Leaf on the Wind

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Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:55 am

The planet Highwind
Deep inside the Terran Alliance.


The silence of the night was broken by the loud staccato thumping of a machine pistol. The startled cries of several patrons soon followed and all eyes turned to face the source of the gunfire. Four goons entered the bank wearing masks and carrying automatic weapons. One of them began directing everyone into the center of the room while the others fanned out to search for any stragglers. Serenity, a young Sudari who suddenly found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, tried her best to pretend not to notice the sudden bank robbery, a foolish sentiment at best. Of course the bank robbers took notice of the young, hooded figure standing in the corner and when one of them approached her he grabbed her roughly by the shoulder and spun her about.

The hood of her jacket fell from her head and the burglar was taken aback by the girl's furry wolf ears. "You, you're one of them," the startled man cried.

Serenity answered his surprise by tossing aside her jacket and drawing her dual short swords. The burglar barely recovered in time to bring his weapon to bear but by then it was already too late. A quick slice of her sword rendered the man's rifle useless and a quick roundhouse kick to the head put him down for the count. The other three goons turned to look at her, weapons raised and ready to fire. Serenity quickly jumped over a nearby counter top for cover as bullets filled the air where she had been standing only moments before.

Behind the relative safety of the clerk's desk she activated a switch on her swords which converted them to machine pistols. She waited for a lull in the gunfire before popping out of cover and firing a few rounds of her own. One of the burglars went down with a shot to the leg and shoulder that sent him spinning to the floor. The other two quickly took cover. Serenity used that opportunity to spring over the counter, taking advantage of her superior speed she quickly closed the distance between herself and the first assailant. He barely had time to react before she took him out with a few well placed kicks and a vicious elbow that knocked loose a few of the man's teeth.

The fourth assailant, seeing his companions being dropped one by one quickly devised a plan of escape and grabbed a nearby hostage. "Drop your weapons," he demanded, holding the muzzle of his pistol against the woman's head.

Serenity stared at him, unmoved by the man's threat to murder a human. With a sigh she tossed her pistols into the air and immediately they shifted back into swords before they were magnetically drawn together to form a high powered composite shortbow. The girl reached out to grab the bow, spinning as she did so, and with her other hand she fetched an arrow from the quiver she wore at her waist and set it to the string of her bow before letting it fly at the burglar. The arrow quickly closed the distance between them and then suddenly before striking its target it erupted in a great flash of light and sound that deafened everyone in the room.

The burglar dropped his captive and shielded his eyes which proved his undoing. Serenity easily dispatched him as she dispatched all the rest, just in time for the local police force to arrive on the scene. The would be robbers were placed under arrest and Serenity was promptly disarmed and restrained.

"What are you doing, let me go," she cried but her pleas fell on deaf ears. No doubt the humans merely saw a Sudari with a weapon and thought her to be a danger. She struggled against their grasp which proved to be just as foolish and futile as trying to ignore the bank robbery. One of the police officers stunned her with a taser and she fell limply into the awaiting arms of her captors. She was placed into a separate squad car from the bank robbers and both vehicles raced off into the night...

**********

Serenity found herself sitting in a room for what seemed like hours. They had her seated in one of the only two chairs in the room while her hands were handcuffed to the table. She examined her restraints and even tried pulling on them to no avail. She was growing impatient, she knew the humans were just going to throw her in jail she just hoped they'd come in here and get it over with. Then, as if on queue, the door to the room finally opened and a man entered. Much to her surprise he didn't appear to be dressed like a cop and he held a datapad in front of him which he was watching intently.

"Hmm," he said, "magnificent."

He crossed over to the table and set the datapad down on its surface. Serenity leaned over and saw that the device was displaying security feeds of the failed bank heist and her battle against the robbers. "I must ask you, Serenity," the man said and the girl was a bit surprised at the use of her name, "Where did you learn to fight like that?"

Serenity leaned back in her chair and looked away. "That's none of your business."

The man seemed disappointed but he set that aside for the moment. "That is quite an interesting bow you have. Did you design it yourself?"

Serenity said nothing and the man let out a soft exhale. "I know you have many reasons to distrust humans, Serenity, but I am not your enemy. In fact I am here with one very specific purpose. I would like to extend you an invitation to Avalon."

The wolf girl scoffed at him, her tail swishing back and forth. "You want me to attend a school for humans," she asked with just a hint of venom in her voice.

"No," the other said patiently, "I want you to attend a school for warriors. If the Sudari Revolution has taught us anything it's that we need to reconsider how we interact with other species. So, starting now Avalon will be accepting applications from everyone regardless of what species they belong to or what planet they grew up on. You will be the first of many non-humans to attend classes at Avalon, the dawn of a new era, so to speak. Our only goal is to instruct men and women capable enough to protect our universe from the encroaching darkness. There's no reason why we should keep that knowledge to ourselves."

Serenity stared at the man in wonder. "Who are you," she asked.

"Thaddicus Zorander," he replied with an extravagant bow, "Headmaster of Avalon."

He straightened back up and pinned her with those keen eyes of his. "So," he said, "what do you say?"

Serenity could only stare at him. Not trusting her voice she silently nodded. Thaddicus clapped his hands together triumphantly. "Excellent," he said and then he called in an officer to set her free. As they were undoing her handcuffs from the table Serenity briefly wondered if she had made the right choice...

**********

The planet Alexandria,
Avalon Academy


The transport settled onto the open field before the magnificent Avalon Academy. Looking at the incredible structure through the window of the massive ship Serenity had to admit that the humans knew how to build such beautiful buildings. She tore her eyes away from the scene and looked around the main cabin of the ship. She was the only nonhuman on the transport which didn't surprise her. Thaddicus did say she would be the first, she just hoped he wasn't lying about there being more. For the most part she tried to keep to herself around the humans. She did get a wary stare every now and again but everyone seemed intent on just ignoring her, which suited her just fine. She wanted nothing to do with humans, which left her wondering why she had even agreed to this in the first place.

Serenity and the other first year students were permitted to leave the transport once the engines had subsided. With nothing better to do the young wolf girl followed the throng of people onto the main campus of Avalon. Just looking at it now the place seemed even bigger than before. The main building of the school, which bore an odd resemblance to the pictures of old human cathedrals she had seen on the holonet, stretched into the sky for as far as she could see and the campus itself was just as big. It was like a small city unto itself, situated on a high cliff on one of the most beautiful planets in the galaxy. If nothing else the scenery alone made this entire trip worth it.

A soft murmuring from somewhere near her drew her attention back down to earth. A few of the older students were watching her, eyeing her furry, brown ears and tail. The looks they gave her were full of distrust and smug superiority and they served as further reminders of why Serenity hated humans. She quickly passed them by, hurrying on her way towards the main building. She was about halfway there, stopping briefly by a magnificent fountain in the main courtyard when she suddenly realized she had no idea where she was supposed to go. She fumbled around in her meager belongings until she found her admittance sheet and she held it up to look at it. Various data scrolled along the sides and bottom of the thin flimsy but nothing seemed to tell her where she was supposed to go.

"Great," she muttered quietly to herself, "am I supposed to go to the dorms first or somewhere else?"

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:01 pm

"Are you sure the coast is clear?"

'Yes,' came the reply. The word was colored with a touch of arrogance and carried a long-suffering sigh at being asked the same question again.

Whistling tunelessly under his breath, the first speaker hunched his shoulders further as he huddled over a keyboard. His fingers flew over the keys, bypassing security measures and slipping through electronic back doors. He pulled up another window on the monitor, allowed the two girls with him to look over the menu options as if it were a shopping list. The older girl, a Celonian, narrowed her jet black eyes and tapped a laquered fingernail against the screen. "That one, that one, and that one."

The boy, Adder, nodded at the first two selections and grumbled at the third. "Why that one?"

Smirking colorless lips, the girl called Hornet laid her other hand on his shoulder. "Because if we don't pull at least one dull core class, it's going to look more than a little suspicious. The idea is to successfully splice our class schedules, not get hauled into the administrator's office and land suspensions on the first day. Besides," she continued, straightening up from the monitor and running a hand over the long braided tail of her hair. "I happen to like political science."

"Makes one of us," Adder muttered but punched in the options to finish building Hornet's schedule. He left himself out of that class, put himself in metalworking. Then he turned to the other girl, arched an eyebrow in question. In response, she leaned forward and tapped a knuckle against the screen. 'Those three.' Though her lips hadn't moved, the words rang clearly in both Adder and Hornet's minds. "Chemistry for the core class, inter-species cultural communication, and free-running." Adder nodded and finished building up her schedule.

"Sure you don't want to take interpretive dance?"

In answer, Silence glared and sent a mental bolt, much like a static shock into Adder.

"Ow! Damned females can't take a joke." He rubbed his temple a minute then yelped again when Hornet cuffed him on the ear. "We do like jokes. When you finally get around to making one, we'll be sure to appreciate it properly."

"Yeah, yeah." Working more quickly now, he extricated himself from Avalon's scheduling system, being sure to cover his tracks carefully. His cracking skills were one of the reasons why he'd been selected to come to the Academy. As such, he felt almost an obligation to make sure he stayed in top form. It certainly kept the faculty on their toes. Once he was out of the mainframe, he brought up a final screen and downloaded the finished schedules. The trio would share the bulk of their time together but for appearances and personal amusement they had each selected a class or two to attend solo. They tried to be subtle in their antics. Most of the time.

"I would hardly call that prank on Lectus Blackthorne last week 'subtle'," Silence commented, picking up the thought string from her companion.

"Cut that out," he complained in response but without any heat. The three of them had been together too long for any of them to mind Silence's constant connection to their surface thoughts. "And," he pointed out, "I didn't think we were subtle all the time. Where would the fun be in that?" Shutting down the computer system, Adder hefted his shoulder bag and motioned for them all to make tracks before a hall aide came through. "Anyways, I'm sure his eyebrows will grow back. Eventually."

Hornet snorted and tossed her stinger-like braid back over her shoulder. "One can hope so." Then by mutual agreement, they decided to head over to the rec room for some down time. Once classes started, all the students would have little time to spare for leisure activities. Rounding the second corner that would take them towards the south wing, Silence picked up a thought string coming from just up ahead. Normally she shielded herself from the constant barrage of people's mundane internal monologues, but something about this one pricked at her awareness.

"Hold up," she signaled then spun in a slow circle, homing in on the thought path like a Prisha-Moth seeking a flame. When her eyes lit upon the young wolf-girl, Silence arched an eyebrow in curiosity. "What do you hear?" Hornet asked, following Silence's gaze and becoming a little curious herself.

"New student. Lost and already getting quite the welcome from some of the other students." And if there was one thing Silence understood, it was being a misfit. "Come on." And without waiting to see if her companions followed, she strode up to the wide-eyed girl.

"Looking for somewhere in particular?" Hornet asked when they came within speaking distance. Hornet gave her a cool smile. "It took us a few days of getting lost before we got our bearings around here."
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:29 pm

Serenity could smell them getting closer before they actually spoke. Thinking they were like the other humans who looked at her with distrust she considered hurrying away from them but decided against it. She didn't want to seem like a coward on her first day. What they said to her, though, surprised her. They seemed, what was the word? Nice? Serenity wasn't used to that kind of greeting from humans.

She turned around and immediately her heart fell. The one who had addressed her was not human at all. She was Celonian. The other two with her, though... "I would be looking for somewhere in particular if I knew what to look for," she said, holding up the flimsi they had handed her upon boarding the shuttle, "They weren't exactly helpful."

"It's part of the training," Hornet explained, "Something about seeing how you deal with uncertainty, how you move through unfamiliar places and handle strange people."

Serenity sighed. If this was some kind of test she would have failed it completely had these three not chosen to talk to her. Her first inclination was to avoid talking to anyone. Or course even more unnerving than that was the implication the staff were always watching them. At least the first years, that is.

"Fine," she said, "Then do you know where I'm supposed to go?"

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:38 am

Touchy little thing, Hornet thought at her companion, her eyes skimming over the class schedule she'd been handed.

"Twitchy," Silence corrected. Her clear gray eyes warmed a little in memory. "No worse than us when we first dropped here. Besides, she doesn't have anyone else like we do, Honoria."

The Celonian huffed a bit and rolled her gaze toward her. Hornet intensely disliked her namesake, which of course meant that her friends used it whenever they wanted to needle her. Still picking up strays, Silence? She's not a wayward kitten you've found abandoned in a gutter. She turned her attention back to the wolfling, handed back the schedule.

"Core classes are in the morning, electives in the afternoon. Each wing is divided up into categories - science, math, technology, humanities, gymnasium, and so forth. You should download a map onto your schedule. These things have a built in GPS navigator that can plot your location onto the layout. Sure it makes you feel like a toddler just out of nappies," she winked. "But it keeps you from walking into a janitor's closet."

Adder rumbled a laugh and folded his arms across his wide chest. Topping out at over six feet, he had a large frame suited to wrestling or boxing. He had indulged in both, but like his nickname, he wasn't particularly aggressive unless threatened. Then all bets were off. "And it keeps you from starving at chow time," he put in as his brown eyes light with humor. "Speaking of the necessities, dorm rooms are up that stairway," he indicated, jerking a thumb back over his shoulder. "The cantina is straight down that corridor to your left. Library to your right. You'll find common-access computer terminals there."

"Don't forget the rec hall," Silence chimed into the conversation. "That's where most of the students hang out. It's a pretty shiny setup."

"Don't be scared," Hornet cautioned at the expression on the wolfling's face. "You'll get used to it if you stick here very long. That voice in your head was Silence." She laid a pale hand on her friend's shoulder. "She can't speak but makes up for it by reading thoughts and speaking directly into your mind. This bear of a man is Adder." He touched a fingertip to his forehead in a lazy salute. "And I'm Hornet."

"Also don't worry that I'll be rummaging through the deep recesses of your mind," Silence added. "I don't like prying. I just have my internal radio tuned to surface thoughts, so to speak. Not really much different than that background drone of voices when you're standing in a crowded room."
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:10 am

"Um, right," Serenity replied. A voice in her head, it felt--unnatural. She'd never seen or heard of a telepath before and briefly she wondered if there were any more at this school.

"There isn't," Silence answered her unspoken question.

Serenity resisted the urge to snarl at her. She didn't like the idea of someone being in her head, even if she was reading only surface thoughts. There were things about her past she didn't want anyone finding out and being around this telepath immediately put her on guard.

"Serenity," she said suddenly and the others looked at her curiously. "That's my name," she explained.

"Wait a minute, aren't you the Sudari that stopped the bank robbery," Adder asked her.

Serenity looked away. Recognition was another thing she wasn't very used to. "It's why I'm here," she told them, "Though, I'm still not sure I'm in the right place."

There were far more humans here than other species and though Thaddicus promised there would be more she had to wonder at what kind of greeting they would receive. Humans rarely got along with anyone outside of their own species. Their sudden elevation to space travel caused quite the stir in the galaxy and many wars have been fought over the years. Now it seemed that things were beginning to settle down and many looked forward to a time of peace. Only there was yet another concern looming on the horizon that was far more dangerous than warmongering humans.

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:15 pm

"From what I've seen, the people who run this place don't seem to be the kind that make mistakes. At least not of that nature." Hornet shrugged off the matter as inconsequential. "In the end, you're here now in any case. Might as well make the best of it."

"There's the truth of it," Adder nodded. "And besides, there's worse situations than a warm bed and three squares a day. Even if it does mean sitting through some boring lectures. Come on, we're headed to the Rec Hall for a bit, scope out the competition so to speak."

Silence smirked and shifted the canvas bag strap to a more comfortable position on her shoulder. "Scope out the females, you mean." She drilled a finger into his bicep. "Just behave yourself. My ears are still wringing from the tongue-lashing that brunette gave you last week."

Adder just grinned irrepressibly. "Maybe if I had better wingmen I wouldn't get shot down so much."

"Maybe if you stopped getting your pickup lines from bathroom wall tiles, you wouldn't get slapped so much."

He rolled his eyes at Hornet. "Hey, some of them weren't too bad. And I point out that most of them are original."

"Original, yet still a far ways off from successful." Silence tossed her silvery blonde hair out of her eyes and smiled gamely at Serenity. "If you'd rather dump your stuff at the dorms first, you can meet us there."
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:04 pm

"I don't actually have much, just this," she said, gesturing to her bow.

"In that case care to join us in the rec room," Adder asked.

"I--," Serenity started, she had every intention to refuse them but then she said something that even surprised herself, "suppose."

"Great, it's this way," Adder said then he threw his arm and her shoulders and started to direct her.

Serenity glared at his hand dangling from her shoulder and was about to say something but Hornet beat her to it.

"Hey buzz off, hotshot," she said, shoving him away from Serenity.

"Alright, alright," Adder said holding up his hands and backing away from Hornet.

Serenity just blinked at them. What just happened?

"Come on," Hornet said to her as she nodded towards the school and the four of them started walking towards the rec room.

As expected the place was crowded. There were plenty of students in there studying, some playing games while others chatted amongst themselves. Serenity got caught up in watching two students playing a human game they had called "Ping-Pong." So far as she could tell the goal of the game was to hit the ball until someone missed. Close by there was a lot of chanting going on as a group of students were huddled around two boys who were arm wrestling. The boy who was winning seemed to be the one everyone was cheering for and they were calling his name.

"Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy!"

The other boy tried to hold his own as best as he could but he was clearly no match for Roy and it wasn't long until he lost. There was a final round of cheering as Roy stood up and triumphantly raised his hands. Then his gaze fell on Adder and his group before finally resting on Serenity. "I knew you kept strange company, Adder, but I didn't know you liked mangy dogs too," he said.

"Back off, Roy, she's new."

"They're letting dogs into this school now," Roy continued, "I thought this place was a school for the elite."

"Roy--," Adder started but Serenity interrupted him.

"Interesting game," she said, gesturing towards the table where the other boy was still seated. "Mind if I play the winner?"

Roy glanced at the table and laughed. "Sure, why not. Kicking your ass should be amusing."

He sat down at the table again as the other boy stood to permit Serenity to take his place. Roy put his elbow on the table and held his hand out to her and Serenity did the same. They clasped their hands together and another boy held their arms in place as he counted to three.

"Three, two, one, go," he said and Roy suddenly pushed down on Serenity's hand with all his might.

The wolf girl seemed to struggle as her hand edged closer and closer to the surface of the table. All around her people were shouting Roy's name and throwing Sudari slang insults around. The cheering got louder as her hand fell closer to the table then it stopped. Serenity stopped pretending to struggle and held her hand steady. Roy looked at her in surprise, still pushing with as much might as he could muster but seemingly unable to beat her. Serenity smiled then and a faint aura surrounded her body, growing brighter. Suddenly she pushed against Roy's hand with so much force that when it slammed against the surface of the table it smashed the piece of furniture into pieces. Everyone stepped back including Roy to avoid getting splinters in their eyes.

"You cheated," Roy shouted at her, "You used your zeal."

"This is a school for warriors, is it not," Serenity asked calmly, finally getting out of her chair to look him in the eye. She stood nearly a foot shorter than him but her bearing outweighed his. "Shouldn't a warrior utilize every resource at her disposal to achieve victory? It's your own fault you lost."

Roy growled at her then he balled his fist and took a step towards her.

"That's enough," Candra Moravcsik, assistant to the Dean said as she entered the room. "Break this up now."

Roy looked to her then glared at Serenity. "This isn't over, dog," he said to her and then he and his entourage of loyal friends left the room.

Once he had gone Candra turned to Serenity. "And you," she said, "clean this up. I'll not have you causing any trouble around here." And with that she stormed off, leaving Serenity, Adder and the rest all standing around the shattered table...

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:41 am

Silence looked down at the splinters and rubble with a bland expression. "You sure do know how to make friends." She toed what was left of a table leg with her boot.

"Not exactly a team-building experience," Hornet commented then shrugged as she went off to find a broom and dustpan.

Adder ran a knuckle along his jaw, a thoughtful look in his eyes. "There's a fine line in this place, Kitling. Sure you have a point in combat, where the winner stays alive and the loser becomes worm food. And I won't insult your intelligence by pointing out that we're all supposed to be on the same team here. But if you don't want to get kicked out on the next bus or ambushed the next time you're in the showers by yourself, you're going to have to learn to not only walk that line but dance down it blindfolded." He grinned down at the wolf girl. "Kitling, ever hear of 'subtlety'?"

"Adder, you're as subtle as an elephant at a tea party." Silence shook her head. "Be that as it may, he has a point, Serenity. Fly under the radar for a bit, gauge your ground before you start flinging your energy around. You give away your edge when start swatting flies like Roy with a tank grenade. It broadcasts to everyone what you're capable of and what you're willing to do."

Hornet returned with a couple brooms, handed one to Serenity and Adder. To Silence she gave a heavy-weight garbage bag to hold open. "Well put. Now let's get this cleaned up because it's interfering with my very valuable schedule of indolence."

"Yeah, yeah." Adder leaned over, whispered conspiratorially to Serenity. "Despite what you may assume from her attitude, Hornet will always choose to walk over run."

The woman in question snorted, hearing the comment perfectly. "I happen to be a great proponent of conserving energy."

"Nap time is a sacred ritual in Honoria's personal philosophy."

Instead of replying, Hornet swatted Silence with the business end of her broom.
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Pryde
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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:47 pm

Serenity wordlessly accepted the broom from Hornet and began sweeping up the splinters. She listened to the others as they talked but said very little herself. She suspected had she been anyone else their words of counsel might have seemed like wisdom, but she was a Sudari. She was on everyone's radar the moment she set foot in this school. It wasn't that long ago the Sudari Revolution had finally ended and ever since then many civil rights groups and Sudari extremist have been causing trouble for the Terran Alliance. Sudari were still seen as second class citizens and the comparison to animals and beasts was all too common. It didn't help matters much that many Sudari resorted to violence in an effort to be heard, which only proved the comparison true. "Tame the beasts," had become a rallying cry for the humans. That's what they thought of the Sudari and that is why Serenity had such a strong determination to prove herself. These humans here, they wouldn't understand. Even Hornet, a Celonian, had received better treatment from the humans than the Sudari whose solar system-spanning empire was long ago absorbed into the Terran Alliance. At least the Celonians still retained their autonomy.

"Who is Roy?" Serenity said finally, interrupting the quiet conversation between Silence and the others.

"Just some hotshot," Adder said, "Thinks he's God's gift to humanity. Don't get me wrong, though, he's really good but he's still an ass."

"He's also very popular," Hornet added, "and in a position to make your life miserable around here. Crossing him probably wasn't the best idea."

Serenity fell silent again, staring at the pile of wood on the floor. So, basically Roy's the pack leader and I just made enemies out of the entire group, she thought. That suited her just fine, she didn't come here looking to make friends. Though, when she stopped to think about it why did she come here? What made her say yes? Was it the possibility of acceptance that drove her? Thaddicus was the first person to talk to her as an equal. She had to admit she wasn't ready for that. Truth be told she still wasn't ready, the way Silence and the others talked to her, she didn't know what to think of it. Within seconds it was like she had become part of the group and she couldn't figure out why. She was a complete stranger, but more than that she was a Sudari but none of that seemed to matter to them. It was frustrating to say the least trying to predict what these humans would do next. She had at one point thought she had them all figured out but now she wasn't so sure.

Shaking her head to clear it she went back to work cleaning up the remains of the table and in a few moments the floor had been cleared of all debris. Serenity stood off to one side with Silence as Hornet and Adder disposed of the last bits of the table. Serenity had a puzzled look on her face but she kept her confusion to herself and didn't say anything to the others.

**********

Candra entered the Dean's office and found Thaddicus standing in his usual spot by the window overlooking the campus. He would often stand there watching the students below and occasionally using the sopisticated electronics built into the glass to zoom in on their faces. Right now he had focused in on four students who happened to be walking by and his eyes settled on the wolf girl who walked among them. Something was troubling her, he could tell and her tail had this odd twitch to it. He had heard about the ruckus she caused in the rec room but he wasn't concerned about it. Thaddicus had prided himself on being an excellent judge of character and many of his students had been handpicked for this school while others had paid their way in. Roy was part of the latter, but Serenity... He wanted her to be here despite his staff urging him to have her barred from enrollment.

"The Sudari girl is trouble," Candra said candidly as she stepped up behind the Dean, "Inviting her to the school was a risk you should not have taken."

Thaddicus rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Your opinion's been noted, Candra, thank you."

A shadow cast over her face. "Just what exactly is your obsession with her?"

He paused a moment from his rubbing and ran his fingers along the glass over Serenity's image then sighed. "She's an enigma," he said, "A former member of the Wolf Pack and now not."

Candra's eyes widened. The Wolf Pack was a Sudari terrorist organization responsible for several recent attacks that were carried out against human owned organizations. The most recent of which resulted in thirteen deaths, the first time a Wolf Pack attack has turned to bloodshed. "But they don't--," she started and Thaddicus nodded.

"I know," he said, "but they did. They let her go and I want to know why..."

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:32 pm

The next morning all the first years were gathered up and shuttled out to a remote part of the planet. The ship set down just outside a dark, forboding forest and looking at it from the view port of the shuttle Serenity felt a chill run down her spine. She glanced over at Roy and his friends who were standing nearby. Roy kept eyeing her from a distance when he thought she wasn't looking and she had a feeling he was going to try something during today's initiation. As soon as the engines shut down the boarding ramps opened and the students were led outside. They stood in a single row as Candra stepped in front of them to address the group.

"Today's initiation is simple," she began, "Your goal for this exercise is to reach the other side of the forest, that's it. Lunch and transportation back to the school will be provided to you once you have reached the other side. For those of you who don't make it... Well, pray that you do," she said ominously, "The forest is filled with dangerous creatures so be on your guard. You may work in teams if you wish to reach your goal and I highly suggest that you do. Anyone caught out there alone may not live to regret it. You have all shown you have the skills necessary to be a part of this prestigious academy, now's the part where you prove it. Begin!"

The gathered students took off at a run into the forest, many of them forming teams as they went. As expected the other students gave her a wide berth, not a single one of them offered to team with her and she headed into the forest alone. Meanwhile back in the academy the second through fourth years were gathered in the rec room and various places throughout the school. Every year they made it a tradition to broadcast freshman initiation for the rest of the school through the use of small, unmanned drones the size of a small coin. Candra Moravscik had made a big deal about this initiation being dangerous and it certainly was but they had Guardians on standby at various intervals should they be needed. They've had many grievous injuries in this initiation but no deaths and the failures of the first years served to remind the other students of the dire need of well trained Guardians to battle the encroaching darkness. It also gave the students a chance to scope out the new talent, many of whom they would be working with or against throughout the year but for any of these students to make it that far they would have to first survive initiation...

**********

Serenity had been walking through the forest for hours. She had gone far enough now that she could no longer hear or smell anyone else around her. She tried to listen to the sounds of the forest as she walked but pinpointing the source of certain sounds proved difficult. The professor wasn't kidding when she said the forest was crawling with creatures any one of which could be stalking her right now. There were sounds coming from all around her, strange snarls and growls and the occasional howl. At one point she could have sworn she felt the hotness of someone's breath on her neck but when she turned to look there was nothing there. Then she sensed it, a familiar smell was getting closer, one Serenity had fully expected to run into out here so it came as no surprise when Roy and his cadre of friends appeared out of the brush.

"I told you this wasn't going to be over between us, Dog," he spat at her, "My friends and I still have something to say about that little stunt you pulled yesterday."

The wolf girl stood up straight and lowered her bow but she said nothing.

"What's that? No witty remark? No comeback? What's the matter, Dog? Cat got your tongue."

He stepped forward and snatched the bow out of her hands before tossing it aside. Serenity continued to glare at him defiantly completely unfazed by his threats. "You know I could snap you in two with my bare hands, right," he whispered into her ear.

Serenity closed her eyes and turned her head aside, disgusted by the smell of his breath. "Nothing you say or do will ever break me, Roy," she said finally.

Roy took a step back. "Oh we'll see about that," he said and then he delivered a punch to her cheek that sent her sprawling backwards. She hit the ground hard, rolling completely over herself before landing on her stomach. Two of Roy's friends came forward then and placed their hands beneath her shoulders, forcibly hauling her to her feet. Serenity didn't struggle against their grasp and instead fixed Roy with that same fearless glare of hers that infuriated him so much.

"Stop looking at me like that," he shouted and then he punched her three more times, twice in the stomach and once in the face.

Serenity doubled over but couldn't fall. She leaned against the grasp of the two boys holding her and gasped for air but made no move to fight back or struggle. Roy just stared at her then nodded to his two friends who let her go. She crumbled to the ground and Roy knelt next to her, lifting her head with one hand.

"You're not going to fight back, are you?" He said, "Obviously you're not weak and I know you're not afraid. Your kind is too stupid to be scared. So what is it? You trying to prove you're better than us, is that it? A dog should know her place."

He glanced up at a boy standing near him. "Break the bow," he said and the boy nodded.

"You bastard," Serenity shouted and then her eyes widened.

In the wake of the sound of her voice echoing off the trees Roy could hear a loud snarl coming from somewhere behind him. He stared at Serenity whose eyes were looking up, up and still further up at something he couldn't see. Realization dawned on him and he felt a cold shiver run down his spine. Slowly he turned and there standing before him was the largest werewolf he had ever seen. The beast roared at him then swatted him aside like a fly. The rest of Roy's friends scattered, some of them tried to stand and fight to save Roy while others just ran. Those that stayed paid for it with similar treatment as that which was given to Roy. Soon the boys were a mess, tossed about and scrambling for their discarded weapons. The werewolf turned its gaze back on Roy again and surged forward, massive claws raised over its head ready to strike. Roy closed his eyes before the inevitable blow fell but when nothing happened he opened them again.

Standing over him he saw the form of the wolf girl using her zeal to hold the beast back. The monster pushed down on her with all its might, forcing the girl to one knee. Finally it raised its arms again to smash down on her and she quickly rolled out of the way as the beast smashed the ground, raising dirt and rock into the air. She rushed forward then, her zeal out in front of her like a shield and she rammed into the beast, forcing it backwards. She followed up the charge with a series of punches and kicks that did little to faze the monster. A claw came swinging out of nowhere and swatted her aside. She flew backwards, striking the ground before rolling backwards onto her feet. With a surge of energy she leapt forward, both hands extended out in front of her. She hit the monster in the head and knocked it over but did little damage to stop it.

"Dog," she heard Roy cry and turned just in time to see him toss her bow at her. She jumped into the air and snatched it up before pulling it apart to brandish her swords. By now the beast had climbed to its feet and charged at her. Serenity dodged to the side to avoid one attack and cut with her left sword along the monster's wrist then she swung her right sword in an arc to redirect the werewolf's next attack. The beast roared with anger and she stepped forward inside its reach and slashed it across its belly, using the momentum of her strike to spin about and stabbed it with her other sword. The blade bit deep but failed to kill the wolf and it wrapped its arms around her, pulling her into a bear hug while opening its mouth wide to bite her head off. Serenity cried out against the force of the hug crushing her body. Then a sudden blow from behind caused the wolf to drop her before it spun and swatted at Roy with one massive hand. Roy blocked the attack with his weapon but the force of it still sent him flying.

By now Serenity had regained her feet and when the wolf turned back to her she charged forward. Her zeal surrounded her in a bright aura and she leapt into the air, putting all of her energy into one massive attack. She kicked the hilt of the sword still jutting out from the monster's chest and the force of her attack caused the weapon to burst completely through the monster's chest leaving a massive hole behind. The weapon flew forward and embedded itself into a tree behind the wolf as the monster fell limply to the ground. Wordlessly Serenity stepped forward and retrieved her lost weapon from the tree. She stuck both of her swords back together into the bow then turned to meet Roy's gaze. He stared at her in shock but neither of them said anything. Then, without so much as a goodbye, Serenity spun on her heel and stalked off into the forest...

**********

Thaddicus Zorander had a smug little smirk on his face as he turned to leave the room. He was with the gathered students at the auditorium during the beginning of the initiation and had decided he'd seen enough. He was certain that little display by Serenity would quiet most of the opposition against her, but he didn't doubt that some of the older staff members would fail to be swayed by her actions. Many of them were stubborn old-timers who had lived through the rough patches leading up to the Sudari Revolution. Roy was a little shit and easily predictable. Thaddicus knew he would try something during the initiation but did nothing to stop it. The result of his actions, though, couldn't have turned out better than he hoped.

Clearly there was more to this Sudari girl than she let on. There were depths to her personality that he was only now beginning to scratch the surface of. She had obviously left the Wolf Pack for a reason immediately following their last attack. That followed by her actions at the bank robbery where she managed to take down four armed assailants without killing them spoke volumes about her character. And today, Thaddicus was certain now that he had been right about her all along...

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:39 pm

"This is certainly going to be an interesting year," Adder predicted. He tossed a piece of popcorn up in the air before catching it with his mouth. "Can't say I'm surprised about Roy."

Hornet hummed in agreement as she snitched a piece of popcorn for herself. "I would have been surprised had he not tried a foolish stunt. But the kit still has a lot to learn. At least she has a keen mind to go with the physical prowess." She glanced over at Silence just as the other girl flicked a piece of popcorn. And watched as it bounced off her nose. Laughing, Hornet handed her another piece. "Three months practice and you still can't get it."

Unconcerned at her failure, Silence shrugged. 'At least it's less dangerous than juggling. My toe is still bruised from when I dropped that ducat ball on it.'

Adder shushed both of them and pointed toward the screen. "Check it out. New guy over there behind that tree. I didn't see him on any of the arrival shuttles."

Silence shifted her gaze over to the third panel. 'Can't say I recognize him, either. Serenity is about to make friends with him though.'
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:30 pm

Serenity was still fuming over Roy as she carefully made her way through the underbrush. She wanted to hit him so hard but she couldn't. She left the Pack for a reason, she didn't believe in their methods anymore. Not since she... She shook her head to clear it, no, I can't think about that. Her part in the most recent attack still haunted her. Thirteen people killed because of her actions. She swore it would never happen again.

Still, letting Roy get the drop on her like that. How did he get so close without her noticing? Was she distracted? She couldn't let her senses dull now. That werewolf meant business and he wasn't easy to take down. She used a lot of her zeal to finish him off and she was still a long ways off from the other side of the forest. I just need to..., she stopped suddenly. The whiff of something caught her attention and she quickly spun around. In an instant an arrow was set to the string of her bow and the weapon drawn.

"Who's there," she called out into the darkness.

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by VagueDurin » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:45 am

A rustling sound nearby caused Serenity's bow to travel in its direction, only for her to find nothing. She swung the weapon back to face where she'd originally smelt something and found a young man standing there, arms held loosely out to his sides. He as of average height and build, and wore a long sleeved and hooded jacket.

"I'd say a friend, but we both know the likelihood of finding one of those here at this place." He spoke, pausing for a long moment before nodding towards the bow. "I'm sure you're plenty strong enough to keep hold of that string... but I'd surely feel better if the pointy bit was aimed someplace else..." He added.
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

"And for one last instance, I'm Human again." - Sergeant Ghost

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:55 am

Serenity held the bow in place a moment longer before she finally lowered it. Then she turned her back on the boy and started to walk away.

"You don't talk much, do you," the boy observed.

"Not to humans," Serenity shot back, stopping in her tracks but keeping her back to him.

The young man frowned and cocked his head to the side. "You know, for someone who hates humans so much you sure don't show it."

Serenity closed her eyes and sighed. "You saw?" The boy nodded though she could not see it. She already knew what the answer was and she was mentally berating herself for it. If he had been close enough to see the altercation with Roy how could she not have noticed something? A scent, a sound, anything? This boy was good at keeping himself hidden, so why slip up now?

"What do you want?"

"Do I have to want anything?"

"Humans usually do," Serenity answered, finally turning back to look at him. "Just who are you?"

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by VagueDurin » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:17 pm

The boy's head tilted a bit inside of the hood, as if he was studying something about her. The silence following her question dragged on long enough that she prepared to turn away in frustration, though before she could he disappeared in a cascade of blue-green dust. As Serenity began to contemplate what she'd just witnessed, he spoke again from somewhere behind and high above her.

"My name is Devlin Sheehy, but folks usually call me Glyph." He spoke, pulling the hood off of his head to expose sharp facial features, pale skin, freckles and dark as night black hair. "Sorry for the deception, one can never be too careful." He was propped between a sturdy branch and the trunk of a tree, several meters above Serenity, looking down at her with keen grey eyes.
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:11 pm

"A magic user, great," she muttered to herself, not really caring if he could hear her or not.

Despite her obvious lack of enthusiasm she had to admit that this was a bit fortuitous. She had not expected any help or acknowledgement from the others so this whole situation was a complete surprise to her. It also provided her with an opportunity. She still needed to make it to the other side of the forest and not knowing how far that was or how long it might take could prove fatal. Her entanglement with the werewolf left her tired and any trained observer could see that her zeal was dwindling. If this boy was willing she could use his help. She was in no condition to continue fighting on her own.

"Since you're here," she said aloud, "I don't suppose you know which direction we should go?"

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by VagueDurin » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:57 am

A lopsided smirk slowly crawled its way across Glyph's face. He was used to a certain level of prejudice. There was the typical animosity from non-magic users, obviously, but more than that Glyph hailed from a far less-to-do area and descended from a far less affluent family than most of the folks at this academy cared to associate with. She'll come around... He thought to himself before nodding his head.

Years of fending for himself on the streets of a sprawling urban jungle had honed his sense of direction to a very sharpened edge. The teen carefully removed himself from the tree and while maintaining a safe distance from Serenity, Glyph gathered his bearings. It took just a moment before he pointed off in a direction that wasn't too far away from the one she'd been traveling. "This way." He spoke before starting off with deliberate steps that made not even a whisper in the forest around them.
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

"And for one last instance, I'm Human again." - Sergeant Ghost

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:21 pm

Serenity followed quietly behind the boy as he led the way through the trees. She wasn't really all that fond of magic users, not many people were. The amount of time they spend in quiet contemplation to attune themselves to their crystals made many of them--quirky. Attunement required a focused mind and a great deal of concentration and should one's concentration ever break then the process would have to be started over or, in a worst case scenario, the crystal might become dormant. Attunement was such an involved process that many people had made a ritual out of it. Some of these rituals involved prayer or intricate movements or dance but all that was really needed was for the potential user to quietly sit and focus on the crystal.

The crystals themselves could be harvested from various places throughout the galaxy and each one provided a different kind of power ranging from traditional energy manipulation such as fire and ice or other abilities such as psionics or telekinetics. The exact range of powers is unknown and many of them are quite common and could easily be found in various crystal shops in any major city. Others, crystals that could grant exceptionally powerful abilities, are much more rare. No one really knows how or why these crystals work but several respected individuals posited a few ideas suggesting that the crystals opened up energy pathways in the mind and body that already existed but were never fully developed. Essentially, the crystals unlocked an individual's full potential and once the attunement process was complete the crystal could then be carved and worn around the neck or on a bracelet. Without the crystal the bond could not be completed and the user's powers become dormant. Because of this many particularly brave individuals would have their crystals ground into dust and then tattooed into their skin so they could never be stolen. So far no study has proven that tattooing a crystal could be harmful but many people still had their doubts. Judging from the tattoos she could see on her companion, however, Serenity surmised that Devlin was not one of these individuals.

"So," she said suddenly, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen between them, "did the Dean show up at your jail cell and invite you to Avalon too?"

She knew it was a ridiculous question but considering it was just the two of them in the woods and she knew virtually nothing about this boy she felt the need to pry. She just hoped she didn't sound like an idiot or put him on the defensive by implying she'd been in jail...

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by VagueDurin » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:29 pm

Devlin's gait hitched just slightly as she finished her question, but the boy recovered quickly enough. She doesn't know anything about you, she just met you for crying out loud... he thought to himself. No this couldn't be some sort of a trick or set up... but still... He glanced around their surroundings briefly, as if taking stock, then replied.

"Not.. exactly no." He furrowed his eyebrows slightly as he pondered how best to continue. "No personal invitation from his greatness, at any rate. I uh, used to run with a rough crowd and I ended up on a lot of peoples radar. Some not fun stuff went down and when the dust settled, well, this was the best of the bad places I was given the option of moving to." He knew it was cryptic, but he hoped that she would understand he was simply protecting himself.
"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." - C. S. Lewis

"And for one last instance, I'm Human again." - Sergeant Ghost

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:38 pm

A bad crowd... Serenity knew a little something about that so she could sympathize. "Maybe that's why I chose this place too," she said quietly though it was just loud enough for Devlin to hear. "I was never exactly a, um... 'Good kid', either. All the bad stuff humans say about my kind, a lot of it was earned."

She didn't need nor want to say more than that. Fact was she was kind of surprised she said even that much. That was more information about herself than she'd ever given anyone before. Perhaps it was because she felt some sort of misplaced kinship with this boy. In with the wrong people, doing a lot of bad things, neither one of them were ever really given a fair chance. At least in Serenity's case she grew up in a situation she didn't want to be in and she sort of felt like maybe Devlin had too.

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:34 pm

Celestial City,
The Planet Celeste


"Heaven's blessings on you," Primarch Angelico de La Vallière said as he lowered his head to kiss the forehead of one of his flock. "May the Great Divine watch over you and your family."

The man stuttered a thanks and stepped aside as another walked up behind him, this one a woman. Primarch Angelico repeated the process again and then again for the next person after her until the site of one of his Bishops drew his eye. "I'm sorry, please excuse me," he told the man standing in front of him then crossed the grand chamber over to where his Bishop was standing.

"What news do you bring me," he said in hushed tones.

"We've hit a snag, Your Grace," the man replied, "Construction on the Heaven's Gate is proceeding as planned but it seems we are missing certain, ah... Key components."

"Components," the Primarch asked, raising an eyebrow.

The Bishop nodded. "The substances we are working with are highly volatile. It appears we need some kind of stabilizing agent but the origin and molecular compound of this agent are as yet unknown. We need more resources to research the compound to determine if it can be artificially created, or failing that where it might be found."

The Primarch frowned, this project was already costing the church billions in collections, donations and ill-gotten gains. It helped that the church carried such high favor with the Terran Alliance, but they couldn't borrow from the government directly. Not for something like this. The construction of a Heaven's Gate hasn't been attempted for a hundred years and much about the failure of the last project is still shrouded in mystery. The Terran Alliance would not knowingly support a second attempt to build a device that very nearly destroyed an entire planet.

"You will work with what you have," Angelico replied.

"Excuse me, Your Grace?"

"Our resources are not unlimited, Ser Martin. You will redirect the manpower you need from other projects but I cannot grant you more. Not without raising suspicion."

"I understand, Your Grace," the man answered with a bow. He half turned to leave and then stopped. "Your Grace," he said, "You should also know that you have been invited to preside over the Academy's War Games next month. This year's crop of Guardians appear to have great potential."

Angelico mulled that over a moment. "Thaddicus no doubt extended the invitation himself."

Martin nodded, "He did, Your Grace."

"Then I will be honored," he replied though the expression on his face did not match his words. Angelico didn't trust the Dean of the Guardian academy, he was too smart for his own good. The Guardians who successfully graduated from Avalon were topnotch, to be sure, but it ever felt like Thaddicus was playing some kind of game. The church and the Guardian academies worked closely together to combat the darkness encroaching on the galaxy, but neither Thaddicus nor any of the other Deans knew of the existence of the Heaven's Gate project. Despite that Thaddicus seemed to possess some suspicion about the goings-on of the church and his constant inquiries have often led to Angelico de La Vallière considering having him replaced on a number of occasions.

As the Bishop left Angelico pressed a switch on the device around his wrist and a holographic display appeared in the air above his arm. The War Games were set to coincide with what should have been the first operational tests of the Heaven's Gate, a process that may now have to be delayed due to the issues they were having with the lack of a stabilizing agent. Angelico wanted to be here when the device was first turned on so knowing that the tests would have to be delayed was somewhat of a relief. "Very well, Thaddicus, let us see what your academy has to offer me," he muttered under his breath...

**********

"Watch where you're going," a boy cried as he shoved Cameron aside.

"I'm sorry," Cameron quickly apologized, unable to make eye contact with the larger boy. For as long as he could remember Cameron had always been a shy kid. He didn't have very many friends growing up and went to great pains to avoid interacting with people. He prefered the company of machines, often spending his days and nights laboring away in front of a computer. Not surprisingly he was a skilled hacker and software engineer but more than that he had a natural aptitude for illusion magic, the only reason he was permitted into this academy.

The larger boy and his friends moved on, mocking Cameron and laughing as they went. Cameron ignored them, focusing instead on quieting the thundering beat of his heart. Shakily he got to his feet and followed the crowd into the auditorium. The other students were gathered together to watch the initiation of the first years. Cameron himself was a second year and extremely glad that he wouldn't have to participate in the event again this year. He stood quietly next to a Celonian girl and her friends, a tall, rather athletically built boy named Adder and the girl everyone knew as "the Mute."

Cameron didn't know any of them all that well, he'd only seen them in passing around the campus. They were oddballs too like him, but they were each of them skilled combatants. Something Cameron didn't believe was true of himself. He'd only gotten through the initiation because of luck and truth be told he was surprised to even make it to a second year. He thought for sure the academy would have gotten rid of him by now.

As the action unfolded before him Cameron's eyes darted from one screen to the next. Several students had already been eliminated, Guardians intervening to save them before they had been killed. The others were still making their way through the forest and already there had been quite the display of skill from several participants. Cameron watched them all with a gleam of awe in his eyes. "I wish I could fight like them," he whispered quietly to himself, perhaps not realizing he was speaking aloud...

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Starlight » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:57 pm

"Not many who can fight like a magic user," Adder replied without taking his gaze away from the monitor. "Wonder what other tricks he has up his sleeves."

"Well, whatever they may be, things are certainly going to get more interesting around here." The thought made Hornet purr. The one thing she refused to tolerate in life was boredom.

But Silence had shifted her awareness as she slanted a look sideways. She knew of Cameron, of course. By way of her abilities, she knew practically everyone who lived at the Academy. He hadn't seemed to want contact with her though, so she'd kept a respectful distance. That was also common at the Academy. She was a misfit in a crowd of misfits. Most of the time it didn't bother her; after all, she had Adder and Hornet, two of the best companions and soul-siblings that someone could possibly have. Still, perhaps because of her inability to speak, it was only fitting she be balanced out with an insatiable curiosity about those around her. She loved interactions, social crowds, convivial bodies.

Shifting a little more toward the other student, she smiled a bit and tentatively linked up with his surface thoughts.

'Necessity usually makes the best motivator. To get as good as they are, those two must have endured some pretty rough times. But if you ever want to go a couple practice rounds, we're always looking for new sparring partners.'
My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder,
He carries me away from all my fears;
And when the world threatens to fall asunder,
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.
~Bonnie Lewis

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Re: Leaf on the Wind

Post by Pryde » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:13 am

"S-spar? WIth you?!" Cameron looked shocked. He didn't realize these three could hear him and to make matters even more complicated one even spoke to him. This is the one that can read minds, right? Cameron knew of her power and that made him uncomfortable. Probably made a lot of people uncomfortable, actually, but Cameron most of all. He was shy enough as it is with people who couldn't hear his thoughts.

"I don't... I'm not sure that's such a good idea."

"Why not," Hornet asked, "I've seen you fight, you're not bad."

A compliment? Cameron wasn't use to getting those. He would have said thanks if he didn't believe she was saying that just to be nice. "W-what did you mean earlier? About those two," Cameron said, changing the subject while averting his eyes. There were three people looking at him now and he didn't like that, "Do you know them?"

"Not really," Hornet answered with a shrug, "We met the furry one before but she wasn't much for conversation. Quite the 'people person', if you ask me."

Cameron had a feeling she was being sarcastic. "She caused the incident yesterday, in the lounge," he said, still refusing to meet any of their gazes. "Why do you think she didn't fight back when Roy attacked her? I would have wanted to fight back..." His words trailed off at the end.

Cameron had a run in or two with Roy in the past and he hated him. Roy bullied him their first year together and Cameron always just took the beating, but if he could fight like Serenity... Why didn't she fight back? Why didn't she teach him a lesson?

**********

The two newly formed companions traveled most of the distance to the edge of the forest in silence. Given the dangers all around them it was wiser to keep quiet then to attract attention. Serenity kept her distance from the boy but it wasn't from fear that he might attack her. She just didn't like humans, a feeling that had been programmed into her since the first moment she could remember. Despite everything she had told her father old habits had a way of dying hard.

"Wait," Devlin said suddenly, stopping her in her tracks with a hand on her shoulder.

Serenity's ears perked up as she tried to listen for signs of danger but she couldn't hear anything. A whiff of the air carried no signs of danger and the thick underbrush obstructed her vision out to a few yards. "I don't smell--," she started but Devlin hushed her with a sharp whisper.

The moments dragged on as they waited. Serenity was certain there was nothing there but she notched an arrow just in case. Suddenly there came a rustling among the trees and Serenity drew her bow and aimed in the direction of the sound. A small creature, kind of like a mutated ape, leapt out of the thick brush and bared its fangs. Serenity took it down with an arrow to the eye then quickly spun as more ape-like creatures emerged from the trees. She notched another arrow, drew and let it fly as another ape tried to attack her. This time her arrow struck it in the chest and as she reached back to draw another arrow she noticed that Devlin was no longer with her.

She had no time to think about it, however, as more apes were coming towards her. Quietly swearing under her breath she drew back another arrow and took aim but before she could loose the arrow an ape leapt at her from the side, dragging her to the ground and knocking her bow out of her hands. Where the arrow flew she had no idea but that didn't matter to her much at the moment. One of those apes was right on top of her, wrestling with her, biting at her face as she tried desperately to hold it off. Behind her she caught a glimpse of another ape closing in for the kill. The foul creature reared back on its haunches and prepared to pounce...

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