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Dust Apps

She read me like an open book.

Professor Cirsium had a good eye indeed— Or my poker face wasn't quite as good as I liked to think. Better get that squared away before the next time Dawn challenged me to a round of Old Maid. Then again, I've never really been a good liar, but all that aside: she was right on the money with her diagnosis.

I've never charged Dust without meaning to activate it. A reaction was always the end goal, and never the steps that would naturally lead up to it. As I said, I came into this rushing to the finish line every single time. It was a mentality thing, which I'd understood already. All it required was switching the mentality from "charge and activate" to "just charge". I'd always understood that.


Only the Water Dust in this vial.
Nothing else.
Get flowing for me.

My thought process to get there was wrong. I was pulling myself back, restraining, treating my aura like a dog on a leash. If I didn't specifically focus on just charging, something would go awry; that was the source of all my overzealous concentration. Technically, for the purpose of what we were trying to achieve in the exercise, making sure to not get ahead of myself and activate it was the right call...

Quickly yet gently, the vial began to grow heavier as the radiant blue powder disappeared, replaced by crystal clear water. I watched as the hidden contents, interspersed within the dust as a million hidden tests, began their prismatic dance within the vial as the currents of the activation formed a tiny whirlpool within the glass, casting an entire spectrum of energized, yet mercifully inactive particles in a twirling dance.

"That's awesome."

I had the wrong order.

It was as she said, after all. Why does it not activate purely via contact with Aura?

Because we aren't telling it to.

I was too busy worrying about making sure that I didn't tell it to— or you could say I was fretting over telling it not to. I had the concept, but until that point, it wasn't clicking in the way that meant I really had it. The difference between knowing about something, understanding it, and being able to do it.

But what was more work? Telling one thing "yes", or telling a bunch of things "no"? To activate the water dust, and only the water dust, I just needed to only tell the water dust to activate. Not to sound like a certain sword enthusiast, but that was really it. I didn't need to put my energy into trying so hard to hold everything back when all I wanted was to push one thing forward.

...Man, I'm dumb. I'd worried about things turning on just because I plugged them in.

It really was just a matter of flipping a switch.


Fate favors the bold, so they say. I may not have been quite first, but luckily our professor was feeling generous enough for two— and luckily, her eyes were sharp enough to tell that I'd just eked out second place from the cavalcade of would-be demonstrators that had also leapt at the chance.

"Yeah, sure."

Unfortunately, that might have been the easy part.

Shimmying out of the row, I took a second to give Beryl a quick nudge before fully extracting myself from the seats and descending the steps towards the lectern. I did promise to try and keep her awake, after all. It wouldn't do to get distracted and just let her nod off during the important stuff.

Important stuff that I was about to be part of, to boot. By my deeds, I'm riding to Valhalla. Witness me.

If I'm gonna die, Bianca, I'm gonna die historic on Fury Road!

...I don't think I gave her the best sell on that movie. I'd be surprised if she even remembered its name.

Hey, considering my semblance, am I a War Boy or the Organic Mechanic? I can heal others, but I'm also familiar with the interpretation that regenerative abilities are akin to cancer...

If the expression of my inner energies manifested as two lumps on my clavicle named Barry and Larry, the only Dust I'm applying is that of fire, directly to them.

Er, I had better get back on track.

I accepted the vial presented to me, carefully eyeing its contents. Those familiar powered crystals, colored a deep, deep blue that made you think of the ocean. Hmm.

Working with water? That made sense. Hard for us to hurt ourselves with unless we were dumb enough to breathe it.

"Diamond, Luke, take these vials and try focusing your aura without wanting to catalyse them, could you?"

"Focus, but don't catalyze, got it."

I nodded, murmuring that a few more times under my breath. In theory, that ought to be perfectly simple given how she explained it. Just make sure not to ask the dust to do its thing and it should be a cinch. Like we established earlier, the system's more like a computer than a chemical reaction— Dust needs both the power source and the information of a command to start working.

In theory, I should have no more trouble with this than I would turning my laptop on and then just not touching it.

I felt my brow furrow as the outside world faded and I looked inward.

Aura is the self— an expression of the soul and will. Introspection in its most literal form is necessary to harness it once it's been unlocked to you. After all, this is who we are. We are projecting ourselves onto the world to alter it physically whenever we utilize this stuff, so it's no accident that specifically handling it has more steps than "use aura and do thing".

Settling into my nerves, I took stock of the conduit of energy that courses through them. I am the vessel, and the vessel decides the flow. If I wish to focus the flow upon something outside of me, I must provide that impetus. You cannot touch something without first extending a hand to reach it.

My mother was a wonderful teacher to have brought me up from not knowing my left from my right to being able to do this so easily in such as short timespan, really. Being able to turn the senses inwards to find a well of energy that you were previously blind to is easier said than done. We focus so much on the world around us in our normal lives that the stuff lying within goes untapped, then unnoticed, the unrecognized.

Alright. Ready to work with it now. I focused on the vial, and the Dust within, and began reach out to it with that energy of will and soul. I wanted to leave my mark upon it, and I wanted it to do something for me. You cannot move that something, impart power onto it, without pushing.

It's not as if you don't notice the changes an unlocked aura brings— every sense clears, every movement feels weightless and free, and you understand intrinsically that you are more you than you were before. You feel new and improved, and the energy that's supercharging you is at the cusp of your perception, a tingling in the back of your mind. Basically put, you know it's there, but without either training or pure dumb luck, you don't know how to grab a hold of it and make it do what you want.

You don't get to tell your Aura to do things with just an inclination without either a semblance or lots of practice.

As for little ol' me, what I wanted to do was pass that energy through the the Dust. To get the electrons in all ready to go in the circuit, but not flip the switch that would set them flowing until I wanted to. Filling up the car with gas but don't start the engine might be another way to look at this.

This was the tricky part, for the reasons that only could be brought up as the doubled edge to my truncated training.

That is, the task of simply charging it with power and not immediately folding that into, "okay, activate". Dust is a natural Aura conduit, and as such, has a now-familiar sensation that I'd liken to a sort of pull when encountering projected aura. When training to enter Beacon Academy, I'd quickly associated that pull with "activation"— after all, utilizing Dust is an overwhelmingly important skill for a Huntsman, so priority one was making sure I could catalyze it in the blink of an eye. Now, I was having to rein in that instinct I'd so dutifully beaten into my own head.

If I had been trained the normal way, without such a rush, this would just be as simple as removing the final step of "Project, Energize, Catalyze.", but for me it was unfortunately closer to "wind up and swing, but don't follow through when you hit the ball".

I carefully let my Aura flow into the powdered ultramarine. I was so used to the expected outcome of "elemental power unleashes" that at first, my only indication that I was even doing anything was the sensation of my Aura reaching outward and being pulled into the vial.

Focus upon transferring power.
Not transferring command.
Do not catalyze.


I released a small breath, one I hadn't realized I was holding, when I heard and saw the telltale shimmer of charged Dust within the vial.


"That's harder than it sounds."

What was that about doing a lot of reading and intensive coursework?

Oh yeah, that study group was going to be the minimum.

Shinjiro Karasawa

"Yo, Hat-chan."

Through his bruised pride and naturally surly disposition, it wouldn't be remiss for someone unaware of Shinjiro Karasawa to be shocked that he could force out a smile in any context. Certainly, the dude was a rough and tumble type, and he normally spoke in what could kindly be considered an coarse drawl. Not to mention, his purplescent hair and eyes would remind some of the dyed dos of delinquents, which only served to further the image.

But, they would have to be unaware.

For the tiny blonde known only by the eternally-descriptive moniker of "Hat-chan" was a friend. Not only that, but she was a damn good one. Anybody who could somehow exist in near-every place you went as one of their part-time employees would make for good talkin' to, but on top of that, she was also a fellow student— an invaluable classmate, who would always pitch in to have a friend's back.


His mind flashes to the dead of night, on a quiet high school campus.

———It's a good time to be doing something bad.

The stars are naturally nowhere to be seen, given that this is Academy City, but the Moon still reigns solemnly over that lonely sky, tinged blue with the haze of Science's refusal to sleep.

He is in a bush, and has been for two and a half hours now. He knows not when he intends to leave, but he can feel sleep weighing upon him, and through every nerve that has been devoted to keeping his muscles taut and ready, he redoubles his fight against it.

He can't lose here.

He can't let the perps win.

He has to keep watch.

He has to...

His head droops forward—

And a small elbow clacks into one of his floating ribs and sends a spike of pain and wakeful jolt through his whole frame. That same small blonde urges him to stay awake: Surely, Kara-han, if we wait here long enough, we'll nab the guy who broke into the school and get us that bounty. We can't nod off yet.

The watch continues, as the pair of self-appointed arbiters of justice renew their vigilance with the promised spoils in mind


And back in the present, a thought occurs.

Come to thinkuv it, does she even sleep? I know this girl works nights, too.

"So, you said you got somebody else from class comin'? You sure I can't handle this thing myself? I think I could get my arms around it."

In any case, all those good turns deserved a few in kind, and he'd have honestly felt like less of a man if he just brushed a solid pal off because of one bad night.

The trolley was metal of course, as most are, but in all honesty he was pretty sure that the package itself wouldn't be impossible for one dude. Maybe difficult, but, you know, things worth doing usually were. Hell, maybe if Hat-chan held the thing steady while he pulled it up past the curb on the trolley, they wouldn't even have to deal with the awkwardness that was usually part and parcel (heh) of dealing with big boxes.

"Oh? Is there some trouble here?" a vaguely familiar voice asked. He noticed, but didn't take note— he was far too busy cloying his mind for different methods of solving this issue, and therefore didn't even look up from it.

"Nah, we're just gettin' this package lifted. S'all good." he said with a dismissive wave of the hand, a gesture to echo that nonchalant sentiment.

Besides, run around enough places in Academy City causing getting into messes, and you're bound to hear just about everyone at least once.
Pun edits are the most important

In the mass of Tearlag Cirsium's assembled pupils, my mind was ablur as I rapidly notated everything I thought to be remotely important.

Including the long and short of what my peers had apparently already understood. Note comparisons in the future would probably be crucial.

I have no clue where Lauren pulled that Hermione impression out of, first of all. To say it plainly, she was startlingly... gung-ho about trying to sell this one. Putting the accent on is one thing, but beginning to add hints dialectical slang was entirely another. If this was her power as a conwoman, she could probably do a pretty decent job pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone either not paying close attention or aware of her real voice... Not that the Professor seemed to mind.

Well, hm.

I doubt they've met before, or that she cared enough, because her priorities obviously lied within continuing the lecture as she rolled right along.


So, wait: the Dust could be blended, but the constituent parts could individually be triggered? Wasn't the activation catalyst necessary the aura?

Wouldn't that cause both types to react? I can understand that if you somehow delayed it, the frozen flame was created by the freezing of the ice dust as it was dispersed by the upheaveal of the air and convection and all that, but wouldn't the initial input of aura be in contact with both elements as it flowed out of one's hand?

Especially if it was a homogeneous mixture?

Hers might not have been, in fairness, plus I doubted that mixing would change the chemical structure— But if it required pinpoint activation, that would be simply unfeasible to be teaching any first-years, let alone me.

I frowned. Our teacher continued, explaining that it didn't need to play out as I had been imagining, which was indeed cool and all but had unfortunately frozen my thought process in place—

"Dust acts because you will it to act."


That was it?

I don't know about having a semblance that takes use of that ma'am, I just bleed on people to make them stop bleeding— It's really as simple as just willing it to happen or not happen?

"Request in, result out"...

She called for volunteers, lavender eyes scanning the room.

I gave it a moment's consideration, eyes narrowing and brow furrowing as I rolled the idea of just tell it what to do in my head—

And rose my hand.

Whether I clearly got it or not, this could end up being a one-on-one coaching session for the practical application of the concept by a certified expert on the matter.

That's worth giving it a whirl, even if I pratfall the first attempt or two in front of everyone.

Shinjiro Karasawa

Bzzz! Bzz!


In review, last night was a complete wash. Worst Ramen trip of his goddamn life... Very rarely had one resulted in him nursing an unrepaid concussion. Or, at least, a probable... possible concussion. He had just kind of staggered home instead of doing the smart thing and seeing a doc after getting so caught in a gaffle. Rocky 3's phone exploding was about the last thing he could have expected, and as many a pugilist famously said, "it's the one you don't see that gets you". Like charging a purse snatcher into Tokiwadai— They get so focused on trying to ditch you they have no idea they just screeched past a bunch of posted up Judgement broads. Works every time.

Also on you, with your eye-catchingly royalty-colored hair, but different story. Not the point. The point was, the exploding phone sucked for his cranium.


"You're friggin killin' me, Hat-chan..."

Of course, now he wished nothing more than for his phone to explode because it was sucking too, but a few hundred milligrams of ibuprofen might sort that one out in a much less expensive manner. No two ways about it— he was sore about last night in every conceivable measure. His pride in being a rough and tough bozo with the best of them couldn't be fixed by medicine, but at least his head might...


Anyways, head wasn't throbbing, but self-esteem was. He didn't feel like a reliable fella after getting heemed drowsy without even seeing who wanted to take it there. If he ever got to the bottom'a this crap, he was mad ready to take a couple dozen swings at those responsible.

Well, that'll also take getting back on the trail, bruva. Betta look out for an Mick or Beatnik if you can. He thought irately to himself, slipping on his trusty sneakers and ambling off to a very particular waypoint in District 7.

After all, if he wanted reclaim "solid" status, to be real good money, easy start was helping a friend out with a delivery.

You could lift something up with a sore head, right?

"Hopefully we'll get some more permanent knowledge out of her, then." I wryly responded in a similarly hushed tone.

Come on, we're in class with an extremely qualified professor here, Lauren.

That can't be comfortable at all, Sis. In my book, you should really save that for when you don't have to pretend to keep a lid on it...

Despite my internal grumblings, I still did manage to catch the supremely haggard entrance of my favorite otter, Beryl Harken. With the way she collapsed into the seat, offering only a tired grumble at response to my breathed "Heya," I had to wonder— What on earth had happened in Survival? I mean, Lauren looked fine, even a bit too relaxed— Literally just sitting on his lap!— but my poor boatmate looked the definition of tuckered out.

Estelle Nuit must've been one maddening taskmistress...

Well, anyway.

"I'll definitely be up for comparing notes with you guys— But," I began before turning to Beryl specifically, still at a low, breathless rumble that would hopefully not carry out to Professor Cirsium past the aimless chatter of the crowd. "If you really want me to, Beryl..."

My right foot launched upwards into a swift, firm tap against the faunus's calves, rubber and toe digging into the muscle just the slightest bit as demonstration. At full blast, she'd have to be dead not to at least notice, but this one was just proof of concept.

Surely that'd do, so long as I noticed in the midst of my note-taking trance.

"Wait, really?"

Wow, wait a minute...

We breezed through the halls at a light jog, having donned most of our uniforms after the chaotic learning experience of P.E. The results of our game aside, I felt like I'd grown a little more experienced in a live situation that I had no control over, so hopefully that was going to pay dividends in the long run. I'd barked out orders as they came to me, and when push came to shove, by the end of it I had shouldered the burden of vice-commanding as best I could.

But now I needed to turn my attention towards the next class, the next teacher, and the next skill I wanted to develop. I wasn't expecting leadership to come out of Physical Education in any respect, Dust Apps was as straightforward as you could get. Professor Cirsium would be there with Dust and we'd be there to learn dust.

...Professor Cirsium.

The lilac twintails, the slight build, the giant axe. I rolled the images over in my mind, trying to remember each year I'd plopped down in front of the TV, enraptured, as my Mother, Father, and one lucky sister (usually Dawn) crowded the couch. The year that immediately came to mind within these idyllic memories...


The Festival that hosted April's favorite match of all time.

"Oh man, you're right! I didn't realize at all!"

How embarrassing, that was my favorite year, too!

Damn! Just when I had started to trust my brain!

"Anyway, yeah, I've met her before. Family Day," I intoned as we turned the corner before skidding to a stop in front of the lecture hall—I707. "She's nice enough. Serious about her class, but nice. She talked me through what I needed to do to be ready when I signed up. I guess it came naturally since she's also a student counselor."

I reached for the door—

"Oh, but one thing first."

I spoke to them in a voice as serious as the grave, making sure I looked Ben in the eye.

"She's older than you think she is."

I opened the door.

As we, and the other students who had spotted the class's opening filed in and found our seats, my phone buzzed as I was retrieving my spiral— a text from Bianca.

>Hey kids! Gonna pick up some dinner for everyone tonight so we can meet up after classes <3
>Thank me later,

>Lots of love,
>Bianca Nuit

>P.S. Any requests????

Two sendoffs and a Post-Script.


We're just texting, you know?

Allowing myself a smirk, I quickly thumbed out a response as the bell sounded and a suited up Sensei strolled into the center of the front, nose scrunched up and stuck in a tablet. I had to admit, between my knowing her true age and her dressing the part of a professional lecturer, with the black tie and purple sweater and dress rather than a rabbit-eared hoodie, it was a lot easier for me to buy her as a member of faculty— even if she still looked as youthful as I did.

>Can't really think of any
>surprise me

I would regret that.

"My name is Teàrlag Cirsium, your Dust Applications teacher for this semester," she said, "But before we start ..."

But I wouldn't regret this class.

I immediately snapped to attention as she snapped her fingers—

And quite plainly saw magic before my eyes.

It started with ozone. The smell of thunder filled the hall, prompting me to almost wince and tighten my jaw. I had become uncomfortably familiar with the odor after my last outing on a mission, and found myself eternally thankful for my aura and semblance that no physiological damage had been permanent, somehow—

My tight jaw then slacked again as he smell gave way to sound, light, and heat. From Professor Cirsium's raised palm burst a gout of orange flame, streaming upwards in a torrent that threatened to lick the tiles of any ceiling that wasn't so high as I707's.

Threatened, but wouldn't have.

All just as quickly, the tower of roaring flame froze.

For the briefest moment, we silently sat in awe of the sculpture, a crystalline obelisk of flowing whites and blues— and then it shattered. Powderized. Completely disintegrated, at only the whim of Cirsium.

The young-looking woman was framed in shining rain of diamond, snowfall of her own creation, as she turned her violet eyes back onto us.

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


That was the coolest thing I'd ever seen a teacher do in my life. An academic teacher, too, Mom didn't really count, but even with her inclusion, the sheer mastery of the elements that had been granted by Teàrlag Cirsium's application of Dust—

I wanted that.

I wanted to be that.

Whatever it took, that kind of skill with something so ubiquitous in the Hunter's world as Dust was something I had to pursue. It could be the greatest equalizer of all for me, given my rushed application and eternal game of catch-up.

My mind was set. I am your humble white belt, O wise and mature Sensei. I am the lump of clay ready to be molded, the empty cup ready to be filled with knowledge.

The first words in my notebook for Dust Apps were as follows, hastily scratched out in the most energetic lines a pencil of mine had ever put to paper.



"I've gotta learn how to do that."
Shame I can't throw in Billy Herrington as a Ruler for one last Aniki hurrah.

In all seriousness, I'm looking to the cold, harsh north for starters.

A man of the Don basin...
<Snipped quote by Krayzikk>

Said factors reporting for duty.

I'm going to be aiming for a Lancer.

collateral calling in

hit me with a rider
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