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About Traditional Art / Artist Member Chris D. Phillips a.k.a. PhiarMale/United States Recent Activity
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Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 3 by Phiar
Where We Place Our Hearts Chapter 3
This picture' chapter is in my journal list.

Synopsis (Action/Supernatural/Drama): Venelope, an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, dreams of being a track star. Upon visiting family, she learns that she can interact with her consciences; the good and the bad side. Through further interactions with each, she's able to use supernatural powers based on her dominant conscience. A dark future presents itself when she learns there are others with these powers. Using her abilities, she tries to keep a normal life while not turning a blind eye to the ones using these powers for wrong-doing.

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                                                                                                                       "Where We Place Our Hearts"                                                                                                                  


                                                                                                                    Chapter 3: "Light & Clouds"
                                                                                                                                              by
                                                                                                                   Christopher D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar







(1)     Flames? Flames filled the cave and seared away the cold in seconds before vanishing just the same. The storm continued battering the cave from outside as another hour went by.


Sweat. The raven-haired girl woke up soaked in it. She rose up to a sitting position against the wall. A sigh of relief caught her attention. She looked up to see Venelope sitting against the opposite wall with a faint smile.

      "I'm glad you came to." Venelope said. "I was freakin' out. I checked to see if you had a pulse, and you did. I was just hopin' you'd still wake up. "Her soft smile filled with relief. "I hit my head on somethin'. Still hurts." She chuckled. "You feelin' alright?" The girl noticed Venelope sweating just as much as herself and wondered how it got so hot. Oddly, she then showed a slight look of understanding. She adjusted herself, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Wiping the sweat from her face, she groaned in disgust. Venelope chuckled but stopped instantly as the girl eyed her sharply. It was obvious the girl wasn't thrilled to be trapped in a cave with her. "I'm Venelope." She said reaching out to shake hands.

      "I know who you are." The girl replied as she turned her eyes away from Venelope. "Obviously, you don't remember me." Venelope retracted her hand slowly. She felt nervous, wondering if this girl was a childhood friend of hers. If she was, she knew she'd feel worse for forgetting once remembering. "Not like I wanted to remember you." The girl thought to herself. "Jesus!" She said then aloud leaning forward slightly. "You really don't remember me?" Venelope was flushed with even more nervousness. Smiling sheepishly, she didn't know how to respond. The girl sat back with a shake of her head. "We were always competing against each other. From elemetary to middle school." She said in a common tone of voice with her eyes facing further down into the cave. Venelope felt a little bad now. The girl' face was quite somber as Venelope was pulled into the same state.

      "I'm sorry." Venelope said quietly with her eyes down. "I really can't-- maybe you've just changed so much since I last saw you, is all."

      "Well, don't beat yourself up over it. I didn't remember you, either." The girl said assertively.

      "But, you said--"

 (2) "I saw you with Travis." The girl interrupted. "I just put two and two together." She looked back at Venelope to see a quirky smile of confusion.

       "It's just... really not clickin'." She chuckled as the girl then stood to stretch.

       "It's obvious you don't know much about them." She said straining. Venelope' face slowly went blank from the comment. "Wow! You don't know anything, do you? About your consciences?" Venelope' eyes widened as she shimmied up the wall to her feet. Though she wanted to ask the obvious, she was rendered speechless in learning the girl knew about her consciences. The girl could tell Venelope was just begging for answers. "You're still in between on the whole thing. Lights can't use fire, only electricity. That's how it is in the beginning. You just gotta figure out where you wanna stand. And I doubt with your lack of info, that you've been using your powers long enough for them to be strong enough to heat up this cave like you have." Venelope continued free-falling without a clue to catch herself with. "But, you must be since this cave is as hot as it is." She thought to herself before continuing aloud. "You don't look like a Cloud, though. I was out-cold, but you obviously used fire and not electricity to heat this place up." Venelope looked to her sides to see Penelope and Cassidy standing there. Looking back at the girl, she saw her conscience standing beside her. Her heart jumped. Like Penelope, the girl' conscience emitted a light of safety and purity. She also being dressed in white and light brown clothing. Venelope' mind went blank, unable to process it all. She grabbed her head and rubbed her eyes strongly before looking back at the girl and her conscience, trying to force her mind to believe what her eyes where seeing.
      "I'm outta here." Cassidy said upon vanishing like smoke. Venelope paced a bit, trying to get this all through her skull.

      "Okay, okay." Venelope said with her hands out front. Stopping, she took a deep breath and exhaled sharply out her nose. "Rewind a bit, and chopped this down for me, please--" They both went silent as a grunt sounded from deeper within the cave. A rough and scruffy sort of grunt. Not the kind of sound you'd hear from a human. The only things lighting the cave were the auras of the girl' consciences. They etched back as quietly as possible as the grunting grew closer and more consistent.

(3)  "Kill the lights, then shine as bright as you can on my word." The raven-haired girl whispered as the cave then went pitch black. Several seconds went by as they continued tip-toeing backwards towards the exit. Their eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness enough to clearly make out anything, but they knew something... something big, had turned the corner. Venelope' lip quivered with fear. Penelope lightly took her hand to help keep her calm. However, the raven-haired girl was surprisingly composed. No, she was more than that, and though Venelope couldn't see her expression in the dark, it was one pure focus; her conscience' as well. The mouth of the cave was only several steps away now. Venelope tripped over a cluster of rocks and fell backwards. Luckily, Penelope caught her, but Venelope' feet had kicked up some debris and caused a fairly loud clatter of noise. The unknown creature grunted again in response. It was certain something was in its cave. "Now!" The raven-haired girl said as the consciences then lit up the cave. A large bear was revealed. It roared fiercely, sending chills up and down the girls' spines. Due to Cassidy' flames, the cave' frozen mouth had been melted away enough for them to run out easily. Needless to say, said flames yielded a double-edged effect, and awakened the bear from its hibernation. The snow was thick on the ground, but the blizzard itself was over. The bear roared again upon exiting the cave. Now fully awake in a livid state of mind.

       "Come on! Let's go!" Venelope shouted from a fair distance away. The raven-haired girl remained much closer to the bear and eyed it with the same focus as before. "What the hell is she thinking?" She thought to herself. The girl slowly opened and closed her hands. Her back arched with knees bent. Even Venelope could read this sort of atmosphere. Much like a school yard squabble, only now, instead of a simple disagreement being settled. Their lives were on the line. Or rather, in Venelope' mind, only the girl' life was. How could she possibly take on a bear? She was a bit shorter than Venelope and around the same weight. With or without a conscience by her side, the odds still seemed gravely slanted in her favor.

(4)   "I can move... I'm calm..." The raven-haired girl thought to herself as she continued opening and closing her hands. Static electricity became visible around her hands, coming and going every few seconds. Venelope looked on as she then thought about when she shocked Evette earlier. Her train of thought altered to the raven-haired girl' recent words about Lights and Clouds using fire and electricity. She still didn't understand. The entire scenario was jumbled in her head. The snowfall lightened up even more. "I can move. I can move!" She ran at the bear at a speed just over a jog' pace. She stopped just outside the bear' reached as it swiped at her. Growling ferociously, it continued its attack as the girl backed away quickly with several short hops. Just from that short display of skill, Venelope knew this girl wasn't ordinary. But as of late, the same could be said about her. Although, who in their right mind would have the nerve to fight such a beast barehanded and alone? The bear' assault was like a berserker, as one would expect. The girl' evasive skills were unbelieveable as she remained out of harm' way, even if only by mere inches. Ducking a swipe that could've scalped her, she shouted to her conscience. "Whitney, now!" Whitney' body became covered in electricty before firing and striking the bear from behind with a strong volt. As its attention was taken from the raven-haired girl, she struck it with another volt of her own. Whimpering, the bear fled back into its cave. The girl panted lightly with her hands on her knees. She smiled at Whitney who then vanished a moment later.

      "You okay?" Venelope asked as she ran up to the raven-haired girl. "That was freakin' amazing! I can't believe what I just saw." She said containing the full amount of her excitement. The girl stood with a sigh.

      "You could've helped." The girl said staring into the woods. The snow stopped seconds laters.

      "Well, I wanted to, but... honestly, how much could I have done? I'm sorry." The girl smiled faintly.

      "That's true." The girl replied with her smile still present as Venelope showed her own. "You don't know squat about this kind of thing, so it fits." She stared at Penelope for a moment. "That's how I remember you... when you left town." Referring to her longer and wavier hair style.

      "Well, you're not the Gabrielle I remembered, either." Venelope replied as the girl faced her quickly with surprise. Venelope chuckled. "Some where during that fight, I remembered you. I don't know why, it just clicked, finally."

(5)  "You remember anything else?" Gabrielle asked as she placed her hands in her pockets. Venelope shook her head with a nervous smirk. "Mm... I need to sit down for a sec." She sat down on a log as Venelope took a seat on it as well. Venelope rubbed her own arms to build some warmth. "Where'd you move to?"

      "California. I've been living with my-- Holy-- I completely forgot!" Venelope said shooting to her feet. "My uncle and Travis! I forgot about them during all of this. They were caught in the storm with me." She looked around with a worried expression, trying to figure out which way to head.

      "I don't know about your uncle, but I'm pretty sure Travis is all right." Gabrielle answered, throwing more confusion into Venelope' head. "I was near you guys when things went bad. You being the closest." Venelope' expression softened as she listened attentively. "I found your board snapped in two before I found you a few feet away. The wind must've threw you off and made you slam into a tree or rock. I carried you as far as I could before I had to drag you the rest of the way into the cave."

      "Oh... thank you for that." Venelope said quietly. "I guess I owe you."

      "Well, if it wasn't for you heating the cave, we'd both be dead." They chuckled. "But, I did fight off that big-ass bear while you stood around like the paparazzi." She laughed as Venelope smiled bashfully. "So, you did still owe me." She said as she stood up.

      "... 'did'?" Venelope asked.

      "I'll let it slide since you remembered me." Gabrielle replied as both smiled. "I guess I didn't leave a strong enough impression before you moved." Venelope offered a handshake again as Gabrielle accepted this time.

      "We can catch up on our way back? And, maybe, you can fill me in on all this conscience stuff?" Venelope said as Gabrielle sighed with a smile.

      "You are already asking for too much." They laughed as they then started walking.

(6)  Sunrise. Venelope' parents and the other locals began organizing a search. Just as they stepped outside, they saw Venelope and Gabrielle in the distance heading their way. Ray ran to Venelope as fast as his legs could carry him. Lauri smiled with teary eyes as Danny and T.J. stood just behind her. T.J. smiled at Danny, but his face quickly saddened as he saw Danny wearing the same worried face from the night before. Ray reached and hugged his daughter strongly. He was silent, but the warmth of being alleviated from his worries was enough for her to understand.

      "I'm okay, dad. I'm okay." Venelope said softly as she hugged him back while shedding a few tears. He stepped back with his hands on her shoulders to look her in the eyes. He smiled warmly as Lauri made her way over. Lauri hugged her tightly as both smiled and chuckled.

      "I was about to lose my mind." Lauri said still hugging her daughter before stepping away.

      "I'm okay, thanks to her." Venelope said gesturing towards Gabrielle. "I got a bump on my head, but other than that, I'm fine." Lauri turned Venelope around to inspect her injury. "um, this is Gabrielle, guys. She saved my life."

      "We saved each other." Gabrielle said in a common voice. She was trying to avoid being seen as a hero. It wasn't the type of admiration she was comfortable with. Lauri gave her a hug and a 'thank you' as Ray followed suit.

      "Yo, look! It's Travis!" T.J. shouted happily as he pointed at Travis walking in the distance their way. Just behind him was Marvin who had the unconscious Nigel over his shoulder.

      "Oh, yeah." Venelope thought to herself as she looked at Travis. On she and Gabrielle' way back, the latter told her that Travis could also interact with his and other' consciences. A bit later, they arrived at home. Venelope relaxed in a hot bath with her music playing. Absolutely relishing the heat. She couldn't take her mind off of the previous events for long. She zoned in and out from said thoughts to singing along with her music.

      "Everyone just left to the grocery store." Penelope said while remaining invisible. She gave Venelope a spook as they both chuckled after the fact. "I'm sorry."

(7)  "Naw, it's cool." Venelope smiled. "Where are you?" She asked looking around.

      "I thought you'd be more comfortable if I stayed out of sight."

      "Seriously, Pen?" Venelope frowned playfully. "We're the same person, for Pete' sake." Penelope chuckled as she then appeared, sitting on the sink counter. "There. Now we can talk like--" Knock, knock! Venelope froze from the knock on the door, hoping said mystery person didn't hear her talking to 'herself'.

     "Who is it?" Her voice cracked from the nervousness.

     "Travis."

     "I-- I thought you went to the store with everyone else." She said glaring at Penelope who played oblivious.

     "Yeah, I changed my mind." He replied. "We need to talk... before everyone else gets back." He waited several seconds for her reply. "Okay...?"

     "Oh! Yeah, yeah." She answered with a startled jump in her voice. She then heard his foosteps fading away from the door. She glared at Penelope again with a smirk before submerging in the tub. "Ow!" She yelped from the hot and soapy water stinging her head injury before going under.

     Now dressed about ten minutes later, she made her way into the living room. Travis was sitting on the sofa playing a video game on the tv. He paused the game as she took a seat on the other couch. He looked at her for a moment before sitting back with a sigh.

     "I can honestly say, that I would've never guessed that you'd be one of us." He smiled. She tucked her feet beneath her and sat on them. She tried to smother her smile. This was a serious topic and she wanted to approach it correctly.

     "Well, why is it so surprising?" She asked with a blank expression. "Or, is it just surprising to you in general?" He took his glass of juice from the in-table in hand.

     "No, it's not a big deal." He replied. "Just gives me an odd feeling, is all." He took a sip before placing the glass back onto the table. "Well, get dressed. I called Gabrielle and Marvin. We're gonna meet up at the diner so we can talk about this." Venelope had short-shorts, socks and a long t-shirt for sleeping in on. Needless to say, to go out in that kind of cold, thicker clothes were needed.

(8) "What? Gabrielle? You have her number-- wait. Marvin, too?" She said jumbling it all together. Travis walked over to the game console and turned it and the tv off before heading into the kitchen. Venelope followed him, taking a seat on one of the bar stools as he drank half of his juice and placed the rest in the fridge. "Come on! Talk to me." She said fairly loudly.

     "Jesus! Just get dressed like I said." He replied matching her tone. "Your mom' making that bomb-ass meatloaf tonight, and I ain't gonna be late for that." He said leaving the kitchen. Heading up the stairs, Venelope followed him quickly and closely.

     "At least tell me how you made it out of the storm. Give me something!" She said stopping as she threw her arms down with frustration. Travis continued to his room at the end of the hall and closed the door behind him. She exhaled angrily. Arriving at the diner, Marvin walked outside to greet the two. Minutes later, they got into Gabrielle' car with her in the driver' seat.

     "Venelope!" A girl exiting the diner shouted. Venelope was sitting in the backseat beside Marvin. She looked out the back window at the girl. Recognizing the girl, she smiled as she unfastened her seatbelt.

     "Come on. We have plans already." Gabrielle said annoyed with eyes on Venelope via rear-view mirror. Venelope slowed down, but continued unbuckling herself.

     "That's Denise." Venelope replied.

     "Yeah, I know. She's not one of us, so it's not important." Gabrielle said uncaringly.

     "Oh, you're just mad that I didn't recognize you right off the bat." Venelope said with a smirk as she got out of the car and closed the door. Gabrielle turned around to look out the back window at Venelope and Denise chatting before facing Travis in the passenger seat.

     "... get out." She said to Travis with all seriousness. Looking him dead in the eyes, he smiled confusedly.

     "What?" He replied with a chuckle.

     "Either she walks to the spot alone or with you." Gabrielle said with the same unchanging expression.

(9) "Are you serious? That's four miles. Uphill!" Travis said with a fairly serious expression. He wanted to believe she was joking, but he knew Gabrielle well enough to know that that wasn't the case. He opened the door and shouted-- "V, get'chur ass in the car!" Venelope brushed him off with a smile as she continued talking to Denise. Travis closed the door. He sat idle for a moment before he sighed. He scratched his nose and rubbed his face before looking back at the stone-faced Gabrielle. Her Poker face had no trace of a bluff on it. Since Venelope was partially right in saying she was mad about her not being recognized, and Gabrielle having a bit of a temper, to put it lightly. This was her way of getting back at her. The car' tires ripped up the icy pavement upon it taking off down the road. Travis stood beside the tire tracks left behind with his hands in his jacket pockets - pissed. Venelope ran up beside him.

     "What-- what the hell!?" She shouted with her arms out. She looked at Travis who was wearing a face that could burn through lead. Only his eyes moved to face Venelope as her arms dropped. The aura of his anger could nearly be seen as his glare beamed into her eyes.

     "I told you to get'cho ass in the car." He enuciated with the voice of a quiet storm. Venelope was filled with nervousness as Denise etched up beside her.

     "I, uh... I'm sorry." Denise said just loud enough to be heard. "I have a car. I can give you guys a ride." Travis exhaled with closed eyes.

     "No, thank you, Denise." Travis answered in the same tone of voice as before but as politely as possible before he started walking.

     "What're you doin'?" Venelope asked. "She offered us a ride--"

     "I'm pissed off!" He shouted as he continued walking. Venelope froze from his explosion. "I need to walk it off! Damn!" The girls stood speechless as only their heads turned to face each other.

     "Um, just give me your number. I'll call you later, okay?" Venelope said to Denise. As she and Travis had now made some progress down the road, she continued apologizing.

     "No, no. Just stop talking!" Travis said to her.

     "What's the big deal?" Venelope asked. "She just wanted to be a jerk!"

(10) "And I told you to get'cho ass in the car!" He said stopping as he turned around to look at her. "Gabby ain't all 'there' as you can see. When her crazy-ass says something, she usually means it." He said pointing a finger at Venelope. "And when she means it, we have our asses a four mile walk uphill in the damn cold to deal with." He exclaimed as he continued walking. Pow! A snowball smacked him on the back of the neck seconds later. "What the hell!?" He shouted as he turned to face Venelope who was readying another snowball. "Quit it! I ain't in the mood."

      "Too bad!" She shouted with a big smile as she threw the ball. "Yellin' at me like you've lost your mind!" She started scooping up another, but Travis beat her to it." Pow! His snowball struck her shoulder. She fell to her knees laughing before throwing hers. Travis couldn't help but laugh as they continued their battle.

      "You're stupid!" He said with a big smile as Venelope laughed louder. Not too long later, they arrived where Gabrielle and Marvin drove to. It was a large clearing fairly deep in the woods to insure seclusion. The ground had tire tracks imprinted around, showing that they came to this area frequently. A small rusty green shed stood a short distance away with its door chained and locked. In addition to Gabrielle and Marvin, two others, Pablo and Phillis, were at the scene. The two were sitting in Pablo' truck with the heat on. Inaudibly, they conversed happily as Travis and Venelope walked passed the truck. Travis tapped the door upon doing so as the two got out seconds later. Marvin noticed Travis and Venelope had worked up quite a sweat as the two walked up.

      "Pablo said he passed you guys on the way here." Marvin said.

      "Yeah, he offered us a ride. But we decided to run instead." Travis replied. "Gotta good warm up in." He was panting lightly, but Venelope was completely composed. The benefits of her track team training showing. Sitting on a lawn chair a short distance away, Gabrielle eyed Venelope. She walked over a moment later.

      "You still runnin'?" She asked Venelope.

      "Yup." Venelope replied with a mixed expression. She was still a bit upset that Gabrielle ditched she and Travis, but her smile won over her frustration in the end. "So--" She said placing her hands on her hips "--what're we doin' here?"

(11) "All those questions you were trying to ask me at home, you can ask here now." Travis said to her. Pablo and Phillis joined the conversation, standing beside Marvin. Venelope let her hands drop as she tried to remember what she was trying to ask. "To answer how we made it out of the storm... well, more than just that happened, then." Everyone was now seated in lawn chairs. "Me and Marvin are used to the cold, and the blizzard itself wasn't really that serious. The problem... was Nigel."

      "Oh, yeah. Your other friend." Venelope said.

      "Not exactly." Marvin added to Venelope' surprise. Actually, everyone was confused by the statement.

      "Nigel' a Cloud." Venelope was still in the dark about the Lights and Clouds. But everyone else looked even more surprised now.

      "Let's fill her in on that part first." Gabrielle said. Travis gestured at her to continue. "What's wrong with your mouth? It was working just fine a second ago." Her tone with a touch of anger in it.

      "I guess, you could say my feet are hurting too much to continue." He replied with a smirk. Gabrielle was about to respond to the verbal jab when Marvin intervened.

      "Lights and Clouds, that's what we call ourselves." He said to Venelope. "I'm sure you already met one or both of your consciences by now." Venelope nodded. Marvin' conscience appeared beside him, then Pablo, Phillis and Travis' followed suit. All of them emitted the same light as Penelope, who had then appeared a moment later just behind Venelope. She and Venelope smiled at each other before giving their attention back to Marvin. "For obvious reasons, you can see why we call ourselves 'Lights'." Venelope chuckled from Marvin' faint smile.

      "Do they all have names, too?" Venelope asked. "I named her Penelope... after my mom' aunt. She passed away years ago." Penelope smiled with closed eyes. "I just figured I'd give her a name that meant something."

      "Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to have that luxury." Marvin' consciene replied as Venelope chuckled. "He had a bunch of t-shirts scattered around his room when we frist met." He said gesturing at Marvin. "I'm not good with names'. Is what he said. His exact words." Marvin dropped his head chuckling. "He picked up a dirty, plain white t-shirt and said-- 'There. T's your name." The others laughed.

(12) "I never get tired of that story." Travis smiled.

       "So, I'm T." He said with a proudly raised chin.

       "Nice to meet you, T. I'm Venelope." She laughed.

       "Likewise." He nodded. Pablo and Phillis then introduced their conscienses, Mateo and Dawn. Travis introduced his, Vincent.

       "I'm Whitney." Gabrielle' conscience said to Venelope.

       "Nice to meet you." Venelope replied. "This is amazing". She thought to herself. She felt completely at home among these people. Feeling so elated, she smiled until it hurt.

       "Anyway, as I was saying." Marvin said returning to the previous topic. "The Lights, us, have our good consciences as our dominant ones. The Clouds, are the opposite." Venelope nodded attentively. "Until yesterday, we didn't even know Nigel had these powers, or that he was a Cloud."

       "Gabrielle told me the good and bad consciences have different powers...?" Venelope said questionably.

       "Yeah, that's right." Marvin replied. "We don't know how far these powers can go, but we do know they gradually get stronger. So far, none of us have reached a limit."

       "Okay, my eagerness has gotten the best of me." Venelope said enthusiastically. "What kind of powers do we have?" Marvin looked at Travis before they stood along with Pablo and Phillis.

      "Time for some show-and-tell." Pablo said with a smirk. Marvin unlocked the shed as he and the guys then took training equipment out of it.

      "We know the Clouds and us have one power that's the same." Marvin said exiting the shed. "It being this--" He Lifted an 80lbs. punching bag from the ground to eye level with a single hand. "--super-strength." Venelope' eyes widened with awe. Yet again with a single arm, he threw the bag nearly twenty feet with very little effort. Venelope looked on speechlessly as she waited to see if there was anything else left to show, which there was. Pablo stood alone in a clearing. He opened his hands as water began gushing from them. With a flashy spin, he fired a powerful stream at a tree and tore the bark from it. Phillis followed promptly, striking the same tree and spot with a strong wind. The tree shook and swayed as snow fell from its limbs. The crackling of static electricity caught Venelope' attention. Gabrielle walked over and stood before Pablo and Phillis with voltage crawling all over her body.

(13) "I held back on that bear since I was only trying to scare him away." Gabrielle said with a grin. "But this tree ain't gonna be that lucky!" Firing a thick volt, it drilled into the tree before making a large piece burst away. It looked like something had taken a bite out of it. Venelope was standing in the spot where the tree was about to fall in. Just as she was about to run, Travis flew up to the tree and stopped it. Venelope was astonished to see him flying. Frozen in awe, she took in the unbelievable sight with unblinking eyes. Travis cleared his throat after having been holding the tree in place for several seconds.

       "...um, you can still get out of the way!" He shouted down to her. She snapped back as she then scurried over beside Pablo and Phillis. Wham! The tree sounded as it crashed onto the ground. Travis slowly landed seconds later. Venelope couldn't tell which of their powers fascinated her the most.

       "And, uh, since when can you use electricity?" Phillis asked Gabrielle.

       "After I met her--" Gabrielle replied gesturing towards Venelope. "--it just happened. Simple as that. Why are you so surprised anyway? The same thing happened before with me when I met Pablo. That's how I gained the ability to use water."

       "Yeah, that makes sense." Marvin added. "Travis didn't get super-strength until after we were around each other more."

       "Sounds contagious." Pablo chuckled. "Maybe that's all there is to it. Just being around each other long enough to... absorb the same powers, maybe."

       "Maybe." Travis replied. "But we've all had our powers for awhile now, and have been around each other just as long or longer. I've had mine for about two years now."

       "Now that I think about it. I didn't get my super-strength until after I met Gabby, and she had hers months before me." Marvin added. "I meant, her powers in general. Not the super-strength, since she doesn't have that. We've already assumed with the little proof we have, that our powers can awaken those in others, or is it just like Pablo said, and it's just contagious? Can anyone that's simply in close contact with people with these powers get them, or is it just a rare few who have these dormant powers already, and just need that close contact as a trigger to wake'em up?"

       "I don't think so." Venelope said. "...um, who was the first out of you guys to find out they had these powers?"

       "Me." Gabrielle replied. "Then Marvin, then Travis. When the three of us met Pablo and Phillis, they already had theirs. But we've already been over our timelines, and they didn't get theirs until after Travis." The others nodded. "And as far as being 'contagious' goes, they're a prime example."

(14) "That's true." Phillis added. "I got my powers before Pablo, but we had been dating years before so, and we haven't given each other our powers."

       "I'm confused, then." Venelope said as she took a seat back in her chair. The others took their seats as she continued. "I can't say for sure, since you guys seem to be experts at keeping your powers out of the public' eye. But back in California, I don't think there was anybody at my school, or in town, who had these powers. My question being: how did I get them from out of no where?"

       "That's how it is for some." Gabrielle replied. "Me and Phillis were the same." Venelope zoned out as Travis snapped his fingers to bring her back to Earth.

       "What?" Travis asked her. "What were you thinkin'?"

       "...um, it's a crazy thought." She replied quietly with a sigh. "I was thinking that, maybe... Danny has these powers, too." Travis took on a skeptical, though it had a glint of understanding to it. "And maybe that's how my powers awakened. I've been around him for the last six years... so, maybe... I don't know."

       "I think we should focus on the origins of this power later." Pablo said. "Right now, I think we should focus on getting Venelope' powers to a combative level."

       "C-c-combat? What-- what!?" Venelope said shooting to her feet.

       "You're in this now, whether you like it or not." Gabrielle said to her sternly. "It's gotta be one of the Cloud' powers that lets them search others like us out. That's the only explanation I can think of for why Travis and Marvin were attacked by Nigel." Venelope didn't know what to think. "If they found out Travis and Marvin have these powers without them being caught using them. Then, they can find any of us the same way. Meaning, they can find you, too. And if they do find you--" She said stepping up to Venelope "and you're still as weak and clueless as you are right now. You're gonna be easy pickings, to put it lightly."

      "... she ain't lying, V." Travis said subtle but seriously. "Me and Marvin could tell Nigel wasn't just trying to kick our asses and bounce. He was gonna kill us and leave us out there for the blizzard to bury." Venelope sank back into her seat with her eyes on the ground. "If we weren't together... Nigel would've killed us. That's how strong just one of them is."

(15) "It's true me and Travis debated on leaving him out there after taking'im down..." Marvin added. "...but, we just didn't have it in us. It's not in our nature to be that cold."

       "We don't know how many of them there are, and, of course, we're not trying to, or going to force you into this." Pablo said. "But with your help. With another Light on our side... we'll be better at keeping each other safe." Venelope looked at everyone before planting her elbows atop her knees and covering her mouth. She stared blankly into the woods. She felt helpless and a bit scared. She thought having these power wasn't so cool, after all. But what was she to do? Was there any way to avoid such future confrontations? Was she really stuck in this dilemma with no way out?




                                                                                                                       "Where We Place Our Hearts"                                                                                                                  


                                                                                                                    Chapter 3: "Light & Clouds"
                                                                                                                                              by
                                                                                                                   Christopher D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar







(1)     Flames? Flames filled the cave and seared away the cold in seconds before vanishing just the same. The storm continued battering the cave from outside as another hour went by.


Sweat. The raven-haired girl woke up soaked in it. She rose up to a sitting position against the wall. A sigh of relief caught her attention. She looked up to see Venelope sitting against the opposite wall with a faint smile.

      "I'm glad you came to." Venelope said. "I was freakin' out. I checked to see if you had a pulse, and you did. I was just hopin' you'd still wake up. "Her soft smile filled with relief. "I hit my head on somethin'. Still hurts." She chuckled. "You feelin' alright?" The girl noticed Venelope sweating just as much as herself and wondered how it got so hot. Oddly, she then showed a slight look of understanding. She adjusted herself, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Wiping the sweat from her face, she groaned in disgust. Venelope chuckled but stopped instantly as the girl eyed her sharply. It was obvious the girl wasn't thrilled to be trapped in a cave with her. "I'm Venelope." She said reaching out to shake hands.

      "I know who you are." The girl replied as she turned her eyes away from Venelope. "Obviously, you don't remember me." Venelope retracted her hand slowly. She felt nervous, wondering if this girl was a childhood friend of hers. If she was, she knew she'd feel worse for forgetting once remembering. "Not like I wanted to remember you." The girl thought to herself. "Jesus!" She said then aloud leaning forward slightly. "You really don't remember me?" Venelope was flushed with even more nervousness. Smiling sheepishly, she didn't know how to respond. The girl sat back with a shake of her head. "We were always competing against each other. From elemetary to middle school." She said in a common tone of voice with her eyes facing further down into the cave. Venelope felt a little bad now. The girl' face was quite somber as Venelope was pulled into the same state.

      "I'm sorry." Venelope said quietly with her eyes down. "I really can't-- maybe you've just changed so much since I last saw you, is all."

      "Well, don't beat yourself up over it. I didn't remember you, either." The girl said assertively.

      "But, you said--"

 (2) "I saw you with Travis." The girl interrupted. "I just put two and two together." She looked back at Venelope to see a quirky smile of confusion.

       "It's just... really not clickin'." She chuckled as the girl then stood to stretch.

       "It's obvious you don't know much about them." She said straining. Venelope' face slowly went blank from the comment. "Wow! You don't know anything, do you? About your consciences?" Venelope' eyes widened as she shimmied up the wall to her feet. Though she wanted to ask the obvious, she was rendered speechless in learning the girl knew about her consciences. The girl could tell Venelope was just begging for answers. "You're still in between on the whole thing. Lights can't use fire, only electricity. That's how it is in the beginning. You just gotta figure out where you wanna stand. And I doubt with your lack of info, that you've been using your powers long enough for them to be strong enough to heat up this cave like you have." Venelope continued free-falling without a clue to catch herself with. "But, you must be since this cave is as hot as it is." She thought to herself before continuing aloud. "You don't look like a Cloud, though. I was out-cold, but you obviously used fire and not electricity to heat this place up." Venelope looked to her sides to see Penelope and Cassidy standing there. Looking back at the girl, she saw her conscience standing beside her. Her heart jumped. Like Penelope, the girl' conscience emitted a light of safety and purity. She also being dressed in white and light brown clothing. Venelope' mind went blank, unable to process it all. She grabbed her head and rubbed her eyes strongly before looking back at the girl and her conscience, trying to force her mind to believe what her eyes where seeing.
      "I'm outta here." Cassidy said upon vanishing like smoke. Venelope paced a bit, trying to get this all through her skull.

      "Okay, okay." Venelope said with her hands out front. Stopping, she took a deep breath and exhaled sharply out her nose. "Rewind a bit, and chopped this down for me, please--" They both went silent as a grunt sounded from deeper within the cave. A rough and scruffy sort of grunt. Not the kind of sound you'd hear from a human. The only things lighting the cave were the auras of the girl' consciences. They etched back as quietly as possible as the grunting grew closer and more consistent.

(3)  "Kill the lights, then shine as bright as you can on my word." The raven-haired girl whispered as the cave then went pitch black. Several seconds went by as they continued tip-toeing backwards towards the exit. Their eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness enough to clearly make out anything, but they knew something... something big, had turned the corner. Venelope' lip quivered with fear. Penelope lightly took her hand to help keep her calm. However, the raven-haired girl was surprisingly composed. No, she was more than that, and though Venelope couldn't see her expression in the dark, it was one pure focus; her conscience' as well. The mouth of the cave was only several steps away now. Venelope tripped over a cluster of rocks and fell backwards. Luckily, Penelope caught her, but Venelope' feet had kicked up some debris and caused a fairly loud clatter of noise. The unknown creature grunted again in response. It was certain something was in its cave. "Now!" The raven-haired girl said as the consciences then lit up the cave. A large bear was revealed. It roared fiercely, sending chills up and down the girls' spines. Due to Cassidy' flames, the cave' frozen mouth had been melted away enough for them to run out easily. Needless to say, said flames yielded a double-edged effect, and awakened the bear from its hibernation. The snow was thick on the ground, but the blizzard itself was over. The bear roared again upon exiting the cave. Now fully awake in a livid state of mind.

       "Come on! Let's go!" Venelope shouted from a fair distance away. The raven-haired girl remained much closer to the bear and eyed it with the same focus as before. "What the hell is she thinking?" She thought to herself. The girl slowly opened and closed her hands. Her back arched with knees bent. Even Venelope could read this sort of atmosphere. Much like a school yard squabble, only now, instead of a simple disagreement being settled. Their lives were on the line. Or rather, in Venelope' mind, only the girl' life was. How could she possibly take on a bear? She was a bit shorter than Venelope and around the same weight. With or without a conscience by her side, the odds still seemed gravely slanted in her favor.

(4)   "I can move... I'm calm..." The raven-haired girl thought to herself as she continued opening and closing her hands. Static electricity became visible around her hands, coming and going every few seconds. Venelope looked on as she then thought about when she shocked Evette earlier. Her train of thought altered to the raven-haired girl' recent words about Lights and Clouds using fire and electricity. She still didn't understand. The entire scenario was jumbled in her head. The snowfall lightened up even more. "I can move. I can move!" She ran at the bear at a speed just over a jog' pace. She stopped just outside the bear' reached as it swiped at her. Growling ferociously, it continued its attack as the girl backed away quickly with several short hops. Just from that short display of skill, Venelope knew this girl wasn't ordinary. But as of late, the same could be said about her. Although, who in their right mind would have the nerve to fight such a beast barehanded and alone? The bear' assault was like a berserker, as one would expect. The girl' evasive skills were unbelieveable as she remained out of harm' way, even if only by mere inches. Ducking a swipe that could've scalped her, she shouted to her conscience. "Whitney, now!" Whitney' body became covered in electricty before firing and striking the bear from behind with a strong volt. As its attention was taken from the raven-haired girl, she struck it with another volt of her own. Whimpering, the bear fled back into its cave. The girl panted lightly with her hands on her knees. She smiled at Whitney who then vanished a moment later.

      "You okay?" Venelope asked as she ran up to the raven-haired girl. "That was freakin' amazing! I can't believe what I just saw." She said containing the full amount of her excitement. The girl stood with a sigh.

      "You could've helped." The girl said staring into the woods. The snow stopped seconds laters.

      "Well, I wanted to, but... honestly, how much could I have done? I'm sorry." The girl smiled faintly.

      "That's true." The girl replied with her smile still present as Venelope showed her own. "You don't know squat about this kind of thing, so it fits." She stared at Penelope for a moment. "That's how I remember you... when you left town." Referring to her longer and wavier hair style.

      "Well, you're not the Gabrielle I remembered, either." Venelope replied as the girl faced her quickly with surprise. Venelope chuckled. "Some where during that fight, I remembered you. I don't know why, it just clicked, finally."

(5)  "You remember anything else?" Gabrielle asked as she placed her hands in her pockets. Venelope shook her head with a nervous smirk. "Mm... I need to sit down for a sec." She sat down on a log as Venelope took a seat on it as well. Venelope rubbed her own arms to build some warmth. "Where'd you move to?"

      "California. I've been living with my-- Holy-- I completely forgot!" Venelope said shooting to her feet. "My uncle and Travis! I forgot about them during all of this. They were caught in the storm with me." She looked around with a worried expression, trying to figure out which way to head.

      "I don't know about your uncle, but I'm pretty sure Travis is all right." Gabrielle answered, throwing more confusion into Venelope' head. "I was near you guys when things went bad. You being the closest." Venelope' expression softened as she listened attentively. "I found your board snapped in two before I found you a few feet away. The wind must've threw you off and made you slam into a tree or rock. I carried you as far as I could before I had to drag you the rest of the way into the cave."

      "Oh... thank you for that." Venelope said quietly. "I guess I owe you."

      "Well, if it wasn't for you heating the cave, we'd both be dead." They chuckled. "But, I did fight off that big-ass bear while you stood around like the paparazzi." She laughed as Venelope smiled bashfully. "So, you did still owe me." She said as she stood up.

      "... 'did'?" Venelope asked.

      "I'll let it slide since you remembered me." Gabrielle replied as both smiled. "I guess I didn't leave a strong enough impression before you moved." Venelope offered a handshake again as Gabrielle accepted this time.

      "We can catch up on our way back? And, maybe, you can fill me in on all this conscience stuff?" Venelope said as Gabrielle sighed with a smile.

      "You are already asking for too much." They laughed as they then started walking.

(6)  Sunrise. Venelope' parents and the other locals began organizing a search. Just as they stepped outside, they saw Venelope and Gabrielle in the distance heading their way. Ray ran to Venelope as fast as his legs could carry him. Lauri smiled with teary eyes as Danny and T.J. stood just behind her. T.J. smiled at Danny, but his face quickly saddened as he saw Danny wearing the same worried face from the night before. Ray reached and hugged his daughter strongly. He was silent, but the warmth of being alleviated from his worries was enough for her to understand.

      "I'm okay, dad. I'm okay." Venelope said softly as she hugged him back while shedding a few tears. He stepped back with his hands on her shoulders to look her in the eyes. He smiled warmly as Lauri made her way over. Lauri hugged her tightly as both smiled and chuckled.

      "I was about to lose my mind." Lauri said still hugging her daughter before stepping away.

      "I'm okay, thanks to her." Venelope said gesturing towards Gabrielle. "I got a bump on my head, but other than that, I'm fine." Lauri turned Venelope around to inspect her injury. "um, this is Gabrielle, guys. She saved my life."

      "We saved each other." Gabrielle said in a common voice. She was trying to avoid being seen as a hero. It wasn't the type of admiration she was comfortable with. Lauri gave her a hug and a 'thank you' as Ray followed suit.

      "Yo, look! It's Travis!" T.J. shouted happily as he pointed at Travis walking in the distance their way. Just behind him was Marvin who had the unconscious Nigel over his shoulder.

      "Oh, yeah." Venelope thought to herself as she looked at Travis. On she and Gabrielle' way back, the latter told her that Travis could also interact with his and other' consciences. A bit later, they arrived at home. Venelope relaxed in a hot bath with her music playing. Absolutely relishing the heat. She couldn't take her mind off of the previous events for long. She zoned in and out from said thoughts to singing along with her music.

      "Everyone just left to the grocery store." Penelope said while remaining invisible. She gave Venelope a spook as they both chuckled after the fact. "I'm sorry."

(7)  "Naw, it's cool." Venelope smiled. "Where are you?" She asked looking around.

      "I thought you'd be more comfortable if I stayed out of sight."

      "Seriously, Pen?" Venelope frowned playfully. "We're the same person, for Pete' sake." Penelope chuckled as she then appeared, sitting on the sink counter. "There. Now we can talk like--" Knock, knock! Venelope froze from the knock on the door, hoping said mystery person didn't hear her talking to 'herself'.

     "Who is it?" Her voice cracked from the nervousness.

     "Travis."

     "I-- I thought you went to the store with everyone else." She said glaring at Penelope who played oblivious.

     "Yeah, I changed my mind." He replied. "We need to talk... before everyone else gets back." He waited several seconds for her reply. "Okay...?"

     "Oh! Yeah, yeah." She answered with a startled jump in her voice. She then heard his foosteps fading away from the door. She glared at Penelope again with a smirk before submerging in the tub. "Ow!" She yelped from the hot and soapy water stinging her head injury before going under.

     Now dressed about ten minutes later, she made her way into the living room. Travis was sitting on the sofa playing a video game on the tv. He paused the game as she took a seat on the other couch. He looked at her for a moment before sitting back with a sigh.

     "I can honestly say, that I would've never guessed that you'd be one of us." He smiled. She tucked her feet beneath her and sat on them. She tried to smother her smile. This was a serious topic and she wanted to approach it correctly.

     "Well, why is it so surprising?" She asked with a blank expression. "Or, is it just surprising to you in general?" He took his glass of juice from the in-table in hand.

     "No, it's not a big deal." He replied. "Just gives me an odd feeling, is all." He took a sip before placing the glass back onto the table. "Well, get dressed. I called Gabrielle and Marvin. We're gonna meet up at the diner so we can talk about this." Venelope had short-shorts, socks and a long t-shirt for sleeping in on. Needless to say, to go out in that kind of cold, thicker clothes were needed.

(8) "What? Gabrielle? You have her number-- wait. Marvin, too?" She said jumbling it all together. Travis walked over to the game console and turned it and the tv off before heading into the kitchen. Venelope followed him, taking a seat on one of the bar stools as he drank half of his juice and placed the rest in the fridge. "Come on! Talk to me." She said fairly loudly.

     "Jesus! Just get dressed like I said." He replied matching her tone. "Your mom' making that bomb-ass meatloaf tonight, and I ain't gonna be late for that." He said leaving the kitchen. Heading up the stairs, Venelope followed him quickly and closely.

     "At least tell me how you made it out of the storm. Give me something!" She said stopping as she threw her arms down with frustration. Travis continued to his room at the end of the hall and closed the door behind him. She exhaled angrily. Arriving at the diner, Marvin walked outside to greet the two. Minutes later, they got into Gabrielle' car with her in the driver' seat.

     "Venelope!" A girl exiting the diner shouted. Venelope was sitting in the backseat beside Marvin. She looked out the back window at the girl. Recognizing the girl, she smiled as she unfastened her seatbelt.

     "Come on. We have plans already." Gabrielle said annoyed with eyes on Venelope via rear-view mirror. Venelope slowed down, but continued unbuckling herself.

     "That's Denise." Venelope replied.

     "Yeah, I know. She's not one of us, so it's not important." Gabrielle said uncaringly.

     "Oh, you're just mad that I didn't recognize you right off the bat." Venelope said with a smirk as she got out of the car and closed the door. Gabrielle turned around to look out the back window at Venelope and Denise chatting before facing Travis in the passenger seat.

     "... get out." She said to Travis with all seriousness. Looking him dead in the eyes, he smiled confusedly.

     "What?" He replied with a chuckle.

     "Either she walks to the spot alone or with you." Gabrielle said with the same unchanging expression.

(9) "Are you serious? That's four miles. Uphill!" Travis said with a fairly serious expression. He wanted to believe she was joking, but he knew Gabrielle well enough to know that that wasn't the case. He opened the door and shouted-- "V, get'chur ass in the car!" Venelope brushed him off with a smile as she continued talking to Denise. Travis closed the door. He sat idle for a moment before he sighed. He scratched his nose and rubbed his face before looking back at the stone-faced Gabrielle. Her Poker face had no trace of a bluff on it. Since Venelope was partially right in saying she was mad about her not being recognized, and Gabrielle having a bit of a temper, to put it lightly. This was her way of getting back at her. The car' tires ripped up the icy pavement upon it taking off down the road. Travis stood beside the tire tracks left behind with his hands in his jacket pockets - pissed. Venelope ran up beside him.

     "What-- what the hell!?" She shouted with her arms out. She looked at Travis who was wearing a face that could burn through lead. Only his eyes moved to face Venelope as her arms dropped. The aura of his anger could nearly be seen as his glare beamed into her eyes.

     "I told you to get'cho ass in the car." He enuciated with the voice of a quiet storm. Venelope was filled with nervousness as Denise etched up beside her.

     "I, uh... I'm sorry." Denise said just loud enough to be heard. "I have a car. I can give you guys a ride." Travis exhaled with closed eyes.

     "No, thank you, Denise." Travis answered in the same tone of voice as before but as politely as possible before he started walking.

     "What're you doin'?" Venelope asked. "She offered us a ride--"

     "I'm pissed off!" He shouted as he continued walking. Venelope froze from his explosion. "I need to walk it off! Damn!" The girls stood speechless as only their heads turned to face each other.

     "Um, just give me your number. I'll call you later, okay?" Venelope said to Denise. As she and Travis had now made some progress down the road, she continued apologizing.

     "No, no. Just stop talking!" Travis said to her.

     "What's the big deal?" Venelope asked. "She just wanted to be a jerk!"

(10) "And I told you to get'cho ass in the car!" He said stopping as he turned around to look at her. "Gabby ain't all 'there' as you can see. When her crazy-ass says something, she usually means it." He said pointing a finger at Venelope. "And when she means it, we have our asses a four mile walk uphill in the damn cold to deal with." He exclaimed as he continued walking. Pow! A snowball smacked him on the back of the neck seconds later. "What the hell!?" He shouted as he turned to face Venelope who was readying another snowball. "Quit it! I ain't in the mood."

      "Too bad!" She shouted with a big smile as she threw the ball. "Yellin' at me like you've lost your mind!" She started scooping up another, but Travis beat her to it." Pow! His snowball struck her shoulder. She fell to her knees laughing before throwing hers. Travis couldn't help but laugh as they continued their battle.

      "You're stupid!" He said with a big smile as Venelope laughed louder. Not too long later, they arrived where Gabrielle and Marvin drove to. It was a large clearing fairly deep in the woods to insure seclusion. The ground had tire tracks imprinted around, showing that they came to this area frequently. A small rusty green shed stood a short distance away with its door chained and locked. In addition to Gabrielle and Marvin, two others, Pablo and Phillis, were at the scene. The two were sitting in Pablo' truck with the heat on. Inaudibly, they conversed happily as Travis and Venelope walked passed the truck. Travis tapped the door upon doing so as the two got out seconds later. Marvin noticed Travis and Venelope had worked up quite a sweat as the two walked up.

      "Pablo said he passed you guys on the way here." Marvin said.

      "Yeah, he offered us a ride. But we decided to run instead." Travis replied. "Gotta good warm up in." He was panting lightly, but Venelope was completely composed. The benefits of her track team training showing. Sitting on a lawn chair a short distance away, Gabrielle eyed Venelope. She walked over a moment later.

      "You still runnin'?" She asked Venelope.

      "Yup." Venelope replied with a mixed expression. She was still a bit upset that Gabrielle ditched she and Travis, but her smile won over her frustration in the end. "So--" She said placing her hands on her hips "--what're we doin' here?"

(11) "All those questions you were trying to ask me at home, you can ask here now." Travis said to her. Pablo and Phillis joined the conversation, standing beside Marvin. Venelope let her hands drop as she tried to remember what she was trying to ask. "To answer how we made it out of the storm... well, more than just that happened, then." Everyone was now seated in lawn chairs. "Me and Marvin are used to the cold, and the blizzard itself wasn't really that serious. The problem... was Nigel."

      "Oh, yeah. Your other friend." Venelope said.

      "Not exactly." Marvin added to Venelope' surprise. Actually, everyone was confused by the statement.

      "Nigel' a Cloud." Venelope was still in the dark about the Lights and Clouds. But everyone else looked even more surprised now.

      "Let's fill her in on that part first." Gabrielle said. Travis gestured at her to continue. "What's wrong with your mouth? It was working just fine a second ago." Her tone with a touch of anger in it.

      "I guess, you could say my feet are hurting too much to continue." He replied with a smirk. Gabrielle was about to respond to the verbal jab when Marvin intervened.

      "Lights and Clouds, that's what we call ourselves." He said to Venelope. "I'm sure you already met one or both of your consciences by now." Venelope nodded. Marvin' conscience appeared beside him, then Pablo, Phillis and Travis' followed suit. All of them emitted the same light as Penelope, who had then appeared a moment later just behind Venelope. She and Venelope smiled at each other before giving their attention back to Marvin. "For obvious reasons, you can see why we call ourselves 'Lights'." Venelope chuckled from Marvin' faint smile.

      "Do they all have names, too?" Venelope asked. "I named her Penelope... after my mom' aunt. She passed away years ago." Penelope smiled with closed eyes. "I just figured I'd give her a name that meant something."

      "Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to have that luxury." Marvin' consciene replied as Venelope chuckled. "He had a bunch of t-shirts scattered around his room when we frist met." He said gesturing at Marvin. "I'm not good with names'. Is what he said. His exact words." Marvin dropped his head chuckling. "He picked up a dirty, plain white t-shirt and said-- 'There. T's your name." The others laughed.

(12) "I never get tired of that story." Travis smiled.

       "So, I'm T." He said with a proudly raised chin.

       "Nice to meet you, T. I'm Venelope." She laughed.

       "Likewise." He nodded. Pablo and Phillis then introduced their conscienses, Mateo and Dawn. Travis introduced his, Vincent.

       "I'm Whitney." Gabrielle' conscience said to Venelope.

       "Nice to meet you." Venelope replied. "This is amazing". She thought to herself. She felt completely at home among these people. Feeling so elated, she smiled until it hurt.

       "Anyway, as I was saying." Marvin said returning to the previous topic. "The Lights, us, have our good consciences as our dominant ones. The Clouds, are the opposite." Venelope nodded attentively. "Until yesterday, we didn't even know Nigel had these powers, or that he was a Cloud."

       "Gabrielle told me the good and bad consciences have different powers...?" Venelope said questionably.

       "Yeah, that's right." Marvin replied. "We don't know how far these powers can go, but we do know they gradually get stronger. So far, none of us have reached a limit."

       "Okay, my eagerness has gotten the best of me." Venelope said enthusiastically. "What kind of powers do we have?" Marvin looked at Travis before they stood along with Pablo and Phillis.

      "Time for some show-and-tell." Pablo said with a smirk. Marvin unlocked the shed as he and the guys then took training equipment out of it.

      "We know the Clouds and us have one power that's the same." Marvin said exiting the shed. "It being this--" He Lifted an 80lbs. punching bag from the ground to eye level with a single hand. "--super-strength." Venelope' eyes widened with awe. Yet again with a single arm, he threw the bag nearly twenty feet with very little effort. Venelope looked on speechlessly as she waited to see if there was anything else left to show, which there was. Pablo stood alone in a clearing. He opened his hands as water began gushing from them. With a flashy spin, he fired a powerful stream at a tree and tore the bark from it. Phillis followed promptly, striking the same tree and spot with a strong wind. The tree shook and swayed as snow fell from its limbs. The crackling of static electricity caught Venelope' attention. Gabrielle walked over and stood before Pablo and Phillis with voltage crawling all over her body.

(13) "I held back on that bear since I was only trying to scare him away." Gabrielle said with a grin. "But this tree ain't gonna be that lucky!" Firing a thick volt, it drilled into the tree before making a large piece burst away. It looked like something had taken a bite out of it. Venelope was standing in the spot where the tree was about to fall in. Just as she was about to run, Travis flew up to the tree and stopped it. Venelope was astonished to see him flying. Frozen in awe, she took in the unbelievable sight with unblinking eyes. Travis cleared his throat after having been holding the tree in place for several seconds.

       "...um, you can still get out of the way!" He shouted down to her. She snapped back as she then scurried over beside Pablo and Phillis. Wham! The tree sounded as it crashed onto the ground. Travis slowly landed seconds later. Venelope couldn't tell which of their powers fascinated her the most.

       "And, uh, since when can you use electricity?" Phillis asked Gabrielle.

       "After I met her--" Gabrielle replied gesturing towards Venelope. "--it just happened. Simple as that. Why are you so surprised anyway? The same thing happened before with me when I met Pablo. That's how I gained the ability to use water."

       "Yeah, that makes sense." Marvin added. "Travis didn't get super-strength until after we were around each other more."

       "Sounds contagious." Pablo chuckled. "Maybe that's all there is to it. Just being around each other long enough to... absorb the same powers, maybe."

       "Maybe." Travis replied. "But we've all had our powers for awhile now, and have been around each other just as long or longer. I've had mine for about two years now."

       "Now that I think about it. I didn't get my super-strength until after I met Gabby, and she had hers months before me." Marvin added. "I meant, her powers in general. Not the super-strength, since she doesn't have that. We've already assumed with the little proof we have, that our powers can awaken those in others, or is it just like Pablo said, and it's just contagious? Can anyone that's simply in close contact with people with these powers get them, or is it just a rare few who have these dormant powers already, and just need that close contact as a trigger to wake'em up?"

       "I don't think so." Venelope said. "...um, who was the first out of you guys to find out they had these powers?"

       "Me." Gabrielle replied. "Then Marvin, then Travis. When the three of us met Pablo and Phillis, they already had theirs. But we've already been over our timelines, and they didn't get theirs until after Travis." The others nodded. "And as far as being 'contagious' goes, they're a prime example."

(14) "That's true." Phillis added. "I got my powers before Pablo, but we had been dating years before so, and we haven't given each other our powers."

       "I'm confused, then." Venelope said as she took a seat back in her chair. The others took their seats as she continued. "I can't say for sure, since you guys seem to be experts at keeping your powers out of the public' eye. But back in California, I don't think there was anybody at my school, or in town, who had these powers. My question being: how did I get them from out of no where?"

       "That's how it is for some." Gabrielle replied. "Me and Phillis were the same." Venelope zoned out as Travis snapped his fingers to bring her back to Earth.

       "What?" Travis asked her. "What were you thinkin'?"

       "...um, it's a crazy thought." She replied quietly with a sigh. "I was thinking that, maybe... Danny has these powers, too." Travis took on a skeptical, though it had a glint of understanding to it. "And maybe that's how my powers awakened. I've been around him for the last six years... so, maybe... I don't know."

       "I think we should focus on the origins of this power later." Pablo said. "Right now, I think we should focus on getting Venelope' powers to a combative level."

       "C-c-combat? What-- what!?" Venelope said shooting to her feet.

       "You're in this now, whether you like it or not." Gabrielle said to her sternly. "It's gotta be one of the Cloud' powers that lets them search others like us out. That's the only explanation I can think of for why Travis and Marvin were attacked by Nigel." Venelope didn't know what to think. "If they found out Travis and Marvin have these powers without them being caught using them. Then, they can find any of us the same way. Meaning, they can find you, too. And if they do find you--" She said stepping up to Venelope "and you're still as weak and clueless as you are right now. You're gonna be easy pickings, to put it lightly."

      "... she ain't lying, V." Travis said subtle but seriously. "Me and Marvin could tell Nigel wasn't just trying to kick our asses and bounce. He was gonna kill us and leave us out there for the blizzard to bury." Venelope sank back into her seat with her eyes on the ground. "If we weren't together... Nigel would've killed us. That's how strong just one of them is."

(15) "It's true me and Travis debated on leaving him out there after taking'im down..." Marvin added. "...but, we just didn't have it in us. It's not in our nature to be that cold."

       "We don't know how many of them there are, and, of course, we're not trying to, or going to force you into this." Pablo said. "But with your help. With another Light on our side... we'll be better at keeping each other safe." Venelope looked at everyone before planting her elbows atop her knees and covering her mouth. She stared blankly into the woods. She felt helpless and a bit scared. She thought having these power wasn't so cool, after all. But what was she to do? Was there any way to avoid such future confrontations? Was she really stuck in this dilemma with no way out?




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Phiar
Chris D. Phillips a.k.a. Phiar
Artist | Traditional Art
United States
Been drawing since Preschool, if not before. Started growing into my own style around my late teens. I'm in my twenties now and am working on my original comic, 36. Music, I like whatever sounds good to me, giving me a very eclectic mind. I like to stay in shape, and since my love for anime and action alike plays such a role in my life. I practice swordsmanship and acrobatics to stay fit and to simply go banana-sandwich crazy. With that being said, 36 started from just that. My co-creator friend and I would larp (as it's called now; we just called it playing back then), and eventually we started writing and building on our same larp characters. That started around ages 13-15, I think, which is also when I first started writing. Beforehand, I just drew pictures. Anyway, drawing and writing are my passions, music motivates and inspires me, and I love to eat, fight and live in my imagination.
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:icondrchrisman:
DrChrisman Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hello:) long time no see:D
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
Hi. I suppose so.
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:icondrchrisman:
DrChrisman Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
guess you forgot me^^;
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
I don't chat with anyone on here, so of course I wouldn't remember.
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(1 Reply)
:icongreenyeti:
GreenYeti Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch bro :D
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014   Traditional Artist
I just read your first "Comatose 7" chapter on MM. I left a comment.
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:icongreenyeti:
GreenYeti Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks bro :D
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:iconautoclave07:
Autoclave07 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014
Have a llama :)
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:iconphiar:
Phiar Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014   Traditional Artist
:happybounce: 
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:icongonzain:
Gonzain Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thnk for you watch ;)
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