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Current I love the dance Sekiro has me doing, but I think I need a break. Thinking I'll SwitchTM it up with Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
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Gabriella Gonzales
VS
Momo

Part 3/?




"Waugh!" Before Momo could land, Gabby had launched herself in a blur and slammed into her, curling her huge arms around her in a crushing grip. The ground seemed to fall away as both combatants hurtled towards the ceiling.

Flailing, Momo thought fast. She only just had time to sweep the dial, a sudden rise in the music deflecting her and Gabby back downwards, shattering a light in the process. "Oops! Hehe..." With a nervous giggle as pieces of glass arced away from them, she dialled the music down. The sound's drop coursed through her legs a split second before landing, giving both students the bounce they needed to soften the impact.

Despite her breathlessness from the sheer speed of the fighting and from Gabby's vice-like hold, Momo's grin returned. "Nice dance improv there!" she commented, staggering. She hoped they weren't in too much trouble over the light, not that it would be anything new for her. This was so much fun, it would be worth it.

Gabby wasn't quite expecting Momo to have the wherewithal to use her quirk to cushion their impact with the ceiling, but it was welcome nonetheless. After all, it was better for her to allow Momo to expend energy using her quirk rather than do so herself, at least from a competitive viewpoint. And with another use of her quirk, Momo allowed Gabriella to easily and painlessly plant her feet on the floor. Gabby couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at Momo, still trapped in her arms - her feet were not even touching the ground, yet she decided to smile and compliment her rather than attempt escape. Perhaps she knew it was futile already?

"RĂ¡pidamente la ocelote salta," Gabby proclaimed as a grin spread across her face, allowing herself a moment of pride in herself for overcoming Momo's agility. And now that she had pounced, it was time to go for the kill. Gabby's body lurched sideways, twirling as her top half fell toward the floor. Her hands took hold of Momo's wrists, while her right leg found its way between Momo's legs. Unless Momo interrupted the shift in grip or found a way to escape, she'd quickly find herself pinned face-up on the floor with Gabby arched over her, her right foot now wrapped behind Momo's right ankle with the left soon doing the same to Momo's left, spreading the smaller girl's limbs as far apart as they could physically go. Gabby would use this submission hold to try to coax Momo to forfeit.

Momo had no time to recover before she found herself pressed against the mat, Gabby's considerable bulk holding her down. With her limbs spread wide apart in a star shape, she struggled to no avail. "Aw, but the show must go on!" she said, glancing at the holographic dial hovering out of her reach.

Music still thrummed from each device on her limbs. Without access to the dial, she had no control over the sound, so she'd simply have to do what she could. Rhythmic, rapid-paced bursts of air pulsed from her hands and feet as she attempted to escape Gabby's grip. Hopefully, if she kept at it, this would give her movements enough force to free at least one hand.

Momo's body began to pulse with vibration beneath Gabriella, causing her feet to begin losing their place around Momo's ankles, and the grip her hands had on the girl's wrists was also being slowly compromised. If she didn't do something quick, Momo would be free. Gabby knew if she failed to capitalize on the upper hand she currently had, there was a good chance she would not win this duel. A sparring match lost wouldn't be the worst thing in the world in the confines of the academy, but in the real world that would be a villain getting away, given the chance to do more harm to others. She couldn't afford to give any less than her all in either situation.

As an opponent, Momo was in many ways her natural predator. Her usual tactics were less than ideal against her, and would be so against any villain with similar abilities. She'd have do to things a little unconventionally, Gabby realized.

"All good things must sometime come to an end," Gabby responded. She straightened her body, allowing it to drop upon Momo. Only a short moment existed between Gabby releasing her hold on the girl and her girth settling onto her. If Momo failed to escape in that one moment, she'd find her face buried in Gabriella's bosom which, while not large proportional to the rest of her body, would still be enough to seal away the smaller girl's access to air. And with the full weight of Gabby's muscular body holding her down, she wouldn't likely be moving anywhere under her own power. Gabby would make sure to leave Momo's arms free, allowing her to tap out.

"Mmmmphhh!" Momo gave a muffled yelp over the music as Gabby used her entire body, not just her hands and feet, to pin her down. Admittedly, this wouldn't be the worst place to be, if not for the fact that she couldn't breathe. She wriggled under her opponent's weight, getting nowhere.

If Gabby expected her to surrender that easily, though, she was wrong. With her arms free, Momo took the opportunity, raising a hand and pushing as hard as she could at the larger girl. While her own physical strength wouldn't accomplish much, she kept up the volley of soundwaves, the blasts thrumming at the solid wall of muscle that was Gabby as she tried to stagger her to the side.
Saffron Merganset and Brunhilde Braun




Brunhilde, having turned her scroll back toward herself, was just about to answer the question about her guitar when the girl who'd asked it thrust her own scroll forward and introduced herself. Hilda, after a moment of feeling surprised by the sudden gesture, smiled and added Saffron's ID to her list of contacts. Her body began to shake as she did so, excitement beginning to overflow from within. She'd only been at the academy for a minute and she'd already made her first friend! The tippy-tap of her thumbs came to a stop after a moment, and Saffron received a message on her scroll.

"I'm Brunhilde Braun. You can call me Hilda if it's easier."

The tapping of thumbs resumed, signalling that another message was on its way.

"I like to be able to express myself, and since I don't have a voice, I use music. Also I was always told a good Huntress always has her weapon ready."

"It's your weapon? That's so cool! How does it work?"

Saffron had always loved weapons. She'd never been much good at building them--Checkmate had been constructed with a stack of books on mechanics, fifty-three drafts of blueprints, and a blacksmith consultant--but she loved looking at others' weapons. And she'd never seen a guitar weapon.

With a flicker of movement and a flash of light, she was instantly behind Hilda, looking at guitar. She couldn't tell where the instrument ended and the weapon began. "Is the neck a gun that you take out of the body? Or does the head turn into an axe?"

Another blink, and she was back in front, thinking stance taken. "Hmmm..."

A series of thumb taps later and Saffron would have her answer. "Both. Only it's a sword, not a gun. It's name is Jormungandr, after a sea serpent from a story that is big enough to cause earthquakes.

"The sword absorbs kinetic energy each time it's swung. After enough is built up, it can be discharged from the axe head."


She didn't mind giving away the "secrets" of her weapon, having been smiling at her screen as she typed. It was kind of fun to brag about it a little for a change, and Saffron seemed so excited by it, it wouldn't feel right to rebuff her. The way Saffron heaped attention on her made her feel a bit like a celebrity. Which, she supposed, she'd have to get used to if her dreams for the future ever came true.

Saffron looked up from her Scroll and gave an interested hum. "I always kind of wanted to play an instrument, but I was never very good at it, and we didn't have enough to afford it anyway. And anyway," she perked up, "I can focus on being a Huntress now!"

After a moment, Saffron sudddenly realized that they were an island in a tide of people that steadily swept towards the academy. But she didn't care enough to move, so instead, she grinned wide and flicked her own weapons out, turning them from knives to guns in the blink of an eye. "This is Checkmate. Nothing as interesting as kinetic energy--seriously, that's so cooool!--but hey, it works!"

She looked at Jormungandr a little bit enviously. I wish my weapon could do that.

Hilda couldn't resist the ear-to-ear grin that bubbled up from her heart. It had taken a lot of trial, error, and professional help to get Jormungandr to work the way she wanted it to, and it was a great feeling to have it appreciated so vocally. Checkmate, by comparison, seemed much simpler, Hilda thought as her thumbs trapped away. Saffron could probably repair any issues easily all on her own, whereas she would have to take a trip all the way back to Vale if something happened to Jormungandr's kinetic absorption system. Plus...

"Checkmate seems more versatile, though. Jormungandr is all about raw power in close quarters. Not great at range and no precision."

Having noticed Saffron looking around a moment ago before quickly drawing attention to her own weapons, Hilda looked around as well while her message was being read. They'd been left behind while they were talking! Hilda began to walk towards the entrance of Shade without a...well, word. She turned and walked backwards, gesturing "follow me" with both hands. She wanted to keep up with the other students but not at the cost of abandoning her first friend. Saffron followed, having no issue understanding Hilda's overt gesture.

VAPOR-Empowered Android
Nickel




Her suspicions were confirmed. The girl before her was simply a faunus with wings as her feature. Well, lesson learned - there is no magic in the world, only cold hard science, and myths are myths for a reason. Nickel did her best to not look disappointed by the revelation.

Wait, now she was being asked what she is? "Not any more rude than me asking you, hah!" Nickel responded without missing a beat. She was pretty sure she didn't look any different from a regular human, save for the distinct lankiness of her limbs. Was it something about the way she carried herself? No, there was no time to figure it out. Dad has told her to keep the whole "android" deal under wraps for the first little while so she didn't freak anyone out while they were trying to settle into school life.

"Anyway, I know I look like a lanky dude but I'm actually a girl. I just haven't, y'know...started growing in any direction but "up" yet." Nickel's gaze lowered down even further past Morana's face, finally getting around to taking in the rest of her details beyond her wings. "Kinda' exactly the opposite of you, actually! Haha, damn, girl!"

Step one: feign ignorance, complete. Step two: redirect the conversation. Nickel looked around, noticing the crowd had thinned considerably. Looked like the airships had finished dropping off their passengers. "Whoops, looks like I kept you. Sorry. Should we head toward the academy?" Nickel asked, pointing in the direction of the entrance with her thumb.
Gabriella Gonzales
VS
Momo

Part 2/?




Momo was quick to react. A sharp blare of music from her speakers amplified her leap to the side, keeping her at a safe distance from the much larger girl. "Aw, let's not end this too quickly! This is fun!" she chirped. With a wave of her hand, she upped the tempo once more to counter Gabby's startling reflexes, twirling like a ballerina as she sent forth another flurry of projectiles.

Trying to catch Gabby off guard with the opposite of her previous technique, she swept the dial. The drop reverberated through the room, another massive air blast accompanying it, hurtling towards Gabby. If all went well, her opponent would be too focused on blocking small ones to react in time.

Naturally, Gabby's advance had been too straightforward and Momo had moved away before she could perform any offensive maneuver. Momo's maneuverability would be a problem, as would that of any villain with similar movement capabilities to her. Fortunately, Gabriella was no one-trick caballo. She had methods at her disposal for dealing with hard-to-pin-down opponents. The large woman knelt down at took a breath as she placed her palms on the laminated floor of the gym.

"Let me show you la Pasos Del Tigre," Gabriella said over Momo's music.

She extended her legs and arched her feet and her palms, lifting her large body on only her fingertips and toes, spreading her weight evenly across every limb. She began performing a series of small, rapid hops with all four limbs, keeping stiff so as to land on them all simultaneously each time, while using her quirk to add a little bit more momentum with each hop. She hoped to close the distance with Momo by surprising her with speed, but the smaller girl was already back on the offensive so she had to lean to the right instead so she could avoid her projectiles. It started off a touch slow, but she built up momentum in just enough time to narrowly avoid the first projectile of the flurry, after which none came close to hitting her as she continued to build up speed, appearing to almost glide across the gymnasium floor due to the miniscule amount of movement her body was performing. Even the larger projectile signalled by the bass drop was avoided.

The downside was that she didn't have any control over her direction due both to the rigidness of the pose needed to perform the technique and the momentum she'd build up, so rather than circling around Momo, she simply hurtled toward the wall the gym's entrance was located on. A weak repulsion from her right fingertips and a stronger repulsion from the fingers and toes on her left side allowed her to spring upright and twirl around so her back impacted the wall, the muscles in her upper back and glutes helping absorb the impact with minimal pain. Gritting her teeth, she opened her eyes and focused them back on Momo, who was surely preparing another offense. Gabriella inwardly questioned how she would be able to close the distance while avoiding Momo's plethora of projectile attacks at the same time. Then she realized where she was. Perfect. All she had to do was wait for the right moment.

"Ooh, those moves really are quite something!" Momo squealed as Gabby kept in perfect rhythm with her own steps, dodging each projectile. This match had become just as much a friendly dance competition as it was a sparring session, which suited her to a tee. Even as Gabby's hopping technique lost its grace and sent her crashing into the wall, Momo was no less impressed. This girl probably still had a trick or two up her sleeve, so she wasted no time with her next move.

She leapt forward, a bass drop coursing through her body at the same time and boosting the jump. With just enough distance between the two that Momo could easily aim while staying out of Gabby's attack range, she cranked the volume right up. Sound waves pulsed from the machines, through her limbs, towards her cornered opponent.

Gabby allowed a smirk to wander onto her face. Momo had been doing her best to keep distance between them the entire match. It was a good idea, considering the obvious size and power difference between them. Momo wouldn't likely have prevailed in a head-on confrontation with her. Momo seemed only to go on the offensive while she was sure she was out of Gabby's range, as demonstrated when she stopped attacking earlier when Gabby got close. The fact Momo was performing such an overt attack now meant Momo likely felt completely safe at that distance.

it was time to use the element of surprise. Gabby did a small hop as Momo fired off her high-volume sonic blast from up in the air. She planted her back, arms, and the soles of her feet on the wall behind her before she touched the ground, and with a powerful repulsion from every square millimeter of skin in contact with that wall, Gabby shot her entire body forward, rocketing toward Momo's longitudinal position. The maneuver had her out of the way of the sonic blast long before it reached where she had been. Gabby had estimated the force needed perfectly, her momentum falling off as she reached the spot below the airborne Momo. Gabby performed a roll to absorb the impact of hitting the hard wood floor, as well as reposition her body face-up on the floor with her soles planted and arms spread out.

Another powerful repulsion from those same spots saw Gabby rocket straight upward at Momo from below, arms spread out in an attempt to catch the soundwave-spitting girl in a grapple which, if successful, would carry Momo straight up to the gymnasium ceiling with Gabby. The impact with the ceiling, pressed against it by Gabby's large body, would crush Momo, so Gabby would be sure to brace the smaller girl by wrapping her arms around her.
VAPOR-Empowered Android
Nickel




Having gotten off one of the first air buses to touch down at Shade, Nickel was given plenty of time for one of her favourite hobbies: people watching. She propped herself up against the wall of one of the nearby buildings directly in front of the wide open landing area and observed as the other airships touched down one by one to unload their passengers. It was interesting immediately to see the different fashion choices, as well as expressions, of people from many different places. Some took to the heat well, others didn't. Some began socializing immediately, like the large hooded man and the atlesian girl with similar weapons, while others seemed keen to avoid interacting with people, like the snake faunus who brushed off the attempt to do so by...what was that? Logically, she should assume the small statured girl with butterfly wings to be some sort of faunus as well, but there were also records in her memory of creatures of myth that had similar descriptions to what she was seeing.

Nickel, eager to sate her curiosity, pushed away from her spot on the wall and made her way backwards against the flow of the crowd, leaving a trail of "sorry"s and "excuse me"s behind her. A pale girl with blue hair had a particularly sour expression as she moved past. Eventually, she managed to get back to the landing area and reached the object of her curiosity.

"Excuse me," Nickel said, standing before Morgana, about a head of height difference between them. Her stance left her leaning on her left leg, left hand on her hip. Her outfit was similarly casual, consisting of a white button-up sleeveless top with a black neck tie (courtesy of the Toolmaster, who insisted she should dress at least somewhat nice for her first day) tucked into a pair of blue jeans. "Uh...this is probably gonna' sound dumb, but...are you...an angel? Or, like...a fairy, maybe?""
Brunhilde Braun


She felt the eyes on her, naturally. There was no way such a loud sound was going unnoticed. Brunhilde was semi-used to it, though. She knew she'd be able to calm her nerves and move on after a moment, which was why she had allowed herself that moment of impulsive spontaneity. What she wasn't ready for was someone grabbing ahold of both her hands before she even had the opportunity to return Jormungander around her back, the motion jerking her forward, and for that someone to yell a compliment into her face. Chestnut-colored eyes widening in shock, Hilda was, well...silent, for a moment. Passively, her mind took in the features of the girl before her - bright orange hair, bright(er?) blue eyes, light skin, and a massive, jagged grin of carnivores' teeth.

A voice inside her shouted at her after a moment, telling her to respond already. She'd just received a compliment on her music! Respond, damn it! Hilda blinked once, then remembered she had to breathe. She took a breath in, which probably appeared to her fellow faunus girl as preparing to say something, before closing her mouth and jerking her hands free of Saffron's grip. She raised her left index finger vertically in front of Saffron, trying to gesture "one moment, please", then reached into the left pocket of her shorts. Producing her scroll, she began typing out a message with her thumbs. Since she didn't yet have anyone else's scroll ID, she left the message unsent and simply turned her scroll to face Saffron.

"Thank you! :D You look great! Your eyes are so blue!"
Gabriella Gonzales
VS
Momo

Part 1/?




Momo, for her part, was stretching by the time Gabby made her way into position and got ready to charge at her. She smiled as a sort of holographic dial appeared hovering slightly above the strange bracer thing on her left arm. Momo waited but, surprised by Gabby's speed compared to her body, she had to give up her act and move quicker than she wanted. She moved her hand in a demi circle and pushed forward with it, the holographic dial following her movement. As she did so, a very sudden and loud sound came from both her bracer's...speakers? As it did so, Momo was propelled backward and out of Gabby's kick. The sound kept on going though. It was quite clearly...music? Techno music, and the loud sound had been a very large drop in the tune. The hologram? Music controls; forward, backward, slow down, etc.

"Woah! You're fast for your size!" she said happily jumping as she did so. A quick glance would reveal something that Gabby might have missed about Momo at first - the two strange pieces of tech on her wrists was also on her ankles. "Ok - let's try this then!"

With yet another movement of her hand, the song fast forwarded to a moment where it became low pitched, but had very fast notes. Momo began spinning gracefully, half fighting half dancing, while giving a series of punches and kicks in Gabby's direction sending multiple small projectiles of what looked like 'air', but solid. At the end of her spins, she stopped to look at how well Gabby would manage.

Gabriella's hefty body hit the floor of the gym, though the impact was lessened by a gentle use of her Repulsion quirk in order to avoid hurting herself. She briefly considered calling a timeout so they could move more safety mats out, allowing her to perform more of her wrestling techniques on a softer surface, but didn't have time to decide to follow through on the idea; Momo went on the offense. She was able to attack from range, aiming what appeared to be projectiles made of condensed air at her. Figuring Momo wouldn't use them if they weren't effective, instinct told her to dodge.

A repulsion from her heels got Gabby's feet up off the ground, which she then hefted upward using her muscle. With a quick curl and arch of her back, she was quickly in a handstand, her arms able to lift her own body weight - a feat in itself - which got her out of the way of any air bullets aimed at her while prone. She walked a couple of steps on her hands toward Momo's left side, her body being angled with its side facing Momo to minimize the surface area available for the bullets to impact. She then allowed herself to fall forward, still toward Momo's left, while pushing off the floor with her arms, flipping herself onto her bare feet, the change in movement helping avoid subsequent projectiles from Momo.

Her feet hit the gym floor with much less of a noise than would be expected of Gabby's size, owing to how light she was on her feet. Twirling as she switched directions and moved toward Momo right, she dodged the last of the air projectiles. As she came to a stop, having kept her eyes on Momo as much as she could while twirling so she could see her stop spinning, the music playing from the blue-ette's wrist and ankle bands could more clearly be heard, and Gabby found herself unable to help bobbing her head to the beat. She smiled back at Momo, readying herself for her opponent's next attempt at attacking.

Momo was quite surprised at the way her larger opponent moved - but not displeased. If anything, it made her happy that she was able to keep up. To the blue-haired girl, fighting was like music and no matter how many times she was told to take it seriously, it was hard for Momo to focus. "Alright!" she said happily "I'm loving those moves ~ !" Momo moved her hand over her equipement, changing the tune completely this time. It seemed Gabby was on the defensive, not having counter attacked, so she switched to something with a faster pace while keeping her distances.

"This one is my own composition ~ It's gonna be a workout!" The tune had a buildup at the start but as soon as she finished her sentence, a huge dropped came about - to which Momo upped the sound at the same time, sending a huge wave in the form of an arc towards her enemy. It spanned at least a few meters from right to left, but Momo also followed up with multiple more projectiles. Her strategy was clear; keep the enemy at a distance, tire them and outnumber them.

Gabby smirked to herself, pleased that she'd impressed Momo with her "moves". In part, she had been so evasive for that reason, but there was also another reason, which would hopefully bear fruit now. Momo, for her part, reacted exactly as Gabby had hoped she would - by turning up the intensity of her attacks, so it appeared. Undoubtedly, Momo was expecting to preserve the distance between herself and Gabby, wearing her down from a distance. She couldn't dodge forever, after all.

But she didn't need to, as she had led Momo into thinking.

Seeing the first wave of air barrel toward her, Gabby held out her right forearm vertically in front of her, and as Momo's attack collided with her arm, she took a heavy step forward, her bare foot slapping the smooth gym floor loud. A quick repulsion from her arm at the moment of impact dispelled Momo's air blast while leaving Gabriella visibly unharmed. That being the case, Gabby quickly realized that the blast of air that time had been stronger than the ones Momo had fired off before - it struck her with about equal force to someone of her musculature punching someone. She wouldn't be able to repel many more like it before she started losing feeling in her arm.

As she continued moving toward Momo, she made sure to vary up her defense - some waves she would dodge over or under, one she would repel with her left arm, then dodge again, then allow one to collide with her bare abs to dispel it with a repulsion. Doing these while continuing to move forward, she attempted to close the gap between Momo and herself. If Momo didn't move from where she was, Gabby would be within striking distance in no time.

Brunhilde Braun


"Welcome to Shade Academy. As future Huntsmen and Huntresses, it will be your duty to uphold the stability of the world- no pressure."

Brunhilde inwardly gave an incredulous chuckle, standing next to the window of the Vacuan airbus with her index fingers and thumbs forming a diamond in front of her chest. As if saying "no pressure" would just magically ease her nerves. She looked out of the window to the sandy reaches below, seeing the plateau of Shade Academy split the horizon in two. How much stability was there to even uphold in a place like this? It had only been a few months since her parents had made the decision to move from Vale to Vacuo, and she still hadn't quite gotten used to their new environment yet. This kingdom seemed almost lawless sometimes compared to the orderly ways of Vale. Was living here really better than being close to places the White Fang was active?

No, she told herself. She had already bemoaned the huge change long enough. She couldn't do anything about it, so there was no use letting it dominate her thoughts. She gave her head a shake, her brown locks swinging from side to side behind her. She had to focus. She was going to become a huntress, just like her mom and dad. The people living in Vacuo still needed protection from Grimm, just like the people in Vale, and she'd be just as proud to provide it to the former as the latter. And she'd never get to that point if she just spent all her time feeling nervous and sorry for herself.

The air bus touched down and other students started filing out onto the academy grounds. Not wanting to be in anyone's way, Brunhilde waited for everyone else to disembark first, making her the last one off of the Vacuo shuttle. She moved out of the landing area immediately, not wanting to be in the way of anying getting off the next ships to touch down. She looked around at all the students. Some wore fashion common in Vale, which helped make her feel a bit more at ease. She herself had opted for a plain white tee with tan shorts, and a green sweater tied around her waist that she had intended to wear on her actual torso, wanting to look nice on her first day at Shade Academy. She hadn't yet updated her wardrobe for Vacuo's weather to combine form and function; it was either Valean form or Vacuan function. So there it stayed, around her hips instead.

She turned away from the throngs of people to gaze up toward the Spire - the antenna for Vacuo's CCT tower - shielding her eyes from the sun with her left hand as she did so. Here she was, Shade Academy. A surreal experience, seeing as how she'd always imagined herself attending Beacon if she'd been good enough. All the pride of having reached a high pillar without any of the familiarity.

Brunhilde frowned, feeling herself dip back into that negative line of thinking again. In a desperate attempt to refocus her thoughts, she pulled Jormungandr over her shoulder, the camo-pattern guitar having been strapped to her back for the entire ride since it basically went with her wherever she went, and brought her fingers to the strings. A victorious-sounding guitar riff sounded out over the crowd of students talking and monitors displaying the news. The sound signified the pride she felt at having trained hard enough to be accepted by one of the most famous hunting academies in the four kingdoms.

Immediately Brunhilde lowered her head and hunched her shoulders, trying to shrink herself as she looked around at all the people who were no doubt staring right in her direction now.
VAPOR-Empowered Android
Nickel



Nickel counted herself lucky she didn't have a stomach. It was hard not to be thankful given that someone else on the Vacuan air bus, standing not too far away from her, had come down with motion sickness during the trip. Certainly such an affliction had to occur every semester in a handful of new students, but that didn't make it any less embarassing- or unpleasant-looking. Had she the capability to become motion sick, she almost certainly would have; this was her first ever time being carried by air bus, and having only come into existence two months ago wouldn't have helped her resist the affliction, either.

I guess dad built a bit of luck into me. Hahah!

As the air bus touched down and students around her began to disembark, Nickel was still smiling at the absurdity of such an idea, as well as the heartwarming image it formed in her mind, as she followed the crowd onto the sandy rocks Shade Academy was built upon. Immediately the screens above caught her attention, as seemed intended, as the news program they were displaying changed to a different broadcast. It sounded like one of the academy's staff was addressing the new arrivals, probably an administrator.

But is their equipment really so poor that they can't transmit an image of the speaker? I should have them talk to dad about that.

As she mused inwardly about whether Shade would have enough money to pay Toolmaster's fee if they didn't even have enough to make a professional first impression on the new students, Nickel looked around at the crowds disembarking from the other air buses. Some of the buses were even from other kingdoms, and the students filing off of them looked suitably exotic. Nickel's smile grew wider, thinking of meeting lots of foreigners and learning about the world beyond the sands of Vacuo through them. How did their values differ from those of Vacuans? Would she be able to see the value in their opinions?

Taking a calming breath in and out, Nickel let the tension drain from her body, replacing her excitement with a more relaxed energy. If she was going to learn anything, she had to pay attention, and she couldn't do that while wrapped up in her own imagination.
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