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  • Boardwalk Sunset

    Marissa Ilirran

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    August 20th, 2017



    Leaning on the railing of the pier for a moment, Mari's strange eyes focused on the sunset out over the water. The sounds of Coney Island down the beach aways could be heard, it would seem no matter how the world went to shit, there would always be those who hunted for fun. In one hand, Mari held her green flats, allowing her bare feet to feel the boardwalk when she chose to walk, but more importantly, to feel the hot sand. It was still so strange to feel things with her human skin instead of her scales. Her golden toenails shimmered in the fading light of the sun as the lamps that lined the boardwalk began to flicker on. Her long fingernails matched perfectly with her toes, but little did anyone guess that it wasn't polish that gave them their strange color. Her shoulder length blonde hair was left down so she could feel the wind pulling it's intangible fingers through the silken strands. Mari wore her favorite red and white striped strapless bikini, over which she'd pulled a sheer gold cover that reached the tops of her thighs and set off the gold flecks in her blue and green eyes.


    Over one shoulder she carried a green shoulder bag with a decal of a mermaid across the front flap, she'd found it in a little shop and thought it looked like her mom a bit. Hanging off the bag was a blue water bottle, though she didn't really need it being this close to the ocean, she could just go jump in after all. In her other hand was some sugary confection the humans called an Elephant Ear, she had no idea why it was called that but the taste of it was like fireworks on her tongue. So far she liked everything she'd seen during her time spent on land, it was so vastly different from the depths of oceans. The two just simply could not be compared, though she doubted she'd ever want to have to choose between them.


    An idea seemed to strike her then and she swung down under the railing of boardwalk and lept the short distance down into the sand only to sit down and cross her legs in front of her. She balanced the elephant ear on one knee and pulled off her shoulder bag so she could rifle through it for a moment. From it's depths she produced one of her sketch pads and a box of drawing pencils which she set on the sand within reach. Flipping her sketch pad open to a new page, she picked up one of the charcoal pencils and began to draw, all the while humming softly to herself. She didn't know anyone in New York yet, and she still hadn't worked up the courage to hunt down her father. She'd just been exploring.

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    "Come on, man!  It's late.  Let's just go home already."  pleaded Wesley, his left hand gliding through his thick dreadlocks as he lay his head back in exhaustion.  It was his brother Kyle's idea to spend the day on the beach as an attempt to help Wesley cope with the wildness of his life recently.  A sort of mini vacation away from the tribulations that came with pledging his allegiance to ARMA.  The fights to the death, the non stop inspector responsibilities, and the complicated magic practices kept Wesley in constant motion.  There was no time to relax.  And even now, surrounded by sun and surf, Wesley's mind only replayed the events of the past few weeks over and over.  He just wanted to go home and sulk. 


    "Look, go chase some skirts or something!  We're gonna run this game back one more time, then we'll head out.  Unless you wanna walk home alone.  You ain't takin' the car." snapped Wesley's brother with a wave of his hand.  He turned away from his brother and headed back to the center of the shore where yet another game of beach volleyball was starting up.  Wesley placed his hands on his hips for a moment before looking down at his feet, caked with grains of sand.  He twiddled his toes, gripping the warm sand with his toes before turning on his heel and heading toward the beach chair that held his towel and his flip flops.  He slipped on the shoes and grabbed the end of the towel with his right hand, before swinging it around his neck and gripping the other end of the towel with his other hand.  He then started off in the direction away from his brother.


    Minutes passed as Wesley walked alone along the beach while staring at his feet swinging back and forth beneath him.  He could be at home now, a few hours into another video game... or an old novel, or maybe a movie.  Right now, he was killing time, and only becoming more stressed by the minute, as each minute brought another memory of the passing days.  It never failed: someone who didn't know what he was going through assured him that he was over reacting.  That he knew what he signed up for, and that he needed to stop being such a wimp.  Take a walk, have a few brews, move on.  


    Except Wesley didn't drink.  So he walked.  A lot.  It was times like this when he really regretted being such an introvert, because no matter how often he replayed his actions from the past couple of weeks in his head, he couldn't get any form of closure.  He somehow managed to survive an encounter with an Inquisitor, but was worse for wear afterwords.  Not physically, but mentally and emotionally.  He had been in fights before, but always over trivial things.  Bullies in grade school, or scuffs he and his brother got into.  Nothing life threatening.  So actually meeting a man who wanted him dead  unnerved him.  The way he looked at him was haunting.  Like he didn't see a person, but a target.


    Wesley shook the man's gaze from his memory and stopped to try to completely clear his mind.  "Alright... calm down.  Do like your brother said and take in the sights."  said Wesley aloud to himself.  Wesley began his trek anew, this time his head up high in order to take in all that he saw around him.  The view was actually breathtaking.  It surprised him that he could be that interested in something that wasn't electronic or sporting lady parts.  He was so enthralled by the allure of the sunset in fact, that he hadn't noticed he had walked in front of someone busy drawing a portrait of it.  His back was turned to them and he had no idea. 

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    • 3 weeks later...

    When a shadow crossed over her, blocking out the small amount of light and what little heat was left in the sun, Mari's lips curled into a frown. Tilting her head up, her gaze took in the man suddenly standing before her...who apparently had no idea that she was sitting there, leaning against of the pylons of the pier. She hoped that maybe he'd just move on for a moment. Males had an odd way of acting around her she hadn't quite figured out how to cope with yet and she didn't really want to draw his attention to her if she didn't have to.

    But when he didn't move on Marissa had to deal with the fact that he wasn't going to on his own. She had to admit, from the back he wasn't so bad. Tall, apparently strong from what she could see of his arms. He had power, her own mana sensed that though hers was raw and untamed and she could barely hunt with it yet but it new the feel of mana, it reacted to Wesley just about the same way it reacted to her sisters, crawling under her skin. Perhaps she really was her mother's daughter...attracted to power.

    She steeled herself for a few moments longer before finally letting out the breath she'd been holding while she'd waited for him to move on his own. "Excuse me? You're blocking my light." She said, though her voice held no hint of the nervousness she'd felt at drawing attention to herself. She was a predator, and she knew instinctively that she couldn't be seen as weak no matter what situation she was in.

    Her Ondine Allure was only as mature as she was, which meant that when Wesley turned to look at her he'd probably be a little awestruck for a few moments but her Allure wasn't strong and he should be able to shake himself out of it fairly easily. Still, she prepared herself for the odd looks. Men drooled over her mother, even threw themselves off their boats into the ocean after her but Marissa was still young and didn't have nearly so much power, not yet. If he stared at her a bit dumbfounded she'd lift her sketchpad so he could see the picture that was slowly emerging, explaining what she was talking about.


    The light of the sunset was fading, and though she could always finish it later she wanted to try and get as much of it on paper as possible so she wouldn't have to try and recreate it from her memories.

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    • 3 weeks later...

    Wesley continued to take in the horizon's glow, at once even mouthing the word "wow" at it's glory until he heard a soft voice behind him.  Soft, but direct, and of a serious tone yet not intimidating.  Turning to face the voice slowly, as he had trouble breaking his gaze on the backdrop of the city, Wesley lowly stammered in response "Y-yeah, sorry about that.  It's just--"


    After turning and seeing where the voice originated from, Wesley's eyes widened and his movements stopped abruptly, like a deer in headlights.  "--beautiful."


    Still Wesley stood in the exact same place as before, only now he stood facing a lithe blonde leaning against a post before him, brown globes glanced over her petite frame before locking in on her own and staying there as if he had no control over them.  Which in actuality, Wes rarely did have control over his eyes in the presence of one or more beautiful women. 


    "H-hi.  Ahem.  I mean, hi."  he muttered barely above a whisper, his voice initially high from shyness and embarrassment.  What was he embarrassed about?  Nothing really.  For whatever reason Wesley's anti-social nature made him feel like even when he was being perfectly normal, he was somehow being awkward, and needed to withdraw to stop making a fool of himself.  It was only worse when confronted with females.  Wesley attempted to force words from his mouth to stop himself from gawking, but as his mouth opened again, he couldn't help but feel an attraction beyond that of what he normally feels around young women. 


    Wesley raised a brow out of curiosity and flexed his mana in the activation of a sensing cantrip.  Whatever was drawing Wesley to her was a bit more unwieldy than his never-satiated libido.  There was more to this woman than meets the eye, though Wesley had no idea what it was.  Steeling his resolve he shrugged off whatever was effecting him to the point that it felt more like a low hum in his ears than some sort of blaring siren's song.  Even with no outside force causing him to be enthralled by her, he had trouble pulling his gaze away from hers.


    Still standing in the path of the sunlight, Wesley cleared his throat and put on a smile.  "Uh... heh.  Um... sorry for getting in the way I just... was walking around... getting a breast of fresh air--BREATH!  Breath of fresh air."

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    • 4 months later...

    And there it was. The look she'd been bracing for written all over his face once he finally turned to look at her. Still, she smiled up at him sweetly and hoped he had enough willpower to shake himself out of it shortly. Most with magic tended to be able to much faster then those without. Still, he seemed sweet enough, he seemed more in shock that someone was speaking to him then staring at her as if he was the predator in the situation. That happened a lot too, which both made her giggle and annoyed her to no end.

    She could feel her mana respond to his as he used his to do...whatever it was he did. The Predator inside her was instantly ready to lash out if he attacked her but the human part of her kept the other half in check and she just continued to smile at him. "Hi there." She said in response to his own greeting. She had a terrible time judging the age of the humans, they aged so differently then her own species did, was he a teenager or an adult? She wasn't sure she'd ever understand the difference since there didn't seem to be in physical change that came over them like it would for her.

    Still, Mari couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up as he slipped up his words. It was endearing to her that he would make such a mistake that probably should have offended her but she didn't know that she was supposed to be. "It is a beautiful evening, I was just watching the sunset." Her accent was odd, as if she was focusing carefully on pronouncing the words correctly but she wasn't from America or English wasn't her first language.

    Truth be told she hadn't learned it the way humans did, the words could be transferred but the accents never did. "I'm Marissa, by the way." She offered with another warm smile as she continued her sketch of the sunset, though she made sure to divide her attention evenly between him and her art. She just wanted to get as much of it done as she could, the rest she could finish later in her mother's studio...well...her studio now.

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    Wesley bit his bottom lip and nodded in response to Marissa's proclamation with child-like enthusiasm.  He hadn't noticed at first due to his attention being focused entirely on Marissa's body before he eventually took notice of the young woman's accent.  he couldn't place the inflections, and it wasn't quite awkward enough sounding that it would distract from the feeling of mana she was giving off, or her natural allure.  It wasn't until he shrugged off the effects that her voice became far more noticeable. 


    Unsure of the proper way to go about asking someone if they were foreign, let alone altered or not (and also pretty sure he knew the answer to the latter already), Wesley made sure to steer clear from the question.  As far as he could tell it was not like the conversation would ever last so long that they would be asking personal questions about each other anyway.  She likely had some buff alpha male boyfriend to get back to and Wesley... Wesley had videogames to keep him busy for the rest of the night.  She introduced herself and for whatever reason, Wesley responded in kind.  Politeness, perhaps.  "Wesley.  My name I mean." 


    Better make a break for it before you Wes things up kid.  Get outta there... he thought.


    He let out an audible grunt to clear his throat and work up an excuse to leave before breaking his gaze away to look at something--anything besides her face or... parts.  It was then that he got another glance upon Marissa's sketch.  As an artist himself he could appreciate true talent, and felt obligated to point it out when he saw something worthy of praise.  Plus, her attempt at continuing her work would remain hindered the longer he stayed in her way.  Bless the girl's heart, Wesley never moved out of the way when she asked earlier because he was too busy ogling her.  He really needed to work on that.


    Wow, nice.  I'm an artist too.   This is... you're really good!"  It wasn't just lip service either.  Wesley moved closer and turned so that he was next to Marissa facing the picture better, where he began waxing poetic about lines of action and other artistic terms he was sure would make him sound like he knew what the hell he was talking about, and not simply talking for the sake of distracting her so he could move closer to spit game.  Which as Wesley thought harder about it, seemed like an awesome strategy.


    Why he felt the need to explain to an artist how artistry works was unknown to him, but he didn't bother questioning it, as his fingers moved along the image she sketched he eventually grazed her hand with his own causing a shudder in him.  No longer willing, or able, to hide the fact that her obviously present, dense mana signature unnerved him, Wesley finally spoke up about it.


    "I guess we have a bit more in common than I thought.  You're altered?" he asked, being sure to whisper the final word.  Why?  Because no one likes to be labeled, let alone labeled as something abnormal.  Different.  Dangerous.

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    "It's nice to meet you Wesley." Mari told him, wrinkling her nose rather cutely as she smiled up at him for a moment. She honestly hadn't expected him to stick around after that, so it was rather surprising to her when he complimented her work. If she could have blushed she very well might have in that instance. Mari had never had any truly formal training, most of it came naturally, though her mother had taught her a few things. Which was why, when he started talking about her artwork, analyzing it, she listened very intently, storing every word for later use.

    When his fingers touched her artwork and then her hand, there was a sort of rumbling sound, almost like thunder, though it originated deep in Mari's chest. It was only for a moment, before Mari forced herself to stop growling, the predator in her rising up to protect it's territory. When his flesh touched hers, there came the sharp shock of electricity, arcing between them. It wasn't powerful enough to cause damage, more like the shock someone would get from too much static while running on carpet in socks. She masked it by coughing, as if she'd swallowed wrong or something. From her bag, she pulled free the water bottle and took a long drink of it. Of course, it wasn't normal water, it was salt water, about the same as the ocean that wasn't all that far from them. "Sorry about that. Thank you, for the compliment. It's nice to know I'm doing something right." She said with another smile as she screwed the lid back on the bottle. It wasn't that she didn't like being touched, it was the exact opposite really.

    When he whispered his question to her, her brows furrowed in confusion. She wasn't exactly sure what he was asking her. She knew what the word meant by definition but he'd used it almost like a title and not a description. "I'm not sure I understand what you're asking." She stated. "Are you asking if I'm human?" She returned, a bit louder then his whisper though not loud enough someone would hear. Her mother had warned her to be careful to hide what she was, there were those on this world that didn't like things that were different. But Wes was different too, she could feel that. Maybe it was safe to tell him?

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    Wesley nodded quickly, smiling back to Marissa as she thanked him for his insight.  It was all he could do not to giggle like a schoolgirl, thriving on the smallest amount of attention from the opposite sex.  It was enough to help him completely ignore the low rumble that he heard and the shock that came from direct contact with Marissa's body.  She drank a bit of water and for a moment Wesley felt he could smell the ocean.  They were on the boardwalk after all, so that was nothing particularly odd.  Marissa's response to his question however was, though he did after all ask her a very peculiar question (or a question any 'normal' person would consider peculiar). 


    "Well..."  Wesley turned to Marissa for a moment, but only just, and then turned back to the setting sun while shaking his head back and forth a bit, as if attempting to shake loose the correct words for the situation.  Like he knew how to explain himself, but it was hung on the edge of his brain, stuck in the clutter of comic book panels and movie quotes that raced through his subconscious at a non-stop pace.  He found himself confused yet again as to how to approach the situation.  Wordsmith he was not.


    "I mean' date=' you're definitely human, but clearly more.  I can feel it.  Literally.  The 'more' part I mean.  I'm for all intents and purposes a normal human, but I'm also a magus.  And that's definitely more than just human."[/color']  Wesley reached into his back pocket to pull out his N7 wallet and opened it to reveal a picture of himself on a badge with the ARMA symbol adjacent his face.  He then read out the information he memorized from the front to save her the trouble of reading it.  "ARMA Ferromancer Wesley Evans. Knight Class.  Alias: Full Metal."


    Because that's absolutely necessary on a leisurely trip to the boardwalk.  Swim trunks, sun screen, and your ARMA badge.


    As Wesley announced his station with ARMA he immediately began to remember how blurting out things about his profession was not only annoying to those not particularly impressed by self obsessed nerds, but dangerous, considering you never know who is waiting to use that information to exploit him.  He quickly wondered if he really was the only one who did so.  He imagined Alec using his telepathic abilities to guess what drinks girls wanted when trolling for chicks at a bar.  Still, even if he did mention being a super special awesome magic user he could simply rip the information from their vapid skulls so they wouldn't remember later.  Telepathy was horrifying. 


    Wesley crossed his arms and looked straight down at his feet after putting up his wallet.  "Sorry if I'm overstepping.  That's an incredibly personal question to ask someone.  Tell the wrong person that you're anything other than a normal human and it could cause problems.  Not everyone is as accepting of things that are different from them.  It sucks.  I was just curious... I'll... you don't have to answer."


    As Wesley finished speaking he looked back to Marissa and forced a half-hearted smile.  It was intended to convince her that he wasn't a total weirdo.  He doubted that it worked.  In fact it probably just came off as creepy. 

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    Mari couldn't help but arch a brow at Wes as he proclaimed her human, well ok, so she did look human but he should know not to judge a book by it's cover by now. When he proclaimed that he was a Magus, she perked up. Her father was a Magus, which explained why her mana seemed recognize his, though hers was raw and untamed. Her odd eyes widened as he showed her his ARMA badge. Her father led ARMA, or at least that's what her mom had told her seeing as Nerissa didn't have any actual memories of that, just what she'd managed to find out. She hadn't had the courage to actually go looking for her father yet, but she sure as heck wasn't going to tell Wesley she was related to his Commander.

    His next words brought her out of her own thoughts and she quickly shook her head, she was sure she'd looked ridiculous just staring at him like that. His half hearted smile brought her own smile back. "It wasn't that...exactly, I'm fairly new to, well, everything. I'm still putting all the pieces together and I just wasn't sure what you were asking me. I'm glad you're proud of who you are, I know there are bad people in this world but you shouldn't feel ashamed of who and what you are." She stated, a confused look crossed her face for moment. "What is Ferromancer? I don't know that word." She pronounced the word carefully, more so then she did the rest of her speech. And she hadn't said she'd never heard it before, just that she didn't know it. Perhaps a bit odd for a normal person.

    She would wait until he finished explaining what it was and what he could do with it before she would tell him that she found it absolutely fascinating. It was so vastly different then anything she and her family could do, though her mother had known a few with such an ability back on her home world, those memories were hazy just like all the memories her mother had before the Resonance. The longer she stayed here, the less she remembered.

    "Well, I am not a Magus. I believe the word you would know me by is Mermaid. At least that's what Mom said." Of course she expected the odd look he gave her, she didn't look very mermaidy at that moment after all. "I am the first generation of Terran Ondine. We have two forms, this is the form I take when I'm on land." She stated, trying to explain it though she'd never really had to before. Opening her water bottle, she moved slightly so she could extend her leg out in front of her. Tipping the bottle, she let some of the salt water pour out over her shin. Almost instantly the human skin it touched turned to shiny golden scales. They looked like fish scales, but were much harder and durable, like a lizard's. "When I come in contact with sea water my body changes to my true form." She finished. She wasn't sure she wanted to show him her true form yet, it could be rather scary after all.


    She waited for his reaction, would he run screaming for the hills?

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    Wesley failed to hide his excitement as Marissa was visibly impressed by his standing in the ARMA organization.  It was no surprise however, considering Wes was doing his best to over sell it.  He looked away again, feeling that other-worldly pull jerk at him like it did when he first laid eyes on her, but his smile was too prevalent.  He just nodded his head at her words, refusing to look up from his feet.  Until of course, he confused her with the term Ferromancer.


    "Ah, that.  Well, I don't know if you've heard of the term pyromancer before, or like... cryomancer or necromancer?  Well, a pyromancer is someone who's a practitioner of fire magic.  They can manipulate and in some cases create fire.  Cryomancers have this same control over ice.  Necromancers... well, their magic has to do with manipulating the dead..."


    Wesley spoke a bit more softly during his explanation of necromancy, as if to get across the important point that just because it's something people can do, it doesn't particularly make it okay.  He still after all, didn't know what her religious beliefs were and if the thought of manipulating the dead would frighten her or not.  To be quite frank, it scared the shit out of Wesley.  Up until the Nevus event Wesley had always considered himself agnostic.  He had no real stance on religion, only the stance that there wasn't enough proof either way to warrant taking either 'side', they he definitely leaned one way.  It wasn't until he started finding out that demons were very real beings  that he started to re-evaluate his belief system.  If demons could exist, a god could exist... heaven could exist.  And if he did the Big Man probably didn't take too kindly to petty humans screwing around with the rules of nature he placed upon them.  No wonder so many unaltered humans were bitter about what was going on in the world today.  Belief systems are being rocked; some seemingly confirmed while others debunked.  Wesley swallowed hard and shook the thought from his mind before glancing back at Marissa again.  After gauging her reaction to his words he continued on.


    "...and ferromancers like myself have control over metals.  All of my spells in some way help me to manipulate the metal around me." 


    Marissa spoke of her actual mystical orientation Wesley's face faulted as if he had accidentally made an inappropriate joke at her expense.  She looked like a human, so he automatically assumed she was, even with his ability to sense the difference in her.  Rookie mistake.  Before he could apologize she continued on with her description of what a Terran Ondine was, and that caused the wheels in Wesley's brain to start working overtime.  Terran.  Mermaid.  As in, human mermaid.  There would be no need to clarify the Terran part if people were to simply accept that Ondine were part human because they look the part.  That meant she likely was partially human. Perhaps her father was human?  He did after all remember something about mermaids being beautiful enough to attract men into the sea and drown them without them being able to fight the attraction.  It would certainly explain the abnormal allure Marissa was exhibiting around him.  So... why was she doing it?  Was she going to lure him into the drink and drown him during a round of hot fish sex?  Admittedly there were worse ways to go, but he wasn't quite ready to trade in his V-card for his life.


    Marissa revealed the golden scales that appeared as she poured water along her leg and Wesley nodded, taking in the transformation as proof of her words. Strangely, he wasn't afraid at the thought of her trying to lure him into the sea anymore due to this display.  If she actually knew of ARMA's dealings she'd know that they were specially trained for dealing with the paranormal, the otherworldly, and the downright weird.  Vampires didn't attack them all willy-nilly, knowing they were armed to deal with them.  He imagined all manner of supernatural creature that has been revealed since the event took note of ARMA's experience with their ilk and decided their lack of the element of surprise put them at a disadvantage.  In other words, Marissa lost her chance to seduce him to death once Wesley was able to piece together what kind of creature she was.  Knowing after all was half the battle.


    "Wow... gold.  Nice."  Wesley thought back to Marissa's gold nail polish and wondered if they weren't actually polished, but rather scales that could be used for defense so that her humanoid form wouldn't be left completely defenseless on land.  It made sense to him at least.  He then imagined her swimming through the sea close to the surface, with sunlight flickering along her lithe form... and he could feel the 'pull' from earlier causing him to stare at her hungrily. 


    Wesley had trouble trying to fight the urge to ask to see more of her transformation, but realized that a lot more sea water would be needed for that most likely... and he'd have to follow her into the ocean to see it.  It was as if she were some sort of apex predator, with every natural aspect of her body working as an advantage for hunting.  Mystical attraction working in tandem with physical attraction to draw in unsuspecting men... vibrant colors and hidden weaponry to draw the attention of would-be predators... if it wasn't for the fact that she was on land Wesley would be sure that this was all a trap.  In fact, Wesley thanked whatever deities that granted Ondine their powers that Marissa wasn't able to see into Wesley's mind to read his thoughts, lest the Ondine side of her be tempted to do as mermaids of legend did and use it to trap and kill him... or the young human girl side of her decides to kick his ass once she saw what scandalous things he was thinking of doing with her.  Doing to her.  As if the look on his face every few moments didn't reveal his thoughts anyway.


    Ignoring the warning signs in favor of the attraction that was currently overrunning his common sense again Wesley began asking questions about Marissa's life as a Terran Ondine. 


    "Well as a member of ARMA, it's pretty much my job to make sure you're not on land to cause trouble, sorry to say.  So what might I ask are you doing up here with us Terrans?  Going for a walk?  Seeing the sights?  Trying new foods?  Wait, it's not mating season is it?"  he joked.  Partially. 

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    "My mother knew others like you, before she was brought here. A particularly powerful one could even manipulate the metal in someone's blood. Remind me not to get on your bad side." She teased him,  wrinkling her nose rather cutely. Of course, he wouldn't want to get on her bad side either.

    She tilted her head at him as his questions turned more serious. It was indeed a very serious thing he was asking her, however he may have tried to mask it with his tone. She could hear his heartbeat, and could tell he was nervous, and it went beyond the attraction he felt for her that he had no control over. "I won't be old enough for a Mating season for another five centuries. However, if you see another Ondine with green scales and red hair, and about twice my size...you should probably run and not look back. Mom is powerful and very deadly." She warned him, just as seriously.

    Mari heaved a heavy sigh as she set her art supplies aside and tore off a piece of the elephant ear that had nearly been forgotten sitting on her knee. "I came to the surface world because I belong here just as much as I belong to the depths of the sea. My father was human, I have as much claim to this world as you do. But don't worry, I prefer animals to people. Actually, the cuisine on land is fascinating. I would have never thought to cook it first, well, course we can't very well have fire down there." She laughed, sticking the piece of the elephant ear into her mouth.

    "And Sugar! By the Depths I haven't tasted anything so delicious." She paused for a moment and then turned her attention up to him, looking directly into his eyes. Instantly, the pull of attraction to her increased twofold. "You can overcome my Allure by the way. I can't turn it off but you should be powerful enough to shake it off now that you know what I am. You simply need to recognize the mana used in my Aura and then see past it. Well, I would guess that it's simple but I've never had to try personally." She admitted. She would keep his gaze until he managed to shake himself out of it. She found she rather liked Wesley, despite his inadvertently insulting comments.

    Neither of them owned the Earth.

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    Wesley's eyes widened in surprise.  He had at least an inkling of just how powerful he could potentially become some day.  In fact some of the spells he had been working on with the threat of inquisitor patrols looming in the dark were heavy on the destructive side.  So much so that he had actually been spending more time trying to think up ways to cast them while limiting collateral damage, than simply going for the most powerful spell he could.


    "You don't have to worry about getting on my bad side.  I'd never use my powers to do something that dangerous.  Not even to an enemy.  I mean yeah, these spells are needed to beat up bad guys, but I've got a strict non-lethal force mandate I place on myself.  And Blood Bending seems like something you don't want to use lightly." joked Wes, positive the reference flew over Marissa's head.


    Wesley bit his bottom lip and took a deep breath before sighing.  The young magus often referred to himself as the Magic Police.  It helped simplify his explanations to friends and family when telling them just what the hell he did for a living, despite not being particularly accurate.  When explaining to everyone what his duty was things always got muddled when he started trying to explain why he was so against justifiable killing.  And he didn't want to scare Marissa away, so he didn't continue with that part of the conversation. 


    This conversation with Marissa was new for Wesley.  Why was he so comfortable speaking to her?  It wasn't her aura of attraction anymore, he saw through it earlier.  And it wasn't purely sexual as he wasn't stammering and ogling like he normally did despite her being gorgeous.  Was it her innocent nature?  As he looked at her the feeling he got wasn't that of a predator or a monster.  Or even a seductress.  It was that of a young girl; curious and trusting.  It was endearing.  Not intimidating at all.  Or at least, not enough to shake Wesley's resolve to get to know her.


    As Marissa continued speaking about mating season she mentioned it would be 500 years before something like that reached her.  This raised all kinds of questions that the young man simply wasn't prepared to ask.  Wesley's mouth flew agape as he attempted to speak, but what could he say that wouldn't come across as offensive?  The thoughts he was having about her now turned his stomach, as he didn't like to think of himself lusting after a child.  But then, she was only a child by Ondine standards.  She was half human after all.  And that human half was a full grown woman.


    "Red hair... green scales... Ariel?"  asked Wesley with a chuckle, hoping she would get the reference.  He doubted it though.


    Wesley felt the pull of attraction grip him again as Marissa looked deep into his eyes, and he fought against it, almost completely shattering it's grip on him.  She explained to him her inability to 'turn it off'', but said nothing about her ability to soften it's pull... or strengthen it.  It didn't matter though.  He proved to himself he could fight the attraction earlier, that wasn't the problem.  The problem was now that his mind was clear and he wasn't under control of Marissa's supernatural wiles, somehow his attraction to her was still growing, but for other reasons.  And he had an idea why.  It was because of what the spike in her allure symbolized: part of her wanted him to fail against her spell's effect.  But was it the girl, or the Ondine?   


    Perhaps it was wishful thinking.  A side effect of being around Marissa for too long.  One way to find out though.


    "What if I can't?"  he asked, feigning curiosity.  "I mean, why is your allure getting stronger?  What is it your powers are trying to tell you if they're attracting me against your will, and with such strength?"  he asked, eyes still locked with hers.   "Seriously.  What would you do if I simply... couldn't fight it anymore?"


    Wesley was sure she didn't have an answer for that question, or at the very least that she wouldn't want to reveal it.  So he changed the subject shortly after.  "You know, I accidentally distracted you throughout the entire sunset.  "I'm sorry about that."

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    Marissa knew he had to have questions, humans always did according to her mother and her experiences since gaining her legs hadn't been much different. Still, she couldn't help but smile as he proclaimed he'd never use such harsh tactics. "Never say Never Wesley, life has a way of turning that into a challenge." She stated teasingly, turning her attention back to her drawing as she spoke. Of course, the reference about blood bending went right over her head and she just assumed it was some mage thing she didn't understand.

    And that also meant she didn't get the next pop culture reference when she described her mother.  "No...her name is Nerissa..." She told him, assuming that he was trying to name her. "Do you know another Ondine named Ariel? I do not know of her so it is unlikely." She dismissed the thought of him having met someone like her before, perks of having your mind linked to others of your kind, you tended to know them all.

    Her face furrowed in frustration as he challenged her lack of control and the predator in her wanted nothing more then to toss him in the ocean. Thankfully, that was not the part of her that won out. "Touch and eye contact increase it's intensity but it is always there. Were you to give in completely and not fight it, I would have two options. Leave, or knock you unconscious so that I could get away. My powers are meant for one purpose, to further the race. Just because I can't actually do that yet doesn't meant I shouldn't be prepared for when I do. I plan on not following in my mother's footsteps. When I choose to be that close to someone it will be my choice, and not because thousands of years of evolution controls me." She told him, almost in a growl.

    Truth was, she was as much a slave to her powers and instincts as her victims were. And she had sworn to herself that it was going to be her choice. "I am telling you how to overcome it because I don't have any friends Wesley, and I'd like to know you're here because you want to be, not because you can't choose to leave."

    At his next words she glanced down at her artwork, only half finished and gave a soft sigh. Closing the book, she shoved it and her art supplies into her bag and got up. She walked forward a few feet, crossing her arms in front of her as her hands clutched at her upper arms. What was she doing out here?

    "Maybe I don't belong here. Who am I kidding, I'll never fit in up here."

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    Marissa smiled to Wesley as she replied with sage advice about not assuming things about the future.  It didn't matter to him though.  He knew that he wasn't omniscient, and that there were things out there in the world ready to push his beliefs to the test.  It didn't matter.  There was nothing in this world that could ever force him to take the life of another human being.  And that was a very big statement to make about himself considering that nowadays there were beings around with the power to possess others, control their minds, or coerce them into acting out of character through other forms of manipulation, intentionally or no (just as Marissa was doing now).  Yet and still, of all the things he would or could ever be, a murderer would never be one of them.  Even if that meant putting himself in greater danger than needed by avoiding certain measures.  An absurdly irrational stance to take, he didn't understand it.  But then he didn't need to.  It felt like it was the right way to be.


    He shook his head with a tender smile as he looked down at the young Ondine and lightly shook his head in a way that he hoped wasn't condescending.  "I get what you're saying... but believe me when I say there are enough spells out there in existence that I'll never have to delve into the darker ones to get the job done.  I've just gotta get... creative.  Heck, I'll make my own spells if necessary."


    He guessed right about Marissa being unfamiliar with The Little Mermaid.  They'd have to watch it one day.  A childhood without Disney films should be considered a crime and it had to be remedied post-haste.  "It was a reference, don't worry about it." 


    Marissa made a familiar growl noise and Wesley took half a step forward as if he wanted to calm her down, but made sure not to touch her.  She could mistake it as Wesley finally giving in to her allure and taking the Pepe le Pew route to romance.  Not a good idea.  Not just because he didn't want to get thrown into the ocean and drowned or eaten.  But because he was happy to meet her and it seemed she was happy after meeting him... and he didn't want to make her regret speaking to him by hurting her feelings.  "It's okay, it's okay!  I fought through it earlier.  You gotta give me a bit more credit than that.  I'm ARMA after all.  I mean, come on!  What kind of self-respecting magus is too weak to escape an Ondine's allure?"  he asked, genuinely curious, if only a bit.  "I think I might have to turn in my badge if that ever happened." 


    He watched as Marissa sighed and walked ahead of him with her arms crossed.  He certainly read that situation wrong.  He assumed that her automatically active attraction spell meant that subconsciously her body was calling out to him.  It was the mystical equivalent of assuming a girl was DTF just because she dressed in a less than conservative way.  She was a young girl who knew the importance of sharing that moment with someone they love, and here he was convinced that he was presented with the opposite: an easy lay.  It was sexist and he was a bit disappointed in himself, but swallowed down the lump in his throat when he realized he could easily explain it away as "the allure made me do it".  A dick move, to be sure.  Though it did raise more questions in him.  Why would this power, an ability meant to help bring her suitable mates, activate at a time when she couldn't make use of them?  Unless... her human genes and Ondine genes were at odds with each other, and signals were getting crossed.  It could be more wishful thinking on his behalf, but Wesley hypothesized that the ability came once the Ondine hit puberty, and Marissa hit puberty already thanks to her body developing at a hastened rate.



    When the girl sighed about not fitting in, Wesley spoke up immediately to play damage control.  "Hey, don't say that.  Remember, you belong here just as much as I do.  You shouldn't be concerned with fitting in."  Wesley grew up as an ostracized nerd, so he knew what it felt like to stick out in a crowd.  He considered it the reason he was so terrible in social situations; because he lacked practice due to being as friendless as Marissa was now, so he definitely knew at least to some small degree what it felt like to not want to be the odd man out anymore.  To want to fit in.  But he learned the hard way that bending over backwards trying to make sure you're living up to other people's expectations will only make you crazy in the end.  It won't make you happy.


    "...and anyway, the world would be a boring place if we were all the same, right?  It's our differences that make us special, not our ability to live up to the status quo.  You're different, and that automatically makes you special."  As he spoke he moved closer to Marissa so that he stood next to her again, making sure to not touch her still, though he did attempt to look her in the eye so his words touched home. 


    "Also... um... I'm not here because I don't have the willpower to walk away.  I saw through your allure long ago... for the most part at least.  I'm here because in the few minutes we've talked I've come to realize we've got a lot in common.  We're both artistic.  We're both nicer and more trusting than either of us have any right to be, and we're both intrigued by the other's mystical origins.  The need to stick around isn't from your spell, it's from you being a cool person.  Honest!  You're the only person I've managed to talk to at length without almost fainting from the interaction.  I'm that bad at social situations."  Wesley admitted.  "That's the reason I'm still here.  Because talking to you is good for me.  It's a mutually beneficial relationship to be sure.  You learn more about this strange new world from hanging out with me, and I learn how to not hyperventilate when I talk to people.  Win-win."


    Wesley forced a laugh and then shrugged after finishing his explanation of why he was so reluctant to cut his losses and walk away.  He gave it his all.  It's all he could do.  Every Cosmo he ever read while waiting in a dentist's office said girls love it when guys are direct and honest.  So he spilled his guts.  Hopefully it wouldn't backfire.


    "So, how about it?  We can hang out some time and see more of the city.  Maybe I'll introduce you to more people and in exchange, I'm gonna mark this date TO THE DAY in my phone's calendar for the year 2518, where you and I will no doubt have a very different, but still mutually beneficial friendship.  Deal?"  Wesley joked, hoping it would lighten the mood that he had ruined earlier.  The joke obviously being that he was so in to her that 500 years in the Friend Zone was a small price to pay for an awesome pay off.

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    Wesley's words about not being a respectable magus if he let her allure take control of him caused Marissa to giggle, but then she just couldn't stop. That giggle turned into a laugh that nearly had her doubling over, clutching her side as she laughed so hard it made her hurt. "I'm sorry, it's just.. She laughed again for a moment before being able to control herself. "My father is a Magus, it's just funny to hear you talk like that. And no, I'm not telling you who he is. I can't very well tell you before I tell him about me. That would be rude." She said with a soft coy smile.

    She appreciated his ability to keep his hands to himself, as much as Ondine loved the touch of another it needed to be her choice. The humans liked to touch constantly it seemed and she wasn't sure she could handle that just yet. She barely knew him after all. His speech about not fitting in, literally throwing her own words back at her made her smile though.  

    When he offered her his deal she arched a brow, apparently he hadn't understood what she'd been talking about. "I think I should make something clear. I am not human, there is a part of me that is and that's the part that lets me take this form. If my father had been an Elf then my humanoid form would look like an Elf instead. However, if you were to take my DNA and study it, you would never be able to find the human part. I am full blooded Ondine, and We have more stages of development then humans do. I can't further the race for another five hundred years, I said nothing about anything else that act may include."

    Marissa leaned her head on his shoulder, the only part of her that touched him as she watched the last rays of light fade from the evening sky. "You just told me you want to make babies with me." She teased him. She waited until the initial shock wore off before she laughed again. "It's alright Wesley, I understood what you meant. And I can show you far more then how to overcome your social awkwardness...though I'm not sure what you're referring to seeing as you've been perfectly fine with me."

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    Wesley was still weary of Marissa's reaction to his inability to speak without putting his foot in his mouth.  His face showed genuine concern, and as she first started laughing at him he became even more concerned about the effect of his speech.  The laughter at first seemed like she was trying to wrap her head around how hopelessly he was flailing at trying to make himself seem... what was he trying to seem like?  Normal?  Cool?  Some sort of super impressive magician extraordinaire?  Whatever it was, his attempt seemed laughable.


    Was he that bad?  His self esteem wasn't crushed as badly as he would have thought it would, because the most alluring thing about Marissa; even more so than her figure or mystical attraction properties was the way her nose scrunched up when she smiled, coupled with the giggling she tried to stifle.  It was absurdly... ridiculously cute.  Not cute enough for him to mention it yet though.  He wasn't that brave.  And even if he was, before he could say something, Marissa clarified what caused her laughter which only confused Wesley further.  The poor nerd had no idea why she thought that was so hilarious.  Apparently her dad wasn't a weakling when it came to the mystical arts?  Which he inadvertently implied.  Whoever it was had to be well into their forties at the youngest, and he didn't know of anyone in the organization of that age.  He wondered for the briefest of moments if the geezer she was talking about was abroad or not.  Regardless, she wouldn't reveal his identity, so she seemed to be sure that Wesley knew who he was.  Curiouser and curiouser...


    "Uh... heh heh... Okay?"


    Wesley didn't bother pressing the issue as the lithe young Ondine corrected him yet again  (which she seemed to be making a habit of) about her genetic make up.  It was a very personal thing to discussing in the first place, and he didn't want her getting the idea that he had concerns about it.  Outside of the one that potentially resulted in him being raped and eaten at the bottom of the ocean.  He paid close attention to her to make sure not to misinterpret her heritage again, and made sure to pay special attention to the final sentence where she mentioned that she didn't have to reach her first mating heat to actually perform the act.  Which made sense, but Wesley assumed that much like a female of any other species of animal aside from humans, Marissa would abstain from 'such acts', regarding them as pointless.  He made a silent vow to, from then on, to stop over analyzing the situation, and stop making assumptions.  From then on she wasn't some mermaid, or some girl.  She as his new friend Marissa. 


    Still, the way she worded it was intriguing.  Wesley's body temperature rose and his face flushed at the notion of Marissa being open about one of what he perceived to be the biggest advantages of the current stage of her life.  Knowing she had five centuries worth of time before she had to actually worry about pregnancy?  The revelation was definitely noteworthy.  Five centuries worth of contraception-less sex ahead of her.  Suddenly a vampire bite sounded very tempting to Wesley.  Could they even match an Ondine's longevity? 


    Wesley smiled as he felt a bit of pressure on his shoulder from Marissa placing her head against it.  For all the screw ups he made throughout their brief interaction, she somehow wasn't as put off as Wesley assumed.  He wondered if the heat from his blush could be felt, or if the rapid beating in his chest was audible.  If it wasn't before, it certainly was when she brought to his attention how he pretty much asked her to bare his children.  How did he miss that!?  Of course he was only joking, but he seemed to continuously say things he didn't mean to. 


    "I uh... I didn't mean... I mean I didn't say... uhh..."


    He had no words to dig himself outta this one.  He just stammered along until Marissa admitted she knew what he was saying, bringing a small degree of relief.  Wesley was definitely an easy target.  Despite her claiming that his social interaction with her was just fine.  It only seemed that way because she herself wasn't used to the way people interacted in the surface world.  People don't normally stammer through their sentences, stare uncontrollably, or immediately profess their desire to bed the person they just met.  That stuff wasn't normal.  He attempted to clarify, though he didn't want to say or do anything that would cause her to move from her position close to him.  Before a word could be said Marissa agreed to Wesley's deal in a way that piqued his interest.


    "Wait... what do you mean by far more?  What other things are you talking about showing me?"  he asked while glancing down at her blonde locks, unable to see her eyes due to the angle.  "And no, I don't mean that in a sexual manner.  It's gonna take a week to wash the taste of foot outta my mouth."  he joked.  This was an especially old term of phrase.  Hopefully she understood what it meant, otherwise he would have to ruin the mood explaining why putting one's foot in their mouth represented saying something you regretted immediately. 

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    Marissa truthfully didn't have any idea that talking about her species was supposed to be some big thing. It was who she was, and if Wesley was serious about becoming her friend then he needed to know what she was so he could better understand her. She needed friends, and Wesley didn't trip any of her predator alarms. She was young, if he'd seemed confrontational or intimidating then Mari would have become defensive. Young Ondine has many predators, they weren't large enough or had enough control over their abilities to be a threat if you knew how to fight them. But neither did he seem weak, submissive, that would have only triggered the predator instinct that would have made her seem as prey. Wesley was her equal, and that allowed her to see past her breeding and be herself.

    Who Marissa was, was buried beneath thousands of years of tradition and evolution, all for one purpose. Unlike her mother, who had every single living Ondine in her mind, Marissa had only three others. She had the room to figure out who she was without the hive mind telling her what to do and how to live.

    Moving her hand, Mari reached for his. As  their skin touched, sparks flew as her mana reacted to his. She couldn't really control her Electrogenics, much like everything else about her, it was tied to her biology. The shock wouldn't be enough to harm him, more like the static given off after rubbing a balloon in your hair. "Ever wanted to swim with Whales?" She asked him.

    There was a lot more to Mari then just her transformation and her Allure, she had other abilities. "My best friend is an Orca named Wave Jumper. Well, it's not really words so much as an image. Animals communicate more then you'd think, body language, sounds, and even telepathically. I can see what they're feeling when I touch them, communicate with them."

    She thought for a moment. "You know an awful lot about me Wes, but I don't really know anything about you. Your turn." She told him, lacing her fingers through his as she kept staring at the ocean waves.

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    Wesley felt a slight jolt as Marissa's hand grazed against his own, and it caused him to take note.  This was the second time he felt something likened to electricity flowing through his hand as they touched.  Electricity... was it some sort of sign?   It could be as simple as another built in defense like a jellyfish or an electric eel... and the fact that she had no control over it like with her allure meant that she wasn't intentionally shocking him, so it wasn't a spell.  Still, it made Wesley ponder even more if perhaps her father's DNA was responsible for this.  Before he could go down the very short list of electricity wielding magus he knew, Marissa offered a proposition: a swim with whales.


    "Whales?  Really?  You're just gonna call up a whale just like that?  Sure thing Aquagirl!"  joked Wesley as his fingers clenched tighter while being interlaced with Marissa's own.  His laughter faded as she spoke to him about how her communication worked, and apparently his joke was spot on.  Marissa was a powerhouse and didn't even know it.


    He wanted to pick her brain about the Loch Ness monster and the Megalosaurus that supposedly still existed in the ocean depths, but she requested more knowledge about himself, which took him by surprise.  "Oh... okay?  There's not much to tell."


    Wesley thought back to everything he had learned from Marissa over their conversation, and decided to match the information she gave to him with the same from himself.  He expected her to find it less interesting though.


    "Well, I wasn't born or raised here in New York.  I'm from North Carolina.  Moved out here following my brother because..."  Wesley stopped short, already realizing how lame his origin story was.  His dad sent him to be babysat by his brother because he was an embarrassment to him.  He wasn't about to tell Marissa that little tidbit.  "...because I'm a graphic artist and you don't find work like that in North Carolina.  And since I had a sibling here I already had somewhere to stay so it worked out.  The Nevus event hit here and my powers kicked in and... here I am, a member of ARMA."


    It was pretty much the same story as his real one, actually.  Wesley didn't know what he'd be doing for the rest of his life, and he spent most of it just wasting away in his room at home; playing videogames and flaming people over the internet.  His dad kicked him out, Wes ended up in New York, and the Nevus incident hit.  He skipped over the entire lifetime of bullying and social in-acceptance from parents and peers due to him being a self proclaimed nerd.  Wesley had finally experienced what it was like to be seen as a normal person in the eyes of another, and he didn't want to ruin it by being himself.  Of course she could probably see how much of a dork he was anyway, so the absent parts of his story likely helped none.


    "Yeah, I figured ARMA was the best place to be to learn how to control these abilities and help people too.  Graphic design doesn't really help the community at all.  I wasn't going to touch anyone or make them happy with my work.  But in ARMA I'm pretty much a real life superhero.  What comic book fan could ignore an opportunity like this you know?"  he asked, hoping she was at least aware of the term super hero.  His thumb rubbed back and forth across her own as they walked.  Seeing a whale up close was gonna be terrifying, but he was still intrigued.

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    Marissa frowned as he called her Aquagirl, she had no idea that he was joking because she'd honestly never seen a comic book or a graphic novel. She had no knowledge of Superheroes and Villains, nor the striking similarity between herself and the famous DC character. She made a mental note to figure it out later so she wouldn't be so lost with his conversation.

    Where Wesley thought his life was uninteresting and boring, Marissa found it comforting. He wasn't born to be a warrior, he was born to be ordinary, simple and there wasn't anything wrong with that. The world just had other ideas it would seem. She knew what the word artist was but she wasn't sure what the title graphic artist meant. He sounded as if he wasn't proud of his life though, as if he regretted some part of it. She didn't want to pry though, after all they just met, if he didn't feel comfortable talking about it then it simply meant he wasn't ready.

    "ARMA does wonderful things, you sound so proud to be a part of that. I did a lot of research on ARMA before coming here. I told you my Dad is a Magus and the last I'd heard he joined them. Mom never liked the Order, and I needed to know if ARMA was anything like them before I came looking for him." She explained, knowing he'd be confused as to how she knew so much about them but knew so little about..well, everything.

    "I want to thank you Wesley, I suppose I came out here looking for something but I just didn't know what it was. I think you've helped me find it. I came here to find my father but I couldn't seem to muster up the courage to follow through. You've given me hope, if you can accept me, maybe he can too. Still have no idea how I'm going to tell him. Do I just show up on his doorstep? 'Surprise!'." She gave a soft sigh and then took a few steps forward until the ocean waves touched her feet. In the growing darkness it was hard to see the scales that appeared but she closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling for a moment.

    "What did you come out here looking for, it certainly wasn't me." She said, smiling at him over her shoulder.

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    The roar of the waves awoke Wesley from the flashback that played through his mind.  And it couldn't have happened sooner.  He found that whenever he remembered things from his lackluster life it always resulted in bringing him down, no matter how happy he was previously.  His life wasn't one particularly terrible, but his family would have him believe otherwise, and that was disheartening.


    Hearing out Marissa's opinions on ARMA, or rather her yet undecided notions, Wesley nodded along with her statements to show that he understood her reservations.  He'd never admit it aloud, especially amongst his ARMA brethren, but commercially it didn't seem like they were doing much to separate themselves from the Order in the eyes of the public.  Granted, they were near the people.  They worked within a populated city full of normal, frightened citizens, so everything they did was being watched by the people that mattered.  The only thing anyone saw about the Order was through the untrustworthy media, so it was a good idea for Marissa to come get a first person account of what was going on with ARMA.


    "Yeah, proud doesn't begin to describe it.  I've never been a part of something that made a difference.  I've never done anything that... matters.  You know?" 


    Marissa pondered how to present herself to her father, and that caused Wesley to raise a brow in confusion.  He thought she already met him before based on her response to his questions about his inability to fight an Ondine's allure.  "Huh.  Well, does he actually know he has a daughter?  If not, wouldn't it be your mother's responsibility that he did?  Even if you didn't consider her responsible for giving him that info, she shouldn't mind telling him for you if you asked.  Unless..." 


    Wesley was starting to have a bad feeling about Marissa's father.  He couldn't call him a dead-beat dad, because he seemed to not have any idea that he had a daughter or not.  But then what did that say about her mom for not telling him for so long?  Or maybe Wes didn't know enough to be assuming.  Perhaps her father knew of her, but left her because she needed an underwater environment to develop?  Like a tadpole before it went full-on frog.  Not to mention as an ARMA member her father would no doubt have tons of enemies just hoping to find out about him having siblings or children to exploit.  Marissa being out of the picture was probably the best for the both of them.


    "...did you have to live underwater as a child?  I can understand you not being around him much because he doesn't have gills to breath underwater, and you probably weren't able to live on land just yet.  Or am I wrong?"  Wes looked down at the foamy water that covered his toes and shivered from the cold.  He was sure it didn't bother Marissa though.  When she asked him what he was looking for he shrugged his shoulders.


    "Honestly, I was just trying to find something to keep me preoccupied until my brother was ready to head home.  We share a car and live in the same apartment.  To waste time until he was ready I walked along the shore heading to the boardwalk and... I just lucked out by finding you." 

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    Truth be told, Marissa didn't know. She didn't know what it felt like to be a part of a group, to want to strive for more then you already were. The only family she'd known had loved her and she knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt because they couldn't hide it from each other. She didn't say that though, what was the point? She'd figure it out eventually.

    "He knows he has daughters, but you're right about me needing to live underwater. I've only been able to take a human form for a few months, before that I really couldn't survive longer then an hour or so above water. He couldn't come with us, and we couldn't live in a fish tank in his living room." She joked, laughing softly though Wesley wouldn't fully understand why she was laughing.

    "Mom had to think about us and we needed the open sea. There wasn't exactly a way for us to keep in contact with him. Young Ondine need warmer waters to thrive so I spent a good portion of my life in the Tropics, and there really isn't cell reception at the bottom of the ocean. Mom has a hard time coming near land anymore, her allure is too strong for most people to handle so she tends to stay away. I have a few memories of my father, though I was only a few months old when we left. He used to call us his Piranha." She told him, with a wistful smile on her face like being called a killer fish was a good thing.

    "How come you didn't want to stay with your brother? What's he doing that you didn't want to be a part of?" She asked him, not realizing that she may have been wading in to territory that Wes may not have wanted to talk about. She and her sisters had always done everything together...this was really the first thing Mari had ever done on her own now that she was mature enough.

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    Wesley smiled, his smile growing more and more as Marissa told him about her childhood and what it was like flitting around in the reef as a little wide-eyed Ondine.  He imagined that living under the sea wasn't quite as fun as it looked on The Little Mermaid, but she likely wanted for little.  She seemed very family oriented, and still at least had time to get into the arts and reading (however the hell that worked under water).  Wesley's childhood was amazing in comparison however by nerd standards.  Saturday morning cartoons and binge-eating sugary breakfast cereals... birthday parties with ice cream cake and presents... and videogames.  So, so many videogames.  So why did he look back to his childhood and frown rather than smile?


    The thought of Marissa's mother having an especially strong allure piqued Wesley's interest though.  Oddly enough, he began envisioning he, Marissa, and a taller, more voluptuously built version of Marissa in various forms of undress.  His face turned beat red and his eyes widened as if he was looking at the image before him on a screen.  It raised more questions in Wesley's mind however.  How would this work?  When Wesley and Marissa stopped to visit her and let her meet her little beige grandkids, was he going to be hitting on her in front of them?  Wesley swallowed hard and cleared his throat.  Maybe Wesley wasn't quite over Marissa's allure yet if he was imagining having a litter (school?) of baby mermaids and spending weekends at his mother-in-law's place... all within the first hour of meeting her.  And as he thought about it more he felt more disturbed by the fact that his fantasies kept skipping past all the naughty bits and going straight to family rearing.  Wes was so weird. 


    "Little piranha huh?  Heh.  You guys must've been pretty rambunctious."  thought Wesley.  Either that or they were violent and bloodthirsty little monsters.


    The joking stopped when Wesley was asked about his brother and why he thought to walk away from him.  "Ehh... Kyle was in the middle of a game of volleyball.  He's far more social than I am, and he enjoys tons of different sports.  He's an athlete like our dad was when he was younger."  A moment of silence passed before Wesley took a deep breath before continuing on.  There was more to the explanation of why he didn't want to spend much time with his brother.  It was because he knew his brother didn't want him around.  "You remember earlier when you felt sad just from the thought that you wouldn't fit in up here?  Can you imagine feeling like that... every day of your life?  At home with a father you had nothing in common with and a mother that was convinced it was your fault for not trying harder, whatever that means?  Or a brother who's embarrassed to be seen with you because you're too different?  Or at school where your inability to throw a football or speak to girls without stammering... or doing too well at your studies makes you a target for bullies?  Or in a small clique of supposed friends who share the same interests as you, but don't seem to respect you enough to know that certain jokes should be saved for when you're not in the room?"


    That last one still hurt.  Wesley did have a group of gamer friends that he hung out with on a regular basis as a youth.  And as anyone who's ever played a videogame online can attest, that environment was the last place in the world to find gender or racial equality.  Wesley had to pretend he heard the wrong thing come out of his "friend's" mouths far too often.


    "I'm not mad at any of them.  Everyone I've ever conversed with can't be wrong... right?  Whatever it is that makes me so unlikeable has to be my fault.  It's obvious.  And that's the real reason I'm in ARMA.  Not because I want to help people or because it's the right thing to do, but because I'm tired of not being wanted... by anyone.  I can't help but think that if I was an honest to goodness hero, someone would have to acknowledge that I'm someone too.  That I matter.  Sure, the geek in me loves the idea of being a real life superhero, but that's just a side benefit.  If I save someone's life, it won't matter that I'm a nerd.  If I save someone's life, it won't matter that I'm a wimp, or unattractive, or anti-social or... or black, or anything that makes me such a... I dunno.  An undesirable."


    The worse thing about being a severe introvert was that once someone finally got you talking, things came out that you don't want people to hear.  Ever.  And it doesn't stop until a weight has been lifted that you likely didn't even know you held.  And it was Wesley's bad luck to finally come to this conclusion after he already made himself look like a whimpering simpleton in front of yet another person to come to the conclusion that he was too weird, too different, to be in the company of.  So he sighed, shook his head, and waited for her excuse to distance herself from him.



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    Marissa felt the change come over Wes, she could hear it in his voice and in the beat of his heart. Where as just a moment earlier it had been pounding out of his ribcage from whatever was going through his mind, now it was slow and lagging. Her concern would be written all over her face as he started to talk. His version of family was so drastically different then hers, but he was right. She was scared her father wouldn't accept her, that he'd turn her away because she was different, because she didn't belong in his world. Wesley had felt like that for years, every day for so long and apparently still did. She couldn't imagine that, and she couldn't understand how anyone could possibly think of Wes like that.

    Instead of pulling away like he expected her to, Marissa squeezed his hand. She tilted her head up so she could look at him, her strange gold flecked eyes staring into his. "You are none of those things. And if I ever hear you talk that way about yourself again I will hold you down and let sea anemones tickle your feet until you can't breathe because you'd laughing so hard." She stated, not realizing how ridiculous her threat was but she didn't really have a lot of non lethal threats in her arsenal. Also, her sister used to do it to her as a joke.

    "You have more strength then you realize Wes, there are different types of warriors, different ways to win a fight. I'd say we could go back there and we could make your brother jealous but I don't feel like being ogled right now. Humans seem to have a very small view of the world I've noticed. One would think that world collapsing in around them would have changed something but some still hold on. They can't see past the nose on their face. I'm glad you're not like them, otherwise you wouldn't be my friend now. It doesn't matter to me what you enjoy doing or what color your skin is..Depths I have scales! They are a part of you, they make up who and what you are. If other people can't see that, then that's their loss."

    Leaning up on her tip toes, Marissa kissed him on the cheek. "And if anyone ever talks that way to you while I'm around, they're gonna deal with me." She promised him, wrinkling her nose at him as she smiled.

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    Wesley's expression grew into a half smile as Marissa threatened to... tickle him.  It was certainly a way to break him out of his funk which he expected her to attempt, just not with tickling.  She continued on with her monologue but Wesley only heard most of it, as he was already kicking himself for being so open with his feelings to someone he really did not want to scare away.


    The ferromancer  looked down at Marissa with a look of confusion rather than appreciation for her kind words, and the following kiss to his cheek.  He could tell when someone was trying to make him feel better.  To try to convince him that things weren't as bad as they seemed, or that he wasn't as much of a loser as he... well, was.  This time was different though.  It was as if she believed what she was saying to him despite the fact that she couldn't possibly know the real Wesley after such a short amount of time.  She seemed genuinely convinced that there was more to him than his own understanding of himself would lead one to believe.


    "Thanks for your kind words Marissa."  Wesley said half-heartedly, though with a kind tone to his words.  She really did make him happy even if he didn't believe anything she said.


    "So, where's this whale we're supposed to say hi to?  We're gonna have to go deeper than this to see him right?  And um... he's not going to eat me is he?"  asked Wesley.  He knew she wouldn't bring an animal around him without somehow making sure it was safe, but Wesley hoped to change the subject as quickly as possible.

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    • 2 weeks later...

    "I can't call Wave Jumper in this form, I don't have the right vocal chords for it. However, I think I want to hold off on showing you my real form just yet. The last time I showed someone they ran away screaming and I don't want that to happen with you just yet. I may look like a simple young woman now, but don't forget that I'm a predator beneath the blonde hair." She said pointedly, though she said it was a half smile as she couldn't keep a straight face.

    "Maybe we should save that for next time? I can't go giving away all my secrets now can I? Besides, Wave Jumper was going to head back north for a hunt with the rest of the Pod so he probably won't be back for a couple of days. Ya know, now that I think of it, I have no idea how there is going to be a next time. I don't really have a way for anyone to get a hold of me. I have yet to visit my mom's old loft, or see my father and I don't have a phone. I'd probably just end up frying it anyway. Electronics don't last long around me, I don't have enough control over my abilities yet." She admitted with a soft sigh.

    Despite the growing darkness, Mari could still see fairly well, though when the lights off the boardwalk lamps caught her eyes they'd shine much like an animals would. It could be disconcerting considering she looked perfectly human. "I think you'd love the entryway in my mom's loft. She painted the entire hallway from the elevator to her front door to look like a seascape with a beach in the distance. I haven't seen it since I was barely big enough to climb out of my tank but I remember it like it was yesterday." She mused.

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    • RESONANCE - 18+ 3/3/3

      • A modern/fantasy, intermediate+ collaborative writer's rp. Caters to an experienced player base (25+) with a slower, more relaxed pace.

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