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14 days ago
Current fine, since you asked so nicely officer, i will confess my crimes. since i was seven years old i have refused to match any socks in my sock drawer. i practice sock hookup culture. i am a slut
7 likes
16 days ago
sad news for anime and r&b fans alike as the cult classic "neon genesis d'angelion" has again been postponed. film challenges viewer and character psyches alike with simple question: how does it feel
1 like
17 days ago
well, fuck me, if no one else is gonna ask. how does a job turn out to be a scam that fast? what tipped you off
1 like
19 days ago
Melfi: Anthony, this is a pattern of you considering animals above human needs. tony soprano: the fuck ish this, huh? deer park, drinking water outta bambis'h home? he'sh an orphan, for christsake!
1 like
25 days ago
analyzing the falcon and winter soldier trailer bit by bit. frame by frame. searching for a glimpse of the real captain america: joe biden
3 likes

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Ohhhh, Nicoooooole, you've gotta be a magical girl! Ars Magi have a storied part in humanity's survival! They'll remember your name in the neighborhood for the rest of time! Sure, you were a fuck up who could have gotten all As but got all Bs because you didn't like turning in assignments, and you declare thumb war on guys you want to bone down on, but that's just part of your charm! They'll love that about you in military school!

For three days, that had been the sardonic core of Nicole's buried resentments, swirling and tempestuous and often punctuated with weird stomach rumbles and groans, like she'd been fed some foul carbonara with frankfurter in it. She couldn't say she was entirely unused to the sensation. Two years previously, she'd had her wisdom teeth taken out all at once, but somehow all the romanticizing and propaganda disseminated about Ars Magi had neglected to mention that the whole journey began with the same crippling, post-anesthesia nausea that came with having your jaw disassembled. She hadn't even felt comfortable standing for the first day or two, for fear that she would find her legs still gelatinous or her stomach in the mood to betray her and heave. When she would look down, curled halfway into a fetal position on her bed, she would see the alien invading her body - scarlet and dull, with only the occasional glitter that she had begun to suspect was merely a trick of the sunlight, days passing by one after the other. Once she had reached down to poke it - sue her - and actually been driven to the point of tearing up in pain and discomfort.

Bereft of those two emotions, the only feeling left to her was boredom. She considered talking to Astrelle every now and then, but it was hard to keep her usual standard of flirting up when she constantly felt like she was going to turn into sludge with one wrong wink, let alone getting up and going over to the other bed. Besides, even if Astrelle was in the mood for talking - doubtful - Nicole wasn't really in the mood to hear her say she was right back on the airship. Even if she was, what good would it do now? They were thoroughly locked in for the ride.

They remained locked in for two more days after their procedure. At least, that was the result of the mental math she'd come up with as she trudged into their dorm's bathroom and began running the water for a shower. She was feeling only a little less listless this morning, and personally she would have been happy to take another week off. But it seemed like today was the day that Nova Lux figured they were strong enough to kick ass under their own power. As she stripped out of the clothes she had been bumming in since the operation and started fiddling with the water temperature again, the queen of vibes lifted up one leg and mimed the single, sweeping motion commonly associated with kicking ass. To her surprise, she didn't quite topple over - although she had wrapped her fingers around the top of the stall to prevent such a klutzy disaster from unfolding. Letting go, she tested kicking with her other leg. That felt easy enough, too.

She grinned at this latest triumph and stepped into the shower, gasping a little at the shock of the water on her skin - and then realizing it was a pleased gasp, and not the pained hisses that normally came swaddled in a blanket of foreign curses at the water being too hot or too cold. No, it felt just right - Goldilocks temperature. After a second of indecision in the face of her good luck, she grinned; her head reclined, letting the water wash over her face, hair, and down her front as she savored the warm water and her good fortune. Even the way the water lapped at the jewel in her abdomen didn't feel quite so bizarre anymore. Gently, she reached down to touch the small chunk of emerald. This time, she felt nothing. That felt good in of itself, and she grinned, giving the gem an affectionate little pat and circling it with a finger.

Another little victory. Just keep stringing those together, bella. That's what life's all about.

She grinned, angling her head back further, and started rinsing her hair.




Once again, she found herself marveling at the differences between Palmyra and her native Hasta. Marveling was the wrong word, actually. Mourning was more appropriate. But even as far as Palmyra went, setting foot in the MEZ was an absolutely ghoulish concept, like preparing to duel in the middle of a graveyard. Every building had once bustled with activity, people living their lives here in spite of miasma, until one by one they had faded into memory or been driven out by the military - the same military she had now devoted her body and her life to. She looked over at Astrelle again, then back to the tests at hand. The rest of them had gathered to watch Vanna perform, and once again, Nicole found it enchanting to watch the daughter of the Diana clan go to work. Even though there was no possibility of her words of encouragement reaching Vanna, or Dana after her, she still kept up an enthusiastic applause at their transformations and performances against the Voids, and at the end of both tests she found herself applauding loudly. Then it was her turn, the girl in the middle - not noble, but not poor; not thrilled about her fate, but not resigned to it either; not consumed by dreams of being an Ars Magi but not thoroughly repelled by them. The queen of vibes, the girl in the middle. She guessed that made her the natural candidate for the glue of the team.

That glue would be put to the test. Nicole was about to prove she was capable of holding herself, and the squabbling quartet of girls who fate had tied her to, together. She looked back at the other girls in the observation tower and smiled warmly, hands on her hips. Knowing that familiar eyes were on her helped quell her discomfort at the ghost town that threatened to swallow her, like being in the midst of friends in a horror movie screening.

“Now lowering diffusion level. Nox levels rising. Manifestation of Voids detected.”

Nicole's attention was stolen away from her new friends for good. It was do or die time. The nausea in her stomach was replaced by performance jitters. The kind she'd felt when she was on the Laurus, experiencing fleeting bursts of agility for the first time. The kind she felt when she had first gotten her letter from Nova Lux. The kind she felt standing at the highest point of Hasta, rain matting her hair, seeing the rivulets trace the lines of his cheeks, his jaw and his lips...

The kind she'd felt then, the moment of her greatest failure. Her final failure. From here on out, it was all about the little victories.

She stretched out her dominant arm, rolling her hand by the wrist and cracking every knuckle as the Voids drew their forms from hell.

The wind is on my back.

She felt her stomach flutter again, and her body began to glitter.

May my sword cut like my smile.

And the blade, long, slender, and cobalt, bloomed in her hand like an extension of her hand - the finest steel, ornamented in color and born from gust.

Her body looked like it had become fire made flesh, a slender inferno being licked and fanned by the breeze cultivating around Nicole Cognoscenti. Her clothes had become tangerine tongues of flame, with white hot cores serving as her top, skirt, and boots; her scarf blew triumphantly in the wind, the longest tongue of all, tasting the justice she represented on the wind. Even the jewel in her navel glittered brighter, like her eyes after a well-timed quip. She tipped her small beret towards the monsters formed to test her, in a playful show of respect. She didn't bother with a ready stance.

"Vi faccio vedere come lotte un Hastano!"

The Ars Magi lunged.

Her very first Void died to her very first cut. Instinctually, Nicole crowed out in triumph, but beneath the lizard brained thrill of her Void kill virginity came a mental note - she had swung with a simple backhanded cut that had ducked past all three Voids, and bifurcated her target down the middle on her way past. The sword, however, had never even touched the shadows; its reach must have been augmented by her power somehow, or perhaps the physical blade itself was only the center of winds that swirled invisibly and cut sharper than scissors. She would need to test it out further sometime.

In the meantime, the second and third Voids were ready to attack. Her back was to them, so she kept running, feeling the same agility that had served her from nowhere onboard the Laurus kick back in. Now, however, she felt it burst from within her spectacularly, and when she ran she felt freer and fleeter than she ever had in her life. Nothing would catch her with the wind at her back. Nicole leapt, so happy she could cry.

She thought her feet made contact with the ground until she looked down, noticed the dusty, fogged, cracked glass of a window long-abandoned, and decided she didn't give a crap. She kept running along the length of the building, taking her final leap off the corner where building met alleyway. Her right foot reached out and used a sign post, rusted beyond the point of deciphering, as a springboard for her next great leap, back into the midst of where the Voids had rushed to meet their doom. This time, she wanted to see the blade sink in; her gladius sank deep into the shadow of a Void, where any normal, Godly creature would have felt its heart pierced by the manifestation of her justice. She grinned in triumph--

oof oh god

--and felt the breath leave her when the third Void struck her stomach.

Even as the second Void returned to the cold hell from whence it came, she tumbled backwards from the force of the blow, feeling the strain of the operation upon her midriff all over again as she skidded to a halt on one knee. She had been caught showboating, caught up in testing power unlike any she'd ever imagined she would feel, and gotten caught for it. That was probably one of the lessons that Nova Lux wanted to teach them. It was better to learn it now. Nicole stood and adjusted her beret, an uncharacteristic, pouting glower on her face. Her fingers adjusted, cracking again around the hilt of her gladius.

This time, both opponents rushed to meet the other - both determined, but one measured and strategic where the other was mindless and cruel. Blows that had seemed terrifying onboard the Laurus now looked wild, frenzied, intent on pain and death without a clue how to inflict it on an opponent that had become faster and stronger than them overnight. Nicole's dodges felt kinetic in a way she'd never imagined she could feel, skidding backwards, to the side, bobbing and weaving for the fun of it. The wind was tickling her inside, making her feel as though she could start laughing and never, ever stop - making her feel like she never wanted the fight to stop. She felt like laughing like she imagined she'd laugh if she ever got Astrelle to come up with a joke. Most of all, she wanted to laugh at the Void.

Then, in the middle of a leftward dodge that turned into a flourish, the wind around her blade cleaved an arm-like appendage from her final obstacle. The inky blob that passed for a head went next. And then it was over. She was victorious.

Hell with little victories. This was huge. Nicole Cognoscenti had passed her test.

She adjusted her beret, seconds before her transformation slowly began to revert. She had imagined the reverie she felt would fade alongside it, but aside from a few little aches of exhaustion, she felt no worse for wear. Even the scrape on her left leg, where she had skidded the length of the forgotten street, was barely a twinge. She took another deep breath and went to fiddle with the beret again, anxiously, excitedly, before she realized it had faded away. She was back in the clothes she'd warn to the test. Only the gem in her stomach still glittered, as it would until the day she died.

She looked up at the observation tower where her friends watched and grinned, smile cutting the length of her face. She raised two fingers and kissed them emphatically, then arced her left arm in a clockwise motion above her head. The fingers split in front of her eyes, forming a triumphant V as she bowed low, like a ballerina seeking accolades for her performance. Her bad leg was hidden from sight at the peak of her proud little curtsy.

Then, true to character, Nicole Cognoscenti started to headbang. When she lifted her gaze up, her scarlet hair had fallen into her face. She gave a halfhearted attempt to blow it out of her eyes, with no cigar.

She started to laugh, and didn't stop.


She supposed she should feel endangered. On some level, she certainly was; Gypsy Soul was upset with her, judging by the amount of sirens going off as her Samadhi batted away the alien's claws once, then twice. Her parries felt effortless, an application of training she had done day in and day out in her past life on Mars. This was always a possibility, Gyps. You knew not to go in naïve. She could almost hear the voices of gleeful executives and scientists, and felt the same skepticism now that she'd felt then - a nagging concern, in her bones, that there was something malicious waiting in space. But she'd gone along for the ride this far.

She heard a new alarm blare in her cockpit, and a grin split the surface beneath her cool metal face.

"Sssstupid bug."

Danger close once. By now, she had been attempting to Gypsy Soul's high mobility Praxis Clock package proved worth the time and risk to implement, sweeping backwards and from the right as Odysseus fired its twin ATs at the creature's armor. They struck, just as Bedwyr's sustained volleys had, and though they didn't seem to do any better of a job at penetrating the alien's defenses, they certainly seemed to piss it off. Almost as much as Gypsy's continued survival did. Another alarm blared.

Danger close twice. Ajax was returning fire, answering the creature's spinal singes with a one-two punch that, if not another shellacking on an already thoroughly shellacked exoskeleton, would send it reeling with the pulse that followed the uranium slug. With no further volleys at risk of obliterating their local, nimble, otherworldly friendly Orbital Gypsy pressed the opportunity to engage.

<<Roger, Bedwyr. Something to keep me on my toes a little bit.>>


//Praxis Clock functionality rating reduced to 3. Samadhi functionality rating raised to 5.


It seemed that, now that she had fully committed to her plan of attack and decided to seize while the Bandit was vulnerable, Gypsy Soul had finally decided to commit to the bit, too.

//Stupid bug.//


No longer merely content to block blows, Gyps' Counterattack struck one talon, then the next, the smaller Orbital attempting to drive back the monster offended by its very existence. If the others could keep up with their engagement, she knew could make short work of the talons. Gyps found her heart thumping in her chest, felt her legs quiver with excitement and her teeth sink into her lip. She was really getting into this.

Gyps was feeling so good, she mused, that maybe she wouldn't even dodge in a few seconds.

//Prepare for evasive maneuvers.//


She would, of course.

...But maybe she wouldn't...
Post should be up this weekend on my end!


Well, this was incredibly, incredibly delayed, and all I can say is that semesters starting will always suck. Sorry for the hold up, but I'm in business now and post is up! If anyone else is still onboard here, I am too.
I R I S


*That's it. Archer's dead, or something. I can't find any of you and I'm done trying. Maybe you're dead, too. Worst training exercise ever. I'm telling the council you all suck.*

Despite the whirlwind pace of events and the weight of Fluke's words, Iris almost wanted to smile despite herself. The scatterbrained little trainee hadn't bothered Iris as much as he'd seemed to bother some of the others, and his ornery personality remaining relatively unchanged was a comfort at the moment. She'd almost jolted out of her skin - and worse, lost sight of her trajectory on her glider - at the explosion when it had gone off, but her prey had barely even registered that there was an incident. They'd spared only a fleeting look before dipping in the direction of the hospital; Iris remained in pursuit, but...

Archer's dead? And the others...? But she'd just seen...

"Don't go badmouthing me, Fluke," she complained in his ear. "I'm doing my best here, following the people we think dumped that corpse in the alley. Pretty sure they're the ones that have been leaving the trail of burning buildings too, those rude asses...they had this...never mind." Cedar's reaction to the ring was still in the back of her head. Best to not bring it up. "I was just with Cedar back in the alleys. What happened to Archer? Should we regroup?"

She hated abandoning the chase right now, but if the others needed a big girl on demand, then Iris would have to be there. On the other hand, she could still see right where they'd entered the hospital...

So while that avenue was still available to her, and she waited for Fluke's usual retort, she kept straight on.



Nicole laughed along at the betrayed look on their own beloved bespectacled girl, even as her blonde counterpart seemed to further tug on what remained of Penny's social graces. Having already weathered what passed for Astrelle's good cheer, Nicole found it hard to be bothered by the girl's snide attitude, but she also wasn't the one directly under attack. If Penny could go without using that cast of hers as a club and beating down on Amanda's head, then Nicole could go without getting her in a full nelson and helping her out.

Her head craned upward at the sound of the dinner chime, and she felt a little rush of excitement go throughout her body - not a rush, actually, more of a breeze. Yeah, a breeze, fluttering out from her core and into her extremities. She found it hard to even concentrate on whatever remained of her food from here.

"What else?" she asked rhetorically. "It's just about showtime. Soon we won't have to argue about whether it's all it's cracked up to be or not. We each can just decide for ourselves." If she could have winked at Amanda and Astrelle at the same time, she would have. I guess that would just be a normal blink, though. Not cool looking. So she didn't even try.

Speaking of the girl in question, she turned to the aloof half of the table - the one-woman bridge between them, Penny, and Dana in their little burgeoning clique. She smiled at them both playfully.

"I'm counting on you two not to upstage me, okay?" she asked, with a mock note of pleading and a twinkle in her eyes. "I know I'm just a material girl, material world and all, but if I'm not the chicest girl on the team I don't really have much else going on. So do your best to be average for once, vi prego, belle?"
Post should be up this weekend on my end!



Nicole liked Penny and Dana a lot, but there were some arguments she wasn't about to wade into for anyone, even friends. Defending the honor or artistic merit of magical girl cartoons she'd never watched as a kid had never really occurred to her as a bullet on her no-fly list, but after thirty hours or so with her new group she could tell it was going to need to be wedged in somewhere. Nicole, personally, found it a little soothing to hear them go on and on about one cartoon or another; as a mediator and people person by nature, it was always nice to see two people resonate on the same frequency without her having to butt in. But that also meant they were more than capable of handling themselves without her ignorant butt elbowing in.

Personally, she was all about neon thrillers with more blood and guts than plot. Or, on the nights where she could see the rain fizzle and burn on the lights of Hasta, she would crawl under a blanket and get into the mood with something tech noir, movies with cityscapes that were like Hasta's in aesthetics but without her warmth. The characters would lack warmth, too - hot android babes, hiring hunky detectives who grew besotted with them only to be killed off at the end so the androids could run away with other women. Like all good noir, it was a beat-to-death twist on a beat-to-death formula, but that was the main reason to love it. There was nothing twisty about it, in her mind, but the vibes were all that mattered. Nicole would do some pretty crazy things for a babe too, be they hot androids or hunky detectives, or definitely, definitely hot androids.

...

Wow, wait, that real-ly explains some things about me.

Her head craned over to look at Vanna, conspicuously silent in the wake of her roommate's full-throated introduction. She gave her a thumbs up and winked, but she knew better than to try and engage Vanna here and now. Her Duodecim status alone was enough to deflate that idea, and the number of girls present at the table who hadn't been through what they had - what she had - was just icing on the cake. Besides, she was already pushing enough limits trying to warm Astrelle up to the others. So she tuned one ear back into the conversation a little.

"In all seriousness, though, I like to think of them as a teen girls' equivalent to the 'Join the Self Defense Forces' clips. I mean, they show them all shooting those shiny new guns, but never seem to mention 90% of soldiering is either cleaning your stuff, digging holes, sitting in a freezing foxhole, or cleaning latrines with a toothbrush. Hopefully, we won't have to do that bit - cleaning latrines with a toothbrush, that is."

Nicole stifled a giggle. Maybe she was starting to feel Astrelle's influence on her a little after all, like Penny had said. It seemed pretty crazy to respond to a retort like the blondie's by openly admitting to enjoying propaganda since childhood, but it was becoming increasingly apparent that was part of Penny's blunt charm.

The conversation quickly turned, at the behest of Vanna's new roomie, to a few other missing arrivals. Nicole furrowed her brow a little bit, thinking of the girls that might have gone through something similar to what they had - or even worse, if they hadn't arrived yet. Her heart went out to them. As for their own experiences, Penny and Dana did a good job of embellishing the tale where necessary and leaving other stuff out, but it seemed that Penny was growing a little uncomfortable with the way she was starting to stick out in the narrative. Time to slip the knife in, babe.

This time, Nicole let her laugh fly.

"C'mon, Penny, bask in your glory a little bit. Not every girl gets to be a hero before she even puts on the uniform. Sure sounds like an origin story to me." She winked. "You wouldn't believe how cool under pressure she was, either. Don't pick a fight with her, ladies, you wouldn't believe the nerves she's got. Real crocodile."
Has this place finally gone dark? I thought it would never die. It had a good long run.


One of these days there'll almost certainly be a continuation, if I have anything to say about it. In a year or two if enough of the old crowd is still around and interested. It's hard for me to get some of the characters and interactions in this game outta my head.

Good to see you around!



It was nice to see Penny and Dana with such a pep in their step. It helped Nicole keep her spirits high and nerves low after a sluggish start to her own day.

Normally, she was a morning person herself - easy-going and amiable, the one to fix coffee for her parents, go out for a run in the morning and watch as the dew lifted off the streets of Hasta. But she wasn't in Hasta, and the jet lag had pummeled Nicole as hard as any of the furniture on the crashing Laurus. She'd spent most of the night rolling from side to side, doing her best not to sleep on the parts of her body the shower had scalded or trying to focus on the sound of her own breathing. For a while she'd tried to keep it in unison with the breathing of Astrelle, sleeping across the room (or maybe just doing a good job of faking like Nicole had) or trying to breathe in time with some of her favorite songs. In between those, she grumbled to herself about not being able to sleep naked with a new roommate. It was a charcuterie of things of things designed to keep her off her game - new city, new time zone, new routine, and a pair of basketball shorts to cut off the sacred sheet-legs symbiosis.

But being around the same group of girls she'd survived a freak Void attack had helped. Nicole was a bit quieter and less personable than she'd been at first, but as the day went on and the girls went through their tests, it began to dawn upon all of them the enormity of what was to come, and her mood began to stabilize as others became more excitable or pessimistic. Naturally, the girls had begun to talk among themselves about their impending surgeries - or the idea of being turned down for them, which was such a cosmically unlucky, crappy thought that Nicole giggled at it when Penny brought it up.

"Ugh, just had a horrible thought. 'Hey, we just tested you, and while you have magic, we don't think you're a suitable candidate for the procedure. Sorry to waste your time, now pack your bags because you're going home.' Wonder if they ever had a case like that. Yeah, I feel bad for thinking about it."

“That’s kinda depressing. But I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. I mean, we went through a buncha prelim tests back home, and I doubt they’d go through all the hassle of bringin’ us here, if there was any chance we’d just have to be sent home again.”

"Besides, they're not really in the business of wasting time here," Nicole pitched in, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees and head in hands. "You heard how early they blew the horn for us, and with the way things have run so far, I doubt they're going to waste time bringing a girl into where they do procedures just to bounce her out. If they were gonna go through all that trouble they'd be more likely to kill you just to shut you up."

She winked at her new friends and adjusted her newest skirt, glowering at it with an irritation she hadn't even directed at Astrelle at her worst yesterday.

"I wish they'd kill me, frickin' uniform..." she grumbled. "Hey, wait, I probably shouldn't say that, right? That's probably what they say in those shows you guys watch before things go bad. Forget I said that."

They were on the subject of their favorite shows again, discussing how they hoped their transformations would be modeled after certain girls from certain Adjective Adjective Job Title Noun anime. She thought again of their discussion on the airship yesterday, and the innocence with which they'd discussed Ars Magi propaganda. Astrelle hadn't been fooled, and she was probably smarter not to be. But why go through all the trouble of being an Ars Magi just to feel like shit about it?

"You'll have to tell me who I'd be," Nicole said with an apologetic grin. "I really only speak the language when it comes to over-the-top macho stuff."

God, it would be so sick if I became Eradicator. Or Demonetta or Roboslut. She pictured herself, slinging a pair of pistols in either direction. I don't kiss magical girls. I turn 'em to slag.

"Maybe you girls could give me, like, a list of beginner's stuff to watch for nights off? Help amica tua out?"
Hi all! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉

Who's still in to continue? 😄 Should we change things up a bit? Should we conveniently forget some details, or assume others were always true? Or maybe the swarm arrives and everyone dies... ☠ (which could also be a fun send-off 😂)


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