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@PlatinumSkink Ack well I'm alive, but I'm heading out of country today so it might be a bit longer—or not, depending on how my schedule is once I get there. I do intend on posting again, though it might still be a bit. Apologies if I'm holding you up in any way.
@Balthazar007 I'm just going through a slow season right now, but I do plan on posting soonish, hopefully.
@PlatinumSkink Ack no, have just been out of lately. Will get a reply up when I finish up life things. Might still be a bit though.
My vote goes to @Vocab's "Nomen." I enjoyed the piece's creativity and intriguing writing style, and I think that the narrator—in being a bit harder to follow—was quite entertaining.

A R C H I E B L A C K , B A R O N O ' N I E L , B R Y N N R E Y E S , R Y A N M E N D O Z A , & W I N T E R C A R L Y L E

Featuring: @Kalas, @Prosaic, @Dusksong, @Lasrever, and @FantasyChic
M A T H E R M E M O R I A L H I G H S C H O O L:

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 - 02:45pm | The 'Loft'

At Jonas' call to break into groups, Brynn glanced at Winter, then around at the people closest to her. The room seemed to slowly be breaking into groups, with Aiden heading the formation of his, and Brynn was impatient to get the day done with.

Picking out three more people was simple enough. Next to her was Ryan, a cute little junior Brynn had seen around in advanced placement courses and at the Crestwood General Hospital, which meant she was likely an aspiring pre-med and therefore had a decent head. There was also the new kid and latecomer, Archie, who—according to Adrielle—had a short-lived career as a professional skater that was ended by some Hyperhuman-related family scandal. While he didn't seem the rule-abiding type, his skating career, however brief, spoke of his dedication and character, and Brynn respected those characteristics more than she disliked a lack of punctuality. For a third member, Baron, a fellow senior, would do. Though Brynn had barely shared a class with him since freshman or sophomore year thanks to her advanced placement-ridden schedule, he was at least a better bet than the rest of the crowd.

“Ryan, Archie, Baron,” Brynn said, glancing at the three in turn. “How about it?”

“Huh?” Ryan, having already resigned herself to a five-minute wait, seemed more than a little taken by surprise at hearing her name. Looking over towards Brynn, she paused for a moment’s thought. She at least recognised her, though from Ryan’s understanding the older girl was part of the popular circles that she herself usually kept her head down around. Still, even if she was a little apprehensive, it seemed like a better option than waiting for Mr Lehrer to decide, so she smiled slightly and nodded. ”Sure. Sounds good.”

Baron wasn't a fan of choosing partners for things and the fact that he was being forced to do it immediately was sort of unsettling. Group work was one of those things that required friends and he barely knew anyone in this class so far. He recognized a few people but he couldn't say that he'd ever had the pleasure ...or displeasure of talking to them before. He was ready to content himself in waiting for the teacher to choose him a partner, sitting rigidly and challengingly. If they wanted him to scramble, they weren't going to be satisfied.

He sat like that for one, maybe two minutes before a girl broke into his thoughts. He uncoiled immediately because he recognized her to a small extent. Pretty, brunette, and way outside of his small social circle. Brynn Reyes. He couldn't begin to explain what had drove her to choosing him besides sharing a few classes in the past but he wasn't about to argue with the only spot of luck that he'd experienced all day. It was better than waiting, it was better than being that kid.

"Can't say I have any better offers," he admitted, "Sounds good to me."

Archie was already bored, barely five minutes into the class. Discussing the morality of man, and how we stacked up against beings of a lesser intelligence, wasn't exactly his idea of a special class, let alone having to then break into groups in order to write some crappy message in a long-forgotten dialect he neither knew nor cared about. This was the kind of thing children did in history classes, although trade in Ogham for Egyptian Hieroglyphics. But still, this was a good opportunity for him to branch out and get to know some of his fellow students, away from Cara's smothering. Lifting his head from resting on the palm of his hand, Archie began to scour the room for potential group mates. It wasn't long before he noticed a girl staring right at him, offering him a place in her group. He was encaptivated by her immediately as he regarded just how pretty she was. Brynn was her name, Cara had elbowed him in the ribs when she'd caught him admiring her in the Main Quad at lunch.

Archie had to force himself to nod in response to her offer, his words escaping him momentarily before adding, "Sure thing. Beats waiting around, I guess."

Winter watched as Brynn managed to find a group rather quickly. Then again, Brynn did seem to have a way of always getting people to open up to her. She wondered if she would ever be like that. Hopefully once she went to college, she could start over. Start fresh and not have herself judged based on what teenagers considered popular. She turned to the group, assuming Brynn's careful glance at her was an invitation. After all, out of everyone in the room, Brynn was the only one she would call a friend.

"Hope you don't mind if I join too." It wasn't so much asking as it was a demand, but they did need to group up so people were bound to be dissapointed.

“Alright. Winter,” Brynn said, indicating her friend, “Ryan, Baron, and Archie.”

Figuring brief introductions would suffice for a class activity, Brynn turned her attention to the sheet that Jonas had handed out. Language and Celtic codes—the activity seemed more like one she'd find in history, but Brynn wasn't in charge of what the activity entailed; she was in charge of producing an encoded message for the other groups.

“Any suggestions for a message?” she asked, looking around the group. “And anyone want to volunteer to write the code?” As this was a group activity, Brynn couldn't immediately do everything, but if no one else volunteered, she'd have an excuse to do so—not that she wanted to.

Forcing a small smile and nod to the rest of the group in greeting, Ryan’s attention almost immediately seemed to turn away from them. It was deliberate, of course; for some reason mostly-ignoring people made her less worried she’d do something wrong by accident. Although she preferred not to let herself wonder why she’d be worried about that.

”I think I’d rather write the code.” She offered after a moment, partly because she didn’t mind languages, partly because it’d get her out of coming up with a message, but mostly because writing meant she’d have a good excuse to sit and look at the paper instead of anyone else around the table. Not that she couldn’t avoid eye contact anyway if she wanted, but one looked far weirder than the other and it was bad enough knowing she was already visibly nervous. ”If that’s fine with everyone.”

"We're probably going to have to choose a message that's school friendly, so, perhaps something in support of the Ravens?"

It was an easy enough suggestion and one that he could sit back and let them mull over. He wasn't nervous despite the social status that surrounded him currently. Baron was someone that flew by, people didn't love him but they didn't hate him. He was either the perpetually bored, quiet kid or the rebellious socialite and there was nothing in between. The people that hung around him ranged from being popular to being vastly unpopular. He knew most of the people in this group by face and by name, which made this infinitely easier to deal with.

"Or something about this class, I guess."

"What if we don't do that? Wouldn't that be too obvious? Make it somewhat harder to guess." It wasn't malicious in intent, it just seemed like this was supposed to be somewhat challenging. "If you wanna write it, by all means. I wouldn't know the first thing about doing this." Winter fought the urge to take out her phone and check it, considering what happened in Physics class, but she was also not super invested into this. She just didn't see how this all played into this class' goals.

Baron's pitch reminded Brynn of her volleyball game next Tuesday. However, Social Conscience was comprised of upperclassmen—individuals who'd already found a pattern of attendance for Mather Memorial's sporting events. While Brynn could expect to draw people like Aiden or Winter, most of the class consisted of people with few ties to the school's athletic department, so advertising would likely be a waste of effort on her part.

“Alright, you're on writing then, Ryan,” Brynn said when no one else volunteered. The nervous junior looked like she needed a good pep talk, but that was neither of Brynn's business nor interest. What was important was that the time-consuming part was accounted for; since there were no specific requirements for the actual message, there was little need to deliberate over it, though Brynn figured the discussion should continue for a few more minutes to keep up appearances.

“The hardest thing to decode would be a string of random letters or words, but Jonas said 'message,' so it probably has to make sense somehow,” Brynn said. While Winter had a point in that common phrases could be guessed without a complete decoding, thus defeating the purpose of the activity, it remained that the whole thing was just a small group activity for Social Conscience. Fall this year was especially busy, with schoolwork, volleyball, and college applications set to dominate Brynn's waking hours, so Social Conscience fell low on her list of priorities. As such, Brynn was content to let the rest of her group hash the details out; she'd step in if it seemed like they were dragging.

Ryan thought the question over, her gaze now firmly fixed on the paper. Ravens, something about ravens... it could work, she supposed. Ugh, was she being presumptuous by speaking up? She’d already said she’d write the code, after all. Maybe they didn’t want to listen, or at least not to her. But then again, there weren’t any other suggestions coming, and the sooner this got done the sooner she could withdraw again. Classwork was fine, she could do classwork, and the more useful she was here the less chance she’d have annoyed someone. Hopefully.

“Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos. The, um, literal translation is ‘raise ravens and they’ll peck out your eyes’.” She spoke quietly, barely raising her head to glance at the others before looking down again. Sure, the message probably had to be coherent, but no-one said it had to be in English. ”If you want something difficult, of course. It’s kind of relevant to the class, I guess - the gist of it is that taking care of bad people means they’ll stab you in the back.” Pausing for a second, she grimaced, continuing uncertainly. ”And I guess it technically includes ravens, although it’s... not exactly flattering.”

“Using another language is a good idea,” Brynn said, both impressed and slightly peeved: The idea of using a different language had escaped her, and though she wasn't surprised that it was the aspiring pre-med who thought of it, Brynn didn't enjoy being outdone. Still, this was precisely why she'd wanted Ryan in her group, so she could hardly complain. “The message is a bit off though. Anyone have another suggestion?”

Winter was paying attention, even if it didn't seem like it. She just wanted this over with so the class could end or they could be lectured. She hated being here when she had plenty of other electives she wanted that would look just as good, if not better, on college applications. "Another language is fine. Anyone know of one? I only took Spanish as an elective Freshman year, but I am not an expert in it."

"French, I know French, give me a phrase and I can give it back to you in French." Baron said boredly, seemingly absorbed in picking a bit of dirt from beneath his nail. "Anything to get this done with quicker."

He didn't really care much for his own contribution, which has been almost nothing, he was just wanting to get this done as quickly as possible. It wasn't like him to get active with groups and by the way this group seemed to be acting, it wasn't much like them either. So far it had been a collective of people mumbling unhelpfully at each other and the blond chick had even been so bold that she'd shot his idea down completely. The only helpful suggestion so far had come from the quiet girl, he believed that her name was Ryan. He had liked her suggestion though he understood the hesitancy to use something that had little bearing on teams or victory.

Nonetheless, he appreciated her input the most so far and it might give him a reason to use his vague knowledge of French.

“French sounds good. Onto the message then,” Brynn said as one of the other groups seemed to be finishing up. “We can always go with something in support of the Ravens.” Though Winter had a point with Baron's idea earlier, now that they were using a different language, the message would be harder to guess.

Ryan’s attention had been turned back to the desk for the past couple of minutes, listening without really contributing any more to the discussion. The fact that they’d actually taken her suggestion was a slight surprise; she tended to assume she’d get ignored by default. It didn’t need to be complicated anyway, there wasn’t much chance anyone would guess it straight out. French seemed fine. Everything was fine. Nothing to worry about.

She really wanted to get this over with. ”They do that chant, right? The, uh, black and blue thing. We could just translate that.”

“Everyone okay with that?” Brynn asked. If anything, she was glad that the class would be pretty much over after the presentations. Group activities had a way of sucking up time, and though Brynn usually loathed them, she figured that Social Conscience needed all the filler it could get.

Winter looked it over. She nodded her approval. it was done. They could turn it in now. Finally. Maybe this class can end early and she could leave. Maybe visit the mall or check when Cheerleader practice was.

Kazuhiko Taketori

Dusk || Land of Fire Border

Signing quickly, Kazuhiko jumped out of the way of a katana’s arc, swinging his hand at the attacker as he did so. Lightning Release: Thunder—arcs of lightning leapt out from his hands, latching onto the attacker’s katana and travelling down the length of the steel. The shock caused the man to drop his katana with a cry, palms stretched wide with pain, as Kazuhiko landed a kick to his face to knock him out.

Whipping out a kunai to clash against the next katana that came his way, Kazuhiko pushed the attacker back before quickly jumping back, retreating to a short distance away. As he did, the two remaining attackers charged at him, katanas raised. When they were close enough, Kazuhiko rapidly signed his next jutsu—Lightning Release: Thunderbolt—sending out multiple thin arcs of lightning that sought out the attackers’ katanas. One of the attackers was repelled, dropping his katana in alarm. The other grit his teeth, pushing through the pain to complete his swing, which Kazuhiko parried with a kunai, kicking the man’s legs out from under him. As the man fell, Kazuhiko took the chance to knock out both him and his comrade, who was in the middle of attempting to retrieve his smoldering katana.

After checking all three of his targets, Kazuhiko straightened, glancing at his teammates. Natsuko and Hachiro were unharmed, a kunai in Natsuko’s grip, and Koharu seemed to have taken down three attackers as well. That made six attackers in all and an exact tie between them.

“Good job too,” Kazuhiko said, rejoining Koharu as they walked over to Natsuko. From her pants, it was clear that the jutsu she’d used had put a strain on her. While he wasn’t as tired as his teammate, he’d been sorely disappointed by his rendition of his Lightning Release: Thunderbolt; where his Thunder version had produced a satisfactorily strong arc of lightning, his Thunderbolt rendition—perhaps on account of the number of arcs produced—had been disappointingly weak in comparison. His chakra control needed some work, he figured, and he likely needed to grind and raise his base chakra levels as well.

“Now he’s your problem again,” Natsuko said, gently but firmly pushing Hachiro towards Kazuhiko and Koharu. The boy was quick on the uptake, grabbing Kazuhiko’s hand.

“You’re really strong,” he said, eyes wide as he stared at Kazuhiko, who was, after an initial second of confusion, starting to feel immensely awkward.

“Koharu is also very capable,” he said at last, but Hachiro was not so easily dissuaded, even after Natsuko inserted herself into the dialogue on Koharu’s behalf. During the walk back, Hachiro’s attention was fixed firmly on Kazuhiko, forcing the genin to remain sheepishly awkward and short-spoken.

Natsuko Rinha

Early Morning || Land of Lightning Outskirts

Natsuko woke abruptly, snapping up to a sitting position and glancing around in alarm. She’d felt something—a push, maybe. Something a small distance off that had suddenly flared up. Trial and error during the past, however, told Natsuko that this ‘something’ wasn’t as mysterious as it felt; it was simply someone using a large amount of chakra. Her senses—however they worked—would pick up on concentrated chakra use. This uncanny intuition was helpful in cases when someone wanted to sneak up on her, like some pranksters back home who thought using simple jutsu to deliver nasty shocks or dump icy water down her back was fun. In this case, Natsuko had a feeling she knew what was going on.

A glance at Koharu, who was sleeping peacefully next to her, made Natsuko hold back from rousing her teammate. Rising carefully, she made sure to stay as silent as possible as she left the tent, but her foot caught on the tent as she stepped out, causing her to almost trip—saved by a hand that caught on the opening of the tent, which, though prevented her from tripping, definitely made enough noise to wake her teammate.

“Sorry Koharu,” Natsuko whispered as her teammate shifted. “Kazuhiko’s out and about at these hours, so I thought I might go find him. Want to come?”

Kazuhiko Taketori

Early Morning || Land of Lightning Outskirts


Kazuhiko straightened, panting as he turned. Natsuko and Koharu had arrived at the little clearing he’d found a little ways away from camp—just so far so that the sound didn’t travel. Though he had no idea why his teammates had awoken, especially since he knew for a fact that Natsuko adored her sleep to the point of missing meetings at times, they were awake now, so his individual training session was over.

“Kazu-chan, you can’t just sneak off and train alone,” Natsuko said, pouting. “We’re a team. We need to improve together! Or just you and Koharu—you two should try training together. Who knows where that might lead?” she said, nudging Koharu.

“I’m just about finished anyway,” Kazuhiko said, his breaths slowing. And he was: As he was used to training alone, the arrival of his teammates meant his session was up.

“Aw, don’t leave just yet,” Natsuko whined, tugging Koharu over to the boy. “Let’s all train together then. I won’t tease anymore.”

Kazuhiko hesitated. The offer was tempting, but usually, their training was supervised by Minoru.

“Oh c’mon,” Natsuko whined again.

“Fine. But I’m holding you to that,” he said. Natsuko pouted but quickly broke into a grin.

“Cool! I’ll leave you two to it then,” she said jokingly, to which both her teammates immediately protested.

Eryn Montero

A small town near Pureplain City || Early Morning

High school graduation was only yesterday, but the milestone event was already far out of Eryn’s mind. Her petition to become a Pokemon trainer had gone through, and she’d barely been able to sleep, excitement driving away any tiredness she might have felt the night before. Waking up in the morning had been the easiest and quickest thing Eryn had done in a while, and she was dressed, packed, and bursting to get out the door in less than twenty minutes.

“Bye Mom, Dad,” Eryn said, hugging each of her parents, who’d woken up to wave their daughter off on her big day. Her dad had even made Eryn’s favorite Oran berry pancakes, which Eryn had appreciated by scarfing down in record time.

“Bye Harper,” Eryn said, leaning down to give her younger sister a proper bear hug. “Take care of Mom and Dad for me, won’t you?”

“Will do, sis,” Harper said, grinning at her sister. Though she was a few years younger than Eryn, Harper was older mentally, and Eryn had no doubt she was leaving her parents in good hands.

“Take care of yourself out there, Erry,” her mom said, waving as Eryn bounded down the porch steps.

“Go get’em, Err!” her dad called.

“You better kill it, Eryn!” Harper called, hands cupped around her mouth.

“I’ll get on the telly one day—just wait!” Eryn shouted back, waving at her parents as she latched the picket gate behind her.

Pureplain City || Kalmia’s Lab || Early Morning

The bus ride to Pureplain was too long for Eryn’s liking, but she made up for lost time by sprinting the rest of the stretch to Professor Kalmia’s lab. Sure Pureplain was exciting, being a major city and all, but Eryn had been before. Exploring the city would have to wait until after she got the most essential part of any new trainer’s life: a starter—her dream since the day she learned that she too could become a Pokemon trainer. Fire-type, water-type, grass-type—all three were more than fine for Eryn. Sure she’d daydreamed about a torrent-stirring Swampert or a blossoming Meganium, but any starter would sate her since her end desire was to become the best Pokemon trainer she could. If she were to be honest, though, she had a soft spot for the fire-type starters: be it a blaze-backed Typhlosion or a flare-kicking Infernape, fire-types drew her attention like a moth to a flame. Perhaps it was their oft-portrayed feisty-yet-loyal temperament or simply the showiness of their moves that she was drawn to; either way, Eryn was thrilled because today, she would get her first Pokemon.

Giddy with excitement was one way to describe the wide smile on Eryn’s face as she pulled up in front of the lab, adjusting her backpack that had shifted during her run. A starter! How exciting was that? Her first real step into trainership, because she could hardly be called a real trainer without a Pokemon. Sure it was still a while until the specified eight o’clock, but Eryn preferred being early, and there was nothing she was more likely to be early to than her first day as a trainer.

Rubbing her hands together to get rid of excitement jitters—or whatever the tingly feelings in her hands were—Eryn reached to the double doors and planted two solid knocks in the right one, the sound reverberating through the smooth surface and into the space behind. Her knuckles tingled, her cheeks were starting to feel sore, and she couldn’t stop the impatient bouncing she was doing, but first day jitters were first day jitters, and Eryn couldn’t wait until the doors opened up.
@Balthazar007 I just realized that the IC dates coincided with real life dates, kinda. Does it matter if I move my characters slowly through each day? Or would you prefer that I try to keep up with IRL dates?

Natsuko Rinha

Dusk || Land of Fire Border

“I’m just that much more likable,” Natsuko said with victorious grin as she prepared to drag her teammates off with Minoru’s blessing. A childish call of protest, however, stopped her short, and she immediately let go of her teammates, ducking behind Koharu.

“Keep him away from me,” she hissed, eyes wide as Hachiro neared. When the boy continued walking over, Natsuko was forced to abandon ship and duck behind Kazuhiko.

“I’m trying very hard not to!” she said when Koharu threw a jibe at her.

“I’m in charge of protecting him too, and that means against you if necessary,” Kazuhiko said in his deadpan way, and Natsuko was unable to tell whether or not he was joking.

“Okay, okay, jeez!” she said, stepping away from him. “I’ll walk over here, okay? But I swear, if that brat says one more thing—”

“Why’s she acting like a crazy person?” Hachiro asked, tugging on Koharu’s sleeve.

“Oh, you are so—”


“Alright, fine,” Natsuko said, crossing her arms and pouting. She suffered the rest of the trek in silence as Hachiro remained attached to both her teammates, clearly favoring Koharu’s soft tone and not altogether put off by Kazuhiko’s flat one either. While Natsuko had to admit she was a bit jealous of the kid, she was glad to see her teammates cheering up after the long hike. She herself was exhausted, and being able to relax and dip her feet in the river—despite the cold—sounded like the perfect end to a long day.

Kazuhiko Taketori

Dusk || Land of Fire Border

Kazuhiko tagged along with his teammates, much like he’d always done. While he himself had no intention of soaking anything in the river, he could see the sense in Natsuko’s argument, and Koharu looked like she could use whatever home remedy Natsuko was suggesting. Their young charge tagging along, however, was a bit of a wild card. Though Minoru had trusted them enough to leave Hachiro in their care, Kazuhiko was still a bit perturbed—if not by the newfound responsibility, then by the boy’s presence.

Hachiro conducted himself as any young, spoiled, filterless child would, and while his honesty was refreshing—as was Natsuko and her reactions to it—Kazuhiko was struck by how differently he and Hachiro had turned out. Where he preferred silence and solitude, Hachiro seemed to gravitate towards the center of attention, intent on placing himself near it if not in it. As a son of a daimyo, Hachiro no doubt had expectations piled on his shoulders as well, yet the boy seemed to have little care for any mannerisms or codes of conduct he would no doubt have had drilled into him by numerous tutors. Kazuhiko had learned early on to watch what words left his mouth, since words held much more weight in formal settings where actions numbered few. Hachiro, on the other hand, seemed to have completely abandoned such lessons, suggesting either a lack of care for them or a desire to rebel against them. Both unsettled Kazuhiko, since he could never imagine himself going along with either of those thoughts.

Kazuhiko waited patiently on the riverbank as Hachiro and his teammates sat at the edge of the water and dipped their feet in. While he caught Koharu’s look of mischief, he trusted the her to conduct herself properly. A few moments later, when Hachiro jumped away from the water, screeching, Kazuhiko connected the dots and cracked a smile.

“Hah! Nice one, Koharu!” Natsuko shouted from her spot a few meters down the river bank. “Kid, that’s what you get!”

Hachiro looked between the two girls, confused, then turned to Kazuhiko, who shrugged. “The water’s too cold,” Hachiro said finally, pouting and hugging his legs close to avoid the water, much to Natsuko’s delight.

“What are you suggesting?” Kazuhiko asked, perking up at Koharu’s suggestion of a competition. While he was confident in his skills, he’d never gotten confirmation that he was better than Koharu, since Minoru was a master of non-committal answers. As such, a friendly contest to determine who was better was something he was keenly interested in.

Rustling from behind Kazuhiko diverted his attention, and he turned halfway, then turned back when the rustling ceased completely. They weren’t alone on the riverbank.

“How about ‘who takes down more targets?’” he asked, activating his Sensaigan.

Natsuko was quick on the uptake, quickly moving to Hachiro’s side. “Go for it, you two. I’ll watch him,” she said, giving Hachiro’s cheek a pinch. “Let’s call a truce until you’re safe again.”

Kazuhiko nodded, turning as a row of black-swathed figures emerged from the forest edge, katanas gleaming in the last rays of the setting sun. Taking up stance, he shared a glance at Koharu before they both rushed the swordsmen.


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