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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Timezone: UTC+10 (Australian Eastern Standard Time)/UTC+11 (Australian Daylight Saving Time)
Occupation: Student/Tutor
Skype: flightofcrimson

Most Recent Posts

Dust Applications - Lecture Hall I707

Lesson number one of working with Dust, above all else, is and always will 'safety first'. It can be pretty volatile stuff if you don't know what you're doing, so a healthy, tekul respect for its dangers is a must if you don't wanna get a real hard wallapin' from what should be pointed at hordes of Grimm rather than you or your mates. So lucky for me, I didn't need to look like a right daft git who wanted to do a Toontown impression to grab all the kids' attentions. Not that I'd have forgotten safety regs for my own course or anything. You're definitely not that big of a dunderhead yet, Teàrlag!

Still, lighting a hand on fire bloody hurts, you know? Pulling off a trick like that with Dust means you need to hide it somewhere on your body, and when it goes off, the fleshy human bits aren't going to be out of range. 'Tis just a scratch though; nothing that I haven't suffered the horrible ravages of (exaggeration) before, and it looks like none of the students seem to have gotten the scoobie on what I just did. But they're all looking at me; they're concentrating; they're paying attention. Oi oi, was a bit of fancy Dustplay that exciting to you folks? It's not that I'm not unhappy or anything that the demonstration was a success, but that was a lotta bang for its buck, wasn't it?

I guess kids like their explosions more than blethering about.

Most of them do, at least.

One of the brats - that same luchadora lass who ran away with my jacket on family day (@Ryonara)- is already doing her own thing and playing around with Dust. I'm contractually obligated to bump my gums before you can get started on anything, you know? It's sorta rude to already go ahead before I get on with the rest of the script. All those fees you're paying are going to waste right now!

So it's my job as a teacher to save her from the crushing despair of high-interest loans (they're bloody awful unless you're an Atlesian and can afford a pet Faunus) by calling out to her. "Miss - " I pause for the slightest of seconds as I recall that quine's name. Not because I'd forgotten or anything. I'm proud of the work I put into memorising their names and photos when I got their class list. "- Guan Yue. You can work with the Dust tags later."

That's some stuff she can play around with in her personal time. The time all my students will have at Beacon is limited, only a pucklie of one's lifespan, so they needed to make the most of it. Not just take it easy and think this is time to bludge. Not when every wee bit counts to their life expectancy. It's a memo they should all be getting.

"Moving along, does anybody know what I just did?"

I'd expected some of them to be having a chaynage day, but surprisingly, a bubbly bonnie (@Plank Sinatra) popped up immediately from the back, waving a hand around enthusiastically. Except -

"Scuse me! 'Ello! You used a powder form of fire Dust to create a reaction first, and then a hidden score of ice Dust as a reaction to cool 'er down! It coulda been powder up your sleeve, in your sleeve, or even a henna tat. Any woulda worked, yeah? So fire, water, and air, all in one chimera!"

- You might be a cannie eager lass, but oi, what's that accent supposed to be doing? I'm from Vacuo, you know? I can hear that accent being jammed into the facsimile of a twit's pretty clearly like creme between Oreo biscuits. Is that the persona you're trying to throw up for this class, because it already sounds very squint!

Her fake accent aside though, she was pretty right on the money. I don't have a henna tattoo and I've never even thought about getting one, but it's definitely one way to keep Dust stored on/inside the body. My method's a wee bit more straightforward than that (no clypin' about with infusing the elements into the skin), and I hold up my arm, that ozone smell intensifying a bit more as a tiny bottle is pulled out of my sleeve by electrostatic forces.

"That's right, Negasi," I say, directing a congratulatory smile at her as the bottle of blue and red power drops down into my hand. It's hard for them to see anything special about it, so a camera rotates around to point at my hands, showing off what's going on - the tiny hole in the top of the bottle - on that big projector behind me. "I pulled a mixture of Dust out of this container and initially activated just the 'Fire' for that big spurt you all saw."

I hold back the urge to do it again. It's not like I want to show off or anything. I just want to emphasise some points, yeah, that's it.

No other reason.

"And when that reached its zenith, the remaining 'Ice' that got pushed up got to work themselves."

I debate mentioning the versatility of even just a single type of Dust like Ice and its heat transfer properties, but I decided to shuffle it into a later time. I don't want to confuse the brats too much. Even if they're cannie folks, there's no guarantee for how quickly they can get their noggins around this.

"Just because they're mixed together doesn't mean they need to be activated at the same time," my lesson continues. "Crystallising the 'Fire' inside some frozen gas and 'Ice' isn't the only thing you can do with this combination either. It's just the one thing I thought would be cool to show you."

Aaargh Teàrlag no, don't accidentally make a pun!

Don't let the brats see. Don't crack a smile.

"Which brings us to the main point of this intro class."

Most people make use of Dust through their Aura or Semblance, but others just straight up make use of stuff in the physical realm to ensure that their weapons are working properly. Trying to go into huge detail on the metaphysical concepts underlying it would have heads in a tizzy this early, so I sum it up neatly.

"Dust acts because you will it to act."

"I made use of the 'Ice' Dust's ability to 'freeze' for that tower of crystal, delaying its activation to after the 'Fire' already was in motion. It's the same way any of you might incorporate Dust into your Semblance usage; you can just think, and it becomes part of you, right?"

Once they get this basic idea down-pat, a lot more concepts open up.

"That part of 'you' conveys what you want the Dust to do, so it does it. Request in, result out."

I pause for a moment, scanning the seats to see their faces. I could push that part of the script up a few minutes early, just so it gets cemented better into them.

"I think it'll be easier for you to understand with another demonstration. Does anyone want to volunteer?"

@Lucius Cypher@SevenStormStyle@MULTI_MEDIA_MAN@FlitterFaux@Forsythe@Kaithas@Abillioncats@Silvan Haven

Shuai Taidan - Senior Aura Control

"Ah, the freshies have the obstacle course today."

Taidan glanced out the window at the courtyard, elbow resting against the sill and propping up his chin. The dark-haired student seemed to be in a contemplative mood, purple eyes wistfully watching the younger Hunters attempt the obstacle course. It was a somewhat nostalgic sight, a memory of a time when his year could just run around trying to beat each other in speed rather than think in-depth about the mechanics of controlling one's Aura. It was super interesting, yeah, but all the metaphysical implications around the malleability of his very being was kinda a lot more complex than just playing around. He thought it was definitely some snazzy stuff, but ah, the simplicity of youth was something he missed.

So what if he was only maybe three years older? That totally meant he was a geezer compared to all the young, innocent minds that were adjusting to the Beacon Academy lifestyle! Age wasn't supposed to be a number, it was a mindset!

Which, on second thought, actually sounded more to be the actual thing than he thought. Nobody knew how old Goodwitch or Ozpin were, right? The latter had been bossing everybody around for a while, but he didn't actually look like he was somebody's grandpa. Besides that wacky white hair, Ozpin was kinda youthful-looking, wasn't he? How old was the guy supposed to be? Maybe he could ask.

Taidan thoughtlessly blew a long strand of pinkish-brown hair away from his eyes, reaching out with a delicate hand to brush his bangs to the side. It was probably rude of him to hit up the boss for his age, wasn't it? A second of extra consideration cemented that view in his mind, and the resident pyromaniac prettboy extraordinaire nodded, immediately switching focus back to the class he was in.

Aura Control!

The advanced manipulation of one's soul. It was a really snazzy thing, and one he had to admit was strange and beyond his understanding at times. There was just so much food for thought: like, just how did it work? How could he change the bits and pieces that could make up himself just with belief? Was his Aura really his soul in the first place? What did his soul really mean? Where was Shuai Taidan inside the concept of the soul? Would extensive use of aura have any effects on his personality - on his very being?

Hm, maybe that could be the topic of his final year thesis.
@Plank Sinatra

Gratia Mindaro - Practice

Having already made her way to the beginning of the obstacle course before Jericho had even revealed himself to be the class demonstrator, Gratia Mindaro was tying her long hair back into a ponytail, a black hair-tie hanging loosely from her mouth as she gathered her flowing locks into position. For the purposes of her current class, the Mistralese girl had eschewed both her signature coat and the dark, pressed uniform of Haven Academy for a simple, black and viridian exercise tracksuit: an outfit far more suited to the intensive physical activity required in Practice.

If some obstacle course could even be considered 'physically intensive'. Only the shittiest excuse for a Hunter would treat it as anything more than a mere facsimile of the struggles that plagued the rest of one's hunting career. It was not a matter of life and death. There was no sense of danger, no eager expectation for the moment where the slightest of stumbles would bring an end to everything they lived for. Even with an Atlesian agent having somehow fucking managed to take command of the course (not that she was particularly surprised; Vale was always willing to open its arsecheeks wide for a pounding from whatever 'innovative' new sexbot Atlas had manufactured in the past week), she had absolutely zero expectation in the obstacles' ability to come even close to killing her.

Not that she would have even given them the chance. What huntress would she be if something like an obstacle course could fuck her over? That was something exclusive to drooling retards, and fortunately for her, she was the scion of parents who weren't so incompetent to slam an infant's skull into a wall. Gratia Mindaro was a Hunter. Her prey was not some junkheap of scrap metal. It was wealth. It was fame. It was power.

It was the Grimm. And the prize for their eradication -

Her mother hugged her tightly.

- was their happiness.

She breathed in quietly, loosely stretching out her legs. Onyx eyes locked onto the track before her, scanning the course with cold, clinical efficiency.

Practice was warm-up. A way to keep her reflexes sharp until the next mission.

And she would complete it with nary an issue.

Her ponytail was held in place.

She wasn't going to waste any more fucking time.

Gratia Mindaro started running.

Let's see what bullshit you've pulled out of your arse, Piper.
@endwaar@Plank Sinatra
Interior, Stephansplatz, Vienna

"I will keep that information in mind."

While there had been little elaboration from the Church representative on the specifics of the issue they were facing, Philia determined the offer was one unlikely to conflict with her - the Einzbern's - goals in this irregular ritual, and in fact wondered if the case could possibly be of interest to her as well. She lacked the antipathy possessed by Sister Ortensia towards any heretical actions by a possible cult, but if they were a possible risk factor to the ritual, it was of the utmost importance that she and Archer were aware of their impact, and if necessary, to remove them entirely. Unpredictable elements could not be tolerated if she wanted to save her family.

With consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages to following the Church's lead for the time being, the Einzbern homunculus was willing to lend her and her Servant's assistance. Even if she was still unsure as to the trustworthiness of the sister, a working relationship could still be established, and any knowledge was valuable in enemy territory.

"Where have they been sighted?"

Ground Level, Harumi's Apartment Building - District 7

Sitting on a simple trolley pushed against an elevated curb was a nondescript package, a carefully wrapped box made of thick cardboard that spoke nothing of its contents besides a white label upon which the name and address of its intended recipient had been written. It was a delivery to one Harumi Hazama, a resident of the many student dormitories that dotted the landscape of Academy City's School District 7. However, despite having made its way to the general vicinity of its destination, a major obstacle had reared its head right before the finish line, stopping its long journey right in its tracks.

This difficulty was much to the consternation of the individual responsible for the box's dispatch, a small (1.53m in height, 42kg in weight) girl wearing a blue crowned cap that one would usually associate with delivery services. And as the rest of her uniform and the fact that she was attempting to get the heavy package up over the curb and into the apartment building suggested, she was indeed currently working (part-time) for the local post office, doing a round in the neighbourhood to make sure that nobody was missing out on anything they'd ordered off the Internet. Usually her job would've been taken up by a robot, but according to one of her fellow students at least, there was supposedly a rumour going around that delivery drones had been possessed by the Devil and would engage in unwanted amputations, so her employers, being a superstitious and rumour-fearing lot, decided to go for the slower (but safer) alternative of a real human being.

She personally thought that was a rather idiosyncratic reason, especially when throwing some ofuda on the delivery robots should have been enough to get rid of Satanic influences. But this alternative was pretty nice for her; if that was what it took to save her job from automation, then it was definitely something she would tolerate for the time being. However, it was still not very ideal to give demons free rein over company machinery (if they really were plaguing the drones) - expecting them to just disappear was fraught with risk, so she would have to sell more talismans at her other job later.

If a robot was here though, her current problem would have been far more easily conquered. A curb was far from the greatest of obstacles, but it was one that was very capable of stopping her from getting a heavy package to its destination. She had wandered off earlier to find a trolley, but even that had not been enough to convey the sheer mass of the cardboard box over the hurdle it now faced. Her attempts at lifting it up were equally dismal. As much as it hurt to admit, the results of not having regularly visited the gym had manifested themselves already.

As nice it was to soak in the warmth of the ball of nuclear fusion that their little blue planet orbited, spending too long in the daylight meant that those deadly rays of electromagnetic radiation would eventually destroy her cells, and not even the combination of her nice brimmed hat and sunscreen (SPF 50) would protect her for long.

And given that her pay was based on how many deliveries she could make in her shift, the longer she took ...

There was an epiphany.

Pulling out her cellphone, the teenaged girl known only to her compatriots by the moniker of "Hat-chan" began to text two certain classmates of hers. She may have been too weak on her lonesome to handle this terrifying curb, but three heads together could supposedly outsmart Mañjuśrī! By combining the powers of that George fellow and Kara-han, then she would be able to get her job done without any further delay!
@Lucius Cypher@SevenStormStyle@MULTI_MEDIA_MAN@Forsythe@Kaithas@Abillioncats@FlitterFaux@Ryonara

Dust Applications - Lecture Hall I707

Way back when I was still a wee, naive lass, I had the daft idea that adulthood meant being a responsible member of society who wouldn't trouble their fellow humans, and that by passing that arbitrary border between youth and majority, we'd immediately embody all those virtues that our parents and teachers and the all-knowing television were always trying to instill in us. Actual experience with adults chapped those beliefs right out of my head really quickly, because while everybody extols what's supposedly proper, that's really just another façade that society upholds to keep its wheels squeaky and greased properly, you now? Becoming an adult just means others (like the brats who consider you as a figure of authority) think your opinions can be take seriously instead of being mercilessly dismissed by a superficial assumption that just because you're still a little bit too much of a youth, all your beliefs are entirely lacking rather than at worst flawed due to a lack of experience.

Just because someone might have a smidge less know-how or because they look like they're on the wrong side of twenty and thus still just some "fresh-faced" quine, there's no need to consider their opinions as equally valid, right? It's fine to just mince with the folks who you think are serious and intelligent and older (and thus 'wiser'). That's definitely not a bloody load of superficial crock backed by some beady-eyed buggers with no regard for anything beyond themselves.

Well, that's society for you.

A complex machine that manages to keep working mostly smoothly despite the fragility of its situation. If that horde (Army? Pack? Murder?) of monsters looming outside our walls decides one day that they're a little bit famished and want a nip out of humanity, then we're buggered all the way down to Hadestown, you know? If they all got the bright idea to just group up and pounce for the biggest feast in all of Remnant's history, then we'd be sliced apart like my salami at the local deli, and eaten just as fast! The amount of heart they'd need to put into that would be gold star class if I was their teacher, but it's still something they could pull off, and if it happens ... well I dinnieken what exactly might occur, but I'm a bit feart for the result of all us cogs falling out of position.

Luckily, not everybody's as feart for stuff like that happening, because we're really good at lying to ourselves. Just pretend that there's no piece o' nasty bizzo behind the cameras whenever the news tells us that everything's okay, that we've always been at war with Eastasia, that we're all virtuous little contributors to this great society of ours no matter who we really are! Inside, we all know that's not really true. We're not all best mates, that's just not possible when everybody's got different points of view. After all, it's an unfortunate fact of life that people won't care as much for you if you're part of the 'other', a member of a group that isn't theirs. Every person in every level of society works like that, and I'm honestly no exception. Humans are selfish creatures; if you or your actions don't affect us, then you're just somebody else's problem then.

And if the poor sod's been labelled somebody else's problem, then no skin off your back if they have to pick up the pieces of what was supposed to be your responsibility, one that you couldn't handle because of some dunderheaded thoughts, right?

When you're just some brat, you've got your parents and teachers breathing over your shoulder to get all the work you're supposed to do done. I guess once those brats slip into the skin of an adult, there's nobody else motivating them to actually be responsible except for a paycheck that'll stay the same even if they dingy their job. It's mince. We're creatures of self-interest, it's true, but it's just bloody vapid to think that we're all islands who won't affect one another. And if you're a figure of authority, that's not something you should be promoting if you want the brats to survive the harshness of society, you know?

Society forces us to conform to the roles we've been given. As imperfect as we are as cogs, we need to keep turning to sustain the lie we've built over all these generations. Call it disgusting and distasteful if you want, but that's what life's thrown at us. The alternative to this make-believe game of charades is just worse.

And yet it doesn't stop some selfish tubes from skivving.

Handling internship applications is something that's usually the purview of school administration than teaching staff like me, you know? But because all those buggers are on paid leave, they decided they could just leave the applications to later. All the brats won't mind, right? It's not like it'll matter that much in the long run, right?


Maybe not.

I don't know if a lot of these brats can get too much help with their lives by taking an internship with some active Hunters. Maybe it might give a wee boost to their careers, help them gain the connections they'll need to survive the mingin world outside the Academies. Or maybe the apps were just sent in on a lark by some walloper who wants to waste admin's time. I don't know.

But that doesn't mean that they can just avoid doing their job.

A job I decided, like some idjit, to pick up despite not having any need to.

Not because I care about these brats or anything, but if they went to the effort of actually putting in even one internship app, then I should at least consider their hard work, right? Adults are supposed to be role models and supporting the canniest of our youth, and if those buggers don't want to do it, then it's up to me, being their teacher, to do it instead. I'm just contractually obligated to make sure they all get the best education here so they don't die when they're a fully-fledged Hunter, so even if my 'help' doesn't shape out at all, at least I'm here to make sure they're less likely to get splattered into panbread, you know?

It just looks better on my employee evaluation if I help out here, yeah.

What benefits they get don't matter to me at all!

I nod to myself as I scan over an application for the International Center for the Extermination of Creatures Antagonistic to Mankind. A place like that, word-salad name aside, is definitely a good place for some rookie brat to strut their stuff at. As long as they're not too cocky, but I should've taught them better than that, right? I write my approval and add a few comments (just so they look a bit better to their managers on site, okay?), and the application's sent off through Beacon's servers to their final home.

The last of them too.

I swivel around in my chair to look at the clock. I told myself I'd be done half an hour before class started so I could grab a cuppa, but it looks like I've really buggered my chances today. Not that I'm sad about that or anything - this was a job I had to do, you know? Still, with the first Dust Apps class of the semester about to start, I guess I'll have to get that powerpoint set up.

Maybe this time I'll have more students. And they'll pay attention instead of bludging.

It'd be nice to help some brats who actually care.

As the students filed into Lecture Hall I707, they would notice a youthful-looking woman wearing a black tie, sweater and pencil dress standing underneath the projector screen, right in front of the lectern. Although she appeared to be their age (or even younger), she did not seem intent on joining them in their seats, instead tapping away at a tablet in her hands with a face that appeared to be deep in thought.

Some would float the possibility of her being one of the class' teaching assistants, but in that case, where was the lecturer?

Their answer would be provided with the ringing of the bell, upon which the woman placed her tablet down, brushing back a few loose strands of violet hair as she stepped out from behind the lectern to survey the room with a purple gaze.

"My name is Teàrlag Cirsium, your Dust Applications teacher for this semester," she said, a scent of ozone filling the air as she snapped her fingers, producing a blaze of orange flames that burst upwards in a stream from her hand. "But before we start ..."

The flames froze, crystallising mid-air before shattering into minuscule particles that fell all around her.

" ... I'd like to say that absolutely none of you are allowed to fail this course."
@The Jest

The High Priestess - Meredith Fong

With her face scrunched up in thought, it could be seen that Meredith Fong was currently in the midst of an identity crisis.

Well, the use of the word 'crisis' was probably a bit way more intense than what she was really actually experiencing, so the young woman proceeded to mentally dial the severity of her terms down a few notches for a slightly more accurate description of the situation that had engulfed her.

With her face scrunched up in thought, it could be seen that Meredith Fong was currently debating the nature of her identity.

She hadn't really expected herself to be doing such a thing, not when she was learning all about the strange dream-like world that she and everyone had been throw head-first into from one of the natives (inhuman beings that called themselves 'Shadows', which was actually a pretty fitting name now that she thought a bit deeper into it - very Jungian fellows hidden behind a mirror in a 'Wonderland' where the ego rarely tread), but it was hard not to be thinking so hard when she, or whatever she was right now, was separate from her mind and body, the stuff that one would usually expect to be ... her.

If she thought herself to be Meredith Fong, currently a disembodied collection of ego and other parts of herself that was still recognisably her (maybe akin to a Hindu avatar with the exception of her not really being a divinity?), then was what was left behind still her? If the her in her day to day life was in a way comatose, then it was still breathing and doing things that she would usually be doing in the middle of a night time snooze, so wouldn't it be still her? Or, was it like trying to log into her Runescape account from another computer when she was already logged in on that World, so there was still just this disembodied bit of 'her' that hung around in sea of souls, and the her right now was maybe another physical terminal that was transmitting 'her' while the body she knew best was disconnected?

Hm, she was kinda seriously getting lost.

Back to the basics.

Theory Hypothesis 1: a blob of immaterial stuff was the real her, and the her right now was just a meat-suit, or maybe a suit of Shadow stuff, that was being powered by the blob of immaterial stuff.

Theory Hypothesis 2: there were now two Meredith Fongs.

Wondering about what type of thingajig her ego really was aside, that minor musing about Hindu avatars really seemed to make sense here. The rabbit alien wanted them to help it fight against its enemy aliens, who were responsible for the unfortunate states of the poor kids back on Earth. It had been a long-winded journey to this point, and while the way they were being recruited didn't really seem to her like a way to get a slick reception, she could see the appeal of it. Very much the departure stage, which means she could tentatively label them as "good" and the people who were holding the kids hostage as "bad".

And cycling that back to the avatar thing, even if the immaterial Meredith Fong didn't exist, she was pretty sure that avatarana could totally apply here. Not perfect fit, and maybe 'incarnation' in the Christian sense could be better? She didn't know any theologians who could help her out there, and - she glanced around at the assembled others, whose responses varied considerably - she didn't know if everyone else could help her out there either.

But anyway, she wasn't an unborn, changeless thing. Meredith Fong was very changeable.

But she had in some way descended from somewhere to help 'protect the good, destroy the evil and establish dharma'. Right? Because that sounded like the gist of what the rabbit wanted them all to do. Maybe it wasn't as simple as that, but that was okay to her. Even if the specifics were super vague, she could at least say that were really kids in danger.

Therefore, she decided she'd try save the kids.

She wasn't here to bring an end to the kali yuga.

She wasn't here to fight in a war alongside the Pandavas.

She wasn't here to be an ideal example of dharma.

She was more like a simple animal that was just here to bring some people back to their proper place, away from the "bad".

The thing/person/identity that considered itself Meredith Fong (she quickly decided that it was better to just think of herself as one-hundred-percent Meredith Fong for now, because she could ponder the consequences later) was perfectly willing to do that. Everything else could be dealt with later.

It wasn't good to leave so many parents worrying.

"I want to help the kids," she spoke out loud, a smile gracing her face as her crimson eyes crinkled. "That's fine, right?"
Gratia Mindaro - Airship

"I haven't fucking seen a more blatant ethics violation since I last went to Church."
@HereComesTheSnow@banjoanjo@GreenGoat@NarayanK@Plank Sinatra@Krayzikk@ADamnFiddle@Avant@DarkwolfX37@Indra

And that's the final post for that day.

New day's started. Hang out wherever you want, maybe find the guys you met last night to talk about dead bodies, watch TV, post rumours on the Internet, find some friends, looking for interesting things, et cetera.

Sorry for the wait, but now hopefully more things can happen (and I can avoid getting super myopic happenings).
Night, School District 15

Though it had felt like an eternity, there had barely been fifteen minutes since Bang's fateful call connected to 119, and with the passing of those hands on the clock, so did the police pass into the alleyway where the assembled teenagers had made their discovery. They filed out of their windowless stage wagon in black helmets and padded suits, the dark rifles gripped within their hands almost blending in with the night. Antiskill's duty was first and foremost the protection of Academy City's students from any form of Esper violence, and after the explosive end to Bang's call to the emergency services, they were very much intent on ferreting out the lay of the situation and those responsible.

"Can we ask what happened here tonight?" asked one of them, replacing his weapon for a notepad and pen even as his comrades set up a perimeter. His face was obscured by the tinted visor of his helmet, adding to the professional and aloof demeanour he seemed to exude as he spoke to the gathered teens.

Meanwhile, the ambulance finally arrived, wheels screeching to a halt nearby. The paramedics were the first to exit, and upon surveying the situation, immediately made a beeline to Bang, whose injuries were clearly to be prioritised. They would check up on the rest of the teenagers soon enough, making sure that none of their injuries were too severe. Also present was the 119 operator - recognisable by her voice - a short girl wearing a paramedic's cap who had come to help out.

In the end, however, the body would be delivered into the hands of the authorities, the injured into the care of the hospital system, and once the questioning was over, all were free to go, with the understanding that further questioning may be involved, particularly if suspicious individuals contacted them once more. And so, the events of the night were brought to a close.

Night, School District 15, the Dianoid

The metal key emitted a successful click as he pushed it into the lock. The safe house door swung open, the lights within spilling out into the shadowy corridor in which he stood, refracting against the prismatic carbon that the Dianoid had been constructed from. He did not flinch at the sudden illumination, the bright glare that bounced against him merely one more source of irritation in this disastrous night. After the disgustingly undignified events that he had been forced to experience, Gandharva simply did not possess the energy or patience to respond to such minor problems. In any other circumstance, they would have been magnified, but against the galling behaviour of those two cackling Caucasian pursuers, such little things simply could not compare.

He trudged into the safe house, hair still soaking wet from the events in the alleyway. It was done. At the cost of his dignity, the inelegant nightmare of a night was finally over. There was little more that could surprise him, little more that he wanted to be surprised by. Gandharva only had one goal on his mind as he removed his shoes in the entryway: to get a shower and head straight to bed.

"1.おかえり!" exclaimed a voice ahead of him. Gandharva glanced up. His comrade had jocundly emerged from a room, a cup of instant ramen and chopsticks in hand. It was clear he had returned earlier. And ...

"Why are you shirtless."

Gandharva could not muster the energy to even pose it as a question. The casual, lackadaisical behaviour of his comrade was well-known to him, but to discard all upper wear for no apparent reason? Where was Dhṛtarāṣṭra's sense of dignity? For what purpose would he be traipsing half-naked in the apartment like a slightly-prudish exhibitionist?

"I needed to use the jetpack, you see?" explained his comrade, turning around to show Gandharva the burns pockmarking pale skin. "It really 'made a cat's breakfast' out of my clothes, right?"

There was a pause as Dhṛtarāṣṭra tapped the back of his chopsticks against his chin in thought.

"That is how they say it, yes, no? It might be 'dog', right?"

"I do not speak English." And yet his comrade continued to ask him such questions.

"Ah well." Dhṛtarāṣṭra shrugged as he pirouetted back to face Gandharva. "How was your night, friend? Did I 'get the heat off you', as they say? Hopefully?"

"A symptomatic rabies carrier and a woman of order Rodentia attempted to extort money out of me."

"That's not good, yes?" Dhṛtarāṣṭra was still casual, but there was a certain businesslike air that had draped itself over his half-naked body. "What did you do? Did you 'cut your losses'? You don't seem very 'worse for wear', right?"

It was a choice he despised the necessity of having made, but his pragmatism had won over his sense of elegance in the heat of that moment, and though he regretted everything involving that alleyway and those two individuals (particularly the fact that he had been forced to such a irritating state), there was a certain catharsis in foisting the spotlight onto her. It would not impact her financially, but it was a responsibility she would need to take on. As she should have far earlier.

And it was that he told to Dhṛtarāṣṭra.

"Prolly a bit morbid, you think? And it might 'shine a light' on her too."

"She will be fine."

"Hopefully. But that will one hundred percent be 'very suss', right? Especially if Antiskill 'gets their mitts' on it, yes?"

It was a possibility, but for Gandharva, he would simply have to bring about a more elegant solution to their issues later on. At this point in the night, he was far too exhausted to deal with such things.

"Maybe," he replied, walking past his comrade. "But let it wait until morning."

"Oh, you don't want 'some grub'?"

All he wanted to do was shower and sleep until dawn.

1. TN: Okaeri means "welcome home".
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