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1 yr ago
Current A Perpetual Motion Engine of Anxiety and Self-Loathing


So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweets shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me, and Keith Moon, and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweets shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shopowner and his son... that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business, really. But, sure enough, I got the M&Ms, and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.

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"So, what about you? How were you touched by the Dreaming?"

Banjo's brows raised. He was surprised Mamili hadn't told him anything beyond the fact that he also had powers, apparently.

"Don't much care f'r showin' off, but alright." He stepped forward, and then looking up at the night's sky he paused.

"Uhh... Can you put 'em back. I can tell, those stars aren't where-- it's kind of makin' me nauseous."

Uncle quickly pulled back the veil of Dreaming from the night's sky and left it exactly as was.

"Thanks. The light... wasn't comin' from where it looked like it was comin'. That's better."

He could feel the tiny dapple of starlight across himself like pins and needles upon his flesh. Now at least, it felt right for where the sensation should come from. He nodded to himself, now feeling more comfortable, before he suddenly burst into blackness. A small corona from the starlight of the clear night encircling his body, his breathing halted before quickening. The night's air grew cooler from him upon the breeze's direction. His spine stiffened and musles seized. He re-knit anew.

"Yeah. It was like that." Mamili said.

Okay. So he had talked about it. The older man just wanted to reserve judgement until seeing for himself.

"It's better in the daytime. With the sunlight. But it's still not for nothing. Watch."

Banjo picked up a stone from the dirt, and threw it. The trio were unable to keep sight of its trajectory in the night's sky, regardless how clear it was. But the velocity alone had been impressive, despite Banjo's disappointment in the less than dramatic result.

"Mamili tells me you are something of a-- a-- what is the word. Joker. Jokester."

"Class clown."

"That's it. Clown. Buffoon. Fool..."

"Yup. Those are all certainly synonyms for 'clown'. However hurtful they may be... Is there a point in all of this."

"Perhaps not a point. Perhaps a story or two."

With a wave of his hand, 'Uncle' pulled back the veil of the Dreaming again and froze the very stars in the sky for his own purpose.

The prior shape of the Milky Way, which looked somewaht emu-like from before was turned, twisted and its color and vibrancy spread wide.

"Long ago... in the Dreamtime. Before all of this..." The 'this' was vague in meaning, but left no doubt as to what it meant.

"The birds in all the land had no colour. All were black.

The stars formed scattered flocks of birds, their twinkling wings in formation, sweeping across the sky, ocasionally clustering, and becoming more prominent. He brought to the fore formations of stars forming whole recognizable birds, emus, cassowaries, magpies, galah, rosellas and crows. All plain in color.

"One day Budjil, the great king of the Dreamtime, decided to change all of this..."

Cockatoos, gulls, parrokeets and finally a wedge tailed eagle, which spread its wings wide, and turned it's sharpened beak.

"Bundjil smashed the great rainbow of the sky. Scattering the colours and drenching the birds below."

The star flocks passed under the spread wide rainbow that had been converted from the 'sky emu' Milky Way galaxy, and the twinkling stars changed colours, be they blue, red, orange or green. Birds took new hues, and swept across the vista. The repeated birds had new colourific forms.

"Some birds which had stayed close to the rainbow in the sky... the rosellas, the lorrikeet's took much from the broken rainbow, and sang their songs of joy. Other birds who strayed wide and searched for carrion and other food like the crows and ravens remained black. Even the magpies had new white streaks to kaboodle about."

More star birds took the fore, demonstrating how the broken rainbow had changed their appearance.

"Other birds, took great fear and screeched and screamed with commotion out of fear!"

The spread wings and frightened beak of a white cockatoo with a shock of yellow 'hair' its crest, the pink and silver galah.

"But there was one amongst them who didn't say a word. Didn't make a sound. Goo-Goor-Gaga - the kookaburra, sat in silence, a wry smirk upon his beak until he couldn't keep it in any longer and burst out laughing."

Stars formed a kookaburra, reshaping to allow it to laugh around the beak.

"Still he laughs. From sun up, when he can first see the colours of the birds, until they are washed over in darkness again in the evening."

The stars held the kookaburra in the sky.

"Right. Ok. Had a laughing animal in it. A mention of the sun..."

Uncle once again raised an arm to the sky.

"Another tale of Goo-Goor-Gaga..."

"Oh, okay... I didn't even put a dollar in, and off he goes..."

"Shhhh." Mamili shushed him.

Uncle smiled broadly and continued. "One day, back in the Dreamtime..."

The stars swept and coalesced, forming two more birds, and emu and a crane of some description.

"...Dinewan the Emu, and Brolga, the beautiful dancing bird... were arguing."

The long necks of the two birds were swinging, beaks snapping, at one another back and forth in a rhythmic formation of stars.

"Their rage got more and more ferocious, until eventually, Brolga got so angry that she ran over to Emu's nest and threw one of her large stone or coal sized eggs and hurled it into the sky--"

One long legged, long necked, long beaked star bird, danced over and picked up one of Dinewan's star-eggs, and with a quick snap of her neck, launched the star orb skyward.

"--the egg went up and up, higher and higher, until it landed on a heap of firewood left in the sky, breaking the egg and it's yellow yolk burst forth into flames. The whole world lit up underneath, to the dazzled amazement of everyone. As back then, they had only ever known semi-darkness and were not used to the brightness."

"A good spirit of the sky, looked upon the Earth and saw how fine it looked when lit up by a great fire in the sky and decided that this was something that should happen every day. Which he has ensured happens every day since."

A star spirit walks across the sky, picking up stars. Stopping at each cluster, bundling more.

"All night the good spirit gathers wood, kindling and grass for the fire. Once the stack is nearly big enough, the good spirit sends out the Morning Star. To signal to all that he is about to light it."

The Good spirit casts out a star, which floats in place in the night's sky. Getting brighter and brighter.

"But the spirit discovered something... That the star alone was not enough to alert people to the fact that the fire was about to be lit. Many slept through, and did not see the Morning Star. So the spirit decided that there must be some kind of sound to accompany the Morning Star, in its duties of alerting everyone to the fire about to be lit."

The Good Spirit is shown to think, as the Morning Star grows, swells and twinkles brightly in the sky.

"Yeah, I think I see where this one's goin'..." Banjo muttered to Mamili.

"Shut. Up. Man." Mamili hissed.

"Then one day, the good spirit overheard the cackling laughter of Goo-Goor-Gaga, the kookaburra..."

The stars once again formed the outline of the kookaburra. They shifted and moved as its beak opened, and the bird laughed.

"In his loud cackle, the good spirit had found the sound he was looking for. Spirit asked, that as the Morning Star faded, and the great fire of the sun was about to be set, if he would laugh his very loudest, and rouse all to see the new day. Goo-Goor-Gaga agreed, and so it is with every new morn and a fresh sun's blaze, that his laughter rings best."

The star-kookaburra hung in the sky, laughing to effect.

Banjo didn't care much for the somberness of the moment.

"OK. Nice. You've got yourself a couple of nice legends there about kookaburras and the sun."

"They are intrinsically linked." Uncle said. "The second tale is not even our tribe's story. I believe it comes from one of the tribes along the Murrumbidgee... maybe the Ngunnawal, Wiradjuri or Nari Nari mobs' legends. In the oral tradition. Thousands of miles apart, bound together by common truth."

Banjo took a pull from his water bottle as he tried to take in what he was being told.

"As with the other legend I told you, of the jabiru and the emu... sometimes the audience is equal part of the message, as the telling."

He closed up his water bottle and turned his sight back to the night's sky, as the star-kookaburra kept laughing to belabour whatever point the elder seemed to be trying to make.

Ever laughing it's name into the morning's fresh dawn.

Location: Haileybury Rendall School, Darwin - Past, The Southern Plateau, Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean - Present
Welcome Home #1.094: The Dreaming and Nightmares
Interaction(s): Calliope - @PatientBean, Haven - @Skai, Katja - @Zoldyck, Rory - @Webboysurf, Amma - @Rockette
Previously: Dreaming While Awake

Banjo cackled in the early morning, holding up his enamel camping coffee mug in salute of the winged girl.

He'd just hummed along to AC/DC's 'Shook Me All Night Long' again, as the pair passed. A reference which Haven had caught, but seemed to have soared over Rory's head completely untouched. And he couldn't help but laugh at Haven's recognition of what he was doing.

Banjo hid in the box, peeking out.

Had it seen him? He hoped not, more than he could say with any certainty or conviction.

Darkness swept past, and he struggled to hush his breathing, and any other extraneous sounds. The murmurs of fear, rattling from trembling.

The kinds of things that the darkness would recognise as foreign. Something to attack. Signs of something, where the darkness could reside. Even worse, those signs would be of weakness.

As if that would matter. As if strength had meaning in the oblivion of the darkness.

Banjo closed his eyes and swallowed, and hoped that it wasn't as loud outside of his body as it certainly sounded within it.

He dared open his eyes again to peek out, from the small hidey hole in his box, and inhaled harshly as he caught a glimpse of the darkness making another pass. It had heard!

The darkness started to pour in, through horizontal louvers, that seemed almost designed to catch the flow. Banjo panicked, he'd been seen. He tried to move, but the box restricted him as the darkness poured ever deeper.

It was all happening too quickly now, with no escape. The box formed his mold as the darkness poured forth in a torrent. Taking the space, thick as treacle, but with no real density. It made the atmosphere unbreathable.

It was becoming everthing! He couldn't breathe! He couldn't move! There was no space!

Banjo whimpered. Then he felt it... within the darkness.

A presence. It was alive.

He jerked awake, and cursed himself. The nightmares had come back.

He felt movement before he knew he was awake. She was stirring. And with the realisation that he was aware enough, so he must be awake, he joined her. To whatever capacity he was capable of at this point, at least. He had the pre-coffee stares and a dopey grin on his face. "Good morning love. I noticed you moved around a bit last night. Everything okay?"

How did she..?

He looked at the bedding, and it was clear that he'd moved.

How's she so with it so early in the morn--?

"Had another nightmare... Not anything that could be helped. In fact... I have a theory that when the present gets less 'noisy' you can hear the past a bit clearer. And... well, we knocked every thought, worry, and concern I might have for the present out last night." The dopey grin threatened to turn into something more wry and game, but then fell off, he wasn't awake enough for that yet.

"Want to talk about it?"

He could think of few things worse. He just wanted to put them as far into the rearview mirror as he could get them. They were generally becoming more infreuent. Mostly. At least it seemed that way...

"There's not much that can be done about it. And they don't make much sense to explain. I think it ties back into somethin' from back when I was small though. That stuff I told you about. So yeah, I don't remember anything about then either. Thanks, but."

Maybe its because the Trial thing's on today. Tight suits. Maze. Some of the more tight spaces at times with ARC sessions could sometimes trigger his claustrophobia for a bit as well. Maybe that was it. Anticipatory nightmare. That's a thing, yeah? Isn't it?

He tried not to get too distracted watching her dress, whilst he got himself ready for a new day as well.

He got coffee and sat for a while whilst waiting for Calli to get her food.

Haven and Rory made their own way to breakfast. He dug his tongue deep in his cheek and considered his course of action.

A half dozen different smart arsed comments bounced through his brain, before he decided he wouldn't let them off the hook so easily by actually saying anything, and chose to instead just hum along to AC/DC's 'Shook Me All Night Long' and let them stew in it, waiting for what he'd eventually say.

Haven was scanning the other campers, probably looking for any signs that people had picked up on what they'd been up to.

Which they almost certainly had. Even if they missed the noise, Haven had pretty clearly had a shower since.

Which is why she snapped her head back at him and flushed red after she had passed, her heightened hearing having picked up on what he was doing, with the song she recognised from earlier.

He cackled with laughter and offered a half-hearted salute with his camping mug, as she tried to pass off her reaction and ignore what had just happened.

Calliope returned with her food, and now it was his turn.

He grabbed a mismashed plate of everything and sat back down next to Calli, who's attention was glued to Haven, Rory, Harper and Katja.

Katja had pretty clearly seen better days.

"What's up with those three do you think? I'm picking up weird vibes."

"No idea." Banjo said, trying not to pay them any attention as he drank his coffee. "It'll all come out in the wash, anyway. Early morning, bad sleep. Probably just doesn't want people up in her business." He thought back to how much she glowed when telling him about how she was going to be bunking with Amma. Something had evidently gone very wrong. But it looked like she was in no mood for prying.

"She'll probably talk when she's good and ready."

He'd meant what he said before to Katja, when he'd wished her all the best. His own lack of trust towards the new girl had very little to do with anything actually tangible, and just more an uncomfortable feeling she gave him. If Katja could find happiness there, fantastic.

That didn't seem to be what had happened though, by his estimation.

He kept picking away at his food, but Calli's attention seemed to be held by Katja and the small group. Fascinated.

Nothing good was going to come of it though. And Baxter had her nose deep in it, as was her way. Banjo just stuck to his breakfast.

Their discourse quickly turned explosive, as Katja could take no more and responded to the constant unwanted probing by emphatically destroying a table with her head. Causing Calli to flinch and put her hand out for him.

She kept watching, clearly wanting to intervene, but not quite crossing the threshold, until the situation had the heat taken out of it.

"What the hell..."

"Like I said, she'll talk when she's good and ready."

He finished his coffee and put his cup back down next to his seat.

"I might go let her know I'm here if she needs anythin' in a bit, whenever she's ready, but right now the last thing she'd want is more people in her business."

She'd probably love nothin' more than blowin' off steam in the Trial right now anyway. Mightn't be the worst timing in the world. Just hope there's somethin' in there for her to hit.

At the Trial, Blackjack were milling around waiting for everyone to arrive and for the start time to approach. Banjo took the opportunity to drink deep of the morning sun, whilst he had the space and the direct daylight to do so. He didn't care for doing it in enclosed spaces, for the risk he posed to others, so he made the most of the time before.

Calli stretched to limber up. Probably not the worst idea. Things at breakfast had pretty clearly 'tightened her up'.

She'd kept their work on the interior a secret and had seemed mighty proud of it before. Banjo silently decided he'd actually put some effort in on this. His care factor for this kind of this would generally barely max out at 'mild disinterest, featuring sarcastic mockery of the task at hand', but with Calliope's proud efforts layout, that seemed inappropriate for the time.

With a swipe of his card, he entered in the middle of the pack. As Harper brought up the tail, the entire layout shuddered. The programmed simulation began to shut down in a flash of scrolling, corrupted red code. The area went black, submerging them all in darkness. Banjo's hands began to twitch, and he started to feel that the people around him... did they have to stand so damned close?! Finally, it flared back to life in a blinding flash of white. Winding, sterile halls replaced the stone maze and jungle of the previously programmed simulation.

Hmm... Hardly subtle.

It's the kind of thing he'd do. Well, no. The first 'challenge' would be to slap approximations of the Foundation reps at the assembly in rapid succession like the Three Stooges... but this wouldn't be out of place as a distant second.

The name 'Tiamat' was repeated in hushed whispers, and it became very apparent that this was very wrong.

And that he wasn't the person whoever designed this place was 'playing against'. He recognised the name that was spoken between Firebird and Blackjack. The name for Amma.

He was a bit player here. Which... well, whatever the Hell this was. Probably wasn't the worst thing to be under the circumstances.

"Perfect. It was all going perfectly...."

Oh no... She's spiralling...

Banjo tried to squeeze his way through the group to get to her, but they were grouped together in a quite condensed fashion near the entrance.

"Perfect. It was going to be perfect."

He swam through bodies. He should have been closer from the outset. What was he think--?

"I can't...Banjo..."

He squeezed past the last and dropped to the floor to get down to her level.

“I can’t believe I was ever that weak.” A crisp cold voice penetrated the scene from a nearby hallway. “Really? A panic attack right now? Couldn't handle not being the center of attention could you, Princess.”

These pricks sure are making it difficult to turn the other cheek...

He scowled at the glib crack at the real Calliope when she was down.

...But you've gotta admit, they're easy on the eye.
Mamili and Banjo walked, their path lit well by the full moon onanother spectacularly clear Darwin night.

"So, tell me about this guy." Banjo broke the silence, as he was ever wont to do.

"Uncle..? He's just-- Uncle." Mamili replied. Circumspect with his words.

"You're not tellin' me somethin'."

Mamili sighed. "Yeah, cos you're gonna gimme shit for it."

"I'm not. You never give me a bloody chance. You keep assumin' I'm gonna think the worst of you or spin racist or somethin'. Dunno what I've ever done to suggest that I would do that-- besides the colour of my ski--"

"Alright. Alright. Fine. He's the cleverman. Y'know, the medicine man. OK? Gonna act like we're all backwards now, or someth--"

"Okay. It's a legitimate tribal role. Respected too. What's the big deal? Western kings claim to have had their position bestowed upon them and their entire bloodline by God. And people accept their rule nonetheless. Get over it. I have. You're always defensive around me. You need to drink down a cold glass of harden-the-fuck-up."

Mamili stopped and considered what he said, before giving a chuckle, and continuing to walk.

"Damn." Mamili shook his head to himself.

"What? Was I wro--"

"Nah. I mean 'Damn. Uncle's gonna love ya.'."

They pushed through some brush and scrub, and came to a clearing, where an older man stood.

"That's him, right?" Banjo asked.

"Unless you see any other elder lookin' types 'round." His face deigning to crack a smirk, from its usual stoic demeanour.

To his credit, 'Uncle' didn't have to ask the same thing about Banjo.

"This is him." But Mamili told him all the same, gesturing at Banjo with a hook of the thumb.

"G'day. Mamili told me that you've been touched by the Dreaming as well."

Banjo thought for a while. A shower of High-energy particles at a period of shelter behind a total lunar eclipse, bestowing strange powers to the few... Spirits tearing a hole in the Dreaming to alter a few and their paths. A few with a mythology and legends where this had happened innumerous times to their own tribes and others.

Made a lot of sense for it to be translated that way, culturally.

"Somethin' like that." He replied. "G'day. Banjo." He extended a hand to the older man. The older man enveloping the younger boy's hand with his own.

Uncle smiled at Banjo's reply. "Let me guess, you don't agree with that description of how we have come to pass?"

"Is your whole bloody family this defensive? I'd figured it was just a 'you' thing." He first turned to Mamili. "I think we both have ways of interpreting what happened to us, within our own cultural understanding."

Uncle's smile widened, showing his teeth in stark contrast of the night's sky.

"You two argue a bit, eh? I'm gonna tell you a story..."

Uncle turned and cast a hand to the night's sky. The stars swirled, coalesced and re-formed to his whim. Creating a storyboard of light in the night's sky, portraying the tale he weaved.

"The cleverman, eh..? Reckon I can see how that position came to be..."


With a turn of his fingers, a small group of stars moved and took the shape of a man and some children.

"This is a story about a man called Gandji and his children..."

Another turn, another small cluster of stars swirled into a second man, and children. "...and another called Wurrpan, and his children. These two men. They were like brothers, but not of blood."

"They're brother-in-laws." Said Mamili. He'd heard the story before.

Uncle silenced him with a look. "Yeah, sorry Uncle." Stepping on the cleverman's role. It wasn't his place.

"Gandji and his children had been fishing for stingray--" A collection of stars took the form of a stingray, and changed color, shifting to a bright blue, as the stingray swirled, turned and swam across the night's sky. Banjo marvelled at his power. Mamili had seen it all before.

"With the water so clear, they speared many stingray. They then cooked it over fire, to separate the meat from the fat. Wrapped it in bark and took it back to the camp where Wurrpan and his family were..."

He had perfect control of the imagery for every story beat, the Gandji and his star family carried the object to Wurrpan's star family. A small star figure took the object, and ran it to the larger figure and the others.

"One of Wurrpan's children brought the stingray to father... Who checked the stingray. The family divided it, and ate it." The star family were gathered around a sparkling red and orange star fire.

"Unhappy with how the stingray had looked, and it's taste, Wurrpan stood up and accused Gandji and his family of giving him old stingray and lesser meat, whilst keeping their fresh catch for themselves."

The star family swirls and chaos changes, specks of red encircle the raging father, capturing his wrath.

"'You should have gone stingray fishing for yourselves!' replied Gandji." Red specks now encircled the growing larger star man of the other group.

"The two men's argument grew more spirited and violent in nature, until Gandji, growing fearful of what Wurrpan might do to him in his rage, grabbed a handful of hot coals from the fire and threw them at Wurrpan. Striking him right in the chest."

A bright explosion of red stars was hurled from the larger man of one side into the mid-section of the larger figure on the other, where it erupted into another red starburst, in stark contrast of the other stars which dimmed.

"Gandji, realizing what he had just done in anger started jumping around in fear of what Wurrpan might do to him in retaliation. From jumping awkwardly he began flying, slowly getting higher and higher. As he flew he began to change form."

The figure grew much larger, and Gandji's legs grew longer and more spindly, as his arms began to round and change shape. As did his children's forms.

"Seeing Gandji was getting away, Wurrpan called out to his children to bring him his spear. Pointing it to the sky, he noticed it was too long for this use, because it was bending back. So he had his children cut it shorter with a sharp rock."

The large Gandji figure and his children were now far above the dimly lit Wurrpan and his own children.

"Wurrpan took aim, and said to his spear 'Please don't let me miss'. Then, hurling his spear, it struck true. The spear driving right through Gandji, from his behind right through his face, where it poked out the other side."

The spear completed Gandji's form change, making a long beak, as he took the shape of a jabiru. As he and his children fell to earth.

"Wurrpan, realising what he had done, said to his children 'Let's get out of here, while we still live!' and they began running. The blacks coals turning them a dusty grey, and their own legs getting longer so as to run better. They all had a bump on the front, growing from where the coals had hit."

Wurrpan, and his dimly lit star family, began to change their own forms, taking the shape of emus as they fled.

Uncle brought the two figures to center focus in the night's sky, first the jabiru, and then closing with the shape of the emu.

With a twist of his hand, Uncle powered down, and the brightened light stars of the emu reverted to the night's sky as it was.

"Okay... Nice story. Message."

"Yeah. Always take care of your family, like you would yourself."


"Well, yeah. You know. If Gandji gave equal parts to Wurrpan's family..."

"The story never said he didn't." Banjo replied.

"Sure it did. Wurrpan checked the stingray--"

"And he wasn't happy with what his family got given. Doesn't mean that wasn't equal meat. just that he wasn't happy with it."

"Then why'd he get defensive and say he should get his own meat, if he's not happy with how it was divided?"

"That's purely speculative in intent." The inner lawyer in Banjo poked his head out. "How would you respond to ingratitude after you did the work to catch the stingray?"

A smile creased across Uncle's face.

"I think, the point is, that it's meant to be vague and hard to determine who was at fault, for the sake of the message. I suspect the message is about the fraught perils of needless arguments. The potential costs of war over small things. Was this legend told to tribal leaders?"

Uncle's smile broadened.

"Shit..." Said Mamili.

"I knew Uncle was gunna love ya..."

Location: Haileybury Rendall School, Darwin - Past, The Southern Plateau, Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean - Present
Welcome Home #1.094: Dreaming While Awake
Interaction(s): Calliope - @PatientBean
Previously: High Tensions with the Hypie from the Highveld (It's OUR word!)

Banjo continued his trot away from Katja, until he got back to the campsite. They were the last two to arrive, as others milled around sorting out food and talking.

Banjo rubbed his hands together at the thought of the fodder at hand, catching a whiff of himself and his sweat covered clothes.

Apparently he'd done a bit more work than he and Katja had thought. Ugh.

He trotted over to the tent. Bursting through and rustling through his stuff.

Hmm. Short-sighted. He had a change of clothes... but no towel. No soap.

He poked his head out of the tent to check nobody was around, then went back in and stripped naked. He poked his head out once more, and satisfied nobody was around, he went back inside and went 'the full sun-shower cleanse'. Just a quick one... I mean, you've been doing it all day, anyway...

Breath halted and quickened, a jet black silhouette at the centre of the extravagant tent, the tent lit only by a small, dim corona due to the lack of light within the tent, which orbited his being. Flesh re-knitted and synapses flared. Born anew.

He powered down, and gave himself another whiff, and smiled at the results.

"Clean as a bloody whistle." He uttered, getting changed, and bagging his clothes.

He bounced back out of the tent, brimming with energy and indefatigable confidence.

He made eye contact with Calliope and gestured that he was just going to get himself some food from the set up. He stil couldn't quite see what it was yet, as he hurried over to see what was left.

Oh, hey. Tacos.

Banjo thought back to a time years ago, when Calliope had rounded out his palate and introduced him to a better quality of 'actual' Mexican food.

As he constructed his own from the dregs and detritus that Katja had presumedly left in her wake, he thought back to the look of horror that Calliope had been unable to keep from her face, when he explained his own limited experience back home with his schools' attempts at the cuisine, which had included pita bread and kraft cheese singles slices.

"You look like you're about to call Child Protective Services..." He had replied to her horrified expression. "I assure you, the damage there is already well and truly done."

It was little surprise though. Whilst she'd had a terrible experience with the actual family mealtimes, the food itself from back home was a pleasant memory for her, and she enjoyed introducing him to tastes and flavours from her childhood. He'd become quite enamoured with the idea of the breakfast burrito. And whilst he originally claimed in jest that the only difference between the different food types seemed to be how they were folded, he now knew his empanadas from his enchiladas.

Happy with his plate's meagre holdings - truth was he'd been juicing all day and wasn't really hungry, intending to eat mainly for taste - he grabbed two bottles of Hyper-Aid and made his way over to where Calliope had kept a seat for him.

He was pleased to see she hadn't completely finished her food, so he concluded he hadn't taken too much time. And the pair sat next to each other hand in hand, working away at their plates' holdings. With a full mouth he missed the opportunity to tell Tad to shut up, but instead gestured to the full chorus of his teammates, who voiced his sentiment. He wouldn't miss the next.

Jim-Bob's truck - because Jim-Bob could only drive a truck - brought good news, as he conveyed information that their degrees and accreditations would hold, after negotiations with the wolf at the door. Calliope squeezed his hand in equal parts excitement and relief, and a broad smile creased across his own face for her. His concerns for her eased.

It asked more questions than it answered though.

Negotiations meant terms had been met. What had they given up for this new status quo?

And a truth he knew in himself... Whether it was Him and Tad, Him and Gil, Him and the freshmen at his Community Contribution, Him and any number of teachers and schools over the years, The Foundation and this school...

It wouldn't be the end of things. Once one finds a tender spot to poke at and prod... they're not going to stop until something makes them.

Which means this wouldn't be the end of things. And they'd found a weak point of the school was targeting his mob.

So he'd still need to find out what he could about these people.

"I'll be back soon."

Speaking of Gil, Jim-Bob had called him and Calli forth, Banjo gave her a friendly reassuring smile that tried to offer more optimism in the light of their recent luck with the accreditations.

As she left he looked around, he downed the rest of his first bottle of Hyper-Aid and surveyed the scene of the campsite.

Earlier he'd caught Raw looking at him and Calli glumly, and then the empty seat beside her. It didn't take a genius for him to figure out what was going on there. Lorcán had taken the news badly and had stormed out of the stadium, hopefully that situation would now sort itself out with Jim's news, despite the fact her expression hadn't seemed to improve yet.

Not terribly surprising though, Lorcán was hanging out and talking with Haven and Harper. Presumably Haven was looking for an in with people in Firebird, and remembered Lorcán had family there. Whatever the guy's name was... Sparky McGee. That bloke. It should resolve itself once they actually get the chance to talk and she gets a sense that his concerns are gone now. He made a mental note to check in later though if things hadn't changed, but it shouldn't be necessary.

Besides, Baxter seemed to have picked up on it and had made a move with her self-important self anyway. To dubious effect, judging from Raw's expression now... but hey, Lorcán was on it now, at least.

And that's what had captured his attention now. If he was reading the situation right, Haven had asked Lorcán to ease them into conversation about the Foundation with Firebird members whom he knew. So Banjo took his lead from his movements, and held his mental note for Raw's benefit for later, if needed.

Lorcán got up and started making a move towards an area with more Firebird members. Haven seemed excited. Possibly confirmation bias, but Banjo suspected his assumption was correct.

He took a moment to think to himself, before picking up the remaining bottle of Hyper-Aid and getting to his feet. Walking over to stake out a place for himself within earshot of the redheaded girl, her group and where Haven would likely sit, with a view overlooking the rest of the campsite and waiting.

Eventually Haven made her way over and greeted the group - always affable sort Haven. Baxter joined her, doing likewise.

They started talking, first small talk, then building. Then the transition. Banjo wanted to look at the girl's face, he suspected she'd turned over cold at the mention, but he couldn't bring himself to look for the same reason he'd kept his distance and remained silent.

His presence cast suspicion. He wanted to ask his own questions, but from his lips people would assume an agenda, or at least question his motivations.

Which, I mean, fair enough, I guess...

But it put him in the frustrating position of basically sitting in on a deposition where he had to remain silent whilst others took the lead at their own discretion.

Which was pretty much an unbearable scenario for him.

He was poking around at the remains of his plate, shuffling them around the plate now. The situation had left him antsy, twitchy. 'Juicing' all day hadn't helped either, he had a surplus of energy. But he took what he could from the conversation.

Towards the end he watched as Calliope walked across the campsite, alone. He smiled at the sight of her, but if she saw him, she didn't show it. He couldn't gauge her impression from the meeting she'd just had with Jim, either. Not from this distance. All he could do was watch her walk. It was a graceful walk. A graceful walk to their--

A graceful walk to their tent...

His mind flashed back some years. To a not dissimilar night in this very place. His tongue dug deep in his cheek, and he considered how much information he was actually getting out of this conversation, how much more there was likely to be, and just how fast he could get to the tent.

Don't be stupid. She's been upset all day.

He picked up the Hyper-Aid and took a gulp.

Upset because of the accreditations. Which have been restored.

More poking at the food. Listening.

She's not going to go from distraught to red hot and raring in minutes though, surely. She's someone who prepares. With everything today, it's not like she'd have come here anticipating--

He picked up the bottle. Haven and Harper wished them goodnight. He gulped everything down.

But she's not been upset with you. And you've been supportive. And she hasn't taken anything out on you. And as relief washes over her she might actually--

He got to his feet and walked away for five metres, before breaking into a full on sprint to the tent.

He slowed a few metres before, just to try not to seem overeager or as if he had any expectations. He could after all, have misread everything based on-- a walk..? And let's face it, a surplus of energy that he was experiencing..?

"I saw y' head in here, hun. Everything alright?"

With one look at her in her lace outfit, he could tell he'd read everything just perfect.

In Ju-V 30 days ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Alright... a little abrupt ending to that one, but our little lady of expositionary dialogue has laid out the worst kept secret moving forward.

We're going to group people together by level of activity, so that we can better tend to players' enjoyment going forward.

I'm going to be more vigilant going ahead with the post summaries, so that those working at a slower pace can still have a shortcut to keeping up with events in the game as a whole.

What I would like you, the player base to do, is take a good hard look at yourselves and assess your likely level of involvement, and the pace YOU can maintain going forward. This is for your own benefit, if you think you would struggle maintaining pace with a faster based group, that's fine and there's no shame in it, there will stil be things to do and engagement at each and every level. And interaction across the larger group as a whole will still occur day-to-day so collaborating outside of your own group will still be possible at times.

But for the viability of the game I would like to be able to bundle together groups who are likely to work at a similar pace of play.

Those of you still looking to be involved, please contact the GM crew and let us know what that level of engagement is likely to be - or if you're comfortable doing so, mentioning it in the OOC or Discord is fine.
In Ju-V 30 days ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay

“There’s too many of ya…” The grizzled juvenile voice spoke out.

“What exactly have ya gone and done here? This isn’t right.”

She seemed genuinely put out by the fact. As if it were HER place and her responsibility for such things.

The Kid had picked up on there being extra people here, and whilst she hadn’t known anyone well enough in the Rec Room, she could tell there were extras. She just wasn’t sure which ones.

“Is that a problem?” Rex asked, the large stony teen breaking the silence.

The Kid smiled. A question. She revelled in the opportunity to impart information.

“Can be, yeah.” She said, with a knowing grin. “I don’t know if you lot have noticed yet, but the screws get antsy when there’s too many of us in one place. Or if the power level swings too high in one place. It’s why tomorrow, they’re gonna break you up into smaller more manageable groups. Now you’re all gonna be known as a Bloc letter – dunno what your designation is, but you’ll be in smaller units above. They’ll probably push it as some measure so you can develop and hone teamwork abilities with a few more familiar people. But it’ll really be cos it scares the shit out of our ‘porters’. So the administration does things to accommodate them. Don’t want guards goin’ on strike now, do they?”

She let out an uncomfortably low growl of laughter for her appearance.

The group had already experienced that. As the majority of the group had witnessed a jumpy guard being quick on the trigger with his pepper spray earlier.

“But yeah, there’ll certainly be no escapin’ it in your instance… what’ve you got, twenty-five? Twenty-four? How’d you lot swing that?”

“We’re not supposed to be here.” Came a soft voice from a new person they hadn’t seen or heard from previously in bright white reflective clothing. Everyone turned.

“That’s why.” Vanyssa elucidated.

“Four of us, came through unique means. Wound up here.”

The large form of Kaiden gave a little wave.

"So what's likely to happen from here?" The brassy blonde rockabilly asked, looking up from her tray.

"Well, tomorrow mornin' first thing, they'll likely break you all up into smaller groups. Two or three's not uncommon, but considering there's twenty four of ya, and considering you just blew Calculus away in the first five minutes of bein' here - and wasn't that a thing of beauty, by the way. Well, I wouldn't even rule out four or maybe even five."

"Long story short... I don't get surprised by too much here normally, but I reckon you bunch might be treated outside of the ordinary."

"You keep saying twenty-four, and you, what about you and those others we met--?"

"The half dozen you met in the rec room? We're not in your bloc number. We're just a welcoming bunch of low numbers they grouped together to ease you in to the rest of the people here."

"Low numbers?" Queried the Hawaiian air rider.

"Yup. Number #543 at your service. The lowest number at this here facility. When I started out those numbers held a lot more meaning, and the handling of the... residents... was a lot more sterile in nature. Most of us weren't considered much more than the numbers they assigned us on arrival. But the low numbers are long timers here, who have either washed out, or as yet not completed the Ju-V program to a regular schedule. The six of us aren't in a real bloc anymore, with most of the people we arrived with already having progressed through. So no, we're not in your bloc. You'll probably see us around a bit, though. We tend to get grouped as our own separate bunch, since they don't really have much other way of sorting us."

"So tomorrow morning they group us, then what?" Asked Adam.

"Well, then your program starts in earnest. Some of you they'll probably take into Heuristics, or training, get a sense of your powersets, what development they figure you'll need and identifying what they think you'll be capable of. Others will probably go out on some local patrol with a local metahuman hero affiliate of Aegis... kinda like a ridealong. They'll keep you busy regardless. Nothing that'll actually be too involved yet, though. Too much liability for that. But yeah, showing you the basic ropes, and what's expected of you."

"So how will they decide who they'll be grouping together? Do we get to pick who we go with?" Kaiden asked.

"Now that I can't help ya with." The Kid said, explaining the limits of her knowledge. "I've never noticed a common thread for how they divide blocs up. They'll split roommates, leave others together, if there's a rhyme or reason to it, I've never figgered it. Any of you could be together, or any of you separated." She stopped and shrugged, aware at how little help the honest answer was.

Amma had paused, a slow tilt to her head, almost as if unsure that she had heard the speculation and inquiry correctly. Someone wanted to share a tent with her, something of a nearly implausible circumstance when she did not even possess a roommate. A tent appeared for more... confining. Intimate. Close. And though there was a precedence of friendship there, a hesitant conclusion that Amma was still uncertain of, she seemed almost taken back by the unfolding situation. Firstly being conjoined to work with Lorcan and Rory, being entrusted to the field, and secondly being approached by Katja when she was almost positive she would've rather bunk with someone else.

Anyone else.

With a curious pass over, she tested the words in her mind still awhirl in her musings and said: "No, I hadn't planned on sharing a tent with anyone." Such was the truth, everyone else had been paired up almost automatically, it was a given for some and a trial for others. Whilst she had no intention of participating, Amma still considered the alternative and almost denied that beaming smile, but with a slight grin and a crossing of her arms she simply nodded.

"Sure," she gestured with a slight shrug and flicked her wrist in an off-handed gesture. "Why not, I picked the one closest to the cliff there. Hope you're not afraid of heights." she deadpanned; a soft, tittering sound loosened from her smile before she resumed her walk towards the field and waved her farewell over her shoulder.

Katja didn't realize she was holding her breath until she exhaled in a sigh of relief. For a second there she feared Amma was going to decline on her offer. But those doubts melted away with the Raven-haired girl consenting to bunk with her.

Katja's smile grew even brighter upon hearing her accept. Almost to the point of it hurting. She chuckled softly at Amma's joke. “Fate would've pulled quite a cruel prank on me if it made me afraid of heights.” She gestured to herself as if to emphasize the point.

Katja waved back at Amma as the French girl made her exit. She could feel her heart pounding with excitement in her chest for some reason. She didn't quite know why, as this wasn't the first time she shared a tent with someone and she'd never felt this way about sharing one with someone before.

But with Amma it just felt… different.

Her gaze lingered for a moment on the French girl as she walked off. Katja thought about the night before on the beach, about how she still had that unasked question that had been on the tip of her tongue.

Maybe tonight, she thought to herself.

Turning around, Katja muttered to herself as she made her way over to the construction site. “Now then, where's that little shit hiding?”


Location: The Southern Plateau, Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean - Present
Welcome Home #1.081: High Tensions with the Hypie from the Highveld (It's OUR word!)
Interaction(s): Katja - @Zoldyck
Previously: Hard Yakka and Hard yakking

Banjo got to the worksite, to find himself alone, without guidance or assistance. Or supervision.

He looked around to check he wasn’t being watched.

“Hey, anyone..? You’re just going to leave me alone with copious amounts of heavy metal, wiring, and construction materials?!” He called out into the open.

“You guys know who I am, right?!” Still nothing.

“Dodgy AY. EFFF. Shoddy site management. Y’know this makes me want to do somethin’ just from the hubris of it all…”

He sighed, and took a look at the plans.

“Fuck, I hate bein’ the responsible one… Buncha bludgers.”

He got to work hauling heavy materials. Katja would be here soon, if he got things roughly where they should be, they could more easily join the awkwardly sized components together.

He looked around to check he was all clear, and drank deep from the day’s sun. His breath quickened and then halted, and his body turned black. A cool breeze came from the leeward side of him. He felt his spine straighten and seize as muscles and sinew re-knitted and his synapses flared, exhilarating him with the sudden ecstatic rush. Slowly he looked to restore his breath to its normal rate, with some effort, and the corona swirled around his form.

Comfortable that he’d taken enough to make a start on the job, he stopped ‘juicing’ and let his body revert back to its usual appearance.

Making a start, he stacked a few girders and looked to carry them to where they’d form the framework.

Having finally made her way over to the construction site, Katja immediately started looking for her co-worker of the day. Or, to be more precise, she was trying to gauge whether she was already on clean-up duty or not.

To her surprise, she saw that Banjo seemed to be putting in some serious effort into his task. Which was good, of course, as it meant her good mood would survive. At least for the moment anyway.

A loud whistle rang across the site as Katja tried to get Banjo’s attention. “Look at you, productive little wallaby that you are!” she called out as she approached him with a distinct skip in her step. A wide smile gracing her lips as she practically beamed in her happiness.

Without even slowing down in her stride she easily picked up two stacks of girders and tucked them under her arms before finally standing beside Banjo.

"Don't say 'wallaby'. You start sayin' rugby words, my ribcage starts hurtin'." He called back, dumping a load of metal. Picking up cable and timber to save himself a trip later.

Katja flashed a knowing grin as she recalled the last time she played rugby against the little Aussie and practically folded him in half. “Honestly, with you being on your own here, I’m shocked that you haven’t burned the place down yet.” She laughed a little too loudly at her own joke before gently tapping his shoulder with her elbow. “Then again, we’re only just getting started.” Finishing the phrase with a playful wink.

"What kept you, anyway? Too busy listenin' to heavy metal to be haulin' it?" She seemed in good spirits, but that also seemed to be standard fare for Katja.

On occasion the large South African girl would have a flicker of despondency. A flash across the face of what would otherwise be an omnipresent smile, so brief you could barely tell that you'd seen it. If it hadn't repeated on other occasions. But if you'd experienced the same things she had, that was more than understandable.

As if the girl was keeping the dark memories at bay with built momentum of positivity. Forgive the brief loss of power whilst her transmission's changing gears on occasion.

Watching what happened to her family would do that to a person. Or worse.

Katja rolled her eyes in an exaggerated fashion to Banjo's metal comment. “Of all the people to comment on my music tastes, you probably have the least right to complain.”

She carefully put the bundle of I-beams she held under her left arm down on the ground, making sure that they wouldn't get too banged up. “Besides…” Katja then swung the other bundle of girders in front of her, grabbing it with both her hands before effortlessly lifting it high above her head. “You know I'd never pass up a good opportunity to lift heavy shit!”

"My tastes are impeccable, and beyond bloody reproach. This just goes to show that shit you listen to has made ya ears cactus. And another thing, when sdasdf ... " He kept mouthing whilst no sound at all came out, before finally mutely mouthing the words "Can you hear me at all?" and pointing to his ears.

Rolling her eyes at his tomfoolery, Katja put her second bundle next to the first before turning to Banjo and apologetically raising her hands. “But yeah, you're right. I'm a bit late. Sorry about that, bru!” A smile formed on her lips. “It just took a bit of time before I found someone crazy enough to share a tent with little old me. Not everyone hit the jackpot like you did five years ago!

She chuckled at the memory of the Aussie rascal and the New Mexican Ice Queen's first couple interactions back then. They were such an unlikely pairing and yet, they seemed to be made for each other.

The corner of her lips dropped for only a millisecond as she recalled what happened shortly after. A quick shake of her head cleared her mind of that aweful recollection. And with those memories tucked back into the dark corner they belong, her wide smile reappeared in full force as she thought about her bunkmate.

A gentle softness took hold of her voice when next she spoke. “If I'm honest, I kinda expected her to say no. So when she actually accepted the offer...” She cut herself off with a pleased hum as her cheeks visibly reddened.

It took her a few seconds to realize how she looked and she tried to turn her face away from Banjo. But she knew she was probably far too late with that action.

"Aaah... so that's what brought this on." A wide grin of recognition crossed his face, as he didn't hesitate to take the opportunity to tease his friend. "All of this." He said, gesturing to the blonde South African girl.

Katja put her hands on her hips as she looked over at Banjo for a brief moment, regarding him with a slightly tilted head and a raised eyebrow. “What do you mean, ‘All of this’?” Though she quickly turned her face away again when she felt her cheeks heating up.

"This sunny bloody disposition of yours... I could power m'self for about a week off it."

He put some space between them before continuing the thought.

"Lemme guess, New Gal, yeah? Well, just you mind yourself. You know what the French rugby players are like..." His grin started to turn into a more cheeky leer.

"Almost as dirty as the Bokkies. So mind you don't go gettin' a finger in the eye, in that tent there. Or were you lookin' for a fing--?”

Katja’s head snapped to meet Banjo within less time than it took either of them to blink. Her icy blue eyes were filled with unmistakable embarrassment which, as her pupils narrowed, slowly turned into rage. Her head became as red as a tomato, though it was hard to tell whether this was due to embarrassment or anger. Probably both. She bolted after Banjo within a split second, her big open right hand stretched out to grab the joking Aussie’s head.

“oh shit, she's comin'! HA HA HA HA HA HA!" Banjo ran away from the large, rapidly reddening blonde girl, cackling with laughter. Relieved that he was comfortably able to keep a safe distance because he'd juiced earlier.

It was only a matter of inches, but she could’ve sworn she’d had him this time. She closed her hand with so much force that it actually made such a loud noise that people dozens of feet away got startled by it. In hindsight it was probably better that Banjo dodged that one, as his skull likely would’ve offered as much resistance to her squeeze as a ripe tomato.

Her eyes lingered on her empty hand for a few heartbeats before her gaze shifted back to the object of her ire. “I promise you…” She said with a voice that rumbled with barely repressed anger. “When I get my fucking hands on you…” Turning to face him, she continued with what almost sounded like a growl. “I’ll toss you all the way across the Pacific back to Australia…” Katja crouched down to prepare her pursuit, the volume of her voice ever increasing. “You little Aussie shit! She howled before leaping after the little bastard.

If it weren’t for the tremors each of her steps made and the craters her feet left behind, one wouldn’t have guessed Katja’s mass was anything noteworthy by the way she moved. Despite her great weight, she never seemed to be encumbered by it in her movements. She was already a freakish athlete without her powers. With them? Well, she was known as one of PRCU's star athletes for a damn good reason and it was clearly shown in just how close her pursuit of Banjo actually was. However, each time she nearly had that runt by the throat, he’d slip between her fingers, cackling all the way.

A smile slowly started creeping up on Katja’s lips as the initial anger and embarrassment subsided and made way for amusement. They had gone over this routine countless times now. He would say something to aggravate her, she would attempt to squish him like the bug he sometimes could be… Fun times all around, really.

She finally called it quits after what felt like an eternity, though it probably was only a few minutes. She didn’t like to admit she lost, and Banjo most certainly knew that, so she just feigned disinterest in the entire pursuit. Banjo usually knew better than to continue prodding the bear when that time arrived, and they’d merrily continue on with their business. As she looked over at the now ruined field, she hoped that today would be one of those days where he wouldn’t try to rub salt in the wounds.

As her attention shifted to the cloudy sky, she addressed her fraternal menace. “We should really get to work on this…” Katja panted before looking over at Banjo with a grin. “While we’re both still able to get some work done.”

“You’re getting quicker.” He said with a wide grin, still backpedalling freely, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “I mean, I still had a gear or two to go, but if I wasn’t juiced to the gills to haul this crap around, may well-a been a different story. But you didn’t even let me get the punchline out.” He crowed cockily.

Katja chuckled softly as a smirk started tugging at the corner of her lips. “You better pray I don't ever get you into a ring or something. You'd become the damn punchline if that were to ever happen!”

“Awww... dunno 'bout that. Still got the ol' slip'n'dip... the ol' One-Two Timmy Tszyu!” He said, bobbing and weaving and throwing rapid left-right combinations. Before he stopped and thought for a moment.

“Don't know how much it'd do, but...” He said scratching his neck at the thought of throwing a combination at someone who tipped the scales at... well, tipping the scales. So he continued in earnest.

“So I’m glad. Someone to get a bit over-protective over. If anyone’s deserved someone like that, it’s you. Someone like that… sounds like Home.” The cheekiness dropped from his smirk, before returning. “I’d let ya go the hug, but I’m still a bit wary of lettin’ ya close just yet.”

The redness returned to her cheeks while her smirk turned into an embarrassed smile. But Katja didn't turn away this time around. Instead she just looked at Banjo, her bright eyes shining with appreciative joy at the Australian's words. “Thank you. she mumbled softly with a hint of embarrassment.

He looked at the damage to the terrain and the job that was still very much at hand, and let out a long, low whistle.

“Bet I’ll get blamed f’r this…”

Katja followed Banjo's gaze and, after surveying the aftermath of their little scrap, instinctually scratched the back of her neck. “Nah bru, we'll both get yelled at if we don't fix this by the end of the day.” She admitted with a hint of guilt in her voice.

Katja quickly made her way over to the bundles of girders. “Come on, let's get to work!” She snapped the reinforced wires keeping the bundles together with a quick jerk of her fingers, the steel beams tumbling down from their neat packages into a pile. “No messing around until we're at least half way through the schematics, deal?”

“I mean, we might as well. There's nothin' left to destroy right now...”

In Ju-V 2 mos ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Anybody still interested... please drop a comment in the next 48 hours in either the Discord game thread or the OOC.

Gauging interest.

Anyone who does not do this in the next 48 hours will be partitioned into a "slower" section of the game, bundled with NPCs where interaction will be less frequent and the "expected pace of play" considerably slower.
Another perfect still night. Barely a cloud over Darwin.

Banjo sat out with his waterbottle under the stars. He swore he'd never get tired of this. The endless cosmos spread forth before him on another impeccably clear night.

He took a gulp of water, air sucked into his bottle.

The shuffling of feet in the dirt and dust.

"You again." Banjo called back without turning around.

"Me again." Mamili confirmed.

"Come to remind me of some more differences betwee--"

"Naaah. Nah. Been thinkin' 'bout what you showed me. Got someone you should meet. Uncle."

"The footy player?" Mamili's uncle had played in the AFL, a legend of the game in fact, he had a cousin who was currently playing there as well.

"What--? No. Why would it be him? I have more than one uncle." He instantly regretted saying this and dropped his head, before getting defensive and raising a finger at Banjo to get on the front foot. "Don't-- make this a race thing about the size of my family."

"I didn't say a word. The only uncle of yours I've ever heard anybody say anything about was the footy player. I assumed."

"Technically this guy's like a second cousin, or second uncle removed a couple times, something like that. Still call him 'uncle'."

Banjo took another swig from his water bottle.

"I said don't make it a--"

"I didn't say a thing."

"Well, alright then."


"You two might have... somethin' in common."

"So when's this joker gunna be here, or do I have to go to him?"

"Told him about you. He can be here tomorrow."

"You told h--" Banjo scowled at the breach of trust.

"I did. Relax. He'd no more tell your story, than sell out his own."

"So you're sayin' he's a--"


"I'm not lookin' to join some kind of club. You get that right? We don't go kickin' 'round swappin' literatu--"

"He's interested in meetin' you if nothin' else."

Perfect... if nothing else there's too many people 'interested in meeting' me already.

"We'll probably have to move a bit further away, but." Mamili said, looking back at how close they were to the boarding dorms and the rest of the school grounds. "But he likes lookin' at the stars as well..."

Location: Haileybury Rendall School, Darwin - Past, The Southern Plateau, Dundas Islands, Pacific Ocean - Present
Welcome Home #1.064: Hard Yakka and Hard yakking
Interaction(s): Calliope - @PatientBean, Rory - @webboysurf, Haven - @Skai, Tad and Robert - NPCs
Previously: Invasion Day

Banjo and Calliope sat in silence for the trip in one of the minotaurs. In front of them, Rory had his head hanging out like a dog all the way. The silence was palpable. He took Calli's hand and gave it a squeeze, she held it and returned it in kind to show it wasn't him, but a few minutes later released his hand. Clearly deep in thought, and with plenty to think about he didn't push the issue. They heard the cliffs scream their typical banshee song as they drove ever closer to the Plateau. An effect of their design at the hands of some Hyperhuman he may or may not have been told about years earlier. As the car slowed, Rory burst forth practically before the vehicle had pulled up to a complete stop.

"Geez, he's like a bloody kelpie, ain't he? Where's he off to?"

Rory had rushed up and grabbed one of the tents and was racing off to some distant bare patch away from the rest.

"Yo, lovebirds... picked out a nice spot for ya. Try not to keep us up all night!"

Haven let out a laugh. Banjo rolled his head over to turn to Calliope.

"Y'know, this is what happens when you let these drongos know we might be interested in startin' a family together..."

"We might?" Catching his phrasing, and hoping that maybe she could perhaps nudge it to an even more solid position.

"We might." He replied with a warm smile. Letting her know they were both on the same page.

"If anyone knows how garbage family can be - someone who's actually gunna be driven to do it right. It's you and me, hun. No half measures. Thing about startin' my own solo practice, I'd be able to control my own hours. When it comes time. It's time. Shutter it short-term. Hell, I could probably get JP Qual or the equivalent and work as a notary public from home lookin' after the little tackers. Have pimple faced teens come in lookin' for me to sign stat decs so they can get work."

"You wouldn't get bored?"

"Oh, I'd go absolutely barmy." He grinned. "But I'd do it. Our kids would be so sick of dear old Dad they'd be beggin' me to stay out of their lives." He winked at her.

"I'm not going to be one of those moms that works too much either though. We're both in."

He gave her a quick peck which threatened to turn into something longer, before separating.

"But anyway, speakin' of the kids..." He rolled his eyes at the mob outside the car, and got out of the minotaur.

Just in time to hear Rory propositioning Haven.

"So, Barnes... you want to sleep together tonight?"

Banjo's neck straightened.

Bold. OK. Fair enough. If it were anybody else, I'd suspect it was that Assembly and the whole 'Final year, better act now' of it all. But I'm pretty sure that's Rory just Rorying.

As Haven agreed.

Ok. Now THAT was the 'Final year, better act now' of it all.

There was a silence between the two which seemed comfortable between the pair, but excruciating for Banjo the bystander. He could have sworn he just saw Haven flush. He felt happy for her, but figured he should take the pressure off her before that's where the eyes went. He also didn't particularly want to think about the visual he was now getting, for someone he pretty much viewed as the sister he never had. Besides, Rory bein' Rory, he probably had no clue what he just accomplished.

"Oi! Tyler! Move your bloody tent!" He hollered, jerking a thumb at where he'd put 'their own' tent. Before emitting his familiar cackle of laughter. Moving on towards the awaiting construction site where they were to go to work.

Now if he couldn't figure that one out, he didn't know what it was gonna take.

A bouncy-haired Faculty Representative called out to them.

"Come on, guys! Stop goofing off, we need to--"

"Shut up, Tad. You're not my supervis--hfft" Banjo started before walking into a tree trunk.

...he looked up, rubbing his chest after knocking the wind out of himself, and saw the tree trunk was a very large, barrel-chested hyperhuman.

"Hey-Zeus bloody Crisp!" He whistled, taking in the man's full height. "When the good Lord made you he didn't bloody stop for smoko, did he eh?"

"This bloke." He said, pointing up at him. Trying to salvage some small patch of dignity from the situation. "This bloke here's my supervisor. Too many foremen, Tad, and all-a that."

"Little man, I am not your supervisor." Robert replied, looking down at the much smaller student before using one of his large hands to move Banjo out of his personal space. "Thaddeus is your supervisor. I am a coordinator. If you can not respect the chain of command, I will not have you on my construction site."

"And now you've met Banjo..." The Faculty Representative said to Robert.

"He should perhaps worry more about using his eyes instead of devoting so much energy to his mouth."

"I wouldn't say it's 'chain of command' specifically which I find difficult to respect." He replied with a screw-face, considering Tad.

He turned his head, as if considering from multiple different angles.

"And my eyes aren't helpin' that any."

"But... we've all got our challenges. So, where am I goin'?" He asked the colossal coordinator.

"I'm not a man like you who enjoys the sound of my own voice. I have already stated that Thaddeus is your supervisor. All instructions were doled out to him. If you are in fact interested in being helpful, I suggest you politely ask Thaddeus for your assignment."

Banjo considered this for half a moment, before turning to the Faculty Representative, a large shit-eating grin on his face as he decided how he was going to phrase this.

"Fair enough. Tad. Where'd the man here say he wanted you to tell me where to go?"

"You'll be working alongside Katja helping erect the foundation." Tad replied, "I have a feeling she's got a better handle on this, so I'd defer to her and please do try to follow the plans as they are. Those are what was stress tested and signed off on."

Banjo wandered off in that direction whistling 'Working Class Man', suitably happy with how the conversation had gone.

As Banjo walked away, Robert turned to Banjo one last time.

"This Banjo, he is like a rodent, no?" Robert asked, "Small, often unwanted and finds any gap he can exploit."

"That's apt."

"You need to be firm with such bilge rats." Robert stated. "Even after the ship sinks, he'd find a way to float while the rest of you are left to drown."

"I'd check your tent before going to bed tonight after that." Tad smirked.

"Thaddeus, do yo truly think there's a tent on this island that is big enough for me." Robert replied, shaking his head. "And people used to say you were smart."

As Banjo made his way to the construction site whistling merrily, Haven fluttered down beside and kept pace walking along side of him.

"Hey, Banjo, mind if we chat?"

"Didn't know birds like Barnesy..." He stopped whistling to say. "Besides, there's no bloody need. I'd say you handled that perfectly, far as I saw. I got no notes." He stopped whistling and started singing along to AC/DC's 'Shook Me All Night Long' instead.

Haven stopped in her tracks and grinned, shaking her head, he didn't turn to check if she flushed red. He was happy enough with the response he got. A few seconds later she caught up again and told him.

"I have that covered. This is about this morning. About the ceremony."

He cocked an eyebrow and slightly turned his head to face.

"I'm listening..."
It was a clear black evening as Darwin was wont to have. With next-to-no light pollution from the smallest capital leaving the stars in the black night's sky spread wide like a celestial carpet.

Banjo heard scuffling behind him. Deliberate. Trying to get his attention. Wants him to know they're there.

He turned around, only to see the young boy from his class. A serious child. He'd never seen a smile on his face for as long as he'd been here. He'd shot him with hard looks numerous times through classes. But if there was anger in those looks, Banjo hadn't picked up on it. Which was worth mentioning, because he didn't seem to be someone without some anger very thinly below the surface. But those was something else. Probably whatever this was about.

Mamili Motlop. Smart kid. Thinks a bit different though. Although in a place like Haileybury Rendall maybe it was Banjo who thought different. Wouldn't be the only thing that made him different...

"You don't belong."

"Cheers for that. Nice bloody welcome wagon." Banjo said, turning back around to look at the stars.

"No. I mean your story. It's bullshit. You're not from Townsville. And I don't buy that that's your Dad either."

"I believe he said Cairns..."

"Whatever. Just as much bullshit."

Banjo wondered what it was that had given them away, and instead kept his mouth shut and kept his eye on the sky. Better just to let him have his suspicions without doing anything that might outright confirm them.

"You're too 'Townie'. City-boy. That bullshit you were talkin' before in class. City liberal, overactive conscience which never actually tries to make any real difference. They don't breed that out in the sticks and beyond. Round the traps, they might treat the person right but they don't give a shit for you in their politics... might even be more honest."

"Maybe my Dad just wanted me to have a proper sense of our place in the history of this Big, Brown Land..."

"HA!" Mamili erupted with a stark reaction to his response, before sitting down right next to Banjo. "That's the biggest lie yet. Now THAT bloke actually did grow up country his accent's more baked in than yours. Nah. If he knew this was Larrakia land, I'd be stunned."

Banjo took a sip from a water bottle, before confiriming his suspicions. "He was stunned that I knew the tribal lands of the capitals."

Mamili formed his approximation of a smile for the first time since Banjo met the boy. The corners of his mouth upturning to form a tightened wry grin, in confirmation of what he already knew.

"Well, alright then. Truth-telling. About bloody time." He had a bottle of Coke in his own hand and took a sip.

"Truth-telling. So you're sayin' we're on our own path to Treaty, eh?" Banjo cracked a wry joke, referring to the 'Uluru Statement of the Heart'.

Mamili let out a hollow chuckle, and just as fast the thin grin was gone.

"Well, it sure as Hell ain't gonna be their generation..."

"Oh piss off." Mamili spat, replacing it with more Coke.

"What? What've I done now? I haven't even done anythin' to your school, you keep glarin' at me, givin' me shit. What's up your arse?" It was true. So far. Banjo had kept his worst inclinations under wraps for the first few days at the new school.

"'Cos you're just another Liberal bloody townie. You're not gonna do nothin' either. You're all about sayin' the right thing to make yourselves feel less guilty about what your ancestors did. You don't actually want to do anything. You just want to make a point of difference between a bunch of colonials who sliced up country for selections, hunted, killed, enslaved and stole people from their families and the white people you are now who just benefit from the generations of how it was. You don't want anything to actually CHANGE because you profit from it. You just want to make sure you can feel better about yourself. At least the murdering pricks were upfront about it."

"...and I'm certain that attitude will help you win people over to your side. Maybe you can fit it on a board come voting time." More water. Air sucked back into the bottle once he was done.

"And THAT'S the point, isn't it. THAT RIGHT THERE is how you can tell you're full of shit, because it shouldn't matter if you feel bad about it. If you were actually interested in doin' the right thing, you'd do it because it's the right thing. Not just because it doesn't make you feel bad about things."

"Who says I don't? I'm just sayin' you can't truly expect to win more people over to hearing you out, let alone goin' along with you, when that's how you approach things."

"Mate, please... You've got no stakes. You can't relate. You lay it on thick, but that's all it is, bullshit townie liberalism that tells yourself you can relate."

Banjo sighed from the repeated verbal onslaught.

"Lemme try... You found yourself born into a world where your country was already taken, your kind marginalised beyond any kind of reasonable hope for representation, a history of atrocities and fucked up shit happening to your people. You're pushed away from mainstream general society, and then questions are raised about your contribution to a society you had thrust upon you, with poisons and disease sent after you, striking down the ones the people with guns didn't get. With the justice system disproportionately targeting your kind moreso than anyone else on the planet."

Mamili turned and looked at him with one raised eyebrow.

"...and the most frutrating thing is that because you were BORN into that society, you suspect it would've been something far better, but you can't form any kind of salient argument, because all of that shit happened EVERYWHERE to all of your people, and you can't point and show that you'd have been just fine if they fucked off and left you in peace."

You're not really gonna do this, Banjo, are you?

"That's-- alright-- that's a bit closer than most. But you still haven't experienced--"

Nah, fuck it. You've bounced around enough schools for reasons that weren't your fault,
what's one more where you actually were responsible?

Banjo stood up and took two steps away from the boy, and sighed. Yup, he was gonna do it. The pull was far lighter at night, with no sun in the sky. Like faint pins and needles on gooseflesh, as the light of myriad stars had stretched out for countless years just for this moment.

With a sudden burst he drank deep from the stars. A bitter cool bite to the breeze came from his direction. His breath quickened and then halted, his body turned black. Muscles and sinew re-knitted and his synapses flared, providing a quick hit of ecstasy. He held it and worked to restore his breathing whilst he juiced. A smaller than usual corona from the diminished light started to swirl around his person. His teeth shon bright through his broadened smile in the night. It took work to hold his breathing steady, as if it weren't a natural thing, in his current state.

He turned and faced Mamili. Then just as fast, he stopped 'juicing' and let his body revert back to its usual appearance.

"What the bloody Hell do you call this?!" He cried out.

Banjo looked around in case he'd missed seeing anyone, or the other boy's loud voice attracted further attention.



"You know that joke was fucked up, right mat--?"

"Yeah, no-- I heard that as I was sayin' it too, that wasn't-- I wish I had more ti-- yeah, that wasn't my best moment."

"You still didn't have to have your family see 'em coming down the coast. White sails, white faces, white guns."

"What sails, mate? Your family's from bloody Darwin. Thought this was all about truth-telling. Or are you saying your family saw 'em on the horizon and went on some epic Burke and Wills styled trek across the entire country to get away from them?"

"... ...well could you blame 'em if they did?"

Location: Haileybury Rendall School, Darwin - Past, Strigidae/Ursus Dormitory Block, P.R.C.U - Present
Welcome Home #1.056: Invasion Day
Interaction(s): Calliope - @PatientBean
Previously: Solid Rock

Banjo and Calliope walked back to their dormitory block together in silence. Calliope's silence radiated aggression, and did not suggest it was willing to be trifled with.

In their wake, teammates were consoling each other, checking they were alright, and more.

He held the external door for her, and paused in his own thoughts, before moving on to his own dormitory.

He needed time to think. It'd hit him. But indirectly. And was fucking with his emotions as a result. People take a poke at him and it doesn't hit the same way. He'd laugh and fire back. This was different, and he needed to make sure his head was right for it.

He walked in his room and closed the door, stripping down to get in his PT gear, which he pulled from his foot locker.

He had a hundred stupid little plans to mess with the school and make their institutions look stupid in some way or another, but nothing for this.

Any way he acted out in response to this, could be interpreted as a failure in the school's ability to maximise it's student body and aptly teach or raise them for the world beyond. Which he normally wouldn't care about, but on this occasion conflicted with his own primary desire.

To not give these fucking invading pricks what they want.

So, back to the drawing board. Back to basics. Raw concept. What did he want? What should he do?

What did he want? Well that was simple.

He wanted to find out what they wanted, and burn it to the fucking ground and laugh in their faces whilst it turned to ash.

And find a way for Calliope to not be hurt whilst doing it.

Well, not just Calliope. He supposed, begrudgingly admitting to himself. Haven and Katja too. And Rory. And 'Raw and Lorcán. Pallyx and Mei. Zimmerman and Big Steve.

He s'posed the others as well.

And if they touched his pony, guts f'r garters.


He thought back to home. This is the thing with invasion. Every loss is felt. Every loss hits big.

And the thought of running devastates.

He thought of his team. Taking flight had probably occurred to Haven. Not because she was cold blooded or didn't care. It was time. Time binds you to a place.

He was starting to feel it, and he hated it in himself. He'd always prepped himself for the inevitable day he'd have to jump. But now he was tied. Tied in a dozen directions to things he couldn't deny.

There's no way in Hell 'Raw could. She'd been attached to this place too long. It'd be like severing a limb.

Katja had family killed and her home stolen from her. He wondered if she saw this the same way to any degree. She showed concern for them before, so maybe this was a bigger point of difference, or maybe it was putting on a brave face.

No. This was different. More subtle than what she'd endured. Her emotions were generally kept close to the surface. That was genuine, he told himself. She recognizes it as bad, but it's a whole other thing. After all, they didn't come out and run Jim O'Neil through with cold steel.

No... they'd taken him from surprise and bent him over a podium.

So how much had they known before the Assembly then? He thought.

They were here under the auspices of an audit. So that was already granted. And Jim copped to the accreditation. Then it all went to Hell in a hand basket.

So, there's your pivot point.

Come in dropping bad news, which the new 'friends', who happened to be here for other reasons, could somehow bail them out of. 'The problems you never knew you had, we have the answers!'

So simple.

That wouldn't have been the end of it though. More would have happened behind closed doors. There's no way Jim would have left it at that. He'd have had words.

And there's no way they drag all of the kids back into another assembly after that one... with the Homecoming Trials already disrupted more than they like.

Which means the situation could be in the midst of negotiations.

Which just further means he can't act out without hurting the bargaining position and giving these pricks what they want.

Everything led back to the same damn thing. A snake eating its tail.

The thought rushed back through his head. "Should get back to Calli'

But she generally took longer to get ready than he did. Prepared herself more, and if he was honest with himself, she was probably trying to level herself out in the bathroom. She'd withdrawn, but this hit hard.

He left his room and opened up the fridge. There wasn't much in there. Alex Zimmerman's orange juice. Big Steve's Multi-vitamin breakfast juice. Replacement milk for the coffee machine.

He got a cup out of the cupboard, and put it on the bench, to crack open some of the milk when Zimmerman and Big Steve walked in, talking between themselves. They saw him in the kitchen and froze.

"I-- uh-- ahh..." Banjo froze him with a single look.

He forgot the milk and pulled the carton of orange juice out of the fridge.

"I mean... I'm sorry dude. How was-- I mean, we didn't know."

Banjo started pouring orange juice down his throat.

"Are you-- I mean, are you okay? Are we cool?"

He kept pouring. Holding the carton higher at the end so they could both see the last few drops go into his mouth.

He closed up the carton and put the empty right back in the fridge in front of him. Never taking his eyes off the pair. He closed the refrigerator and walked past the pair and out the front door.

"I'm not mad." He said flatly as he walked past them, out the door and got in the lift.

"I-- OK. Good." Offering a feeble wave, even though he was already gone.

Zimmerman turned to Big Steve.

"Well, that could've gone worse..."

Big Steve looked down at his diminutive friend

"Well, at least he's not mad."
In Ju-V 2 mos ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
I'm still around, yes. I just need to actually post in this, with how little free time I've had in the last two months from working excessive overtime writing has somewhat felt like a chore at times and I end up going to go play games or something instead. Just need to force myself to sit down at my PC and write away (probably tonight if I can get it out with my other RPs).

That's fine, and yes, I suspected as much would be the case on your end.
In Ju-V 2 mos ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay
Just gauging interest on who's still rolling with this.

Not looking to shutter things, but I want to see who's still looking to be involved.

I'm guessing @Skai, @Qia, @Venus, @Kuro, @Roman...

Might compartmentalise things a bit, section off "groups", if we have people who are dropping out, to up the focus on those still interested.

As I have said before, those on the NPC list ARE welcome to return (assuming it can be worked) down the line. I get inspiration can wax and wane, as can free time.

But I WOULD like to see if I can make the experience a bit better for the active folks looking for some pep in the game.

...even if it means having faster and slower paced segments of the game, where things reunite further down the line.

I will come up with some GM stuff that works the NPCs in as well, both GM-created and former PCs (if you don't much care for having your characters moved around on my dopey whims, there's an easy way to fix that...)

But yes, next few days if you can let me know your interest/engagement level, I'd like to try and hit as many people's wants as possible.

In addition, @Zoldyck has been added to the NPC list with Sasha.
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