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May 13, 2021 6:02 AM
summer camp!
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"No assassinations, though."

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"Yeah, no. If someone really really needs to die I can make it happen myself."

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"Do you worry that something bad'd happen to you if you stopped?"

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"...bad things'd happen to other people if I stopped. Not just with the killing specifically, just - I guess when there are problems, then there has to be someone at some point who doesn't run away from them, you know? And... I think if I want anything done the way I want it, then I sort of have to be one of the people getting things done."

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"Man, I see why they picked you for the superhero thing."

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"...well. I try."

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That weekend they do a high ropes course with a bunch of challenges that everyone has to work together to win at, and camp for the night by the side of a mountain lake, and return home for laser tag and s'mores and religious services for those who want them. 

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Karen wants. Rope courses are cool, camping is cool, mountain lakes are cool, laser tag and s'mores are cool. Honestly everything about this place would be pretty OK if her brain weren't about 30% sure that she's constantly being watched by government people. And if her brain weren't spending 40% of its mental effort on screaming a lot. And if Wishbone were here. But there's really no logical reason for it to be any less fun than high school, so she mostly tries to breathe the awful out and give everything they try about twelve fair shots. Sometimes she forgets that everything is sort of terrible. Sometimes she feels like she's maybe even making some friends. Maybe.

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The services take place in a pretty stone interdenominational chapel about a quarter of a mile from camp. Catholic services are in the evening so she's a little bit late to dinner, which is pizza and a side of leafy vegetables everyone is ignoring.

"Hey," a girl she knows from Survival, Jennifer, whispers over dessert. "Are you in?"

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"Hmm?" she asks, because her mouth is actually momentarily full of pizza. Pizza is very important.

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"We're going to sneak out tonight and see if we can make it down the road to the secret facility."

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"What facility?" she asks, at the same whispery volume, 'cause if there are bugs then they can probably pick this up but she doesn't think she can get in trouble for asking. At least unless the high school students have already figured out something super secret, and really, you have to give the US government some credit.

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"Some people wandered off that way during laser tag and there's this whole complex of buildings down in the valley, with the tops painted so they look like trees. There weren't 'keep out' signs or anything. We just want to go check it out. And you gotta do some ill-advised running around in the middle of the night in summer camp, right?"

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She nods solemnly. "Kinda tired, though, actually. Lemme know how it goes?"

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She nods eagerly. 

 

Four or five kids wander out about an hour later, giggling.

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Hopefully they don't get in too much trouble. It'd be kind of a weird choice to toss all of your superpowered teenagers at anywhere where you've got other super  secret stuff; she has to assume that anyone involved in the project has ever met a teenager and considered this possibility.

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A couple hours later the door to their cabin opens, then closes.

"Aaaah," says Rebecca, startling the rest of them awake. 

"What - is there anyone at the door -"

"Oh god."

"It's just me," says the invisible girl irritably. "I live here."

"Oh," Rebecca says. "Right. Sorry - I'm sorry."

"It's easy to forget."

"Well," Callida said, "did you see anything cool?"

"We got in! got in, everyone else had to wait outside because they tried crawling in through the vents but the vents are tiny actually. But I just walked in! We didn't discover the evil conspiracy yet."

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"Any clues?"

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Invisible girl's bed bounces. "So there are six floors according to the elevator buttons, but I only checked out the first one, the guards didn't go down to the bottom five. The top floor is mostly an office, it had filing cabinets and computers and stuff. And it had surveillance cameras. There are some in the trees. They're watching the camp. I figured out where they all had to be, from the angles -" bounce bounce bounce bounce - "and there are ten."

"That's unconstitutional," says Rebecca indignantly. "And - and it's child pornography. Since we were in bikinis, at the pool."

"I don't think it's child pornography for adults to see teenagers in bikinis or the counselors would be in trouble," says Callida. "If it were in a private space that'd be different."

"Well, you could ask me, since I was there, unlike you, whether it was in a private space or not," says the invisible girl. 

"- that's what I was doing, I was asking."

"Were not."

"Well, was it?"

"Nope. Only outdoors."

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(Only outdoor ones on the first floor, anyway. But of course they're watching the camp. Walmart watches people.)

"Where were they?" she asks, trying to sound only very slightly interested. Which she is. Because there are probably more cameras anyway.

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Invisible girl points out ten locations that give pretty good coverage of the outdoor areas of the camp - "but it means it's possible to sneak out without any of the cameras seeing you if you hide in the bathroom of the cafeteria and then go out an upstairs window and then go straight back towards the trail. Or if you're me."

"Did you guys do that tonight though?"

"No."

"So they might've seen - well, not you, but seen everyone else."

"No one else did anything wrong. They went exploring and they found the building and they might've taken one grate off but they put it back. And now we know."

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Cafeteria bathroom, upstairs window, straight back towards the trail. Honestly probably not a useful thing to know, because if they were worrying sorts of surveillance people then they'd probably have that area covered too, such that it's actually less suspicious to just pretend to get lost if you're going somewhere, but she repeats it over and over behind her waterfall anyway. She doesn't write it down.

"Neat," she says, approvingly. "Not really very much higher than Walmart on the sketchiness spectrum, though."

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"Yeah." Bounce bounce. "But what's in the other five floors?"

"Maybe it's a seed bank," says Callida. "There are seed banks all over the country, to restart agriculture if there's a disaster or something."

"It might be entirely innocent. But we've got to at least check."

"I'm going to wait and see if the kids who went today get in trouble," says Rebecca.

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"Makes sense," says Karen, and she shoots a smile in the general direction of Invisible girl's bed.

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Bounce bounce. 

The next week the class options are 'history of the supernatural' or archery, and then more of 'identifying demons' or advanced rock climbing, and then free sports time. On Monday at dinner one of the counselors makes an announcement reminding students not to wander at night. "I know that it's fun to explore, but there's a lot of bad stuff out there, as you all know. Stick to the camp."

This is the only apparent consequence of the late-night excursion.

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