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Watch out.

The gap in the door... it's a separate reality.
The only me is me.
Are you sure the only you is you?


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So I wouldn't be coming back with Vincent, at least not as a PC - I'm happy to have cameos or references to him - as the original plan was Vincent would discover his powers came from his nature as a hybrid of Human and a 4th-Dimensional race that granted him such mastery over the standard 3 dimensions (similar to Mr. Mxyzptlk's nature as a 5th-dimensional being, and all the craziness he can get up to as a result), and end up leaving this plane in search of more of his kind and hopefully his mother and biological, 4th-dimensional father. A 2 year gap is a very feasible period for this to have happened in. RIP the Vincent/Eilidh romance.

Hopefully this is OK - I have seen that Wraith has app'd a new character, and I'll be looking to do the same, but I'd like a week to think about sheets and come up with something I'm excited about.

I'd also appreciate if we could get an organized run-down of which characters remain (if we know)? So far, it sounds like Eilidh, Red, Kali, Varo, and potentially Connor are returning, while the rest are gone or having replacements being applied for?
How much leeway do we have for making actions in-character without using our once-per-turn Special Action?

For example, eating, drinking, looking at the map that's already been Examined by another character - assume this is all fine to do within a post without using my Special Action, but then if I wanted the Labourer to pocket another beer for the road - this is a Collect action? Can I pick up the boltcutters, snip the top of a food can, and tear it open to eat what's inside within a post without using a Special Action, or are all of these a Special Action combined, or even separately (i.e. Collect for boltcutter, Attack to use boltcutters on can, Examine to check and eat the food)?

I don't want to step on toes by taking multiple actions within one post when they should be separate uses of Special Actions across several turns - but also, using a Special Action is a tricky and strategic choice as-is, especially as more Special Actions get introduced, so if I have to be even more careful around what the Labourer is doing each post then it might slow me down.
The Labourer kept a firm grip on the length of chain as he climbed back up out of their initial cell, the weight and sturdiness of them a comforting anchor in these otherwise disturbing circumstances. As he climbs back up, he hears glass breaking above him, and he flies back into the bunker-room.

On the cot, the old man, once so filled with fervour as to rip his own chains off the wall, now weeps quietly, engaged in a quiet dialogue with himself and the shattered glass of a dropped bottle scattered about beneath him. The Labourer isn't sure whether to pity the man or scorn him, but in either case he's distracted by the fragance of the stale lager and the sight of five remaining bottles.
"Speak for yourself." He mutters back, grabbing a bottle for himself and pilfering the bottle opener out of the old man's hands, taking a deep pull and feeling a nasty satisfaction blossom in the back of his brain. A guilty, black gremlin, that says I know I shouldn't, but I know I have to. Half the bottle gone in one go, he pulls his lips away from the neck with some reluctance, instead opting to examine the map with the woman.

It reveals lots and very little, simultaneously. They're on an island - in an island? - and there are, apparently, several key points of interest, or at least that's as much as he can deduce by the various dots scattered about the map. The yellow one - at the north-west tip - is either the most important of all or, guessing from what little context is available, potentially a lighthouse and nothing more. Despite having a map, he felt somehow even more confused about their whereabouts.

Another idea struck him. Was the yellow them? He considered everything so far; the cell below - the key, hidden but poorly-enough to be found quickly - the pull-cord disguised in the lightbulb, leading them up here to some kind of supply room. Supplies for what? For the journey ahead of him. If the yellow was their current location, then they were at the furthest point of the island from the bridge, which seemed to be the only way off and back to civilisation. It almost made sense - like this was some kind of sick game, and they were being tested. You made it this far, let's see how much further you can manage.

He felt that spark of angered survival instinct again. He flexed his grip around the chains in his hand. He looked again around the room at the supplies, before his gaze finally settled on the door.

"Alright." He said, finishing the beer. "If anything's safe to eat, then let's eat. Then, let's see what's behind this door."

>Explore (try and open the door)
Humans in the Argent Nexus are as your humans anywhere else; varied, survivable, and fast-populating. Created by the demi-god children of Allt-far from his own divine remains, humans were the earliest mortal inhabitants of the Argent Nexus, and spread themselves across the continent in their search for suitable places to call their new homes. Their capital is the grand city of Hawkminster, where the King and his royal family - descended from Allt-far's children themselves - reign and guide Mankind, alongside the trust council of the King's advisors.

Humans average five to seven feet in height, weigh from sixty to one-hundred kilograms, and live roughly eighty to ninety years. Their skin tones, eyes, and hair colours span the standard range of human colouration, and they have no distinctive physical characteristics beyond those normal for humans.

Humans can be found everywhere across the continent, and have no singular region or city of origin beyond their capital of Hawkminster; however, several cities and town were principally settled by humans, including Blackborough, Pinefall, and Westharbour.

Mankind has a special relationship with Allt-far, as their celestial progenitor, but still revere the Veiled, respectful of Allt-far's prior place in their divine cabal.

Mennesk are a subrace of Humanity, created long ago by a buried and forgotten magical rite that was intended to elevate Mankind, but ultimately created a distinct offshoot of Human that quickly established themselves as an independent people.

Fittingly for their origins, Mennesk could reasonably pass as Human - were it not for being practically demi-giants, blessed with tremendous height (ten to twelve feet), broad builds (one-hundred-ten to one-hundred-sixty kilograms), long lives (one-hundred to one-hundred-twenty year), incredible physical strength, and physical adaptations that their bodies take on from adolescence as they acclimate to their surroundings. However, whatever magics were used in their creation also severed them from its weave, and Mennesk have a unique ineptitude for spellcasting - taking many years of intense study to grasp mere basics that other races master in months.

Due to their innate adaptive capabilities, and their innate impotence with magic, Mennesk developed a nomadic, traveling society, and emphasised the values of education and craftsmanship within their culture. As a result, since their conception Mennesk have become a race of well-traveled, well-learned caravaneer nomads, known for their strength, scholastic prowess, and the quality of their craft in paths both practical and artistic. Mennesk caravans typically keep equal footing among all members - men, women, and children alike - but particularly-skilled and talented individuals are regarded as Sages for their specific craft, and are revered and well-respects across caravans for their mastery. Caravans additionally have a designated Elder, who leads the convoy and is responsible for maintaining peace and security within the caravan.

Onnea is the patron God of the Mennesk, and honoured accordingly, but they also pay frequent tribute to Tvorba as craftsmen, and heed the rest of the Veiled as appropriate along their travels.

Naturally for a nomadic people, there is no singular fixed Mennesk settlement, and their people are in constant movement across the land; but caravan routes cross paths with some regularity, and several hubs have developed as common meeting-points and respites for caravans along their separate journeys, where it is known you can reliably find Mennesk for trade or commission - though there's no guarantee you'll find the specific individual you might be looking for. These hubs include Wolf's Snag, Riverpass, Tuskbarrow, Thorn's Rest, Oak Hollow, Emberhold, and Halfwall.

The Vizairi are an enigmatic, ethereal people, crafted by the Veiled from the very essences of Galdur and the elemental teachings of Air - born to carry the legacy of magic through the Argent Nexus, and through their heritage master spellcasting unlike any other.

Vizairi are graceful and uncanny in equal measure, owing to the nature of their creation. Tall (seven to nine feet) and slender (forty to seventy kilograms), their limbs are proportionally longer than those of other races, with long and delicate fingers. Vizairi skin - always pale blue-to-purple tones - shimmers across its surface occasionally; their eyes are piercing and vibrant gem-like shades of purple, green, and yellow, and their hair ranges from white-silver tones, to faintly-yellow blondes, to ebony-black. Vizairi exude grace across their every movement, and they are the very picture of poise.

Vizairi are innate masters of spellcasting, displaying raw natural talent unseen anywhere else in the land, and magic is weaved into their people's everyday lives as simply as breathing. Beyond the tutelage and practice of magic though, their culture values privacy and stoicism to extreme measures often regarded rude or off-putting by other, more sociable races - but in truth, while polite, Vizairi are simply intensely private and reluctant to display emotion. Vizairi even decline to share their names; out in the world, they go by their race name, their occupation, or appellations assigned to them based on their physical appearance, and their wedding ceremonies are attended only by the spouses and their immediate families, consisting of brief vows and an exchanging of names rather than rings. Other races are not welcome within the walls of Vizairi cities - to be permitted inside is a great honour, and even then the guest will be escorted - and to be invited into a Vizairi's home is considered the single deepest expression of respect and admiration once can be offered; more often than not, such an invitation is tantamount to a solemn romantic bid.

The Vizairi can be found across the land, but the majority of their people reside mostly within the Tír Ceilite Forest - where their capital city Inithalair and sister city Yiluné can be found - or the Wintered Canyon, where the city of Ithserine is sheltered. From Inithalair, the Vizairi Emperor reigns, though due to their private culture the Emperor in truth has little influence on their day-to-day lives of their people; instead, Emperor is closer to an honourary title bestowed upon the foremost scholar of magic among the Vizairi, and their successor a chosen acolyte who has long-studied spellcasting under their tutelage. The legacy of the Emperor is that of the most powerful and learned wielders of magic to ever grace the realm.

Galdur, God of Magic, is the patron deity of the Vizairi - his divine essence woven in their very beings - but they revere the Veiled as a whole, paying tribute to all Gods.

To be completed

To be completed
"What the fuck..." The Laborer whispered to himself as the ceiling pulled itself away and a ladder opened the way out of their dingy, would-be cell. He thought of an attic, somewhere in the murky past, of ascending into musty darkness in search of something, or to hide something away forever.

Thoughts and hazy memories ceased when he witnessed the sheer bounty available in this room, though. Rations, water, medical supplies; more than enough for the three of them to gorge themselves. There were two things that caught his eye though - the boltcutters, resting innocently against the singular cot, and the first-aid kit on the wall. The boltcutters would be perfect to loose those sturdy chains from their cell beneath, in preparation for a circumstance somehow even more dire than their present one; the first aid kit he sought for the bandages and gauze safeguarded within, able to definitively stymie the wound on his head that still persistently drip-dripped blood across his brow.

He looked at his co-convicts, registering at once that the three of them were neither safe nor in immediate danger; this room seemed to be a purposeful respite, a preparation area for them to steel themselves against whatever awaited them through that door. The laborer was assured in his own mind now that this was some elaborate punishment, but to what end, in recompense for what crime? In his belly he felt a spark of something both frighteningly alien and comfortingly familiar; feral, desperate indignation at his present condition, and in that feeling was the decision to seek his own punishment against whoever had put him here.

First things first, though. He moved to the first aid kit, cracking it open in search of something to patch his head with. Then it was boltcutters and retrieving the chains from the cell below. He was already thinking of various ways they could apply misery unto his mysterious captor.


In Ju-V 1 mo ago Forum: Advanced Roleplay

Fritz watched the others he'd arrived with trickle out, while he remained against the wall, the heavy paw of one of the larger-set guards resting on his shoulder; empty of malice, but full of firm authority. Rowell, for his part, nodded to the guard and made a small gesture with his hand toward a different exit, before turning on his heel and leaving the hall himself. Rowell was headed to his office; Fritz, as he soon found out - guided firmly but not roughly by the same heavy-set guard with the same spade-like mitt on his shoulder - to a secure, holding-cell type area. The place looked like a waiting room, benches flanking the doors at either end, while the walls were lined with cubicles. The front wall to each cell was some kind of sliding-door arrangement, well-polished glass and digital touch-pads to the side; within they were clearly sized for one person each, with a single cot, a secured-to-the-floor chair, a desk that jutted out from the wall like a chunky shelf, and a nondescript toilet, tastefully hidden behind a screen into its own kind of personal stall. These were clearly processing cells from Alcatraz' younger days, just modernized and, from the look of them, either sparsely-used, or frequently-cleaned.

The guard swiped a pass over the pad next to one of the cells, and the glass front slid across with a soft hiss. Fritz got a short-lived glimpse at someone standing, watching, in the neighboring cell, before the guard politely gestured forward, encouraging Fritz to step inside in a way that Fritz thought underplayed the choices that were actually available to him at this juncture. Fritz walked in and turned around, the glass wall already sliding shut - clicking when it was finished - as the guard pocketed his pass and stepped out of the far end of the room into some kind of checking-office, with a window that looked into the waiting room. Fritz peered at the best angle he could find through the glass front of his cell, watching the guard as he sat and thumbed through a magazine.

Fritz sat down on the edge of the cot. Despite experiencing actual regret (though no remorse - he felt the distinction significant) for his behaviour, he still scanned everything in his environment for access or defense. They'd clearly thought ahead; on the opposite wall he could see small sheafs of paper on the desks in each cell, along with a pencil. No such stationary existed in his. He sighed, and tipped himself backwards, resolving to stare at the ceiling until such a time the guard returned and ferried him on to wherever he was supposed to be next.

A light knock came from the wall next to his head.
"New here, kid?" Came a voice, drifting through the front of the cell. Fritz got up, leaning on the wall at the front of his cell - angled out-of-view of the guard's windows - and listening carefully.
"I saw the ferry come in across the bay. Not even half an hour yet and you're in holding."
Fritz didn't say anything. Whoever it was probably wouldn't respond well to him pointing out that they were in holding too.
"Thinking 'well you're in here too'?"" His neighbor continued. "Understand something. Theft. Assault. Criminal elements. AEGIS have their ideas about punishment for wrong-doing. I have mine. We don't see eye-to-eye."
Fritz rolled his eyes.
"You causing trouble already?"
Fritz sighed.
"I pulled a feather out of some bird." He paused. "Girl." He corrected, pausing again. "Bird-girl." That would have to do.
"Charming. Word of advice. Out there - keep your hands to yourself. You'll have enough enemies in this place. Don't make me one of them."

Fritz opened his mouth to reply, but heard the door at the end of the hall open, and the weighty footfall of the guard returning. Fritz stepped away from the wall, back toward the middle of the cell. The guard appeared and waved his pass over the touch-pad again, the glass wall sliding open once more.
"Director Rowell will see you now. Come with me."
And go with him Fritz did, stealing another glance at his neighbor as they passed by; tall. Well-built. Crossed arms rippling with well-maintained muscle. His dark eyes stared out from beneath a dark brow, not a shred of emotion across his face.
Grand, Fritz thought. The street-justice assholes are in here, as well.

Fritz sat in an opulent but uncomfortable chair - some combination of rich, dark wood and quality leather that looked expensive and tasteful but felt like all hell to actually sit in - in front of Director Rowell's desk. The guard who remained his erstwhile escort stood quietly at the back of the room, and Fritz could feel his eyes boring through the back of his skull; he fidgeted, unable to comfortably relax his arms where his wrists remained zip-tied. His eyes darted around the office, that instinctual lizard in the back of his mind still writhing, anxious and unnerved to be without a weapon. Fritz imagined it would be some time before the survival instinct settled and his hands stopped twitching.

Director Rowell stared at him from across the desk, taking a quiet moment to absorb the full scrawny figure of Frederick 'Fritz' Jackson. He was a sore sight, as painful as it was to admit; the child, still a minor at only 17, had not fared well on his self-imposed exile to the streets. Rowell suffered to think what Fritz may have experienced that the streets seemed the better option to him. He gestured to the zip-ties with one hand while beckoning the guard with the other.
"Can we remove those, please? I think Mr. Jackson here will behave from now on."
The guard hesitated, but at the arching of Rowell's eyebrow moved forwards, carefully snipping off the zip-tie and allowing Fritz to rub his chafed wrists and stretch his arms. He felt his shoulders click as he rolled the joints carefully.
"Thank you. Far more civilized, eh Frederick?" Rowell said, delivering a warm smile as he did so.
"Fritz." Fritz corrected, and Rowell simply nodded in return.

"Noted. 'Fritz' it is."

There was a pause; neither the man nor the boy spoke. Instead, each got the distinct impression that the other was eyeing them up.

"What I said earlier. Does any of it need repeating? Do you require further context? This place is your last chance. I understand your own unique... 'need' for a weapon, as an extension of yourself. But unfortunately, a trust issue has formed here. Given enough time to accrue goodwill, and social capital, you'll actually be given weapons as part of your own training process - and in the interest of understanding your own powers. But at the moment, such a thing is impossible."

"Without demonstrating a suitable level of rehabilitation on your part, you can't be trusted with the things which come later in the process. It's that simple. Without the existence of this program - of AEGIS - you would be in a cell. As you've seen, even within this program we have our own cells, which would be more than suitable for any... hiccups... in your own personal growth. But if we feel progress is impossible, it's still entirely possible to have you 'failed' - at which point, your sentence would be altered through your own actions, and you'd serve out your due term apportioned to you by the full extent of the law. Which, I can assure you, would be less empathetic than we here have been."

You could almost hear the cartoon-like 'gulp' that ran across Fritz' mind. He had little desire to let the courts decide his fate; despite his years on the streets he was well aware - perhaps even more finely-attuned to - the growing sentiment the public held against Metahumans. There was little doubt a derelict like him would make the perfect example in the eyes of politicians for their new 'hard on metas' stance that would surely win them enough votes for their preferred seats.

"At this point the question is, how big a leap of faith are you willing to take on other people, when it comes to your last chance? Because you're looking at being thrown in a deep dark hole, and never seeing the light of day again."

Rowell stared across his desk at Fritz' furrowed expression, his own face betraying no hint of emotion. He was a stone wall, in this moment a disciplinarian through-and-through. Fritz nodded.

"People, not so much. But I'll toe the AEGIS line." Fritz looked back at the guard who was watching him with a raised eyebrow from beside the door, and then turned to meet Rowell's gaze. "I don't want to hurt people. I just don't want to be hurt."

Rowell raised an eyebrow in an expression that might have resembled compassionate amusement, had Fritz the capacity to recognize compassion.
"Well, that's a good start. Just make sure you hold up your end of that bargain."
Rowell held a hand up and beckoned the guard forward with two fingers.
"Jones here will escort you directly to the residential wing. You'll be on curfew tonight. Time to ruminate over your purpose in being here. And a chance for your peers to forget about this afternoon's...festivities."
Jones put that meaty paw back on Fritz' shoulder, and he looked up at the gargantuan man. Jones looked back down. Fritz got up, and left Rowell at his desk, watching the two of them leave over castled fingers.
@Mao Mao@Carolus Rex I'm going to say no to your applications for now but allow you to take reserve slots for if someone drops/gets exploded.

I just don't think the playerbase, or myself, can handle two more ships

I don't think it's fair to Mao, Rex, the GM or the players that we have queued sheets being denied while an accepted player remains inactive 20+ posts in. It's fair to say I fell behind quickly on this one and don't want to be a blocker to players who will be more engaged - I will gracefully bow out and give away my spot.
"Hi there! I think we're new dormies! How exciting is this?!"

Luce could feel her whole body clenching as she stood awkwardly, mug in one hand, dorm room handle in the other, on foot cocked and carefully balancing on the ball of her toes. This felt, to her, not dissimilar to sleep paralysis; although she was very much awake, and very much aware of it. Her eyes, fixed like a hawk on the rich wood-grain of the door mere inches in front of her, flicked across her hands, each knuckle bone-white from the subconscious force of her grip.

Somehow, miraculously, she managed a smile - although you'd be forgiven for calling it a rictus grin - and craned her head around like it was swiveling on a pike to look at who had burst in on her familiar solitude. A thin, blonde, bubbly girl was bouncing through the door, taking in the sights of the common area before flocking to each door, seeking her name. She squealed when she found it, a sound which pierced through Luce like cheese wire through a wheel of brie. Luce suppressed a shiver.

"I don't want to be insensitive - but - from your scars," Eden said, absently tracing a finger over her own face to mirror the one struck across Luce's, "and from what I remember of the attack, you must be Lucille, right?"
Luce nodded sharply, flinching subtly at her full name.
"Luce." She offered.
"Luce, I'm sorry. I'm Eden! You're with Blackjack, right? That motley cabal!" Eden put on a funny voice, to which Luce remained stone-faced. Eden smiled awkwardly. "I didn't see you at the team swap, though? Or the House ceremony."
"I wasn't there." Luce paused; that much was obvious. She decided to head off the obvious question with a half-truth. "I was doing my community contribution."
Eden nodded. "So you're sticking with Blackjack, then?"

Luce looked away, back at her mug at the cooling coffee within. When she and her escort had arrived back at the intake dorms, the three House invitation letters still laid unopened on her bed. Her escort had wasted little time in scooping them up and away from her; she hadn't been told which team she'd been assigned to until they'd arrived at the Myotis dorms, and the envelopes had then been left discarded on her desk for her to peruse meaninglessly. Eclipse was a mystery. Though, given the events of the team swap that she had not been privy to, Blackjack wasn't necessarily a known quantity either.
Eden was still looking at her.
"I moved to Eclipse." Luce answered, and Eden smiled.
"Samesies! I'm on Eclipse too! That's great, housemates and teammates!"
Luce smiled wanly. She hoped it looked more convincing than it felt.
"Oh, but I've got to get unpacked. But I'll see you later! We can hang out, watch a movie, I can show you my abilities, maybe have dinner! Oh, exciting, we're going to be such great friends!"
And then Eden disappeared into her dorm room, and Luce escaped into hers, her hand aching from clutching the mug of coffee so hard.

Location: P.R.C.U.
First Class #2.94: First Day Jitters

Interaction(s): Alyssa, @Lord Wraith // Inigo, @Mao Mao
Previously: All Too Familiar

Luce awoke sharply to the low buzzing of the alarm coming from her phone. It had been a few weeks since arriving at the academy and adjusting to the new routine, but while she'd always been a relatively early riser at home, she'd always been able (at least in the seasons with longer days) to rise gently with the cresting sun. She'd yet to get used to the sudden, artificial jerk of wakefulness that was an alarm clock.

Still, she dragged herself from her plush and cozy covers and trudged across the room to the bathroom, rubbing her eyes as the shower warmed up and steam began to pool around her feet. She washed with a striking efficiency, avoiding witnessing her own body as much as possible; the scars that had, initially, been easily hidden beneath a wrapped towel, now crept across her skin. The puncture wounds in her torso; the lacerations on her ankle and elbow; the unavoidable, forever-marked gash struck down her face. She had begun to avoid mirrors.

Clean and prepped, hair combed back for the lowest-maintenance style she could manage and dressed in day-to-day uniform - she noted the House Myotis accents on the usual finish - she picked up her bag and headed to the bedroom door, ready to step out and start the day. Greenhouse first, then a session with Dr. Mercia, then cla-

Absorbed in mentally cataloguing her day's agenda, Luce was head-down as she opened and stepped out of her dorm room, walking straight into the woman stood directly behind it, elbow cocked and hand poised to knock. The pair careened to the ground, tripping over each other's bodies as both tried to step around the other and ended up locking legs entirely. Luce was a flurry of apologies as she picked herself up and helped the woman off the floor, both re-adjusting their clothes and smoothing their hair back in place.

The woman put her hand out to Luce, who looked at it for a split-second before realizing it was proffered for a handshake. Luce took it in her own grasp and shook.
"Nice to meet you, Luce. I'm Kylie, Myotis House Captain.
Luce nodded. "Luce. Which you knew."
Kylie nodded back. There was an awkward pause; Luce had never been much of a conversationalist.
"Sorry. I need to get going."
"Of course. The greenhouse, right? For your community contribution? We've got plenty of time to get there; you seem to be quite the punctual person, ironically."
Luce's face flashed in concern, and eyebrow rising sharply as mild panic washed over her expression.
"W-we?" She said, stumbling over the intrusion to her day.
"No one told you, did they? I'm supposed to be your chaperone around campus. Temporary, of course. Until you're deemed 'trustworthy' by the powers-that-be again."
"S-so you're just going to...follow me?" Luce asked, her throat dry at the thought of spending her entire day tailed by some faculty-assigned stranger.
"Mmmm...more like a buddy-system, really. It's just to make sure you're going, y'know, where you're expected to go. Instead of further punishment. The academy likes to be as forgiving as possible."

Kylie smiled politely, clearly considering how such an allocation would impact her own day as much as Luce was considering the impact to hers.
"Right." Luce said eventually. "Well...greenhouse, then. Is where I'm going."
"Where we're going. And then Dr. Mercia's office?"
Luce's eye twitched. She felt like she'd inadvertently sacrificed some privacy.
Kylie stepped back, gesturing toward the dorm exit with her hand. She smiled warmly, which Luce did not return.
"After you!"

The greenhouse had been fine; Luce had spent some time there over the weekend finishing up the clean from the storm, and were it not for the handful of missing panes dotted across the roof, securely covered with tarp and tape, you wouldn't be able to tell any damage had ever visited upon the garden. The replanted stalks were flourishing under new compost and practiced watering, and the aubergine that had begun to fruit a few days ago was now fully purple and plump, the skin shiny. Luce would pick it this week, probably tomorrow or the next day, and it would represent the first successful growth since the attack.

Pride of place was the blue orchid in center-frame of the primary bed, though. It had thrived, and was bursting with blossoming flowers, every petal and brilliant and vibrant ultramarine. Over the weekend Luce had taken to quietly whispering to it while she worked around the greenhouse, offering what she could of the latest goings-on, of her own secrets and anxieties, of what she knew about her peers' day-to-day's; perhaps not the healthiest way to handle her lingering trauma around Cass' death, but better, she surmised, than bottling it up.

Dr. Mercia had asked her about it, of course, multiple times across their sessions, but Luce had declined to answer, or skirted around the issue, or thrown up old walls that they then had to spend the rest of their time re-dismantling. Slowly, Gila had tapered off with questions around Cassander and the night of the attack, and that sat just fine with Luce. Both silently agreed that Luce would talk about it when she was ready to talk about, not when Gila had poked and prodded her enough about it.

Kylie wandered through the doorway, giving a polite gentle knock on the glass panes next to the entrance to let Luce know she'd returned.
"Ah, good, you're still here."
Luce stood, taking off her gloves and wetting a towel to rub some dirt from her skirt. "Yep." She replied, matter-of-factly, completely expressionless. Kylie cleared her throat and checked her phone.
"We better head over to Dr. Mercia's office for your..." Kylie trailed off. Luce rolled her eyes.
"For my therapy session. Yes." She picked up her blazer and slung it over her shoulder while she unrolled her shirt sleeves, buttoning the cuffs before crossing her arms over her chest.
"It's not personal, Luce. It'll be a week, at most. I promise I'm not like, enjoying being made to babysit you."
Kylie sighed, shaking her head slightly. She had expected resistance.
"Forget I said anything. Let's just go, or we'll both be late."

Kylie gestured toward the door, and Luce - after a moment's more petulance - walked ahead of her, following her well-practiced path from the greenhouse to Dr. Mercia's office.

"So, Luce, it's been a week since our last session. How are you feeling?"

Luce sat across from Dr. Mercia in her familiar seat, her hands resting in her lap. It had indeed been a week since her outburst following the incident, and she felt a strange sense of guilt, sitting beneath Gila's gaze.
"I'm fine."
"Yes, fine. I feel...level."
Gila made a note on the pad in front of her, and then put down her pen and looked across at Luce. There was a moment of quiet, and Luce fidgeted.
"I think I should apologize for my outburst last week."
Gila made another note.
"You are entitled to your emotions, Luce. In fact, on reflection, I was proud that you were able to express yourself so...vibrantly. It seems like we may have lost some progress against your flattened emotions in the interim, however." Luce looked away, and Gila scribbled something else down before continuing. "What are your thoughts of the academy like today?"

Luce looked back. She had a lot of thoughts about the academy.
"I don't like my escort. It's embarrassing."
"You don't like your escort, or you don't like being escorted?"
Luce's eyes flicked to the closed door to their side, beyond which Kylie undoubtedly lurked.
"Either. Both. I'm not a child." She answered, pouting in a way that made her assertion unconvincing.
"Given your previous bout of truancy, do you agree that there's a compromise that must be accepted?"
Luce often felt frustrated at how reasonable Dr. Mercia was. She nodded, but didn't speak.
"Anything else?"

Luce knew what Gila was prodding at, and a spat of petulance made her reluctant to provide it. She set it aside; being honest was more a duty to herself than co-operation with Gila.
"I apologize for my behaviour; but I still feel the same. The academy is supposed to keep us safe, and they failed spectacularly. If P.R.C.U. are supposed to be our guardians...the students need to know what's being done about security. Hyperion's still out there. I- we're just living in fear."
Gila nodded slowly, but didn't reply. It was important Luce be able to express herself, and Gila was proud she was able to do so in such a collected manner. She changed tact.

"How do you feel about joining team Eclipse?"
"Nervous. It's hard to meet new people. It's my own fault, I know, but that doesn't make it easier."
"Would you have stayed on Blackjack, if you'd attended the ceremony?"
This actually gave Luce pause. Would she? There were plenty she'd alienated with her behaviour - Trace, Inigo - and a few that she'd not liked in the first place. But others - Calliope, Haleigh - she'd began to forge a common ground with. Was it all for naught?
"I'd have held back. Seen where others were going. Try and distance myself from some people - get closer with others. So I guess...I guess I was prepared to move."
Gila smiled.
"And it's that preparedness you need to remember and hold onto. If you were ready for a new environment then - then you're ready for a new environment now."
Luce nodded, turning her hands over in her lap. It was a solid argument - now she just had to believe it.

After therapy it was just a chain of escorts. Kylie walked with her to the Mess Hall where the teams were convening for the proper start of their semester, and then she followed Aaron and her team to the first class of the year, winding through the Academic Quadrangle with Blackjack - though not quite the Blackjack she’d known - closeby, heading toward their own destination. Eventually, Eclipse went one way and Blackjack went another, and before she knew it Luce was sitting in a classroom, feeling oddly nostalgic for her education in Houston, despite its subpar delivery and her subsequent subpar performance.

“Alright. Break into groups. Share your opinions. Accept others’ opinions. Be empathetic - be constructive - be open. I’ll be joining each conversation to monitor how you’re getting on and provide guidance.”

Well, that may prove a problem. Luce’s opinions hadn’t quite endeared her to the last set of people who’d heard them, a handful of which she found herself in this supposedly ‘new’ team with. Why Kenna? Why Inigo? Even Trace, who’s own reaction to Luce’s outburst was no less vitriolic, would have been a better classmate.

“Hi!” The redheaded girl who had been sitting in front of Luce suddenly exclaimed, spinning around energetically as she extended a hand, “Lucille Calder right? You look like you could use a group. I’m Alyssa Townsend, I don’t think we’ve had a chance to be properly introduced yet.”

Luce. Luce corrected. She was doing a lot of correcting today. ”Just Luce.” Luce took Alyssa’s hand in her own, giving it a single firm shake. She hesitated; perhaps best to let her classmate espouse her views first, lest Luce inadvertently offend yet another peer.
”So, Alyssa. What do you make of what happened?”

“It was honestly heart breaking, I’ve been struggling a lot with it lately,” Alyssa unloaded, “I keep picturing the boy, Cassander Charon, as my brother. They have a lot of similar features and I can only imagine what his family must be feeling right now.”

The redheaded girl paused for a moment.

“It seems no matter which institute I go to, some sort of incident is bound to follow. I was pulled out of the Alexandria Foundation because it was unsafe only to turn around and enroll at Pacific Royal only for Hyperion to show up. If anything, it almost normalized that Hyperhumans are doomed to be followed by tragedy. Power begets conflict kind of ideal I’d guess. Humans, or ‘mundanes’ as my Uncle calls them, not that he’s a Hyperhuman, he’s his own entire sort of deal, a lot of the family are. My grandmother was very disappointed that Oliver and I took after my mother’s side of the family and not my father’s. But anyways, mundanes, those without our abilities fear us because of a perceived imbalance of power, while those like Hyperion only hunger for more power and step over anyone in their way to achieve it. They clearly have a god-complex.”

Alyssa took a breath, something that surprised Luce because the rate at which the redhead spoke she was sure her indefinite lung capacity must have been her Hyperhuman ability.

“The worst part is how easily Hyperion was able to divide the campus and sow division among not only the student body but also the faculty. I see the way they look around at each other, wondering if they’ll turn coat or turn out to be Hyperion themselves. And then there’s the students either praising the boy who lived and turning him into some kind of hero and those who want to march on Hyperion’s door and kill them. While on the other side, you have those who have been so hurt by the conflict of the world and the conflict of being Hyperhuman that they sympathize, if not outright agree with Hyperiona and their mission to establish a dominance over the world.”

She surprisingly paused again.

“I guess, I just wish everyone would realize that we’re all here to share one planet and that we each have something to learn from each other. We’re all part of one body and while some of us might be toes while others are ears, having a different and complementary role doesn’t make any one less important than the other.”

Luce leant back subtly. Alyssa certainly had a lot to say on the matter, though Luce was confident in thinking Alyssa probably had a lot to say about any matter. She had no idea how to respond to the barrage she’d, admittedly, freely offered herself up to; eventually, she settled on: ”Toes. Ears. Sure.” And hoped that was enough to indicate she had actually paid attention. There was something specific in the diatribe that had tweaked Luce’s ears, though, and - uncharacteristically - she pried.
“Your uncle. You said… not ‘mundane’, but…his own thing?”

“Oh, yeah sorry, I guess most people aren’t aware that Hyperhumans are far from the only oddity in the world.” Alyssa replied somewhat sheepishly, “Most people just dismiss what they can’t explain, as in the supernatural, as ghost stories and urban legends. And to be honest, they really shouldn’t. There’s an entire side to the world that has remained and still remains hidden to this day. I think Hyperhumans kind of pissed them off by throwing such an early coming out party for themselves.”

She cleared her throat, looking around the classroom to ensure Luce and Alyssa weren’t being explicitly eavesdropped on.

“They call themselves ‘Magni’, or rather it’s an umbrella term for a bunch of subsets of more or less human beings. Kind of similar to our Hyperhuman classifications except there’s so much more nuance to it. Entire societies built around these Magni, most of them have had a hand in guiding history since the pyramids were built. My Uncle, and indeed many members of my ancestral line have been Jägers. They’re a lot of the reason most people don’t know about the supernatural lurking around the corner. Creatures that would normally prey on the living, my Uncle refers to them as Hellions. It’s where our stories about vampires, wendigos, werewolves and the like come from.”

The redhead girl leaned back, a warmth coming to her cheeks causing them to match to her hair.

”It’s okay if you want to laugh, I’m pretty used to it. Explaining my family history tends to get a little weird and most people are more comfortable with writing me off as a little cuckoo than rationalizing that the things that go bump in the night are actually out there.”

Luce raised an eyebrow, sitting back in her chair. She was, admittedly, half-tempted to write Alyssa off as loony, but she spoke with such matter-of-fact conviction that Luce found herself feeling convinced. Still, she was already exhausted from the last couple weeks, and she feared internalizing such a revelation might just be the item to tip her over the edge. No, better to tuck that one away for now. That can go in the dark corner of her brain where her brothers lived. Still though, Alyssa’s grounded explanation gave way to an aura of authenticity, something Luce appreciated.
“I wouldn’t laugh.” She replied, remaining stone faced as ever as if to prove it. “That’s, um…a lot to take in. But -” Luce paused, feeling awkward. Alyssa had revealed a lot, and Luce hadn’t said a word. “-thank you. For your honesty.”

Tori wandered near, only catching the tail-end of Luce’s reply.
“That’s great, girls. Calm, measured responses are key; we must strive, whenever possible, not to instigate. We aren’t standing on an even playing field - and those who aren’t Hyperhuman are painfully aware of this. We can’t instigate, and we can’t talk down.”
Tori scanned the room, noticing some students weren’t quite yet engaging with the exercise.
“Inigo? I understand your opinion on recent circumstances were perhaps just as fiery as Miss Calder’s, here. Although perhaps not quite aligned with one another.”
Luce diverted her gaze, almost hanging her head in latent embarrassment.
“I think you’ll find Alyssa and Luce are more than appropriate partners. Come join them.”

It wasn’t so much an invite or polite suggestion as it was a teacher firmly advising an approach to the lesson. Tori pulled an empty chair out from a desk next to Luce and Alyssa, and gestured to the vacant seat, waiting for Inigo to move to discuss with the girls.

"You gotta burn 'em good and long." The Laborer whispered to himself, drawing an odd look from the woman as she approached with the key and unlocked his cuffs. He gave a quiet thanks, and then returned to the chain. Lot of uses for a chain like that; whoever had put them in here clearly meant for them to get out - the very presence of the key confirmed that - but if they had good intentions then none of them would be here in the first place. Couldn't hurt to have something to defend himself with, if, when, the need arose.

They were very firmly bolted to the wall though, and after watching the old man's attempt to break his, the Laborer didn't much fancy his own chances at this particular juncture.

He'd return to the chains. For now, though, free from his binds, he had the opportunity to pore over the room they were in, especially the entrance.

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