Altair "SORE LOSER!" Altair called out, laughing, as he left living room number four, "Be right back with that!" He said, turning a corner and hitting... Merope! "Oh. Hi."
Merope "Hi. Did you find her yet?"
Altair blinks. "... oh. Yes."
Merope "What... what were you doing instead?"
Altair "I mean, no." He shakes his head. "I ended up meeting Furud, and, stuff." He stops, then remembers to call back, "AND DON'T CHANGE IT!" He smirked as he turned back to her, "He might still remember how to play Street Fighter or Need for Speed, can't have that!"
Altair "Yeah, I know, I ought to have more recent stuff, but truth be told I hadn't touched it in AGES... it's the sort of thing that's better to do with friends, y'know?" He rubs his thumbs. "Hmmm. Need the callouses back."
Altair "So, did YOU find her?"
Merope gives him a look, and waves vaguely around herself. "Does it look like she's here?"
Altair crosses his arms and gives Mero a smug grin, as if waiting for something.
Altair "Mero. MAIA."
Merope "Oh. Right. But she wouldn't be invisible here. I mean, why?"
Merope watches the empty air slightly nervously.
Altair "Maybe she's a voyeur."
Merope "Or a spy..."
Maia sticks her head out of the kitchen. "What are you guys talking about me for? That weirds me out."
Altair "She IS one, isn't she? Or wa... oh, hi, Maia."
Altair "Maia that I can see."
Merope more or less jumps out of her skin.
Altair chuckles. "God, your face just now."
Merope scowls quickly at Altair, then tries to form her face into a pleasant smile for Maia.
Merope "Hey Maia... how's the... uh..."
Maia "Head wound? Still bleeding periodically, thanks."
Maia "Did you want something? I'm making a quesadilla."
Altair "So, Maia, did you report much on them? Watch them showering and the like?" He asked nonchalantly as he walked to the girl and touched her head, examining the wound. "Oh, wow, you managed to find something in the kitchen."
Altair "First a straw, now THIS."
Maia "It's not complicated. It's a kitchen."
Maia "How often have you...you've never really been a cooking person, huh."
Altair "There's 24/7 chinese 30 mins from here, they deliver at home. Pizza Hut's few blocks away too."
Maia "You'll make somebody a lovely housewife."
Merope is biting her lip as she takes a seat on a stool. "Maia... should we get someone to look at your head? I mean... there was a bullet in there."
Maia glances at Merope. "Yeah, well. That'd be nice, except for the whole fugitive thing."
Maia turns back to Altair. "Report on who?"
Altair "We should bandage it, at least. Does it hurt?"
Maia "Yeah. It hurts."
Altair reaches on his pocket and leaves a few pills on Maia's hands. "Here. Painkillers. Take them with a glass of water, and I'll take you somewhere I can bandage you." He nods, walking into the kitchen with them. "Should see about a way Heka can just remove the wound. Maybe give it to some soldier."
Merope "I'm not sure Heka will be crazy about passing a critical headwound through himself. I mean... you nearly died, Maia...."
Maia "It's okay."
Maia "It'll be fine, all right? We don't have to ask Heka to do anything."
Maia glances at the pills briefly, then swallows them.
Merope "...are we really fugitives?"
Maia "Well, you're only a fugitive from the illegal military people who are blowing up houses."
Altair "Painkillers are heaven." He nods, taking Maia by the hand and leading her to the 'nurse's office.' "Pretty much, Angela. I wouldn't even be surprised if they pinned anyone they know of something. Thankfully they can't explain Cassie enough to go public on her."
Maia "I'm a fugitive from that, plus the hospital."
Maia "Plus the cops, if they called me in, as a potentially dangerous fugitive with a judgement-impairing injury."
Altair "You're the most notorious person in town, too. Woo, the lil' suicider."
Altair "WHERE DID WE GO WRONG, PEOPLE?!?"
Maia "It's good to be famous."
Merope frowns at Altair. "They can't just be like... hanging around town, though. The military guys, I mean. People would notice that."
Maia "And do what?"
Merope gets up and follows.
Maia "People were kidnapped, Merope. You don't think anybody noticed that?"
Maia glances around the nurse's office skeptically, but sits down in a patient-looking chair.
Merope "Well, it's like you said. How would they keep the lid on it? The press would notice, there'd be a whole.." she waves expansively, "..a whole THING."
Maia "Tom Waits is news. Just having some troops quartered in a town? There are a million ways to explain that."
Maia "That's why we were keeping them out in the first place."
Merope "Well, maybe, but there still needs to BE an explanation, right? And they aren't going to use the real one."
Merope "...are they?"
Altair opens the closet with... ten thousand different kinds of medicine on them. Pulling some bandage, something to desinfect the wound... "Ah, yes, you and Johnstone, the guy you spy on them for."
Maia "Well, they might."
Maia "They could probably label us all as terrorists if they wanted to."
Maia "They'd need some evidence...like a house that got burned down...and maybe a government building that got attacked. A school, maybe?"
Maia "Be pretty easy, probably."
Merope absorbs this.
Altair "They sure as fuck aren't using the real one. That would change everything, you know."
Altair "But agreed, terrorists... that's something else."
Altair "The fact everyone here is either unstable or from a broken home helps them SO much."
Altair "Hell, the fact my family's foreign..."
Merope "But we're teenagers, I mean... we're high school kids. We're not the like 21st through 27th hijackers or anything."
Maia "Prove it." She smiles amiably.
Merope pauses. "God."
Maia "That would be one way, sure. Haven't heard from Him lately, though."
Merope "We'd better start keeping close tabs on the news..."
Maia "Just ask Cassie. I bet she'd know right away."
Merope "Right, Cassie."
Maia "So what the hell is your problem with Johnstone, Altair?"
Merope "That's what I... WE wanted to talk to you about..."
Maia "Yeah, I just bet."
Merope watches them both carefully, feeling a new tension.
Altair "I've known him for awhile. He has that effect." He shakes his head. "Anyways. Cassie."
Merope tries to continue as delicately as she can manage.
Maia "I've known him for a while too. Maybe it's a personal thing."
Merope "Principal Johnstone, he... he said Cassie was keeping us from them. You're saying it too. But, like... how?"
Altair "Very much." He nods, walking to her and pulling the bandages out, slowly.
Altair "We were thinking about it. She muted Furud's music."
Altair "We couldn't hear him... AND it was gone. That... thing that was building up on him."
Maia "Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?" Maia looks proud. "I just figured it out."
Altair "And apparently, the first beat of Angela's wings was... when Station Cassiopeia was taken down."
Merope To Altair: "I wish you wouldn't call me that."
Altair smiles to Maia, but it vanishes right as Merope speaks. "Why?"
Maia "I hadn't thought about that."
Maia "When did that happen?"
Merope "He means that..." She looks uncomfortable. "The first time I flew like, intentionally, was last week. I did it to show Furud. I... I was pretty mad, and... I felt like I could do it."
Merope "We were driving back from picking Ras up from a bus station, and... well, that would have been when he was bringing Cassie back. From the Station."
Maia "What DAY."
Merope "It was last Tuesday."
Merope "Same day Antares came to school."
Maia "So what are you suggesting, exactly?"
Merope "I dunno, but like..."
Merope "I mean, since then I've been flying more, and I have... well, done everything today."
Merope "And there's been this music... but Cassie.. she seemed to calm it down, for Furud and Altair."
Merope "Was Cassie suppressing us?"
Altair "It was soothing."
Altair "Terrifying, too..."
Maia "Yeah, that sounds like you. 'Oh, God, it calmed me down! I fucking hate it'!"
Altair glares at Maia
Maia "I've known what I could do for years, and I've been doing it, with or without Cassie. Furud's been working on his thing for a while. Anta..." she stumbles. "Whatever Cassie was doing, it wasn't suppressing us. You? Maybe. How the hell should I know?"
Altair "She burnt down an entire bridge."
Altair "Antares, that is."
Merope frowns. "Maybe... I'm more of an exposure risk. The flying, I mean..."
Maia "Yeah. Years ago. That was way before Cassie."
Altair "And Furud, was he ever that strong? Did you hear it? Did you feel it, when you came close to him? It felt like..." He closes his eyes. "It felt like staring straight at the sun."
Altair "No. I mean she did it yesterday, Maia."
Altair "Trudeau's Bridge is GONE."
Maia "I didn't...I didn't know that."
Maia looks a little shell-shocked.
Merope "She was... a little upset last night."
Merope goes quiet.
Merope "Haven't seen her for a while, actually..."
Altair picks a remote and turns off the kitchen's TV. A couple clicks and the images of the charred and melted Trudeau Bridge come into view. "Oh, that's another reason why the soldiers can be around. Stupid, why didn't we get it before?"
Maia "Shit, you're right."
Merope "So we're the firebombing terror teens?"
Maia "Hell, we ARE terrorists."
Merope "Great. This is so going to help me apply to college."
Merope shakes her head.
Altair "There's their excuse. I didn't think on it before. I was too busy LAUGHING at it with Antares earlier, at the bunch of curious and TV crews looking at the charcoal. I didn't think... fuck."
Altair "Nobody tell Antares."
Merope "It still doesn't make sense though.... I mean, maybe Cassie was keeping our... abilities... dialled down, maybe she was making us difficult to detect like Johnstone said, with radio and stuff... but we're still not that difficult to find, right?"
Merope "I mean, it's in our NAMES."
Maia "What are they gonna do, go through every phone book in the country?"
Altair sighs. "Took me 5 years to get that. Damn growing up around you weird-named people."
Maia "But that's not the point."
Merope "Well... couldn;t they access like... records? I mean... social security, tax, stuff like that... run a search on star names through a database, get names, addresses..."
Maia "They did find us, remember?"
Maia "Don't you remember the kidnappings three years ago?"
Maia "Connect the dots, Merope."
Maia "And then, that same year, Johnstone took over as principal, and the kidnapping stopped."
Merope looks at Maia. "....oh."
Merope She runs a hand though her hair. "Shit."
Altair "The kidnappings he let happen. I've seen the reports."
Maia "How can I be so much more together than you on this and still be in Algebra when you're in Honors Trig?"
Merope "Well, it seems like you've been kind of on an inside track there, Maia."
Merope "Maybe I would know shit too if I was Johnstone's personal secret agent. Shit."
Altair "You don't want to be."
Maia "What reports?"
Maia "No. You don't want to be."
Merope "No-one has seen Zavijava in days..." Merope speaks half to herself.
Altair "From the time, when that happenned. When we fought, two years ago. I got hold of reports talking about how they were taken. Spica and Arcturus, remember? They were Aldy's friends, too."
Merope "So many missing kids. But people just forget after the first year, don't they... they wouldn;t think it was a pattern." She pauses. "Shit, what if the police are in on it?"
Maia "Let me see them."
Altair "That was two years ago, why do you think I still have them?"
Maia "I guess I just assumed you weren't a fucking idiot."
Maia "Why would you throw evidence like that away?"
Maia "How do I know you didn't just make it up?"
Altair shrugs. "I'd have to hide it VERY well, you know. Being that I got it right here, being that they scoured this house a thousand times over. Lucky for you, I did it." The bad bandages all taken away, he picks something to desinfect it. "This is gonna sting, by the way."
Maia "That's okay, it's not exactly tickling right now."
Altair A painful pour, cleaning it all, pouring some medicine... and bandaging it, clean. "There."
Altair "You're welcome." He slams the door closed. "See, you can be polite, after all."
Maia "I'm super polite. Mommy raised me really well."
Altair "She should have told you not to work for shifty men when they aren't your daddy."
Maia "Well, maybe she would have, if they hadn't fucking kidnapped her."
Merope "Maia, your mom is dead."
Merope "We went to her funeral. Remember?"
Maia "She's not."
Maia "We set that up. John...Johnstone helped me."
Maia "They took her. They took her away."
Altair "... what did she dod that you had to kidnap HER?"
Maia clenches her fists bone-tight...then slowly releases them.
Merope "God... Maia..."
Maia "No. We set up the FUNERAL. Not the kidnapping."
Merope reaches a hand out to her, tentatively.
Maia "I don't really...know what she did, or why they took her."
Altair "He's been helping you since, hasn't he?" He looks at her over his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
Altair reaches to muss up Maia's hair, carefully avoiding the wound. "I get it now."
Maia "Maybe she was looking into the kidnapping of the kids. I know she...I remember her being concerned."
Maia "What do you get? You think it was a setup? You pompous..." Maia grits her teeth.
Maia "I'm not an idiot, Altair."
Altair "No. I get that you'd do anything to help your mother. I get that you had no choice."
Altair "I know."
Altair "I know that now."
Maia pauses for a few moments, then sighs.
Maia "I'm sorry."
Maia "I need some sleep."
Merope smiles. "I guess there are some things you're still not getting about this star stuff too."
Altair "Before you see your proof? C'mon." He guides them into the house, going to the upper floors... "They looked everywhere, y'know. Scoured everything I had. But you never hide where they expect." click and his father's office is alight.
Altair touches between a few philosophy books, "Ah, shelves. A pure sign of status with no practical value whatsoever." And he draws, from the book, folded, the reports. Printed on his family's company paper. "Here."
Maia "Your dad's stationery, huh?"
Maia takes them and flips through them.
Altair blinks, realising something... "Wait."
Altair "This, right here." He points. "Gray. That's your mother, isn't it?"
Maia blinks too.
Altair "I didn't... I mean, it meant nothing to me BEFORE..."
Maia crumples the carefully preserved reports in her fist.
Maia "Okay. Now I get you."