2008-05-15: Contagious Justified Paranoia

Starring:

KeLyssa_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif Sophie_icon.gif

Summary: Shortly after the events in Bus Stop, the Lair becomes an impromptu meeting to discuss what to do about the Pinehearst problem.

Date It Happened: May 15th, 2008

Contagious Justified Paranoia


The Secret Lair

Kory is apparently in a particularly whimsical mood. Not to mention DJ mode. A romantic, dreamy, teched-up, slowed-down dance mix of something that sounds vaguely ska-like and not remotely English is playing. She's dancing a little behind the counter, head bobbing, hair waving with her movements. It's a Monday night, too early for comics to be in, and late enough that almost no one is here to harsh her groove. What is even more impressive is that Kory apparently has picked up the words to this song phonetically.

Monday night…and KeLyssa doesn't work tonight. She doesn't want to be cooped up in the apartment, however, and most of her other friends are either at work or busy with other plans. Her brother did hint, however, at wanting a certain comic book issue. This certain one she knows they have in stock, and decides upon buying it now as opposed to putting it off any longer.
As he steps inside, Randall is wearing a pair of headphones, mouthing silently along to his own choice of background. Blinking, he slips them off, tilting his head to one side as he takes in what the store's stereo system is playing— then turns and grins at Kory. "I see we're thinking along the same lines today," he says, offering the earphones to her as he waves to KeLyssa with his other hand.

"Ahhhhh, fwebbs wibba cibru sweeee-ee-ee, yenna mobra smeee-ee-eel, yenna mobra smeee-ee-eel…" Kory sways and twirls, unaware that the door has opened and people are starting to filter in at this late hour. The darn customer notifier thingie must be on the blink again. There was awhile there where people felt the only appropriate way to enter the Lair was to slam the door open dramatially.

Randall's voice startles her pleasantly from her reverie. Kisses, however, are better than headphones. The foot pops, even. "We are?" she asks, finally taking the headphone and noticing KeLyssa. "Heya, blondie." She waves with the hand that is holding up the earbud.

KeLyssa looks up from her wanderings around the store, grinning. "Heya Boss Lady. Randall, ain't seen ya in a bit. How ya bin?" She says with a soft smile. "Seems everyone's got some music 'cept me, don't it?" She laughs. "Oh well. Hey Boss Lady, where's that back issue o' the X-Men? The one where Pheonix makes her third appearance? Ya know the one…right?" She frowns. "To be honest, I don't know the story of it too well, but I remember seein' it, an' my brother really wants it."

friend. "Are you sure it's her third appearance? That one …your brother…Iiiiiiiiiiiii dunno," she offers, Wakkoesque. Yeah. Dark Phoenix? Not something she wants to give the brother of someone she knows for a fact is Evolved. "What about some nice Fantastic Four?" Pause. "Strike that. Johnny freaking Storm is not much of a role model either." She twirls out of Randall's arms, still humming her dance remix. "Beatriz. Yeah. Hot green chick from Brazil. Justice League International. Get him that."

Randall is getting kissed, how do you think he is? Or he was. But then he would have had to stop eventually, anyway. "X-Men number three of anything's gotta be pretty out there— they've been running for, what, a couple decades now?" Small allowance in junior high == limited knowledge of the subject. "Speaking of stories, did either of you happen to catch that bit on TV the other day, with lie detector tests? One of those Maury Povich type shows, I forget which."

That KeLyssa, she does that sometimes. She hates to do it, but when it comes to her brother…her brother comes first in her mind. She grins at Kory. "He's a big fan, Kory. Ya know…of all things like that. Phoenix, Johnny Storm. Kinda strange like that if ya tell me." She giggles. "Never mind. I'll find it fine I suppose. Just gotta look hard enough. You get back to yer dancin' 'round and groovin' and movin'." She grins again. With a shake of her head at Randall, she says, "Nah, can't say I'm really up to date on the news, I'm afraid."

"It's just Phoenix —" Kory attempts to protest, but KeLyssa is determined, so Kory tries not to harsh her friend's groove with dire imprecations of Dark Phoenix, turning oak trees into gold, eating stars, murdering the poor, poor broccoli poeple — that sort of thing. She glances over her shoulder at Randall. "Why were you watching Jerry Springer, babe?" She tilts her head at him like a confused ocelot. "You didn't get a job like … teaching people to resist torture, did you?" She wouldn't put it past him. Not really.

Randall laughs, shaking his head and leaning against the counter, then thinks better of it and straightens up again. "No, it just happened to be on at the diner. Couple of high schoolers kibitzing, figured both the people on the show were lying… no big deal." Now, though, he lowers his voice out of instinct. "Sophie was there, too - there was a throwaway line about the deal with her hands - and this girl zeroed right in on that, too. I think she might be going off more than just lucky guesses, you know?"

KeLyssa pulls out a comic from behind a few farther back. "Aha! I gots it, Boss Lady!" She says happily, walking up to the counter. "What's this 'bout Sophie?"

Kory is still dancing because her odd little ska-esque, Simlish mashup is still playing. But she pauses, listening to Randall describe the situation the other night. Click. So much for DJ mode. "Really," she says, arching a brow thoughtfully. "Useful ability that is." Man, what she wouldn't give for an ability like Peter's some days. She rings KeLyssa's comic up with a mild expression of 'it's your funeral'.

Randall nods to Kory. "I thought so. Human lie detector, I think," he explains for KeLyssa's benefit, since she was in the middle of an archive dive the first time. "Anyway, I've got her number somewhere, I figure maybe on the weekend we can work out some proper introductions— should I go ahead and ask her to drop by here, or what?"

KeLyssa nods a little bit to Randall. Paying up to Kory, she gives a little smile as if to 'I've already played with fire'. But she glances between the two. "Sounds like an interestin' person. I gotta go, though. Can't hear more. But we all need to meet up soon, eh?" She smiles softly.

"No, no, not here," Kory says, shaking her head. "It's fine for people finding comics to use as manuals and such, but for list related matters, we have to be a bit more — okay, a lot more careful. Geez, I wish Isaac Mendez had lived a little longer. But I guess this wouldn't be the challenge it is if it were easy. Which reminds me. KeLyssa — wanna help us do like the X-Men for real?" So whimsically phrased, but Kory's expression has gone serious.

"I would've liked to meet him," Randall says. He's talking with Kory over at the counter, a pair of headphones ignored as they hang round his neck. "All right, plenty of other places— Central Park, maybe, somewhere where the lights are working." Meanwhile, KeLyssa has a comic in hand and is starting on her way out.

Sophie pushes open the door, actually looking behind her as she does. She looks breathless, and maybe more than a little disoriented and frightened.

Kory has gone a little thoughtfully silent as KeLyssa exits and Sophie enters. But at least she's attentive now. "Hey, Sophie. Everything okay?" she asks, concerned.

Randall turns and follows Kory's gaze. "Hey, we were just talking about—" Then, taking in her expression, he abruptly cuts off. "Never mind, what's going on?" Just in case, he quick-walks over to the door and shuts it behind Sophie, rather than wait for it to swing closed on its own.

Sophie leans against the closed door, eyes closing. She swallows hard. "Dear God, I hope it isn't too late. Its started.. its already starting. They have it, or something like it. They're just /taking/ people, and changing them."

Kory catches her breath, and is immediately hopping the counter to get to Sophie's side. "What? You mean …" There's nobody here, now, that she knows of, but the three of them. "…Pinehearst? They're snatching people? To … to use as guinea pigs? For the formula?" Her skin goes a little ashen as she puts together what she thinks she's hearing from Sophie.

"Well, that doesn't make any sense," Randall says, biting his lip. Which doesn't mean it isn't true. "What happened— I mean, what did you see?" He stays by the door, glancing out from time to time in case Sophie is being pursued.

Sophie takes a slow breath. Sorting between what she 'remembers' and what just happened takes a bit. "There was an.. I guess accident isn't a good word. A guy, he deliberately walked in front of a bus. It /hit/ him, at full speed, and he just got up like it was nothing. Not a scratch. He kept talking about there was 'no pain'." she rubs her forehead with a hand /now/ in a glove. She then stares at her hand, "I wasn't wearing this.. I ran to help him, before I realized he didn't need it. When the bus hit him.. it felt.. I felt like I was punched in the stomach." she frowns in thought. "I think.. I think I wasn't the only one. Then when I could breathe.. I ran to him, I touched him.."

"Pain transference?" Kory says thoughtfully, frown marring her features as she begins to pace. "He sent a little of the pain to everyone around him instead of taking it on himself. The kinetics, too, or he'd have been splattered like that girl in Final Destination." She moves closer to Randall, almost instinctively. This is scary stuff.

Randall rests his hands on Kory's shoulders as she approaches. "Lucky thing, too, if he did… he could just as easily have sent all of it to one place, killed them instead. So what did he remember before that?" Being at Pinehearst? Details— places, things? It's sure to be a major find. If it isn't already too late.

Sophie shakes her head, "If I was warned, looked for it, could've asked him.." she takes a breath. "He remembered.. mostly his escape, I think. Gunshots.. yelling. Someone saying they had to stop him. There was a needle, and a sound, like a taser. He remembered running, being tired, scared. And 'why can't I die'?" she closes her eyes at that memory, "He was punched, didn't even feel it, he was shot, I think, too. I remember pulling a bullet, I mean, him just pulling a bullet out of his own body. There wasn't even any blood. I remember him being hit by the bus, too. Or him remembering it, and there wasn't.. there was no pain at all, not for him."

Randall's touch seems to ground Kory a little; she was starting to wind up, but she's calmed down enough to think. "Does he have a name? We need a description." The evening's plans are clear for her. Time to spread the word to the others so far.

She listens to Sophie describe what she has come away with. "That's a dangerous set of abilities. That's like somebody hopped up on angel dust. All but invincible." She steps away to return to the counter and get her laptop, the better to take quick notes. "Anything else?"

Sophie looks over, she shakes her head, "He said they changed him. He was worried he'd be taken back, that the police were 'them', but 'they' didn't have badges. I guess, because he tried to punch the cops, that they took him to jail."

Randall turns and leans back against the counter, mulling things over. "Well, at least that narrows down where he could be… there can only be so many jails in the city. More complicated if they're moving him somewhere— And Pinehearst will probably have someone trying to track him down, too. You think we can get to him before they do?"

"Question is, will they be able to keep him, and will they allow him visitors in between," Kory wonders. "I wish I had a good number for Matt. He'd know what to do." She types away, rapidly, though she's using some sort of odd code that probably only makes sense to Anzeti and her. Hooray for insatiable reading habits and books on encryption. She glances up at Randall. "Even if we get to him — what are we gonna do with him? And would he trust us or think we're more targets?"

Sophie nods, "He's pretty par.. I guess, like they say, it isn't paranoid if someone's really out to get you." she sighs, "Assuming we can even figure out where they took him. But it should be part of the police record, right? Isn't that public record? My home town, they published arrests."

Randall lets his chin sink into his hands. "Justified paranoia. And maybe, but it's probably a pretty big record— do we know what name we're looking for?" He wanders over to get a look at the computer screen, then shrugs and walks back. "Should try to reach Niki. And Charlotte, but I hesitate to ask her to pop into what might be a big crowd of gang members…"

"Do we know anybody who's a reporter?" Kory muses, then makes a little sound born of frustration. "Could you have been any more vague, Peter?!" she demands of thin air, slapping an open palm down on the countertop. "I guess it's time to step up the agenda. Sheesh, I know why he picked me. I don't need to sleep." Her smile is only slightly wry. She's about as frustrated as she is shaken and about as shaken as she is frightened by developments. "I imagine I know someone who could get in to see him, but she'd be too obvious and too easily endangered." She looks up at Randall, eyes wide and expression shocked at his suggestion. "Charlotte? Randall, she works for the bad guys! What if she's in on it?!"

Sophie takes a breath, "I guess I immediately thought of what you told me.. about what Peter said would happen. I mean, the alternative would be that someone else was trying the same thing. The only thing I can think of that'd be worse." she sighs, head in hand, "I have no idea what else to do, unless we can get something more.. concrete from that guy, if he even has it. If I could only get what the place looked like, or where it was, or who.."

Randall makes a face. Charlotte, the one who pulled Kory back in time to save her life, on the wrong side? But then it was implied that he himself could have ended up on the wrong side. "Okay, you're right— so call Niki first, see if she knows if Charlotte's in on it or not. Peter implied that she didn't know about it, or at least that she might not." Another glance out the door. "Was there anyone else you know in the crowd? Especially if they might understand some of what was going on."

Sophie frowns a bit. She says, "There were alot of people in the crowd. Umm.. one doctor, some woman, and there was this.." she frowns at that, "there was this guy, he looked homeless. Hit the poor guy with his cane. Then.." she blinks, "He took a cellphone out of a pocket. But.. I guess they are kind of cheap these days. But no, nobody I met, I think."

Yes, Charlotte saved Kory's life but Charlotte works for Pinehearst; that much Kory's certain of; the card was tucked into her books. "Okay, yeah, that's a really good idea, Randall."

Kory's pacing now, because she's too agitated to stand still. "If we knew somebody who could turn invisible even to cameras, maybe they could get in to talk to him. But then there's Micah! He could probably hit the police computers for records, find out where our interesting new person is, and what they plan to do with him." Back to the computer, then, to send an email to him. One line from 9th Wonders, and Micah is important. Again. "What doctor?" Kory only knows a couple besides Cottage and the guy whose name is pronounced "Volleyball" but spelled another way.

Randall snaps his fingers. "Hang on, I do know someone who can turn invisible… I don't know if it works on cameras, but we can find out quickly enough." He fishes out his own phone and starts punching buttons, only to give up in frustration about a minute later. "Ah, the net stuff on this thing is all broken. Got a spare laptop anywhere?"

Sophie lets the two talk about that one. She shakes her head at Kory's comment, "It was a woman, not a man."

Blink blink. Randall knows someone who turns invisible. "Not a spare laptop, no, but my phone's got web. In fact, you can have this one. I ordered a G1 a few days ago." She holds up the Sidekick, then offers it to her boyfriend. "Soph, this is good stuff. Thanks for coming by so quick." Blink blink. "Wait, it was woman? Okay. A woman. Right." She takes a second to sync the flash memory in the sidekick to the computer before holding it out to Randall again.

Randall glances back and forth between the others, following along as best he can. "This have a camera?" he muses, taking a minute to work out how to put the Sidekick through its paces. "Have to test that out later…" Finally, he looks up again and nods. "Okay, message sent, but I don't know how quickly they'll get back to us."

"Yeah. I have the manual back at the Batcave," Kory explains, using the nickname Randall came up with for her immense luxury apartment-nee-secret headquarters. "We can go over it quick tonight if you want." She drags her hands through her hair, visibly chasing desperately after thoughts that are racing through her head so quickly she can barely keep up. "Jane! Jane's a lawyer!"

Sophie nods to that. "He.. I think it's safe to say that he isn't competent." frowning in thought. "Maybe she can bring up that he needs treatment, and evaluation or something?"

Randall nods to Kory, then to Sophie. "That ought to work… the more public attention that's visibly on this guy, the harder it'll be for Pinehearst to mess with him, right? The tabloids will probably jump on this, too, but they don't really count for that."

Kory reaches to kill the front window display lights and put the CLOSED sign up, the better to keep people from walking in on them. She also shutters the windows and door and locks it. Justified paranoia indeed. "Okay. So we've got a doctor who may need to evaluate the mental competence of our bus victim. And I've sent Micah a message to indicate he will want to find out what the police are saying." She picks up the store phone and leaves a voicemail for Jane, describing that someone's been arrested who may need a lawyer…someone who may be sought by the bad guys she's discussed with Jane before. "Who says the tabloids don't count? That's how the Men in Black found jobs." Being a fangirl is coming in way more handy than the manager of the Lair ever imagined.

Sophie smiles a bit, looking a little better. "Thank you, guys. The only place I could go, and, well, you guys believe me."

"Oh, I know," says Randall - even he doesn't believe everything they print, but he figures there are at least some elements of truth - "but Pinehearst doesn't sound like the type to pay much attention to them. If that trips them up in the end, then all the better." He starts tapping at the Sidekick again, squinting at the display. "Meanwhile, how's Chinese delivery sound? I get this feeling there's a long night ahead of us." And he was supposed to head back to the mail room at some CPA firm in the morning, but he was getting tired of that job anyway.

Kory realizes, belatedly, how shaken her friend is. She reaches to wrap an arm around Sophie in a gesture of comfort. "Hey. We're in this together. Thick and thin, right?" She reaches for Randall with the free arm. Group hug, anyone?

"We just have to be really careful about how and where we discuss this. I wonder how the Micah.net is coming…" Kory isn't generally inclined to be scatterbrained, but this is less scatterbrained and more trying to keep track of a significant number of mental threads all whirling around in a maelstrom and try to weave them into something that will make sense but keep everyone involved safe.

"Yeah. Chinese sounds good." A long night burning the midnight oil with Randall was not quite what she had in mind when she suggested going back to the Batcave. But hey, together is together, right?

Sophie nods, 'Yes, I think I could use a little dinner. Chinese sounds wonderful. Thanks, guys."

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