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Erubescan Citadel

Kora was just attempting to meet the two, entirely irreconcilable expressions for the shoot when her communicator chirped into life, and a not unfamiliar electronic voice spoke up.
"Knight Norrevinter you are currently late for funding meeting on Floor 14."

She was supposed to be filling in for Commander Gray today.

She had no idea what exactly she was supposed to do in a funding meeting. Meetings in general weren't exactly her forte. But orders were orders. And being the populous' new flavour of the month didn't change that.

A few minutes later Kora came rushing down the 14 hallway as quick as she could manage, still wearing the knight field uniform and still looking rather artistically distressed. She felt fairly silly, admittedly, but when you were a 6'6 Norwegian redheaded woman on a US base you were pretty used to getting looks whatever you wore. She'd get over it.

Upon entering the room she dropped into a chair, grabbed a cup, some coffee, and the sugar bowl, and emptied about six spoons of sugar into it. Some things never really changed no matter where you were.
"Sorry for the hold up..." she added, deciding mentioning the costume would just be bringing more attention to the elephant in the room.
"Schedule conflict."
Erubescan Citadel

"Unknown individual entry on ground floor. Main entrance. Iris scan not on file. Please confirm identity."
A voice spoke across the Citadel intercom, and into the earpieces of present staff on open channels all over the sprawling base.

A familiar voice for most, albeit not a very human one. It was vaguely female, perhaps, but seemed noticably artificial and pitch-corrected, a kind of robotic distortion on the vowels, pronunciations not quite in the right place, and everything spoken at a lifeless monotone. It was the unmistakable voice of SCEPTRE, the Citadel's defence system, information, and all-seeing eye at the lense of every camera and sensor inside the fortress' walls.

Every movement taking place within the Citadel was scrutinised.

Of course, everyone in Erubesco was free to do as they pleased. They weren't oppressed like the people of Liberty.

But this was the heart of Erubescan military defence and research on the continent.

And, well, if you had nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear.

Somewhere in the armoured core of the base, in a dark room illuminated only by the glow of blinking processor lights, a figure was sat across a high backed office chair. Their back was leaned up against one arm, and legs, covered in a close-fitting black utility suit, were hooked over the other. From the individual's back stretched a chaotic fall of wiring and cables that twisted together and ran to sockets in the ceiling and walls.

A cardboard cup of coffee sat in her hands.
The caffeine wasn't necessary.

A direct connection into comms meant an earpiece was wholly unneeded.
When SCEPTRE spoke, the Citadel heard.
And refusing the entreaties of the controller of the base's weapons systems was something anyone did at their peril.

"Staff have twenty seconds to confirm identity of unknown party before defence protocols are initiated.

Erubescan Citadel

The air was like trying to breathe boiling mud. Thick with smoke and plaster dust and heat. Her chest burned as she tore across a shattered wall of concrete, leaving the surface scarred with blood and scorchmarks.

She was furious. Angry. How dare he. How dare he come to her Kingdom. Her city. After all this. After she'd conceded. After those bastards had taken everything from her that was important. Everything. And it still wasn't enough. It would never be enough. You couldn't walk away. Couldn't just hope they'd leave you alone. This VERMIN would never stop until someone EXTERMINATED them.

The explosion had catapulted her out of the window for the second time today. Hot blood dripped from her eyes and from her mouth, beginning to boil and hiss when it hit the Knight's skin. The wounds she'd received in the first bouts of the fight had already cauterized from sheer heat her skin was putting out. The shattered remnants of her knight suit and helmet hung from her body as she ran, already rendered useless but the impacts that came before. She could feel the pounding of her heart in her head and in her stomach as her legs kept a pace beyond any sense of apprehension, leaping over a fallen girder and letting loose a feral snarl of frustration.


Fire. Concrete. Shredded bits of chairs and tables.


A figure trying to pick itself up. But it was pinned. A roof support on top of it, jagged ends digging into its back. He was trapped.

This wasn't good.

This wasn't honourable.

This was burning out poison before it spread.

This was was for the good of everyone.


With a screaming battle cry she leapt at the fallen figure, seized his neck in her hands, and-


"Okay that looks pretty gnarly but maybe a bit more of a smile, we're going for hero, right?"

Kora blinked through the camera flare and awkwardly nodded.
Honestly one of the easier parts of soldiering was that you really very rarely had to work out what to do with your face. Attempting to look intimidating and majestic but also friendly and marketable was the kind of conundrum that rarely came up in her career.

Though now it seemed to apparently comprise a lot of it.

Photoshoot for the new recruitment drive.

Join the Knights. Join the Fight.

Who better to head it up than the Knighthood's new red-headed posterchild.

Erubescan social media had gone wild that day, three weeks back, when a number of crowds had filmed Kora fighting a gifted terrorist in New Camelot's commercial district. Like some comic book superhero. Being thrown from a second floor window only to pick herself up and run back in again, pausing to blast flying rubble away from fleeing civilians. The ever hungry publicity machine of Citadel propaganda could not have asked for a better story.

Kora, for her own part, had really not realised the impact that her part in the fight had had, well, not until several days later when she'd awoken in the Citadel infirmary with lots of stitches, and arm in plaster, and a really excessive number of bouquets of flowers sent to her from people she'd never met before. It had been a pretty surreal experience, and took a lot of getting used to.

Was still taking a lot of getting used to.

Especially the photo stuff.

She found herself posing amid some mock-up of the ruined library that had made up the arena of her final showdown, albeit far more artfully distressed. She was also a lot more artfully distressed, with one slender cut across her cheekbone painted on in make-up and a small amount of powdered ash dusted around the waves of her hair. Bits of the modified Knight gear she were wearing, clearly just recently out of the box, were lightly tattered at the edges. The cape and the claymore were also rather peculiar artistic liberties.

Why had they given her a claymore. Claymores were Scottish, not Scandinavian.

Least it wasn't a horned helmet, she supposed.

You know who it is. :D

Professor K

As the fight broke out, was resolved, and Lovette commenced the orientation speech, there was little sign of Professor Kovalenko. The woman seemed to have disappeared into thin air, perhaps in an effort to avoid dealing with the resumption of the ancient feud over the breakfast table, perhaps to attend to other matters.

That was, right up until Professor Byrne seemed to begin to act strangely. The shadows seemed to deepen and shift into a dark,yawning void for a fraction of a second, before the woman in the long dark coat stepped out next to the other professor and in one deft movement wrapped a gloved hand around the woman's upper arm and pulled her rather firmly back to the wall.
"Shall we step out for a moment?" she asked, a seemingly pretty innocuous thing to say...

....but anyone listening might pick out the distinct edge to her voice, something bordering on hostility. A question that was far closer to a statement.

Or a threat.

Dinah Fox

Dinah was continuing her raiding of the breakfast table at the appearance of the teachers, and, as it happened, the appearance of another student next to her.Whether this was out of choice or just due to the place filling up, she wasn't totally sure, but didn't mind either way. A girl with dark hair and a demeanour and outfit that suggested they differed so far in socioeconomic background that this was the only place they were likely to be sitting round each other side from in a court of law. That was, perhaps something Dinah was going to need to get used to.

"Probably the safest place to be right now given how it's going to far." she remarked, hand still full of something resembling generic brand lucky charms. She hadn't had a whole lot of time or change to grab anything to eat on the way up so the freebies were pretty welcome by that point.

The young woman listened without a huge amount of concern for the Professor's general spiel. An overview of the rules. No sex, no violence, no coconuts apparently. It was all more....advisory from where Dinah stood, but it was at least good to know when you were doing stuff that might get you in trouble.

As the general overview trailed off, dorm assignments were posted and that became more of a focal point for people. Dinah's attention was instead drawn more to a conversation between Professor Lovette and a student.

"Jeez why don't you just kneel down and lick the Prof's stilettos and be done with it..."she muttered under her breath, watching him practically apologising for war involvement. If that was what they were expecting then they were going to be severely disappointed. She wasn't totally sure if her reasons for coming her were sounds, but of the reasons she had to buff the egos of some old-ass soldiers wasn't one, that was for sure.

(Helena following shortly!)
Kora was strong, and benefited from years of combat instruction under her family. What she didn't perhaps gain was the advantage of forward planning, or she might have realised that putting herself off balance in such a way was going to inevitably lead to her opponent taking advantage of it. This became clear when her eyes were assaulted by the sting of fresh orange juice splashing into the heir's face.
She let out a burst if nordic curse words, swiping across her eyes and flinging numerous pots of fruit yogurt in all direction as she rushed to clear her vision, but did not succeed before the aquamancer caught her off-balance and caused her to stumble against some scattered chairs.

The pyromancer stood, hair and face nor dripping with citrus, and a feral glare on her features.
" I could just throw you if you prefer." she growled, flexing her hands and planting her feet, like a bull facing a matador.
"Or you could save that water for yourself!"

As she reached for a bit of breakfast-based weaponry, the air around her hands started warping with heat, the veins beneath her skin starting to emit reddish light through the white skin. Her eyes were set completely on Larke, less he make a move for it.

Unfortunately at that point another student stepped in between.
"Get out of the way. This is between me and the Sterling."

She was quite prepared to push the girl out of the way...especially considering the fact that the pyromancer towered over the girl and six and a half feet tall. She never got the chance however, as her view was suddenly obscured by a vastly increasing net of vines.

Kora's shoulders few and the red lines on her forearms began to fade as her gaze turned to the source of this, a teacher.
She didn't mind defying a student to get what she wanted...but staff were a problem. She did need to impress them.

"Yes Professor.." she muttered, addressing Spire, though glaring at Larke Sterling through the retracting plantlife, as if the entire thing had been his fault.

And well, if they didn't want to be jumped during breakfast they shouldn't have put the trade embargo on her family.

Helena had been listening to Esperanza discussing blood magic with some interest, she wasn't especially au fait with it so it was good to try and pick it up, when the scream and the crash made the girl flinch in alarm.

Two of the students were fighting against the breakfast table. Did that happen often?

Her new acquaintance didn't seem especially alarmed by that development. If anything the opposite appeared to be true, and she was attempting to get a good look whilst Helena herself shrunk into her seat, wary of other potential flying bowls. Maybe practising a magical skill that called for slicing yourself with a knife on a regular basis gave you a less intense feeling of self preservation.

"I kind of..maybe hope there won't be. A fight everyday I mean." she replied.

Initially, when she'd received the letter, she'd made a point of ignoring it. She'd leave being at the beck and call of the council to people who were still interested in that tedious runaround that was mage politics. The envelope remained stuffed into a seldom-used pocket of her backpack for several weeks until the thought of it returned and her mind started to change.

Maybe they were hoping she wouldn't show up.

Maybe if she did turn up it would piss people off.

And it did beat her current plans of couch-hopping after her recent falling-out.

So that was how the rather scruffy-looking young woman, in a denim jacket, shorts, and a faded T-shirt, approached Marchand Academy.

Dinah Jael Fox. Second-born of Matthew and Morgana Fox. She strolled along the side of the driveway, half-watching some of the cars that pulled away. A few of them costing more than the last house she lived in. This was....clearly not her kind of scene.

She was late. Entrance hall was already clear of new students.
Did she care too much? Not especially.
She even took a degree of amusement watching the expression of the receptionist falter and the smile became more strained as the name went down on the sign in sheet.


Dinah offered a lopsided smirk in response.
Yeah, you weren't getting away that easily Marchand.

With the paperwork out of the way she set off upstairs. Her shoes, a pair of battered-looking hiking boots held together with some silver duct tape, left some grubby scuffs on the floor. This place was pretty fancy. Council was clearly doing pretty alright for herself.

She didn't hurry too much to get up to the common room.
It appeared that the resident Norrevinter and Sterling were fighting, but that was pretty much on the level of water being wet and the pope being catholic.

Pretty much everyone looked about five social classes better off than her, but again, not really a surprise.

She could see Toby Schippers, the cousin, not too far away, but neglected to approach....for various reasons. Plenty of the usual suspects, usual faces, usual bullshit.

On the bright side, free food and somewhere to sleep that wasn't someone's couch, so she was pretty sure who was winning. With a general disregard for the mess, Dinah hopped on over to the food table, where she started stuffing several handfuls of dry cereal into her mouth like some kind of socially irresponsible hamster.
Helena, until then rather distracted with cleaning, paused for a moment to regard her new acquaintance's arm. She looked for a moment in surprise, before abruptly realizing the potential rudeness there. She then quickly reached for her bag and withdrew a short length of blue adhesive bandage.
"Here! Take some of this. I don't really need it right now." she explained.
"I'm a defensive primary...I guess. I'm not all that good at it honestly. And I guess I'm down for blood magic as well. Not sure I'm going to be so great at that really...I'm not very brave about the having to cut yourself bit."
Hopefully that didn't come across as insulting. Small talk wasn't really something Helena had a huge amount of experience in and it would be a great shame to alienate the only person who really wanted to talk to her.

Having said their goodbyes to their protege, perhaps dragging it out a little more than needed, Hilda and Erik turned and began to walk away. One might, as a casual observer, interpret the expression on the face of Hilda, as being a normal reaction of letting your family member go for the first time. The truth was rather more messy.

The bearded man placed a huge hand on her arm.

"She'll be fine kjære, we've taught her well."

"I don't feel comfortable about this Erik. Leaving her with them. You know what they did."

There was a grim silence between them, something long unsaid, for a number of steps, before he spoke again.

"The aesir will watch over her Hilda, this is something she must do on her own."
For a moment he paused, fancying he might see the glimmer of tears in the eyes of his wife, a woman who he'd seen face down an enraged Svalbard bear without a flinch, but he decided respectfully not to mention it as they made their departure.

(Had this post pre-agreed with @ScoundrelQueen)
Kora was not burdened with the same kind of reservations as her elders. She strolled upstairs, scabbard across her back, bag across shoulder, and huge ancient skull tucked under one arm, with full intention of making a good first impression. She was going to be taking over the council seat in a few years time. This gave her a great opportunity to start inspiring respect in the new generation of bloodlines, and winning over older witches and wizards. She was from an inherently powerful family, and had been receiving tuition in the arts of combat and fire magic since she was old enough to toddle. She was going to be the best of the best.

They stepped over the threshhold of the common room.

Large numbers of students, milling about talking. Nothing of great concern.


Her eyes had set upon a rather familiar face. Or, at least very familiar features.

Like a wolf that had just spotted a deer, Kora dropped her bag and padded forwards, watching closely to make sure she was correct in her first assumption.

She was.

It was one of them.

A Sterling.

There was only one way to react to this situation.

Only one way.

With a battle-scream of "TYYYYYR!" the whole six and a half foot of Kora cleared the length of the commonroom in moments, shoving aside students and furniture alike until she collided full-force with the standing form of Larke Sterling. She threw him down onto the table before them, dug her knee between his shoulderblades.
"You have a lot of nerve coming here Sterling!"
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