The Story


30 years ago brought the first superhumans, regular people given great power seemingly at random.

15 years ago brought the paranormals, stranger and often weaker in their abilities, but far more numerous.

Today, the world holds its breath...

Or at least, it should.

Most people, though, are just trying to get on with their lives; some successfully, some less so. It's a sensible goal, but it's a bit hard to achieve when shadowy conspiracies and worldwide N.G.O.s are turning your city into a proxy battleground over world-shattering secrets. 

It's bad enough when you've just woken up with superpowers and terrorists are holding your school hostage. It's even worse if you're an illegal vigilante stuck in the middle of the whole Charlie Foxtrot after a supervillain raid drops vital information in your lap. 

For Hannah Eiling-Kingsford and Flint Perez, life is about to get a lot harder to get on with.

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Outliers is a superhero story. Okay, so not so much superhero as vaguely superhero-ish. It's about two teenagers dealing with, among other things, new powers, psycho exes, mysterious datapads and a giant, secret war between the foremost powers-that-be, over information that could forever change the world.

Again.

You know, normal teenage stuff.


Outliers is a complete story.

Postscript

So, uh…

Yeah!

That's Outliers. As someone who's never completed a major project before, it's hard to describe the feelings I'm experiencing.

I started writing this story when I was fifteen years old. A high school sophomore, kind of an idiot. Now, I’m eighteen; graduated from high school, still an idiot but hopefully less so. Putting it like that, though, really doesn’t do justice to just how much my life has changed in that period of time. How much I’ve changed, actually, but most of that is quite personal. The point is, Outliers has been a constant during some of the most formative years of my life so far, and it’s meant a lot to me in a lot of weird ways. That’s not to say it’s perfect, or great, or even good; again, written by a fifteen-year-old. I don’t think anyone would argue that there were some flaws kind of hard-baked into the story, ones that it was basically impossible to fix as it went on and got better, as I got better. And I also think anyone would agree I’ve gotten better; not that it was a high bar, but looking back I can’t but feel a little proud of how far I’ve come. Outliers was weird and messy and strange, but ultimately, it was fun, for me at least, and honestly I’ll take that over a higher level of technical proficiency.

Of course, if you’re reading this now, I’d like to think you’d agree. More importantly, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this strange, off-kilter story by some weirdo on the internet. Every single comment, every view and typo correction meant so much to me, and inspired me to keep going when I was dealing with some personal issues. It’s honestly been a blessing, and I feel privileged to have had it.

So… what’s next?

Well, in the short term, Silversmith! If you’ve been around for a bit you probably know about it already, but if you don’t, here’s the blurb:

On a mildly chilly winter’s night in the city of Brisbane, a teenage girl suddenly bursts into flames. This wouldn’t be out of ordinary, except for the part where they then burn her to death, leaving behind a single word in the ashes. Officially, the police think it’s spontaneous combustion. Certain people think otherwise.
June Young is trying not to think about it at all. She’s much too busy trying to keep her wardlaying business afloat to get involved in any mysteries, despite her best friend’s efforts to the contrary. She’s not a private eye, or a detective, or a sleuth, so there shouldn’t be any reason for her to get caught up in it all.
Right?

Silversmith is an urban fantasy story, and I’m really excited to get to try something different (after all, I’ve been near-exclusively writing the same story for over two years). The first episode is already complete, and the second one begins on Monday! That’s right, we’re diving right in, and in my humble opinion, it’s gonna be a fun one.

Longer term, Outliers is not finished. Not even close! It was probably pretty obvious from all the dangling plot threads and whatnot, but I felt it was safer just to say so. However, when it returns, it’ll probably be a little… different. Like I said, it’s got its flaws, and I have a few ideas for how to fix that. I’m keeping my hands close to my chest for now, but keep an ear to the ground in the near(ish) future. I’ll be revamping my Patreon in the next few days to be more generally about my writing, but if you don’t want to follow that, you can also keep up with what’s going on by following me on Twitter.

Once again, thank you all so much for reading. It’s been a delight, and I’m glad I got to share this weird story with you all.

For now, though, I’m gonna go and comfort eat.

END OF BOOK ONE

New 25-Vignette | 2


Brand New Day.

1 year and five months ago, or thereabouts.

“Really?” Flint asked, scepticism dripping from his tone.

“Aw, come on,” Natalie replied with a slight grin. “It’s not that bad, is it?”

“It’s literally,” he pointed, “literally falling apart.” As if to illustrate, a wooden board fell from where it had been blocking a window and clattered to the ground in front of them.

The last time Flint had been to the warehouse they currently stood in front of, it had been night, and the dim lighting had given it an air of menace. Now, though, in the light of day, he could see it for what it was. A deathtrap.

“Well,” Natalie countered him, “no-one will think to look here, then, will they?”

He scowled. “They won’t have a reason to look, because it’ll have already collapsed inwards and killed us all. I didn’t agree to join your little bookclub just to get crushed to death by some architect’s fever dream.”

She laughed, walking forwards and opening the door. “I promise, it’s not as bad as it looks.” She held the door open, inclining her head slightly, and, with a sigh, he followed her in.

“I’ve taken a look around,” she explained as they walked through the dusty offices. “None of the damage is so deep that we can’t repair it.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Last time I checked, one of the structural pillars had collapsed.”

“Like I said,” she replied with a wink. Sure enough, when they entered the large warehouse space a moment later, he was surprised to find the rubble had been cleared out, and the hole in the roof repaired. A ratty old couch had been placed on one side of the room, and sitting on it was-

“Lisette?” he blurted before he could help himself.

She waved at him with the bottle of beer she was drinking. “Hey, kid. Sorry fer not tellin’ ya last time, but ya seemed kinda down.”

He stared at her in confusion as Natalie chuckled. “You’ve already met everyone one way or another,” she said, gesturing to the other figures scattered around the room, and indeed he managed to match them all to his memories of their first meeting in this building. “But we can do a proper meet-and-greet later. First, I’d like to welcome everyone to the very first meeting of…” she paused dramatically, as everyone looked at her, “the Outliers!”

“...really?” Flint asked after a moment. “That’s what you’re going with?”

She deflated slightly. “You... don’t like it?”

“Are you kidding me?” he asked. “It’s fuckin’ awful!”

“Oh, come on,” she said with a pout. “I’m sure it’ll grow on you.”

Despite himself, he laughed, for what felt like the first time in years. “I guarantee you it will not.”

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New 25-Vignette


Treating The Symptom.

“How many?” the man known as Ulster asked as she entered the room. He stood with his arms folded behind his back, staring at the six pods sitting in front of him, and there was no way he could have seen her enter. This was not unusual for him, though, so she merely pulled out a lightweight tablet and began assembling the relevant briefs.

“Two, sir,” she answered curtly, doing her best to keep her voice level and neutral.

“Only two?” he asked, sounding mildly surprised. Or, as surprised as he ever did.

“Yes, sir. Jane McClellan, from the Tower, and Miranda Callas, one of the criminal proxies the Americans were deploying.”

“The knight and the teleporter. Both dead?”

“McClellan is, sir. Callas displayed a previously-unobserved reaction to the catalyst. At the time, it appeared to kill her, but her body disappeared soon after. We are assuming she is still alive, until proven otherwise.”

“Do. She might provide valuable data. How did the knight die?”

“Ah, on that count, I have some good news.” She swiped through a few files until she reached a video file, then held up the tablet as it played.

Ulster turned, taking it gently from her hands, and staring intently at the screen. “The Theta sample.”

“Yes, sir. As you can see, it's bonded. I've already deployed Four, but this is the only piece of information they have to work from, so we can't expect immediate results.”

“Do you know,” Ulster said, handing the tablet back to her, “what the original purpose of the Theta sample was?”

“Sir?” she asked, confused.

“Ah,” he rumbled, “I suppose not, then. It’s irrelevant now, anyway. Tell Four to proceed with the utmost caution. Judging from the video, it is still in the initial stages, but the possibility exists of advancement.”

She made a note to do so. “Understood.”

“This is the last of them,” he asked, switching topics abruptly, “correct?”

She flailed for a moment, before realizing he was referring to pods in front of them. “The last six, yes.”

“Any commonality in the storage units?”

“No, as specified. Two from New Chicago, but there’s no other point of connection.”

He nodded, then walked forward to the pod on the very left. “Good. It’s time to begin Phase Two.”

She almost dropped her tablet. “Sir-”

“The leak of a catalyst sample proves that we no longer have time to dally and study.” He reached up, wiping away the condensation from the pod’s translucent front. Inside was a young girl, lean, black hair with a skunk stripe of blonde.

“It’s time for this world to see what their powers truly are.”

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New 25-VIII

FLINT
How I Hesitated.

Once again, I ran through flames.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it was a dream, but that part of me was sectioned off, disconnected from the me that ran screaming through corridors filled with fire. Or, they were made of fire. It was a dream, they’re not exactly consistent in their imagery.

Limbs of flame grabbed at me as I ran, burning through my clothes. Screams deafened me, a mix of familiar voices and those of strangers. In every door I passed, I could see my dad standing there, fire spreading behind him, but each one was slightly different; different clothes, different parts of him burnt.

You know, the standard stuff.

The dream changed, and I was standing back in the parking garage, watching an array of Talies get impaled through the chest. All of them but one disappeared, and the arm inside her exploded outwards. Her head landed in front of me, but instead of her face, it was mine.

And suddenly I was falling, plummeting rapidly towards the ruins of our old base, which quickly collapsed inwards on themselves and formed a deep pit, piled high with bodies. My stomach clenched as I grew close, and I knew I’d wake up just before I hit-

But I didn’t.

Instead, I stopped, floating, frozen, just above the top of the pile. Wait, that small part of me that was properly conscious thought, that’s not right.

I was back in the corridor again, still running, but now all the doors were empty. I reached a dead end, and turned around, but the corridor behind me had disappeared and I stood in a small room made of flame. One by one, corpses fell out the walls, blackened and burnt, bearing the faces of my family and friends as they collapsed to the floor.

“It's not a dream.”

The words cut right through me. Like they'd broken the barrier between the different parts of my brain, conscious control came flooding back, and suddenly I was lucid.

I spun around, to find a man standing there. He was about my height, but the light and shadow obscured his features.

“Oh, okay,” I said to no-one in particular. “My nightmares are getting meta now. Wonderful.”

“It’s not a dream,” he repeated. Was his voice familiar?

“Yeah, yeah.” I waved a hand absently. “Whatever. Can I wake up now?”

The man chuckled. “Ah, I’ve missed that.”

I frowned. Something was off. “Okay, jokes aside, subconscious, I’d like to wake up now.”

“Flint,” the man said, “it’s not a dream. I’m really here.” He stepped forward and-

“W-what?” I stammered, falling backwards onto my ass.

“Hey, Flint,” my dad said with a rueful smile. “Missed you.”

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New 25-VII

HANNAH
Why’d She Have To Talk To Me Now?

I stared at the TV. “...every channel?” I whispered in horror.

“Well, not every,” Sabah replied with a grimace. “But pretty much all the ones that matter.”

Covering my mouth, I watched as the screen displayed an image of me, leaping off the train station platform. The quality was good enough that I could see the tears and scratches on me. “I’m dead,” I moaned out loud, flopping backwards onto my bed. “I’m so dead.”

“If it's any consolation?” Sabah slowly lowered herself down to sit next to me, the bed creaking slightly under her weight. “They don’t really know what you look like. It’s too dark, and too far away.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I groaned, staring at the ceiling. “Someone’s going to figure it out. You know what the internet is like. I’m going to have to move away. I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco.”

“...national channels, Hannah.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. “Of course.”

Sabah patted me on the shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Hannah. And besides, you’re famous! Who doesn’t want to be famous?”

Silently, eyes still closed, I pointed both thumbs at myself.
“...yeah, that’s fair.” She flopped back beside me. “You know, there's an obvious solution to this.”

“What, become a hermit?” I paused, reconsidering. “Honestly, that's not a terrible idea.”

She laughed. “Not that, dingus. You could-” There was a sharp intake of breath.

“Sabah?” I asked, opening my eyes and sitting up. “What's-”

She grabbed the remote from where it sat next to me, and hammered the off switch, but not before-











“...I’m okay,” I managed to say at last. “I’m okay.”

“Hannah, I’m so sorry,” Sabah said, kneeling in front of me and holding my hands. “I didn’t think-”

“It’s not your fault.” I reached up and wiped the tears away from my eyes, sniffling a little. “What were you saying before?”

“Oh, um.” She took a moment to collect herself. “You should go to the Tower. Get yourself registered. They’ll help you ride this wave out.”

“Comet offered,” I admitted, “but… I can’t.”

“What? Why not?”

I looked down at the carpet. “They’re gone, Sabah.”

It took her a second to grasp what I was saying, but as soon as she did, her eyes shot wide.

“What do you mean, gone?”

I held up a hand and waved it around. “Gone gone. I’ve got nothing, just like before.”

She gaped at me. “That’s… that’s not how- what?”

I shrugged limply. “I don’t know how any of this works, so don’t look at me.”

She grabbed my hand, squeezing it urgently. “Hannah, you don’t understand. That doesn’t happen. Ever. Once you have powers, you have them for your entire life. Are you absolutely sure?”

I closed my eyes, reaching down into my core like I always did. For a second, I almost thought I felt something, some faint echo of the thrumming power that had been there, but if I did, it was gone a moment later. “There’s nothing.”

She shook her head, standing and starting to pace. “No, no,no, that's not right. Maybe it's just dormant.”

“I pushed it pretty far past what it was supposed to,” I offered. “Maybe I… burned it out?”

“Even if you did that to the most extreme degree possible, they’d just be dormant. And getting to that point would require…” She trailed off. “Well, anyway. If they’re acting up, that’s all the more reason to join up-”

“They’re not acting up, they’re gone. They’re not going to like that, they’re not going to be helpful. Without the powers I’m just a liability.”

“They wouldn’t… the Tower’s not…” She didn’t seem very convinced in herself. “What are you going to do then?”

“I…” I shook my head.

“I don’t know.”

Once she had left, with assurances that I was fine, I sat back down on the bed and stared at my hand. I closed my eyes, concentrated as hard as I could, and when I opened them again, it was just in time to see the tiniest wisp of lavender smoke curling up into the air.

I watched it dissipate away, then turned off the lights, crawled under the covers, and cried myself to sleep. 

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If you support realistic reactions to trauma,  vote for Outliers on Topwebfiction, or rate or leave a review on Webfictionguide. Every bit of support helps keep the story going, and, more importantly, stroke my ego.