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Nine Lives [Edited, Open, SANDBOX]

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~ Alice Chiura, Roxanne "Blood Sugar" Scarlett, Lilith  - Finally, food. ~ 

 

[Dining Room] 

    The sweet and savory aroma of Lily's homemade cooking permeated the air of the Great Room. Alice finds it hard to resist good food, especially if it's hers. The surprise of the huge banquet had made her almost forget about the skeleton remains, though her mind still fretted over the little awkward scene she made earlier, and whether she was behaving appropriately around Roxanne. 
    By Alice's family tradition, it was usually considered rude to begin eating before everyone had gathered, but here in the Shadow Seekers, everyone is always busy so no one really cared who eats what first. 


    "These look amazing, Lily!" Alice commented before sitting down on one of the chairs. "I bet they taste amazing, too..."
    Alice views Lily like a little sister—not that close, but one of the few she could talk to with ease. Though she mentally admits to herself that even the younger girl is more talented than she is. 

   "Yay! I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I'm done eating, so I will be in the workshop creating stuff I could think of." Lily then proceeded to put her plates away, and moved to the workshop near the portal room.

 

   "Ah-", Alice honestly wanted the girl to stay a little longer so she wouldn't have to be sitting alone with Roxanne, but Lily was already gone in sight.
    Disappointed, she let out a sigh, before whispering "Itadakimasu"—a customary phrase to express gratefulness before a meal—then proceeded to eat. 

 

   Roxanne made herself a plate before sitting at the table. She ate mostly in silence, as small talk was not a strength of hers. Alice thought that she would at least give remarks on the food or start a conversation but she was surprisingly quiet. 

    Wait... What am I thinking? Who am I that she would talk to me? What a ridiculous thought, Alice. Besides, you never like small talks either, so this is fine.

 

   Alice finished her meal, again muttering something Japanese, then put her plates away in the sink. She stood there for a while to think of what to do next now that her energy was refilled. She could spend the day doing her normal routine of landscape painting or sculpt the latest anime figurine out of clay, the latter of which she was shy to admit as a hobby but enjoyed doing greatly. 
   Alice quietly excused herself on the way out of the dining room. She decided to head to the workshop where Lily normally may be. There was something she'd like to inquire her about anyway... 

Edited by trmizu

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~Will Shadowen (with Mikasa361 as Aurelius) - Quick Battle~

 

Aurelius led Will away from the desk. “Okay, let’s go figure out your power.” As the two figures walked out of the main room, the door was closed. After walking further away, Will made his mind up to use his time for training as much as possible. "The suites are like bonuses to me, we can talk about it later. Also, thanks for the help, Aurelius," said Will in a soft whisper. “It’s not a problem. This is what I do, and I do what I enjoy.” He gave Will a warm smile, something he didn’t give often. He always loved it when people appreciated him for his work, it was fulfilling. At least he knew he wouldn’t become a Lost One unless he was attacked.

They continued onward until Aurelius came to a set of stairs. “Follow me.” Will nodded in agreement, following his footsteps downwards. Aurelius went down the stairs, checking to make sure Will was behind him. He made his way all the way down and found himself in the buffer room. There he began to walk to the training room. “Almost there. I know the base is large.” "I've travelled farther than this," said Will in response, getting a little bit more comfortable around him. It's been quite a while since he felt comfortable with anyone, but the first few moments of entering the base convinced him that this is a good organisation. Aurelius’ eyes widened. “No **** ,” he murmured in awe. There was so little Aurelius knew about him, but his researching mind would soon find out. “Here’s the room,” Aurelius states as he opened the door. It was essentially a large gym, with mats in one corner, weights, and other forms of gear placed neatly on shelves and racks. Aurelius walked to the center of the room, grabbing a sword from the rack. “Show me what you can do.” Aurelius prepared to fight.

“Let’s see what you can do with that sword.”

Will wielded his sword, "My body can't do much, but when holding this, my abilities improve greatly. I've tried using other weapons than this, doesn't work." “That must be it,” Aurelius murmured. “Attack me. It’s okay, I’m not horrible with the sword.” Within the blink of an eye, Will charged headfirst into battle, positioning his sword to his right, pointing to the ground, as if preparing to initiate a sword upswing. Aurelius prepared himself to block, spreading his feet to the sides and bending his knees.

“Go.”

With a burst of energy, Will swung his sword up against his opponent's, slightly tilting Aurelius's balance. To his surprise, Will took not even a second to recover from the recoil, he pulled back his sword, preparing to chain the attack with a forward thrust straight towards his chest. Aurelius ducked, holding the sword above his head.

“Try not to kill me, though, this is just practice.”

"Yeah, I understand," Will replied as he retracted his arm and took a quick step backwards. "Should I try to go full strength or simply basic sword technique practising?"

Aurelius stayed in a defensive position, but he took a quick breath. “Let’s go all out. I wanna see what you can do.”

Slowly, Will's sword and he himself emanated an ominous, but visible, aura. He began charging up, his sword radiating a faint glow. Next, he charged in against Aurelius in the same manner as his previous attack. Aurelius backed up this time, blocking with the sword. “Damn!” He shouted. “That’s your power....” He countered with a move of his own. The force of impact was slightly stronger than before, and as he was countering, Will had already begun sidestepping with impressive agility to his right side, about to perform a horizontal slash. My God, Aurelius thought, just barely managing to block it. This was Will’s power, and it was impressive. I got you this time! He did not perform the slash; it was a feint move. Will was not building up energy to attack, but rather to quickly move about. He shifted to the opposite direction of Aurelius's rotation as he turned left, pulling his sword with him and then perform a forward thrust. With reflexes quick enough, Aurelius turned around and managed to block it.

“Well, you’re certainly better than I. I prefer other weapons myself.” He put his sword down. “I’m convinced. Well done.” Will, showing a bit of awe, complimented his practise partner back. "Your reflexes are not bad too. Not many are able to block that last attack, guess I’m just not fast enough this time." After a short pause, Will let out a small chuckle.

"Nevermind, my opponents in my life so far are only what you call as Lost Ones. I don't seem to know more of myself in combat, aside that I have increased agility and reflexes and that I cut them until each of their parts are fully disembodied."

“Thank you, that means a lot. From what I see, that aura is impressive. Your power is with that sword. We will continue research, I will attend you in battle. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure you know more about your power.” He nodded. “I’ll report this to the boss after I take you to your room. You will stay with Lucian and Roxanne.”

Will did not want a break, but something tells him that he should take one for a different purpose. "Alright, I'll take a break. But only for a short while."

“That’s fine. Let’s head off.”

Will put his sword back to the scabbard, assumes a normal pose and proceeds to walk with Aurelius upstairs, leaving the training room and heading towards one of the many suites available in the base. Aurelius soon found the suite Lucian stayed in. He knocked to see who was home.

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   [Bloodbathe and Skwerl] Some Kind of Recruitment Process

   Nico thankfully obliged in going through the portal without more urging from her. She sighed, feeling some dread of having to answer so many questions - what were they again? Oh yeah - and hoped she would have the patience for this. She usually didn't introduce new, potential Seekers. She was just in the organization for the free hospitality and the fights.
   Heather didn't check the base's hologram to see if any ordinary people were around, but thankfully the tree was free of curious eyes and people when they both walked out. She reactivated her animus's cloak and shuffled in the grass to let Nico know she was still there.
   "People can't see me, obviously," she explained, "but we can still chat. Just be quiet." She threw Sister Turret's gaze over the area, watching for activity, and was pleased about how vacant the park was. "So, I said I would answer some questions, but you have to answer mine. I'll start, since you're so persistent..." She paused to see if her animus had any input, but they were simply observing. A few seconds passed as Heather thought about where to start.
   "I would have to kill you because this place is home to a secret operation," she began. "You're not allowed to know about it unless you're part of the organization. Our work is... rather unbelievable." It's hard to figure out what to say, her mind briefly complained, and one of her animus snorted; derisively or in amusement, she wasn't sure. "Because of that, I won't tell you who I am or what this place is, but yes, it is a base, and it was attacked recently. At the moment we're hunting down the culprit. The reason I look like a machine is because I am one." Not a lie, she told her conscious. "And no, I don't want you touching me.
   "Now, will you answer what I want?"

   "I've seen robots and weird monsters roaming around the streets. Killed a few of them. So I sort of believe everything now. What is it that you want to ask?" Nico asked, while observing the robot intensely.
 

   Heather initially was going to give him her first few questions, but his response caught her off guard. Seeing weird things walking around was one strange thing, but to go a step further and slay them?
   Don't ask redundant questions, one of her animus told her, What does this tell us?
   That this kid IS a supernatural. They're the only ones who can see Lost Ones, and some guy with a shotgun can't take care of even the weakest ones by himself. Plus, he fell through the portal.
   Do you think he's the attacker?
   What good would that do him?
   She didn't receive a direct response, but the flurry of emotion that her in an instant gave her a good idea of her animus' theories. She tried to disregard them, even though they somehow knew something more than her.
   "You saw monsters?" Heather finally asked, keeping her tone guarded. "What sorts of monsters? How could you kill them? Even felling an animal isn't easy."
 

    Nico knew that answering this would bring him a lot of trouble, so he put on his 'It's so obvious' look, and responded.
    "I was raised as a thief, more specifically, an assassin. I can kill humans with ease. Those monsters, they attacked humans, and turn humans into them, but even then they're still only a stronger version of a human. I can outsmart them."
   Nico showed the mech his twin daggers, and continued his story.
  "This is what I use to kill those beings. Not so hard, if I say so myself."

 

   Heather restrained Sister Turret's urge to flick the blades out of Nico's hands as he showed them. It didn't sound very believable; more like the guy read a fascinating book and decided to adopt the persona of the protagonist. Still, that didn't change the fact that he was a supernatural. So the question is, do the daggers give him his powers, or is it something else? It can't be just the daggers; Ice Spirits were walking knives and teeth, and she lost a life trying to take down a Lost One while morphed as one and alone. She didn't like the look on his face, but it at least wasn't very fake.
   "Surely that's not all of it?" she said skeptically, "I'm just one fighter out of several who meet the monsters quite often. We see them too, and they're pretty formidable. Something with rat's eyes on its butt is hard to assassinate." Her tone turned sour at the reminder of her experience. She was still ashamed of getting so cocky during that fight...
 

   "Well that's all of it. My movements are much more nimble than them, even the fastest one couldn't catch me. Not that I've tried being caught at all. They don't think at all. It is easy to outwit them, as they move purely on animal instinct. You just have to be faster, you don't have to be powerful."
   Unconsciously, Nico smirked a bit while stating his story, he just loves messing with others so much that lies come out like the truth.
 

   Heather dismissed the smirk; Nico obviously had an attitude. "So your power is superior agility" she guessed, rubbing her invisible fingers together, "and you focus your aim on weak points?"

 

   "Think again. Simple agility won't help killing them. I've tried using other weapons, they won't kill them at all."

 

   "So there IS more to your ability of slaying these monsters," she said. She listened for her animus' input, but they were still quiet, only sending muted feelings to her.

 

   "Well, my weapon seems to be working fine with killing them. They can't heal if my weapon struck them."

 

   The Archivist whispered a small hint, and Heather couldn't help but let loose a laugh; albeit a disappointed, annoyed one. Looks like they were just running around in circles!
   "All right, let me say this: we don't give two carps who attacked the base, as long as he fesses up. Otherwise he has more to worry about than a slap on the wrist. I'm still not sure if you have anything to do with it, but you're clearly avoiding something," she accused. "So you have your knives, which prevent healing, and you're quick; what else? You clearly know something about the monsters. Ordinary people don't know they're there and shift their deserving blame onto demons, karma, or fate. You can see them, you can touch them, you can hurt them; and, you can go through our portal, and only supernaturals can go through there. That makes you a supernatural, and a pair of fancy knives doesn't cut it. So what is it? Five-second future predictions? Superior physique? Self-regeneration?" She decided to slip in something less hostile, and added: "I should say, we know about the monsters because we hunt them too, so if you can casually slay them, that would be useful to us."

 

   "What do you mean 'useful to us'? Is hunting them like your day job?"

 

   "That's one way of putting it," Heather answered, not wanting to confirm or deny anything right away.

 

   Nico was considering to tell the truth, but he still have the organization to hunt down, will they be able to help?
  "If I join you guys, what will my role be?"

 

   "I don't know, I'm not the guy running the place. All I know is that management has been picking up supernaturals left and right." She looked at him dead in the eyes, even with the cloak on. "They will want to know why the base was attacked though, and no one is joining until we have some answers." She couldn't pin anything for sure on Nico, since he hadn't admitted anything yet, but she was mentally noting how he had yet to deny it. He seemed to be deliberately skirting the topic, which proved that he knew something about the base she didn't. There was the chance that one of the Seekers was a double agent and was leaking information, but she still wasn't sure why anyone would want to do that... if Nico was connected though, he might have some answers.

 

   "You guys don't know about any child trading organizations? They sell child to use as slaves. I'm currently hunting them down."
Nico decided that if they don't know anything about it, he was going to tell them the whole truth.

 

   Incredulous alarm flashed through Heather's mind, and she completely lost her composure, sputtering.
   "Hah! Uh-? What?? In the States? You don't look like you're from the Middle East, or Africa, or...!"
   Good job staying confident, Krysis congratulated.
   Oh, shut up! Heather waved a hand to try and regain composure. "Child slavery? You have to be making stuff up now. That stuff's been illegal for years!"
   So have some drugs. Look at the black market go~ Elara pointed out.
   You're still not helping!
   That would explain why he so casually proclaims being a thief, another animus pointed out. Heather's shock turned to discomfort as they began agreeing with one another on the plausibility.
   Archivist??
   No amount of laws will stop crime, he said simply. Heather huffed, pawing at the ground and fidgeting with her hands.
   "Okay... I guess it's possible... marginally possible..." she stressed, "I've never heard of such an outrageous thing though, not way out here. That's third-world country stuff, and we're not even near either border."

 

   Nico summoned one of his skeletons, and smiled. Heather jerked back at the sudden materialization, both annoyed and glad for half a second before Sister Turret reacted with an explosion of hostility! The teen nearly lost her control and the machine opened her primary panels, aiming all four barrels at the naked creature. Threats to attack were flashing so loudly in her mind that the machine was shaking as she tried to restrain it, their shared vision literally turning red, cross-hairs fixated on its neck. Wait! she cried, we're getting information!

  "Based on your reaction, I'm guessing you're telling the truth, so that's good. I'm the one who attacked your base," Nico explained, "thinking it was one of the organizations, or maybe the lair of the monsters. Sorry if I offended or troubled any of you, but I needed to make sure you're not one of any of them."

   Threat! Threat!! the animus screeched over Nico's voice and the clamour of the others. It was hard to hear even Zhera! Heather tried to shut out the panic, still listening.

   "The organizations are real, I'm one of their slaves. I found out my powers when I found out I was taken from my family, rage boiled in me and I summoned the skeletons accidentally. I've been honing my skills since then. That was 5 years ago."


   A few seconds passed where Heather didn't answer. She was temporarily paralyzed by her own animus. She couldn't talk, because the animus was mute and was fighting fiercely for control. It was taking all of her willpower to keep both feet glued to the ground!
   She finally forced the machine to break posture by sacrificing some of her focus to force its image to destabilize. Thankfully, Sister Turret hesitated to fire in the brief moment of full control. The cloak dropped and the entire form shifted slightly for a moment, like an object viewed underwater, and the sudden withdrawal caused machine to slacken and drop her aim to the ground. Heather gasped out through the speaker, seized control, and immediately stopped her fall when it resulted in her stature crumpling.
   Heather's memory wasn't very good, but she was remembering now why she had to practice using an animus every day.
 

   She took a moment to push the agitated consciousness to the back of her mind, ensuring she had regained all control, and closed the primary panels. "It was you..." she breathed, not getting up yet. "All right... took you long enough...! A simple investigation would suffice rather than a horde of that!" She pointed accusingly at the skeleton, even though she was exaggerating a bit, having not known how many skeletons there were in the end. "You're dang lucky you came back otherwise the entire organization would have been hunting you!" She grumbled to herself about his attitude, and was mentally countered by an animus pointing out her lack of sleep and how she wasn't thinking very well. She roughly shook herself to rid of the thoughts and finally picked herself up, not explaining why she had nearly fallen in front of Nico, and brushed off the dirt that stuck to her knees. "I'm guessing you want more answers," she grumbled, straightening up. "So, we're the Shadow Seekers. We hunt Lost Ones: the monsters you see. Most of us are fighters, so chances are good you'll be one too, which further extends your chances of vengeance, if you really care for that. Dissolving a human organization isn't our specialty, but you could always ask management about it. They leave us to our own devices - for the most part - during the day.
   "So now that we shared all of that, you get a fantastic two options: go through that portal and train as a monster hunter, or get attacked by me. Honestly, I'm not thrilled by the last choice," she added grumpily to herself.
   Booo, an animus teased, fight more, boooo.
   You're such a butt, Soren.
 

   "Alright, let's get in. I want to know more of you guys. Oh, and Doggo needs to come back, I'll send this guy to call him back."

   I'm not a butt, you're a butt, the animus jested, but Heather prioritized Nico's voice, and she was glad he didn't mention the sudden stumble. She glanced around the park again, and was becoming unnerved by how conveniently ignored they were.

   Nico proceeds to take a piece of paper from his camping bag, and wrote,  "Return now, I'm introducing myself -Nico"
   He then give the paper to his soldier and it ran away, searching for Doggo.


   "Quickly," Heather ushered, pointing to the tree. "I'll be behind you." She watched the skeleton as it ran off, wondering how the heck it wasn't going to be stopped by civilians or confused policemen. Maybe it knew some kind of hidden path through the city.
   Nico went through, and Heather contemplated what exactly his intentions were. He was a weird kid with a wild story, and she knew the Seekers could take care of themselves, but she hoped Aurelius gave him a rookie status instead of getting excited, just in case he wasn't up to any good.
   She tried to shove down the wave of anxiety, hostility, and distrust that flowed from her animus at the thought.

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~Jehan Durand and Zhibek Akhmatova, with BlueLatios as Dylus “Doggo” Traven- Lost coffee~

 

The warm mid-afternoon sun shined through the skyscrapers as people hustled around the streets of New Brunswick. College kids run their errands, grabbing ramen for their rooms or shooting off Bayard street to get some real ramen. Some girls walked out of Popeyes with their food and were asked for a portion by a homeless man. All along George Street people continued to walk everywhere- to work, to eat, to get to class, or to make it to the bus that was leaving the Paterson street stop. Everything was as it should be.

 

...Except for one person, zooming from one street to another, dashing through the waves of people. Some people have noticed earlier that strange accessories are being equipped, a sword was okay. But a bone? It's not even close to Halloween.

Must focus, try not to talk to strangers. But these people are blocking my vision! Dylus was determined to follow the path to the very origins. Perhaps a bit too determined. Sweat washed all over his body, but he wasn't exhausted yet. His long years of training in the base had granted him extra stamina, enabling him to run a marathon of errands, if needed. The path had gone down in circles, indicating that the intruder must have been searching for something in this city.

"Arg, why circles? Have I been through this area before? I'm sure I have... Dang!" Doggo frowned upon his lack of concentration. He needed to remember the paths correctly, before he could compare them with the invading skeletons' origins. Now he feels exhausted.

"Oh look, Starbucks. Maybe I should get coffee once in a while." He tiredly walked into the shop, hoping that there's an air conditioner to cool him down.

 

Zhibek handed Jehan his coffee, flashing him a toothy smile as she made her way to the next customer. Jehan sipped at his cold brew and sighed. He needed himself a good coffee- and nothing beat a good cold brew. He knew his sister would disagree, as she liked her coffee hot and light, but Jehan didn’t have to cater to her tastes. He had some thoughts run through his head, not noticing Dylus walk in. For one, how was Zhibek able to serve people, as tiny as she was? He knew with his height he could make eye contact (barely), but... Further, was she at all interested in him? Jehan knew he shouldn’t assume, but something about her body language made it clear that she was at least flirting. Unless that was a part of her personality, which he understood well. He would flirt with a Lost One if it weren’t so goddamned dangerous. But was she? She was pretty cute, seemed like a sweet girl. Perhaps Jehan would ask her to hang out if he came back when she was on shift again- perhaps even after class he would go up to her and chat. But damn, she was cute.

 

After the customer in front of Dylus has been served, the tired runner made his way to front. "One cup of coffee, please. Any kind that you'd recommend, grande."

Zhibek smiled when she heard this. She loved her job, she really did, especially when someone asked her to make it an art. But what would she make? Would she charge extra? No, that’s not the person that she was. Not like it would’ve gone to her if she charged more anyway, but she didn’t like it when her coworkers did that stuff with custom orders. So she grabbed her materials and decided on a grande cold brew since she already had everything prepared. Jehan stood to the side and watched her work, intrigued. He never realized the craft required to make a coffee. Sipping, he continued to watch.

The Doggo waits patiently. He turned his head and scanned his area, for any extra suspicious activity. It seemed like there was none, so he decided to reach his pockets for something.

"Really? I left my phone at the suite again?" he grumbled. Then he let out a sigh. "Should I bring a cup for Heather as well? Or perhaps for the other fellow seekers? Will they like it?" he muttered to himself.

Jehan looked over at Dylus. “! Oh! Didn’t see you there.

Dylus looked back, with the same surprised look, "Whoa, didn't notice you here, too! You're grabbing coffee for someone, or enjoying a bit of me time?" Dylus really hoped that he would help, since both of them run on a somewhat low budget.

 

Nah, I’m just getting some coffee from Zhibek over here.” He tossed her a grin as Zhibek finished making the coffee. “We’re in the same class, so.

 

"Ahh, I see." Dylus proceeds to Jehan's table and sat near him. "I wouldn't have the privilege to talk to anyone outside the base, but I suppose you can describe who is this Zhibek." Zhibek looked over the counter and waved. “You rang~?” Her musical voice settled in Jehan’s ears like a cat coming in for a nap. Dylus, though indifferent towards how humans vocally interact, he was able to notice that her tone had its own charm. He looked at Jehan, who seemed to be mesmerised by those words. "Are you... in love?" Jehan knew that if he didn't stop staring, Zhibek would see his face go beet red. "N-no," he hissed, making it clear that he didn't like that comment at all. He may have liked Zhibek, thought she was adorable, but no. No, there was no way he would be in love with someone that quickly. Zhibek was, luckily, still focused on her job so she had no idea what Dylus had just said.

"Ahh okay." Awkward silence followed soon afterwards. Soon, Dylus saw Zhibek walking, most likely indicating that his random coffee has been brewed. He got up from his seat and walked towards the counter. Zhibek happily placed the coffee on the counter. "Here you go, sir," she said in her lovely accented English, "Enjoy!" "Will do, ma'am! So what did you decide to serve, and how much will this cost?" Reckless and ignorant as always, Dylus didn't bother to check the prices on the menu before ordering. He hoped that he had enough to pay. "This is a cold brew, like what your friend over there has." Zhibek made her way over to the cash register. "Your total has come to $3.59." Alright, that price seems affordable. But I don't think I'd be able to order another, considering that price is for grande only. He then reached to his pockets to take something out, but can't seem to find what he's looking for. He then slowly turned to Jehan, with a troubled look. "I left my wallet at the suite. Can you help me?" Jehan nodded. “I got you, man.” He slipped out a five dollar bill. “And you can keep the change.” Zhibek giggled. “How sweet. Thank you very much.” She put the change in the tip jar when she entered the amount Jehan paid. “And there we go!

"Whoa, thanks, Jehan! You're a lifesaver!" He rushed out of the shop, feeling refreshed after a short break, echoing, "I'll pay you back later, I promise!" Alright, back to my personal mission!

And now, he also forgot to bring his grande with him. Jehan grabbed the coffee and sighed. “You forgot your—

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~Roxanne "Blood Sugar" Scarlett, with Mikasa361 as Lucian "Peridot" Chevalier-Doxiadis - Drink Responsibly~

Roxanne had finished her lunch in silence, much like while she was eating. After she put the dishes up, she grabbed herself a drink and walked over to her suite, which she shared with Lucian. She entered the room to find that he was watching TV on the couch. "Hey Peri, mind if I sit here?", she asked after leaving her heels behind at the door and wandering over to the couch.
Lucian nodded. “Yeah, that’s fine.” He said as he scooted a little to the side. Perri was glad that he had some alone time, but he supposed it was okay if he didn’t for a little while. She took her spot on the other side of the couch with a stretch, before placing her feet onto the coffee table, "So what'cha watchin?"

Peridot peered at the screen, honestly not sure what he was watching anymore. “Honestly? No idea. I guess they’re people who like stunts?” He grabbed the remote and changed the channel. “I don’t like seeing people act like headasses. Let’s watch something else.” He changed it to the cooking channel. While he just ate, this was a nice, entertaining alternative to the crazy reckless things that would surely send someone to the hospital.
Roxanne took a drink, "so what was all of that at the portal room earlier? I only got there after everything went down." she asked, with a very slight tone of disappointment.
Peridot sighed. “It was a lot, that’s for sure. Apparently we’ve come across a necromancer. Someone was controlling all of these skellies.” He glanced at her drink. “Hm... I ought to grab one of those myself.”

Roxanne paused for a second, looking at Lucian and back at her drink, "...Are you sure you're old enough for something like this?"
Peridot burst out laughing. “Do I look that young?"
"Wait, how old are you?"
"Twenty four," he replied, chuckling to himself. He had to admit, he did look a bit young for his age, but he had no idea he would be mistaken for a child.
"Hell, I thought you were like, eighteen, nineteen. Not twenty four." She laughed before pausing for a second, "Regardless, it's honestly a bit early for someone like you to be drinking"
"Eh, I usually have a small something after lunch, I never drink too heavy." Peridot paused as well. "Though honestly, shouldn't I be saying the same about you?"
"nah, it's different for me." she said before taking another drink.

"Hm," Peridot hummed. He got up and went to the fridge, taking out the rose that he usually liked to have in the afternoon. He poured himself about half of a serving and went back to the couch to relax. Nothing beat just sitting in front of a couch, watching television and enjoying a small glass of wine. Well, maybe a snack of cashews would have been good, but he currently was out of cashews. Ah, well. He sipped his wine and watched as someone accidentally burned themselves on the stove. "I knew that was going to happen," Peridot mused.
"You'd think they'd be more careful.", Roxanne quipped.
Peridot chuckled and sipped his drink carefully. "Yeah, I'd assume that too. You have no idea how many patients I've had in school that burned their hands making ramen. I oughtta say, I've had a lot of college kids come into the ER for the silliest of things. That's why I drink in moderation." Peridot chuckled. "But then again, I've seen first hand what it does."

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   Where's a Recruiter When You Need One?

   The portal room was vacant, although when everyone left it seemed no one bothered to clean up the mess of bones. Heather muttered to herself as she immediately kicked a femur upon exiting the portal. "Teens! And I thought I was bad!" For a second she considered morphing back to herself, then to Krysis, just so she could clean it up without needing a trash can, but it would be rash to showcase her ability so boldly in front of Nico. She checked the said boy to make sure he wasn't about to dash off, before leading him out the open airlock and into the hub area.

   It was a very bland, concrete room, and quite large too. Her battle-oriented animus - which was almost all of them - considered it as a "buffer" area, where if there was ever an invasion it could be contained in a space with nothing fragile in it and plenty of room for combat. Interestingly, none of the bones extended out into the hub despite the airlock being left wide open.

   With that thought, Heather elbowed the keypad behind her, forcing the set of doors behind them to close with loud, intimidating thunks. She didn't wait for Nico's reaction to being locked inside the base, instead turning to give him a pointed look.

   "I'm going to go fetch our recruiter. Stay here. If I come back and you're not in sight, I'm hunting you down and giving you and your skeletons plenty of lead to eat," she threatened. She left him with that, glancing over all of the walls to make sure no other doors were open before heading to the grand staircase in the back and ascending it. Personally, she didn't want to shoot any humans, undead or not, but she knew Sister Turret was willing to open fire on anything she considered her "charge". She took some solace in the fact that she could relinquish control to the animus and everything would go fine... well, until she needed the control back, anyway.

   The machine had no olfactory sensors, but could hear the activity up on the second floor. The first thing she saw when she arrived was the array of food left out on the long dining room table, the turkey in the center already having been carved. Lilith must have gone overboard with lunch again. Chikako, Lavender, and Evonna were all at the table, but Aurelius - nor that strange boy with the sword who showed up before the skeletons - were in sight. It wouldn't make sense for either of them to be in a suite, so she assumed Aurelius found the kid, took him to higher management, and was now trying to convince the boss to let him join. It might take a while. She stole one last look at the turkey before heading back downstairs; she could gorge herself later when there wasn't a new summoner left unattended in the base, or whatever the scientists would classify him as.

   "The recruiter is busy," she called to Nico when she was back on the first level, "we might be stuck here for an hour... or several. So in the words of one of my favorite antagonists, we could both stand here glaring at each other until one of us drops dead, or we could do something productive." She paused her thoughts, but not her step, still approaching him. "...Those words aren't verbatim, by the way.
   "We don't have holding cells because we've never had prisoners, so whatever we do, it has to be confined to a single room. We can't have you running all over the place before the recruiter shows up." Heather considered letting Nico upstairs to eat some of the food Lilith made, but realized that would put three Seekers in danger, possibly more if he decides to summon a horde and try and break into a suite. Most of the base's rooms were occupied at various times of day, and she wasn't going to compromise the location of its storage because that's just asking for sabotage. The most desirable room for keeping a stranger in during the afternoon would be...... "We have a training area, so if you want to summon a bunch of skeletons, that's the best place to do it. Concrete walls several feet thick, layered with lead and steel. As much room as this to spread out in." She spread her arms to gesture at the massive hub area they were in. "The bonus for me is that I can, practice, and keep an eye on you," she  worded carefully. She hesitated to reveal her animus abilities prematurely, even though she needed to work on expanding her holster of usable animus, not on controlling the ones she already has; not that she didn't need to do that too, it just wasn't as fun, and a dream about a spaceship keeps teasing her with the excitement of rocketing off straight toward the stars. It's like being a wistful child all over again...!

Edited by skwerl56767

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As soon as Peridot had finished speaking, someone knocked on the door. Lucian sighed and placed his drink on the table next to the couch. He opened the door and saw someone familiar. Will noticed the same face, though still unsure if that was the same person. He took a step backwards and let Aurelius do the talking.

 

Aurelius waved at the two. “Good afternoon, Lucian, Roxanne. I have a new Seeker here, I hope you don’t mind him coming in and staying here.”

"Afternoon, Aurelius," Roxanne said somewhat playfully before sizing up the new person at their door who had slunk back."What's the young'uns name?"

To Will, Roxanne's appearance was somewhat fancy. It did remind him of the old days, where the aristocrats meet, the ladies are usually dressed in red and gold. He had always been introverted, and would prefer to communicate less with anyone, even with his own family members. He now regretted that attitude, yet made no effort to change. Perhaps that can change today? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, Will raised his voice a bit. "My name's Will," said the young man. "Well, welcome to the Shadow Seekers, Will." the red lady paused before introducing herself, "I'm Roxanne, but some call me 'Roxie', some call me 'Blood Sugar', but you can just call me whatever's easiest." As Will had expected, the tone of Roxanne clarified his thoughts. This would probably the first time he would actually communicate with a female like her, aside from his late mother. “I’m Lucian,” Peridot re-introduced himself, “I was the one who brought you to Aurelius.” Aurelius nodded. “I figured it’d be a good idea to place Will with someone he’s met. Well, I’m off. Take care, get settled.” Aurelius headed out. Lucian chuckled. “He’s always in a hurry.

Will thought of the words to say, but another thought told him to just say anything and perhaps a conversation would flow by itself. In the end, he spaced out again in his own mind. Lucian sighed, sipping his drink. “So, what’s your power?” Peridot's words disrupted his thoughts. Will then gave a reply, saying that he still had not figured it out yet. “Is that so? Interesting. I think everyone else in the base knows theirs, but it’s okay not to know.” He dipped his drink again. “God damn this is some good rosé.” Will shifted his focus towards Roxanne. "I guess you're a Seeker too, just like everyone around here? Mind telling a bit about yourself?" "Well," she began, "I was born in Texarkana, Arkansas while my parents were headed back home in Texas. My family is pretty wealthy, so I was able to live in, relative comfort." she paused, "I've gone through three lives so far, and I've only been here a couple of years now." She ended with a single clap of her hands, almost as if she were closing a small book. Peridot nodded. “I haven’t really gone through any, but I’ve been okay here. Studied medicine. It’s nice here, a good place to go back to.” Will chuckled slightly, "I've got nowhere to go, really. Resting from one place to another, as I try to find out new things. I may have found what I've been searching for. I'm still unsure if staying here would be a good choice for me." Will knew that this place has a college to study at, but he still hadn't made up his mind about the matter yet.

He then proceeded to talk to the new face he had just seen. "So, Roxie. What have you been doing around here since the last few years?" He slightly hoped that the answer was pursuing higher education, apart from being an active organisation member. "Oh the usual, crashing parties, having fun, hunting Lost Ones. Not much else outside of that." Roxanne replied. Will took the conclusion that the people who were recruited here had different purposes and different daily routines. It seemed rather awkward if he were to continue higher education there all by himself. He dismissed that thought and proceeded to talk about another thing. "You might have never heard about this, but have you ever heard of the family of Shadowens and their tragedy?" He was ready to tell a story to Roxanne, for the purpose of testing her reaction, and judging by that, assumed that others like her would act similarly. "I don't think I have, but then again I don't hear of many families unless they've been in business with my Pa." she answered. From there, Will knew that he needed not to tell her everything. He concluded that her family would only mind of other things if they were related to business.

"Ahh, I see. Do you still keep in touch with him?"

"I check in with him every once in a while, but not often. Running the Scarlett family business is a pretty time consuming job."

"I see." He has been standing outside for quite a while now. "Mind if I enter the suite?"

Come on in,” Peridot smiled.

Will walked into the suite and closed the door behind him.  He couldn't bring himself to sit down and relax. When he fought Aurelius, he thought that he had it better in sword fighting, till his feint move was blocked. The Seekers are strong and well-trained people, he thought. He has a lot to learn, and a lot to explore. He started, "Alright, so this guy here has morphing abilities. What about you, Roxie?"

"I have a question for you before I show it off," she paused, "are you squeamish?"

"Squeamish? I... I'm not sure what you mean by that." He said so because he has never heard of that word before, but instead of telling how poorly educated he was, he avoided that by asking further about her intentions. "Well, it means that this-" as if on queue she quickly reached to one of her arms and raked her nails across the forearm, breaking skin before throwing it back, unsheathing a crude blade of crystalline blood, "-is disturbing to you." In response, and somewhat startled reflexes, Will unsheathed his sword and tapped into his powers, glowing a faint aura, then entered a battle stance. "Whoa! That... caught me off guard." He was surprised when Roxanne seemed to start hurting herself, but was more surprised by the rush of blood bursting out as she pulled them with her arm before it crystalised. Peridot looked away, not really liking the sight. He had to be used to it, after all the patients, but somehow he never would get over that. Roxanne gave a small, dainty laugh before she noticed the glow around Will. "What's that?" she asked, motioning and outline with her unbladed hand. "It's my ability, sort of. I never really know what it actually does. That's what I hoped to figure out too." Will take a second glance at the bloody edge.

"So, that's your real blood there?"

"Yep, wanna touch it?" she said with a bit of a grin.

Peridot felt his stomach almost lurch, but he held it back by taking a drink. Will plainly refused the offer. "I don't find it necessary to do that." While he was speaking, his aura dissipated, and he put his sword back to its place. Will took a moment to analyse what had happened, then he questioned, "Doesn't that hurt you, though? It seemed like a double-edged ability."

"The pain has dulled over the years," she explained. "It hurt like hell the first couple of times, but nowadays it can only muster up a slight wince."

Will switched to Peridot, who obviously seemed disgusted by that scene. The swordsman turned back to Roxanne and proceeded to ask a few more questions that were bothering his mind. "So if that doesn't hurt at all now, does that mean that if you're attacked, it's very unlikely that you feel pain?"

"At least in the lower arms, I've probably cut just about every nerve there. Everywhere else though is about as sensitive as anyone else."

"Oh, okay."

Will really had nothing much to do or say, his mind is currently focused on how to know himself and others better for the slightest chance of being able to blend into the organisation. He wasn't getting enough answers that he needed, maybe he needed to wait a bit longer, or maybe they're holding back some information that he was not allowed to know. Either way, despite doing the things in his own way, Will forced himself to be acquainted with the Seekers if he were to gain anything valuable from there.

To distract his mind, he looked around, then noticed that Lucian is not drinking water. "What's that, Peridot?" he asked. "Oh this?" Peridot's stomach seemed to calm down as he was distracted by something else. "This is rose, it's a kind of wine. I drink some to unwind in the afternoons, at least when I'm not working at the hospital." Though Will once drank wine for formalities, it's been a long time since he had one. Maybe some old habits can die off if you let it be for a long time. Will showed no interest of joining in, and insisted to himself to take a look at the interiors before going out. Will felt that spending his time talking was no longer necessary. He planned to not disturb Lucian nor Roxanne any longer. Peridot casually sipped his wine, eventually leaning his head to the side and preparing for a nap. Roxanne spoke, "I think I'm going to the bath before working tonight, your room should be that one." She pointed at the vacant bedroom, "I really have only one rule to tell you before I go though, no peeking~" she winked.

Edited by Mikasa361

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~ Alice Chiura & Lilith - Mission Collaboration ~

 

[Workshop/Engineering Station]
  Lily was searching intently through the storage area, as if she was digging for a new toy she could tinker with. Alice watched her by the door for quite some time now, though the other girl didn't seem to notice her presence.

  “Um, hi Lily,” Alice finally spoke up, “What are you doing?"

 

  "Oh hi there! Rare to see you here, how was the food? I'm just looking around, thinking of what to build. What brings you here?" Lily was splitting her mind into two, one talking to Alice while the other plans on what to build.

 

  Alice sat down on one of the chairs in the room. "It was delicious, as always. Anyway..."
She began, fumbling with her hands.  "I... actually came here to ask you something. I-I mean, if you're not busy, that is."

 

  Lily focused her thoughts on Alice, she was nervous. "Of course, I'll help if it's still in my grasp."

 

  "Um, alright..." Alice started with a soft voice. "It's been almost a year since I came here but... You see, I don't think I can ever fit in, or be of any good help.” She sounded a little sad.

“I think you know of the recent fight that happened in the portal room, but even then, I could only run away."

Although the fight had ended before I came but still—! 

  "What I'm trying to say is, um," Alice continued, while a faint shade of rose colored her cheeks as she struggled to express her thoughts, “On the scene, I saw Lucian with someone, probably a new recruit. It seemed that he fought off the enemies all by himself, impressively.” She spoke with a slight tone of admiration, but soon switched into a gloomy whisper, “At that moment, I just felt... useless… compared to him.”

 

  There was a brief pause before she abruptly spoke up again, “S-so! If possible, do you think... you can help me be a little... perhaps, less scared?"


   Before Lily could reply, Alice blurted out, "I know, I know it's such an absurd request! I don't even know why I'm telling you all this, and I don't know how that will change anything, I just think we might be friends! I don't even talk much with my roommates, but I don't mean to bother or take advantage of you or anything—"
Alice blinked rapidly and her face reddened as she couldn't stop herself from being anxious.

 

  "Ah! Don't worry about it! I don't mind helping anyone.” Lily interrupted or Alice could have gone on and on with her train of panic. It was embarrassing, but she felt better hearing that her friend was willing to help.

  “But, if you're asking me on tips to fight, I can't do it as well."
  Lily hesitated for a moment, deciding whether or not she should tell her own past. It seems to be unnecessary.
 "How about you do the missions in the bulletin board? Maybe scout with your skills. Ah, if it's hard for you to focus on seeing through your power, I could help by attaching a camera to your rocks."

 

  Alice calmed down. "...Scouting, huh… Do you mean the patrol mission for the area outside the portal room?”
  Honestly, she was unsure of how that would help her overcome her fears, but she felt Lily was genuinely trying to help her in any way she can, which she was grateful for.
  That, or I'm being a pest right now and she wants to quickly send me off. Her pessimism kicked in.
  Nevertheless, she was willing to do the mission. Seemed like a good way to be contributive and—
  "But the skeletons—!" Alice realized. "There... There were skeletons… near the portal room..."

 

  "If I'm not mistaken, the skeletons have all been exterminated by the new guy.”

 

  The problem was—dead or alive—the bony remains of previous humans and who-knows-what-else there sent shivers down Alice's spine. She just hoped that the floor has been cleaned by now.

 

  “But you could always ask others, as I have never one joined a fight. Anyway, let me know what you want to do, and I'll try to help as much as possible with my knowledge. Also, feel free to talk to me anytime, it's not like I'm busy, having someone to talk to is always nice."
  

  “T-Thanks... so much.” Lily’s warm welcome somewhat touched Alice. “Then I'll do it! I'll do the mission!”

 

   “So… Should I make stone pillars near the tree with your camera attached?” Alice pondered to herself, “Ah, but that would seem out-of-place..."

 

  Lily's thought focused on the words 'stone pillar'. She was fascinated by the idea, and weirded out as well. She chuckled. "The pillar seems out of place unless you're in some tropical island.” The earthbender smiled sheepishly, agreeing with her.

  “How about creating small critters to help you scout? Others won't notice such a small creature. I can help on attaching the live feed camera." Lily then began taking the necessary equipment and parts to build the camera.

 

   “Will you be making an equally small camera as well?”

 

   "Sure! I'll be happy to. Tell me if you need to make anything."


   That was actually a question. Alice thought, yet she smiled anyway.

 

 “Small but inconspicuous... How about stone geckos? We could attach them to the tree or on any nearby objects. People won't spot them easily, and even if they do, they wouldn't bother anyway. Could you make a camera for an animal that small?"

 

  "Of course I can. A camera is simple to make. Just need the suitable lenses."

 

  "That's great." Alice's hand reached for something on her hip, but it missed—she wasn't in her battle attire anymore, which means she wasn't wearing her utility belt, where small sacks filled with earthy materials are usually attached to it.
  She looked down at the tiled floor. Beneath the tiles should be earth too, right? Rather than walking all the way back to her suite and returning here, she could take a little shortcut, though rather mischievous; she knelt down with both arms outstretched above the floor, slowly rotating her hands as if she was scooping up sand, yet not touching the ground. Finally, with a small force, the cement that kept the tile together with the others cracked apart. One tile has been removed from its place.
  "I-I'll fix this later!" Alice spoke before Lily said anything, "Please don't tell this to anyone else."


  While concrete is, in reality, not an elastic material, Alice's powers enable her to alter the physical properties of earthly materials—with various materials requiring varying levels of skill and focus—but she could handle this one. Her hands moved swiftly yet carefully as she bent and shaped the concrete provided beneath the tile into her image of a gecko. After about a minute or two, the result was a basic replica of a common small lizard, about the length of a teaspoon.
  "How's this? It's not the best but..." Alice rubbed the back of her neck, "I could make more if needed."

 

  Lily looked at the hole in the ground. "Uh, yeah that should work. And while we're attaching the camera, we better make sure no one goes anywhere near. We'll get scolded.”

  

  Lily began tinkering with her parts, and soon finished the camera.

  “Could you make small holes right at the eyes? Around 1 cm in diameter.”
 

 That was quick! Alice thought, when she saw Lily holding the tiny camera in her hand. When did she make that? I didn't notice her working at all. Where did she learn to make this? Is she an actual genius?
  Alice was observing the tiny device in amusement for a while, before she realized her friend’s request. "O-oh, right!”

---

  After a few minutes, the little surveillance gecko was ready for depart. Alice took it with her outside the base to test it out. Lucky for her, the portal room had been cleaned from the previous skeleton mess. Thank you so, so much, whoever you are. She sighed a breath of relief.

 

  Funny how the park was still conveniently vacant. Maybe it wasn't a popular spot. She placed the little guy on the tree trunk. The rigid stone gecko began to crawl its way up to the higher branches to get a better view of its surroundings. After double-checking to see no one is looking to her direction, she rushed back into the portal immediately. Someone should really ought to install a portal somewhere else not wide in the open. 

 

  Back at the base, Alice walked up into the living room, where Lily is watching the live feed through the gecko's "eyes" from the TV. It looked like the camera worked very nicely, as Lily gave a nod of approval.

 

  Alice was glad. This mission didn't remove her cowardice at all, but at least something nice came out of it; through their little collaboration, she felt her friendship with Lily slightly grew.

Edited by trmizu
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~Several hours later~

 

An announcement begins over the PA system. Aurelius' voice booms from the speakers. 

 

"Good evening. We will be commencing a recon mission within the next hour. Please report to the hub so that we may discuss the mission. I ask for all Seekers, with the exception of the veterans of course. See you soon."

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~Will Shadowen - Just Awake~

Upon hearing the announcement that echoed throughout the whole of underground, Will came back to his consciousness. Did... I randomly fall asleep again? Judging from his own previous habits, he concluded that he had too much thought going on in his head, so he laid down on the bed and dismissed his current thoughts at that moment, then drowsiness soon followed. "This is a comfortable bed," Will muttered. He checked his surroundings again. Nothing has changed on the layout of his room when compared to the moment he first entered. It was a simple, undecorated room, perhaps the additional interiors are left to be customised by its inhabitants. Will attempted to recall what he had just heard. Something about discuss, and mission, and Seekers... Oh. Having no home, Will was constantly moving from city to city, staying at all kinds of buildings, from apartments to cottages. He was supposed to continue his journey to the next city, but...

"Seekers. I wonder who came up with that name? Heroes alone sounds way better than Seekers already. But they do combat the Lost Ones..."

Will got up from bed and put on his casual footwear. Compared to the reserved default footwear for all Seekers who stayed in the suites, Will wore a pair of old, worn, leather sandals. Those were the first, and the only gift that he got from his father. He had never said thank you to both of his parents before. Now he never had the chance to apologize for his misbehaviors. This made him hard to regret or appreciate anything. Anything negative that he had gained, he converted those emotions into rage to fight back. And now, knowing the true threat to humankind, Will unsheathed his sword, and ran his finger along the face of his mysterious weapon.

"I took an oath to kill everything that stands in the way of the Shadowens. I now have nothing to hold back in combat against my enemies."

With his mind refreshed on what his purpose of living was, Will put his sword back, and quietly left his room, closing the door behind him. He's probably late for the meeting, thus he quickened his pace. Assuming that the great rooms he had passed with Aurelius before had a strict atmosphere, Will headed towards the Great Room outside, and planned on finding his own way to the room where everyone would gather.

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~Roxanne "Blood Sugar" Scarlett - Showtime~

 

As the intercom shut off, it gave Roxanne an almost wicked smile. There were only two times she felt completely in her element: Living it up around town, and fighting the demons known as the Lost Ones. She began her preparations for the mission. A quick set of stretches would make sure that her body would be limber enough for combat, a quick filing to get her nails extra sharp for a quick draw if needed, and most importantly: A very bright, red dress.

 

"Showtime." she smiled to herself in the mirror, before leaving to the meeting room.

 

Edited by ThatCoolOfAChick

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   Mission Briefing Time!

   Heather stumbled but caught herself with the nearby pillar when the intercom suddenly began to speak, the noise amplified by the giant concrete area that was the training room. I really wish there was a warning on that thing! she thought, wincing at how loud Aurelius's voice was and recovering her balance on the thin rung beneath her feet; it wasn't her plan to climb up this obstacle then fall off of it.

   Sounds like a mission is coming up, an animus noted aloud. The teen was permeated by a mixture of relief and curiosity as her animus - nearly dormant from boredom as she ran through the agility-training course in the room - began to rouse again.

   That's good, she thought back, it'll give us something to do! She jumped down from the Salmon Ladder, which she had cheated by climbing the half-rungs instead of jumping them, and walked over to Nico, taking care to tread around his skeletons.

   "That was our recruiter," she told him, "I need to go report, but you can't be left alone, so you'll coming with me." She paused for a moment to wonder how she was going to shift out for the meeting, since she didn't want to give away her ability too soon, but decided not to linger on it. "This way." She gestured for Nico to follow with as many skeletons as he wished and left the room, listening for his footsteps to gauge how far he was.

   Her animus were quiet until she began to ascend the staircase, which was when Zhera's sharp voice suddenly cut through her mind: Really? You're just going to drag him up there and compromise security, are you?

   I don't have much of a choice, Heather responded, Aurelius just called for a meeting. He's not going to be dragged away from the table for another hour just because of some new guy that needs to be checked.

   Then he's an idiot, she said bluntly.

   He's also the guy in charge, Heather shot back.

   I don't see how he's a threat, her Ice Spirit animus spoke up, Skeletons are easy to tear down.
   Who said that was the extent of it? Zhera challenged.

   Grrmmm.

   It'll be fine, Heather tried to assure them, and also herself. The sword guy was just dragged in here by Peridot, and every other Seeker is going to be at that table. We'll just address the problem there.
   That's wishful thinking.
   Maybe.

   You're cleaning up the mess he makes!

   Fine!

   Don't pretend you're okay with it. Zhera became more ornery, and Heather waved a hand like she could dismiss her with it. As far as she was concerned, Nico was Aurelius's problem, not hers. She just made sure that he couldn't run rampant around on the base. Why exactly he was interested in the Shadow Seekers in the first place was beyond her, and she was still wary because he did attack the base before introducing himself, but at the same time she could care less about it all. Having lots of consciousnesses in your head helped with dropping grudges in favor of more exciting things. The conflicting interests would give way to her usual indifference soon enough.

   Heather was early to the meeting room: only Roxanne and the new sword guy was there. Her red eye focused on the latter as she ascended the short stairs to the meeting table and arbitrarily picked a seat, somewhere where she could still watch Nico. Peridot wasn't here yet... so was the sword guy hired? Roxanne looked pretty calm for having a stranger standing across from her, but then again she was always composed. Heather couldn't recall a time of seeing her be nervous.
   As opposed to Alice... I really ought to worry about that girl more, she thought to herself, wringing her hands in her lap.
   You should be more worried about the SECOND new guy, Shadow pointed out from the back of her mind.
   Point taken.

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~ Alice Chiura - Girl? Guy? ~

 

   Alice spent the evening in the living area, doodling on her sketchbook on the table while the TV in front of her was streaming a live feed from her little gecko's "eyes". Nothing out of the ordinary was going on so far. Alice grew slightly bored, so she changed the channel, thinking that she could treat herself to a short film before watching over the surveillance camera again. She stopped switching the channels when an attractive actor caught her eye. The plot and the characters of the movie were interesting enough for her to extend her break time from "just 30 minutes" to a full two hours. Unbeknown to her was its genre as a psychological thriller — not her usual type of movies. She realized it late, but tried to stick around a bit to see what happens next.


  The protagonist slowly opened a gloomy door with an eerie creak. Suddenly an air of silence. The tension of the atmosphere built up to its climax and—

  "AAAAAH—!"

  Aurelius' loud announcement came without warning through the speakers, startling a poor Alice as she jumped out of her seat, hit her toe on the table leg in front and stumbled to her side, almost rolling off before she regained her balance.

  "Ow... Now out of all times..."

  Alice assumed it's that time again; fighting the Lost Ones is something she dislikes, so she vainly hoped that she won't have to encounter one, though the chances are unlikely due to their recent mass reproduction. She had just wasted two hours of what was supposed to be doing her surveillance mission but it's no use regretting over it now. She just sighed, cleaned up her stuff on the table and turned off the TV, then walked to the kitchen to get herself a glass of water. A nice refreshing cold glass of water to ease herself before a mission, though it's not going to be that easy to stay calm.

  When she headed out of the kitchen, three figures—no, four—were already positioned in the meeting room on the center of the Great Room she's in. She recalled the peculiar robot to be Heather, with her... what was it called again? Animus? It sounded like “Anime” to her, but of course she wouldn't say that. The only other familiar face was Roxanne. One of the other two was the boy she remembered seeing earlier in the portal room, though it was just a short glance, but the huge sheathed sword on his back confirmed her assumptions. The long-haired goth however...

  Who is that... girl? Guy?

  Shyly, she walked over to the round table where they all gathered. She tried to utter a word, but the strange atmosphere of the room and the presence of unfamiliar faces held her back. She ended up nodding slightly to Roxanne and Heather as her greetings, but only took a quick glance on the other two. Her eyes didn't even meet theirs. She sat down in silence, hoping that everyone else would gather quickly, perhaps to break the ice. 

Edited by trmizu

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   [Everyone present; banter between Mika, Latios, Bloodbathe, Skwerl, trmizu and ThatCoolOfAChick] - Mission Briefing

   Aurelius’ pale eyes skimmed over the crowd as almost everyone made their way into the room. “Good evening. I’m sure you’re aware by now, but we are going on a simple recon mission tonight. Our objective is to explore the area between Campbell Hall and the College Avenue student center, throughout the campus, and defeat as many enemies as we can. Do we have any questions, comments, or concerns before we begin?”

   There were several derisive mutters in Heather's head as Aurelius's eye simply glazed over Nico. She ignored them, straightening her animus up as she had slumped in the wait for everyone to gather (consequently missing Alice's acknowledgement when she arrived).
   "Yeah, what are we doing about Goth Guy here?" Heather gestured to Nico. "Since he casually poured skeletons down the entrance thinking we were some child-abuse company, or something?" She refrained from pointing out the base's obvious lack of holding cells despite the chance of something like that happening, instead adding another question: "Also, can we solo this, and should we care about being seen? I dislike being tethered to a team."
   What the heck are Lost Ones doing hanging out in a college campus? one of her animus asked.
   I'll ask that in a second.

   Aurelius sighed and rubbed his temple. Of course it would be Heather who came up with these kinds of questions. “I’m still deciding on the necromancer. If we need to I’m sure some of the scouts are willing to hold him back, but I am considering. As for being seen and soloing..... Yes, you may solo, but I strongly suggest being near a team in the event you get hurt. Being seen? Try and be subtle, don’t wreck **, okay?”

   "Ehh, okay," she resigned, disappointment slipping into her voice despite it being much more cheerful than what was going on in her head. She wondered for a bit about what she should shift into for the mission-
   Hey, the question.
   Oh yeah, she reminded herself, speaking up again: "So do we know why there are Lost Ones at the campus? Are we looking for like... an epicenter or a nest of some sort?"

   Campbell Hall, College Avenue student center. Alice took in mental notes of the mission. Her sense of direction is pretty bad, even though she's been in the area for quite a long time now.
   Oh it's a guy... Wait, skeletons?! So it's him...! Alice turned her head to look at the face of the white-haired goth, the said necromancer. She was practically staring at him with furrowed eyebrows, but she didn't realize she was doing that.

   Aurelius nodded. “Yes, we have detected a spike in activity as of recently. We believe there’s some sort of colony, but we’re not a hundred percent sure.”

   Heather processed the answer, wondering how big a "colony" might be. It sounded like fun though! Flex some of her animus' muscles, which she was sure they were dying to do.

   "It's been a while since I've gone against a colony of 'em." Roxanne quipped out of nowhere, "Hopefully I'm not too rusty at this."

   "A colony...!" Alice snapped out of her staring.
   Oops, I didn't mean to say that out loud.
   Not wanting to look dumb, she continued, "Um, how many of them will there be in a... nest?" She shivered at that last word, imagining some kind of a cave crowded with black menacing slimy creatures. Maybe her imagination is a bit too far off. "Approximately, I mean."

   "We don't know. Our scouts have counted over a dozen, maybe more," Aurelius answered.

   Over a dozen? Heather thought avidly, No wonder we're sending everyone in! That's a big nest close to base!

   Nico, realizing that they're going to fight the Lost Ones, started jumping excitedly. "Can I join? I really want to fight and not get stuck in here. I can help, both with offense and defense, healing the
wounded while also fighting."

   Heather jumped at Alice's sudden outburst - but having been quiet herself, at one point, it wasn't surprising - but before she heard Aurelius' answer she heard Nico's excitement beside her and turned to give him a long , perplexed look. Wanting to fight she could sympathize with... but since when could he heal? He was just a summoner, or necromancer as Aurelius already coined him to be. Although as much as she hated to admit it, having the skeletons flood the campus and be bait for the Lost Ones would be helpful... then again, it would be equally unhelpful if Nico turned the horde on the Seekers, for whatever reason. At the same time, the skeletons would be spread out; on the other hand, there was no place to keep Nico...!
   "Uh, petition to keep Nico out of the mission? Lilith can stay behind and make him 'comfortable'." She gave the boy a pointed look, clearly referring to being locked in an empty suite and letting the veterans decide what to do with him.

   "Awh come on, I'm better outside," Nico insisted, "I'll get bored inside and will end up summoning my armies all over the place just to have fun. Besides, this might be a good chance to make..... 'Acquaintances'."

   "Oh you shut the ** up," commanded Will, in a highly agitated tone. He was still holding a grudge against Nico for some reason, but for the sake of the team and fighting the Lost Ones, Will had been trying to contain his emotions. "I can take them all alone; it's risky, but I have not died yet. I'd like to see if these nine-lives stories are real or just plain fantasies, too."

   Alice did not like the idea of this Nico guy joining the mission either. She might be a bit judgemental, but she already disliked the necromancer. Everything about him gives off a bad impression on her. Especially the skeletons.

   Acquaintances? Heather's mind echoed in suspicion. Her head - or rather, Sister Turret's entire upper body - whipped around when Will suddenly snapped at the goth. Whoa! Talk about rivalry. She then refrained from laughing at his arrogant claim of being able to take the nest on himself. If only it were that easy!

   "Wait what, what do you mean nine lives? Do we have nine lives?" Nico asked.

   "Oh, perhaps you'd like to trade one for a taste of my blade, then!?" At this point, the more Nico talks, the more furious Will becomes.

   Alice was startled by Will's sudden anger, which made her quiver and step back a bit. What's wrong with this guy?!

   Remind us why we're working with these people again? Zhera muttered in Heather's mind.
   They're new, I expect some tension, Heather excused them.
   You said that when you met Aura and Nova.
   Okay, in my defense I knew we wouldn't get along right away-
   You assume they're different?

   Aurelius waited for a second, then he grabbed the megaphone. “Will we quit acting like children and ask real questions about the details of this mission. Please and thank you.”

   Aurelius's sudden blaring voice cut through Heather's thoughts and ascended to a squeal of microphone feedback, making the machine jump and habitually smack her hands to her face. "Dang it! All of my ears are sensitive!" she barked, but was drowned out by the firm order to stop fighting. She gave herself a rough shake as if she had nerves and could calm them. You okay? she asked her morphed animus. The mute turret sent her a sort of... frayed feeling. Yeah, I know.

   Will was about to provoke Nico into a fight, but Aurelius's timing was on point, preventing unwanted chaos in the room. Will then raised his right hand.

   Nico was impressed by how much anger Will has, but for the sake of the current surroundings, does not want to provoke him further. He is, of course, still going to ask questions, as he will not listen to orders from anyone, especially someone who says they're going to kill him. "So, is the nine lives thing true?"

   “Yes. That it is,” Aurelius confirmed.

   Will lowered his hand. Perhaps this is a rapid-fire session. So he darted, "How are we going to split the teams?"

   "Can I go with the mech? Uh, that is if you don't mind." Nico said to the girl that's been with him the entire time.

   Heather had gone back to musing about her new morph and whatever animus she'll summon to help while the others kept asking questions. She was already in her least-destructive morph... well, relatively speaking.... but it's also very fragile. Changing to her Secutor form might be best. The Ice Spirit would be the best fighter but would also cause a lot of collateral damage; Sister Turret she can at least trust to send off on her own...
   Nico asked about you, Elara suddenly piped up. Heather pulled herself out of her thoughts in curiosity.
   "Huh? If I don't mind what?" she asked dumbly.
   Teams, Elara snickered.
   "Oh!" she exclaimed softly. "Uh... well...." she was tempted to deny him, but her sense of individuality conflicted with her trusting that he won't get into trouble when she's not around. It was a nonsensical impulse, but it made her hesitate. "Hey Aurelius, how much about the Seekers should he know? Like... ability-wise?"

   “He should know abilities. All else isn’t necessary,” Aurelius replied. He put two fingers to his temple and furrowed his brow. All of this crap was giving him a headache- why was this his job?

   Heather's sense of security clashed with the response, resulting in uncertainty. Does that mean it's safe for her to morph in front of Nico? Let's not worry about that until later, she eventually decided, asking next, "When will we be leaving?"

   "Yeah, I'm ready to stab things!" jeered Roxanne.

   Aurelius sighed. “How do we split you all up.... hmm.”

   Will turned his head towards Roxanne, slightly amazed at how she's eager to battle. Taking a look around, seeing as they're probably the only ones that were active in the conversation, Will spoke again. "Since there are quite a number of Seekers here, how about splitting the teams based on chemistry? For instance, me and that idiot over there are new here, so it's best that we team up together," while pointing at Nico.

   Nico was enjoying the show, before Will said that they should pair up. He made an annoyed look with a slight hint of amusement. "You tried to kill me, and now you want to team up? What's your goal? Let me just tell you, I'm not easy to seduce."

   Will replied, "It's simple. Your skeletons are deceased humans. And you are correct, I do want to kill you, but I'd rather keep you in check. My goal is simple: kill anyone that does genocide, be it Lost Ones or humans." A thought came to his mind. After adjusting himself to a comfortable seating position, the newcomer then questioned Nico with a sharp gaze, "Were you a veteran of a war? How many have you killed, and why?"

   Nico looks at Will directly in the eye, with a playful gaze, replied. "I don't like how you phrase your words, so I'm going to rephrase for you. You're saying you want to know me more, then that's something you have to do outside of a fight. When I fight, you won't see me move at all from a place, so you won't be able to focus anyway. I use my skeletons to do my bidding. As of the last question, you need to wait to get the answer. We're not on a good term from the beginning... well you're not.. at least. You're the one to rage at me, so I'm gonna keep my eyes on you instead."

   Will paused for a moment, then looked downwards and reached his sword with his left hand. "Aurelius, permission to kill this invader to see if he actually has nine lives?"

   Alice did not like where this was going at all. She was already anxious from the thought of fighting a Lost One colony, and now the heated argument — followed by Will's words of intended murder against Nico — all the more made her stomach churn. "...E-Excuse me. I need to go to the restroom."

   Heather was annoyed that her question was ignored - it takes time to form animus! - but was quickly engaged by the tension that was spiking up between both newcomers. It looked like Will had a bone to pick with Nico... no pun intended. As it went on she became more and more neutral about who's team she was on; Nico had an attitude that slowly crept under her skin, but Will obviously had a temper too which clashed ironically with his learned speech. A temper she knew how to deal with, as most of her animus have bad ones, but she could only deal with so much negativity. With Nico she at least had Wilfre to help her with his weird circumlocution, assuming she could get the animus to work with her...

   "Kids, Kids. As much as I'd love to see some bloodshed and y'all having a little squabble, let's put that energy into hunting some Lost ones," Roxanne directed towards Will and Nico, before getting up and walking towards Aurelius, quietly she suggested to him, "If I may suggest something, leave the children with some of the more experiences hunters. I'd be willing to take one of them with me to keep in check if that would be alright with you."

   Aurelius nodded and took the megaphone again. “Hell. No. Both of you separate, I will not have you on the same team if you act in this way.”

   "Gah! Fricking!..." Again Heather was wrenched from her thoughts and jumped and shook herself. Sister Turret is too high-strung for this! I have to morph out. She looked out to her suite's door, considering taking a break as well while Will and Nico vainly attempted to be cordial, and she became more inclined to since Roxanne was thankfully helping Aurelius handle the situation. She's better at that than I am.

   Nico was about to reply, but Aurelius's order plus seeing the girl's sudden urge to take a break made him laugh. "Hahaha.. It seems we have scared someone off. I'm gonna end this argument if you don't mind, and maybe I was to harsh on you. Let me start over, my name is Nico, as for where I'm from, I don't know, I was raised by a bunch of thieves and murderers. I'm the one who raised the dead against you, thinking that it's the organization I'm hunting. I wish we could at least not sheathe our weapons against each other, if you want to know me more, I need to know you more."

   Thieves and murderers, those kinds of people were far inferior to Will before. Now that he's alone, he realized that he himself had become a stranger to the world, no longer considering what is right or wrong. To that, he became more considerate for people less fortunate. But for once, he did not give much thought to his surroundings, Will had probably made Alice uncomfortable. He definitely deserved to explain himself. He calmed down, resting his hands on the table.
   "Alright, let me put this in another simple way. I despise death. I honestly prefer you to use other kinds of creatures for your army; I'll let you slip with humans if only you weren't the ones who killed them. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely won't hesitate to bring death myself to those who kills, including the Lost Ones. Though, if the organization that you're hunting are thieves and murderers, I have nothing against that. My name's Will, I came from the Shadowen family."

   Alice flinched when Nico pointed out her discomfort. Now even the newcomers will remember her as the scaredy-cat Nine Liver. Her face felt hot, so she lowered her head in embarrassment, but she was relieved that they've stopped fighting. She silently stood up and excused herself out of the room for a break. Whichever team she'll end up in never really mattered to her; as long as she can support her team, whoever they are, as best as she can in the battlefield, that is enough. Though in this case, she particularly did not wish to be teamed up with either of the newbies.

   Heather just watched the last of the squabble; it was almost entertaining, like a movie. Will threatening Nico, Alice getting up to leave... Heather felt a brief excited rush to stand up and call her back and say it's okay, but a second of hesitance was too slow and the girl left. She just watched her, becoming annoyed with herself, but if Alice needed some breathing room she couldn't fix that by keeping her at the table.
   Note to self: give Alice the rest of the details once we're done, she thought. "Nico said he's most comfortable around me, so I guess he's on my team," Heather spoke up, "I'll take Alice too if no one else does. I'd ask for a healer, but... yeah."

   Will gave Heather a confused look, but did not ask anything to her. He took a quick glance at all the unfamiliar faces in the room, then got up from his seat. "Since I think I'll be uncomfortable with anyone anyways, I'll just take a walk around this campus." He then proceeded towards the door, which Alice had left the room through.

   Aurelius sighed and out his head in his hands. This was not going well, not at all.

   "Well, that's awkward. Before we continue, can we get to know each other a little more, just so maybe we could get in a friendlier term. I did my introduction, although brief, so maybe starting with the alpha?" Nico pointed at Aurelius.

   Aurelius didn't entertain the offer. "You will learn what you need to know about the Seekers on the mission. If you prove to have the potential for a good Seeker, we will give you the rest of the important information later."

   Heather wasn't opposed to the idea of introductions, but she did like Aurelius's security measure. First though, she needed to morph out of Sister Turret before her tension spikes again and she stops cooperating, so she began to morph back to her human form while the others were occupied. It would take about two minutes for Nico to notice her changing, and that would be a good time for her to explain her ability. While she let the animus' form go she listened for anyone claiming Will for a team; the guy sure has some nerve, thinking he can go into a nest of Lost Ones and be okay... maybe she held too much faith in her animus, but as far as she's concerned, if they can't solo it, no one can.

   Aurelius looked at everyone and sighed. When everything quieted down, he said, “We will be leaving as soon as possible due to the size of the colony. Do we have any more questions? If not, gather into teams and we will proceed.”
   "What teams will there be?" Heather pressed.
   "We'll have four. A show of hands for team one, please?"
   Nico was the first to raise his hand, then Lavender surprisingly did as well. Since she offered to keep Nico comfortable, Heather resigned to raising her still-morphing hand.
   "For team two?"
   Lucian put his hand in the air, and Chikako shyly accompanied him. Aurelius didn't seem fazed by the Seekers' unwillingness to work together, next asking for team three, and this time Evonna and Lilith rose their hands. That left Jehan with Roxanne, and whoever Will and Alice will be going with; the others opted to stay behind. Heather decided to take her offer of bringing Alice with seriously, standing up from her chair as Aurelius announced forcing Will into the second team, since he wasn't present to speak for himself.
   "I'll fetch Alice for Team One and ready myself," she said, wobbling on her feet as they melted back to their plantigrade, shoed state. She then looked at Nico, giving him a factual, yet almost cheeky look. "I hope you're okay with monsters too, and not just bots," she said, smiling a bit, before she shuffled off to the stairs in pursuit of Alice and Will.

   With that settled, Aurelius dismissed everyone at the table so they could ready themselves. It was imperative that they attack this nest before it grew too big to handle in one night.

Edited by skwerl56767
Forgot to put trmizu as a collab participant.

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~Dylus Traven - Late! ~

"Finally, after circling around the town for hours, I think I have enough evidence for myself!" The sun had already set as the evening crowd began to disperse back to their homes. Dylus was running as fast as he could towards his own home: the Shadow Seekers' base. Before he could reach the portal tree, a skeletal figure intercepted him. He was about to knock the bony creature down, until the skeleton handed him a paper. Upon reading what's written on it, Dylus shook his fist towards the sky. Damn! Heather had forced him to speak up before I could. He read the words again, noticing the word "introducing", indicating that he would not fight against the Seekers. When the skeleton had crumbled back to dust, Dylus rushed into the portal and headed immediately towards the great room. "I can't let them befriend that necromancer so easily! From my investigation, that man had been searching throughout the whole city for something, very suspicious."

 

Before he could enter, he saw a woman walking out of the room. Dylus quickly stepped back and awkwardly hid behind the somewhat large television. The television has been placed in the great room for public use, but he has rarely seen anyone actually watching anything with it. The Doggo took a peek to see who had just went out. That's Alice, isn't it? Before he could move, more and more people came walking out from the meeting room. Wait, there was a meeting? And I'm late? After cursing himself for not being present at important times, Dylus retreated upstairs and sneaked out of the base. He was once again outside at the Douglas Campus, this time he walked towards the nearest building, the bookstore, and prepared himself for a (personal) scouting mission. "I'm going to keep an eye on that boy if he shows up. If he does the slightest hint of intentional harm against the Seekers, I'm going to report him as an enemy!'

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   [Bloodbathe, Mika, trmizu, Skwerl] About To Go In

   Heather shifted impatiently, her tail twitching. Sister Turret stood immobile beside her, appearing to ignore her surroundings, but rather more attentive to them than her summoner. Heather herself had decided on her Ice Spirit form for its sheer destructive power, just in case the colony they sought out had three times as many Lost Ones than the scouts counted. The large scaly build was heavy, and fighting in the halls of a building was going to be fun to say the least, but it was comforting with the natural Ice Spirit overconfidence and disdain. Her sharp yellow eyes counted her comrades again: Lavender, who had been around for about as long as she has yet still unnerved her with her subtle, psychic ability; Alice, who was still downright nervous but hopefully could make use of the concrete and tile of the campus in a pinch; and Nico, the new guy who she still had reservations about trusting. He was grinning excitedly, but heck, he's been either broody or suspiciously entertained since she first tackled him. The other teams Aurelius had assembled were in different locations of the campus, to surround it. Heather's animus had plenty of criticism about how effective the "surrounding" was, but what could she say about it? She was just here to get their urge to fight out of her system.


   Her tail thumped the ground, the Ice Spirit with the greatest hold on her consciousness beginning to grumble to herself about how long this was taking. Heather could only think in relief about how she was the patient one; imagine if she had perfected a shift into a different, more aggressive breed of Ice Spirit, or even someone like Samatai!.... Actually, it's a good thing neither her nor Samatai want him to be a shift, otherwise there might be another world war, but at least he's retired, technically.
   The teen shook her head clear, rattling her shoulder scales slightly. Her mind was starting to wander! "When are we going to be sent in? I'm getting antsy," she muttered to herself, scanning the campus grounds around them.


   Lavender grinned as she spotted the nest. “There it is! I can’t wait to go and kick some Lost One ass.” She smiled and gave a very rude gesture to the nest. “Y’all have been causing way too much trouble. Time to exterminate.”


   Nico stared at the student center, which was dark at this time of night. "Can we go now?" he asked, itching to start the hunt already.


   Heather snarled impulsively and snapped at Lavender. "Being rude is asking for a vengeance problem!" her animus made her say. She then quickly recomposed herself, fighting the animus's heightened tension. "Or at least, that's what all of the voices in my head say," she added, "I don't want to find out the hard way that these things are fully sentient."


   Lavender shrugged. “If ya say so, but please chill.” She seemed taken aback by the almost animalistic snarl. “Seriously, we’re not that close that those things can hear us. Let’s just go, since a certain someone is talking my ear off.”


   "Yeah, can we go now?" Nico asked again.


   "Blame the innate aggression," Heather muttered; no matter how many times she turned into this creature she still had a hard time keeping her calm. Her eyes flicked over at Nico, who was still unusually excited about the idea of attacking a colony. One would think they were talking about grabbing milkshakes instead!
   "We're still waiting on the scout," she told him, though it was also directed at the whole group. "We don't want to go running into a trap."
   There's also the possibility of the scout having been eaten by said trap, Elara pointed out in her head.
   "...but if it takes five minutes longer we're going in anyway."


   Thankfully, it didn't take a minute more for the scout to appear, running down the sidewalk to their left. It was a bit odd, considering the scout had used his pressure-based ability to unlock the doors and go inside the Student Center, and they were looking at the entrance; how did he go around?...
   Heather's sharp eyes then caught an important factor. Her animus said it for her: Blood. His flank is wounded.
   What happened? she wondered.
   Came too close to a Lost One, was the answer. She ignored the condescending tone and approached the scout as he came to a stop in front of them.
   "Where was it? How big?" she demanded. He panted, one arm holding his bloodied side. His right shoulder was stiff, and decorated by two big gashes. He took a moment to catch some air before responding.
   "Big... Ambushed... Came through the wall... Second floor..." He groaned, "Pressure's helping. It's glass."
   Of course, she thought, it would have been too convenient if it was just a scrape.
   "All right, all right..." she muttered, thinking quickly.


   "Uh, should I use my troop to bring him to the base? I think I could guarantee a safe journey if I use my speedster," Nico offered, "although if they're ambushed my troop can't really retaliate."


   Heather looked at Nico for a long minute, pondering his offer. As always, she could see the downside of trusting him, and yet she also saw the downside of not. She waited a few seconds to see if anyone had any other suggestions, but the only sound she was answered with was the scout doubling over on his weak side with a groan.
   "All right," she yielded, "This is your first chance to establish trust. There shouldn't be any Lost Ones by the base. It's a straight shot." She guided the scout over to him, lifting up his wounded side a bit so he didn't have to put as much weight on it.
   "My head hurts..." he complained.
   "You've lost blood and have been using your ability," she reasoned quietly to him. "Nico: can you still fight with one of your skeletons in another place?"


   Alice had been silent the entire time, being nervous but also cautious to her surroundings. She let out a gasp and quickly averted her eyes after seeing their badly wounded scout. She gulped, her hands wrapped around her side, as if she could feel the scout's pain. She was beginning to sweat, but remained quiet while the others were discussing by themselves. Right now, she really needs to get a hold of herself.


   Nico received the wounded scout and did some first aid patch up to him. "I should be fine. He's a runner, not a fighter. Should we send a message so that no one freaks out when they see a skeleton carrying someone dying?"


   Heather nodded. "That's a good idea," she said. Some of her animus made skeptical mutters, but she felt a bit less stressed, thinking that the scout would be fine. It was more important that they find the Lost One colony; people can always heal over time. Speaking of...
   "The other teams, are they ready?" she asked the scout before he was sent off.
   He watched Nico uncertainly, but responded with a terse "Yeah. They know to go. I didn't check all the floors-"
   "That's good enough," she interrupted. "Don't tell Aurelius I said that though." She shot a look at Lavender and Nico when she said that. "We need to get moving."


   Lavender felt her temple start to throb. This group was already going to be a thorn in her side, she could tell already. She was hoping to lead and maybe get an edge up on some of these people, but alas. Hmm, Lavender thought, Maybe I’ll do a thorough check once we’re in. “Yeah, yeah, send ‘em home and let’s go,” she stated in her Charleston accent. “We got Lost Ones to exterminate.”


   Nico wrote a letter while summoning his runner, telling the base not to freak out when they see the skeleton. He finished patching the scout up. "Which path should I take, the quick ones or a safe one?"
   "There's more than one?" Heather asked dubiously.
   "I was new in this area, I don't know the roads here."
   She waved a hand dismissively. "Send him back the way we came, however fast that is. He can direct the skeleton." She looked at the scout just to make sure he was still conscious, but he was leaning heavily against the summon, not even caring that it lacked flesh, and didn't look up off the ground. "...Preferably a fast route in case he passes out."


   Lavender glanced at the scout. “....Jeez. Yeah, and let’s move.”
 

   Heather's tail thumped on the ground as she watched the skeleton carry the scout away from the student center. She still had reservations about trusting Nico, but she had to remind herself that he lost more by destroying everyone's trust than gaining it. She reassessed everyone: Alice, nervous and pale; Lavender, impatient and a little annoyed; and Nico, still avid about the mission. Well, everyone looked ready enough.
   Are YOU ready? Elara asked.
   No, Shadow answered for her. Heather ignored her joking laughter.
   I'm ready enough.
   Yeah right.
   Just don't get yourself killed, the android said, concerned. I don't want to cease existing because you hit your head too hard.
   The animus she was morphed into sent her a strong, reassuring defiance. Ice Spirits were pretty tough; she was sure she would be fine even though she was still new to attack missions. Yet, her command of "Let's go" was quiet as she approached the student center doors.

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