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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Albemarle, NC
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    Female

    Default Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Welcome to Thread IV! You may read the third thread here!

    November 1st
    Sophia
    Since both she and Yuki have the same first class, Genetics, the angel spots the couple walking not too far in front of her. Drake has his hands deep in his pockets, and the two aren’t talking.

    He says goodbye to her at the door and heads down the hall. Yuki stares after him for a moment before she heads inside and takes her seat at the front corner of the room, right by the door. The seats around her are quickly filled.

    Class passes uneventfully, and Yuki is up and out of her seat before Sophia can even start packing up her things. The shapeshifter disappears into the throng of people changing classes as she heads to the next building over.

    Spoiler: Meanwhile…
    Show
    Yuki takes her seat in the front of Dr. Jefferson’s genetics class her head whirling with thoughts about what had just occurred.

    ‘Sophia likes girls,’ Terrence had said. Was she flirting the entire time? All of last night and the bus ride? And I was just too dense to see it? …I’ll have to apologize to her later.

    When he’d walked her to class, Drake had been even more reticent and taciturn than normal. She’d quickly gotten used to the small touches on her elbow or at the small of her back that she and Drake had compromised with, but those had been absent too. Something was wrong.

    The class passes all too quickly and the shapeshifter realizes that she hadn’t taken a single note. She didn’t even know what the lecture was about. Yuki sighs and slides her laptop back into her bag before heading to her and Drake’s shared Calculus class one building over.

    As usual, she arrives earlier than he does and takes her seat near the back of the room. Five minutes later, class is about to begin and Drake still hasn’t arrived. Dread settles in the pit of her stomach. Something was very wrong.

    Yuki gathers up her notebook and throws it back into her bag. Just as Dr. Herrera is about to start class, she makes her way to the door with a quick apology and a bow to the teacher. She swings her bag over a shoulder as she texts Drake– Where are you?

    Three floors up, Drake paces in front of the wide window that overlooks the small pond in front of the admin building. The foreign feeling of doubt and insecurity twisting around in his chest rankled him. It was enough that his necklace was vibrating. Drake scowls as he pulls the trembling ring out from the inside of his shirt and closes his fist around it, willing himself to calm down before things got out of hand.

    His phone buzzes on the conference table behind him, but he ignores it.

    His thoughts are a whirlwind inside his head. Yuki hadn’t said yes just because she was afraid to say no, had she?

    His necklace shakes harder. Had she?

    No. Yuki wasn’t like that. She was honest to a fault. It was one of the things he lo…liked about her.

    He was willing to admit the way he’d gone about their first kiss hadn’t been the most thought-out plan, and the fallout from that had literally scarred him.

    Unbidden, his other hand touches the horizontal line across his left cheek as the fittings on the table behind him start to vibrate as well. That damn angel had gotten under his skin so easily. Team Lead of South Side, reduced to this by a mere suggestion that his girlfriend actually wasn’t interested in him, he thinks with a huff and a shake of his head.

    It was a new feeling for him, wondering if a girl was interested. Sophia had been right, it was a slow week if only one girl slipped him her number– not that he cared about that. He hadn’t for the past two years, after Yuki had joined South Side. Even now, he was still surprised by the intensity of his feelings for her. He’d lost count of the girls he dated, but he’d never felt this way in any other relationship. He hadn’t been lying to John when he’d said that he would die for her.

    But Yuki was so… distant. He longed with all his being to do more than just brush his fingers against her arm or back so that she knew he was there. Sure, they’d kissed a few times, but every time she’d backed off before either of them could really get into it. What if maybe she was just humoring him until he got too frustrated with her and broke it off? Was she just waiting for things to go back to normal? For him to go back to just being her teammate and not more? What if she didn’t have the courage to tell him no? She could barely look him in the eye most days. Or was all of this just… a cultural thing that they could work through?

    Behind him, the door unlatches. Drake turns to see his shapeshifter girlfriend enter the room with a concerned look on her face.

    He glances back over at his phone, betting that the text he’d gotten earlier was from her, before she closes the door and sets her backpack down on the table next to his bag. Sorry, Yuki.

    “Hi Drake,” she says quietly. “I thought you might be here.”

    He nods. It was a room they’d met in often for study sessions since it was almost never used, except for Saturdays. “I needed to think through a couple things,” he replies with a sigh. “It’s safer up here.”

    Yuki tilts her head as she takes a few steps closer to him. “Did something upset you that much?” she asks as she takes one of his hands, tracing the rough calluses on his palm with her thumb. The metal in the room shivers once and stills. “What did Sophia say to you?”

    Drake looks off to the side, internally cursing how easily she’d seen through him and how she affected him. Why was she okay with giving him the physical contact that he craved now? He quickly stops that train of thought however. It wasn’t fair to her. “It’s nothing, Yuki,” he says, pulling his hand away. “Don’t worry about it, okay?” He turns back toward the window, looking out to the pond. ‘Tough as nails’— that’s what he was supposed to be. Showing weakness to her wasn’t an option. It was bad enough that his powers sometimes gave him away.

    Her eyes widen a little before her own hand retreats back to her side. Her gaze darts to the carpet as she attempts to work through her limited experience, which only amounted to the past week with Drake, and a few books she’d read and movies she’d seen. She swallows, unsure of what to do as she looks back up at Drake’s back.

    At her silence, Drake closes his eyes for a moment before he turns and walks around the other side of the table to grab his messenger bag and phone. “I’m going to go out on patrol for the rest of the day. See you back at base.”

    As he sweeps from the room, Yuki watches him go. The dread she’d felt in her stomach increases. What… just happened?


    Sophia and Terrence
    Terrence leads Sophia to Ashford’s, an upscale coffee bar about a five minute walk from Briarwood. He’d been there a few times with the team over the last few months. He spots the owner, Scott, a very large thickly built man working busily behind the counter. A blonde Latina with a full sleeve of rose tattoos is running the register, and a dark haired girl with glasses is running orders out to customers.

    Jazz with smooth female vocals plays quietly over the low din.

    Raphael and Louis
    As Raphael, Stella, and Louis enter Ashford’s, they spot Scott, Izzy, and Quinn busy behind the bar and the register. Izzy waves her fingers at Louis with a soft smile.

    Both Raphael and Louis spot Sophia and Terrence waiting at the end of the line for coffee.

    John
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “Tomorrow, you say?” John replied with a wry smile. “Thanks for that update. I’ll try to schedule my bout of insecurity for early in the day so as to not trouble you overmuch. Maybe at 7 AM. I don’t think I have anything scheduled for then. Do you think people would notice if I tried to schedule time with you the entire rest of the week?”
    Emi smiles a little at his joke. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, John. He’s bought a condo at Pinnacle 67 downtown.”

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    John reached up and caressed her hair as he grew more serious. “It is a bit to take in, I have to admit. The Amulet helps, of course, and things are moving fast enough that I am keeping busy with some alchemical work, some cryptography, and thinking through how to defeat Valèdeir without harming anyone significantly. I’ll be picking up a couple of things on my way back to aid in that. Those activities are taking up what time I have that is not focused on thinking about you—whether it is overplanning a picnic lunch or trying not to overthink our trip to Providence.”
    “‘Staying busy’, he says,” Emi repeats with a slightly raised eyebrow. “Figuring out how to defeat a dragon is ‘staying busy’? I suppose I need to figure out how to make my downtime more interesting.”

    “What exactly are you picking up?” she asks, her voice draining of any playfulness.

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “I’ll get us all out of this, Emi,” he pledged. “I promise. As the wonderful a woman who is the most important person in the world to me, I will make sure that I do not disappoint you in this.”
    Emi reaches out to take John’s hand, intertwining their fingers as she rests them on an open portion of the picnic basket. She looks deep into his eyes, and John can see the adoration there. “I know you’ll figure it out. But don’t leave me out of it, okay? I can help you, just like everyone else.”

    Keith
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    His smile softens a bit as he looks at the ground. "Honestly, I learn a lot whenever you talk about Thrax. Never really thought I'd get to hear about another world entirely. Especially with our space knowledge being so limited here."

    Keith needed to figure out something nice to do for Aeryn. He didn't know what yet but something.

    "Come to think of it, when does South Side celebrate your birthday? Wish I had the gift for language Stolas does so I could learn y'all's."
    “I never thought that I would be talking with someone from Earth,” Aeryn admits. “I had Drake look it up one time and he said that Earth and the star Polaris are about 400 light years apart. Our spaceships only have the capability to travel within our own solar system, so I don’t even know how it held together for me to crash land here.”

    “I joined South Side on April 8th,” the alien says. “So I guess then? Your calendar and Thrax’s don’t really have an equivalent.”
    Last edited by InTheMachine; 2023-03-16 at 06:04 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    John
    Emi smiles a little at his joke. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, John. He’s bought a condo at Pinnacle 67 downtown.”
    ……
    “‘Staying busy’, he says,” Emi repeats with a slightly raised eyebrow. “Figuring out how to defeat a dragon is ‘staying busy’? I suppose I need to figure out how to make my downtime more interesting.”

    “What exactly are you picking up?” she asks, her voice draining of any playfulness.
    “A few things at Lowe’s, believe it or not,” he offered as reassuringly as possible, deciding the change in her tone signaled that it was not time to suggest spending time with him might be an interesting way to occupy her down time. “I’ll be assembling something called a Janus Mirror this evening. You know those two sided mirrors used for applying makeup—one with a normal reflection and the other slightly magnified? It’s something similar, in its basic form.

    “You know when it has found its subject when the appearance of the hidden form, usually something like a werewolf or other shape-shifter, appears in the mirror facing you. Once you flip the mirror around, the current form, which has been captured by the other side, is switched and the individual turns back into the form you first saw.

    John looked down. “The one I will be constructing tonight will have to be a little more robust than usual, given how much magic I will be attempting to channel through it. I need some oak for the handle and some steel fittings. I already have some alchemical silver for making the mirror.”

    I suspect it is my best chance for a non-confrontational success against Valèdeir. An ideal encounter leads to forcing him to concede that he lost the challenge, and therefore must surrender his claim back to you, without harming him or Grayson.

    “Well, without harming anything but their male egos. I don’t think there will be a way of avoiding bruising that.”

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    Emi reaches out to take John’s hand, intertwining their fingers as she rests them on an open portion of the picnic basket. She looks deep into his eyes, and John can see the adoration there. “I know you’ll figure it out. But don’t leave me out of it, okay? I can help you, just like everyone else.”

    John’s hearth thudded.

    He should respond. John recognized that even as he felt his mouth working.

    “I…”

    He wanted to say that he loved her. Sidney’s warning and Emi’s admonition to save it for a special occasion, however, made him hesitate.

    “I…”

    While it was true that it was not every day that one pledged to find a way to fight off a dragon without harming it, he was pretty sure this kind of thing wasn’t exactly the kind of thing Emi had in mind.

    “I won’t, Emi,” he managed to say faintly, absolutely captured by her eyes. “I…um,” he began, beginning to find his voice again. “It’s just that I’ve had less than 24 hours and even my clearest plans, like using the Janus Mirror, are still sketchy at best. I have prerecorded two messages to send if I find myself attacked while on my own. You are one of the people who I have made a prerecorded message for. So you will know if something happens.

    “And, of course, if you have any thoughts, I’m ready to listen. The only thing I have thought if is you pointing out to Valèdeir that you are the one who gets to choose who is and is not permitted to pursue you and not him. Jaal did say he was obliged to respect your opinions in these matters. But as I have mentioned to others, I may trust Grayson with you…”

    Even, he thought, to the point of letting him be your calculus tutor.

    He considered glancing down at their intertwined hands to reassure himself but that would require him to break eye contact and he was not entirely convinced he could manage that on an average day.

    While being looked at adoringly? Quite impossible, John determined.

    “…but I don’t feel I can trust Valèdeir. If you were to have that conversation with him, it would be the kind of thing I would prefer to have Ian and/or your father present for.”

    John shrugged. “You asserting your rights and demanding that he withdraw his specific claim to you as a potential mate might force him to at least change his approach and keep him from attempting to destroy West Side and Pinnacle 67.”

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    Earth
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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    [CENTER]November 1st
    Keith

    “I never thought that I would be talking with someone from Earth,” Aeryn admits. “I had Drake look it up one time and he said that Earth and the star Polaris are about 400 light years apart. Our spaceships only have the capability to travel within our own solar system, so I don’t even know how it held together for me to crash land here.”

    “I joined South Side on April 8th,” the alien says. “So I guess then? Your calendar and Thrax’s don’t really have an equivalent.”
    Keith nodded and grinned, his eyes widening as Aeryn told him the actual distance. He grimaced thinking about how much time had probably passed and didn't entirely want to think about it. For all he knew now, that travel had left most of Aeryn's family...... He pushed the thought out of his head.

    "That's a hell of a distance..... And about the capability of ours just, mostly still within a certain distance that we know of." Keith shook his head. "Must have been fate that held it together for ya."

    Keith looks at Aeryn and thinks. "April 8th? I got it memorized then!" Keith says with a grin. "Want to try and do something special for ya, just not sure what yet." Keith looks at the paused screen of the game for a second before turning back to Aeryn. "Mine's November 11th. Everyone at East Side my first year there found out later and I remember Kylie getting mad." He chuckled a bit.

    "Do you think you could teach me your language?"

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    @Hallway

    O...kay?

    Sophia eyed the couple uneasily from behind, not having to know their relationship to see something was deeply wrong. Drake made no attempt at terse small talk, gave not so much as a doubting glance between wordplay. He silently marched beside Yuki like it was an obligation. He was stonewalling her because Sophia had the filter of a five year old. But why would he care what I think? We barely know each other. I’m not the bad guy here. Silent, that was, until they got to the door. She groaned uncomfortably at his goodbye. It almost had a finality to it.

    Sophia avoided even trying to take one of the seats nearest the expatriate, not wanting to admit to anything she said, the guilt already prowling in her stomach. She sat at the front row, middle desk, where the professor and lesson were easiest to focus on. When the lesson finished, the meta-human girl dashed out before Sophia was ready to leave her desk, and she groaned again. This wasn’t how she wanted her first day to go.

    Why couldn’t I just not hit on his girlfriend?

    @Bitter Coffee, Pink Blood, & Smooth Jazz

    Spoiler: Machine/Kvard
    Show
    Feel free to skip to the part that starts with
    “Sorry.” she said to Terrence from behind, while they waited.

    From there it mentions the email to Seraph/actionable stuff. Everything before that is more dealing with guilt and listening to pink blood and being bad company.



    Back in the afternoon sun, Sophia distractedly exchanged pleasantries with Terrence before lagging slightly behind him while he led the way. She soon stuck headphones into her ears. She had wanted a distraction from any reminders of the bus aftermath, and had dived into the lessons. But she would need something more pleasant to talk about when they all arrived, and music was an easy option. A quick tap on her WhatsApp messages later, and Utada’s Pink Blood started playing.

    Sophia was gently enveloped in an impossibly melodic singing voice, backed by a simple but reliable beat, and some of the most beautiful lyrics she had heard in a while. Yuki had surprisingly good taste. Her troubles melted away like a chill in the desert sun, and she was surprised when they seemed to be teleported to the coffee bar, and the song faded. She looked at the doorway and realized she was tensing, even as Terrence entered it without issue.

    Sophia couldn’t recall the last time she ran away from anything she wanted, but she suddenly doubted she should enter Ashford’s. Somehow, it felt unfair, if the couple had arrived already. It’s fine. They’re fine! They probably talked it out, bonded a little over secretly hating me, and now they’re waiting inside to tell me to stay out of it. It’s like a band-aid; rip it off, let it sting, you’ll live. She sighed, played Pink Blood again to sooth herself, and reluctantly entered the coffee bar.

    They hadn’t arrived, thankfully. Joining the line behind the quarterback, Sophia eyed his broad back uncertainly. She wanted to talk to someone about the disagreement with Drake, to hear some kind of reassurance. That she had only been honest. She grimaced instead. Nobody liked the girl that brought endless drama with her, and only babbled about her problems. That was doubled when she was the new girl. Not hearing most of the lyrics the second time, she finally removed her headphones entirely, but didn’t put away her phone. Her body relaxed a little more on hearing the smooth jazz in the background, the classic tans, plush chairs and wooden tables feeling oddly familiar. An uneasy glance at the door was her last allowance before shutting the topic from her mind.

    Whatever. I’m not the villain here. And at least they’re only on South Side. It’s fine.

    “Sorry,” she said to Terrence from behind, while they waited. “They warned me pre-med is like drinking the ocean with a fire-hose, but it was still intense. Kinda had to disappear into music for a bit. How did your lessons go? I...wrote that email.”

    Sophia pulled up the draft, before showing him the phone screen.

    Spoiler: email to Seraph
    Show


    To: [email protected]
    CC:
    Subject: Briefing to better serve the city.

    Dear Director Fletcher,

    Thank you for allowing this opportunity to take part in the upliftment of Iron Station. Everyone has treated me well so far, your AI and facility are incredible, and it felt easy to make an introduction before such a unique group. The potential here is incredible. But this morning, despite your sacrificing well-deserved sleep to protect the city and provide for your team, I still struggled to fully grasp everything. Furthermore, I’m unclear about the current status of certain high priority issues (such as the Stones of Victoria). I understand your time is precious, so I appreciate if you’re unable to provide a briefing to fully ground me into the current circumstance. But in the interest of serving the people of the city better, could you please provide a few files to bring me up to standard?

    All blessings,
    Sophia Pierce


    “Not sent yet. I could easily still CC you in, or edit a bit.” She waggled her phone screen before Terrence temptingly, a smile starting to kindle. “C’mon. Last chance to get lectured by an angel!”
    Last edited by JoyWonderLove; 2023-03-17 at 04:27 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Koffee!!!

    "It's kinda weird seeing people here." Raphael mutters to Stella. "I've gotten used to having the place to ourselves."

    He rolls his eyes and makes a show giving an exaggerated sigh before joining the queue to acquire frivolous coffee. "What are you in the mood for?" He asks Stella.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Jan 2015
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    Albemarle, NC
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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    John
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “I’ll be assembling something called a Janus Mirror this evening. You know those two sided mirrors used for applying makeup—one with a normal reflection and the other slightly magnified? It’s something similar, in its basic form.”

    “I suspect it is my best chance for a non-confrontational success against Valèdeir. An ideal encounter leads to forcing him to concede that he lost the challenge, and therefore must surrender his claim back to you, without harming him or Grayson.

    “Well, without harming anything but their male egos. I don’t think there will be a way of avoiding bruising that.”
    “That… sounds like it might work,” Emi says with a slow nod. “Just be careful once you transform him back, if you use the mirror. If the dragon is still in control, even his human form could hurt you. His claws are extremely sharp and he’s much faster and stronger than you would expect. I wouldn’t want him to surprise you.”

    She squeezes John hand, breaking eye contact as she looks down at their intertwined fingers. “I wish I had some other idea I could give you, John. But I know next to nothing about dragons other than stories, and even less about Valèdeir. I didn’t even know that he had a name until you told me. I assumed that when Grayson was talking about the Dragon, it was more like… a collection of instincts, rather than an entire other being.”

    The psychic hesitates for a moment. “John, I don’t know if this has crossed your mind, but I couldn’t help but think about it last night. Please, if you can, don’t hurt him too badly. Hurting Valèdeir will hurt Grayson when he transforms back, and he’s not as durable as a dragon. Of course, you should defend yourself. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t.” She makes a small noise of frustration. “This is just… the worst situation.”

    Emi seems to take a moment to recenter herself and she picks up the cracker with meat and cheese she’d made earlier and nibbles on it. “I can try to talk to him,” she says, glancing back up at John. “I would much rather than be the solution than any of you fighting.”

    Keith
    “November 11th, that’s coming up, isn’t it?” Aeryn asks. “I’m still learning the order of the months.”

    The alien gives Keith a wide, bright smile when Keith asks to learn Thraxian. “I would be happy to. I’ve been teaching John too. Maybe we can have a group class or something.”

    After spending a few hours with Aeryn mall walking, Keith heads over to Coffee Knight, a small coffeehouse that is just across the street from Bastion.

    He spots Maeve at one of the tables beside the side window typing on a small laptop. Her mass of curly red hair is pulled up into a messy bun, and she’s wearing some ripped jeans, and a light green scoop-necked shirt. She seems to be concentrating intensely on her laptop.

    Her backpack is sitting in the seat beside her, but it doesn’t look like she has any coffee yet.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kvard51's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Ashford's

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyWonderLove View Post
    “Sorry,” she said to Terrence from behind, while they waited. “They warned me pre-med is like drinking the ocean with a fire-hose, but it was still intense. Kinda had to disappear into music for a bit. How did your lessons go? I...wrote that email.”

    Sophia pulled up the draft, before showing him the phone screen.

    Spoiler: email to Seraph
    Show


    To: [email protected]
    CC:
    Subject: Briefing to better serve the city.

    Dear Director Fletcher,

    Thank you for allowing this opportunity to take part in the upliftment of Iron Station. Everyone has treated me well so far, your AI and facility are incredible, and it felt easy to make an introduction before such a unique group. The potential here is incredible. But this morning, despite your sacrificing well-deserved sleep to protect the city and provide for your team, I still struggled to fully grasp everything. Furthermore, I’m unclear about the current status of certain high priority issues (such as the Stones of Victoria). I understand your time is precious, so I appreciate if you’re unable to provide a briefing to fully ground me into the current circumstance. But in the interest of serving the people of the city better, could you please provide a few files to bring me up to standard?

    All blessings,
    Sophia Pierce


    “Not sent yet. I could easily still CC you in, or edit a bit.” She waggled her phone screen before Terrence temptingly, a smile starting to kindle. “C’mon. Last chance to get lectured by an angel!”
    Terrence looks back and laughs at Sophia's words, "I bet your classes weren't any more intense than your 'conversation' with Drake this morning." He grins, "And no reason to be sorry. I just figured you were still trying to figure it all out. How did your classes with Yuki go?"

    He groans a little when she asks about his classes. "I let my history test slip my mind, what with the move-in and all. Not sure how I did there. Otherwise, it was just class." A look of uncertainty crosses his face and he screws his eyebrows down, "My biggest worry, though, is that I still haven't told the guys I won't be coming back to the team. Haven't even let Coach know." His smile returns at her mention of the e-mail, though. "Yeah, no. I still don't want that kind of attention this early. But thanks for asking."

    He looks over Sophie's shoulder as the door opens, seeing two of his new teammates come in. "Look at who just showed up.
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

    Spoiler: personality test results
    Show

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    John
    “That… sounds like it might work,” Emi says with a slow nod. “Just be careful once you transform him back, if you use the mirror. If the dragon is still in control, even his human form could hurt you. His claws are extremely sharp and he’s much faster and stronger than you would expect. I wouldn’t want him to surprise you.”

    She squeezes John hand, breaking eye contact as she looks down at their intertwined fingers. “I wish I had some other idea I could give you, John. But I know next to nothing about dragons other than stories, and even less about Valèdeir. I didn’t even know that he had a name until you told me. I assumed that when Grayson was talking about the Dragon, it was more like… a collection of instincts, rather than an entire other being.”

    The psychic hesitates for a moment. “John, I don’t know if this has crossed your mind, but I couldn’t help but think about it last night. Please, if you can, don’t hurt him too badly. Hurting Valèdeir will hurt Grayson when he transforms back, and he’s not as durable as a dragon. Of course, you should defend yourself. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t.” She makes a small noise of frustration. “This is just… the worst situation.”

    Emi seems to take a moment to recenter herself and she picks up the cracker with meat and cheese she’d made earlier and nibbles on it. “I can try to talk to him,” she says, glancing back up at John. “I would much rather than be the solution than any of you fighting.”
    “I will do everything I can to keep from harming him, Emi,” John assured her. “I promise.”

    He smiled wryly. “After this morning’s lesson, I have learned the importance for me to stay out of hand to hand combat whenever possible. Of course, I was unarmored then but I’m not sure AEGIS’ advanced ballistic cloth would have done much good against a guy who can shatter concrete anyway. And I doubt dragon talons were on the design team’s list of things to protect against. So I will be careful.”

    He looked down, studying their intertwined hands, willing himself to go on and to take strength from that simple truth: That she was holding his hand and that she was the one who initiated it.

    He had to trust in them.

    “I have thought through what fighting him would entail,” John admitted quietly. “I don’t have enough data on Draconian to know for certain how each strategy would play out. At some point, if the Janus Mirror doesn’t work, things get pretty grim for one or both of us.

    “But I can tell you that I do not want to kill again if I can in any way avoid it—especially when it is someone you care about. I don’t know how much footage you have seen of me as Dee, but I have always made it a point to restrain my opponents whenever I can. That has almost cost me on more than one occasion but I don’t plan on changing that initial approach if and when Valèdeir comes after me.”

    Which, John reasoned, he would likely do the moment he learned John intended to take Emi out of state.

    “Seraph will be one of the others who will be notified if a fight breaks out. With luck, he will be able to heal Grayson of any grievous wounds after the fight.”

    He tried to keep his own concern about what wounds he might have after such a battle in check. The adoring look he had just received kept him strong enough to accept her concern for Grayson as natural and expected and he didn’t want Emi to worry about the threat to him.

    Nor did he want to bring up that the worst case scenario for him had, apparently, been avoided—at least for now: Her breaking up with him out of some desire to keep him safe.

    He frowned. “I’m not even sure if talking to him will help,” John conceded. “When a dominant male gathers a harem in nature, he may not force himself on the female of the species but he still collects and defends them as part of his territory.”

    He sighed. “I’ll try to look into dragon mating practices and see if I can shed some light on things. Or I could ask Jaal for another interview to see if he can let us know. It might be best if you thought through your questions after class and wrote them down so we don’t overlook anything.”

    He offered a wry smile, hoping to cheer her up. “We have done that kind of thing before, after all.”

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    Keith
    “November 11th, that’s coming up, isn’t it?” Aeryn asks. “I’m still learning the order of the months.”

    The alien gives Keith a wide, bright smile when Keith asks to learn Thraxian. “I would be happy to. I’ve been teaching John too. Maybe we can have a group class or something.”

    After spending a few hours with Aeryn mall walking, Keith heads over to Coffee Knight, a small coffeehouse that is just across the street from Bastion.

    He spots Maeve at one of the tables beside the side window typing on a small laptop. Her mass of curly red hair is pulled up into a messy bun, and she’s wearing some ripped jeans, and a light green scoop-necked shirt. She seems to be concentrating intensely on her laptop.

    Her backpack is sitting in the seat beside her, but it doesn’t look like she has any coffee yet.
    Keith nods and grins. "Yep, should be coming up soon. Time's really flown by though, feels like I just got here yesterday." He shook his head.

    At Aeryn getting excited, Keith matches his wide smile. "That would be awesome! Thank you so much, Aeryn!" He winces mentally hearing that there might be a group lesson with John, but tries to not take the guilt he had been experiencing since the magician requested he not. He wondered what John's plans for the dragon..... for Valèdeir.... were. Something told Keith things were going to be very complicated in the next few days or weeks.

    "A group class may be a bit helpful too. And pretty fun since he could help me catch up some." He grins.

    This won't be awkward at all!

    Before they head to the mall, Keith goes to change from the v-neck to a button down purple shirt. He wanted to try and make a decent impression at least early on. Stolas left the books behind and hid in his shadow for the duration of the mall walk.

    He enjoyed the time around the mall before waving goodbye to Aeryn and making his way to Coffee Knight. It was odd because he had never really noticed it there before. Then again, the gang had always usually gone to Sunshines. He shrugged and smiled and walked right in.

    He looked around quickly and smiled seeing Maeve at a table. He wondered how she had gotten her hair tamed enough for the bun, then figured that must be pretty noticeable in her costume as well. Can definitely see the resemblance with Declan now that I think about it. He mused a bit. He then started floundering in his thoughts of what to say, how to say hi, what do you even begin with, things like that. He blinked a few times making sure she was there and that this wasn't just an illusion.

    He checked his watch to make sure he wasn't actually late, and made his way over, hoping that he wouldn't end up upsetting her by interrupting her focus. He half waved and smiled as he walked up. His nerves were starting to get to him.

    "Hi, Maeve. Whatcha workin' on?" He askes seeing how she reacts before taking a seat. The next bit of words he had thought to say were getting stuck in his throat. C'mon, tell her she looks nice.

    "You look really nice," He said still with the smile he had seeing her at first.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Post Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    John
    At the mention of his message again, John can feel something cold creep into him from their hands. Emi notices her mistake and the feeling of dread and fear quickly dissipates.

    The picnic basket opens a little, and a small paring knife floats out and begins to cut the apple and the pear as Emi finishes off her cracker and takes another small drink of wine.

    “If you have access to a real dragon, I would ask him over trying to research it yourself. You’ve already seemed to have learned a lot just in one conversation. I’ll think about some other questions that I have, but I’m sure you’ll probably have covered them.”

    Slim cut slices of fruit settle on the charcuterie board and Emi glances down at it. “Aren’t you going to eat any John?” she asks as she takes a piece of apple to cleanse her palette.

    Keith
    As the shadowmancer check his watch, he sees that he’s a few minutes early.

    The North Sider looks up when he speaks and she smiles at his compliment. “Thanks! This is kinda… normal day to day for me though. You look nice too.”

    She glances back down at her laptop before looking back up at Keith. “I’m working on a short story for my English class. It’s due tomorrow and I have to write at least 7500 words. I have—“ she looks down. “2000 done. We had a pretty crazy day yesterday, so I didn’t really get to work on it this weekend.”

    She shuts her laptop. “Anyway. Let’s go grab some coffee. What’s your poison? I’ll buy.”

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    John
    At the mention of his message again, John can feel something cold creep into him from their hands. Emi notices her mistake and the feeling of dread and fear quickly dissipates.

    The picnic basket opens a little, and a small paring knife floats out and begins to cut the apple and the pear as Emi finishes off her cracker and takes another small drink of wine.

    “If you have access to a real dragon, I would ask him over trying to research it yourself. You’ve already seemed to have learned a lot just in one conversation. I’ll think about some other questions that I have, but I’m sure you’ll probably have covered them.”

    Slim cut slices of fruit settle on the charcuterie board and Emi glances down at it. “Aren’t you going to eat any John?” she asks as she takes a piece of apple to cleanse her palette.
    John blinked, only realizing he had not eaten anything yet—just as he had eaten little on their first date. He had reasons to have not, of course. He was doing a fair bit of the talking and the moment she took his hand, he was somewhat limited in his ability to assemble the food.

    “Sorry,” he explained with a hint of self mockery. “Perhaps Cassandra Lovelace, the Unbreakable’s critique of me liking to hear myself talk was more true than I would like to admit.”

    It was mostly how he got when she looked at him—really looked at him. The world seemed to stop for a moment and pushed him out of sync with things, leaving only that connection important.

    He reached for a piece of cheese, wondering if it would make things more or less difficult if she could talk with Jaal as well. While he was sure he and his mistress wouldn’t mind if Emi came by to chat, it might be more difficult for her to hear things from that specific dragon’s mouth, as it were. Jaal could be a little prickly if he felt his pride offended and his assessment had been the most grim.

    “She’s one of the cell leaders of the Dark Watch,” he explained, continuing the brief aside, “the one who has caused problems for us on two occasions now.”

    Of course, that was, in part, his viewing things through the lens of his own magnificence—as dragons were traditionally want to do. But having Emi listen to his assessment of events leading from his own death (because a petty human magician could not possibly best a dragon) through Grayson/Valèdeir‘s death at his hands (well, talons) because he was the more splendid being would not do much for Emi’s morale.

    Even in this conversation, it was flagging. Of course, that could be because she trusted in them enough to let down some of that Shaw unflappability with him. She needed that, as she had told him when he walked up with the picnic basket.

    He bit into the cheese. It was the Cheddar rather than the Dubliner. It served him right for putting them so close together. Not that the Cheddar was bad, mind you. It was just that he was expecting the Dubliner.

    “I’ll speak with Jaal again,” he decided on, going with vagueness rather than an explicit choice. “I am sure he would be willing to answer any questions you would like to have answered.

    “But I do sense that the topic is one that distresses you,” John observed, this time being more careful with his cheese selection. It was remarkable how distracting she was for him. “Sometimes, it helps to talk about it. At other times, one might want a distraction.”

    His voice gentled, his care apparent. “What would you like, Emi? A chance to talk some more about it or to talk about almost anything else? Since I will be getting to talk with you, either will be a pleasure for me.”

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    Keith
    As the shadowmancer check his watch, he sees that he’s a few minutes early.

    The North Sider looks up when he speaks and she smiles at his compliment. “Thanks! This is kinda… normal day to day for me though. You look nice too.”

    She glances back down at her laptop before looking back up at Keith. “I’m working on a short story for my English class. It’s due tomorrow and I have to write at least 7500 words. I have—“ she looks down. “2000 done. We had a pretty crazy day yesterday, so I didn’t really get to work on it this weekend.”

    She shuts her laptop. “Anyway. Let’s go grab some coffee. What’s your poison? I’ll buy.”
    Keith blushes a bit at her compliment. Even the part of his hair he had yet to dye back didn't seem to bother him that much at the moment, though it would still sting if that got brought up. "Thanks! About normal day to day for me too." He caught her eyes and was drawn in. You're cute. He caught himself thinking rather than saying. Caught about breathless. C'mon brain, word good.

    "Think I may be changing my favorite color to green." He said a bit nervously.

    As she explains the short story and the crazy day, he nods and chuckles a bit. "I know you'll get it done and it'll be great. Though, I get the crazy day from yesterday." He shook his head. "Think this evening is gonna be wild in training." He does look a bit guilty as he thinks about the deadline she has. "I'd love to read it when it's done. Only if you'd be ok with sharing."

    When she mentions the coffee and her buying, he tilts his head with a small grin. "You stole the words outa my mouth. Which snacks or food would ya like too? 'll grab those." He thinks about the poison comment and chuckles a bit. "Usually just go for black coffee, though curious what their special is now thinkin' about it." He walks with her to the counter looking at the menu, and tilts his head a bit. He also looked at probably one of the cheaper specials.

    Come to think of it, he still felt like he was burning up from yesterday a bit.

    "I'll grab an iced mocha." He says to the cashier when he and Maeve place their orders. He'll look at her again. "You sure I can't talk you into lettin' me take care of it all?" He says with a grin.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Coffee Break

    As Raphael, Stella, and Louis enter Ashford’s, they spot Scott, Izzy, and Quinn busy behind the bar and the register. Izzy waves her fingers at Louis with a soft smile.

    Both Raphael and Louis spot Sophia and Terrence waiting at the end of the line for coffee.
    Louis stops a few steps past the doorway after making eye contact with smiling barista. He casts a quick glance to his left and right then looks back to the Latina with a look of mild confusion. "Me?" he mouths, pointing to himself with an index finger. Though he finds himself unable to resist Izzy's charm for long and quickly drops the act, flashing a playful smile of his own before filing into line.

    He looks over Sophie's shoulder as the door opens, seeing two of his new teammates come in. "Look at who just showed up.
    "Hey bro, not trying to interrupt whatever's going on right now," Louis starts as he looks between the two rookies, "but do I know you from somewhere? You seem hella familiar but I don't think we've met before."
    Last edited by PK-Leon; 2023-03-18 at 12:00 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Spoiler: Terrence/Stella/Raphael/Machine/Redline
    Show

    Kvard, replied to your coach point and gave you the looooooooooooooong version of events. But feel free to skip and go to the marshmellow quote. It can all be summarized as ‘omg drake is terrible forever the end :< btw yuki would be happi w/ me :>’ anyway.

    Everyone else, I tried to write all the babble quietly enough only for @Kvard so unless youre bored enough to eavesdrop (your choice tbh) for the World As Seen By Sophia, Volumn One now’s a great time to literally skip directly to the part that says: “Right now…I want the world’s biggest hot chocolate, and a separate cup full of cream, and marshmallows.”

    E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g before that hot chocolate line is The Drake Disagreement. Again, really encourage you to skip directly to the hot chocolate line and go from there.


    When Terrence graciously brought up her encounter at the bus stop, and asked about her lessons with Yuki, Sophia leaned forward eagerly, but found her words halting. A lot had happened. “Well…” she trailed off, trying to order jumbled thoughts, but finding it was more like moving disorganized crates than rearranging baby blocks. Too silent for too long with the effort of making sense of her inner world, he mistook that for her answer, and proceeded on.

    ++++____

    Sophia frowned sympathetically when Terry mentioned the forgotten test, although she didn’t fear them much. Her parents had banned her from patrols on school nights, and had always insisted that she study or prepare her body on those evenings. The habit mostly stuck.

    ++++____

    “That…sounds really rough, when your team relied on you as their guiding star. But I know you never would have gotten that position if you didn’t know how to think strategically, and they never would have put you there if they didn’t know how to choose the right person. I promise, Terry: you and your team are gonna be perfect.” Sophia answered heartfully, forgetting her own problems for that second.

    ++++____

    Sophia leaned forward a little, the upset at what Drake did this morning like a headache in the back of her mind. She nodded tersely when he declined the email inclusion, and her lip twitched.

    ++++____

    “Oh-my-god, Terry,” Sophia blurted out emphatically, after confirming the two behind here weren’t the most misguided couple in all Iron Station. She lowered her voice, becoming aware she had been sharing with others not immediately beside her to hear the story. But her angry tone kept its edge, at war with the female vocals and smooth jazz in the background, and felt tears coming.

    Spoiler: Drake Argument, As Seen By Sophia
    Show

    “I swear Drake is secretly an ass. So after he tries to drag me aside and glares down at me like I haven’t broken the jaw of things six times uglier than him, then he decides he’s gonna piss all over Yuki like a stray marking its territory. Implying she’s too clueless to know I was flirting, and that I’m so blind if I saw any connection, and how she gave me her number purely because she’s desperate for friends.” She felt herself becoming upset, her voice rising, even as she remembered trusting a piece of fruit to understand her feelings more than she had the other girl at the end of the bus ride. But she refused to mention that, refused to give Drake any credit.

    “It was so triggering. And after I complimented him! Three times! Three. Like, a – normal – person just sorta nudges you and says, ‘Hey, sorry, look, I get you’re really new, but Yuki and I are completely a thing, and I really need you to back off.’ That’s it! Job done. No intimidation; no insinuation. It’s so easy! But not for Our Hero; oooh no.”

    Sophia moved up a half step with the line, not caring why it was slow. Big orders ahead of them gave her more time to vent. Stopping, she forced herself to be quieter, not caring to be overheard.

    “So, after I stand up for myself, and kinda for Yuki as well in that moment, because we’re way better than what he’s implying, guess what happens? Team Lead over there realizes his attempts to take control of the sitch aren’t going so hot. So of course, out comes the fishing rod! Our Hero can’t intimidate or insinuate his way to the top, so what better time to bait for sympathy? I – I’m not gonna repeat what he said about his relationship,” she made bunny ear quotes marks with her fingers on relationship, but some of the fire had been lost at that point, even as she used the bottom of her tank top to take her tears as fast as they fell, revealing a four pack. It still felt in bad taste to reveal Drake and Yuki didn’t kiss or hold hands, and she suddenly saw just how lonely he had to be to reveal something that personal to her. They had known each other for less than a day. She released her top to clench her fists, the receding tide of her anger still slipping from her grasp.

    “But I don’t get him being shocked, if he’s the type to punch down on the new kid, right? Seriously, one of the biggest reasons I literally live and breathe is to look after and protect others, and standing up to people like him. Then,” she stopped and squinted, trying her best to recall what was actually said through the haze of lessons and guilt and unrecognized anger. She didn’t know how much she had hated the whole encounter, and everything from it, until she got to share what really happened. She didn’t do anything wrong. Why did it have to be this way? Another step was taken with the line, although she didn’t care how far off they were from the counter.

    “Uhhh, blah blah blah, first lesson’s looming...okay. So, this guy’s drifting into deep water, and we both realize he’s now fishing without a permit. I break out the scope. He wants to make three cute observations about me and Yuki? Great. I leave him three little questions to chew on, and I make sure they’re choice cuts. Then afterwards, they’re walking ahead to our first lesson, and the commander of All Things Going South decides to take his anger out on her. Like, he won’t look at or talk to her. Total stonewall. Who does that? Who starts an argument with the kid with the shiniest shoes, gets a rib removed for it, then takes it out on the one person you chose to be with?”

    Sophia looked up at Terrence, lost and frustrated and teary eyed, flickering only for the time it took her to take another step forward. “That’s not even close to love. I would care fifty times more if I dated her, and we only just met. So...to answer your question, instead of Yuki and me sharing our first day together learning and building trust and connecting more, I ate guilt for defending myself, and she’s worried about him. How is this my first day?” she asked, bewildered.

    Sophia sighed a long, hard, hot sigh, a massive vent blowing off monumental amounts of stored steam. She whipped away the last of obnoxious tears of frustration, but at the end of it, she stood straighter. There was no longer any question in her heart or mind whether she did fight the good fight. Drake chose an argument. But the price of defending herself could easily be as high as losing at least one person she would be better for. Nothing about this is fair... But it was unclear anyone really knew what to say in the face of that mountain of information, so she gave a shrug.


    “Right now…I want the world’s biggest hot chocolate, and a separate cup full of cream, and marshmallows.” She licked her lips at the thought, and wondered what became of that cake Sidney had made last night. “What about you, Terry? As I sorta…dumped everything on you, the least you deserve is whatever you like. And my promise not to bring it up again, too.” Her smile was fully back, and she dabbed at her eyes awkwardly with the small sleeves to ensure nothing remained. She hesitantly glanced behind her as one of the AEGIS staff members gently broke in, and asked why the former quarterback looked familiar. This, while she tried to place where she first saw the guy asking. It was recently, but she hadn't spoken to him.
    Last edited by JoyWonderLove; 2023-03-18 at 04:17 PM.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    John
    Emi smiles a bit as she finishes off her apple slice. "I'm not going to lie, John. You do talk a lot. Not that I mind. I do love hearing you speak," she says as her grin widens, though she is completely sincere.

    She makes another small sandwich of meat and cheese before she starts to talk about her current project in her English class, choosing a simple easy topic that she can just talk about to relax.

    As she talks, she seems to loosen up a little more, eating small bites of the food on the charcuterie board and drinking the wine John has provided.

    Keith
    Maeve sighs a little. “I hope it’s good. The prompt was to write a story about a fox spirit inspired by Asian folklore. Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, whatever. I’m not super happy with what I have so far, but, ya know, writer things. I’ll share it with you when it’s done though. Everyone in class is going to read it anyway.”

    She stands, following Keith up to the register and orders a Java chip frappe and a cheese danish. She grins over at Keith when he asks if he can talk her into covering it. “No way. It’s my treat.”

    The cashier gives the two of them a small plastic placard with a number 6 on it and Maeve taps her watch against the credit card reader to pay.

    The North Sider heads back to her seat and slides her laptop back into her bag. “So how’s your day been so far?”

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    John
    Emi smiles a bit as she finishes off her apple slice. "I'm not going to lie, John. You do talk a lot. Not that I mind. I do love hearing you speak," she says as her grin widens, though she is completely sincere.

    She makes another small sandwich of meat and cheese before she starts to talk about her current project in her English class, choosing a simple easy topic that she can just talk about to relax.

    As she talks, she seems to loosen up a little more, eating small bites of the food on the charcuterie board and drinking the wine John has provided.
    Clea was, of course, quiet while he placed the picnic basket in the trunk. Emi had made sure his picnic basket was inconspicuous as he held her hand and walked her to class. He reminded himself that his primary goal had been to check in on her and that what appeared to be a partial success at cheering her up was a secondary goal—albeit a secondary goal that naturally followed and held great importance for him.

    And the look of adoration and confidence she gave to him when he promised he would figure out a way to have everyone survive the encounter was a high that he was sure would last for days, he did note that the promise violated his father’s dictum of under promise and overdeliver.

    He was happy to discover a quick peck on the cheek to say goodbye did not count as snogging her in public when he projected a request to be permitted to do so—although he had his suspicions about whether that counted as “in public”, given how unnoticed it seemed to pass.

    By the time he got back outside, however, the raised eyebrows at him and his picnic basket had returned and followed him most of the way back to the car.

    Even if he had attracted a lot of attention to and from the quad, Clea calling him out in public wasn’t something he thought she would do—even if it wasn’t a huge security breach. She would wait until they were in private—as was tradition in AEGIS.

    “Soooo, how did it go with your particular Maiden Fair, my fearless would-be dragon slayer?”

    “Quite well, I think,” John replied, embracing his role of straight man as his car began to back herself out of her parking space. “I’m just glad it did not involve my needing to reshape the partial bottle of wine into a glass due to a surprise visit by Mr. Shaw or any undercover work.”

    “That depends,” Clea quipped. “Were you going for the besotted-to-the-point-of-not-thinking-about-how-much-attention-you-would-be-drawing-to-yourself-with-a-wicker-picnic-basket-while-you-go-a-wooing boyfriend? Because you really nailed that look if you did, even if it is an obscure type.”

    “It pays to specialize,” John deadpanned. “I have an address for you to add to your database: Pinnacle 67.”

    “Considering a pied-à-terre where the two of you can picnic in private?” Clea teased. “Let me just see what is available there.”

    “Clea,” John began in a warning tone, “It’s not…”

    “Oh. Him.”

    “Clea…”

    “Nothing to fear, John. I have it’s location locked in case I need to call in a missile strike.”

    “Clea,” John observed patiently. “There are a lot of innocent people in that building.”

    “Presumed innocent,” Clea corrected. “You are, however, correct. It would be an unacceptable level of collateral damage. I’ll see if I can mark it as a possible target location in the AEGIS Global Death Laser Network and specify his particular unit.”

    “Clea, I think…wait. AEGIS has one of those?”

    “I can neither confirm nor deny that to one at your security clearance level, provisional,” she replied loftily.

    John immediately frowned. “They don’t. Otherwise, you would not have requested surface to air missiles.”

    “Well observed, Mark II,” Clea conceded. “And given our current situation, you have to concede those would be of use right now.”

    John silently admitted that she had a point.

    “Besides,” she pressed on, “a space-based death laser system could be easily foiled by a cloudy day or the kind of fog that Draconian can deploy. Surface to air missiles are much more certain in this circumstance.”

    “Duly noted,” John conceded, “but the use of either on Grayson or Mastroianni would upset Emi.”

    “It depends. You could use the laser to bleach patches on all of Mastroianni’s suits, making him look unfashionable and keeping him at home at a strategically important moment. A British cut, like you wear, is the superior look, anyway.”

    “I find it implausible that even an organization like AEGIS would have thought to add a ‘disfigure suit’ setting to an orbital death laser.”

    “Or one that could be mounted in an airplane, provisional?” Clea teased. ‘I can neither confirm nor deny the setting or the systems those settings would be a part of.”

    “I would appreciate a basic background profile of the location, sent to my files,” John replied, trying to get his car’s AI back on track. “I’m interested in knowing why that location, of all the available locations in Iron Station, drew his eye. Is it just an upscale location or does it provide something like overwatch capability of East Side? That kind of thing.”

    “Always thinking,” Clea commented appreciatively. “Little wonder you are Auntie Henrietta’s favorite.”

    Emi had shifted her hips a little in a teasing manner, John recalled as he simultaneously smiled and blushed, before she leaned forward and kissed him again. “Thank you,” she had whispered to him. “I’m glad that brain of yours never stops.”

    He hoped that quality would keep him Emi’s favorite as well.

    Even if he did talk a lot.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kvard51's Avatar

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyWonderLove View Post
    [spoiler=Terrence/Stella/Raphael/Machine/Redline]

    When Terrence graciously brought up her encounter at the bus stop, and asked about her lessons with Yuki, Sophia leaned forward eagerly, but found her words halting. A lot had happened. “Well…” she trailed off, trying to order jumbled thoughts, but finding it was more like moving disorganized crates than rearranging baby blocks. Too silent for too long with the effort of making sense of her inner world, he mistook that for her answer, and proceeded on.

    ++++____

    Sophia frowned sympathetically when Terry mentioned the forgotten test, although she didn’t fear them much. Her parents had banned her from patrols on school nights, and had always insisted that she study or prepare her body on those evenings. The habit mostly stuck.

    ++++____

    “That…sounds really rough, when your team relied on you as their guiding star. But I know you never would have gotten that position if you didn’t know how to think strategically, and they never would have put you there if they didn’t know how to choose the right person. I promise, Terry: you and your team are gonna be perfect.” Sophia answered heartfully, forgetting her own problems for that second.

    ++++____

    Sophia leaned forward a little, the upset at what Drake did this morning like a headache in the back of her mind. She nodded tersely when he declined the email inclusion, and her lip twitched.

    ++++____

    “Oh-my-god, Terry,” Sophia blurted out emphatically, after confirming the two behind here weren’t the most misguided couple in all Iron Station. She lowered her voice, becoming aware she had been sharing with others not immediately beside her to hear the story. But her angry tone kept its edge, at war with the female vocals and smooth jazz in the background, and felt tears coming.

    Spoiler: Drake Argument, As Seen By Sophia
    Show

    “I swear Drake is secretly an ass. So after he tries to drag me aside and glares down at me like I haven’t broken the jaw of things six times uglier than him, then he decides he’s gonna piss all over Yuki like a stray marking its territory. Implying she’s too clueless to know I was flirting, and that I’m so blind if I saw any connection, and how she gave me her number purely because she’s desperate for friends.” She felt herself becoming upset, her voice rising, even as she remembered trusting a piece of fruit to understand her feelings more than she had the other girl at the end of the bus ride. But she refused to mention that, refused to give Drake any credit.

    “It was so triggering. And after I complimented him! Three times! Three. Like, a – normal – person just sorta nudges you and says, ‘Hey, sorry, look, I get you’re really new, but Yuki and I are completely a thing, and I really need you to back off.’ That’s it! Job done. No intimidation; no insinuation. It’s so easy! But not for Our Hero; oooh no.”

    Sophia moved up a half step with the line, not caring why it was slow. Big orders ahead of them gave her more time to vent. Stopping, she forced herself to be quieter, not caring to be overheard.

    “So, after I stand up for myself, and kinda for Yuki as well in that moment, because we’re way better than what he’s implying, guess what happens? Team Lead over there realizes his attempts to take control of the sitch aren’t going so hot. So of course, out comes the fishing rod! Our Hero can’t intimidate or insinuate his way to the top, so what better time to bait for sympathy? I – I’m not gonna repeat what he said about his relationship,” she made bunny ear quotes marks with her fingers on relationship, but some of the fire had been lost at that point, even as she used the bottom of her tank top to take her tears as fast as they fell, revealing a four pack. It still felt in bad taste to reveal Drake and Yuki didn’t kiss or hold hands, and she suddenly saw just how lonely he had to be to reveal something that personal to her. They had known each other for less than a day. She released her top to clench her fists, the receding tide of her anger still slipping from her grasp.

    “But I don’t get him being shocked, if he’s the type to punch down on the new kid, right? Seriously, one of the biggest reasons I literally live and breathe is to look after and protect others, and standing up to people like him. Then,” she stopped and squinted, trying her best to recall what was actually said through the haze of lessons and guilt and unrecognized anger. She didn’t know how much she had hated the whole encounter, and everything from it, until she got to share what really happened. She didn’t do anything wrong. Why did it have to be this way? Another step was taken with the line, although she didn’t care how far off they were from the counter.

    “Uhhh, blah blah blah, first lesson’s looming...okay. So, this guy’s drifting into deep water, and we both realize he’s now fishing without a permit. I break out the scope. He wants to make three cute observations about me and Yuki? Great. I leave him three little questions to chew on, and I make sure they’re choice cuts. Then afterwards, they’re walking ahead to our first lesson, and the commander of All Things Going South decides to take his anger out on her. Like, he won’t look at or talk to her. Total stonewall. Who does that? Who starts an argument with the kid with the shiniest shoes, gets a rib removed for it, then takes it out on the one person you chose to be with?”

    Sophia looked up at Terrence, lost and frustrated and teary eyed, flickering only for the time it took her to take another step forward. “That’s not even close to love. I would care fifty times more if I dated her, and we only just met. So...to answer your question, instead of Yuki and me sharing our first day together learning and building trust and connecting more, I ate guilt for defending myself, and she’s worried about him. How is this my first day?” she asked, bewildered.

    Sophia sighed a long, hard, hot sigh, a massive vent blowing off monumental amounts of stored steam. She whipped away the last of obnoxious tears of frustration, but at the end of it, she stood straighter. There was no longer any question in her heart or mind whether she did fight the good fight. Drake chose an argument. But the price of defending herself could easily be as high as losing at least one person she would be better for. Nothing about this is fair... But it was unclear anyone really knew what to say in the face of that mountain of information, so she gave a shrug.


    “Right now…I want the world’s biggest hot chocolate, and a separate cup full of cream, and marshmallows.” She licked her lips at the thought, and wondered what became of that cake Sidney had made last night. “What about you, Terry? As I sorta…dumped everything on you, the least you deserve is whatever you like. And my promise not to bring it up again, too.” Her smile was fully back, and she dabbed at her eyes awkwardly with the small sleeves to ensure nothing remained. She hesitantly glanced behind her as one of the AEGIS staff members gently broke in, and asked why the former quarterback looked familiar. This, while she tried to place where she first saw the guy asking. It was recently, but she hadn't spoken to him.
    Terrence listened to Sophie's description of her day without interruption, just as his Grandmama had told him. "I need to remember to not try and fix this, too," he thought to himself when she took a breath. As she finished, he said, quietly, "I'm sorry you had such a crap first day here. But hey, I gave Yuki something to think about when I told her you like girls," As he stood to follow his impetuous new friend, he leaned over and put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze. "Thanks for having empathy for me in the middle of your frustration. I really appreciate that. You've got a heart like a bull." He grins when she promises to not bring it up again, already sure that even if she lived up to it, something else would need his ear, and likely soon. "I'll take a chicory coffee. Hot. My Grandmama would disown me if I started adding "frou-frou" to my coffee."

    Quote Originally Posted by PK-Leon View Post
    Coffee Break

    "Hey bro, not trying to interrupt whatever's going on right now," Louis starts as he looks between the two rookies, "but do I know you from somewhere? You seem hella familiar but I don't think we've met before."
    Terrence turns at the guy's words, but no recognition flares in his mind, "No problem. We are just getting up to grab some coffee. Are you from Iron Heights?" He continues, "I grew up here, in The Palisades, and played ball at Iron Heights Lincoln. One game this season at Briarwood before I got hurt. Maybe you saw me in one of those places?"
    “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
    ― Kvothe, The Name of the Wind

    Spoiler: personality test results
    Show

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    Keith
    Maeve sighs a little. “I hope it’s good. The prompt was to write a story about a fox spirit inspired by Asian folklore. Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, whatever. I’m not super happy with what I have so far, but, ya know, writer things. I’ll share it with you when it’s done though. Everyone in class is going to read it anyway.”

    She stands, following Keith up to the register and orders a Java chip frappe and a cheese danish. She grins over at Keith when he asks if he can talk her into covering it. “No way. It’s my treat.”

    The cashier gives the two of them a small plastic placard with a number 6 on it and Maeve taps her watch against the credit card reader to pay.

    The North Sider heads back to her seat and slides her laptop back into her bag. “So how’s your day been so far?”
    Keith offers a comforting smile and takes a steadying breath. The background on a fox spirit inspired by Asian culture was fairly vast, and if needed he could ask Yuki. Come to think of it he could offer to put Maeve and her in contact.

    Wait but then I'm mentioning another girl in front of her and that's bad form. Does it help if it's a friend? She does know West Side is mostly all male though. He thought to himself.

    "I feel that. Writer things they don't tell you about right?" He chuckles a bit. "Hmmmm though that gives me an idea for something. A Kyubi that breaks its tails to summon guardian spirits protecting their family's next heir to the power. Though, that kinda just leaves setting up in the air a bit."

    He grins hearing that she would be willing to share it. "Lookin' forward to it!" He knew he would love what she wrote.

    When she grins and orders, telling him he can't change her mind he grins and nods. "Thank you! I'll grab it the next time then." His grin turns a bit lopsided.

    He followed her back to the seat and sat down opposite of her. Chuckling a bit nervously when she asked how his day had been.

    "It's been goin'," he starts out with a nod. "The newbies seem nice but haven't gotten to talk to them much yet. Mostly spent it with Polaris teacching him a bit of meditation and helping him get better at a few games. He wants to try and impress Mercury at getting better at Kaiju Mega Brawl." He chuckles a bit. "Had a nice chat with him about mythology so it's kinda funny that's the topic of your story too!"

    A few lines from Masqureade 3 came back to him. I chooseth this fate of mine own free will........ He wanted to make a good impression and talking about the video games this morning might not do so well.

    "We're about the only ones that don't go to traditional school." He says a bit sheepishly. "So we ended up running to the mall a bit to get some fresh air. Did some studying this morning before everything as well for an Irish Lit test coming up. Most all of it should be on Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Cu Chulainn, and Diarmuid Ua Duibhne." He thought for a moment. "At least I'm hoping so since those were the only notes I could find available." He grimaced a bit hoping there wasn't a mistake.

    He looked back at Maeve's eyes and immediately felt a bit of calm, mixed with the nerves of not being able to word good. His smile returned before he spoke again. "And now getting to spend time with you and my day is awesome!"

    "How about your day so far?"

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

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    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Spoiler: Raphael/Kvard/Machine
    Show

    Feel free to speed up the line, or not. I think this is the last ‘big’ thing I can really do before pretending we’re not at the front is dumb. And the ‘big’ thing is basically standing there wearing headphones, eyes closed, saying nothing to anyone, and then looking around a little at the end, then particularly at Stella/Raphael. It’s very little for anyone else to react to, but I’ll try to talk more after this one. For Machine, I was Unleashing My Powers (see the world of auras). Rolled 11.


    Between the jazz and Terrence’s soothing tone, Sophia nodded gloomily at the reminder that Yuki had been told what should have been painfully obvious. They rarely kiss, or hold hands. So she’s either clueless, or deep in the closet, or shy. It had been impossible to get Hannah out, and Sophia had tried for nearly a year. She stared ahead at the line almost despondently. But then a strong arm encircled around her shoulder in a half hug, grounding her back into a present, where the only truths were a rich aroma of coffee beans, the classy din of jazz music, the warmth of good company. She wrapped Terrence in a full hug, finding herself surprised by how solid he felt when close. A little mountain holding storm clouds away. She grinned into his shirt when he thanked her, but arched a brow at the weird compliment.

    Louisiana saying? Google it later.

    Sophia stepped back out of their hug, still grinning. “Anytime. And thanks.”

    She made a mental note of his order, and looked ahead, uplifted.

    Spoiler: Influence
    Show
    I don’t fully get Influence yet, but it makes sense to give Terrence it.


    ++++____

    Sophia stayed silent as Terrence replied to the AEGIS guy, feeling like she had spent an entire afternoon’s supply of words on telling Terrence what happened. But her mind insisted she had seen this guy before, at least twice. Where? Not the driver from yesterday, not the kitchen last night, definitely wasn’t at the meeting– she let go of the attempt with a sigh. It wasn’t important.

    ++++____

    Paying attention to the line, but silent beside Terrence and the familiar stranger, Sophia was tempted to listen to the other songs Yuki recommended. A chance glance behind her found the oddly pale but unquestionably straight couple behind them tucked in their own perfect world, muttering lovingly while staring up at the menu. She rolled her eyes despite herself, not overkeen for the reminder from Raphael and his gorgeous girlfriend that it was so easy for them to casually date. No, wait. This is perfect. Drake and Yuki were iffy for each other, but the two behind her looked comfortable and easy; their hearts harmonious. She blinked in realization of the opportunity they presented, and quickly stuck her headphones in her ears by way of a disguise, turned towards them. She had to work fast for it not to look out of place, or to stand stock still in a shifting line.

    If I can see what’s going right with them, maybe I can do the same with Yuki? she reasoned.

    Closing her eyes, Sophia settled her attention just behind her forehead, and felt the energy stirring easily. A smile traced her lips, but she then took her attention slightly down and back, a ship riding an inner expanse of utter darkness, until she felt her ship ground on the inner shores of her pineal gland. Her entire inner world became flooded with an unquestioning and unquenchable light. But she only sat her attention in the experience, neither relishing nor ignoring, never coveting or cursing. Her mother had always been clear on the matter – the light would always belong to her, but she had an obligation to share it with the world. Gently, she willed a mirror into existence with her mind’s eye, let a breathe slip out, and tried not to rush as she angled it inch, by inch, by inch.

    Let thy eye be single, Sophia intoned internally with the softness of a sage, but brought up a feeling of sudden unshakeable knowingness inside her, all exactly as her mother had taught. Her eyelids twitched like a child stirring to the first rays of the dawn. The angled light within was almost touching what she imagined were her physical eyes, and she willed her worldly eyes to crack open slightly. She would see the world as it truly was, in all its unending and remarkable glory.

    Thy whole body – full of light.

    She opened her eyes fully.

    Spoiler: Machine, Unleash Your Powers (11! Seeing the World of Auras/Chakras, or at least the aura of a real couple)
    Show

    https://orokos.com/roll/972302

    This is partially an attempt to find uses for all of my Moves while still keeping it fitting and fun. I’m also into the idea of auras/chakras (shocking, right?). Anyway, this is falling really, really heavily under the Extend Your Senses part. Trying to make the jump between seeing the everyday mundane, up to the full blown HD vibrant world of seeing the auras/chakras of all the people around her, but mostly focusing on the straight couple (Raphael/Stella) in particular. My understanding is that this is a temporary thing, so that could be seconds or maybe a minute?

    I’ll put some pictures here to give a better idea of what I might mean.
    Last edited by JoyWonderLove; 2023-03-19 at 01:59 PM.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Coffee Break

    Quote Originally Posted by Terrence
    Terrence turns at the guy's words, but no recognition flares in his mind, "No problem. We are just getting up to grab some coffee. Are you from Iron Heights?" He continues, "I grew up here, in The Palisades, and played ball at Iron Heights Lincoln. One game this season at Briarwood before I got hurt. Maybe you saw me in one of those places?"
    Louis shakes his head, "Nah, I went to Riverbank on the West side back in high school but that does answer my question. Didn't realize I was talkin' to Briarwood's all-star quarterback." He admits, though the smirk lining his mouth betrays a greater knowledge than what he let on. "I remember seeing you take a pretty nasty helmet-to-helmet at the start of the season. You holding up alright?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sophia
    Sophia stayed silent as Terrence replied to the AEGIS guy, feeling like she had spent an entire afternoon’s supply of words on telling Terrence what happened. But her mind insisted she had seen this guy before, at least twice. Where? Not the driver from yesterday, not the kitchen last night, definitely wasn’t at the meeting– she let go of the attempt with a sigh. It wasn’t important.
    "Speaking of-" Louis starts as he looks to Sophia, but stops short of a full sentence as she seemingly drifts away on the waters of an unknown sea for a moment.

    Spoiler: Notice
    Show
    11 + 2 (Perception) = 13


    The undergrad takes a couple of steps forward as the line finally begins to dwindle and uses those few fleeting seconds to observe... whatever it was the redhead was doing. He found himself tempted to ask what warranted the use of her powers within the walls of the coffee shop but thought better of it. An introduction would probably make for a better conversation starter seeing as he missed the opportunity during the morning's meeting.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    Keith
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    "I feel that. Writer things they don't tell you about right?"
    Maeve laughs a bit. "Don't get me started."

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    "It's been goin'," he starts out with a nod. "The newbies seem nice but haven't gotten to talk to them much yet. Mostly spent it with Polaris teaching him a bit of meditation and helping him get better at a few games. He wants to try and impress Mercury at getting better at Kaiju Mega Brawl." He chuckles a bit. "Had a nice chat with him about mythology so it's kinda funny that's the topic of your story too!"
    "You mean Aeryn and Drake?" she asks. "I met them Saturday night at the party. They seemed like nice enough guys. Do you guys play a lot of video games? I've never really played a lot; my brothers never let me have a turn when they would have tournaments and stuff. What kinda mythology did you guys talk about?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    "How about your day so far?"
    "Stressful," she answers honestly. "We have morning drills before our meeting on Monday so I got up at like 4 this morning after being out late last night on patrol with Coldfront. I'm pretty sure I bombed my geography quiz, and I've been busy trying to get this... thing written before its due. I"d normally really enjoy something like this, but not when it's this rushed."

    Maeve grimaces, realizing how it sounds as she complains to Keith. "Sorry. I don't mean to like throw all that on you."

    Ashford's
    Quote Originally Posted by Raphael
    He rolls his eyes and makes a show giving an exaggerated sigh before joining the queue to acquire frivolous coffee. "What are you in the mood for?" He asks Stella.
    "I'm thinking about getting something that Sidney recommended to me," Stella replies. "A raspberry white mocha cappuccino. It isn't something I've tried before."

    The sorceress goes to exchange a glance with Raphael as she overhears part of Sophia's rant, but decides not to say anything while the angel is still within earshot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sophia
    Closing her eyes, Sophia settled her attention just behind her forehead, and felt the energy stirring easily. A smile traced her lips, but she then took her attention slightly down and back, a ship riding an inner expanse of utter darkness, until she felt her ship ground on the inner shores of her pineal gland. Her entire inner world became flooded with an unquestioning and unquenchable light.
    Looking over at Raphael and Stella, Sophia sees something... odd.

    Stella's aura is a smokey purple that floats gently around her. It seems slightly weak, however, like she's been exerting herself.

    Raphael, on the other hand, very weirdly doesn't seem to have an aura. There's an emptiness where that light should be full. Looking closer, Sophia can see small wisps of Stella's aura floating around inside of him like his emptiness has swallowed some and is trying to absorb it.

    Spoiler: Raphael
    Show

    The vampire feels Sophia looking at him and Stella. At his very essence.


    The line shuffles forward and Sophia's concentration is broken. Finally at the front of the line, Terrence orders his chicory coffee. The blond Latina puts that in and whatever Sophia orders. Now that they're closer, they can see that her handwritten nametag says Isabelle.

    Next in line are Stella and Raphael. As soon as Stella starts to order, the large man behind the counter swings around at the sound of her voice. He comes up behind the cashier and smiles widely at the sorceress and her companions. "Stella! How are you?" he asks.

    "Very well," Stella says taking Raphael's hand.

    He looks behind them to Louis. "Are... uhh, Derrick and his girlfriend coming by today too?"

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Meanwhile, Back at West Side Base: The Experiment
    Now that they were beginning to boil, the fluid in the three round bottomed flasks were all similar colors. Not exactly the same, of course. Each of the three contained a different level of demonic essence in them, which resulted in hues ranging from a purple-black, in the case of Zylas’ sample; through the purple-red of Laura’s sample, which had an undertone of blood to it; and into the swirling, cloudy mixture that resulted from the sample of Nova.

    John released the valves on each, pleased to see that the lutum sapientiae had properly sealed the flasks.

    The suspension he created for the Nova was precipitating out the additives that were necessary to lace the ichor with street drugs. Even so, he made sure that the gasses he needed for the experiment passed through three buffer solutions before coming into contact with the alchemical salts that would bind with the demonic essence and render it sufficiently inert before off gassing up a waiting chimney and through the blotting paper that would capture its pattern—a kind of alchemical fingerprint akin to the spectrum lines astronomers used to determine the chemical composition of stars and exoplanets’ atmospheres.

    It’s paper would be blotted last.

    Astronomers.

    He sighed at the parallel before looking back to Laura’s flask. It only needed to pass through a single buffer solution, although it was of a different sort. The base solution in the round bottomed flask would precipitate out any of the iron associated with human blood. The buffer, which contained a saturated bit of mummy wrapping, would capture whatever undead essence slipped past the first.

    It would come out second.

    The first—Zylas’ sample, served both as a control and as a sample. Already, the solution had begun to condense within the cooling coil and was starting to drip onto the salts. John also expected that blot to be the clearest, meaning he would place it behind the other sheets when holding them up to the light to determine if they were a match.

    Having Mimi scan each would let him and others compare the three on screen and perhaps conduct a more detailed analysis. That said, the light test worked well up until the period of the American Civil War. It would be enough to be certain they were all from the same demonic source.

    Perhaps he should look into those experiments more closely. The use of photographic paper, with its trace elements of silver, could in principle work. Too many charlatans had been involved at that time for him to trust that approach right now. Most had peddled to those seeking Spiritualists-associated confirmation of the ongoing presence of their loved ones. The ones he might consider trying to replicate were by those who were attempting to find patrons within the secret world he inhabited.

    Better for now, he thought as he watched the mottled haze billow up out of the salts, to use the method that was certain. He could indulge his desire to expand the frontiers of knowledge later. For now, he needed results.

    And now, it would not be long before he had those results.

    Spoiler: John and His Alchemy Set — Knowledge: Occult
    Show
    John and his Alchemy Set: 1d12o12+2 5 1d6o6+2 6
    6+2 with the lab = 8 — John succeeds with a raise.


    A mixture of activated charcoal, rice powder, and thiosulfate salt fixed the images on the blotting paper. He carefully labeled each with a Z, an L, and an N in turn.

    One by one, John inspected them—holding each up to the light and having Mimi capture their images before beginning to overlap each in order to see if they perfectly aligned, which would indicate all of the samples could trace their origins to Zylas, of if they presented evidence of a second greater demon at large in the city.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Sophia shrugged at the odd readings, and refused to dwell on it as her sight faded thanks to someone jostling her. Moving to the blonde cashier – bi, her suspect gaydar insisted – she ordered a large white hot chocolate with as many marshmallows as possible. She paid for both her and her friend’s drink with an easy swipe of her card. The man that had been working behind the counter, his body type somehow that of a muscular wall melded to a dad-bod, started chatting to the beauty with the indigo aura. Stella, the coffee bar’s manager had called her. She stood to one side with Terrence, guessing they needed to find a place big enough to seat five or seven people.

    “Terry.”

    Her phone screen was tilted carefully towards Terrence’s vision, showing him the same guy now ordering at the cashier, only with a pair of goggles covering a winking visage, but his gregarious grin was freely displayed. He was dressed in the garbs of a light manipulator called Redline. The small picture directly attached to his AEGIS email address had the title of Team Lead West beside his name in parenthesis. Same guy that owns the really nice red bike. She wondered exactly how large the pay gap was between her starting position, and Team Leads. It couldn’t be small.

    “Louis LeBlance. He’s why Drake showed us around yesterday,” she said, flatly.

    Spoiler: Current Influence List
    Show


    Have Influence over: Redline, John.

    Gave Influence to: Seraph, Harbinger, Redline, Terrence, Keith, Yuki, Sidney.

    Last edited by JoyWonderLove; 2023-03-19 at 07:31 PM.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    Keith
    Maeve laughs a bit. "Don't get me started."

    "You mean Aeryn and Drake?" she asks. "I met them Saturday night at the party. They seemed like nice enough guys. Do you guys play a lot of video games? I've never really played a lot; my brothers never let me have a turn when they would have tournaments and stuff. What kinda mythology did you guys talk about?"
    He chuckles a bit as she says not to get her started and nods. "Bet we would have a good three hours discussion on those things." He says with a Cheshire grin.

    As she asked is he meant Aeryn and Drake he nods and rubs the back of his neck a bit sheepishly. "Y-yeah. Sorry, force of habit." He looks back up at her. "They're both really nice, but I can't spare with Drake at all. Know how that will end." He laughed a bit nervously.

    When she asked about video games, he thought for a moment about how often they had played. "Sorta? Mostly Drake and Aeryn play, and Raph. I didn't play a lot until meeting up with Grayson at East Side. I need something with a good story or at least some kinda hook to get into one though." He shook his head. "Well that seems mean, is that normal brother things? Come to think of it, They had mentioned trying to get a tournament going across the bases as well." He smiles. "Games are more fun with others anyway. We could probably also set up some times for that too eventually." He thinks a moment on her schedule. "Trying to think of your free time stuff too."

    He blushes a second realizing he'd dominated part of the conversation. And got on a tangent. "We talked a bit about the Orpheus myth, he was curious about it after we found a game called Masquerade. Mostly a lot more on Greco-Roman stuff though."

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st"Stressful," she answers honestly. "We have morning drills before our meeting on Monday so I got up at like 4 this morning after being out late last night on patrol with Coldfront. I'm pretty sure I bombed my geography quiz, and I've been busy trying to get this... thing written before its due. I"d normally really enjoy something like this, but not when it's this rushed."

    Maeve grimaces, realizing how it sounds as she complains to Keith. "Sorry. I don't mean to like throw all that on you."
    He listened intently as she started explaining her day and just how crazy it had been. He smiled a bit hearing they had woken up about the same time, though that was also partially his powers. He winced a bit hearing the Monday drills and the late patrol with Coldfront. Then the bombing of her quiz, that could have gone better but couldn't be helped.

    As soon as she grimaces and apologizes, Keith offers his usual comforting smile and shake his head. "You have nothing to apologize for. I honestly enjoy hearing about it all, and want you to know you can vent to me anytime ok?" He was sincere in his tone, and kept it as soothing as possible. "Maybe they'll have an extra credit thing that can help with the quiz grade too. Hope they might at least. I can at least promise plenty of snacks and an ear to listen."

    Spoiler: This is coming to bite me sooner than intended! No one expected this I'm sure......
    Show

    Comfort/Support: 2d6+3 13

    OOC: I'm sure Keith is going to clear Afraid.


    He tilted his head. "That had to have been interesting going out on patrol with Coldfront though. Hopefully not as hectic as the parade." He shuddered a bit.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Well, that's one way to wake up:

    Raphael is drawn out of the idle conversation between himself, Stella, and Louis as they approach the door to Sidney's Dad's Coffee Shop. A faint tremble in the air makes his teeth itch and his sensitive ears pick up the better part of Sophia's ranting. He holds the door open for his teammate and girlfriend and mentally shrugs it off.

    The wavering flicker and agitation of the cord of her life is harder to ignore, but a few blinks and the image fades into the background of his awareness where it belongs. He is pleased to note, in that brief moment, that Stella's cord is vibrant and healthy, despite his getting a little carried away last night.

    At least until Sophia's attempts to pry into who and what he is lights her up in his eyes like a Christmas Tree. He turns his unblinking gaze on her and stares at the half-angel, cord to cord. His mouth quirks - the only tell of a suppressed snarl.

    The Predator that exists in, as, and alongside whatever passes for his soul stirs and rises to the surface, breaking free as a shark breaches the ocean's surface.

    Spoiler: Sight Beyond Sight! (For Sophia)
    Show


    To Sophia, Raphael's eyes are glowing red pits that look straight into her. The emptiness of his non-aura ripples away and that bloody red light, now obscured by choking black smoke, seems to erupt from within him, forming something that has the aspect of a wolf and the impression of a deep sea predator. The Thing's attention focuses only on Sophia and her intrusion. It gathers itself, ready to leap across the tiny space between them and---


    Raphael blinks. "Hey look, it's the newbies." He announces to Stella and Louis.

    He turns his attention back toward Stella, a cheerful smile on his face. He blows a raspberry at her order, and then winks.

    "Not for me. I think I'll get double-mocha and.... Marshmallow."

    He looks at Stella again. "Then maybe I'll have something as sweet as you." He mutters just loud enough for her to hear.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    John
    As John holds up the papers, the one labeled with an L is noticeably darker than the other two, which match exactly.

    Keith
    The corner of Maeve’s mouth quirks up into a smile. “Thanks, Keith,” she says softly. “That’s a good idea. I’ll ask Mrs. Redmond about some extra credit.”

    A server comes by and drops off their coffees and her danish. Maeve settles into easy conversation with Keith as they eat and drink, dipping back into twenty questions.

    Most of the way through their hour together, Maeve suddenly tilts her head and seems to listen to something intensely.

    At the same time, Mimi speaks up in Keith’s ear. “Drake requires assistance on Basin Street. He is fighting two meta and several non meta Rooks.”

    Maeve looks over at Keith. “You up for some work?

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    Keith
    The corner of Maeve’s mouth quirks up into a smile. “Thanks, Keith,” she says softly. “That’s a good idea. I’ll ask Mrs. Redmond about some extra credit.”
    Keith smiles as he is lost in Maeve's smile. Things seemed to be going well and he was happy about that. He forgot the fear that he held onto yesterday and instead embraced the idea of hope.

    He was different from his family. Well, most of them.

    "Anytime, Maeve," he replies softly. "I hope she accepts." He surprised a chuckle that it was probably the best idea he would have in a while.

    Aside from meeting up with her of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    A server comes by and drops off their coffees and her danish. Maeve settles into easy conversation with Keith as they eat and drink, dipping back into twenty questions.

    Most of the way through their hour together, Maeve suddenly tilts her head and seems to listen to something intensely.

    At the same time, Mimi speaks up in Keith’s ear. “Drake requires assistance on Basin Street. He is fighting two meta and several non meta Rooks.”

    Maeve looks over at Keith. “You up for some work?
    The drink was nice and he was entertained by the continued game of twenty questions. He was learning so much more about her and they were getting close to the finish of the game.

    "Hmmmm what to ask next...." He mussed before seeing Maeve tilt her head.

    He titled his too hearing Mimi come over the comms.

    He nods and responds subvocally into the mic. "I'm headin' that way now. Thanks, Mimi."

    He looked back at Maeve and grins. "You bet. Just gonna leave a tip right fast."

    He puts a tip on the table, if he can't find a collective jar before heading out with Maeve.

    "Kinda weird he's on his own though." He thinks aloud as they get outside. Once clear, probably in the busy air, he'll summon his suit.

    Just perfect timing for gang activity.....

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    John
    As John holds up the papers, the one labeled with an L is noticeably darker than the other two, which match exactly.
    John straightened his arms and placed his hands on his workshop bench, bowing his head.

    Two greater demons being tapped for their blood.

    That meant a potential new source for Nova, given that Keith’s probable half sister was the one speaking about a break in the Nova supply chain and had provided Dr. Issac with his sample.

    He shook his head. Why would the Empire need that? Yes, a steady stream of a hot new stream drug would generate income and, if handled correctly, potentially new foot soldiers based on whatever number of them took to a demonic or meta form—assuming they were physically or psychologically hooked by the drug.

    “Mimi:” John asked, “I have two questions. First, do we or AEGIS have any biological samples from the Nova user that metaed? A blood sample being stored in an evidence room or in a hospital or research lab would be ideal.

    “Second, are any other occult specialist currently here, including but not limited to Seraph, Harbinger, Stella, and Sophia?

    “I know Zylas is present,” he said thoughtfully as he lifted result L and held it up to the light again.

    Darker, he suspected, meant stronger. A greater greater demon than Zylas.

    Who was a prince of the most powerful level of Hell.

    Spoiler: A simple success. John is either distracted by the memory of Emi or off his game.
    Show


    “If Seraph is not present, please send him the following message:” he requested before switching to Angelical. “Forgive me for interrupting your meeting, but I have completed my initial experiment and would like to share the results with Dr. Riviera and with Zylas. The results indicate a match between Zylas and our Nova sample. The ichor that transformed Laura is from a different source.”

    He considered asking for forgiveness rather than permission regarding Zylas but being in the doghouse with one angel seemed like more than enough on that tally sheet.

    He looked over his alchemical apparatus. He could conceivably use it to reverse engineer Nova. The problem, of course, was that his alchemical knowledge was significant but his pharmacology skills were not—despite the overlap between the two.

    “Another question for you, Mimi:” John asked, setting the blotting paper down and beginning to pace. “Do any of the provisional team members’ profiles indicate a knowledge of pharmacology? I’m not familiar with the other teams or our new teammates fields of expertise. While we could call in an AEGIS expert, I suspect someone who already knows me will be more likely to accept they are working with an alchemist.”

    John glanced back and looked at the sheet, recalling his warning Mr. Shaw the evening before that this was a possibility.

    It took a great deal of his self control to not immediately broadcast the news to him. Yes, it was something of a coup to have found these results but Mr. Shaw liked to follow protocol—which meant alerting his Director who would, in turn, contact his counterpart.

    In the back of his mind, he noted that pharmacology could be used against a dragon, if the proper substance could be identified then summoned in sufficient quantity.

    Focus, John, he chided himself as he approached his workbench and regarded the three samples again.

    One crisis at a time.

    Speaking with Zylas about this seemed an unavoidable eventuality. It was his brother who disappeared in Iron Station following his summoning by the Cult of the Red Dawn.

    “Mimi: Did we ever receive the list of the dead from the Cult of the Red Dawn summoning at the abandoned warehouse Keith, Drake, Yuki, and I investigated?”

    A dark possibility began to present itself to him. What if Keith’s half sister was older and not younger? What if she had been a part of that summoning and had been gathering power and planning her moves. And viewed Keith as the usurper—the spare, and not the other way around?”

    John reached up and, with his thumb and index finger, rubbed his eyes and pinched his nose. He had too little data to leap to that kind of a conclusion.

    The more pressing question was she working with Matteo’s demon or were they competing against one another?

    “Yet another question, Mimi:” John asked. “Please compare the dates of Vibrato’s recent thefts of Stones of Vashuuna with the attempted summoning that threatened Miss Balinski.”

    Those dates might at least clear that variable.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    November 1st
    John
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “Mimi:” John asked, “I have two questions. First, do we or AEGIS have any biological samples from the Nova user that metaed? A blood sample being stored in an evidence room or in a hospital or research lab would be ideal.

    “Second, are any other occult specialist currently here, including but not limited to Seraph, Harbinger, Stella, and Sophia?"
    "AEGIS does have samples from Mr. Burnly in a local lab," Mimi replies. "Harbinger is currently available. I'll send him down to you."

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “Another question for you, Mimi:” John asked, setting the blotting paper down and beginning to pace. “Do any of the provisional team members’ profiles indicate a knowledge of pharmacology? I’m not familiar with the other teams or our new teammates fields of expertise. While we could call in an AEGIS expert, I suspect someone who already knows me will be more likely to accept they are working with an alchemist.”
    Mimi pauses for a moment while she looks through personnel files. "I do not see any pharmacology backgrounds."

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “Mimi: Did we ever receive the list of the dead from the Cult of the Red Dawn summoning at the abandoned warehouse Keith, Drake, Yuki, and I investigated?”
    "The files are incomplete, but I will send what we have to your iPad, John," the AI says.

    Quote Originally Posted by John
    “Yet another question, Mimi:” John asked. “Please compare the dates of Vibrato’s recent thefts of Stones of Vashuuna with the attempted summoning that threatened Miss Balinski.”
    Mimi lists the dates to John noting that the jewelry store thefts started before the demon inhabiting Matteo was summoned.

    There's a quiet knock on John's lab door before Harbinger opens it. "Hey John," he says with a nod. He looks over the alchemical equipment with interest. "You needed something?"

    Keith
    Maeve grabs her backpack and heads out of the door and heads to the back alley. A few moments later, there's a rush of wind and Maeve bursts into the air, now clad in her hero costume, and quickly catches up to Crowe. She zooms by him and quickly realizes that the West Sider is much slower in the air than she is, so she slows, dropping in beside him about twenty feet away.

    "I had our AI connect our comms,"
    she says. "We should be there in ten at this speed. He's right on the edge of West Side's territory."

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Iron Station Savage Masks IC IV

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    November 1st
    John
    "The files are incomplete, but I will send what we have to your iPad, John," the AI says.
    “Thank you, Mimi,” he said distractedly but sincerely. “I don’t know what we would do without you.”

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    Mimi lists the dates to John noting that the jewelry store thefts started before the demon inhabiting Matteo was summoned.
    If Vibrato was working with whoever summoned this demon—provisionally identified as the would-be heir to Keith’s family Empire— and that this greater demon predates the arrival of the one inhabiting Matteo Bordreaux, it would suggest that they are two parties of interest rather than a single one. Vibrato’s crime spree began before the summoning of the demon inhabiting Matteo. Harbinger identified the demon inhabiting Matteo as the one seeking the Stone of Vashuuna beneath the Volta Memorial.

    As much as he wanted to bounce those ideas of Harbinger immediately, John recognized the inherent danger in offering him preconceptions. They would cloud his assessment of the blot in a way his visions would not be affected.

    He wished Emi or Montcrieff were here. It was always easier to think these things through when you had a partner to bounce ideas off of.

    He wasn’t sure if he would need access to the sample from Burnly or not. He had no reason to believe his Nova came from anyone but Zylas—especially if the production had been stopped temporarily. It would not hurt to confirm that, however.

    Perhaps tomorrow.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheMachine View Post
    There's a quiet knock on John's lab door before Harbinger opens it. "Hey John," he says with a nod. He looks over the alchemical equipment with interest. "You needed something?"
    “Several things,” John observed, glancing at the puzzle box he had not yet returned to his room, “which seems to be a theme these days.”

    He straightened and handed the three sheets of blotting paper to Harbinger. “Business first. I’ve tested samples taken directly from Zylas and Laura—the vampiress Raphael arrived with last night, as well as a sample taken from Nova. The Nova and Zylas samples match. They are the sheets labeled, somewhat predictably, N and Z. The one labeled L, however, is darker and the pattern is not a match. I was hoping to get a second opinion on the significance of the differences and receive approval for getting the opinions of Dr. Riviera and Zylas.

    “I thought that sounded like the kind of thing that a Director would get to decide rather than a consultant,” he observed with a wry smile, leaning back against his workbench and folding his arms.”

    His back touched the puzzle box. It was unlike him to have left it behind.

    Of course, he had started to think of Emi and planning his casual,‘inconspicuous’ picnic with her. Strangely, that make it very like him to have left it behind.

    “After that, I have an item that….” John paused as he glanced at the model of the solar system, slowly turning on the far side of the room. “That I would appreciate your observations on, should you be willing to give them. It’s of a more personal nature, though, so it is something that can be delayed or declined, as your time permits.”

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