SpontaneousCombustion: Okay, so, after my really, really short prologue, I'm back again. This time, with an actual, chapter length chapter. Also, I apologize for my sudden abuse of Latin, but that's what happens when I suddenly have access to a translator.
Disclaimer: I don't own Psychonauts. Period. I'm just borrowing some of the characters for a bit.
"And so then I told him that I have a boyfriend, you know? And he did the whole 'just because there's a goalie doesn't mean I can't score' thing. I mean, really, does that ever work?" Sara prattled on to a gaggle of girls, all in matching uniforms. Alphonse rolled his eyes, not really understanding how Sara fit in so well into the cheerleaders' dynamic. "It was pretty clear I didn't want to talk to him. It's safe to say that he is never coming to one of the parties at my house again."
"You're probably the first girl that's ever turned him down more than once," one girl giggled.
"What can I say?" Sara said, with a toss of her hair. "What I've got is way better than a good looking package of muscles. Oh, hey, Alphonse!" She said, hopping up to greet her brother with a hug. "Alphonse was the one that ended up saving the day there, of course."
"I just told him to go home," he shrugged, sitting down with the rest of them. Alphonse didn't know why he sat with the people his sister sat with, but it seemed Sara's friends understood that they were a package deal. Sara sat with Alphonse and his friends often enough, so it seemed to balance out.
Alphonse pulled out a book, turning the chatter of the cafeteria into meaningless background noise. He was so immersed in his book that he hardly noticed someone gently prodding the psychic shields around his mind, his subconscious dismissing it as Sara being a pain.
Then, the push got stronger. Alphonse frowned. "Sara, knock it off."
"Knock what off?" Sara asked, genuinely confused. Alphonse's eyes widened as the push came again, this time clearly a foreign mind trying to break past his shields. And from the look on her face, this time Sara felt it too. Alphonse tapped into his training and sent a pulse of energy through his shields, pushing back at the strange mind. It backed away for just a second, then did the psychic equivalent of throwing itself against Alphonse's shields.
Enough of this, Alphonse growled, reaching over under the table and grabbing Sara's hand. A combined blast of psychic energy down the semi-formed link. The invading presence vanished immediately. Amateur, Alphonse scoffed, and he would have gone back to his book if not for another bizarre occurrence.
The moment he and Sara forced the intruder away from their minds, every cell phone in the cafeteria went off simultaneously. The TVs hanging from the ceiling on either side of the room suddenly showed only static, but Alphonse could still just barely pick out a voice from the white noise. Hesitantly, he pulled his vibrating cell phone from his pocket and hit 'accept.'
"-have been found guilty of harboring those touched by dark gifts, and shall be cleansed in purifying light."
"Do you think we won a free spa day or something?"
"Cleansed? I only get cleansed by professionals, thanks." One of the cheerleaders scoffed.
Sara was not as enthused as her friends. "Alphonse? What's going on?"
Alphonse stared down at his phone. "We need to get out of here."
If there had been any security footage to review, everyone would have been very puzzled as to why a phantom-like blue hand suddenly pulled every fire alarm in Garfield High School at the exact same time. The blaring sirens cut through the confused chatter of the students and sent them all in a mad dash toward the exits. Sara and Alphonse, after holding back to make sure that everyone else got through, barely made it out themselves before the cafeteria- almost literally- exploded into flames behind them.
"Well. Mom's never going to let us out of the house again." Sara quipped as the fire began to consume the rest of the building at an alarming rate. Alphonse glared at his sister.
"Now isn't really the time for jokes, Sara."
"Someone just set our school on fire. Obviously, it's not time for class."
Alphonse wished that some tiny part of that hadn't found that funny, in a twisted, morbid sort of way. "Well, you're right about one part. Someone just set our school on fire- and they were aiming for us." He muttered, wiping a sheen of sweat off his forehead.
Somehow, neither of the Vodello-Nein twins were surprised when, in between all the emergency vehicles, a bright red sports car screeched into the parking lot. When someone tried to stop her, she flashed a glowing purple badge at them and they immediately got out of her way, giving her a beeline to her children. "Hi mom." Sara said, waving a little as a paramedic smeared burn cream on her shoulders.
Milla was almost as pale as Sasha on a bad day, and Alphonse prayed his sister wouldn't resort to her defense mechanism of making jokes. "Mom, we're okay." He assured her as she turned and swept him into a tight hug.
"What happened?" Milla demanded. Alphonse glanced over at the paramedic. Milla looked at the man, who silently handed the gauze to her and walked away, looking a bit dazed as he did so.
"I thought we weren't supposed to-" Sara started, stopping when her brother gave her a look that clearly said 'not now.'
"We were at lunch, and someone tried to break past my shields."
"And then we made sure everyone else was out of the cafeteria before getting the he- getting out." Alphonse finished retelling the story again for his father while Milla continued to fuss over Sara's barely even there minor burns.
"Mama, come on! It's like a blister!"
Milla shushed her daughter. "Sara, darling, I've seen burns go very, very badly before. Now please, hold still."
No one else made any comment about Milla's fussing at that. "Alphonse, you're sure about what you felt?"
"Yes. Someone definitely tried to break past me and Sara's shields, and when we fought them off, they set the building on fire." Alphonse nodded, shuddering to think what would have happened if he and Sara's minds hadn't been so well-guarded.
Sasha frowned. "This is… most disturbing. Milla, I'm going to call Truman to report this. If there is a rogue pyrokinetic on the loose…"
Alphonse glanced over as his phone started to vibrate on the kitchen table. "Hey Kisa, I can't really-"
"Someone just burnt down my school."
In the seventh grade, Kisa Aquato had told her gym teacher that in no uncertain terms, she would walk into a burning building before she jumped into the swimming pool in gym class. She'd never been afraid of fire. At least, not until her math classroom had spontaneously combusted in the middle of a pop quiz.
That was twenty-four hours ago. Since then, she'd been hustled out of New York and onto three different planes and twice as many inconspicuous cars until finally, she'd arrived at her destination.
Whispering Rock, summer camp for the psychic.
The camp was basically deserted, as it was the middle of April and not the beginning of June. Kisa had been one of the first psychics evacuated- granddaughter of the Grand Head of the Psychonauts apparently gave her 'precedence' when her grandfather sent out the nation-wide alert for all psychic minors to immediately be placed into protective custody. Mostly, that meant that they'd be going to safe houses situated around the country until this blew over. Those who had been at the nearly twenty schools that had been firebombed, however, were going to be given special protection at Whispering Rock.
"Shit, this place is creepy when no one's here."
Kisa rolled her eyes. "Yeah, thanks Becky. Really helping."
She shrugged. "I do what I can. We the first ones here?"
"Probably. I don't even think my parents are here yet." Kisa said, looking around the deserted parking lot.
"Real safe." Becky said dryly.
"They'll be here." Kisa shot back.
Becky held her hands up. "Chill, Aquato. I'm sure your parents are fine. I didn't hear anything about houses getting burned down. Just schools."
Kisa frowned, but nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure they're fine." She muttered. They both looked up as Lilianna Aquato's dark red Porsche zoomed through Whispering Rock's gates. "Stand down, you morons." She snapped as the two Agents moved to stop her, TK'ing them out of the path between her and her daughter.
"Well, at least it was into a bush." Raz muttered, climbing out of the passenger side. "Sorry guys." He got a pair of thumbs up back as the two unfortunate agents disentangled themselves from the hedges.
"Kisa, thank god." Lili said, hugging her daughter. "I am going to kill your grandpa the next time I see him."
"Don't kill grandpa, mom." Kisa said, her voice slightly muffled by Lili's shoulder. "You'll just regret it later."
"What your mother means to say is that we're just glad you're okay, Kisa." Raz said, walking over. "You too, Becky. Are you both all right?"
"I had to punch a kid in the face so he'd stop freaking out. But yeah, we a'ight." Becky shrugged. "Aqua- Kisa had to get some stitches cuz she got shoved down, but it's really not that bad."
Kisa pulled her bangs back to show her parents the small wound near her hairline. "I didn't even have a concussion." She said before Raz could make a big to-do out of the cut. "Did we find out anything else about the fires?"
"Yeah, like who started twenty-three fires all over the country?" Becky asked.
"No, not yet." Lili sighed. "All we know is that every single one of the schools lost all electronic signals before the fires started, and they all received the same mass message."
"…how many people died?" Kisa asked quietly.
"We don't know yet." Raz told her, stroking her hair.
Slowly but surely, more and more children began to filter into Whispering Rock, all accompanied by at least one Psychonaut. Relieved reunions were taking place everywhere, with just as much worry about missing friends plaguing the campers.
"Kisa, relax. You just talked to your boyfriend yesterday." Becky said, sitting down on the bench next to Kisa.
"Emily's still not here either. Neither are Misha and Tony, or Eli."
"Isn't he homeschooled?"
Much to Kisa's relief, after another thirty minutes of waiting, a familiar, dull green, practically ancient Pontiac pulled through the gates. Sasha hadn't even managed to put it into park before Alphonse had leapt out of the back seat and run over to Kisa. Becky rolled her eyes at the mess of hugs and 'I'm all right, are you all right?'s that followed.
Sara hurried over. "Is Eli here?"
Kisa shook her head. "I haven't seen him yet." She said apologetically. Sara made a distressed noise and pulled her phone out.
"She hasn't been able to get him to pick up." Alphonse explained quietly. "Is everyone here?"
"Other than the Calientes and Jingle Bells, it looks like everyone's here." Becky said.
"I think Misha and Tony went back to Brazil for a year. Don't let Sara find out about Emily, though." Alphonse sighed. "She hasn't slept yet because she hasn't heard from Eli."
"Hey, Eli. It's me, again. I'm staying away from Psitanium rich areas, so my phone should still work. Call me," Kisa heard her say, tiredly before hanging up her phone. Sara walked over to the group and smiled, but everyone could tell how much effort it was taking. Up close, Sara looked terrible. Her make-up was smudged and she had the beginnings of what were sure to be huge bags under her eyes, which were red as could be from crying. "Hey guys. Glad you're all here."
Becky stood silently and grabbed Sara by the shoulders, steering her toward the cabins. "H-hey! Becky, what're you-"
"You're getting some sleep if I have to knock you out to do it. You look like shit. I'll watch your stupid phone so when your stupid boyfriend calls you won't miss it. Just get some damn sleep. You're Sasha and Milla's daughter. You're gonna be one of the ones everyone's looking at for an example. If you look freaked out and like you haven't slept in two days, they'll freak out and be too scared to sleep. So, I repeat: you are going to go the cabins and get some sleep or I will make you."
Sara stared at Becky, a bit dumbstruck, before reluctantly handing over her cell phone and letting Becky take her to one of the empty cabins.
"…you're sure it was a good idea to get her into your school, right?"
Kisa gave her boyfriend 'the look,' which meant 'shush, Alphonse.' "I think Becky's got the right idea, though. We've got a lot of younger kids here, and they're probably scared to death. We need to go do something. I'll break out the circus act if I have to, but we can't revert to 'something terrible is happening, let's make out until it goes away' like everyone else around here does."
Alphonse stared at her for a moment. "I love you. You're right, let's go."
The rest of the day was spent comforting the younger kids (Kisa was happy to see that the youngest was seven, which was still terrible, because that meant these sick crazies weren't above bombing elementary schools) and keeping the general order of things like good Psychonauts in training while their parents tried to get security up to snuff.
This relative, fragile peace was almost shattered late that afternoon when a shriek pierced the air of Whispering Rock. Kisa and Alphonse ran out of the lodge, PSI Blasts at the ready, only to see that Sara had tackled a familiar head of neon green hair to the ground.
"Omigod, omigod, you're okay, you're oka- why didn't you call me back?" She demanded, smacking Eli on the back of the head.
"I… uh…" he said, looking rather guiltily away- a difficult feat, as Sara was still on top of him.
She grabbed his chin, turning him back. "Well?"
"I forgot my charger."
He's dead, was the collective thought from the group of onlookers.
Sara stared down at Eli for a moment, and he honestly thought he was going to die, because the expression on her face was totally unreadable, which was kind of a first for Sara 'I can't not feel these things, bro' Vodello-Nein. Needless to say, Eli was relieved when Sara broke down into almost hysterical giggles and buried her face in his shoulder, cursing him as a "ridiculous bubble-brain" as she did so. "I'm really, really sorry."
"I'm just glad you're okay."
Alphonse cleared his throat. "I hate to interrupt, but you two maybe wanna stop spooning in the middle of everything? We've got impressionable young children in there."
"Psychic children. Once one person thinks about making out, that's all they're all thinking about." Kisa reminded him.
Sara laughed and stood up off of Eli, helping him to his feet. "Oh, hey, I did run into Emily on my way here." Eli said. "Her school got missed, so she's just heading to a safe house."
"Oh good." Sara sighed.
"Great, everyone's great, now get in here and help us with crowd control." Becky demanded.
And for a few minutes, everyone managed to forget that outside their idyllic little safe place, their world was threatening to crumble down around their ears.
SC: Hah. Well. It's done?
Sorry, guys, life's been kind of a bitch lately, and I've not had any creative flow whatsoever. You should all go and thank my friend TornadoAria, because this chapter literally WOULD NOT EXIST if she hadn't needed her Korra fix and her computer didn't wanna livestream.
…so, actually, go thank her computer, I guess? Anyway, she actually wrote a chunk of this chapter over my shoulder, so yeah. Go say thanks.
As always, reviews guys. Reviews. I like them.