Mary was the perfect daughter. She was pretty, smart, and – more than anything – she was a good kid. Sure, she was small and frail, and had an aggressive streak, especially in her kobudō classes. But her grades were impeccable. She never argued. She did everything asked of her. She was as perfect as humanly possible, when she was born imperfect, born inhuman. Twice in her life, her father called her yōkai. Those two times stuck in her head.
She tried to be perfect when she left home – when she went to college, she went into chemistry. The sciences should be safe, she assured her parents. With chemistry, she could go into medicine, become a doctor. They didn’t approve, but neither of them called her yōkai, so she applied, entered, and finished her first degree at Berkeley. Then she moved on to graduate studies to pursue her master’s, chasing the praise of the people she thought she loved.
That’s when she met Garnet.
Garnet was everything Mary wasn’t. Confident, assured her entire life that she was good, that she was worthwhile. A bitch unlike anyone she’d ever met. Someone who didn’t care what anyone thought of her. Someone whose abilities were praised, even rewarded. Someone with a group of people who understood the strength metas can hold over ordinary people who thought of them as demons.
Mary followed her, blindly. Everything she’d never known she’d wanted, everything she’d never been and everything she realized she wanted to be, was finally in her reach, and she finally loosened her self-restraints to reach out for them.
So Mary joined Slate. She cut off contact with her parents, dropped out of the prestige school, and changed her name: Selenite, which could clear blocked energy, activate suppressed powers, and purify the air for those around her.
It didn’t take long for Selenite to become disillusioned with her conception of her new friend, however. Garnet was loud, self-absorbed, and too blinded by her conceit to lead even the small group entrusted to her. After less than a year, the scales fell from Selenite’s eyes, and she simply left Slate. Not without preparation. Not without knowing what she was doing. She knew that nobody really left, even if they walked away. But leave she did.
Five years ago, Selenite died, her tracking implant crushed, her body never found. The person who survived her wasn’t Mary anymore. It was time for a new start, and while it began with mercenary work, it wasn’t long before she found her crowd in Gregory and Juliette Bletcher-Faul.
Gregory never quite fit. Too extraordinary to fit in with normal kids, never extraordinary enough to be given the same treatment as other metas. While that treatment sometimes included fear and even hate, it was better than the limbo he found himself in by high school, in his mind. He wasn’t a natural loner. But enough people knew he was a meta for them to give him the same wide berth they gave the two or three more obviously powered students.
He was an inventor, bent on going into engineering to at least do something with himself. It was never about making the world a better place. It was about being useful, about forcing a niche open for himself. With all that time to himself, he studied. He taught himself languages – French, Spanish, Japanese, Latin. He took advanced mathematics and geometry courses from the local college. He applied these skills in encryption and codes – though he never had a use for them.
Juliette changed all of that. She was everything he wasn’t: obviously a meta, outgoing, popular despite her failing grades and rebel attitude. And while he’d never approach first, when she asked him out, he couldn’t find a reason to say no.
The Bonnie and Clyde thing wasn’t her idea, but she latched onto it like a dog on a bone. It was all downhill from there. At seventeen, the duo were outlaws with a reputation. By twenty-one, they’d gotten their names into enough mercenary networks to start working with others.
Gregory first contacted Min’yo for guns. He knew the meaning of her name, and she looked like it suited her. She had ways of raiding shipments from a particular group without getting caught. That was how he got his Colt, though it wouldn’t be painted its signature green until much later. He liked Min enough to invite her on a job with him and Juliette. She agreed, on the condition that they not use their real names.
And so the Resonants were formed: Min’yo, Techno, and Symphony.
Juliette had always been tough. She had no choice – not when she was that obvious. Her dad never let her forget how strong she was, and she took everything her dad said to heart. She was stronger than the harsh words from the other kids, echoed from their parents. She was stronger than the looks she got when she decided to compound her natural weirdness with a punk dress code and attitude. She was stronger than the human bullies she made a point to pound on, even when it landed her in more detentions than she could count. She was stronger than the judgment of the entire world around her, all her walls built sturdy and heavy.
The first person she met who was stronger than her was a nerd, just barely as tall as she was, with such an ordinary face you’d miss the glint in his eyes if you didn’t pay attention. From the first second she saw that glint, she knew she’d do anything for Gregory Faul. She didn’t even question when he suggested they run away together, live out violent fantasies. Bite back at the world that was always trying to tear them down. She trusted him, and they made a good fucking team, the two of them. Brains and brawn. All they really lacked was a direction. And they got that from Greg’s new friend Min.
Techno loved what Min’yo had to offer. As Min put it: people would always fear them for what they were. Why not prove that point, and make a killing on the side?
The three of them were a dynamic set of misfits. They wreaked havoc on the world around them, bouncing from place to place, doing small jobs, for the most part. Robberies for businessmen holding grudges. Property destruction for rival gangs. Intimidation here, acquisition there. They weren’t a big name, by any means, no more than she and Greg had been in their Bonnie and Clyde era. But it was a hell of an outlet, and she’d be content doing it for the rest of her life.
And, as she likes to boast, they’ve gotten pretty fucking good at it, too.
Laura was normal. She was normal, and she was popular.
Blonde, blue-green eyes that made boys swoon, a taste for the bright and pastel, she might as well have been a barbie doll. Ace student, brilliant watercolor painter, class president, gymnastics champion on her way to the Olympics, if her coach was to be believed. She had everything a teenager could ever want.
She was fifteen when, during a routine exercise, she clapped her hands and sent two other students flying from the high-bar, as well as herself. One of them never walked again. Neither she nor the other ever did gymnastics.
Just like that, overnight, Laura fell from grace. She went from a paragon of teenage dreams to an outcast, a symbol of why freaks like her were dangerous. Her parents got nervous, overprotective, with sudden constrictions. They gave her gloves, and they watched her like hawks, like she couldn’t protect herself if another student tried anything. They wouldn’t try anything. They were too scared of her to try anything.
She lasted two years. When she wasn’t even asked to prom at seventeen, she decided enough was enough. Sure, she hadn’t graduated, but she didn’t need a flimsy piece of paper to know that her academics hadn’t been changed like the rest of her life. She left a note on the kitchen counter when she left.
At the bus station two towns away, she met someone else. Nervous as anything. She thought they’d just heard of her, knew what she’d done, knew what a freak she was. That was until she weaseled out why they were so nervous. They weren’t jittery because they thought she was a freak – they were jittery because they were just like her. Because they’d never fit in anywhere, and the world was hostile to people like them. Because they’d been sheltered and overprotected for too long, and needed something new.
Coby traveled with her for a while. The pair scraped by on pickpocketing and jobs at shady corner stores who didn’t ask their ages, as long as they could man a desk. Honestly, Laura loved the change from her comfy life. The risk, the adventure, the danger. She was enough of an adrenaline junkie for both of them.
So when she saw the Resonants on their shitty motel TV, she knew she’d found her calling.
They weren’t hard to find. They’d already gotten into the habit of making a splash, and Laura knew how to make an entrance. It didn’t go as smoothly as she’d hoped, but the bumps were what made the ride worthwhile. After some pestering and persuading, they agreed to take her on. Min’yo said something about her passion, and that was all the newly dubbed Hyperpop needed to hear.
It wasn’t possible for Coby to do anything blindly, except follow. He was used to trusting people. He knew, even when his mother didn’t tell him, how hard he was to raise. How he couldn’t help because he couldn’t touch. She was always soft enough for him, though. She never complained, and he never flinched away from her. That was love. That was trust.
He wasn’t ready when the cancer took her. He was fourteen. Looking back, he knew he wouldn’t’ve ever been ready. He loved her too much, she loved him too much.
The real world was just too much.
Nobody was gentle with him, when they put him into foster care, up for adoption. But nobody wanted to take a meta kid with anxiety issues, either. Especially not one who’d started to just ignore binaries. They thought he thought he was special. He knew he was just a burden. He hated taking the initiative, hated having to save himself. He’d hoped it would pass. It took him two years to realize it wouldn’t, and that he couldn’t take two more. Two years to pack up everything that ever meant anything to him, and go to the bus stop. He’d been about to talk himself into going back when he met Laura.
She was exactly what he needed, at the time. Strong enough to make the tough calls. Lax enough to let him say no if the call was too tough. They had a learning curve, that was for sure. And he wasn’t sure about her ideas, wild as they were. But he followed her, at first because it was easier to follow.
And then, because he realized he had a family.
Min’yo never looked disappointed in him. “They’ll do,” she’d told Laura – Hyperpop – when she’d come back to the motel with the Resonants. She didn’t even know what Coby could do yet, but something in her eyes said she had a feeling about how his life had gone so far.
Techno could be smothering, sure, but it didn’t take long to learn where her edges softened. She tried to remember about distance, he knew, but she was an anchor for all of them, a big, squishy middle that didn’t take shit from anybody. And Symph made sure that whatever he could teach Coby, he would.
When their first heist came around, Psychedelia found themself volunteering to help however they could. Scout and driver. They’d calmed their nerves, and were almost as ready as Hyperpop for the first big job.
And despite their doubts, they’ve never looked back.