the golden boy again? ...Wait, maybe that was poor phrasing. Judging by Devin's food selections, he was vegetarian or vegan as well. Jared wanted to talk up the vegetarian cuisine of his homeland, but didn't want to come off as impolite. Nor did he really want to start craving that instead.
 

Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute


Dinner went by pretty smoothly, all things considering. After the little shock with their old suits, Ginny expected things to feel a little uneasy come dinner, so she was relieved that nothing had happened as of yet. She and her siblings were quick to help themselves to the dinner laid out for them. Whilst she tucked into her broth, she took little note of what her siblings chose to eat, but did notice Jared spicing his meal up a little. By the time most of the siblings had finished their dinner, June stepped forward, announcing she would go a retrieve the cake the chefs had been working hard on during the day. As she turned to leave, the lights above began to flicker erratically. The room didn't dim too much, but the flickering was noticeable. After a moment it stopped, but it did not take long for it to start flickering again. June, who had been looking up at the lights, looked over at Nathan with a frown. The butler made a vague shrug before June gestured for him to speak to the Janet that was in the room with them, before disappearing out the rear doors to the kitchen. Ginny hadn't even noticed the Janet in the room with them, who was stood quietly in the corner, hands clasped in front of her with a neutral expression on her face.

"Number sixteen, could you do a brief diagnostic scan of the electrics?" Nathan requested.

"Certainly," The Janet responded immediately. A focused expression formed on her face for a few seconds, before it snapped back to the same neutral expression as before. "My scan detected no anomalies in the electrical network. However, as I'm sure you are aware, I am not authorised to scan certain areas of the estate. Would you like me to send unit two, dubbed 'The Mechanic', to complete a scan in those areas?"

Nathan nodded. "Yes please," He said, before sighing. "If she does not detect anything either, inform her that she has permission to check the fuse boxes too."

The Janet nodded and went quiet, clearly having done her duty for now. Nathan looked like he was going to say something else, before June came in pushing a serving trolley, atop which sat an impressive three-tiered Victoria Sponge. Powdered sugar had been sprinkled on top, and the chefs had placed bright red strawberries all around the top. When June came to a stop, she looked up and frowned again. The lights were still flickering, but they didn't seem as bad now. Nathan was quick to explain that the Janets hadn't detected any issues. June didn't seem too impressed with this response, but shrugged, returning her attention to the cake. She picked up a cake knife from the trolley and hovered it above the cake, looking up at the group. "Who would like a slice?" She asked politely.

However, before any of them got a chance to answer, the flickering suddenly became increasingly erratic, before eventually, they went off completely. The room was plunged into darkness, with only the faint light emanating from behind the curtains serving to offer any light. Even so, Ginny could not make out anything clearly, and could only just make out the silhouettes of her siblings and other objects around the room.

"Number sixteen," Nathan's voice called out from the darkness. "Alert number two that the lights have gone off so they will definitely have to check the fuse boxes now."

"I do not follow, Nathan," The Janet said. Ginny could almost imagine the android turning her head to one side as she asked that. "The lights are already on."

And then as if on cue, the lights did come back on, though they seemed even brighter than before. Ginny blinked as her eyes adjusted, before looking back in June's direction. She was still holding the knife above the cake and was about te cut a slice when she looked and became startled by something she saw at the other end of the room. The knife dropped with a small clatter, and the old maid took a step back nervously from the trolley, a hand clutched to her breast. Curious as to what she was looking at, Ginny slowly turned to look down the opposite end of the room. In front of the curtains stood a hooded figure, one she was certain had not been there before; she could understand now why the poor woman had gotten such a shock. It was hard to tell whether the figure was a man or woman, but judging by the height and broadness of the shoulders, Ginny would lean towards it being a man. The figure took raspy, wheezing breaths, the sort Ginny might have associated with someone who smoked frequently or who had some lung condition. Although their hood was still up, Ginny got the impression they were watching them intently from under the hood. Nathan made a move towards them, but he had barely taken a step before the figure rapidly turned their head to look at the butler. Nathan froze on the spot like a deer caught in headlights.

"Stop," The figure said, though it came out as more of a grunt rather than any clear word. They turned slowly so they were once again looking at the group before their hands went slowly to their hood, and lowered. When Ginny saw who was hiding underneath, she nearly fell backwards off her chair. Staring back at them was none other than their supposedly deceased brother, Lucas. Ginny hadn't seen him in person for years but had seen him on the news since she left the Institute, so his changed appearance did not shock her as much. He was still the handsome man he had been before, with his lightly tanned skin, sandy blonde curls, light stubble, and bright blue eyes. But there was something not quite right about him. Lucas always seemed to be smiling - or just happy for that matter - but he seemed angry, his features knitted together in a disapproving scowl. The warmth that always shone in his eyes now seemed to have been replaced by a cold fury, as though all the light in him had gone out long ago.

"You killed me." Lucas would suddenly blurt out. Ginny's eyes widened with shock instinctively, and she found herself looking around the table at her other siblings, watching for their reactions. Was this Lucas trying to imply someone at this table had killed him? Did that mean the man stood before them wasn't even real? "You left me," Lucas continued, his gaze sweeping over all of the siblings. "You left me, and now I'm dead. You all killed me!"
 

Vern

Why not both?
Evelyn Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire
Downstairs Sitting Room


Evelyn followed the others as the dysfunctional-looking Janets lead them to a ‘surprise’ — and while over the years she’d become quite fond of the word, in this situation it didn’t feel like a good omen in the slightest. And so when the Janets threw out their arms excitedly, revealing their old uniforms stretched over mannequins, she’d already prepared herself for the worst. Maybe that’s why she felt surprisingly little, at first.

Her eyes panned over the lined up mannequins, tracing the contours of the familiar suits. Her eyes flitted over Jared’s — that one, she was familiar with. They’d spent a lot of press conferences fairly close to each other, by her own design. He was never too comfortable up there, and it was part of her attempt to help him keep calm. Tau, Iota… those were the most familiar ones. Back when she was still involved in some of the publicity stunts, she’d had some say in their design — after all, Cameron and herself were the most willing to stand out there, in front of a crowd. Those were happy memories. The smiling, exhilarated faces, all the children looking at them with hope and inspiration glowing in their eyes… that’s what it should have meant to be a hero. That’s what the Rangers should have been. Not what she’d ended up being forced to — no, don’t go there. You’ve been there. It’s not worth it.

Moving on… ah, those ones. Lucas… Garett… Marron.

Marron’s name sounded wrong to her. It wasn’t right — it wasn’t the name of a criminal, the one who’d killed her brother. It was the name of the girl she’d grew up playing pranks with, the one who’d helped quiet her moaning when her powers acted up in order to not disturb the others… the girl who was her friend. But at the same time, it wasn’t. Omicron. That’s better. Omicron, the murderer. Marron, the girl. But no, that wasn’t right either. Nothing was right.

Lilith was crying, and Jared was comforting her. Morgan was yelling at the Janets. Even Cameron was tearing up a little, his initial optimism spent. Lyn shook her head and took a deep breath, trying to fight down whatever emotion it was that was threatening to bubble up from the deep and overflow through her eyes.

Keep it together. You’re supposed to smile. You are smile. It’s your job.

Theo was standing there, in front of Marron’s suit. He was the one who put her in prison, apparently — and of course, that killed any hope she might’ve had that her friend was innocent. She knew Theo. She knew his powers. If he was the one that put Ma- Omicron in prison, then she was guilty beyond a doubt. Taking a breath, Lyn walked up to him, and reached up to lay a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for the trial,” she said in a low whisper, “But I’m glad that out of everyone who could’ve convicted her, it was you. To put all the doubts to rest and all.” Wait… Was that a lie? She paused, then decided to push on and hope she was being truthful. Mostly because she wanted to have been truthful.

Searching her head for a joke, she found it empty, for the first time in a while. All there was was an image of Omicron sitting in a jail cell, looking at her through the bars. Fifteen years ago, Marron would’ve been up there on the stage with them, and people would be cheering for her, looking up to her, finding hope in her… she’d signed a figure for a kid once. Did that boy know where she… no. Don’t go there. Smile.

She smiled.

It was a weak one, but she managed it. “You did the right thing.” She said, with a laugh who’s meaning even she didn’t quite understand, “So don’t overthink it. You put the bad person in jail — that’s what you do, right?”

Looking away, she saw Ginny approaching Theo, and peeled off. She’d never been all that close with him, never really understood him — or anyone, really — and she was sure that Ginny could better comfort him. Instead, she gravitated back towards the safety of Lilith and Jared. With them, things weren’t so complicated — Jared was Jared, and Lilith was Lilith, and that’s pretty much all she needed to know. And at least, she knew she was welcome there. Hopefully. She was still hanging by them when June entered, ushering them into the dining room.

////​

She called us children. Lyn thought to herself as she followed, sitting herself down next to Jared, I wonder when I was last called a child. She tried to get angry about it, or feel patronised, but she couldn’t. To tell the truth… it felt good, to be nurtured, to be cared for. It was a warm feeling.

The food wasn’t fancy by any means, but it was familiar, and it, too, was warm. Compared to the tasteless, or even occasionally bitter concoctions of ‘healthy things’ she’d subsisted on for so long, it felt like a feast for the gods — and even though she initially had her reservations (one of the doctors who’d checked on her warned her against eating meats, worried that she’d end up absorbing them in… abnormal ways), she decided to toss them all aside and dig in. When Devin thanked Nathan for the food, she too gleefully called out her thanks through a mouthful of chicken.

Then… the lights began to flicker.

Something doesn’t feel right. Even as June came bustling in with the cake, which normally would’ve drawn all her attention, Lyn found herself feeling uneasy. Having been a spy and then a vigilante of sorts, she’d grown to have a sixth sense about when things weren’t quite as they seemed — and something was definitely afoot.

The lights flickered violently — and went off.

“What’s this,” she said with a laugh, easily hiding her anxiety as she tried to lighten the atmosphere, “Some sort of horror movie?”

The lights came back on. June’s knife clattered onto the floor. Her instincts kicking in, Lyn grabbed onto her knife, whirling around to see what it was that had startled the maid. When she saw what June had seen, she froze too. A figure, in a hood — taking raspy, wheezing breaths.

“Stop.” he grunted.

Lyn shifted a little, allowing her knife arm to drop to her side, hidden from view. The figure didn’t seem to be armed, and she was far enough to react if anything happened. There’s never a place for hostility when meeting someone for the first time, and besides, she wouldn’t want to agitate Jared. Her heartbeat was slowing down now, the initial shock having subsided. Calm yourself, Lyn. You’re all washed up now… getting so jittery over something like this. Just wait and —

Any comforting or self-accusing thought she might’ve had flew out the window when the figure’s hood peeled back to reveal… Lucas. A dead man.

It was Lucas, but at the same time, it wasn’t Lucas. The Lucas she knew didn’t look so angry, so spiteful — where did that warm smile go? Lyn felt a pang in her chest — she wouldn’t be seeing that smile again. Ever.

“You killed me.” The man blurted out, “You left me, and now I’m dead. You all killed me!”

No. Lyn’s alarms were still ringing. Lucas was dead. Something was definitely afoot — having shapeshifting powers herself, and having spent so long performing magic, she knew what kind of tricks you could pull with a little bit of preparation, a little bit of help, some technology and a good bit of skill. Considering that this was a world where superpowers existed, even though that was easy to forget sometimes... This is beyond fishy. And that man, or whoever it is — they know way more than the should. Knowing the Institute, they would've kept everything under wraps.

She laid a hand on Jared’s shoulder, trying to communicate, silently, that he should stay down and be careful. Any further gesture would be to dangerous — it's important to maintain a veneer of normalcy. A little mind trick of sorts — the more normal things seemed, the harder it is for someone to work up the resolve break that normalcy. Then, she turned to face the intruder.

“Hey,” she said with a smile and a wave that looked friendly enough, walking a few steps forward to place herself in a position to intercept the man if he tried to approach the table. Her other hand lay dangling by her side, knife still held tight — she made sure to position herself so that the figure couldn’t see the weapon, even if he was alert enough to notice that she’s holding it. “I’m afraid we don’t know you, although you seem to know us — could I ask you for an introduction, just to get everyone on the same page?" She gestured towards the seat she'd abandoned, knowing she needed an excuse to justify her standing up. "Feel free to take a seat when you're done — we've got cake to spare."
 

Monster Guy

Fairy type Trainer
Cameron Caswell
The Institute, Cambridgeshire
Dining Room > Other Dining Room


Morgan proceeded to yell at the Janets. Cameron couldn't help feeling bad for them. I mean sure, they were robots, and clearly weren't working right, but they were trying to do something nice. Doesn't that mean something? Still, Cameron didn't express these thoughts out loud. Lest Morgan turn around and yell at him too.

Jared tried to comfort Lilith, and Lyn tried to comfort Theo. Then Ginny tried to comfort Theo. Cameron wanted to say something, but chances were good that Theo would pick whatever he said up as lie. So, Cameron ran up to his brother, and gave him a hug without saying a word. Hugs were the best way to comfort people without having to say a word.

Then, the defective Janets were shut off, and June, their former maid led them into the dining room. It was food time!

---

The smell of familiar food greeted Cameron's nose. It wasn't some grand feast, but it was homey and comfortable. It was great to have a proper family meal like this. Cameron thanked Nathan for the food, then bounded up to the table to get his dinner. He piled his plate up with a few things. Broth, veggies, some meat, and a dinner roll. He also drowned most of it in various sauces, for that extra bit of flavor.

Then, with his plate of food in hand, he took a seat right next to Lilith. "Hey ya Lil! How's it goin? I haven't seen you since the wedding. You probably didn't see I was there. You were busy getting married and all that, and I had to be all incognito. People can get crazy when they come face to face with celebrities. Anyway, what's been going on? You two have any kids yet. I love kids! I wanna be uncle Cammy!"

As Cameron took bites of his food, and listened to whatever Lilith had to say, the lights started to act funny. First they began to flicker, then they flickered more intensely. Cameron wasn't all that concerned about that. Not after he saw June bring in a delicious cake. Ah, dessert. The best part of the meal.

Suddenly, the lights just shut off altogether for a moment, before coming back on. June suddenly dropped the knife she was using to cut the cake. She was looking at something at the other end of the room in horror. Cameron turned his head to see a mysterious hooded figure standing in front of the curtains. He wondered what was happening now.

Then, the hooded figure revealed his face. It was Lucas! But wait, wasn't he dead? That didn't matter. Here he was in front of their eyes. Cameron's face lit up, and he quickly got out of his chair. "Hey, Luke! You're alive! This is great!" Cameron said with a big smile on his face. He completely ignored the creepy ominous things Lucas was saying. Sure, Lucas was a lot different than the last time he saw him. He looked mean... He was angry at them... Something wasn’t right... Cameron quickly shooed those unpleasant thoughts away. Their brother was alive, this was a good thing. He couldn't have meant that nasty thing he said. Right? This was Cameron's brother, he could never hurt him. Right? He slowly approached Lucas with his arms stretched out wide. "Now, come over here and give your bro a hug!" He said as he turned on his charm, just in case...
 
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VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
> The Institute, Cambridgeshire


Morgan cringed as the Janet laughed and defended what they’d done as something wonderful. They really were just mechanical monsters. Staring at them he contemplated what it would take to destroy them. Thankfully Miss June came in and ordered them to shutdown, saying they shouldn't even be active. He like her better than the robots, but not by much, muttering, “Then why were they? And we're not children.”

His soft comments clearly got ignored or overlooked as she called them children again when saying she was bringing them to dinner. He wasn't excited about that either, as he'd been hoping to be out of here within a couple hours. Seeing his siblings was nice, but the circumstances seriously sucked.

> Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute

Dinner was pretty much the bland basics that he remembered. At least the drink selection was better than it had been. An alcoholic cider sounded nice after the day they’d had. He ignored the soup, opting to use some butter and chicken to make one of the rolls into a little sandwich, accompanied by a few of the less offensive vegetables that he picked out of the mix. Probably they came out of a big budget bag of frozen vegetables. He dashed salt and pepper over them before even bothering to taste them, already knowing it probably wouldn't be enough. Meanwhile Jared was getting pretty liberal with the hot sauce and Devin was commenting on the deliciousness. It took effort to keep from smirking. Instead Morgan added, “~Yeah, good to see the chefs didn't get rusty.

When dinner was done, it was finally time for cake, something Morgan could get behind. Even bad cake tended to be pretty good, and no chef was bad at everything anyways. Unfortunately, that was when weird stuff started to happen; light flickering out, Janets argued with Nathan, and a hooded figure appeared. When it lowered it's hood, revealing Lucas, Morgan didn't know what to say, though soft comment did come out, “n-no.”

He was supposed to be dead. . . and then here he was announcing they’d all killed him by leaving. As if they weren't dying every day they were trapped in this house. Reactions were mixed. Some were silent and bewildered. Cam acted like everything was fine and asked Lucas for a hug, while Lyn acted like it obviously wasn't Lucas, and inviting him to have some cake. Morgan squinted, realizing he could figure out if this was Lucas or not, “You can't know us that well if you're going to stand there and act like we had a choice. What did you say your name was again?
 

Skillfulness

Well-Known Member
Lilith (O'Neil) Caswell
The Institute - West Wing Dining Room, Cambridgeshire


Cam had decided to sit next to Lilith and the two had a wonderful chat over dinner. He talked at length about the movies he was in and Lilith shared about the remodeling projects she and Melissa were working on. Though Cam expressed the desire to be an uncle, she talked about her job working with kids and how that was more than enough for now. Perhaps when the two of them were closer to retirement. She asked about his romantic prospects and in the middle of their conversation June announced the arrival of cake. This was followed a moment later by flickering lights.

That’s odd, Lilith thought. She glanced outside to check if it was raining, but the weather seemed calm, maybe a bit breezy out. Shouldn’t have been strong enough to cause problems with the power though. Nathan and one of the Janets had a quick back and forth regarding the electricity.

"Number sixteen, could you do a brief diagnostic scan of the electrics?" Nathan requested.

"Certainly.” A pause. “My scan detected no anomalies in the electrical network.”

He then instructed her to have another Janet check into it further. Meanwhile June appeared from the kitchen once again with a large trolley topped with a delicious dessert. Lilith had her eyes on the cake and nudged Cam with a delighted grin. Desserts were one of her weaknesses. As soon as June asked who wanted a slice her hand shot up, but the room went dark at exactly the same time.

“Eek!” Lilith shrieked quietly and covered her mouth, embarrassed. She took in a quick breath and chuckled slightly. Look at me, acting afraid of the dark like I was a child. I must be too on edge from everything so far tonight. I’m going to sleep so well tonight. When Nathan asked the Janet to check into the lights, and it responded the lights were on, worry rapidly wormed its way into Lilith’s head. Maybe the Janet is just malfunctioning again. I doubt any of them are working perfectly… She ignored the part of her brain that told her this was the most well-working one of the bunch.

The lights came back and Lilith recoiled, blinking. She opened her mouth to try cracking a joke, but she noticed her siblings all looking towards the curtains. Her hair flipped as she whipped her head in that direction and saw the mysterious figure. Heart pounding, she sat frozen. It stared Nathan down when he approached and commanded him to stop. Then it lowered its hood.

Lilith stared into the eyes of who appeared to be Lucas, his familiar face glaring at them all.

"You killed me. You left me," he said words full of malice. "You left me, and now I'm dead. You all killed me!" Lilith was silently shaking her head as tears began to spring to her eyes. She couldn’t pry them off what looked like her brother. Lucas was dead. That was the reason they were all here. He simply couldn’t be here.

“No,” Lilith whispered. She shut her eyes tight and shut out all her emotions with it. The first feeling that came back to her was rage. Lilith was angry that this person, who just could not be Lucas, stood there, accusing them using his likeness. It was a horrible thing to do. Even if this was some strange form of their brother, he would not be saying those things. Lucas wasn’t like that, ever. The whole situation was wrong and it made Lilith angry. Glancing around at her true siblings, she noticed Lyn, Cam, and Morgan were all approaching or speaking to him. Never the most clever in the bunch, Lilith would let her wiser brothers and sisters attempt to unravel this bizarre turn of events. Instead, she abruptly stood up and returned Lucas’ furious gaze. Tears still pricked the corners of her eyes, but she was tense and ready to jump into action. This impostor was not welcome here and once she sensed that it was time to fight, she would make sure this person knew not to mess with the Caswell siblings.
 

Tangeh

Well-Known Member
Jared Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute


Dinner overall went by without too much drama. Nobody brought up the suits, and Jared could hear Cameron enthusiastically distracting Lilith with lighthearted conversation, like two average siblings in a normal, healthy family. Jared was thankful right now for his brother's endless optimism; he didn't have it in him right now, and Lilith would certainly benefit more from Cameron's energy than poignant silence. Some of the others engaged in forced small talk over the food. The chicken certainly seemed to be good, if Lyn's reaction to it said anything. It was reassuring to see her eating so enthusiastically. The markings that marred her face worried him, and he had no idea how she was holding up in other aspects of her health, but at least her appetite was solid. Better than his was right now, anyways. He knew better than to be picky though and ate without complaint nor compliment. He reached for water – a growing necessity given how much hot sauce he'd just put in his mouth. Some of his siblings were opting for alcohol which, although the least nostalgic choice, wasn't something he'd ever trusted himself to consume.

As the dinner portion wound to a close and June announced the cake would be served shortly, the lights began to flicker. Jared didn't pay it much mind at first. He noticed that June and Nathan seemed concerned about it and sent a Janet to investigate. June returned with a very large cake, which Jared was going to feel rude declining to eat because it looked like the chefs had put a lot of effort into it. Ah well, Cameron could probably eat his share anyways – he remembered him having a big sweet tooth. She barely had an opportunity to offer them a generous slice before the power flickered violently and then cut out completely. It was a little odd, but Jared still wasn't reading much into it. Just another unfortunate event in their day of horror. Lyn's voiced popped up next to Jared, joking about this being some sort of horror movie. Jared cracked a grin; only Lyn could get away with saying that right now.

Then the lights came on and Jared winced away as his eyes adjusted. Was it just him, or were they even brighter than before? The clatter of a knife quickly caught Jared's attention. Lyn swiftly swiped her dinner knife from the table and whirled to face the entrance. Jared followed her gaze with a frown. A hooded figure had appeared at the entrance, taking deep, raspy breaths. A man's voice grunted out a single word: “stop.”

Lyn tensed, and Jared tried to glance at her without turning his head too much. He noticed she was hiding her dinner knife from view, but she looked understandably on edge. “Lyn,” he whispered urgently, trying to convey a warning not to do anything rash in that single syllable.

And then the man lowered his hood, revealing... it took Jared a little longer to recognize his own brother than it did the others, but once he had, he had trouble hiding his disbelief. He hadn't for a moment thought the light trick was caused by... Lucas's expression was furrowed into an angry scowl that was genuinely disturbing. “You killed me,” he exclaimed, and Jared winced as Lucas met his gaze, and looked at all of their siblings in turn. “You left me.” Jared stared, his mind desperately trying to wrap itself around this situation. They were all lucky in that moment that bewilderment wasn't one of Jared's trigger emotions. “You left me, and now I'm dead. You all killed me!”

His words made Jared's heart ache, even though logically he knew they weren't true. He took a slow, deep breath to settle himself as his brain rushed to figure out an explanation for this situation. He felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced up at Lyn. She didn't say anything, but her serious expression betrayed the fact that she was about to do something. Jared tensed as she stood up, ready to intervene if Lucas made any moves. Out of his peripherals, he noticed Lyn was holding a knife, but Jared avoided looking directly at it, as not to tip the intruder off. “I’m afraid we don’t know you, although you seem to know us — could I ask you for an introduction, just to get everyone on the same page?" Lyn asked. Maybe Lyn was trying to see if Theo's powers would react at all, or maybe she was hoping he'd say something other than Lucas. Jared really hoped one of those two options would lead to this stranger being anyone else – but then, what would that mean? His brow furrowed as Lyn gestured towards the seat next to him. "Feel free to take a seat when you're done — we've got cake to spare." Jared really hoped this “Lucas” wasn't going to take her up on that offer – his familiar stare was a lot to deal with at this distance, let alone right beside him.

Jared shifted uncomfortably as the intruder ignored Lyn's request for an introduction and backed away from Cameron as he approached for a hug. A familiar pull in Jared's chest told him Cameron was using his powers, but the stranger didn't show the slightest reaction. Nor did he respond when Morgan repeated the request for an introduction, likely using his powers to manipulate the stranger's memory. This wasn't right. Jared stole a glance at Theo, curious if he was picking up on anything. If he was, he wasn't saying it. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. As far as he remembered, Morgan's powers worked on anybody who wasn't a sibling... but this couldn't really be Lucas... could it? But... the lights? What if this was an android, a creation designed to look and act like Lucas? But... if that were the case... how long had Lucas really been dead...? No, no, he didn't have enough information to jump to conclusions like that...

Lilith jumped up, furious tears pricking at her eyes, and Jared followed her lead and stood up as well. If they were going to fight, they were going to do it as a unit. But his eyes didn't fall onto the man – the thing – claiming to be Lucas: they fell on Nathan, who was frozen in place, wide-eyed. “What's going on?” Jared asked him firmly. If the manor was anything like he remembered, there should be no way an intruder would get past their security without them knowing. Nathan had to know something.
 

Schade

Party.
Devin Caswell
The Institute
West Wing Dining Room

Dinner would prove to go about as expected with little to no actual interactions. The awkward silence was occasionally filled with awkward remarks about the food and attempts at small-talk, as well as that gnarly sound of forks and knves touching the plates. As the group finished their dinner, June announced to them all that she would bring out the cake. Devin didn't really care for cake, or any kinds of sweets, but he acted excited regardless. Despite the current situation, June did her best, and it was obvious both her and Nathan were so happy the siblings were all back, creating a somewhat sad depressing take on the dynamic and energy that used to adorn the halls of the manor when they were kids. He could just give his share of dessert to Cameron, he always liked that stuff. There was certainly much to think about, much more so that Decin didn't even notice the first few times the lights started flickering.

Once he was made aware, however, the rest of the group also started notice. Nathan instructed a Janet to run diagnostics on the house to see where the eelectric interfearance came from. Janet, however, didn't find anything out of the ordinary, which Devin couldn't really tell was because there actually were no interfearances, or if the Janet had just bumped her head one too many times. Regardless, the issue seemed to remain, and progressively seemed to worsen. Nathan gave Janet permission to send in the mechanic, a Janet whose sleeves had always been rolled up during their childhood. He wasn't sure if she actually had any mechanical expertice, but considering the Janets supposivly shared network and skills it would seem weird. Regardless, if the issue could be fixed, Fix-it Janet would prevail!

However, despite her best efforts, or maybe she just hadn't reached the fuse boxes yet, the lights started violently flickering, before being turned off completely. This earned some surprised wary gasps from some of the siblings, and Devin rubbed his eyes as to adjust to the dark. "Useless robots, they should've been discarded a long tiem ago.." he muttered under his breath before wuickly regaining his posture. It wasn't like him to lose his cool like that. Nathan frantically tried reasoning with Janet, who in turn looked at him as if he was a dumb child before stating that the lights were already on. As if on cue, the lights turned back on, seemingly brighter than they had been before? Or was he imagining dragons... Regardless, everything seemed to be back to normal now. Devin sighed, and turned around to face tht last piece of elusive broccoli. Alas, the broccoli lived another day, as before he could eat it, the sound of something being dropped made Devin turn his head towards the sound. June looked like she had just seen a ghost! Holding onto her chest, mouth agape. Poor woman looked like she was going to have a heart attack. She was staring towards the end of the room, and following her gaze Devin saw it: A Hooded figure was standing by the end of the room. An intruder? Devin slowly reached for his glass, which responded to his touch by quickly goldifying. His aim was good. If the hooded figure tried anything, he would aim for the head and try to knock him out. The figure was breathing in a heavy raspy tone, revealing their identity to be that of a mans, at least. Nathan took some cautious steps towards the figure, but the figure just told him to stop.

In an overly dramatic and dragged out turn of events, the figure started to slowly remove their hood to reveal.. No ****ing way. Staring back at them was none others than the supposidly dead brother, Lucas. Alpha. Bearing his signature handsome looks, if not older and more rugged than he remembered, the man looked angry. Devin had only seen Lucas donning that angry betrayed face once: The day before he had left the institute for good, swearing to never return. Good one Devs, how did that work out for you, eh? Seeing Lucas' angry face made Devin remember the day they had their big falling out. He who had refused to listen to him about their parents true motives, who had so easily dismissed Devin as if their childhoods and good times didn't mean anything at all. Just thinking about it made Devin angry, but he remained calm, breathing deeply. He was the number 3 biggest fitness blogger in all of France, if there was one thing he knew it was to remain calm.

Lucas then went on a cryptic verbal rampage, insisting that the siblings had killed him by leaving him alone. True as that might've been, it was his own personal choice to remain. It's not like Devin hadn't pleaded for him to join him when he left. The other siblings all shared his astonishment and surprise. Well, everyone but Cameron. Once this was all over, he would put some money into seeing that Cameron got professional help; he was obviously going through heavier sh*t than the rest of the siblings cmobined with how he acted, for him to be that obliviously ignorant. Morgan, on the other hand, kept his cool, and reacted properly, by sing his power of persuasion to try and pull some answers from Lucas, if this even was him. However, the powers seemed to be completely ineffective on the cryptic intruder, and with more and more of the siblings standing up, Devin did the same, putting the last piece of broccoli in his pocket.

~~~

Sigma was angry. Hurt, betrayed, angry, sad, depressed, confused, lost. There weren't many words to describe how he felt right now, but at the very least he had made up his mind. It almost felt liberating; he hadn't been this set on anything in a long time. Maybe it was because this was his own decission and not one pre-made for him by their pare.. No, by Matthew and Renata, if that was even their real names. They probably weren't. Nothing about this life had been real, after all. It was all fabricated in order to make perfect little soliders, obedient perfect toy soliders each with their unique quirk, like some sort of dumb cartoon. Another pair of socks turned to gold. Every happy memory, all the times reading comics in front of the fireplace, being praised for your obediance. Everything was a lie. His tears was blocking out his vision. Sigma quickly stood up and rubbed his eyes. In front of him was the wall-mounted mirror, complete with pictures of his siblings, of himself with Renata and Matthew, of Lucas. He looked like a mess. the scrawny kid with the short blonde hair, an anonymous solider with no personalized traits whatsoever. Just do as you're told, Sigma. His anger made him calm down, and he clenched his fists before lashing out at the mirror, shattering it into pieces with one powerful punch. The shards quickly goldified before they could even hit the ground. Sigma looked at his hands, they were shaking visibly, but ceased to do so once he managed to calm his breath. No, he was sure, his mind was made up.

"Sigma, what's going on?", the familiar voice said as Alpha entered his room. He was one of the few siblings to never knock on his door when he came for visits, but right now it felt more of an invasion of personal space than anything. He was set in his mind, not even Alpha could stop him now. Alpha had just come back from training, and was still in his battlegear, with visible drops of sweat smeared out over his face from having tried wiping it off.

"Nothing, don't worry about me, go away!, Sigma said, not even looking up as Alpha stood in his doorway. No distractions.

"You're packing." Alpha asked, though it sounded more like an accusation than anything. Everything he said was an accusation now.

"Yes." Sigma said, still not looking up. This shirt here, that pair of pants there. the dozen or so small playdough blocks that was now conviniently turned into bulions of gold.

"You're not leaving, you know that right?" Alpha then said, stepping into the room. To say the atmosphere turned hostile would be an understatement. "It's still not too late, im sure mom and dad will look past these outbursts.." Alpha said. while it was clear he was trying to be diplomatic, there was no questioning that he would go physical should Sigma not comply. Pfh, go back in line, little solider.

Sigma stopped what he was doing and stood up, looking at his brother, former teammate and best friend. "I am not. Staying." he said in a threatening tone. Even Alpha had a quick moment of hesitation and surprise.

"How can you say that, after everything mom and dad had done for us, huh? Taking us in, letting us live a lifestyle others can only dream of!" Alpha went on. Sigma had heard this one before. 'But we're heroes, yadda yadda yadda'. Back then he believed it. Sure they have done good deeds over the course of their lives, but the negatives outweighed the positives, and there was no going back now.

"Mom and dad doesn't even care about us!" Sigma snapped. "They only care how much publicity you can provide, and on how they can use you for their own benefits! This hero schtic was fun, but i am not going to stay here and be a pawn forever!" he continued. He felt his tears welling up again, but managed to keep his cool. "If you want to stay here and be a good little lapdog forever then that's your insecurity. I've had enough, and i am leaving tonight. Nothing you, or anyone, can say or do will change my mind!" Sigma was shaking. "Join me, Alpha. We can leave together. We'll be better off out there than we ever was in here." he then pleaded. Maybe he could still reach him. What met him was silence...

"So that's it then." Alpha said.

"That's it." Sigma said after a short disheartened pause, going back to packing his bag.

One of the very few benefits this life had given to Sigma, was a keen intellect and tactical mindset. He heard Alpha's charge right away, and managed to dodge in time. His room was small, there were no other options than close combat. Parry, block, block, hit, block. Alpha was a formiddable fighter, but so was Sigma. Block, parry, block. Alpha managed to get a hold of Sigma's collar, and slammed him against the wall, the impact causing a shelf to dislodge, with several ranger paraphenilia falling onto the floor. Alpha looked conficted, and his sadness was now visible through his anger.

"You're not leaving! You're not leaving me!" he yelled. Sigma took his distracted moment to break free of his grasp, dealing several well-placed blows himself, causing Alpha to stagger. Sigma reacted fast, and picked up an action figure of, Ironically enough, Alpha himself. Within moments, the figurine was solid gold, and Sigma lunged, aiming for the back of Alphas head, knocking him out in one clean hit.

Panting, Sigma leaned up against the wall, looking down at Alpha. He then closed his eyes and forced himself to calm his breath before opening his eyes again. He grabbed his bag. "I told you. Nothing is going to change my mind." he gently flipped Alpha over to lay on his back with his foot. "Or anyone.". Sigma then left his room.

Walking down the hallway, he could hear the birthday cheers from his other siblings. Some spent the day together, some were alone. Sigma had always been reclusive on his birthday, so they knew not to cling on him on that specific day. The noise dimmed out as he reached the end of the hallway and entered the ain foyer. "Where are you going, Sigma?" Janet #13 said, standing by the fireplace with a book in her hand. "Just out on a stroll Janet, I'll be back shortly." Sigma lied, giving her a smile. He opened the main entrance doors and left the institute.


~~~

It seemed this situation was quickly going to derail into a fight, and while Devin's powers weren't really that useful in a fight besides for making makeshift weapons, he could still hold his own, even if the sight of his potential opponent was very distracting and enraging. Surprisingly enough, Lilith was the first one to show that good old Caswell fighting spirit. She looked very shook, but also very determined. Whoever this person was, be it Lucas or someone using his appearance somehow, he would not get away with it. Even if it turned out to be theri long lost and presumed ead brother, there was no holding back. Devin walked up, positioning himself next to Lilith as he entered a fighting stance, bracing himself for whatever came next.
 
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GoldenHouou

antagoonist
Theodore Caswell
Downstairs Sitting Room, The Institute


Unable to avert his eyes from Omicron’s suit, Zeta was only somewhat aware of what was happening around him. He could hear Rho’s voice tremble, and he caught the uncharacteristic melancholy in Iota’s words. Psi was angry. Others were quiet. The Janets, most likely, were still wearing their creepy smiles.

Everyone was in shambles, and Zeta did not know how to help them. He didn’t even know how to help himself. The longer he stared at the uniforms, the farther back his mind brought him. It was as if his entire life was scrolling backwards right in front of his eyes; the trial, their eighteenth birthday, their ranger career, the day he learnt the truth, childhood, and then---

A hand landed on his shoulder.

Theodore jerked his head up violently as if awoken from a dream - or a nightmare.

It took Theo a moment to reorient himself and realize the hand belonged to Ta--- to Evelyn. He’d seen her earlier in the day, but not this close up. With her right next to him, the damage her powers had done was all the more obvious. She must've used them a lot since they last met. She hadn't been nearly as worn then.

If only they’d never--

Theo shook his head, both to disperse his thoughts and reply to Evelyn’s apology - a sincere one, he noted. “There's no need to apologize, I don’t fault you for it. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant reunion.”

And then came the dagger, straight to his gut.

“But I’m glad that out of everyone who could’ve convicted her, it was you.”

She wasn’t glad, though. His powers told him as much, but frustratingly enough, they did not tell him why. Was she not glad because she knew the trial had been painful for him? Or due to the way he’d handled it? Or--- had Jared spoken with her? The two had been quite close, from what he recalled.

At the notion, Theo shifted his weight nervously.

Then Evelyn smiled. The smile was weak and a little bit forced, but upon hearing the words that accompanied it, Theo found himself smiling too.

“You did the right thing.” She meant it. “You put the bad person in jail — that’s what you do, right?”

Her words gave Theo pause. She... was not wrong. That was what he did, and it was exactly why he’d refused to let Marron get away with quite literal murder. But... was it really as simple as ‘putting the bad person in jail’? The Marron he knew was not a bad person.

But the person that looked him in the eye at the trial was, he reminded himself.

“Lyn..." he mumbled, more to himself than to her, "thank y-”

She was gone before he could get the words out.

For a moment, he had half the mind to give chase, just so he could deliver a proper thank you. But then he saw where she was headed, and was distracted by another hand upon his shoulder to boot. He turned to find Ginny, concern written all over her features. She asked if he was doing okay, and without missing a single beat, Theo forced back the smile he’d entertained earlier.

“Yes, I’m fine,” it was almost concerning how little pain that lie caused him nowadays, “Sorry for worrying you, I was... just a little taken aback. What about you? Are y-”

Before he could finish that thought, a familiar woman burst into the room. June the head maid looked even older than she had ten years ago, but no less strict. She seemed to pay the siblings no mind, her sights firmly set onto the Janets. At her command, they both shut down - and she proceeded to apologize in their stead.

“It’s quite alright. I’m glad to see you’re well,” Theodore offered. The latter half, at least, was true enough. He had no bad blood towards her, and unlike Morgan, could not bring himself to be upset over her word choice. Yes, they were adults now, but to an elderly lady who’d seen them grow up, they would likely always be children.

Always children, how easy a life that would be.

June offered to bring them to dinner, but food did not sound all too appealing at the moment. He was sure most of his siblings agreed.

--​

Dining Room, The Institute

And yet, dinner was still served.

There was nothing wrong with the food itself. It wasn’t anything fancy, but that suited Theo more than fine. He had neither the time nor expertise to cook at home on most days, so a homely meal was quite a welcome change from restaurants, takeouts and the office cafeteria. It reminded him of the time he’d lived together with his wife and kids. And yet, he could barely eat. At one point he caught himself holding onto a spoonful of broth for so long it had gone cold.

This should have been exactly what he wanted. A shared dinner, the perfect chance to feel like he still belonged - like no time had passed at all since he and his siblings had last called themselves family. But time had passed, and the empty seats around the table were an all too painful reminder of that. Without everyone here-- without her here, how could things ever be the same?

Few words were exchanged during dinner, and even the compliments Morgan and Devin paid to the food were false. Theo doubted cake would change the setting any, but forced down the last piece of his bread in preparation for it regardless. There was some trouble with the lights, but Theo didn’t think it too unusual. The house was old, and judging by the condition of some of the Janets, it might’ve just been a matter of poor maintenance. It only became alarming when the lights went out entirely, obfuscating the entire room.

Nathan instructed one of the Janets to alert another so it could check the fuse boxes - and the Janet’s answer was as puzzling as it was unsettling.

"The lights are already on."

And so they were.

Thedore had to blink to readjust to the sudden brightness, which he swore was more intense than before. He looked around the room with squinted eyes to see whether any of his siblings had similar trouble - and that’s when he saw it; a hooded figure standing by the window.

Immediately, Theo stood up from his seat. His gaze flickered to the utensils on the table; the forks, the knives. They were well within reach if things came down to it. He had seen one murder case too many, and was not willing to add to the statistics.

The figure stopped Nathan in his tracks with a grunt, his voice solidifying Theo’s suspicions that they were dealing with a man. His hand edged closer to one of the knives, but stopped once the stranger’s hood started to come down. He needed all his attention to be focused on the man’s face the second it came into view, just in case he needed to testify in court later. His gaze followed along the lowering hood. Past sandy blonde hair, over tan skin - until he got to the eyes, blue as the sky itself. Then it hit him.

“... Lucas?” Theo wasn’t sure whether the name ever got past his lips. If it did, he couldn’t hear it. All he heard were the words the man spoke.

"You killed me."

He wasn’t lying.

Theo’s gaze darted madly between his siblings, heart rate increasing with each face he visited. No. Not again. Not again. Who was it? Who would he need to see sentenced t---

"You left me, and now I'm dead. You all killed me!"

At those words, Theodore paused in confusion. He turned back to Lucas, waiting for the sweet release of a familiar pang - but it never came.

It didn’t make sense. Lucas was supposed to be dead - but if he was, he could not be here. And yet, when the man had called himself dead, when he'd said he was killed... he'd told the truth. What was going on? There had to be a logical explanation. Was he an android programmed to believe his own lies? A hologram brought about by whomever brightened the lights, perhaps to mask its origins? Just some loon truly believing he was their dead brother?

Evelyn, Cameron and Morgan all sprung to action, some using their powers to try and bring clarity to the situation. A few of the others were shaken to silence, while a few readied themselves to fight if the need arose.

Theodore narrowed his eyes, his back suddenly straight as a stick. His tone was calm but firm, the way it always was during an examination. As of that moment, the room was a dining hall no longer; it was the court of law, where he had to find out the truth.

“Who are you? What are you?” he demanded loudly enough to ensure the figure would hear. There were a million things he wanted to ask the man in a million different ways, but before Theo could start to debunk his claims, he had to first hear what they were.

So he fished out his cellphone, ready to dial 999 in case his loon theory turned out to be true, and waited.
 
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Minteh

It's so shiny!
Ginevra 'Ginny' Caswell
Dining Room (West Wing), The Institute


The arrival of their supposedly deceased brother had certainly caused a bit of a stir amongst the siblings. It took Ginny a minute to recover from her shock, and even though she did not immediately rise from her seat when she finally did much like Lilith, she was ready to jump into action should the need call for it. Most of her siblings were also quick to their feet, wisely assuming that the man in front of them - as believable as he was - was not their brother. The only one who wasn't directly approaching or speaking to Lucas was Jared, who instead turned to Nathan, asking if he knew anything about this.

At first, he said nothing, almost as though he hadn't heard the question. After a few seconds passed, he turned to Jared and shrugged. "I don't understand any of this," He admitted. "This can't be real. It just can't be! I saw-" For a moment the butler hesitated. His voice quivered when he finished what he needed to say. "I saw his body. He held my hand as he died." Nathan looked towards Lucas by the window, and Ginny noted he seemed on the verge of crying.

"Perhaps had you been more attentive, you might have saved me," Lucas taunted mockingly, upon hearing Nathan's words. Ginny turned to look at him, having been listening to Nathan and noticed he had a twisted smile on his lips. It was an evil smile and one that seemed hugely out of place for him. Lucas's gaze lingered on the man for a few seconds, before his head turned back to the siblings who were approaching him, his gaze landing on Lyn in particular. "A knife, Lyn? Really?" He inclined his head to one side. "What are you going to do - stab me?" There was a pause as if giving her room to answer, before he shrugged, and continued on. "If that's what you want to do, then do it. I've felt worse." Ginny arched a brow at this, feeling as though there was something behind those words. Was he referring to when they had left him again or was he making reference to how he died? Speaking of - how had he died? From what she could recall no-one had actually told them. Though she wasn't certain if she really wanted to know.

And then Lucas did something odd. He jumped forward at an alarming speed, briefly becoming a streak of light until he stopped directly in front of Theo. His hand seemed to hover above the one that was clutching the phone, but he never physically touched him. "Who am I? What am I? Those are the million-dollar questions aren't they?" He mused, echoing Theo's earlier questions. Lucas smiled and leaned forward. "I am Lucas. Or at least in a certain way, I am Lucas." As he leaned back he made a gesture towards his appearance.

"You are not Lucas!" A voice behind them shouted. Moments later June came thundering towards them and gently pulled Theo aside, making a grab for Lucas just as he was beginning to say "It's all in-"

But instead of grabbing him, June's hand punched right through his chest. As expected Lucas seemed to stiffen after this and went silent. The group watched as his body burst into a dark, smoky substance, rising upwards before it faded into the air. And like that, he was gone, scattered like dust in the wind.

"What-" Ginny began to say before Nathan made a sobbing noise. Clearly the stress had caught up to him now, and he could no longer hold it back. "June could you please see them to their rooms?" He requested. He didn't even wait for an answer before he hurried out of the room. Poor June had not moved since she had "destroyed" Lucas, and was clutching her hand, staring at it with a blank expression as he asked this. When he hurried out, leaving her alone with the siblings, she was quick to try and regain her composure. She gave it a valiant effort, but it was clear to all that much like Nathan, she had been shaken by the events tonight. "Follow me, please." Was her simple instruction.

***
Ranger Bedrooms, The Institute

June lead them silently to their rooms. Ginny didn't doubt there was much that needed to be said, but nobody said a word, instead glancing awkwardly around each other, silently communicating through their expressions and gestures. The siblings had a whole upper quarter of the house which made up their bedrooms. The entrance was carefully concealed in a hidden bookcase, one which could be opened if you pulled down on a book of poems written by an author that did not exist. With the number of visitors who frequented their house in later years, their parents had explained the need for the hidden door was to give them some privacy, as well as to ensure that if anyone went snooping they would be unlikely to find it. The bookcase opened up to a small, winding staircase, which in turn lead up to the wing of the house where they might find their bedrooms.

To her surprise, it wasn't too changed upstairs. June broke away from them momentarily, using a skeleton key to unlock their rooms whilst the group could have a brief look around on the landing. The TV system they had once used had long since been upgraded, and the DVDs and CDs they had once spent hours winding down to, had long been replaced with items that were more to Lucas's personal tastes. The DVD collection reminded Ginny a lot when they were younger, but the music collection had changed quite a bit, with several vinyl jazz albums neatly stacked on the shelves. Hung above the TV was a series of images Ginny had drawn long ago. They were neat but unmistakably childish in design. She had drawn a simplistic design of each of the siblings, in most of them they were showing off their powers, or had something with them to show their personality. In Ginny's, for example, she was holding a paintbrush.

Ginny was so caught up in the pictures that she almost didn't hear June come over to announce the rooms were unlocked and they could enter them freely. As she turned, Ginny noted Lucas's door was wide opening, light from the landing light pouring in. "Why is Lucas's unlocked?" She asked. June hesitated a moment before answering. "It never had a lock. Besides, we haven't shut it up since he died. Master Lucas always left it open and would invite us in to talk from time to time."

Ginny stared at the door intently for a moment, before looking to June. "Can we go into his room? Maybe have a look around?" She inquired. In truth, she didn't expect the woman to say yes, especially when she noted the indecision on her face. "I suppose you can," June answered. "Out of respect for your brother, I would ask that you don't take anything out of there unless you feel absolutely compelled to do so."

At the approval of being allowed inside, Ginny walked towards it, and slowly stepped inside. She found a light switch on the wall and flicked it on, flooding the room with light. Whereas most of their rooms would likely reflect their adolescent tastes, Lucas's displayed that of an adult man. Colourful posters that had once adorned the wall had been taken down, replaced with newspaper clippings from some of their missions as Rangers, as well as a few articles from his solo career as Alpha Prime. Opposite the door was a desk, with a few books atop it as well as an array of papers, and a paper parcel of some kind. At the other end of his room was his bed and a shelf adorned with various photos, more books, and some random clutter objects. On his bedside table, there was a half-finished glass of water, left untouched from when Lucas had been alive, and Ginny spotted two beautifully framed photos atop it too. Under his bed, she could spy a few boxes, and what looked like the posters he had taken down. Rather than stop to look at any of those things, Ginny moved to the middle of the room and stopped to look at the Alpha Prime suit on display in the glass case against the wall. On the wall behind it, he had a framed page from his first mission as Alpha Prime. "Alpha Prime Puts a Dent in Car Thieves!!" The title announced, a picture of a smiling Alpha Prime could be seen beneath. Ah yes, that was the Lucas she wanted to remember. Lucas who was good and kind, the Lucas who was a hero.
 
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Skillfulness

Well-Known Member
Lilith O'Neil
Dining Hall, The Institute


Jared stood with Lilith. Devin joined them, standing beside her. Then things took a turn. Theo reacted to the person posing as Lucas with more questions. The way he was acting had Lilith concerned. It seemed like something was terribly wrong to him, but she couldn’t figure out why. His power was the ability to detect lies. It was a handy power for non-combat missions and helped in daily life as well. It should make an encounter like this easier for them. Shouldn’t this thing be spitting lies left and right? Wouldn’t that put him more at ease instead of being so distressed? Unless... unless this Lucas impostor wasn’t lying. Lilith was about to reach out towards Theo, but then Nathan spoke up.

“I don't understand any of this. This can't be real. It just can't be! I saw- I saw his body. He held my hand as he died.” Lilith’s eyes flicked towards Theo again. He didn’t recoil in pain, but he could still be hiding his reaction to a lie. She trusted he would tell them the truth later. Hopefully all this stress wouldn’t affect his memory or alter his perspective.

“Perhaps had you been more attentive, you might have saved me,” the intruder quipped. He grinned menacingly at Nathan, mocked Lyn, and then revealed he’d been in more pain than what the siblings were prepared to inflict upon him. In a moment, Lilith went from feeling the adrenaline of fear to feeling a deep sense of sadness. What had this person been through? She brought her eyes up and looked into his for the first time. Though all that showed outwards was malice, Lilith sensed something deeply seeded that had a hold on this person’s heart.

Lilith gasped when Lucas darted forward. It was a blur of movement when he suddenly appeared in front of Theo. The fear was back. She was worried the person would be able to do something horrible to Theo before anyone had a chance to intercept, so she stood still and listened, intent on picking up emotional cues. She didn’t want to upset him and make things worse.

“Who am I? What am I? Those are the million-dollar questions aren't they? I am Lucas. Or at least in a certain way, I am Lucas.” Lilith was picking up comfortable vibes. This person felt in control and at ease. It made her feel even more concerned than before, but it also told her more about them. They either knew this house well, which could explain how they got in, or they had abilities that would keep them one step ahead. It made Lilith believe this person had the upper hand, despite being outnumbered. It might be safest to go along with this whole song and dance. She pushed back all her worries to focus.

“You are not Lucas!” June ran forward and started to say something while grabbing at Lucas. She pulled Theo aside gently, but her hand moved right through Lucas’ chest. There was a moment where no one moved, then the Lucas faker dissolved into shadows before their eyes. Ginny stared speaking, but Nathan choked out a sob and asked June to escort the siblings upstairs to their rooms. He left the dining hall in a hurry and June pulled herself out of her stupor. Lilith was impressed with how well they were both handling this. Part of her was still concerned with this mysterious intruder, but a larger part of her was concerned for the well-being of her family. She would have to stop by and check on Nathan later, after he had some time to recover. She’d make sure to check on June before she left them for the night. All night she could take time to be with her siblings.

Upstairs Bedrooms, The Institute

Lilith stood close to Theo while they made their way up to their old bedrooms. She wanted to be close in case he needed the comfort for any reason. He and Devin had probably taken the night’s events the hardest so she stole glances at him too. Around the landing, very little had changed. The technology had updated and movies or CDs were replaced with modern tastes. Above the TV was a set of pictures for each of the siblings with Ginny’s unmistakable style. Lilith felt her heart swell with pride and appreciation. Ginny was so talented and Lilith loved seeing her work on display. She felt so honored to be immortalized in one of her works of art, even if it was from her younger years and lacked the refined talent from years of practice. She quickly pulled her phone out and snapped a picture of the hung drawings.

“Can we go into his room? Maybe have a look around?” Lilith snapped out of her daze and realized Ginny was asking about entering Lucas’ room. Her throat got tight and her stomach flipped, but Lilith held the emotions at bay. She’d have to be strong if she wanted to get through the rest of this ordeal. She would enter the room, but not yet. She would stick by Theo and keep an eye on Devin until she knew they were both settled after what happened, then she could explore her deceased brothers living space. For now, she had another family member to attend to.

“Hey June, I just wanted to make sure you were ok after, well, that. You alright?” Lilith looked at her with a warm smile and waited, giving her time to give an honest response. Being caretaker over squabbling, super-powered kids was a trial on it’s own, but following up years later after one of their deaths and helping organize a sad reunion was above and beyond the call to service. Lilith could understand where June was at, being a nanny herself, and wanted to check that their trusted maid was taking care of herself in the midst of this chaos.

“Oh and earlier it sounded like you wanted to say something, with everything going on I didn’t quite catch it. Was it important?”
 

GoldenHouou

antagoonist
Theodore Caswell
Dining Room, The Institute


The situation made less sense by the minute. With a quiver in his voice, Nathan confessed that he had seen Lucas die - which meant that as far as he knew, their brother truly was dead. But that was not all; the intruder mocked him in response, insinuating that there might have been a way to save him, had Nathan 'been more attentive.' But what did that mean? Had Nathan overlooked an illness, or a cure of some sort? Or-- if the chandelier had indeed fallen, had it been due to a lack of maintenance on Nathan’s part?

Whatever the case, this man impersonating Lucas was not lying. But... that did not make any sense. Something had to be untrue. Were his powers malfunctioning? That had never happened before, but he had not detected a lie since this man had appeared. So perhaps...

"What are you going to do - stab me?" Theo snapped out of his thoughts as the man turned his taunts towards Lyn, clearly unafraid of the knife in her hands. "If that's what you want to do, then do it. I've felt worse."

He’d felt worse? Well, if he had really died... No, ghosts were absolutely not rea--

Theo never got a chance to finish that thought. In the blink of an eye, ‘Lucas’ dashed forth. His entire body dissipated into light, and before Theo could so much as manage a gasp, the man had crossed the length of the entire room - and come to a stop right in front of him. Theo froze. Eyes wide from fear and bewilderment alike, he stared up at the impostor’s face as if seeing it for the first time. From this close, the striking resemblance to Lucas was all the more clear - and all the more concerning. H-how did...? What the man had done just now, it--- it wasn’t something he’d ever seen Lucas do, but it aligned with his powers over light. But it... couldn’t be.

His eyes flickered to the man’s hand, looming over his own. Was that a warning? He definitely took it as such. If this loon had the power to move at such speeds, what else could he do? Theo hadn’t fought in ages - and even back then, he’d never been one to engage in close-quarter combat. All of a sudden, the knives on the table next to him felt awfully far away. If it came down to it, he would never be faster.

The impostor repeated his questions in a mocking tone, but Theo refused to let himself falter any more. He tried to get back his stern expression, all the while hoping that the vehement beat of his heart did not reach the stranger's ears and betray his fear.

'Lucas' leaned backwards and at last, Theo got his answers.

"I am Lucas. Or at least in a certain way, I am Lucas."

... In a certain way? Theo could not help but cling to those words. Was that the loophole he used to avoid his powers? If he truly was Lucas, he would not need to use such terms. No, using them would be counterproductive to what he tried to accomplish. Lucas knew about his powers. If he was being truthful, all he had to do was be direct. The way he gestured towards his appearance... was he an illusion after all? A shapeshifter, perhaps?

Ever so slowly, Theo’s wary stare turned into an angry glare. He was certain of it now; whoever this man was, he was not the real Lucas - and that meant he was making mockery of his deceased brother.

Theo's eyes narrowed, and his words came out in a low hiss, "What do you--"

"You are not Lucas!"

June?!

Theo had barely registered the voice when he was suddenly pulled backwards. The head maid stepped forward, hand reached towards the offending figure. Theo scrambled to stop her, fearing the man might hurt her - but such was not the case. June’s hand plunged right through the impostor’s chest, catching the man - and undoubtedly everyone else in the room - by surprise. A heartbeat later, the man burst apart, dissipating into a plume of smoke.

And just like that, ‘Lucas’ was gone.

Theo felt lightheaded. He gripped the table behind him for support, unaware that he’d dropped his phone at some point. People begun to move and speak around him, but he heard none of it. His head was full of information, and he was busy trying to decipher all the clues and arrange them into something that made sense. If his powers worked, then at least he knew he was dealing with truths, but...

Lilith approached him with a concerned expression. It was the perfect opportunity to see whether his powers were malfunctioning or not. He mustered a smile. “I’m okay.”

The pain in his gut was immediate.

--​

Ranger Bedrooms, The Institute

The next Theo knew, he and his siblings found themselves being led upstairs to their rooms at Nathan’s request. Theo hadn’t been paying attention to anything around him, and had offered no words of his own. He was aware that Lilith was sticking close to him, and he appreciated the solidarity greatly, even if he loathed to cause her worry. He wanted to tell her as much, but did not want to avert his thoughts from the myriad of theories forming in his mind. It was difficult enough to keep track of everything as things were, and he feared that the slightest distraction might scatter the clues all over again. He needed paper and a pen to write everything down, stat.

Just then, Ginny asked if they could enter Lucas’s room. Theo stirred from his thoughts long enough to notice the room in question, door invitingly open. He hesitated. The thought of entering it sounded wrong, and yet...

The memory of ‘Lucas’ staring down at him a moment earlier resurfaced, as did Theo’s prior anger. No. He had never been close with Lucas, and had even resented him for quite some time in their childhood. But Lucas was still his brother, and a possible victim of murder, to boot. For Lucas’s sake, he needed answers. He needed information, if he wanted to crack the case. What had Lucas done all these years, and why would someone masquerade as him? How had he died, and what did Nathan have to do with it? What of the situation in the foyer? If he could find an answer to at least one of those questions in Lucas’s room, it was worth the momentary discomfort.

“Thank you,” he said to no one in particular for no particular reason, then followed his sister into the room. It truly was left the way it had been when Lucas had died, all the way to an unfinished glass of water. Ginny went to look at Lucas’s old suit, but to Theo, the most interesting part of the room was the desk and the papers atop it. Paper... that’s right, he needed some. While he was at it, he should find a notebook to... to borrow.

Lucas’s own notes offered nothing useful, so Theo went on to test his luck on the drawers instead. He found a mostly empty notebook and a pen, as well as...

Ever so slowly, Theo picked up an old, dusty letter. It was addressed to Devin. Under it, there were a handful more, all unfinished and unsent. Lucas... he must have missed the old days, too. And yet, he’d been too afraid to reach out. It was a feeling Theo knew well. What if the siblings he remembered were different people now? What if no one wrote back?

“I would have written back,” Theodore mumbled quietly as he placed the letter back among the rest. The letters could offer tidbits about Lucas’ life, but they were not addressed to him - and so, he should not have been the one to read them. Besides, he doubted Lucas would have written about anything too personal into such letters - particularly if he intended on keeping them in his drawer.

In the next drawer, Theo found a cellphone, but it did not turn on. Still, it was a big find; he could not think of a better source of information than a cell. They’d need to see if they could get access to it later on. He placed it atop the table, intending to ask for a charger afterwards.

Then he opened the bottom drawer.

It seemed empty. Had it not been the final drawer he looked at, he would have likely closed it and moved on. As things were, he was desperate to find something, anything of use. And so, he bent down to check if, perhaps, there was something shoved to the very back of the drawer, out of immediate sight. There wasn’t.

But as he reached around the back of the drawer, he noticed something... strange about the bottom of it. It was moving, and seemed to be set higher than the drawer’s outer parts would indicate. A moment of investigation later, he found out why; there was a compartment underneath. In it, he found a notebook and an envelope, both deliberately hidden. Theo’s interest was piqued.

The notebook offered nothing of note as far as Lucas’s own life was concerned - but it offered quite a bit when it came to the rest of the siblings. He knew of Cameron’s movies, Devin’s social media reach, and... Theo was not quite sure what to think when he saw the birthdays of his two little girls scribbled onto the paper. Lucas was clearly quite curious about their lives, but-- it was a little unsettling how much he knew. It made him wonder... had Lucas’s intentions been pure? Or...

His gaze wandered to the envelope.

Theo opened it to find a DVD - and as he saw the addressee on the note that accompanied it, he nearly let the whole thing slip from his fingers. It was addressed to him.

"Theo,

I hope this is your address. I tried looking for your law offices online and this is what I found. I recently received this letter in the post - only it wasn't really a letter, more of a DVD. I watched a little but it made for hard viewing for reasons which I'm sure will become clear. I hope you can make sense of it more than I could.

Lucas
P.S. here's my number if you wish to contact me"

Someone had... sent Lucas a DVD, which he had wanted to forward to... to him? Hard viewing? Making sense of it? What in the world... was this the reason Lucas was no longer with them? Was the DVD a threat sent by a murdered? Or something Lucas should not have seen? ... Was he now in danger, for holding it in his hand?

All of a sudden, the DVD seemed twice as heavy as before.

But that wasn't all. Someone had scribbled words onto the DVD itself - someone other than Lucas, judging by the handwriting. The cryptic message read, ‘She was telling the truth’ in capital letters. But who was ‘she’?

The DVD was no longer the only thing heavier than before; it felt as though someone had rolled a large boulder onto Theo’s chest, making it difficult to breathe. If this DVD had something to do with Lucas’s fate, then anyone who watched it could potentially be in danger. He could not let any of his siblings know about it, lest he put them in danger as well. But he did have to view it. Were there any DVD players in the house? Did June or Nathan know anything of it? He’d need to find a way to ask, without involving the others.

Theo replaced the fake bottom of the drawer and slipped the DVD and its note under his jacket. Then he stuck the empty notebook under one arm, and left Lucas’s secret notebook on the desk. He took a step back.

“I found Lucas's cellphone, but it doesn’t turn on - does anyone happen to have a charger?” he glanced at the drawer with the letters, searched for proper words for a moment, and then went on, “There’s also... something you might want to see.”

He stepped aside to let the others find the letters and the notebook if they so wished. With that, he turned to leave. “I need some fresh air.”

Theo ran a hand through his hair and went to find a window in one of the rooms nearby - but not his own, nor Marron’s. He was overwhelmed with emotions as things were.

And then it hit him.

The ‘she’ on the DVD... it... couldn’t be... could it?

No. No, he decided it could not.

He really needed that fresh air.
 
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VampirateMace

Internet Overlord
Dr. Morgan Caswell
(Dining Room > Upstairs) The Institute, Cambridgeshire


Some of their siblings prepared for action, and others asked further questions of the mysterious Lucas look-alike. Morgan watched the ghost or man or whatever as it, confronted Lyn and then Theo, ignoring his and others' attempts to get more info. It still claimed to be Lucas, but as June grabbed for him, he evaporated. It didn't seem real or natural, but not really like a hologram or projection either. And even if one tried to explain it away as an interaction between this universe and one where Lucas was alive, it still didn't work. No, this was some sort of targeted psychological attack. Was it possible, that even from the grave their 'parents' were still experimenting on them?

Then after a moment, Nathan instructed June to take them upstairs. Morgan groaned lightly. He did not want to stay the night. He did not want to see his old bedroom. And he didn't really need her help to find his old room either, but there was something nice about the group sticking together after that real life nightmare. But maybe tonight he'd sneak back down and inspect the dining room for mechanisms. No, he was an adult now, he wouldn't need to sneak. Maybe he'd just come back down and inspect the dining room for mechanisms that would explain away 'ghost' Lucas.

Ghosts weren't real after all. . .

Upstairs

The path was familiar, though somethings had changed. Ginny's drawings were still there, but there were also CDs and DVDs that hadn't been out yet when they'd left. It felt odd seeing this mix of familiar and unfamiliar objects, but it was not terribly unexpected. What was unexpected was the fact that Lucas' room was open. June gave them permission to enter, but asked them not to take anything.

Some of the others started to move in on the room, but Morgan turned the opposite direction and entered his own room. The décor in here had not changed since the days he, Lilith, and Gale had shared it. He'd originally been roomed with Cameron, but as he found that arrangement to be increasingly unbearable, he'd finally managed to convinced Ginny to swap rooms with him.

He dropped his backpack on his old bed, not much fear in the way of bed bugs when the room had been empty for years, and moved over to the desk. The old computer he'd cobbled together from spare Janet parts, still stood there silent and untouched, just as it was when he'd lefted. He pressed the buttons on the tower and the monitor, not sure if it would boot, then headed back out to see what the others were up to. Even if the makeshift computer did boot, it would take a while.

Light was coming from Lucas' room now. He did not terribly like the idea of being in there himself, but given the amount of shenanigans that were currently occurring, he had to admit they should investigate. He glanced around as he entered. The room seemed to him to be a monument to Lucas' ego, the suit and newspaper clippings prominently on display. Ginny seemed to be admiring or considering these things, while Theo was going through Lucas' desk. Morgan wondered lightly if there could be anything to find there, considering desks and sock drawers were the worst places to hid things, but then he didn't remember Lucas as being particularly brilliant. People like that tended to hid things under their mattress as well, not that he wanted to know if big brother had a porn stash under there. But he stepped closer to the bed anyways. As he did so, the picture of their late brother and a mysterious girl caught his eye. He picked it up, who was this? More importantly, what was she doing with Lucas?

He was broken out of these thoughts as Theo told them there was something to see, indicating a notebook and some unstamped letters. Morgan dropped the picture gently onto the bed, and moved over to look as Theo excused himself. He picked up and rifled through the letters, they were addressed to various siblings. He didn't read them, but took note of the fact he likely knew everyone's addresses. Morgan hadn't exactly tried to hide, but he felt like some of their siblings had, and they probably wouldn't like this, even if they excepted Lilith keeping track of them. He tossed these down without even reading the one addressed to him, and picked up the notebook. This confirmed that Lucas could have contacted them if he chose. He spoke aloud to the others still in the room, “Looks like Lucas was keeping tabs on us too.”
 
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