Folie à Plusieurs V. Everest I

“Hey, Mirage.  Olivia.  Whatever you want me to call you.  What’s up?”  I said, greeting the short blonde.

“Ha, Olivia or Liv is fine.  And actually, I have a favor to ask you.”

“Oh?” I asked, cocking my head. “What can I do for you?”  She reached out and grabbed my shoulders, standing on her tiptoes.

“I’d like for you to talk to Jason for me.  There’s something I need him to do, but he’ll be suspicious if I-  No, that’s not right,” she said.  I opened my mouth to s-

“I’d like for you to talk to Jason for me.  There’s something I need him to do, but he won’t do it if it’s me ask- No, that’s not right either.” I opened my mouth to s-

“I’d like for you to talk to Jason for me.  There’s something I need him to do, but I’m too shy- not quite.  Closer, though.  It’s a good thing you’re so dumb, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do this, no matter how much physical contact.  Shame I’m not a mind-control specialist, huh?”  I frowned.

“First of all, I don’t like being called dumb.  Second, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  She patted my cheek endearingly.

“I know you don’t.  I know.  Don’t worry about it.” I opened my mouth to s-

“I’d like for you to talk to Jason for me.  There’s something I need him to do, but I’m too nervous to do it myself.  Can you help me out?”

“Sure, of course!  What do you want me to?”

“Well,” she said, “It’s kinda complicated.  It’d be easier to just show you… mentally.  I need you to empty your mind, then completely open yourself to my will.”  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“Okay, I’m ready.”  To my surprise, she grabbed the back of my head and planted a fully-fledged, tongue-included kiss on my lips.

“Wha-”

—-

“Huh, that’s an odd thing to say, Oliver,” he said, narrowing his eyes.

“What?”

“I mean, its not like you to ask me that.”  Jason stopped taking off his costume, and shrugged his jacket back on. “You’re my friend, and one of the most loyal people I know.  You wouldn’t ask me if I’m confident in my abilities as a leader.   You’re the sort of person who would simply trust that I know what I’m doing.  Why the sudden doubt?” /Aww… that’s nice of him to say…  if only I knew what was going on!/

“I… I have no idea what you’re talking about.   I must have just zoned out.  Last thing I remember…  I was talking to Olivia about … something?” He stared at me.

“Do you think she influenced your mind?”

“No!  She wouldn’t do that, would she?  Besides, I’d remember it, wouldn’t I?”

“She would do it.  And there’s no guarantee you’d remember it.  She’s fairly proficient at mind control, I’ve recently discovered.  She’s probably strong enough to  wipe your short term memory, or make you a puppet.  And worse, most likely.”  He ran his fingers through his hair.  “I want you to stay away from her for now, okay?  Until we figure out what she’s after.  Just trust me on this one, okay?”

“Sure.  Whatever you say, chief,”  I said, frowning a bit. /I’m starting to see why he hates psychics…/ He nodded.

“That’s more like you, buddy.” His face suddenly went grim.  “Oliver. Without looking behind you, just go to your room.  Go now.  Pretend everything’s cool.”

“That won’t work,” I heard from behind me, “I can read minds, you know.”  Jason swore.

“Go!” He shouted, pushing me.  I tried to leave, but my body locked up.  I felt an arm curl seductively around my shoulder and heard Olivia say,

“Once a connection has been made, it’s always easier the second time.  It’s even easier with weak minds like his.”  Jason pulled his half mask over his mouth.

“I don’t know what you’re planning, Mirage,” Zeta said, “whose team you’re on, or what you want.  But you can’t mindfuck me like you did Everest.”

“You’re right.  The same methods would get a fraction of the result.  But that’s enou-”

“Uhhhh…  my head…” I heard.  I shook my head, trying to clear my vision and my headache.  I was lying on a roof, in full costume, being helped up by Zeta.  He was groaning too.

“Jesus.  What happened?” he said, rubbing his forehead.

“Dunno.  Last thing I remember, we were talking about something in the kitchen,” I shrugged.

“Yeah.  Me too.  Hmm.  A supervillain?”

“Maybe… oh, hey, XYZ.” /I feel like I should be panicking, but…  well, if Jason isn’t bothered, then I shouldn’t be./

“Wha- Oh,” he said, blushing, then zipping his zipper.  “Oops.  That’s never happened before; I never forget my zipper.”  I grinned.

“First time for everything.  Speaking of time” I said, checking my watch, “It’s 5:00.  We have another hour of patrol before we can head back.  It is our day, right?”

“Yeah.  But it’s going to be slow going until Crane gets attacked.  The only thing we’ve had to deal with since he gave his message is those tinkerbots.”  I looked at him curiously.  He slapped his forehead. “Oh, that’s right, you haven’t been at one of those.  King occasionally releases a small, foot or so high robot that builds other things.  It builds more robots, which build more robots, and so on.  They’re weak, but you need to take them out quickly, before there are enough of them to start building weapons.  Apollo and Selene accidentally let one group of them build a small cannon.  It demolished an entire building.  Just keep an eye out.” I shuddered.

“Let’s hope we don’t run into any.  I just want to go back to the base and sleep off this headache.”

“Agreed.  Let’s get moving.”

“Wake up! Wake up! Get your fat fucking asses up!”  I groaned and turned over.  From outside my room, I heard all the other members of the team stumble out of their doorways and grunt at each other and their alarm clock, Rune, in the hallway.

“Go to school and let me sleep,” I muttered into my pillow.  Luckily for me, I had graduated from high school last year, and was just sticking around for the team.  All the others had stuff to do during the day.  Diana and Will went to a small private school to get their senior year in, while everyone else went to South Haven High School.

“You know, for someone so mad about being weak, you seem to take training rather lightly.”

Almost everyone, that is.

“I need my beauty sleep, Alex.”

“With that ugly mug?  Not likely.”

“You’re composed enough to be witty.  Not wearing the mask, then?  How’d you get in my room?”

“Maybe I walked in with it, then took it off.  Ever think of that, Sherlock?”

“Yeah, you took it off.  Cause that’s always worked so well before.”

I heard him shifting around.  Hiding my face, I grinned.  “There’s a trade off, Crane.  The weaker the power, the more sane we stay. Compare me and Diana to you and Jason.  Apollo, to a lesser extent.  I’m quite comfortable as I am, thank you very much.”

“Then leave.” My grin faded.  “I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now,” he continued,  “This isn’t a place for weaklings.  Not this town, not this state, not this world.  Zeta told you your options.  Become strong, or leave.  This team isn’t for people who can’t even control their own powers.”

I flushed.

“It’s a temporary thing!  I’ll fix it soon! I just need to train a bit more!”

“Which brings us right back to you, being asleep, in bed, while everyone else is up.”

“Fine!  Fuck!  Don’t know why you’re getting up early, you don’t have school either.”

“I have an assignment.  I’m doing some grassroots destroying.  You’re being a lazy piece of lard.”

“I’M GETTING UP!”

“Ninety-nine… One.. Hundred!” I let the weights drop with a clang, just as Exile and Apollo walked into the gym.  Apollo walked over and nodding at me, picked up the dumbbells I had just dropped.  Frowning, he put them back down, then walked over to a rack and picked a pair seven sizes up.

“Why are you lifting so light?  Literally, everyone on the team can go much heavier than that.  You should be trying out the ones we can’t even get our fingers under,” he said.  I sighed.

“I can probably tell you two this…  just don’t tell Zeta, okay?”

“Sure,” Will replied with a shrug.

“No promises.  I will if I have to,” said Sarah, folding her arms.

“Well, I can’t control my powers.”  Instantly, I regretted opening my mouth.  Their faces instantly went cold and stony. “No, they work fine while I’m fighting!  I just haven’t been able to activate anything outside of combat!” Sarah frowned, thinking.

“Fine,” she said at last, “I won’t tell Jason.  But if you don’t fix it soon…”

“Where is Zeta, anyway?” I asked, looking around, “He’s usually here by now.”

“He’s getting lunch with a friend of his.  John, his name is.  Frankly, he gives me the creeps,” Will said, “He seems normal half the time, then I turn around and he’s staring at my back like he’s going to eat me.”

Sarah sighed.  “That’s the point.  All of Jay’s closest friends are… off. You never met Cyner, because he disappeared before you came, but he was similar. Not quite so hostile, but he always made my hair stand on end.  Gave off this… aura, I guess, of being on a different level than all of us.  I’m not really describing it well, but it was like standing next to a reactor.  I don’t know how to describe it better than that.  Jason is the same way sometimes.  I remember, one time, back when we were freshmen, some upperclassmen were picking on him.  One of them pushed him in the hallway, hard enough to make him fall over.  I expected him to jump up and attack the guy.  Then I looked at Jay’s eyes.”

She paused, taking a deep breath.

“I thought there was going to be a death count.  I thought he was going to start killing people with his bare hands and teeth.  He looked less like a person and more like… a wild animal.”  I recoiled a bit.

“He’s…  he’s not that bad, is he?”

Will nodded, ignoring me.

“I know what you mean.  I’ve seen him fight.  It’s brutal.  He fights like a rabid dog. And one day,” Apollo continued, a determined look in his eyes, “he’s going to have to be put down.”

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Tyrant IV. Mirage I

/God, do I love this feeling./ I felt the attention of the hallway gravitate towards the sound of my footsteps as my hips swayed side to side. I drank the attention like the sweet honey nectar of the gods; it filled me with immense pleasure, as usual. Since I love fooling with these ants, I decided to shift their perspective slightly so my body appeared even taller, curvier, and more impossibly buoyant than normal. I remember the power filling me from my toes to the crown of my head.

/Ah, the joys of school. Dear God, these drooling kids are hilarious./

 

Suddenly, I saw Jason out of the corner of my eye. The usual smirk on my face curled even farther upwards as I smoothly glided over to him and his mysterious new piece of fresh meat, some kid named John. As I walked over, my eyes slid up and down John, assessing his physical abilities before probing quietly into his mind. I waited eagerly for the moment when he would look and see me, shocked by the angel’s wings I decided to show him growing on my back.

 

I’ve always loved my power: first impressions are everything.

 

I watched his eyes widen as he took in the clearly impossible sight of a Victoria’s Secret-quality body attached to two giant fluffy white wings in the middle of a crappy high school hallway.

/Poor kid, he never even saw me coming./

 

I became momentarily bored with the new kid upon the sight of Jason. I decided to have some fun with him. He hates it when I read his mind, so I decided to tease him instead. You don’t have to be a telepath like I am to see the sparks between him and Diana. My best talent is finding people’s weak points and applying subtle pressure there. Every person is a weak conglomeration of supports: all my job is is to find the weakest one and either prod at it or destroy it altogether. Or, even better, I can make sure that that support leans on me. You could call me manipulative. I’m sure you’d be entirely correct.

 

“So, Jason, mind telling me what flowers are growing this season?” I murmured.

/Shit, that could have been so much more clever. Whatever./ I watched as Jason maintained a relatively steady countenance, but I knew from experience that he was momentarily flustered inside, his thoughts drifting to fantasies about him and Diana. I was satisfied that the reaction I intended to induce had occurred, so I gave up any further attempt to provoke him. Though he was my good friend, he could be pretty unstable. I knew I needed to handle him with prudence.

 

I left them without another word, completely at ease with my ability to disturb the usual balance, and continued to strut down the hallway until I arrived at my advanced multi-dimensional calculus course. The room, as usual, was filled with a bunch of nerdy looking freaks. These were all the kids with super powered brains, though, unfortunately, most did not acquire the same attractive appearances.

/What shame. I need to find some more people around here with sex and brains, these kids are too easy./

I always love a challenge, so that class passed by quickly as usual. I’ve never had much of a problem with math.

 

Next, I made another journey through the hallway to my favorite class: illusion magic. This was a course I excelled at even more dramatically than Math. That’s why they call me Mirage, I can show anyone any goddamn thing I want them to see. I don’t even need magic to do it: I just love sliding myself inside their heads with no more than a thought.

 

We began class with our usual exercise. Since I was taking an advanced course, we were learning complete immersion. Our exercise began  with our class splitting in half and forming two lines on opposite sides of each other. The teacher, Mr. Coxon, a total dick, dictated that my side was to go first.

 

Well, I shouldn’t write that he did that of free will. I never let him choose the other side.

/I should be teaching this class, these monkeys are completely incompetent./ Instead of immersing my partner in an island paradise as we were assigned to do, I decided to play a little practical joke on the teacher. I brought all the students in the class into a blank room. They knew what to do. I then focused my energy on the professor, showing him a classroom of students diligently working.

 

I guess I felt kinda bad for always doing this to poor Mr. C, but I really wasn’t so concerned with harming the other kids education. They were all more than capable of teaching illusion to themselves, and I wanted my damn day off. Keeping lasting illusions has always been my specialty, so I just walked out of the room.

 

I went to my favorite place in the whole world: my locker. No one knows this, but I love sliding into it and completely immersing myself in my own fantasy location. It’s perfect. Admittedly, my fantasies involve sex 99% of the time, but for now I needed space to think. /Olivia Radd./ I toyed with the name in my head. Even internally my tone sounded deep and smooth, a quality I love. /It seems so innocent. Just two little words. It is my whole privacy and everything I keep secret. Maybe I should tell my friends? I do love a good drama…no. I need my name. My namesake is an extension of myself. I’m an individualist, am I not? I chose this for a reason. I chose to leave my past behind and make my name like everything else about me: a mirage. Fuck, where did my cigarette go?/ I fumbled around in my pocket and drew out the long, 50’s style holder. Smoking illusionary cigarettes was a terrible, yet genius habit. I felt my lungs fill with the smoke that I knew wasn’t there. I was pretty sure that I was the only psychic who could create illusions for herself.

/I need a plan. It’s so stupid that I don’t have utter and complete control over the social structure here yet. It’s my damn friends messing me up. Should I mess with them? No, that would be wrong…I need a distraction./

As usual, my mind wandered back into itself. I started reminiscing about my past. I could still remember so crystal clearly the shame and humility my past carried. My thoughts meandered until they entered that dark tunnel containing everything I didn’t want to admit. I tell everyone that my life is filled with pain and darkness. In reality, the darkness is only within myself.

I spent my whole life believing that I was gifted and beautiful. I am, sure. But it’s all a lie. I’m not a bad person…technically. I’m just an illusion. I have spent my life fabricating a grand illusion for myself. The power I have been given is the power to show people, including myself, what they want to see. I have done just that.

If there is anything I have learned over time it is that the illusion is the truth. The illusion of control is control, and the illusion of love is as close to love as I have ever come.

Sex is the only thing that makes me feel truth. There is no lie in that most basic instinct.

But everything else…it’s all faux glitter and lights. Trust me, there’s no water in this desert. People are easy to control because they so desperately want to drink. I’m not real. I’m a mirage.

I crushed the dropped cigarette beneath my foot, and stepped out of my locker.

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