MAD: Class S (Peregrine x firejay)

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Vala could only nod helplessly at Peggy's deluge of information. She naturally knew that both shoes and feet came in different sizes, which was why most people on the Wastes just made their own. She'd figured that the process at the Turtleback was about normal, but now they were going to have to measure her feet as well? What kind of process did that involve?

But there was nothing that Vala could do about it. She'd just have to follow along with Peggy.

Fortunately for the young woman, the process turned out much more painless than she'd figured. All she'd had to do was put her bare foot down on some sort of pattern on the floor and see where her toes lined up. And, true to Peggy's promise, there was all kinds of shoes at the store. After Vala got over a trace of her raw overwhelm—how much would these shoes be worth if she brought them to trade out in the wastes?—she was surprised to find that this was the easiest process for her in the entire shopping trip. That was because, for once, Vala felt fully able to pick shoes that perfectly lined up with her sensibilities from the Wastes.

She ended up leaving 2Feet with a two pairs of tennis shoes, one blue one tan, and, her new prized possession, black, heavy women's lug sole boots, which she continued to glance at occasionally as they left the store. Of all the things they'd bought on the shopping trip, this was the purchase she was by far the most satisfied with.

Not that it was her paying for it all to begin with. She was really going to have to find some way to thank Aemer for this, in more than just words. Unfortunately, it would likely be hard for the penniless outsider Vala to do something actually meaningful for the prickly Aemer, who grew up in the lavish Tortue Cities, and could likely get anything she needed.

Setting aside the thoughts of Aemer in her head, Vala turned to smile at Peggy. "Thanks again for all your help and guidance today. I don't think I would have been able to get through all of this without you."
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female
Genres
Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
Peggy laughed, and finally tempered the enthusiasm that had seemed to fuel her throughout the day. "Well I'm glad my chatty mouth could be of some use." She lifted a foot to point at Aemer, who was standing beside them. "This bitch never lets me go shopping with her. Says I wear her out or something." Aemer didn't respond to that, and she did in fact, look very worn out, though not from holding the bags, which she'd slung over her shoulder. "I like doing this. It's fun for me." She laughed again, "And I've never had an entire wardrobe to stock before. Usually people just get one or two pieces because they already have things at home. It's been nice spending time with you, Vala. And really, if Aemer is ever mean to you, or even if you just want a friend to talk to, stop by the shop, or give me a beep." She held up her version of the card Aemer had shown Vala earlier, twisting it back and forth in her fingers. "I'm going to assume busyface Aemer hasn't explained everything to you, so quick overview: you can just press the silver button and say my name and it will connect you to me, unless I'm already talking to someone else. I might not respond if I'm working the shop, but my full-time job is flexible, so feel free, any time." She pulled a small pack from her pocket and snapped it open. Inside were several small, circular metal disks with short chains attached to each one. She took one out and pressed it between her fingers, and after just a moment, holographic letters popped out. They read,

"Peggin Dribbs
Painter/Designer
Water colors, oil paintings, book illustrations, digital designs
Contact for estimate"​
She handed it to Vala. "My name. In case you forget."

"Are you done now?" Aemer asked, impatiently, also looking a bit like she was ready to drop, definitely more tired than she had after the battle. "I'm starving."

"Yes, yes." Peggy said impatiently back, poking Aemer in the shoulder. "I'll be out of your hair now. See you later, Vala." She waved and was gone.

~~

Aemer and Vala had some time to blow over the next month. Someone arrived from the city to take Vala's fingerprints and take a few pictures of her, and she received her very own identification card in the mail not long after, already filled with a few contribution points to get her started, since she wouldn't have received her first wages right away. This came with a little instruction booklet, a contact address and assigned password, and a small and rather old electronic to access it with. Aemer helped her access her contact address, and they found a letter from the military already waiting for her.

To: Miss Vala Davans​
Congratulations on your accomplished performance in your first evaluation. Your final time was 9 minutes, 21 seconds, indicating that you successfully passed Stage 3.​
It is clear you possess great technical mastery and fine control over mobile armor units regardless of model, supplemented with a high reaction time and an apparent knack for learning new physical skills. You also successfully managed to divert the influence of Calamar Accumulative Psychological Stress. However, your acute physical instincts are hampered by an equally clear lack of basic knowledge and strategic instinct. Your lack of understanding about the nuanced capabilities of specific mobile armor unit models resulted in your inability to work within the limitations of the system provided to you, and likewise your lack of understanding about the Calamar resulted in some poor strategic decisions that would have cost a lesser driver their life in a similar situation. Fighting effectively requires just as much thought as physical ability.​
In light of your full evaluation, we have decided to promote you to Secondary Rank. Your salary has been subjected to an increase, and you will be granted access to higher level equipment. In conjunction, we are requiring you to take courses over the next year to supplement your understanding of battle strategy, mobile armor capability, and Calamar behavior. These courses will not interfere with your regular duties in battle. We will also be recommending you to attend training sessions with different forms of specialized weaponry. Your class schedule is enclosed.​
Welcome to the Tortue Cities,​
Jillian Shane​
Reserve Battlefield Commander, Superior Training Officer, Vice Chair of the Military Development Committee.​

A little schedule was indeed enclosed, along with a map and detailed descriptions of how to get to each of her classes, and the files for books she would need for her classes. A welcome letter was included, and it included a reassurance that while classes were already underway, the teachers had been notified of her status and would give her individual attention, except for during practical lessons and practices. She was also told she'd be given the month to rest and get used to the city before starting her classes. Upon realizing that Vala was a little slow at reading, Aemer collected her simplest childhood books and essays and demanded Vala go through them to speed up her reading. Aemer had few simple childhood books, most of the ones not assigned by school being about physical therapy, Calamar psychology, war tactics, and other things a normal 8 year old had no business reading, but they did have the advantage of having notes and definitions scrawled into almost every single empty space in each page. The essays and assignments, despite being simpler to read, were almost worse, as at least the first few were written in an extremely shaky hand, and beyond boring descriptions of her day and things she was reading, everything creative was depressing beyond all description, largely consisting of angry rants, dark and poorly written poems, or short stories that were clearly a child's allegories of revenge. The only thing really worth using as practice for reading was a large bookset of short novels about a kid traveling through time with his pet bunny and best friend turned love interest in book 35.

Aemer encouraged her to read aloud if it helped her, but also clearly found it distracting, while she tore through old books and notes for... something. She only really seemed to stop to eat, do her regular bioengineer sims for practice, do stretches and balancing exercises, and watch movies that were either action films or simple animated stories for stress relief. She barely saw the sun in all that time, but seemed to insist on escorting Vala to her first set of classes.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
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Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Without doubt, the month of time that followed Vala’s arrival in the Tortue Cities was the most relaxed month she’d ever spent in her life.

There was no need for her to go searching for food every day. Instead, countless interesting dishes would appear on the table every day as though produced by magic. Vala ate well, and her skinniness gradually filled out, slightly softening the sharp lines of her face and allowing the muscles on her arms and legs to develop.

For the most part, there was also no need to worry about the squid. According to the note she’d received along with her evaluation, Vala had been expecting to need to go back out and fight well before it came time for her to go take classes. A part of her woke up every morning expecting another draft notice to suddenly arrive at her door.

It was only when the stress of waiting got to her and she finally asked Aemer about it that she realized that the squid were normally only able to find and attack the Tortue Cities once every few months. It was simply that the last several attacks had been far too devastating, and the city had lost many people in the war. That was why they suddenly had to start forcibly drafting from among the non-combat citizens when the squid launched a surprise attack, before the next round of trainees had completed their education and could join the war.

With no need to scavenge for supplies or fight, humans or squid, Vala was left at a bit of a loss. She was used to doing, as there was always work to be finished on the Wastes. Rest was simply doing low-effort activities, like patching worn clothes or sorting and repairing scavenged items. For a few days, Vala wandered the house like a restless ghost, before she finally threw herself into studies at Aemer’s prompting.

After all, that was something like her job now. As her review had said, she was not going to be removed from active duty. She was a soldier of the Tortue Cities, and it was her responsibility to protect people from the squid’s attack. Maintaining this beautiful way of life was now her duty, and she had to do whatever she could to prepare herself for that.

Right now, that meant making sure she was ready for school. And that apparently meant improving her reading capability. Vala’s mother had taught her a few words, when they’d had spare time, but it had only been a few letters. What’s more, it had been further distorted by the fact that Vala’s mother had been taught by her own mother, who had likely been taught by her mother. Beyond leaving a few simple notes for others, letters were mostly useless to scavengers.

But that was clearly not the case when it came to education. Vala was rapidly coming to understand how important writing and communication skills were in the Cities, and exactly how much her knowledge paled in comparison. There was nothing for her to do but put in effort until she was adequate.

If nothing else, it was fascinating to get glimpses of Aemer’s childhood among all the books and notes that the other had shoved her way. At first, Vala had almost felt like she was prying into something private, before she reassured herself with the reminder that Aemer herself had given Vala these books. Clearly she was meant to read them, or at least Aemer didn’t consider it an important matter either way.

Of course, among all the learning, she didn’t allow herself to fall out of shape either. Despite Aemer’s assurances, Vala was well aware she’d be going out to the battlefield again soon enough. She maintained her fitness and endurance. In truth, she wished she could get back into the immersive sim again as well, but her only option was the weird little visor Aemer had put on her before. That was little better than watching a movie about mechs in Vala’s opinion, so she didn’t even bother. She’d simply have to wait for another chance when she got to the college.

Among all that, Peggy took her out shopping again a few times. True to her promise, Vala had contacted the other woman shortly after receiving her identification card, and the two chatted occasionally. In all honesty, Vala learned more about life in the Cities from Peggy than she did Aemer, although she still joined the other woman in watching movies on occasion simply for the exposure.

Gradually, step by step, Vala was becoming a true citizen of the Tortue Cities.

The days scrolled by one after another, and, quite abruptly, Vala’s countdown came to an end. She woke up early the day of her first classes, too nervous and excited to go back to sleep. After taking some time to continue to practice her reading skills, Vala took a quick bath, got dressed in a neon patchwork shirt and blue yoga pants, and went downstairs for breakfast.
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female
Genres
Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
Aemer was waiting for her, dressed more properly than she had for a month. When she stayed mostly at home, she wore an odd combination of loose exercise pants and T-shirts with loose sweaters of various styles. Today she had worn a flexible pair of jeans with a plain white T-shirt under a black jacket. She was also wearing the long, leather fingerless glove with the squid design on it she'd worn the first day they'd met, and her hair had been arranged in braids around her head again. She'd already prepared breakfast, but was not interested in eating any herself today. "Your classes will all be in the military complex somewhere, and the people will be all sorts of ages and experience levels. That part of the complex is not exactly open to the public, but your identification card should give you and me access to them."

After Vala had however much of breakfast she could stomach, Aemer took her to her classes extremely early, leading the way with a deftness that spoke of years of familiarity with the complex. Not trusting that other people would be able to help Vala to all of her classrooms, Aemer gave her the approximate lay of the land, and then took her individually to each of the classrooms she'd have to find. There were thankfully few of them, but just in case, Aemer told her, she'd wait for her outside each class and help her moving between them at least for today. She didn't have anything better do, and it had been a while since she'd been out, so she told Vala openly that she'd enjoy this. Then, she finally took Vala to her favorite room in the entire complex: the practice arena. The practice arena was a massive, brightly-lit room with rows of seats for audiences all around the walls, with several screens hanging from the ceiling, dotted over the room. There were multiple bioengineer sims coupled with large, completely immersive sims. The Ross-Ford household had a small immersive sim in its practice rooms, but they were simple and Aemer had been too distracted by Vala's talk of the squid frenzies to bother thinking of putting Vala on either sim again. Probably for the best, really, as she'd monopolized a large white board in one of the rooms her father usually used, and it was covered in nearly incoherent scribbles that would have made most question her sanity.

Beyond immersive sims, what looked like a few full-sized mechs were also waiting to be loaded. These were not actual mechs, but training mechs, powered with batteries instead of core reactors, and with two blunted swords, a flimsy shield, and stiffer controls. While sims were the best when it came to fully training to fight the squid, these training mechs allowed mech drivers to get used to a sense of real consequence to screwing up, and to deal with less ideal mech conditions. Soldiers and students would spar with each other, not considered as useful, but still serving an important function. Even though Aemer cared little for mech-driving, there was something that appealed to her about the feeling of sheer war that seemed to inhabit the space, and watching teams in full on simulated battles on the screens. "This is the practice room." Aemer explained crudely. "Unless a practice battle has been planned by a teacher, each machine is free for anyone in the military to use mostly first come first serve, but your rank impacts your priority level. Higher ranks have higher priority and can push out lower ones even in the middle of using the machine, though that's considered rude. There are a couple other rooms like this that require different permissions or exist for testing new mech models, but this is the general one most people use."

As it was relatively early, very few people were there, but a few of the few who were seemed to recognize Vala and Aemer. "What is she doing with the rookie wonder?" Aemer heard someone loudly whisper, looking straight at them.

Aemer ignored them. "This is where I'll be while you're at your classes, but I'll keep an eye on the time, and come pick you up. If you get out early, you know where I am. Man, has it been a while."

She escorted her back to her first classroom with perhaps too much time to spare, and shooed her off before heading back to the practice grounds.
 
Last edited:

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
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Looking for partners
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
The nerves for the day did nothing to stop Vala from eating the breakfast Aemer had prepare. She was nervous, there was no doubt about that, but nerves were nerves and food was food. What relation did the two have with each other? She might now live in the Tortue Cities, she might have access to three meals a day, but she would never start her day on anything less than a full stomach, so long as the food was available.

As soon as she was done eating, Vala grabbed the small bag she'd prepared the day before. It was nothing much, and some people might mistake it as a purse, but it contained a few items that Vala considered absolutely essential. A water condenser, several high-energy protein bars, something that would allow her to start a fire. Again, they should have been unnecessary, but Vala had no intention of letting herself get caught unprepared when the resources were so readily available.

It didn't take them long to get from Aemer and Jack's house to the military complex. There was a physical barrier that separated it from the rest of the city, but true to Aemer's promise the door opened as soon as the two approached, scanning them as they passed through the arch before a small light to the side flashed green. On the other side, Vala caught sight of a couple of guards in military suits watching their entrance.

The military complex had an entirely different air to it compared to the rest of the cities. There was a tension to it, a level of emergency-readiness that Vala had always found entirely absent from the rest of the city. Vala felt her own attitude shifting slightly, from the casual attitude to the more prepared mentality she'd always worn when she was out on the Wastes.

Aemer led them unerringly as Vala did her best to memorize the twists and turns, the different roads and courtyards and buildings, and compare it to the notes she'd got. Most likely, next time, she'd have to find her own way, and she didn't want to get lost if she could avoid it. Aemer's introduction was thorough, and it didn't take long for Vala to begin to get the lay of the land.

However, all thoughts of a mental map were blown out of Vala's mind when they arrived at the practice arena. Her eyes wandered wildly for a second, before her eyes finally locked down on the immersive sims on the other side of the room. She could spot a few differences between them and the one she'd tested in, but even still, she could recognize what it was supposed to be immediately. After that, her eyes drifted towards the training mechs, two of which were actually moving in the background, engaging in a simple spar.

"This place is... incredible," Vala whispered. "Can I use it whenever? Or is there some... process to it?"

When they finally came to a halt outside of Vala's first classroom, she smiled at Aemer in gratitude, her eyes still slightly wide from overwhelm. The whole college was remarkable. "Thanks for showing me around," she finally said, wandering eyes finally stopping on Aemer's face with a smile. "I'll see you after class?"

After getting waved away by Aemer, Vala turned around. Once again, the door read her badge, before it slid open for her. Vala stepped in to the room, quickly glancing around.

It wasn't a large room. She could likely cross to the wall opposite the door in four or five long strides. Two rows of tables had been laid out, and a few people were lazing casually in the seats as they waited for the teacher to arrive and class to begin. At the sound of the door opening a few people glanced up at her.

Feeling slightly self-conscious, Vala offered them a smile and a quick greeting. "Hello. Nice to meet you."
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female
Genres
Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
A blonde girl with somewhat sharp, narrow eyes looked over at Vala and smiled, pulling a spare chair up closer to her and patting it. "Over here. You're the new girl, right? I'm Angela Keerim." She had her hair up in a simple ponytail, but it was clearly quite wavy. The smile was almost completely obscuring eyes with odd brown accents swirling around otherwise grey irises, and she was rather short, but noticeably muscular. She was wearing dark clothing, but her long sleeved shirt had sort of a lacey, half-see through pattern to the sleeves, and there was a choker around her neck with a metallic pendant in the shape of a gear. Her black ankle boots were mostly flat and practical, but were tied with silver laces. She looked to be the same age as Vala or a bit younger, but she held herself like she was older. She held out a hand to shake without standing up. "Nice to meet you, Vala." Not that Vala had said her name yet. She gestured at the other three people sitting in the same area. Two boys and one other girl. "This is Liam Cravey," She gestured at a boy with short, extremely curly light brown hair and freckles on his nose, who smiled and held out his own hand to shake, "Elise Grimbow," the other girl looked almost ten years older than them and was dressed unobtrusively, with brown hair and brown eyes, "and Philip Castor." The last one being a very good-looking boy who seemed a couple years older, with short, straight almost jet black hair, and slightly swarthy skin, but shockingly pale amber eyes.

Everyone was at the very least putting on a friendly face. "What are you doing in this class, anyways?" Liam asked, with a well-meaning smile. "What does a prodigy like you need class for?"

"Wouldn't a prodigy with no training need more formal lessons than most?" Elise said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, but leaving room for Vala to be part of the conversation.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Vala blinked in surprise, before realizing that it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that the people in this class were expecting her. It wasn't as though she'd arrived out of the blue; she'd known she'd be coming to this class for a month now. There was no reason that her classmates wouldn't know, too.

Smiling in gratitude at the blonde young woman, Vala moved forward, perching on the edge of the seat as she set her bag on the floor. After a moment's consideration, she stood up just enough to take her weight off the chair, scooted it over slightly so that the foot was inside the bag's strap, and then sat down again. If she didn't have some measure of assurance that her stuff was secure, she'd be thinking about it all class.

"It's nice to meet you too, Angela," Vala responded, reaching out to shake the other woman's hand. Unconsciously, her eyes lingered on the necklace around the other woman's throat. The notion of having something so grabbable in such a delicate place left her feeling slightly uncertain, but she couldn't exactly say that her own lightweight, neon shirt was particularly practical either.

As Angela continued with her introductions, Vala carefully committed the name of her nearby classmates to memory. These were the people she was going to be learning and working with for at least the next year. It was important to start off on the right foot.

Finished with the introductions, Vala repositioned herself slightly in her chair, turning so that her side was to the backrest, and pulling one knee up to her chest so she could rest her arm on it. However, the short conversation between Liam and Elise that followed afterwards caused her to flinch in surprise.

"Prodigy?" Vala repeated, a look of confusion crossing her face.

The word tickled something in her memory. What is she doing with the rookie wonder? Had they really been talking about her?

"Has... someone been spreading strange rumors about me?"
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
Invitation Status
Posting Speed
Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
Online Availability
My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female
Genres
Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
There was a moment of surprised silence between the people in the room. Then Philip Castor smiled and said quietly, "You're very humble, Miss Vala."

Angela shook her head and crossed her legs, leaning forward. "No, it seems like you really don't know, do you? I thought Aemer Correny would have told you, but I suppose you might not have understood even if she did. There's nothing strange about the rumors about you, and it's not like someone can be pointed to for starting them." She tilted her head to the side, saying, "You are a prodigy, simple as that. Nobody has ever seen an old mech used the way you did, but it's not like we could deny the evidence from our own eyes. And once we all heard that you were a scavenger picked up out of nowhere, probably never seen a working mech in your life, well. What could we call that except for a prodigy? And then, Jacob Danby started telling everyone there was no user adjustment required on your diagnostic test, and the higher ups haven't denied it. No user adjustment means that you are so good in a mech, it's basically like your own body. That might seem normal to you, but it's the first time anyone's ever seen that in any of the Tortue Cities."

There was vigorous nodding from Elise and Liam. Elise spoke with a level of soft admiration, "I was above you during the battle at one point, and I couldn't believe it, really. Your mech looked like it was about to break down, but you were spinning it around with such speed and precision, stabbing bosses like it was no big deal. My first thought was that it had to be some ambitious new recruit, but even new recruits aren't given mechs like that, and a talent like yours would have been talked about for ages before you got set on your first battle."

Angela added, "People are saying you were so good, Aemer Correny decided you were going to be hers and took you home, and that's why you weren't assigned a barrack. If you didn't realize how good you were, I suppose you don't know this, either, so you should know. Aemer's another prodigy, just like you. God-tier bioengineer. Only person ever to have survived full-on contact with pure squid venom. Those scars on her neck? From an attack when she was a kid. Usually a squid will kill anything it holds on to for a bit, but not her. Rampaged through the city for a full two minutes before it got shot down, and it was holding on to her even after it fell, as if it had been trying to kidnap her... or protect her. If she hadn't been screaming so loud, no one would have even tried to rescue her, and apparently it took another 30 minutes for them to pry it off her. That whole time, pumping venom into her system and she survived? She made almost as big a commotion as you did. Her compatibility is so good, people think she might be able to communicate with the Calamar without using a parasite. Basically she's a freak, and the higher ups are terrified she's going to straight up turn to the dark side someday and start working for the squid, so she's never been allowed on the battlefield before." She finished with a calm, but surprisingly serious, "I would kill to be her mech-driver. Those old farts are crazy to keep a talent like her off the field. But well, no chance of anything going wrong with you, so at least we have one prodigy still fully active."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
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Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
A prodigy? Her? Even listening to Angela's explanation, it still didn't sound quite right. Nothing that the young woman listed sounded particularly extraordinary to her. Sure, she'd never driven a mech before, but they were still quite simple compared to some of the intricate contraptions in the ancient city where she'd spent her childhood.

If she hadn't figured out how to move intuitively through those spaces, then she and her family would both have died back then. Them, starved to death, unable to use the strange things she brought back to trade for resources the raiding parties brought back from the surface. Her, crushed to death, nothing but a small, bloody smear on giant moving pieces of metal.

She'd never really tried to compare the two, but she wasn't entirely sure being shoved into a mech to face down hoards of angry squid was any scarier than the terrible contraptions she'd crawled through as a child. At least in the mech, she had the capability to fight back against looming death.

Certainly, no one on the Wastes had ever thought she was special. She'd never been anything more than another person struggling to survive, doing whatever it took day-to-day just to get by.

Yet, Angela didn't seem to be joking with her. No, in the first place, she had absolutely no reason to lie to Vala about such a thing. And the others certainly weren't denying it. The way she controlled a mech was something... something that other people couldn't do.

Yet, she'd seen so many other drivers out there. Obviously other people could control mechs, or there wouldn't be a training program for them. They wouldn't be such a dominant fighting force. The exact difference still eluded Vala.

That wasn't the case, however, for the story about Aemer. "Half an hour?" Vala repeated in shock, her eyes going wide. She was well aware of exactly how deadly squid venom was. Squids and humans might not fight on the Wastes in the same way they did around the Cities, but that was more because scavengers didn't have any real way of fighting back against the squid. Most of the time, the answer was run and hide. Even a brush with a squid's tentacles could prove deadly. "That's amazing!"

The conversation about her own sudden promotion to prodigy-hood all but forgotten, Vala eagerly dove into the conversation about Aemer, her eyes almost glowing with enthusiasm. "I was really lucky to be working with her," Vala replied, her mind drifting back to that hectic battle. Throughout it all, Aemer's directions had guided her through the madness of the battle like a light piercing through the fog. "I'd absolutely have died out there if I didn't have her to direct me. You're right, they are crazy to keep her off the battlefield. She'll be... allowed to fight now, right? After all, she did so well, and she obviously wants to. And there's no way she'd ever do something like work for the squid. You'd have to be crazy yourself to think so."
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Angela and Philip exchanged glances. "Well..." she began, "Aemer's skill is never what kept her off-"

"Don't sugarcoat things, Angela." Came a brisk female voice from the door. The girl standing there was a pretty brunette, tall and willowy, with olive toned skin and green-brown eyes. Her features were sharp and strong, almost masculine, and she was dressed in a crop top, exposing a belly button ring, and rather intently decorated jeans. Large hoop earrings hung from her ears, and she held herself not just with confidence, as Angela and Aemer did, but with a sort of swagger that demanded people look at her.

"That squid bitch is a hazard. It doesn't matter how good she is or how much she professes to hate the Calamar. Bioengineers sometimes lose it and start acting like squid. But since nobody's ever seen squid blood like hers, stands to reason when she loses it, she'll lose it like nobody else. Become eyes and ears for the squid without anyone able to tell that she's been compromised. Usually it's just, they become rabid, start talking funny, barely become human anymore. She might just start working against us. Imagine. Just one bioengineer, especially one with that much expertise and training, letting the squid know our strategies and weaknesses. One is all it takes for the battle to entirely be lost, the whole city destroyed. That thing is a menace even if you ignore her personality. You're just too stupid to see it, Ange." She took a few steps forward and sat towards the front of the class.

Angela's gaze was cool, body relaxed, but there was a warning note to it, as if silently telling the other girl she'd squash her if she was worth squashing. "Vala, this is Bailey Mission." Her tone was scornful. "She keeps forgetting only people stronger than me can call me Ange. That is the gist of the fear mongering, though. Doesn't help that Aemer... demands excellence even from the most pathetic drivers."

"You mean she's a stuck-up bitch." A boy said, cheerfully as he practically sailed through the door. He was much less fancied up than Bailey, but had that same air of swagger, a gold earring in one ear. He sat on Vala's desk and extended a hand for her to shake.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
“Vala Davans, right?” the young man continued, calmly waiting with his hand outstretched. “I’m Dan Markham. It’s nice to meet you,”

Vala didn’t respond to his gesture, or his words. In fact, if anyone asked her later, she wouldn’t be able to recall exactly what he’d said to her. Instead, it felt like the inside of her head was echoing as she stared at Bailey. It took a couple of moments before the empty, heady feeling gave way to a tide of emotions that even Vala couldn’t fully identify. Rage, frustration, shock, disgust, alarm, disappointment. It tangled up into a knotted mess that made it hard for her to get anything in order.

“You’re terrible,” was what finally spilled out of her mouth. She was still skating around Dan to stare at Bailey, as though the other man wasn’t even there. “You’re an absolutely horrible person, to say that about someone ready to risk their life to fight for the safety of this city.”

It was far from the most articulate speech Vala could have managed, but it was as good as she could bring to bear at the moment. At any rate, it was good enough to momentarily shock the entire class into a stunned silence.

“And you!” Vala continued, her eyes finally landing on the young man, who still hadn’t pulled back his hand. “If you hang out with her, you’re just as terrible as she is!”

Dan blinked in surprise, his rebuffed handshake finally pulling back. However, much to Vala’s confusion, the look that got directed her way after her outburst wasn’t one of anger, but one of worry and pity.

“Hey. I know you’re new here. And you’ve spent the last month hanging out with her.” Dan’s voice was unexpectedly gentle, like he was talking to a wounded puppy. It only made Vala bristle further. “But there’s a lot of things you don’t know. You should really come with us for a while after class. We’ll tell you all the things she’s been hiding from you.”

“Fuck off!”

“Hey, easy.” This time the voice that came in response to Vala was from a dark-skinned woman with her hair in a loose braid. Up until that moment she’d been leaning against the wall at a corner desk, looking at a holoscreen, but now she’d half stood from her chair. “This is a classroom. There’s no call for that.”

Vala glared back at her. “Oh, so you’ll tell me off for cursing, but not her for calling someone a ‘thing’?”

The woman shook her head slightly. “Words are one thing, but you look like you’re about to start throwing punches.”

It was only then that Vala realized both her hands were balled into fists, her entire body strung with aggressive tightness. It took a moment for her to be able to loosen her clenched fingers. She turned around, sitting down heavily. “Stay away from me,” she rebuked Dan, refusing to look in his direction.
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
The classroom remained slightly stiff, but Dan shrugged and withdrew to sit next to Bailey, the woman who had spoken also sitting back down once Vala had relaxed a little.

Angela watched Vala for a bit with her angular eyes, and after a moment quietly and calmly said, "Well, that went well. Malika is right, you know. No sense letting Tweedle-Dim and Tweedle-Dumb upset you here." She stretched long, as she added, "You can always just beat them up in the hallway later." It hadn't been said loudly enough for that many people to hear, but Dan turned for half a moment, as if sensing he was being talked about, and when Angela closed her eyes in a little smile at him, he immediately looked away. For another moment, Angela seemed to pause, then her voice went serious as she explained, "You'd best get used to that opinion of Aemer, though. I don't exactly know what you're experience with her has been, but that's how most people feel when she's brought up. You don't have to like it, but you can't pick a fight every time people talk like she's a monster. All it will do is cause you both trouble, and as far as I can tell, she doesn't need or want your or anyone else's protection."

Philip reached forward and placed a hand on Angela's shoulder, shaking his head solemnly. "I don't think Ms. Vala cares to hear that right now."

She pushed his hand off, "You're soft, Philip." But she didn't say anything more.

A few more people kept streaming in, most of them trying to introduce themselves to Vala right away, but no one else made a stir. And it wasn't long before a tall, thin man walked into the room, carrying a small pack with him, out of which he took a holoscreen tablet. As soon as he walked into the room, everyone went dead silent, a palpable feeling of both respect and anxiety filling the room with his presence. "Ah yes, welcome, Ms Vala." Was all he said in acknowledgment of her presence, not even looking at her. "Come see me after class." And with no further ado, he began the class.
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Vala might not have looked like it, fuming with her head lowered towards her lap, but she was listening to Angela's words. She also knew that the other woman was right, at least for part of it. Aemer was a strong person, and was more than capable of taking care of herself. Doubtless, she would not think highly of it if she heard Vala had gotten in a fight for her sake.

But that thought only rankled Vala further. This had nothing to do with whether or not Aemer could look out for herself. Aemer wasn't here. It also was irrelevant whether or not Aemer would thank her for it, or scold her for it.

"She's my friend," Vala finally replied, her voice filled with a strange mixture of depression and venom. It was clear that she was neither settled, nor calm. But nor was she exactly angry, either. Her emotions seemed to have turned into soap bubbles, scattering and popping and drifting, impossible to pin down, since the moment Bailey had begun to speak. "And I'm not just going to stand there and do nothing when someone treats my friends like they aren't even human."

That wasn't a matter of whether or not something should be done, or needed to be done. It was simply a matter of fundamental principles for her.

After a moment of silence, Vala suddenly tacked on another sentence. "But I wasn't going to hit anyone."

It wasn't quite an afterthought. Not really. But it was the truth.

Including Vala herself, there were 22 people in this class. And by the time class officially started, Vala's head was a mess of names and faces, half of them already long forgotten. The fact that Vala had another five such classes caused her to feel nothing but resigned exasperation. Consciously, she'd always known that there were practically more people in the Tortue Cities than there were out on the Wastes. But it hadn't been so significant when they'd been nothing but random passersby. Suddenly, she realized she was going to have to memorize the names of more people than had been in her entire scavenger group twice over, and that was only a small portion of the people on this campus. It was overwhelming.

The other thing that was overwhelming was class itself. Despite the fact that they'd delayed her arrival for a month, this was not the beginning of new classes. As a matter of fact, it was clear that Vala had found herself dropped into the middle of a lecture series, and the attentive looks of understanding on the faces of her classmates kept Vala from asking questions as the teacher began to dig into the recorded footage of an example battle.

It was fascinating and bewildering all at once, and Vala's hands never stopped moving across her desk, recording phrases and examples and questions into her personal terminal that she'd need to look up later. This was about as different as it could get from her tasks as a scavenger out on the Wastes, but she was determined not to fall short.

She let out a faint sigh, mixed exhaustion and relief, as the class finally came to an end. However, as her other classmates began to leave, Vala lingered in her seat. She hadn't forgotten the instructor asking her to see him after class was over.
 

firejay1

The Phoenix
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
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Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
Angela tapped Vala on the shoulder after she had quickly packed, and told her, "I'll see you during practice some time, yeah? I'd love to spar with someone of your caliber." She gave a small wink before striding from the room. Philip, Elise, and Liam also left after some polite goodbyes. Out in the hallway, Angela called out, "Hey, Dim Markham!"

Dan turned around with a sigh, starting, "It's Da-" Just as he turned, Angela slid forward on one foot and then slammed her fist into his face. Lightly. Not enough to bruise, just enough to hurt.

"Vala told me she wasn't going to hit you. Sadly, I'm not Vala. And you piss me off." She flipped her golden hair over her shoulder, her sharp eyes smiling at him gently. She took a few steps away, only to see Aemer walking down the hall towards them. She smiled and waved at Aemer. "Vala's still in the classroom. The teacher told her to wait for him. So she'll be out in a bit. You might want to watch out. It seems she's got an axe to grind with your detractors."

"Who are you?" Aemer asked, raising her eyebrows at Angela.

"I'm Angela Keerim, but you can call me Ange. I've actually met you before, but it's fine if you don't remember. See you again soon." She laughed, "At least if Vala has anything to say about it, it seems." Aemer squinted at her a bit, but Angela adjusted her bag on her shoulder and rushed off to her next class.

In the classroom, the teacher packed up his belongings, answered a few of the other students' questions, and then nodded over at Vala. "Up here, please, Vala." When she came closer, he said, "I am aware you must have other classes to worry about, so I won't keep you long. I'm sure you have many questions, having joined the class so late. You may send me a message with any questions you may have, and I will respond to them within the day,, but I also have time for a personal meeting, should you want one. You need only inform me beforehand, and I will give you an hour to help you with your instruction. I do not expect your results to be as good as your fellow students at this point, so you will be exempt from the next exam unless our sessions suggest to me that you would be on par with the other students in the class." He scribbled something down on a notepad he pulled from the pocket of his bag, then handed it to her. "These are the times I am available. As your first teacher, I am also to inform you that you have been assigned a bioengineer, already. I think this is far too early for you. No matter how good your results have been, it is best a bioengineer be assigned after a sense of your own style has been established, and my understanding is that you have yet to do so. Unfortunately it is not my call, and at least Mr. Jensen is an excellent all-rounder. He will be waiting for you by a reserved simulation unit during your practice session. Do you have any questions I can take care of for you at the moment?"