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[NaNoWriMo] Part-Time Magica: Yulia Atyanas and the Magic of Fisticuffs

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Master of Squirrel-fu, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    People had an odd habit of being unnecessarily stubborn. When it came to inconsequential things it seemed they only clenched their jaws harder and prepared to fight to the death. It was like they ran out of hills so they went out looking for any sort of dirt clod to die on.

    The worst ones were those people who tried to make their own hill by piling up said clods.

    It was with this judgement in mind that the girl, Yulia Atyanas, watched the scene in front of her. She sat in her seat, resting her head in her hands, as several girls from her class bickered among themselves. Or rather all but one bickered at the shortest member. Each one acting in turn to verbally rip another chunk out of the poor girl's self esteem. It was like some sort of pathetic imitation of a pack of lions taking down a gazelle.

    If you replaced the lions with Chihuahuas and the gazelle was actually a wounded bunny, yeah, Yulia thought unfavorably to herself, Wonder what pissed them off this time.

    The girl was more than a little annoyed, if not enough to act. While Homeroom was supposed to be for catching up on school work or socializing with classmates Yulia felt she did more than enough of both during actual classes and put the time to more effective use. She did not appreciate having her precious sleep time interrupted prematurely by the blithering idiots that she happened to share a room with. Again, she got enough of that during the rest day.

    "...And is that chocolate icing?" The apparent leader of the group, Mocha if Yulia recalled, snatched something off the desk of their cowering victim, "Gawd, I knew you were insensitive but this? Were you trying to kill poor Choco."

    "Yeah, I bet she was! She thinks she's all hot stuff but she can't have me as competition," What competition? We're class in Class N, it'd be a miracle if half the people in this room could actually spell that word.

    "She probably thought she could just buy her way out of jail afterwards!" Yulia had to blink at that one. If she recalled it was wasn't a secret that Sawa, the mousy girl being laid into, was on State Assisted Living. The girl had a part-time job after school in a bakery that Yulia occasionally visited.

    "Actually, it's artificial cocoa, so it won-"

    "Like that matters! What makes you thi-"

    Yulia decided to tune out the rest of the little rant, having seen enough. It was disgraceful in her opinion, but it didn't affect her and so she didn't really care much. Mocha and her ilk were annoyances who never learned to shut up when told before, so Yulia knew it'd be a wasted effort. Time much better spent trying to get back some more sleep.

    Her attempts at rest were sadly interrupted by a sudden crash from behind her and the sight of one of the poor girls flying over her head. Yulia assumed it was an involuntary flight, otherwise Coco would need to learn how to stick her landings before trying that again.

    There was scrambling as most of the class exited their seats to gather around the group from before. Sawa was on the floor, most likely having been shoved there by her 'friends' and another classmate stood in front of her with her fist extended looking positively demonic.

    Granted, Louise often looked demonic given her 'unique' heritage but for the first time she seemed willing to put that on full display. Inhumanly flawless white skin paired with literally inky black hair and red eyes were quite an intimidating thing to face against. The girls from before were cowed by the display, while Yulia found it understandable you were still disappointed given their quick submission in the face of superior force.

    "..." The demonette hissed further cowing the other two. Given the length and complexity Yulia assumed Louise was trying to say something in her native tongue. Or maybe she just wanted to scare the crap out of some the Mutts.

    Either way the attempt was only partially successful, Mocha had recovered some wit about her and charged her paler adversary claws first. Quickly students began to cheer and and clear a space for the...

    I wonder, is it a cat fight when it’s between a Dog and a snake? Yulia pondered, Better question, are those two going to stop before the-

    “What is going on here?” Came the stern voice of Ms Butterby. The hard faced woman having entered the open door to find her class room in disarray and students in the middle of a brawl.

    Too late.

    -------------------

    Yulia scowled impotently down at the papers on her desk as if they suffered on her some deep personal wrong. Sadly they didn’t look much repentant for their actions against her. Homework feared no man apparently.

    An extra assignment was assigned as a punishment to Class N for rough housing and rabble rousing. Yulia felt unfairly persecuted by such a blanket policy as she distinctly recalled neither fighting nor even leaving her own seat during the whole debacle. She’d purposefully made sure to avoid anything implying involvement in fact.

    Do not Involve Yourself. That was her policy for as long as she could recall. From her earliest childhood memories to the present she separated herself from the world around her. She preferred to observe over act. Even as a youth people had considered her well mannered and very deliberate child. Smart, polite, and certainly not any sort of trouble maker.

    Confrontations like that morning were things she was trying to avoid.

    Life isn’t fair, She thought privately, If I’d known I was going to do the time anyway I would have made sure I did the crime.

    With a sigh Yulia dropped her shoulders and the aggression from before seemed to melt away into apathy. The assignment was boring, a short essay about the one of the Six Holy Maidens. She could probably write a few paragraphs about the Maiden of Hope like everyone always does and finish up before the final bell of the day. Of the six she was the most well known outside of her specific sect, neatly removing the extra step needed for research. It wasn’t likely Ms Butterby wanted to look over extra work anymore than anyone in class wanted to do it.

    Without a doubt the bitter woman would be getting roughly 20 sheets by the end of the day that boiled down to: “The Hopeful Maiden united the six and together they stopped The World Eater.”

    Simple, easy, and less effort for everyone involved. Yulia nodded to herself as she came to the obvious answer.

    She put down her pencil. None of that then.

    Too boring, she’d never finish it. For all the girl’s passivity she was quite lacking in patience. She’d do her own research and write up something interesting. Not necessarily educational but something she’d find entertaining enough to follow through with. The teacher didn’t give a definite date to turn in the papers, she could take her time.

    So the minutes ticked by with the steady scratch of pencil on paper to sooth the ear and mellow the mind. Yulia found herself drifting off, toeing the edges of the land of dreams before being pulled back by the firm voice of her teacher.

    “Pencils down class,” As always Ms Butterby’s voice brokered no argument, “If you haven’t completed the assignment you have until homeroom tomorrow to complete and turn it in. For now, I have an important announcement.”

    Yulia frowned, disappointed at the deadline but felt a spark of interest at the promise of news. She gave the teacher her full attention, as did the rest of the class. Intimidation was only part of the reason they listened to their teacher, the rest was respect.

    Butterby only had to wait a moment before she continued, assured that she would not need to repeat herself.

    "Now that I have your undivided attention I'd like to share a bit of news with you. As I'm sure you are all aware, with the recent policy changes the new term has brought with it many new students to our school."

    There was a hush as students whispered among themselves. It was no secret that there was a extreme swell in the number of Transmigrants in the city, specifically the districts surrounding the school itself which were considered low income areas. The past few months had... not been pleasant for those living in the area, which was expected from a sudden increase in the number of people.

    Sudden masses of Transmigrants wasn’t as rare a thing as one would hope, if thankfully rather rare, but there were policies in place for it. It was just unfortunate that the area chosen to house the new population this time was theirs. Yulia didn't consider herself particularly savvy or in the know about it but even she could see the writing on the wall.

    In layman's terms most of the people in the room had little reason to be happy about the influx of students, and quite a few to be very upset about it.

    “I’m not sure if you students recall it but the the last time Area 34 was required to host a mass of refugees was nearly a decade ago, so some of you might not recall most of what occures and what’s required.”

    There were sounds of agreement through the class, many of the students had no experience with the current situation.

    “There will be some changes to the school policy, though that will be in the leaflets I’ll hand out to you. It’s nothing too different, certain classes will be relocated and merged together in the coming months, and there’s a curfew in place in the district until further notice. There’s contact numbers for the Health & Safety Department if you have questions. The school will also be asking for volunteers in order to help your new peers acclimate to life here in Alexandria. We’ll need some students to show students around the school and we will also be having fundraisers as well to assist them, if you want to help you can speak with me before class anytime.”

    Opinions were split, while most people didn’t like their current new situations some did genuinely want to help out. Neither side however seemed to want to openly admit their allegiance.

    The teacher went on, explaining some more minor changes and rules for the students as slowly any enthusiasm they had was drained away. Ms Butterby was fairly thorough, and while most policies only affected a minority of the students, nearly everyone was affected by at least a few, and the woman was willing to answer any questions given to her. While she was grateful at having a few of her questions answered Julia wasn’t exactly pleased by the long wait that came before and after she needed as others received similar.

    “And finally on to the last order of business,” Julia could barely muster enough interest to turn her head from where it lay on her desk, “With the large increase of new students the school district has decided to move the end of the year examinations to the end of the week… And a few representatives from The Ministra Union will be present as well for elective exams on a strictly volunteer basis.”

    The woman was grinding her teeth in clear reluctance at the end, showing distaste at the news.

    The students however were quite the opposite.

    “We’re being tested to be Ministra?” An excited girl yelled out, sounding like she’d just learned she would be getting a golden pony for her birthday.

    “We can be Ministra?” “Do we get costumes?” “Oh my god, I can’t believe it!” “

    Yulia herself was similarly dumbfounded like her peers. Becoming a Ministra… it was something all children wanted. It was like being a superhero. Hell, it was being a superhero. While exams were open to all ages one needed the permission of their parents if they weren’t emancipated. Understandably parents were fairly reluctant to sign their kids up to fight monsters for a living, especially given the cost of the exams and usually equipment needed.

    “No,” Ms Butterby’s firm denial cut through the growing shouts of excitement like a knife, “They will only, only, be running tests to determine your potential as a possible Ministra and giving out information about their organization. These tests are not required, they will only be allowed to test you with if you consent and your parents do not object.”

    Her cautions fell on deaf ears as, despite the let down of not being given a full exam many were quite excited to learn if they had potential. Everyone took the informational sheet that Ms Butterby gave out, but most likely very few of the parents of the children present would ever see them.

    “And one for you Ms Atyanas.”

    Yulia took the paper with a nod, thankful for the woman for taking the time to hand it to her personally, “Thank you, Ms Butterby. I’ll turn in my assignment tomorrow.”

    Yulia stared down at the sheet weighing her options.

    -----------

    "Mom?" Yulia asked worried, "You’re not... mad or anything right?"

    Sitting across from her at the table was Mrs Atyanas silently reading the form in her hand with an unreadable expression. Despite being much shorter than her daughter, standing a mere 148 cm, the woman could still cut an imposing figure when she wanted. Despite all but towering over her, Yulia was still her daughter and some things just become instinct after so long.

    Mrs Atyanas didn't answer her daughter, just continuing to read through the pamphlet that was handed to her, tapping her finger on the wood of the table, a sound that seemed much louder in the empty quiet house the two shared. She didn't look up at her daughter who was nervously sipping on a glass of water.

    I wonder if I made a mistake? Yulia considered, she had come home as she always did with no delays. She had no one she was close enough with to associate with outside of school and she didn't care overmuch about any of the normal things children her age did to waste her time on it without invitation. Her mother had been happily munching away on some sort of sweet pastry and drinking coffee at the little island table of their small home while watching TV.

    Mrs Atyanas was in a good mood, about as good as could reasonably be expected, so Yulia gave her the letter and told her about the Exams.She didn't dare tried to hide this from her, if only to head off what would come if her mother learned about being tricked like that.

    The two had been in the same positions for about the last half hour, silently sitting with the tension between them thick enough to be cut with a knife. The TV still playing in the background had long since been forgotten. Yulia felt like she'd handed over something incriminating and was waiting for the axeman to swing down.

    “So, you wanted to get tested as a Ministra?”

    Yulia had to take a moment to clear her throat. She’d been in the middle of taking a drink when her mother spoke and a bit had gone down the wrong pipe. Thankfully the tense air was broken and her mother lost the serious look, adopting worry as she rubbed her daughters back.

    “Ahem, ah, yeah,” Yulia admitted when she finally caught her breath, “It seemed interesting, and since it’s free I don’t see the harm.”

    Her mother adopted a stern expression again, though not as stern as before. Placing a hand on her daughter’s own she took a deep breath and easing her shoulders.

    “Honey, do you really want to do this for a whim? If they told you that you could be a Ministra would you try and actually become one?” When Yulia nodded her mother shook her head, “I want to be sure you aren’t taking this lightly. Being a Ministra is a commitment I want to make sure you’re aware of that.”

    The resoluteness in the older woman’s voice was uncomfortable, Yulia wasn’t used to dealing with...emotions. At least emotions stronger than what you’d see acted out in a grade school play.

    "I thought it'd be interesting," Yulia couldn't keep looking her mother in the face, she really didn't like when things got so serious. She didn't see what sort of expression she made, but assumed it would probably be negative. "I don't really... do anything. It's... I don't know I just wanted to try out."

    It was a struggle trying to put her thought process into words. It seemed a bit too shallow to just say she thought being a Ministra would be fun. And honestly she didn't really do the whole thrill seeking thing. Her preferred ending to a day was coming home to watch her shows or play some games. Or read, books or stories online either was fine. Sequestered bookworms weren't exactly the the action hero type. She was too passive, too quick to throw in the towel, and she was willing to admit she was more than a bit self-serving.

    But she still wanted to see if she was good enough. She wanted to see if she could make it.

    Articulation was not Yulia's strength sadly. Her mother let out a disappointed breath.

    "Yulia, honey, I know you're a special girl. If you really wanted to I'm sure you'd do great," Yulia could sense the 'But' coming, "But I’d be a liar if I said I said I thought you’d stick around long enough to do that.”

    “Mom!”

    “Baby girl, I’ve raise you since the day you were born. There isn’t anyone who knows you better then I do,” Yulia didn’t think she liked the expression on her mother’s face, like she was humoring her, “I have spent my fair share on little clubs and afterschool activities for you, from Dance to Soccer. Every time you would get excited and two weeks later you’d say you hated it and complain about having to go. There is a box under my bed that I can show you with the pictures.”

    “I don’t see your point.” Yulia bit out, “I kept going until the end, I didn’t quit halfway through.”

    Her mother just sighed.

    “I won’t stop you from trying out,” She said, “But I won’t help you. If you want to do this, really want to do this, you can go through all the effort needed on your own. The aptitude test may be free but not the Exams themselves, and I won’t be signing any forms for you either way.”

    Yulia bit her lip, that was probably the best she could hope for given how things seemed to degenerate. She nodded and her mother smiled.

    “Great, now if you’ll excuse me Jordan is going to finally choose between Sasha and Kris.”

    “Mom, spoilers!”

    The rest of the night was spent staring intently at a screen for hours on end.

    -----------------------

    The classroom was filled with chatter. The desked moved to the far end to help facilitate the coming examinations. Both the boys and girls were sharing the room, having changed into their Gym uniforms beforehand. The equipment was in front waiting to be used. Everyone gathered into their little groups and gossiped among themselves.

    While normally the chatter was rather random, for obviously reasons that was not quite the standard for this year’s examinations. Some bragged about their chances, others gave out trivia or rumors about it, a few even shared stories they had.

    In all of Class N, not a single person had any personal experience with Ministra. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, despite their claims otherwise not just anyone could be a Ministra. If one lacked the innate ability to qualify than one needed to be skilled. They had means of compensating for such weakness, but they weren’t willing to simply hand such things out to everyone after all.

    Of everyone present, the closest relation anyone in the class had was a friend of a cousin who was a D Class Ministra. That didn’t stop the bragging though.

    Yulia sat at her desk, having refused to move it, head down trying to rest her eyes. She wasn’t in the best of moods or lucid of mindsets.

    Staying up was a mistake, She groaned as the bright sunlight peaked through the cloud cover only to shine a thin ray right in her eyes. She tried to bury her face further into her arms only to expose her ears to the noise, Hate everything right now.

    The dog girls were barking it up again, though thankfully their usual prey was being looked after by the snake so the pack moved on in search of easier targets.

    “Well if it isn’t-”

    “Mocha, I am not in the mood. If you say another word I will literally stab you.” Yulia didn’t bother looking up to even confirm if she was the one they were talking to, and frankly didn’t care at the moment. To be sure to get her point across she blindly reached into her bag to pull out her pencil to grip in her fisted hand.

    She was answered with blessed silence. It looked like being the creepy loner girl who sat in the back had it’s advantages.

    The bells rang and the chatter died down as the teacher entered with one of the nurses assistants to measure everyone’s growth since last term.
    The boys and girls lined up, eagerly in most cases, reluctantly in one other. And made their way forward to be examined. Some measurements, such as height, weight, and blood pressure. Simple tests that could be off loaded on the assistant nurses at the school or on the college students studying medicine or pediatrics in the city.

    Yulia stared as the young men and women awkwardly tried to direct the students and only just managed to accomplish what they were trained to do.

    Eh, Community College students, what more could she expect?

    Thankfully she didn’t have to wait long to be called up, letting the woman guide her through steps to measure her accurately. Given the rather short time since her last check up Yulia was honestly surprised that there was any difference.

    “Two centimeters and an extra three Kilos?” The nurse nodded, Yulia wasn’t exactly sure of her feelings on that, “But I didn’t even eat breakfast today…”

    She then, like the other girl before her, stepped into the small curtained off area for more personal measurements. She was disappointed in her lack of growth on that end.

    All in all the process was quick and painless, and fairly enjoyable in Yulia’s opinion. And soon she was back in her seat waiting out the rest of the examinations. Progress was slow, but at least the noise died down.

    That sun beam doesn’t seem so bad anymore…

    When Yulia opened her eyes again she was greeted by an empty classroom.

    Naturally panic was her first response. Where were her classmates, did she somehow miss her chance, why had no one bothered to wake her up? Many questions raced through her mind and she couldn’t decide what to focus on. It was during her miniature breakdown that she glimpsed the whiteboard that took up most of the front of the class.

    Gymnasium - 1:30 pm.

    Well, that was easier than she thought. The note most likely had to deal with “Extra Exams”. Yulia glanced at the clock that was positioned just above the door.

    2: 15

    Yulia booked it.

    -------------------------
    With the hallways empty it wasn’t difficult to make it to the gym. The challenge came from entering. What Yulia had failed to notice on her way was the lack of occupied classrooms. With the exams the regular school day had already been interrupted, there wasn't much harm in surrendering the rest of the day towards the additional examination.

    The crowd was thick and unruly, no line had been formed leaving just a mass of students trying to enter. Yulia had missed her chance to enter with her class and was forced to try and make her way through the thicket of people.

    Minutes turned into hours as what appeared to be the entire student body was individually tested by the few proctors that had been sent. It was only a few minutes each, but with the numbers that quickly added up. It was well after class would normally end when the Yulia’s turn came up.

    The girl took her seat in front of the two young women in one of the dozen or so booths that were lining the gym’s walls. When compared to the clean cut and friendly images the haggard appearance of Yulia was quite a contrast.

    “Are… are you okay?” It was the blond who asked, her redheaded companion while looking just as concerned was willing to leave the question to her.

    “I overslept.” Yulia answered.

    “O...kay?” The blond acquiesced with doubt clear in her voice giving the ruffled and messy girl a sidelong glance while she gathered her supplies, “Well, thank you for participating in our exam. This will only take a few minutes of your time.”

    Yulia nodded.

    With a more sincere smile the young woman pulled out a small device, placing a plastic cover over one of the ends and handed it to the girl, “Please put this under your tongue and try not to talk.”

    She nodded when her charge followed her instructions before continuing to pull out other instruments.

    “Please hold still, we’ll be measuring your abilities with these, most will just be use collecting samples or data though we’ll need you to follow our instructions on a few.”

    Again Yulia nodded.

    The two stood up and began their tests. Standing the girl up while they ran several devices up and down beside her body like some sort of scanner, tracing her profile with another. One collected some loose hairs from her head and used a cotton swab to retrieve both a bit of saliva and tears. They had the girl hold and focus on a few slips of paper, stick her hand in water, and try to guess the images on random cards. It was a whole gamut of random and arbitrary seeming tests.

    “Do you have any strange or reoccurring dreams?”

    “No.”

    “Have you ever had any sudden bursts of competence in areas or skills you were never trained in, this includes being unusually knowledgeable about subjects without study?”

    “No” Yulia adjusted the wire taped to her forehead, making sure it didn’t fall off.

    The redhead marked another thing down on her clipboard and continued with her questioning.

    Yulia was very thankful when the bell they used to time when their first samples would finish processing rang and both excused themselves to gather the papers. The girl simply retook her seat again.

    “Let’s see,” they flipped through the notes, “You’re reflexes are perfectly normal for a girl your age, so is your muscle strength and durability. You’re lacking any overt special ability. You don’t seem to have any hidden inhuman heritage, and we couldn’t detect any spiritual or mental powers. In nearly all tests you performed as is expected of a normal girl your age and weight, similar to the majority of your schoolmates.”

    With each listing Yulia felt her heart sink a little more.

    “But, there was one area where you excelled expectations,” The blond piped in sliding over a specific sheet, “Your Magic Capacity is… well, completely ridiculous to be honest with you.”

    “Your score is over 52 thousand thaumaturgical units,” The brunette cut in, “We couldn’t determine any sort of natural alignment though. But with patience and skill that tends to be more of a benefit than a hindrance in the long run.”

    “52 thousand, is that good?” Was that a lot? It sounded like a lot.

    “The next highest score we’ve tested didn’t break the triple digits, and both me and my partner have a combined total of 432 units on a good day,” The blond admitted, “We may only be D-class but it’s still quite a gap!”

    Yulia could only stare at the two slack jawed. While she could be vain enough to entertain the thought of being better than her peers she was grounded enough to consider herself that far beyond them in any aspect. This little revelation was having a hard time sinking in.

    “Congratulations Miss Ayatanas,” Using a finger to lift up the girl’s mouth to close with a soft ‘click’ the blond smiled up to the shocked girl, “You’re definitely Ministra material!”
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  2. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    Interesting start to the story. Based on that magical energy scale, it looks like there's some massive differences between Ministra classes.

    I found a ton of typos, but I didn't point out a lot of the more minor ones, because quoting small pieces of large posts from a phone is a massively tedious pain in the ass.
    Shouldn't that be "wasn't"?
    Something is wrong with this sentence, but I have no clue what your intended meaning was.
    First word of this sentence feels wrong.
    Missing the word "she" here.
    Missing the word "you" here.
     
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  3. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Thanks, I wasn't sure what happened with the second thing I either was half asleep or accidentally typed while selecting the wrong thing.
     
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  4. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Fixed most of the spelling mistakes now that I finished my daily quota. Didn't have the time to go over it thoroughly so it's just anything that was given red underlining. Now off to sleep, tomorrow should be the next chapter.
     
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  5. dragonx99

    dragonx99 Master of Phantasm

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    BWahahahaha the disinterested girl might not have special abilities, but you know what she has? She has POWA.

    Now let's sit back, relax, and see how she decides she wants to use it for considering her not wanting to get involve very much before that. And wonder exactly what rank of Ministra that amount of magic is 'normal' for.
     
  6. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Alexandria was known as the Infinite City for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which was it's size. If one were to fly above the center of the city's metropolitan area they would not be able to see the edges of city limits. The scope of the city's size was not something a normal person could grasp, the numbers large enough that most would simply scratch their head and agree not knowing their actual weight.

    There were currently 768 districts that made up the city, covering an area large enough that they some occupied entirely different biomes from their peers. It hosted close to 3.1 billion citizens that went about their days as normal in the urban sprawl. Most of this area and population was thankfully not occupying it's own space on the their earth's face, rather spreading 'sideways' over the face of tens of thousands of alternate earths. Such a thing would have been, well 'logistical nightmare' would have been an understatement. More an impossibility, even taking into account the incredible resources and assets the city had access to, from plants that grew to maturity in seconds with just a drop of water or the ability to create materials ex nihilo, it was still an impressive undertaking to manage and direct the resources.

    Those considering themselves a "Drop in the Bucket" or just a "Cog in the machine" were vastly overestimating their importance.

    Yulia was getting her first real taste of exactly what it meant to be a citizen of such a place as she rode the tram to the local Ministra Union testing facility. The testing facility was located in the northern part of the district near the border, essentially on the opposite side of it than her home. Yulia had decided to take the tram instead of the bullet train to save a a few dollars, thinking that the time difference would not have been worth the cost. That was well over four hours ago.

    She was wrong. She was very wrong.

    Yulia was in her seat surfing the web on her phone, occasionally shifting in around to get more comfortable. She laid sprawled over several seats of the adjacent seats as well, something she wouldn't normally have done but near total lack of passengers she felt that it was the least thing owed to her. Most of the people that had started out the journey with her had left soon after on a number of stops that grew more infrequent the further the tram got from it's home. By the first hour there were less than five people besides herself that were riding the vehicle. Some got one for a station or two but inevitably left. Yulia didn't know if they had reach their stop or had realized their mistake and decided to pony up the cash for a Bullet Train ticket. Given the ages involved and the final destination of her ride it was safe to assume the latter.

    Some would consider it foolish to keep riding the tram after the first hour, that the a few dollars difference wasn’t worth flushing one’s entire day down the drain. Yulia considered those people quitters.

    Still there wasn’t much to entertain a person on a person on a tram besides what they bring with themselves. Lacking books, or even her handheld console Yulia decided to do a bit of research.

    276.

    That was the number of human Ministra that had a naturally higher Thaum score than her. Ignoring the few dozen with theoretically infinite supplies in some form or another. It was a bit of a grounding experience, though she took solace in the fact that all but few were tested after having been trained in some form to increase it. And not a single one was below B-rank.

    It probably wasn’t a good idea to get a swelled head about it though. Yulia wasn’t a mage, she knew no spells beyond simple cantrips to tie her shoes or make a light. They were the magical equivalent of learning how to snap your fingers. They were part of a Formal system as well, she couldn’t just over power them. So her large magic reservoir was… useless.

    Sure it’d help her once she became a mage but she was currently completely lacking in the skills to properly leverage it in any useful fashion.

    A mage. Yulia frowned in thought, of the four basic classes; Mage, Fighter, Ranger, and Support it was probably the best to make use of her one advantage. While the others could benefit from high mana capacity it was a core part of a Mage’s build.

    The image it brought to mind was of a person standing in the back throwing spell after spell, well away from the action. It was efficient, the easiest method of leveraging her talent. It was safe, keeping her well away from danger. It was powerful, when she finally managed enough skill to put the full weight of her Thaum behind her spells she’d be a force to be reckoned with.

    Mage types were sought after, being one of the strongest and most dangerous classes a person could take. Whole teams were built around supporting and defending their Mage long enough for them to rain literal fire and brimstone on the opposition. If Fighter types were the soldiers than Mages were the heavy artillery. With a Magic Capacity as large as hers, Yulia could have her pick of team and eventually render them superfluous.

    It was the most obvious choice to guarantee her success as a Ministra.

    “I guess I’ll be a Fighter,” Yulia muttered to herself while reading through the information on her phone screen, “Ministra Praelia, that’s the term.”

    She quickly flipped through the links on the main page of the Ministra Union’s site. Basic information, general knowledge, terminology. It was quite a bit of information to take in, more than she could probably effectively learn in a single sitting, but it would help familiarize her with the subjects she would need to know.

    She already knew the Union she would be joining but leafed through the information the site had. It really only reinforced her decision to go with The Ministra Union. While none were exactly bad, few could match the general benefits they had, the competitors either consolidating around a singular concept such as The College and the pursuit of knowledge, or catering to specific requirements such as La Menagerie and their aid of Demihumans.

    The Church of The Luminous Maiden however was something the girl may have joined had they been open to general recruitment. However it appeared the Union was exclusive to members of the Legionettes. Yulia was pretty sure she didn’t qualify to join them, they were rather… exclusive.

    “We will be arriving at our final destination shortly.”

    Yulia looked up at the sound of the cheery voice over the intercom. While it went on about unboarding procedures she glanced out the window. The cityscape that greeted her was unfamiliar. She thought she was used to Urban sprawl, apparently not. The difference between living in the residential area and the business area were shocking.

    She sat up, putting her way phone, before making her way towards the exit. With only four other occupants she didn’t wait long to exit the tram. The sun was annoying, reflecting off the titanic buildings surrounding her to shine a beam right in her face. She scowled and shielded herself from the assault, and making her way to the nearest bit of shade under the open roof of the station.

    Yulia was still blinking away the spots from her vision when the tram left.

    There wasn’t much chatter going on, obvious given the lack of people in the station, but the noise was still distracting. Shouting, honking, and just general racket was drowning out any conversations around her. And as she exited down the stairs adjacent to the station Yulia was already developing a headache.

    But still the sight of the city was a wondrous thing. Towering monoliths of steel and glass stretching far beyond her line of sight. And in the streets were displays of both magic and technology that she couldn’t recall ever seeing before in person. It was a daunting sight, not the least of reasons for it being the ease of which Yulia could see herself getting hopelessly lost in the maze of urban sprawl.

    But her destination was a fairly well known and popular location. So much so that it was only a few blocks from where the main station was for the Tram. Just a stone’s throw away was the auditorium that was used for testing and assessment by The Ministra Union. Licking her lips Yulia took out the map and detailed guide to look through them.

    Now, which way is north?

    ---------------------------------------

    It was an embarrassingly long time later that the young girl arrived at her destination. Several times getting turned around or simply misreading the directions and stepping past the area housing the Ministra Testing Facility. It was only with great reluctance that she eventually asked for help and was lead towards the grounds.

    It was a large campus, taking up dozens of blocks both for it’s main buildings and the shops that surrounded it. While large it wasn’t anywhere near the height of the skyscrapers that surrounded the grounds, instead covering a large circular area. It resembled a college campus, if said campus was built around a football stadium.

    The girl carefully navigated her way through the throngs of people milling about the open grounds. Both those dressed normally and what were obviously ministra. The array of races, human and non-human, were more than the girl really ever saw before in her life all simply milling about.

    Yulia didn’t bother wondering how she could have missed such a large and obvious area, it was simply the way city was. The lay out of it extended more than in normal north, south, east, and west, it was entirely possible to walking down straight parallel streets and still meet up at an intersection and a single street changing destinations depending on the direction you walk.

    One had to be careful when navigating the Infinite City, a single wrong turn could add hours to one’s travel time. There were tricks to it, but with infinite possibilities, no solution was perfect.

    Now, she’d just need to find the offices. The open space made it much easier to navigate, but the crowds and lack of signage did a good job negating that advantage.

    “This is getting very old very fast,” Grumbling to herself Yulia tried to search for any sign of where to go, “Why does every building in the place have to look the freaking same?”

    “Excuse me,” There was a tug on her shirt, “Are you lost?”

    Yulia turned and stared confused at the empty space.

    “Down here.”

    A faerie?

    That was really all Yulia could think when she saw the girl. Pinkish white hair and large expressive silver eyes. There was an odd unearthly quality to her that raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Even though she easily towered over the girl, who stood just over 130 cm, Yulia felt she was the one at a disadvantage.

    The feeling of unease faded as the bemused look on the child’s face was quickly replaced with a genuine smile. Yulia continued to stare down.

    “Sorry, I happened to overhear you,” The fae girl bowed respectfully, “It sounded like you were having some trouble finding your way around.”

    “Huh?” Yulia blinked in confusion. After a moment the words registered and she blushed, hoping she hadn’t made a fool of herself. If the girl noticed she gave no sign, “Ah, yeah. A bit.”

    Yulia shook her head, getting rid of the rest of the fogue before looking back at the girl. With a clear head she was able to get a better assessment.

    She was short, very much so. With messy long hair, a pale pink that almost looked white when washed out by the natural sunlight. She was dressed in simple casual clothes much like Yulia was, jacket, blouse, though forwent jeans for a rather cute skirt and stockings.

    She smiled up at Yulia, “Yeah, it can be hard to find your way around here if you aren’t familiar with where everything is. If you want I can probably show you to where you want to go, it’s no trouble.”

    The taller girl hesitated, not wanting to burden the younger one despite her assurances. She felt awkward admitting weakness and accepting help from someone so much younger than herself. But, she doubted she’d be able to get anywhere on her own, and didn’t feel like tracking down someone else to ask for directions.

    She nodded and offered her hand, “Thanks, I’m Yulia.”

    The faerie gave another honest smile and accepted the hand, not caring for the girls’ attempts to avoid eye contact, “It’s no problem. And my name is Àimyrhja.”

    “Amilia?” Yulia tried to wrap her tongue around that tangled web of letters and failed. The pink haired girl winced and shook her head.

    “Àimyrhja,” She pronounced it slowly, being sure to clearly enunciate each syllable, “If it’s too much you can call me Emmy for short.”

    “Emmy then,” She wasn’t going to offend her new acquaintance by butchering her name any further. Yulia was forced to turn away as Emmy smiled again. The girl just seemed to glow with such pure cheerfulness that Yulia feared her cynical heart wouldn’t be able to withstand such constant bombardments.

    It’s like watching kittens wrestling, there’s only so much you can sit through before you’re rendered incapable of higher thought.

    “So, how do you know you’re way around here?”

    “I’m pretty familiar with the campus,” Emmy explained. She waved her hand as she started to walk away and Yulia quickly followed after, “I used to come here all the time when my sister was stationed her. Right now I’m taking classes here.”

    “You’re a Ministra!” The shout caused the girl to jump and drew the stares of the passersby. Blushing Yulia lowered her voice to reasonable levels, “You’re a Ministra?”

    Emmy nodded, “Um yeah, I took the test last month.”

    “What’s your ranking?” At this Emmy didn’t answer at first, fiddling with her hands and turning her gaze towards a nearby tree. She mumbled under her breath, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear that.?

    “...B 2305.”

    She’s B-class? Yulia could hardly believe it. Of the hundreds of thousands of Ministra active less than twenty five hundred at a time held the rank of B class. The gap between even the highest ranking C and the lowest ranking B dwarfed the difference between the strongest and weakest C rank.

    The childlike girl before her stood as far above her on the power scale as Yulia stood above a dormouse.

    And after only a month, what sort of monster is this girl?

    Emmy stomped her foot, arms straight and and lips pursed. It only enhanced the contrast, “It’s not a big deal, I just happen to have… some special circumstances that make it hard to accurately gauge the strength of my magic. That’s why it’s so low on the B-rankings. I’m… not really as strong as you probably think I am.”

    With a wince Yulia waved her hand defensively, “Sure, sorry I asked.”

    Sighing, Emmy let go of the tension that could be seen pervading her frame, "No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you. People always act weird after they find out but you couldn't have known."

    She bit her lip and kicked away a stray pebble. She looked very much like a child trying to bottle everything up. Yulia, having never grown up an only child and never going out of her way to associate herself with children was stuck on how to react to the surprising shift in her guide's mood.

    It was fairly easy to guess at the reason for it. No doubt revelation of her power level killed many if not all budding friendships the girl may have tried to start. The reactions may have varied, from excitement about being associated with such a high ranking Ministra to something far more negative coming from either fear or envy of such power. Being B-rank was the sort of thing no normal Ministra could honestly expect to achieve. Like becoming a world famous celebrity, you might talk about how you want to become one but realistically you've already acknowledge you have no chance. Having that bombshell dropped, that the little girl they chatting with after class had achieved a level of success far beyond anything they could ever reasonably hope to achieve...

    Yulia couldn't see any way that could have ended positively. Any newborn relationship would instantly die with the sudden powershift, having it's foundation of shared experience pulled out from under it's feet. At best they'd treat her like a celebrity, someone above them in station which didn't exactly make for good friendships. At worst... Emmy probably had to deal with a lot of attempts to take advantage of new acquaintances trying to take advantage of their new connection with the elite.

    The girl winced as she realized she had been acting like the former. She had been more than a little awed and somewhat scared to discover she was standing so close to the living equivalent of an ICBM.

    But the girl next to her, who was still trying to be friendly despite dragging her feet at the knowledge she probably lost another chance, didn’t really deserve that. She probably could have just lied to her, but even Yulia could tell such a thought quickly that such a thought probably never occurred to the girl. In the few minutes they’d known her it was easy to see that the younger girl was too open for her own good.

    “It’s fine, I shouldn’t have pried,” Yulia continued the game of Apology hot-potato, “I’m just surprised to see someone so young having reached that level.”

    Yulia blinked as the girl almost missed a step, Did her hair just twitch?

    “So… you were taking classes?” She reached for any change in topic. Thankfully the girl seemed to be willing to go along with it.

    “Mhm, Sys. Magic 1 - Thaumaturgical Theory, Sys. Magic 1 - Thaumic Alchemy, and a couple for Mixed Combat training,” The girl nodded to happily, “They’re mostly primers that those with General Systemic Magical knowledge to take before moving on to advanced Theory and Application but they’re surprisingly in-depth. Without a formal education it’s hard to keep up, there’s all sorts of little things you miss if you focus on the practicals it seems.”

    “Sounds intense,” Yulia shrugged not really understanding the words coming out of the short girl’s mouth but nodding along nonetheless. Good, back to what she was used to, “So you’re training to be a Ministra…” She frowned in thought, “Arcanum?”

    Arcana,” Emmy corrected without missing a beat. She shrugged, and dodged around a pedestrian with no sense of personal space, “And, sort of. I’m actually trying to become a Praevallora.”

    Yulia made an inquisitive hum while shooting a glare at the jerk who had shoulder checked her with so much as an ‘Excuse me’. She was thankful of her position a bit behind the happily distracted girl so she couldn’t see her wandering attention. She’d need to make sure she could recognize him again if she ever ran into him while alone.

    It was incredibly petty, but she’d teach that Sandle-hat prick to mind his manners.

    “I’m not familiar with that term,” She turned her attention back to her companion quickly, hoping that she didn’t leave to long a pause, “It wasn’t in any of the pamphlets or the website at least.”

    It was only then that Yulia had noticed the thinning crowd as the two made their way out of the main garden like square that seemed the hub for the entire grounds. Àimyrhja didn't slow to get her bearings, instead quickly adjusting their path to meet a walkway leading further into the campus proper. Yulia gave a mental shrug and continued after.

    "That's not surprising, there's too many specialties to list all the titles, especially with new ones popping up or old dropping out of use with Ministra," The humor in her voice was clear. The waifish girl fell back to walk alongside her taller companion offering her a grin, "Praevalora are magi who catalyze spells with physical motion, either as part of the Invocation or as the Punctuation. Rather than using the precrafted incantations of Formal Thaumaturgy or dynamic intonement of Gnostic Thaumaturgy to weave a spell instead the mystery is invocated through gesture and will. It’s a lot harder than you think to alter the whole casting process like that, but it really pays off if you once you get past the initial difficulty.”

    Again, Yulia was entirely lost as to what any part of the one sided conversation meant but didn’t interrupt the girl. If that was what you needed to know as just the primer after finishing general education about magic she was confident she made the right choice in title. She continued to follow her shorter associate, listening to the gushing girl as she babbled on about theory and the advantages of combining traditional casting with Praecantatic or Praevalloric practices.

    It was somewhat amusing to see the fae-like child so excited, similar to watching a kitten playing with a yarn ball. Lending an ear was probably the least she could do, that it gave her show was simply a bonus.

    “...I’m not seeing the difference. You’re still making an object out of magic, you just call one Alchemy and the other Psychogenesis.”

    “It’s very different,” Emmy lectured, “The former is the transmutation of Ether into a new object. You don’t create anything, just change it’s properties. While the latter is forcing Aether into a shape and having it project the properties on the world. It may have all the physical traits of the object in question but ultimately it’s just a hollow shell, if not actually literally hollow inside. Basically a solid illusion.”

    “That makes even less sense,” Yulia complained, “I’m even more confused now than when I didn’t know anything about it.”

    “No, no, it’s actually really simple once you know the theory behind it!”

    Whatever that theory was it would not be heard that day. The girl cut off her explanations as they drew close to a nondescript building adjacent to the auditorium. Emmy seemed disappointed at the unceremonious conclusion of it but none the less offered Yulia a hand.

    “Well, I guess this is where we have to go our separate ways. The main offices are in there,” She gave Yulia’s hand a firm shake and a small smile, “It’s been nice having someone to talk to.”

    “Thanks, I had a nice time too,” Yulia nodded back, “Maybe we can do it again if when I’m in the area.”

    “That sounds wonderful,” Much of Àimyrhja earlier cheer seemed to come back at the notion. She brushed a stray bit of hair out of her face, “Then maybe after you get your license we can hang out after class.”

    Bemusement spread across Yulia’s face, “How did you know I was taking the exam.”

    Her answer was a smirk from the pinkette. Yulia frowned in thought.

    “...Oh right,” She blushed. A young girl unfamiliar with the area, she’d been pretty obvious about her lack of experience.

    Both started at the loud melodic ringing in the distance.

    “And that’s my queue to get to my next class,” She began to turn before hesitating. After a moment’s indecision she turned back around and grabbed Yulia’s hand, “Here.”

    Before Yulia could form a response she placed something into her hand, closing her fingers around it, then turned and ran.

    “Aujeane Quatoulle!” She called out with a final wave.

    The prospective Ministra could only stare in confusion at the sight before gathering enough wits to check the crinkled ball of paper she’d been given.

    The words “If you ever need anything.” where written on it, followed by a phone number.

    Yulia briefly wondered when she’d had the opportunity to write such a note before dismissing it as magic. With a shrug she crumbled the paper and stuffed it in her pocket.

    “She seemed nice,” She mumbled to herself as she entered the building, “Kinda weird but nice.”

    -------------------------

    “Atyanas, Yulia please come to counter 42.”

    “Awah?” The girl in question jerked up out of her fogue confused. She stared blankly as the automated announcer repeated itself. After several moments cognition returned to Yulia enough for her to recognize her name, “Crap!”

    She jumped to her feet, quickly gathering the folder she kept with her with her documentation. A panicked rush to avoid missing her appointment ensued, as Yulia tried to locate the right desk.

    That one!

    She dumped herself into the seat bonelessly with a deep relieved sigh.

    “Thank you for your patience ma’am how can I assist you?” The blonde clerk greeted, a polite smile plastered over her face.

    “I’m here to get my Ministra license,” Yulia reached into her folder, fishing around before extracting a wrinkled form. She tried to flatten it out as best she could against the table before handing it over to the clerk, “Honey Milk and Sweet Tea recomended me.”

    “Just a moment ma’am while I verify your endorsement form.”

    The blonde took the letter giving it a narrow eyed stare. Her eyes roamed the whole face of it, it was only after several minutes before she deemed it acceptable enough to move on the second step of verification. She booted up her ancient looking egg white computer, slowly typing away while making checks back to the form.

    Yulia was starting to nod off again when the woman finally handed the form back.

    “Thank you for your patience, I was able to verify your form and pull up the information they submitted for you.”

    Finally!

    “But first things first, before we can continue: Do you have a parent or guardian with you to give permission to proceed with testing?”
    Yulia shook her head and the woman typed something into her computer.

    “Hmm, we do need proper consent before we move forward. Being a Ministra is not only a large responsibility but it can also be dangerous. We need the permission from the adult legally responsible for you if you want to become a licensed Ministra.”

    It was something to be expected. As the lady said, they couldn’t just let a minor enroll themselves in a dangerous job. That way lead to many lawsuits. It’s for that reason many parents refused to sign the consent forms for their children, parents like her mother.

    Luckily Yulia had come prepared. Rather than reaching into her folder she pulled out her wallet, opening it up and extracting a laminated card. She handed it to the clerk who gave it an examining glance. She ran it through scanner linked to the computer, waiting for a soft ding, before handing it back to the girl to replace in her wallet.

    “Thank you ma’am that should take care of the issue of consent.”

    Yulia smirked as she returned her wallet to it’s rightful place. If there is a will there is a way. In this case the way involved taking a few more tests in the weeks since her school examinations. As an accommodation for the non-humans of the city, with their alien biologies, it was possible to apply for full citizenship and legal adult status. Even humans were capable of applying, a loophole left open for special circumstances which occurred with great frequency in the Infinite City.

    Most didn’t bother with it unless they had. It was long, tedious, and bestowed all the burdens of adulthood including various taxes.

    In essence, Yulia had emancipated herself just to bypass a the need to have an adult present with her. Her mother would probably be very upset when she learned about that fact.

    If she really didn’t want me to she would not have told me to commit.
     
  7. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

    Joined:
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    Huh, interesting that the girl with ungodly high magical power wants to be a warrior. Fits her boredom though. Magic Knight trope, perhaps?
    away her
    Change this to either "making" or "and made".
    layout
     
    qof likes this.
  8. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

    Joined:
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    It’s a scene that’s played itself out every day for the past week. A young girl munching on toast at her dinner table dressed in gym shorts and a worn out Tee. There’s a sour expression on her face while she stared at the door leading outside.

    The steady Tap-tap-tap of her nail impacting the wooden counter was sharp enough to be heard over the din of city noises and the voices of the television.

    Yulia bounced her heel impatiently but didn’t divert her gaze. Even when she took bites of her honeyed toast she kept her vigil.

    Six days. Six mornings she took her seat at the breakfast table waiting for the news. It was now the seventh day, the tail end of what The Ministra Union had said to wait for a reply.

    "A letter with the final decision will be sent to you in the mail within a week." They had said. Why they bothered using such an outdated method to let her know if she passed Yulia didn't know. It wasn't anymore secure than email. Less so in fact.

    So for the last week the girl had been anxiously biting her thumb and unable to enjoy her breakfast. Combined with the rather tense mood that had taken root in the house mother and daughter shared, the girl was not having a pleasant time since her testing. To say the woman was upset when she found out her daughter had stolen away her ability to legally act as a parent would be to vastly undersell maelstrom of emotions she experienced. There had been shouting, and some words said by both sides that could not be so easily taken back. Yulia's actions had been a knife in her mother's back, further salted by the uncaring manner she'd chosen to inform her after the fact. Her mother had struck back on reflex and the the whole situation degenerated.

    The following hours was filled with barbed words and salted accusations where both parties tried to tear their pound of flesh from the other. It was an ugly affair, the two caring less about winning and more about spiting the other. They'd only stopped when their voices were hoarse to keep shouting and the other too drained to bleed any further. Yulia couldn't think she'd ever had a more awful night's sleep. The next morning neither had acknowledge the other's existence, and so it continued everyday since. Neither speaking to the other anymore than what was absolutely necessary. The once happy and lively home had, overnight, become a cold and quiet house.

    There had been a lot of rawness to it and it was only long after it was too late for it to matter that Yulia could start to see beyond her own tunnel vision. She had hurt her mother with what she had done, she'd known it would her but didn't understand how much until it stared her in the face. Logically she knew why emancipating herself would upset her, but emotionally she couldn't quite understand, lacking a frame of reference to grasp it. All she knew is that rather than the simple argument and grounding she'd expected things quickly escalated far beyond what she ever wanted.

    By the third night, as she laid in bed for another restless sleep, she was wondering if she might have irreparably damaged their relationship they had. Yulia did not like the empty gnawing pit that welled up in her stomach then and dropped that train of thought like it was made of fire. Since then she'd taken to ruminating on more petty concerns and distractions, if not avoiding such all together.

    By the week's end the girl was a ball of stress and pent up frustration, desperate for any release.

    The front door opened and Mrs. Atyanas walked back into the house, a bundle of letters in her hand. If Yulia looked like she lacked sleep her mother appeared as if she'd never so much as heard of the concept. Her eyes were red and lined with heavy bags, and lines of stress carved their way through her previously youthful face.

    No greeting passed between the two as she walked up to the table and deposited a single letter in front of her daughter.

    “You got a letter from them,” She said curtly and walked into the kitchen and out of sight.

    Yulia didn’t watch her go, instead picking up the letter. It was indeed from The Ministra Union, their lettered logo stamped clearly on the envelope. She jiggled the letter slightly to shift the contents downwards and ripped off one of the sides to gain access to it’s contents. Inside were three neatly folded pages and a plastic card with a more stylized version of the Ministra Union logo.

    She didn’t waste time unfolding the letter to read it’s contents.

    To Ms. Yulia Atyanas

    We are pleased to inform you we have completed the verification process for your application. Your scoring is as follows:
    Physical Testing: Below Standard
    Intelligence Testing: Adequate
    Mental Testing: Adequate
    Ability Testing: Outstanding


    Based on these results you have been found as an acceptable candidate for promotion. This letter has been delivered to you as confirmation on your new status as a licensed Ministra of the City of Alexandria and you have been given the temporary ranking of D-10 until a more accurate evaluation can be completed. Your license has been included with this letter.

    Please report back to the Ministra Union Branch Office where you received testing (104-36-12) by Nov. 18th 692 to complete your processing and receive assignment.

    Sincerely,
    Maria Aldridge
    Assistant Director of Ministra Union Branch Office 104-36-12


    The bellow that was simply contact information so Yulia continued on to the second page.

    Dear Ms. Atyanas

    Congratulations on becoming a Ministra. We have received and processed your request for use of Magic Catalysts and have approved you for: One (1) Standard Issue Storage Device, One (1) Grade D External Barrier Cloak, One (1) Grade D Augmented Uniform, and One (1) Grade C Support Device of your choosing.

    Please report to the Main Office (Branch 104-36-12) at your earliest convenience to register your equipment.

    Thank You,
    Emma Farran
    Chf. Resource Allocations Manager


    Yulia read through the second page three more times trying to parse the details but unable to assume more than the fact she’d be given some equipment to compensate for her lackluster stats.

    The last page was somewhat disappointing, a simple welcome letter with a list of basic benefits and responsibilities that would be expected of her. Thankfully it wasn’t anything too difficult, really nothing she wasn’t already doing like obeying the law and completing her standard education.

    The girl folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope with care. She sent a glance to the digital clock that rested on the far wall of the room.

    8:43 AM.

    It was still pretty early, on a Saturday as well. Despite what the letter said there was no hurry to go, she’d have plenty of time to make to the the office.

    Yulia turned her head to the kitchen where the soft sounds of scrapes and clinking emanated. She opened her mouth but didn’t speak. After another aborted attempted she closed her mouth, frowning. Letter in hand she went upstairs to her room to get changed.

    If she hurried she could probably catch the 9:00 train to Main Street.

    ----------------------------------

    The courtyard thinned as the warning bell for classes rang. Yulia walked carefully down the paved pathways trying to retrace her steps from her first visit to find the official building she’d visited last week.

    It was a fairly challenging task. To start with she’d initially be lost before she’d lucked into finding a guide. Added on to that she’d been somewhat distracted on the way to her destination. But after some time and effort she was confident she’d found path Emmy had led her down before.

    “They really should label these things better,” She mumbled to herself opened yet another door, “I’ll admit the architecture looks nice but I can’t help but think this is the least convenient thing they could have possibly done.”

    Yulia popped her head in. The sight of familiar desks and walls had her letting out a relieved sigh.

    It was then a simple matter of speaking with the receptionist to find the right window and clerk to deal with. Yulia soon found herself sitting across a young looking elven girl handing over her new ID card.

    The Elf, Ililwynenn according to the name plate resting on her desk or Winnie by her own admission, ran the plastic card through a scanner connected to her computer. With a smile she turned the screen to her guest.

    “Okay, Miss Atyanas, this is your official Ministra profile. The full document, which you’re seeing now, will be in our official records while an abridged version will be made available for public viewing,” She moved over the mouse, placing it in front of the human girl, “So it’s very important to be sure what we have here is accurate. This was gathered from documents you have submitted, the tests you participated in, and information we gathered from your records. I want you to look it over and tell me if you see anything on here you believe is incorrect.”

    There was quite a bit of information on the screen, many were things Yulia didn’t really understand, but there was an obvious error that she was quick to spot.

    “Why are there so many blank sections?” With the amount of information crammed into a single page the visible lack of it in some places quickly drew her eye.

    “There are are still a few things left to finalize, such as your Official Alias and equipment listing,” She pointed to the specified sections, “Others will be filled in after you’ve finished the processing and start your Ministra career, like your team and mission statistics.”

    Again the woman pointed out the relevant sections to Yulia.

    Her question answered the newly minted Ministra went back over form, checking it over to ensure it’s accuracy. Again, she ran into the issue of not fully understanding much of the information provided or knowing if it was correct. Reluctantly she gave up on it, finding the things she did know intimately were at least accurate.

    The elf had waited patiently for her to to finish up, showing no sign or annoyance or frustration at the monotony. She smiled and nodded when Yulia finished, turning the screen back to her and taking back the mouse.

    “Excellent,” She typed away on her keyboard, “The next order of business will be choosing your equipment. THe first of which is your Storage Device, or as some refer to it as, ‘Transformation Trinket’, it will be the device that stores your other devices and equips them when used. We have a few basic types that can themselves be personalized.”

    She reached into her desk and pulled out a thin binder. She opened it to the first page showing a variety of what appeared to be jewlery.

    “We have pens, brooches, earrings, rings, bracelets, hairpins, really any sort of accessory that isn’t made of cloth. The shape of it can be changed to, including stars, hearts, or even symbols. The inset gem used for the battery and conduit will need to stay but we can adjust the cut or alter its color.”

    “Uh,” There were far too many options, “A necklace?”

    “And the rest?” Yulia just shrugged, she didn’t care. The Elf nodded and noted it down on her computer, “Okay, next is the External Barrier Coat, it’s a small device you wear that generates an invisible layer of defence around you. You can customize it like your Storage Device, though I wouldn’t recommend making it a pen or compact.”

    “I guess another necklace,” It was probably not the most original thing but Yulia had never paid attention to accessories, let alone jewelry. She had no patience for fashion beyond ensuring the color of her clothes wasn’t eye searingly horrible. Putting on a jacket over her shirt or tying her hair up in a ponytail was about the limit of attempts to dress up, “Or whatever really, as long as I don’t look like a clown and it covers this whole area,” She gestured over the entirety of her torso and thighs, “I’m fine with wearing just about anything.”

    Yulia really didn’t want to have to deal with designing her own outfit if she didn’t need to.

    The Elf frowned but typed out on her computer some more.

    “Well I guess that answers the question about your Uniform, you really don’t have any preferences. What about the color scheme?” Another head shake answered her and the Elf couldn’t hold back the disappointed sigh, “I’ll just use the a more simple design, probably from the Teen Hero portfolio then. ...In pink, you look like a Pink.”

    Yulia wanted to contest that last suggestion but felt if she did it would mean she lost. Lost what she didn’t know, but that wasn’t the point.

    There were several minutes of… not silence exactly, there was too much background noise to call it that. The elf typed away, muttering to herself about design choices while occasionally giving her client a critical eye. A part of Yulia wondered if she was allowed to take that much creative control, another was somewhat worried that the elf would purposely screw her over somehow and dress her in something ridiculous.

    Both of those worries were overwritten by the much larger portion of her that didn’t want ask, for reasons ranging from impatience to not wanting to make a fool of herself.

    “And done!” Hand raised high the elf dramatically brought down her finger on the enter key, “Our costume department should have it done by the time you pick up your equipment. I think you’ll like it.”

    I want to see it.

    Yulia decided not to vocalize that thought. The woman didn’t seem in any hurry to show off her creation, a worrying fact, but Yulia didn’t think that she’d be intentionally sabotaged. At least not obviously. She consoled herself with the assurance that if she didn’t like it when she picked it up she could send it back, if it was really so bad that she had to do that she wouldn’t feel guilty at pointing the finger at a certain meddling elf.

    As long as I don’t look like a clown or a stripper I can go along with whatever she made, Under the cover of the desk her hands gripped a fist full of her loose jeans, I sure they take costume design very seriously.

    With a happy hum the clerk typed in something else on the keyboard before once again turning the screen to Yulia. For a moment the girl felt hopeful that she was going to see her outfit only to be disappointed with the sight of a blank screen with several blank search bars and options.

    “Uh,” What exactly am I supposed to be looking at here?

    Thankfully the one across from her noticed her confusion.

    “It’s so you can select your Support Device,” She was answered by a blank look from the girl, “They’re the equipment Ministra lacking Innate Abilities, Racial Benefits, or magical talent use to make up the difference.”

    She filled out several of the sections in the screen; Rank: C, Skill: Basic, Power: Magic. And hit the enter key. Quickly the page was populated by images random items. Guns, swords, wands, cell phones, pretty much any sort of object a person would hold rather than wear. Many were marked with unique symbols or colors, and when the mouse moved over them more information popped up. A quick glance to the bottom of the screen showed a surplus of at least 99 more pages.

    “The Ministra Union has taken it upon itself to gather unique items of interest, including Advanced Technology or Magic Catalysts. What is deemed safe is available for Ministra to rent from The Vault. Ministra Union also develops it’s own Devices for general use by members, both mundane and empowered.

    “Since you don’t have any hidden abilities that you can innately make use of you were granted use of a personal Support Device so you can adequately perform as a Ministra. Depending on what sort of Ministra you want to be you can pick from a very large selection of Devices.”

    Yulia could see that. She took the mouse and keyboard when the woman offered them and browsed through the selections to get a better idea of what was available.

    A portable Alchemy lab, disguised as a handbag was one of the first and most interesting selections. It had pre-programed potions that it could dispense to be used as a thrown weapon. It could be useful but Yulia didn’t think she’d want to use her only selection on it.

    The next several pages were random messes, everything from wands that shoot magic heart shaped blasts to a cell phone that created disguises. There was no rhyme or reason or even linking theme between them. Weapons were prominent, making up a majority of the selections, but had a myriad of effects, many of which were not even related to fighting. There were various electronics with magical applications that ranged from expected to ‘Why is this a thing?’

    Yulia wasn’t sure what logic led a person to giving a camera the ability to explode things when you use it. She hoped she never found out.

    Still, after 15 minutes she wasn’t any closer to finding out what she wanted and decided to fiddle with the search options.

    She wanted something powerful and straightforward. Things with more tricky or support-like effects were not what she was looking for. It would have to be combat related, a weapon preferably. Yulia wanted to be a warrior type, someone who went in guns blazing. But she wasn’t exactly a trained… anything, at best she could be considered a brawler even though she’d not gotten into an actual fight since primary school. And most important of all, it would need to play to her strength. It would need to be something that either required or scaled with higher Magic Capacity.

    One by one they dropped the selection counter until she reached the last. Clicking the final drop down, she selected the option for ‘Scaling’ she waited for the page to load.

    0 results.

    “What.”

    Yulia erased the options and re-entered them. And again the results showed zero. The woman made an inquisitive sound as she angled the screen to check herself.

    “Ah,” With a nod she pointed to the final category, “Naturally scaling and improving devices are B rank by default, even seemingly weak ones. They’re a very limited resource and better served to higher ranked Ministra who can effectively use them. D-ranked Ministra will benefit more from a static boost rather than a small percent modifier.”

    It was very disappointing news to hear. Yulia’s one advantage wasn’t much of advantage after all. She sagged into her seat no longer caring about posture while she let out a long sigh. Aside from having an obscenely large [SP Bar] her other stats were average at best. She didn’t want to be just dime a dozen magic cadet, one out of hundreds of thousands already in the system.

    Yulia knew, she checked.

    There number of D ranks was such that they didn’t even have individual rankings, instead being placed in a rank of one to ten to determine their place. E class didn’t even have ranks in the first place, it was enough to acknowledge them as too weak for D class.

    Perhaps reading the cause of her distress through her posture the elf turned the screen back to Yulia and cleared her throat to get her attention,

    “While you may not be qualified for true Scaling, there are a number of upgrades that can be done to Devices produced by Ministra Corp,” As she said this she removed the ‘Scaling’ tag and entered another. After a moment the screen showed a number of matches, “A couple can be added before the device increases in rank, so we just need to find some that have have the capacity to boost. And another to search for those that can be charged.”

    As she navigated the system the numbers dropped to something more manageable. With a grin she handed the keyboard over to Yulia again.

    Eagerly the girl went to work, crafting the weapon that was best for her.

    ------------------------------------------

    Wynnie didn’t bother to knock on the door before entering. When the knob didn’t turn she merely pulled out a key ring and, after selecting the matching pair, unlocked the door and let herself in. Yulia stood awkwardly back until Wynnie came back out, took her hand, and led her inside after her.

    The room was dark, the only light disappearing as the door closed. The elf clapped her hands and, with a hum, the lights from above began to turn on. What greeted the two was a long white hall, every few feet was a door with a placard. Try as she might Yulia couldn’t see the other end.

    The elf took one look around and groaned.

    “I told her to wait here, dammit Syble” She palmed her face, rubbing her temples between her thumb and middle finger. She turned back to her companion “Sorry, it seems the woman we need to meet up with isn’t here yet. Just give me a moment and I’ll call her.”

    There was a hesitant nod from Yulia. She wasn’t exact comfortable with her surroundings. Looking behind her she cringed on noticing there wasn’t a door, or even a wall behind her anymore. Just a seemingly infinite hallway.

    “What is this place?” Yulia felt a bit of pride she managed to keep her voice from breaking. She gestured to the empty space behind her, “And where did the door go?”

    Looking away from her phone looked back at Yulia, giving her hand a queer look before dismissing it and turning her attention to the girl herself.

    “You’ve never heard of a Torricelli Room?” It sounded like idea was laughable to her which was further confirmed by the shocked look on her face when the girl behind her nodded, “Wow, how did you get around your school?”

    “By walking,” Yulia didn’t like the tone the woman was using with her, “So what is this?”

    “A shortcut.”

    Rather than elaborating the elf thumbed her phone and put it up to her ear.

    “To where?”

    “Everywhere,” The elf frowned, “Augh, she turned off her phone. Follow me, we’ll either find her there or run into someone more reliable.”

    She walked forward and Yulia hurried to make sure she wasn’t left behind. The elf counted the doors before finally finding one she was looking for. She waved the girl over while she took out her keyring again.

    “Library, Gym, Shower Room… Here it is: Resource Assignment.”

    She opened the door, revealing a rather dingy and crowded desk filled room. The elf walked in without fuss but Yulia paused partway through. With a frown she looked further in before backing up into the hallway.

    The doors in the hallway didn’t have a matching end inside the room.

    Curiosity satisfied she quickly rushed back to the elf’s side.

    Wynnie stood at one of the desks trying to glare holes into the head of its occupant. Said woman seemed more concerned her nails.

    Both stopped and turned an eye towards the new arrival.

    “You’re late,” Were the first words from the paler woman. There was a breathy quality to it, and with her bored expression it didn’t seem she cared. The much more tanned elf hissed under her breath, “It’s rude to keep people waiting. Especially when they’re giving you presents.”

    She patted a plain little box sitting on her desk.

    “Is that-”

    “Yes, it’s her equipment. Fresh out of whatever department is in charge of making it,” She opened the box showing some items laying on a folded pink cloth, “Since you both were dragging your feet I decided to save myself the time and went to pick up the package myself.”

    “Wha- but, how?” The elf, for once was dumbfounded, “We only sent the order five minutes ago!”

    “Magic.”

    “...Fine,” Wynnie admitted defeat, “At least you saved us some time.”

    Shrugging Yulia grabbed for her prize. She retracted her hands with a hiss of pain as the pale woman placed down the ruler she used to smack them.

    “No no no,” She waved a finger, “You’ll need to sign a couple forms before I can hand this over.”

    She reached into her desk and pulled out a thick pile of paperwork to place on her desk. Yulia reflexively took a step back.

    “Let’s see, Aventus, Adalei, Auram, Atyanas!” Leafing through the pages the pale lady pulled out a single page, handing it over to Yulia with a smile, “Just sign at the bottom and you can have your stuff.”

    “Can I at least take a look at it first?” She wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of signing anything before making sure she’s getting what she wanted.

    “I don’t see why not,” The woman shrugged and went back to work on her nails.

    Yulia reached over the desk to grab the box.

    “Ow!” She snatched her hand back with a hiss and cradled it to her chest. Yulia shot a glare at the woman.

    “Sorry, reflex,” There wasn’t a hint of guilt in her voice. She placed down the ruler in her hand, “Won’t happen again.”

    Not taking her eyes off her opponent Yulia once again reached over the desk. Slowly, cautiously, she inched her hand forward until she was able to tap the lid. Once sure no retaliation was coming she snatched the box and deposited in her lap.

    Letting out a breath in relief she removed the lid. It seemed everything she was supposed to receive was inside. She removed the broach that would serve as her armor, a Device that projected a protective barrier around the use, and placed it on the table. Next was the pen that would serve as her Storage Device, it was awkwardly thick with a large heart-shaped jewel sitting on the end. It wouldn’t fool anyone and was incredibly gaudy, in fact it looked suspiciously like something much more… embarrassing to be caught with. For a moment Yulia considered having it replaced before reluctantly dismissing the notion.

    Yulia scowled as she noticed a distinct lack of something very important. Quickly noticing her client’s distress Wynnie looked over her shoulder into the box.

    “Syble, where’s her Support Device?”

    Syble just clicked her tongue, not looking up from her ‘work’.

    “I don’t know what you were expecting Wynnie. After all, you only ordered it five minutes ago.”

    Yulia felt the hand the elf had placed on her shoulder to balance herself twitch.

    “Don’t worry,” Syble glanced up, “It’ll get here soon enough, the boys downstairs are just having to take their time installing all the little extras you two ordered. In the meantime I’d suggest checking out your costume.”

    With the woman’s attitude Yulia was quite tempted to say no just to spite her. But taking a breath to calm herself she reached in and pulled out the bundle of cloths.

    “...I can’t tell if this is a really short dress or a really long shirt,” It was a tubelike yellow sleeveless whatever it was with a pink heart decal set off center on the chest. Yulia hoped the shape and placement wasn’t a subtle threat from the elf. The bottom was ruffled and spread out like a skirt, an indecently short skirt.

    “It’s the latter,” Wynnie assured, “There’s a pair of bike shorts that go under it. And a jacket that goes over it.”

    Indeed, looking in the box revealed said items. The bike shorts were unremarkable, and was a short sleeved green a fair with pink accents. The heart decal showed it’s face again on the back. Yulia lacked the fashion knowledge to be confident in deciding if it was fashionably ugly or just regular ugly.

    Seeing it all together, along with the knee socks and shoes, Yulia cautiously labeled it the former.

    The costume was remarkably mundane. At least in her opinion, resembling something that could have been cobbled together from a trip to the mall. It might not have looked exactly like everyday where but it was a far cry from the over complicated fancy kind of outfit Yulia imagined would be worn by a Ministra, something with a surplus of frills, belts, or ribbons.

    The simplicity of the outfit appealed to her.

    “I like it,” Yulia stated.

    “That’s good to hear, Augmented Uniforms aren’t exactly quite expensive to produce. Any replacements are at the cost of the Ministra,” Syble cheerfully informed her, “It’s a lot of work for enchant the cloth with everything a young Ministra needs. Self cleaning, self repairing, damage resistant, and it even gives a bit of a physical boost. Each one custom designed and tailored specifically for the Ministra. A fun little fact, because of the enchantments woven into the uniform we can’t reuse old material, so every uniform we make is entirely new.”

    She knew. Yulia wasn’t sure how the woman discovered her ill thought out backup plan, but she know. And she was rubbing the fact it wouldn’t have worked in her face.

    I don’t like you, Yulia tried to best to translate this message to the woman through her narrowed eyes.

    Syble’s cheerful expression didn’t change but Yulia suspected she knew. As socially dense as she was the girl still felt confident she could read the meaning behind the smile. I don’t care~

    “Oh, and even more good news,” Syble sat up, clasping her hands together in front of her chest, “It seems that they’ve finished with your Support Device.”

    Yulia didn’t have the time to turn around before a man walked up from behind her to place another, smaller, box on the desk and walk off further into the room.

    Making sure to keep an eye on the ruler that sat far too close to the purple haired sadist for her liking Yulia picked up the box, checking its contents.

    She couldn’t help but smile when she reached in and put on her prize.

    A pair of fingerless gloves, the back and knuckles padded. For a Magical weapon it looked oddly mechanical, with vents, metal plates, thin wires embedded into it. The only indication that it was magical in nature was the dull emerald lodged into the back of each.

    Yulia quickly pressed the gem, activating the Device and lighting up the gem as began to absorb some of her magic. A bit of steam hissed out of the vents and parts inside whirled to life.

    “Gah!” The distraction proved enough for the witch to once again strike her with the ruler, “What was that for?”

    “You can’t just activate a Support Device without signing for it first,” It was Wynnie who answered oddly enough, “You can get in trouble for doing that.”

    “No no, it’s fine. Ms Atyanas was just a little too excited,” The other excused while sliding over the form, “No harm done, as long as she signs for the devices.”

    Yulia bit her lip but signed the form, both her real name and moniker as it indicated.

    “Excellent, welcome aboard.”

    -----------------------

    It was much later in evening when Yulia made it back home. While her official business for the day had ended before noon Yulia had much of the remainder milling around trying to familiarize herself with the grounds. It was an effort in futility.

    So the girl had taken the train back once the sun began to set, thankful of the discount she received as a Ministra. It was already dark once Yulia let herself into the house, using the key hidden under a fake stone.

    “I’m home,” The girl flinched at the reflexive greeting. One part of it was not wanting to let her mother know about her return, the other was not wanting to deal with the bitter reminder of their feud as she was sure her mother would call back back out with-

    “Welcome home.”

    She jumped, turning to where her mother was sitting at the table drinking coffee and a magazine in her off hand. She leveled her daughter a neutral expression.

    “Where you sitting there all day?” Yulia questioned, voicing the first thing that popped into her head.

    Mrs. Atyanas sighed and put down the mug.

    “Honey, I love you, but that’s a bit much to assume from a working single mother,” She waved to the open seat across from her, “But if it makes you feel any better I’ve only left this room to finish the laundry and put some coffee to boil after coming straight home from work.”

    It actually kind of did.

    The girl cautiously took her normal seat across from her mother. After a week of actively avoiding her Yulia felt extremely self conscious sitting with her again. It was very quiet, the only sound being the quite sips and and turning of pages. Yulia didn’t dare look at the woman, not feeling she had the will to be able to do so.

    “Did you pass?” It was the older Atyanas that broke the silence. Her question asked with the same tone one used during polite small talk with co-workers. Invested enough to hold a conversation but not enough to commit any of it to memory.

    Yulia nodded, not trusting her voice enough to do more.

    The woman hummed.

    “So you’re a Ministra then,” It wasn’t a question, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.”

    The tone was unreadable to Yulia. Just a level calm voice. She would almost prefer if the woman sounded angry, if only so she could know where she stood.

    “What name did you take?” This time the woman put down the mug and magazine, looking right at her nervous daughter. When Yulia didn’t immediately reply she just continued to look at her giving no indication of impatience.

    The girl licked her lips, and prepared herself.

    Ministra Praelia,” She stated the class first, head and eyes trained at the floor tiles, “Petra Pugno.”

    There wasn’t a single response to her answer. After several moments the girl chanced a look up at her mother.

    She sat there staring at her daughter with an expression of mixed surprise and confusion. It was far more earnest and open than her earlier looks and Yulia let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. She turned to look at her mother, the woman quickly trying to regain her composer.

    “That’s,” Her voice caught for a moment, “That’s good name.”

    It was a lame line, both knew. But her mother gave a small smile as she sat up.

    “I think I’ll get started on supper. Here, you can have the rest of my coffee,” She didn’t bother waiting for an answer, placing the still mostly filled mug in front of Yulia and retreating to the kitchen.

    Yulia gave the drink a glance before taking up the mug and taking a sip.

    It was cold, very cold. And bitter, lacking any sugar or cream to dull the bitterness. The beans had also been burned. It was quite honestly the most disgusting cup of coffee the girl had ever tasted.

    She glanced down at mostly full mug and sent another look at her mother’s side where a month old sales catalog rested.

    Yulia took another sip, hiding the slight upturn of her lips behind the mug.
     
  9. wayne82444

    wayne82444 Experienced.

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    Something confuses me about this chapter:

    About the only thing Yulia specified about her storage device (or the barrier one) was for it to be a necklace. So why did she not react at all to getting a pen instead? While I can get that she isn't really a very assertive person, I would think that she would at least notice it is very different than what she asked for. Especially when what she did think was it could be mistaken for a vibrator.
     
    qof likes this.
  10. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Thinks, I'd missed that. I suppose I could say that since I'd forgotten so had she, the reply was rather flippant after all, or I could change it. But I do rather like pen and might use it for a gag later, and the idea that she'd forgotten seems like something she'd do. I may just add in in a line about thinking she'd asked for something else but not being too sure.
     
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  11. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    So, there's a ton of grammar errors in here, most in the form of either improper homophones (like a spot where "to" was used instead of "too") or words having the wrong tense. Pointing them all out from a phone is hell, so here's the most blatant ones.
    were
    Below
    This should be either "aren't exactly cheap" or "are quite expensive".

    to
     
  12. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Thanks as always man.
     
  13. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    I really should start remembering to only read this thread when I'm at my computer. Stuff like this makes me really hate that QQ doesn't have SV/SB's plugin that gives an alert when the OP of a thread posts more than 150 words at once........
     
  14. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Updates to be every second or third day, likely about 2am central time. Basically the plan is 2500 words daily, and about 5k at least per chapter, once I finish the chapter I'll post it before going to sleep.
     
  15. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Chapter 4 will be posted tomorrow, I have about my quota for the day but feel like it's a good place to end a chapter and will add tomorrows onto it. Tomorrow, I need sleep too after all.
     
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  16. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    If there was one thing Yulia had to single out about being crowded that she hated it would have to be the smell. Sure, having strangers being extremely close, or worse actually touching her due to the lack of space was something terrible. And being shoved around by every movement the people beside you make is enough to make her want to throttle someone, but it's still not as bad as the smell.

    In every gathering of people there's always one who stuck. Maybe it was poor hygiene, or simply misfortune that had befallen them that day. The point being that someone always fouls the air for those around them, and from Yulias own experience that someone was always near her. Without fail she was the one who had to suffer the assault on her senses.

    Her face was scrunched as she tried to breathe as shallowly and infrequently as she possibly could. She wasn’t sure of the source of the stench but they smelled like a barn. It wasn’t hyperbole, it was the earthy but foul odor that spoke of both animals and nature.

    For the past hour Yulia sat in the crowded waiting room, dealing with one girl who had no notion of what “Indoor voice” meant, another who seemed to believe personal space had a negative value, and what smelled to be someone who decided to roll around in the stables before arriving.

    Every second was hell. Loud, painful, obnoxious, and smelly hell. It was like a ray of light descending from the heavens when her number was called and she was able to leave it behind at last.

    Hopefully for good.

    She had her license, her uniform, and her equipment. Team assignments were the final thing to take care of. It seems she had arrived a bit early or else a teammate had arrived a bit late. Either way that was behind her.

    As she walked down the hallway to the room she was informed would where they would meet the girl toyed with the idea of her new colleagues. She wondered what they would be like, what they could do. While the Union attempted to make balanced, or at least functional, there was still a large random element to it.

    When asked her preference she’d requested a small group with a combat focus. Though she had made sure to let them know she didn’t want to be part of a theme based team. Just the thought of being Sailor Fist of the Weapon Rangers made her want to curl up and find a hole to die in from the mental image alone.

    Her musing stopped as she found the correctly labeled door in the hall of infinite doors. Despite the convenience of the place, a room that connected together all other rooms, Yulia was sure she’d never not find the place unsettling to use.

    There was no more use waiting, Yulia slid her card through the reader on the wall. It was only a moment for it to blink green, a click letting her know the door was unlocked. And with a turn of the knob and a single step she was in the room.

    The room was fairly mundane. It was something Yulia was starting to get used to at the Union building, a jarring mix of combining surreal and fantastical concepts with boring but practical applications.

    It looked no different from a normal break room, a table and chairs facing a TV. There was even a small kitchen corner. It was small but large enough to comfortably accommodate the 3 people inside it.

    At the one table sat a small girl with long blond hair and a freckled skin. Her face was scrunched in concentration as she seemed to summon paper into her hands to fold into various animals, only to dismiss them and start the process again. That she was out of uniform suggested that the ability was innately her own.

    On the recliner was much taller. Perhaps, Yulia thought, more so than herself. A darker complexion and hair were the most obvious to notice part of her appearance. The face was androgynous, a strong nose and thick brows mixed with feminine softness, it was all but impossible to tell their gender for sure. The cloths as well gave no clue, with baggy leggings to hide the form and a thick waist coat to obscure the chest.

    After a moment of hesitation Yulia reluctantly assigned the later as female in her mind. As little pride as she had in her appearance she still held a bit of girlishness inside her. She wasn’t sure that fragile pride could survive coming into contact with a boy that pretty.

    The two turned their own attention towards her even as she awkwardly made her way to sit on the couch provided. Yulia wasn’t one who liked being under the attention of others. It made her feel like she was being silently judged. Normally she’d use her phone as a distraction, but that wasn’t an option as the full three person team had been assembled.

    In the back of her mind Yulia was more than a little upset that despite having arrived early she was the last one to enter.

    It was an awkward positioning, the three seats facing a single direction making even the act of watching the others a hassle. The three sat in an uncomfortable silence until one broke the silence.

    “Is it that we are all here?” It was the second one that spoke, standing as she(?) did so. Even her voice gave no definite clue for Yulia, being a husky contralto (of course assuming that the speaker was indeed a girl) with a slight accent. Yulia nodded her head along with the blond girl, though neither was willing to speak before the other, “Then I suppose I will start off the introductions. My name is Rus Kaf, no family name, though you may call me Rus. My title is Ministra Magi Étoile de L’espée and I am both a fencer and an ameture magus.”

    She, or he, pulled the blade that had been resting beside them to show proof of his introduction. It was a long thin blade, incredibly well crafted and detail. Once satisfied, she placed it back where it had been resting and bowed.

    “As a personal detail; I have only lived in this city for the past four years, before my home was the kingdom of Aluvarna.”

    “You’re a transmigrant?” That would explain the oddity of her appearance. Red eyes and midnight blue hair were not exactly common traits in earth natives. It could also explain the mysterious, if quite pleasant, scent in the air, though the more likely culprit would probably be some sort of cologne.

    “Indeed,” Rus nodded, “This city is quite incredible, and I still have some difficulties attempting to adapt. But for all its strange wonders it still has its charms.”

    “Arya Avicci,” The blonde gave no warning before answering with her own curt introduction, “I’m a Ministra Evoca and my second name is Tela Vesti Linen Sew. I am a natural born esper with the ability to summon and control fabric.”

    She repeated the trick from before, summoning what seemed to be a handkerchief and folding it into a paper crane in the blink of an eye. It was an impressive display of speed, control, and dexterity as far as her powers were concerned.

    “Hard as steel, soft as silk, in any quantity. This cloth is an extension of myself,” She pet folded cloth in her lap, “I suppose if I have to confide something personal… I am the youngest of four siblings, and the second to become a Ministra. My oldest sister Aisling prefers the private sector and my brother Aventus is no longer with us.”

    There was no sorrow in her voice at the second pronouncement. Indeed, she spoke of him in the same tone one would speak about about having taken out the trash or other such humdrum chores. At most she seemed slightly annoyed at having to even expend the effort to mention him.

    Then, as if practiced, the two turned their heads as one to the last member of their little meeting.

    “I’m Yulia Atyanas, Ministra Praelia Petra Pugno,” She was fairly worried about saying something incorrectly. She tried to think on how she could put her powers, “For my power… I can punch things.”

    The blond girl turned up her nose to the notion while the tanned one was silently chuckling.

    Yulia felt a spike of annoyance at their mocker. Without bothering to give the idea a second thought she lifted a single gloved fist. The glowing gem nested on it's back pointed outwards in what may have been a rude gesture had either of the other girls been sitting directly across from her. Her other hand gripped her wrist to manipulate the hidden switches and dials there. They could be also be activated by gestures or certain shifts in her grip but she didn't have the familiarity or dexterity to do so so soon after receiving them.

    Power Source - Secondary
    Release - Charge
    Control - Manual


    With a deep breath Yulia began to focus her magic on her fist. She may not have been a mage but the task of simply moving magic within one's own body was one of the most basic things a person could do with it. The ethereal power responding like a limb, something so instinctive in the mind that one could not describe the process to do so other than having done it.Though just like with any appendage some were more skill in their control than others. In many systems of magic mages needed that control to ply their craft, either aided or unaided by a Catalyst. Yulia, someone who wasn't even a novice level magus could not boast anything about her control. Her manipulation was as clumsy as a newborn fawn and incredibly wasteful. Very little of what she intended to send to her Device actually made it to it's destination, the rest either staying where it was or bleeding off into the air.

    To compensate for this expected issue she went with the most obvious answer. More Power.

    The brunette was the first to react, sucking in a breath the moment Yulia began to pool her strength into one hand. As a magus herself it wasn’t surprising. It was maybe a second later that blonde straightened in her seat as the visible effects became apparent.

    When magic dissipates into the air it tends to have an effect. It can vary depending on the power and the ‘flavor’ of it. Ranging from lightning, to fire, to simply a glowing aura. For Yulia the image about her hand began to fracture, an odd sight where it seemed like a photo had been cut many times and the pieces ever so slowly started to shift. It was an odd but not exactly rare manifestation.

    The inset gem began to glow, and the vents across it let out puffs of steam while the mechanics inside the device gave a steady hum. The pitch grew until it was almost painful before dying when sharp mechanical click came from the glove.

    Yulia couldn’t see it from her position but the gem had no doubt turned red and began to blink. Maximum charge, 12 hundred Thaumaturgical Units of magic, reached in about 5 seconds. While impressive it wasn’t exactly efficient, she’d lost nearly a quarter of her full capacity to the bleed out. It may have looked impressive but it was a clear sign of her terrible skill.

    She simply left it like that for a moment before thumbing the release switch. Vents across the device opened and hissed out steam like a boiling kettle. While the glove could hold a charge that large for a shot it wasn’t wise to keep it chambered to max for so long. It funneled the power into the battery that was the gem while the excess was simply spent as quickly and non-destructively as possible.

    The blond was no longer looking so dismissive. Yulia gave her a challenging look.

    "Yulia Atyanas, my special skill is 'Punching Things'," She lowered her fist once the noise coming from it abated, "And..."

    Leaning back in her seat Yulia rubbed her chin with a hard look on her face.

    "And?" It wasn't long before the blond became impatient with the lack of continuation. The taller girl also had a look of curiosity.

    "And nothing,” Yulia shrugged. When she saw them about to protest she cut them off, “Honest, I don’t really have anything really special or interesting going on. I go to school, I live with my mom, and until earlier this month when I became a Ministra the biggest accomplishment I had to my name was winning the market’s lottery for a used computer.”

    “What of your earlier display of magic?” The foreign girl asked, “In my homeland only those of Divine or Djinn blood could produce such a quantities of magica.”

    “Nope, human,” Yulia shook her head, “If I have anything else in me it’s so diluted as to not show up on the tests they ran when I tried out.”

    No one spoke after that. It was a room with three strangers, all apparent introverts. And not a common thread besides their new occupation that was shared between them. The introductions they gave had hooks for starting conversation, but sadly those in the room either lacked the skill to spark a conversation or the investment to bother doing so.

    “So what do we do now?” Since we’re obviously not going to talk.

    “We can accept a Job from the assignment office or go on a patrol to search for monsters,” The blond’s quick reply had Yulia blanching.

    “While one should not delay their work if possible, it seems a bit premature to begin today,” Rus stood from her seat, “We three have only just met, it would be best that we familiarize ourselves before we start.”

    Arya looked as if she disagreed but didn’t voice it. Yulia was relieved, while she may have been eager to start she was equally hesitant to work with strangers when a mistake could be dangerous.

    “Fine, where do we start?”

    “With a change of venue,” Rus stood from her seat raising to her full height, “A more open and casual environment would be better to relax in.”

    “Seems plenty casual here,” Challenged the other. Yulia agreed with the blonde’s sentiment.

    “While this room is not quite formal, it is small and already feels crowded with just us three. It is not a location which is conductive to our needs,” Rus shook her head, “The best place for a newly formed group to converse would be open and cheerful, with other patrons to ease your never and perhaps with drink to ease the tongue.”

    The two others stared in confusion unable to parse what she was saying.

    “Wait,” Yulia said, “You make it sound like we should meet in a tavern.”

    As much as the two hoped she would not Rus nodded with a smile.

    --------------------------

    “I cannot understand how you can stomach to drink that. Either of you.”

    Unsurprisingly there was not a tavern located on the campus, something that please both natives of the newly formed team. Instead the Rus girl had led them to a small but popular outdoor cafe. The three sat down and placed their orders only for the blonde to seem disgusted with their choices as they arrived.

    Yulia stared down at her mug with a serious look wondering if somehow it had been switched for something foul. She took a sip.

    “It’s coffee,” A rather good brew in fact, freshly ground, “I just prefer it black.”

    Sugar was for babies and creamer was for nancies. A true coffee lover accepts neither. Yulia took another sip of the bitter drink while repeating the mantra in her head.

    Arya just went ‘hmph’ and sipped her honeyed tea. She would not waste words educating a filthy coffee drinker on why her uncouth drink was empirically inferior to the beverage of those with class, tea.

    “I have special dietary requirements and it seems I had neglected to bring the medicine needed to compensate this morning,” Rus took a sip of her diet soda, “This beverage is one of the few that I can drink without causing great discomfort to myself for their absence.”

    “Really? That stuff probably has enough chemicals to mummify a small cat,” Yulia quipped, “Artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, preservatives, it has so many unnatural ingredients I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s made Ex Nihilo.”

    “Exactly.”

    “So what was your home like?”

    Rus smiled, “I would consider this city my home but I assume you mean the land of my birth.

    “It was hot, surrounded by deserts. While the city was rich the wealth never left the hands of the merchants or nobles, one was either desperately poor or very well off, there was not any middle ground.”

    “Sounds rough,” It was the blond who replied.

    “Very much so.”

    The conversation came quite easy after that. As Rus had predicted a bit of drink and a social setting was all that was need to put them at ease enough to speak with each other. It was not anything deep or meaningful but friendly banter was very welcome. Slowly but surely the three strangers were approaching something that could be considered acquaintances.

    “Miss Yulia!” A familiar voice yelled out over the din of the crowd.

    The three paused in confusion at the sudden interruption. The girl in question began to look around to see who was calling for her. While the voice was familiar the form of address was not. She continued to try and see over the heads of the crowd without leaving the comfort of her seat until she felt a tugging on her shoulder sleeve.

    “Emmy?” Indeed it was the short girl from before who was friendly enough to guide her through the campus. Yulia was distinctly aware then that she had never gotten around to contacting the girl back in the past week, “Ah, what are you doing here?”

    “My classes have ended for the day and was making my way home when I happened to spot you from the corner of my eye,” Her face was hard to read but her voice sounded upset, “It’s quite lucky I did, I was worried something might have happened to you.”

    Yulia winced in guilt.

    “Though see as that’s not the case I have to wonder why you didn’t try to contact me back.”

    “I… may have misplaced your number,” Yulia admitted reluctantly. It was true, the paper with the girl’s contact information had been an unfortunate casualty to Yulia;s first ever attempt at laundry. There were many others but none quite so regrettable, “And I haven’t been on the grounds since I got my results back.”

    The girl still looked miffed, with her arms crossed and eyebrows scrunched. Not really sure what else to do Yulia followed her mother’s example for dealing with upset teens. She held out her coffee to the girl as a form of appeasement.

    Emmy looked surprised by the sudden offer and after a moment's hesitation accepted the mug. She turned it around in her hands before taking a sip of the warm drink. The puckered look on her face and raised hair on her head, when she realized how bitter it was was quite cute in Yulias opinion, resembling a kitten that had just bitten into a lemon, and she struggled to keep a straight face and avoid pinching the girl’s cheek.

    After a moment the pinkette managed to regain her composer and hand back the drink. Thankfully she looked far less upset somehow, a happy miracle.

    “Fine, I guess accidents do happen,” She held out her hand, “If you lend me your phone I could add my number so you don’t forget it again.”

    Not seeing the harm Yulia fished her phone from her pocket. A quick swipe unlocked it and she placed the device in the girl waiting hand. Emmy looked momentarily shocked that er offer was accepted for some reason but after a moment went to work.

    Yulia was just glad she didn’t lose a friend from a combination of bad circumstances and her own forgetfulness. She smiled as she accepted her phone back from the short girl.

    “Remember to call me this time okay?”

    “I’ll call you tonight when I get home, I promise,” Yulia gave a reassuring smile to her new friend to let her know that she was honest.

    “Thank you,” Emmy sighed out, “So I take it you passed your test?”

    “Yeah, I’m actually here with my new team right now.”

    Suddenly remembering their existence Yulia turned back to her teammates who were looking at her in undisguised confusion. She was wondering why they seemed so shocked, it was a of an odd bit of drama but Yulia didn’t think it was so startling.

    “Rus, Arya, this is-”

    “Àimyrhja Vwahln Klydhe,” Emmy curtsied while speaking words that Yulia swore couldn’t not possibly be created by human tongue, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

    “Arya Avicci,” The blond girl stood from her seat to respond with her own curtsy, “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well miss Vwahln Klydhe.”

    “The same can be said for me as well Miss Àimyrhja,” Rus bowed, “Rus Kaf.”

    Yulia looked back and forth confused, was she really the only one who had trouble pronouncing her friend’s name?

    “Would you mind if I…” Emmy trailed off looking at the table.

    “I have no issues with it, Arya?” Rus asked.

    “Oh yes please,” Arya sounded entirely too enthused and smug at the idea.

    And so Emmy joined the table, taking the single seat beside Yulia.

    “How have things been for you?”

    “Good. It took a week to get my acceptance letter and license, and I had to deal with this really annoying woman to get my equipment,” Yulia flashed her gloved hand.

    Emmy frowned, “This woman, was she slightly taller than you, very slim, pale, and with dark purple hair?”

    “Yes?” Yulia was shocked at the accurate description. What sort of woman was she that merely being called out for unpleasantness was as effective as a name drop.

    “You have my deepest sympathies,” The shorter girl placed a comforting hand on her friend’s shoulder, “So what’s your alias?”

    Ministra Praelia Petra Pugno.”

    "Stone fist, hm?" Rubbing her chin the more experienced girl gave junior a critical eye, "I'm unsure how fitting it is, but does roll off the tongue. But if you are going to be a fighting in melee I’d recommend taking up some form of martial art if you haven’t already. A Praelia can’t simply rely on ability alone, at least not at any respectable rank.”

    Rus placed down her glass and gave the newcomer a once over. Beside her Arya leaned back in her chair nonchalantly drinking her tea, “You sound like you have some personal experience.”

    “Yes, while my class is Arcana I’m more qualified to be a Praelia,” Emmy nodded, not bothering to expand on why that was, “While power is important to advance as a Ministra, regardless of class, without the direction skill provides you will just find yourself going nowhere.”

    “I thought you only recently became a Ministra?”

    “You don’t need to be a Ministra to become strong,” It was Arya who answered, “My oldest sister, for all her monstrous strength, never bothered to become a Ministra.”

    “That reminds me,” Yulia interrupted, “You never said what does, only that she made money off it.”

    If the blond had expected the question she certainly didn’t show it. The girl winced and turned away from the group, “She is… an entertainer.”

    “What, like a stripper?” The question exited Yulia’s mouth before she had even finished the thought. For several seconds she was confused as to why Emmy and Rus were gaping at her in disbelief while Arya was making a valiant effort to murder her with looks alone. And then she ran the words back through her head, “Oh. Oh shit! I’m sorry!”

    Thankfully Arya didn’t do more than glare harshly, with the ribbon in her hair standing straight and tense.

    “No,” She finally forced out through gritted teeth, “My sister is not a… that. Aisling is a singer.”

    “So,” Yulia stretched out the word, “What were we talking about again?”

    “A bit of friendly advice from a senior,” Emmy replied while holding out a hand to signal a waiter, “Don’t be afraid to ask if you ever need any help..”

    "Actually ma'am any advice you can provide would be welcome," The tallest member present inclined her head respectfully, "We all are still inexperienced in this line of work and your words alone would be worth more than we could repay."

    A preening cat like smirk stretched over the face of the fae-like girl. What ever Rus was doing to stroke her ego was working like a charm. Her chest puffed and her chin was held high. It brought to mind the image of a princess being waited on by her servants. She ignored the waiter who put a menu on her desk in favor of first responding to the girl's flattery.

    "It's no trouble at all, you don't need a reason to help someone else after all. Was there anyth- What is this?” Her cheer instantly vanished as she stared down at the menu she’d picked up. From her position Yulia could easily see the cartoony designs and cutely arranged foodstuffs. She turned to the waiter who had just finished taking the order of another table, “Excuse me, sir.”

    “Hmm, are you ready to order?” The young man seemed rather distracted and tired.

    “No, I believe you gave me the wrong menu.”

    “Oh my apologies,” He pulled another menu from his frock and handed it to the girl, “Was there anything else I can do for you all?”

    “Thank you, that should be a- This is the same menu,” Emmy turned back to the waiter, “Sir, you gave me the wrong menu again.”

    “Really? I could have sworn I gave you the children’s menu,” He said while reaching back into his frock to find another, “I don’t seem to have one on me, If you want I can go grab one from the kitchen.”

    “...No,” Emmy visibly deflated, even her wild pink hair seemed to droop and fade, “No, that’s fine I’ll… I’ll just order from this menu.”

    Yulia could almost see the little storm cloud of depression forming above her head. She wasn’t sure who the girl was trying to fool with her fake smile, the girl had quite possibly the worst poker face Yulia had ever seen. It’d be adorable if it weren’t so sad.

    “Excuse me,” She called out as the waiter was beginning to walk away, “Would you mind leaving some menus for the rest of us too? Er, if you guys want to stick around for lunch.”

    When her teammates nodded she accepted the menus and handed two out to Arya and Rus.

    Emmy was still busy staring, defeated, with lifeless eyes down at the kids menu held in her hands. She only barely reacted to the poke on her shoulder. When she turned though she found a regular menu held out to her in front of a smiling face.

    “Here,” Yulia pushed the menu forward, forcing the smaller girl to accept it, “My treat.”

    “No, you shouldn’t waste your money. I can pay for myself,” Emmy tried to push the menu back.

    “It’s my money I can waste it on whatever I want,” Yulia replied petulantly, gently pushing back the menu, “You can consider it an apology for last week. Besides…” With a deft hand she snatched the children’s menu off the table from in front of Emmy, “The kid’s menu looks more interesting.”

    The girl still looked reluctant to accept.

    “If it really bothers you,” Yulia sighed, “You can pay next time we go out.”

    At the sound of choking Yulia turned to see Arya violently hacking into her tea cup.

    “You okay?”

    “‘M fine,” She barely managed to get out while Rus pat her back.

    With a shrug Yulia turned her attention to her menu.

    Now, should I get my pancakes shaped like stars or hearts?

    ----------------------------

    It was a nice luncheon and an excellent team building event. Baring her little slip up things had gone remarkably smoothly. Yulia had gotten a nice meal, Rus had gotten a few questions answered, and Arya…

    Yulia frowned. Well, two out of three wasn’t bad. It wasn’t like the blond girl really lost anything.

    The team had all left on better terms than they’d met at least. After lunch they went their separate ways with the agreement to meet up the next morning to start patrolling.

    So Yulia was on her way back to her home.

    “I still don’t get it, why can’t I just save them both?”

    Yulia was palming her face at having to repeat herself for the upteenth time. She was beginning to wonder if her friend was actually so dense or was being intentionally stubborn.

    “Emmy, that’s not the point,” Yulia held out both hands, “It’s a thought experiment about morality. You have to choose between saving the family or saving the individual-”

    “And I said I choose both,” There wasn’t a hint anything that would indicate she was anything but honest in her answer.

    “Fine you save them both,” Yulia spat out having grown tired of the ten minute loop the question had prompted, “Congratulations, you succeeded where all others have failed and achieved the impossible best ending. Truly there is no greater hero of justice than you.”

    Either Emmy didn’t recognize the sarcasm or exasperation in her friend's voice or simply chose to ignore it in favor of winning an argument that wasn’t. Normally Yulia would feel quite irritated at someone looking so smug after having her patience tested so. Instead she felt her mood lighten at the sight of her friend’s cheer.

    “Ah… Um, what are you doing?”

    Yulia blinked coming back to her senses to look down at her traveling companion. And her hand which had somehow found its way across the intervening distance between them to rest itself on the girl’s head.

    “Patting your head?” Yulia answered, confused as to when this happened.

    “Why?” Her voice was slightly annoyed.

    “Because,” Yulia shrugged, “I just felt like petting your head.”

    “I’m not a little kid you know,” She sounded a bit more serious about her displeasure, “Please don’t treat me like one.”

    “Of course not,” Yulia was quick to reply. It was rather obvious, the girl was a Ministra. A High ranking Ministra at that, “Do you want me to stop petting?”

    “...No, It’s… sort of relaxing,” Emmy sighed, “Ugh, now I feel like a child.”

    The girl sagged, though thankfully didn’t move out from under Yulia’s hand.

    “If anyone’s the child here it’s me,” From what the taller girl could see her friend was probably the more mature one between them. And Yulia was also sure the small girl was older than she appeared, despite her short and petite stature there was a sort of “Ageless” quality about the girl.

    The girl gave her a surprised look before smiling again.

    “Your team seems nice,” Yulia shrugged at the comment, “To be honest I didn’t think you’d have joined a group so soon.”

    “Really? Why?” The girl was honestly curious. Had she seemed so anti social before?

    “Well,” Emmy seemed reluctant to answer, “I had sort of thought after you passed you’d either take classes or…”

    “Or?”

    “Or we’d partner up,” Eyes turned to the floor as the pinkette answered.

    This made Yulia blink in confusion.

    “I’m a D-rank. Would they even let us partner up?”

    “...” Despite opening her mouth with confidence the words stalled in Emmy’s throat, “I- I don’t know. Maybe as an apprentice, but I’m not qualified to be a Magistra.”

    “Well it’s not like I would have done so if they did,” Yulia felt her friend stiffen under her hand, “Okay that came out wrong. I meant, that I don’t want to be a scrub.”

    “Scrub?”

    “Yeah, basically the sort of jerk that tries to brag about things they didn’t do. Or rides on the coattails of other people,” Yulia explained, “Basically a parasite. I have my pride after all.”

    The pinkette only seemed to get more upset.

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize,” Emmy let out a sigh, “It was a silly thought.”

    She then squawked as she felt the hand on her head push down with much more force and violently rub it.

    “Not really. I don’t want to be the one dragging you down trying to keep up. So that just means I’ll need to get good enough that you’ll be the one trying to catch up to me. Hopefully that offer’s still good when I reach B rank.”

    There was a screech as the train back to Yulia’s home arrived.

    “Sure thing,” Emmy called out as she walked away, “Just don’t keep me waiting too long.”
     
  17. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Last chapter's kind of a mess. Feels like I'm trying to do too much at once and haven't fleshed out a lot of wha tI needed too. Sooo tired.
     
  18. qof

    qof Getting out there.

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    Yulia seems like a bored powergamer. She utterly minmaxed stat creation, and then compensates by choosing the least fitting class in order to up the challenge.
     
    Nolrai2, dragonx99 and Dalek149 like this.
  19. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    Finally doing this from a computer!

    Deletions in red strikethrough, and additions in blue.
    Either "Indoor Voice" or "indoor voice".
    The hell happened with that red part? No clue what you were even trying to say there.
    What on the recliner? The being? The person? The entity?
    Either "Is that it? Are we all here?" or simply "Are we all here?".
    Pretty sure you meant "amateur"? Trying to google "ameture" primarily gives lewd results.......
    Power set sounds like Mami Tomoe with a bit less specialization (and from the sound of things, no bullshit hax levels of raw skill).
    Please write either "1200" or "twelve hundred" here. Doing it like that just plain looks bad unless doing so uses up less spaces than either other method (mainly if you're in the million range or higher).
    Ok, so, in this snippet, you've used both "blonde" and "blond". When used as a noun (like in the sentence above), "blond" is masculine and "blonde" is feminine, so it should be "blonde" here. In British English, the same rule applies when using it as an adjective, but in American English, "blond" is the only form used as an adjective. Use as an adjective is the "He has blond hair" form.

    Use the Find/Replace function of your word processor or internet browser to find all the instances of either of those and straighten it out.
    Is this meant to be part of what the other girls are having trouble parsing?
    You accidentally used a semicolon instead of an apostrophe there.
    Either "does" + "makes" or "did" + "made".


    Dear lord that took forever to get through!
     
  20. dragonx99

    dragonx99 Master of Phantasm

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    I like this description, it is a very fitting one. Though hopefully it doesn't end up being too too much of one, she needs to catch up to her friend.

    Also, i have no idea how they tell you're in a group with people if you don't go with a theme. I mean... how do you even determine what the name is going to be in that case?
     
  21. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    There's so many it's usually officially known by a number and names being option. If a team gets popular they either come up with their own or get one put on them by either the media or fans.
     
    dragonx99 likes this.
  22. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Shoulders tucked, feet apart, and muscles ready. Yulia kept a close eye on her target from through her upraised fists as she advanced.

    The creature vaguely resembled some sort of hairy hybrid of man and pig. It was nothing that could be called natural, the meshing of limbs, skins, and furs was uneven and random creating something grotesque and sickening to look upon. Hulking muscle was uneven distributed over it's massive body, one cloven arm wider than Yulia's body while the other was much more human in size and appearance if matted in fur. An abomination born of magic, foul and ugly, a clumsy but still deadly menace.

    And she was here to kill it.

    Yulia advanced from it's blind spot as it was distracted by the threat her partner presented. A staccato of blows, both physical and magical rained down creature's leathery skin. The damage of each was small, nothing more than scratches, bruises, or slight singing at the worst but the number of attacks made up for individual weakness. I roared as it attempted to catch the agile girl with swipes of it's meaty arms, surprisingly quick for it's bulk. The dodges were steadily getting narrower as the girl's stamina began to run low, a few slight tears could already be seen on her baggy sleeves where she wasn't able to withdraw from taking advantage of an opening quick enough.

    The creature was a danger to society, while it's exact origins were a mystery it's actions were not. The creature, in the two weeks since it's suspected generation, had first hidden itself in the thick wooded park in the center of the district. It only left this protection at night. To hunt. It's kills were not so limited to gathering food, in fact only a small portion of it's prey had any signs of even partial consumption.

    At first the only casualty had been pets and local wildlife. Animals left outside and unable to escape. And then three days ago it came to the top of the priority list when reports showed it’s tastes were not so limited.

    Seventeen home invasions and thirty victims in the three days since it had escalated. The creature’s favorite victims being young children. The bounty was placed, a designation was given, and the hunt began to stop the menace. Of the dozens of teams it was Yulia’s that first found it, prowling about in the woods near a park at dusk.

    C Rank Monster - Urswine Man.

    Yulia didn’t know if the creature was intelligent or not. If it was simply some rabid beast or something more sinister. But she was sure of one thing.

    It was going to die.

    There was a shout as Rus, having over committed to a punishing combination, was punished with a direct strike from the grotesquely muscular arm of their target. His blade met it part way through, held flat to try and absorb some of the force. Yulia couldn’t tell if it was successful or not as the possible boy was flung back through the air to land roughly on the ground.

    He bounced twice and rolled until he impacted the chainlink fence that cordoned off the forest from the suburbs. She only had enough time to note that her teammate was able to keep hold of her weapon before charging forward fist cocked.

    Two hundred should be more than enough, Yulia thumbed the full release trigger as she threw her punch. She made sure to keep her back straight as she pivoted on her opposite foot, best attempt to mimic what she could recall a proper left hook. A glove charged for near five minutes, the time since they’d engaged the monster, flew down towards the beast's exposed back.

    Yulia grinned viciously, simply baring her teeth, knowing that the moment she connected the thing would go down. And it would not be getting back up again.

    White erupted from in front of the creature. Dozens of cloth tendrils shot out from the underbrush and speared themselves into its chest and stomach. The force behind the attack was incredible, lifting the monster high in the air and launching it back.

    And out of the path of Yulia’s finisher.

    With a curse the Praelia juked to the side to avoid the flailing arms of the creature and grit her teeth as a cloven hoof impacted her shoulder like a sledge hammer. She was barely able to thumb the release on her glove before she fell to the ground, thankfully avoiding being caught in her own attack with a misfire.

    Roars came from beyond the trees where creature was trying to defend itself from an assault by disembodied cloth tendrils. Despite their best efforts though they could not muster another attack of similar strength as before quickly enough and the beast was easily weathering the barrage of steel hard cloth.

    Yulia shot a quick glare into the the trees above. Standing back up she felt at her arm, heavily bruised but thankfully not broken. She’d certainly be feeling that in the morning.

    “Petra, are you well?” Steadily walking forward Rus clutched her chest and covered in dirt, “Are you able still to continue fighting?

    “Yeah. On both counts,” Yulia answered, “What about you Étoile? That hit looked nasty.”

    Rus, Étoile, shook her head, “It is not as bad as it seems, I was able to parry the blow. I am unharmed, although the landing was somewhat jarring. Unfortunately I am quickly approaching the limits of my casting ability. I will no longer be able to distract the beast as effectively.”

    Yulia bit her lip, “Linen seems to have that covered for now, you should save your strength. I think the two of us can probably take it from here.”

    "...Miss Petra that does not seem wi-"

    "Stop talking and help me!"

    Her words cut as both their attentions shifted completely to the treetops above where their third team member floated above them. The girl wasn't looking at them, instead placing her full attention on the battle in front of her. All direct attempts to harm the creature were abandoned, instead the fabric attempted to trip or bind the monster. Through the gaps in her 'armor' it was easy to see the sweat she was working up from their position and the paling of her already light skin. Even the normally animated cloth that circled around her was stilled.

    "As much as I trust whatever you two are talking about is absolutely fascinating," She grunted as the pig-beast pulled hard on the white noose she placed around it's disgustingly thick and veiny neck,"I'd really appreciate it if you got back to fighting the monster trying to kill us!"

    “It’d already be dead if you stayed out of my way!” Yulia yelled back very sour about the earlier blunder.

    “Not everything is about you, you know-nothing Knock Off!”

    “The hell did you call me?” Teammate or no Yulia was about to jump up there and give her a smack, “I’ll show you a Knock Off Goldilocks!”

    Further argument was put on hold at the sound of footsteps on the forest undergrowth. Yulia was caught flat footed as her fellow Praelia rushed forward, sword at the ready. There was at least ten meters between them before she was able to follow suit.

    “Front!” She shouted.

    The creature was restrained, the larger hand held back and wrapped in linens while the neck and other limbs were lassoed. It was vulnerable, unable to move to defend itself. Rus’ blade met little resistance as it plunged into the stomach of the beast and released it’s charge.

    Light exploded out of the creatures back in a surprisingly gore free display. Several trees behind the attack were knocked over from the backwash. In less then a second it was over, the monster vomited out a stream of blood before falling limp in its restraints.

    Rus fell limp to the ground, a panting sweating mess. No doubt she had expended the last of her reserves on the killing blow. Yulia walked over to the girl’s side as she tried to compose herself and pick up her sword where it had dropped to the ground.

    The whole in the creature was quite something, large enough for any of the girl’s present to squeeze through. It went through the center of the thing, leaving a few inches at best around the stomach to hold the two halves together.

    Yulia frowned as she inspected the work. Ignoring the descending blonde she took a closer look.

    There was little blood in the wound. A few drops and a steady stream, more something to expect from cutting one’s hand more than being nearly bisected. The insides were an unpleasant pink mess, tubes of muscle that stretched from one end of the hole to the other. No organs were visible, in fact the creature didn’t even appear to have a spine.

    Yulia was fairly sure this was not what the inside of a living thing was supposed to look like. Very slowly she began to back up keeping an eye on the creature.

    “Guys I think-”

    There was no warning. Or at least so little time between the creature’s sudden revival and it’s next act to make such a thing useless. None of the girls could react in time as the beast suddenly wrenched it’s two arms inwards with a growl. The force and surprise being too much for the fabric, ripping it’s restraints to apart.

    The only thing that prevented Yulia from looking back at the scream and soft thump that came from behind her was the the sudden freezing of her limbs in indecision. It ended up saving her.

    The beast rushed forward with its meaty hoofed arm descending like an axe. Time seemed to slow for the girl as she watched the heavy blow descend. Whether by instinct or panic she was able to react.

    Hoof met glove and the girl thumbed the trigger to release the minor charge she’d built up. With a crack the hoof impacted the ground and the girl fell on her backside from impact, already unbalanced from the recoil of her lucky attempt to parry.

    Holy crap I’m alive! Yulia wanted to cheer, Yes! Yes! Y- Oh shit!

    Exuberance quickly soured as the brawler felt a crushing grip on her ankle. She was lifted into the air before she had a chance to struggle. Her vision went white and her her leg screamed in pain from the torque and force the violent motion that affected her body. For a brief moment there was just a heady feeling as blood pooled too quickly in her skull and the world around her felt as if it was being blocked off by a layer of cotton wrapped over her brain.

    Then a muffled shout followed by pain blossoming across her back before a sense of flight. And then painful tumbling.

    After the world stopped imitating a drier and turned off the spin cycle Yulia was well on her way to blowing chunks for various reasons. When she finally felt steady enough to stomach opening her eyes without also opening the floodgates she could only see a deep purple all around her. A moment of confusion overcame her before she noticed the shifting warm mass underneath her.

    Rus’ arms fell from her back onto the floor as Yulia quickly pushed herself off her teammate’s chest. The… girl’s breathing ease with the weight removed and Yulia was able see the state of the fencer.

    Yulia winced.

    Rus was battered and bruised, clearly having seen better days. Her breathing sounded concerningly raspy. She was coated in dirt and her normally immaculate outfit was ripped sullied. The fencer had obviously been caught with her Barrier Coat near emptied, even worse was that Rus probably tried to shoulder the brunt of the attack herself to protect her senseless teammate.

    Yulia wasn’t sure if she was relieved or worried when the tanned ministra tried, unsuccessfully to also push herself up.

    "Rus!" Yulia couldn't care less about secret identities at that moment.

    "Petra, Linen!"

    The fear and urgency that suddenly covered the second half of the girls words had Yulia whip her head around to search for her final teammate. Her eyes locked onto the whimpering balled up girl in the middle of the field. Around her was the shredded fabric and even a puddle of vomit beside where she laid. She didn't seem to even be aware of the looming behemoth picking itself up from beside her.

    Yulia's confusion to what could have occurred was answered when the monster used it's human hand to violently tear a shawl that was pinning its leg to the ground. The blonde haired esper could only let out a choked sound and fall back to the ground where she tried to pick herself up. Even the cloth making up her costume flinched as she fell to the ground.

    As the creature rose to its full height to tower over the fallen esper Yulia tried to force herself up and forward regardless of the ringing in her ears. And as it lifted it's arm high with a disgusting grin stretched over it's misshapen skull Yulia force herself into a sprint.

    Her sprint ended before even the second step. Her leg, lamed by the punishment it underwent just moments ago, betrayed her and she crashed into the floor painfully. And in front of her she could see the creature bring down its arm like a guillotine.

    With a sickening crunch the hoof impacted the bundle of cloth that the girl called up in a desperate attempt to defend herself. The cocoon, formed in haste, buckled in an instant and with seemingly no resistance drove itself into the dirt below. A cloud of dust formed out the crater surrounding the unmoving cloth.

    “Arya!”

    The monster’s face went from grinning to frowning in confusion as it started down at it’s kill. It lifted its arm dragging up the cloth and wooden log speared to the unbloodied hoof.

    “Relax, your small friend is fine zam,” Said a voice from behind Yulia followed by a groan, “Physically. She is fine physically. Her Sympathetic Pain is excruciating though, quite unfortunate. But that is still a win in This One’s book, that it is zam!

    Yulia had tried to get a look at the speaker only to have a soft but heavy weight dropped on her like a sack of flour. She fell back on her face and found her vision obstructed by dirt and something white.

    “Ow…” Came a very familiar voice as the load on her back shifted, “Please stop moving, it’s making my everything hurt.”

    Eyes widening Yulia rolled out from under the person on top of her, ignoring the groaning protests, to find her inexplicably alive blonde teammate. Just as had been said the girl didn’t have a scratch on here but seemed to radiate a pitiable aura of suffering where she laid in the fetal position. The cloth of her costume was gone, leaving only the swimsuit like underwear to protect her modesty. Given it’s coloring was similar to her own skin tone it probably wasn’t doing such a good job regardless of how much it covered.

    Yulia flinched as a guttural roar reminded her of the presence of the thing that had dismantled her team in seconds.

    “So it is you who is the brute that has been bullying my precious little kouhai~ Your punishment shall be swift and just, that it will zam!”

    A pair of sandal clad feet entered Yulia’s field of vision. An older teen walked out confidently in front of the pile of limbs and bruises that was the newly formed Ministra squad 19-32-263.

    The young woman stood at similar height to both Yulia and Rus if much more feminine in figure. Baggy pants and a backless sleeveless top both of oriental design and dark blue with red trim. The cut would have exposed much if not all of the pale skin beneath to the air were most of the uncovered area not covered in bandages.

    B-Rank 1942: Ministra Magi Kagehoshi Degozaru

    “This should not take too long, no,” The ninja girl confidently pulled an odd knife from one of the many hanging on her belt and spun it on her finger. She turned back to Yulia to give a wink, “Try not to blink, zam.”

    The moment her gaze was off it the monster charged with speed that belied its bulk. The girl simply turned back and caught her knife in a reverse grip.

    “Ninja Art: Dance of Splitting River Leaves,” The girl breathed. There was the sound of bells and then she moved.

    Time seemed to ‘stretch’ for lack of a better word to describe it. Yulia was aware that time was proceeding at its regular rate, and that the two before her were moving at incredible speed. But for all that should be true the sight before her eyes was slowed nearly a standstill.

    The girl moved forward with graceful steps, ignoring the stilled world she found herself in as she flowed forth like water. And in the trail behind her she left an echo in time. The motion was mesmerizing but impossible to grasp, a motion to fluid for the flawed human eye to grasp. Yulia saw the girl bring her knife forward as she flowed around the creature, and as her echoes broke upon it as well each in their own direction. The knives moving but untrackable.

    Somehow the ninja ended up standing behind the creature. And as the ripples of the echoes faded she let out a breath. The illusion broke with the chiming bells and Yulia finished blinking. When she reopened her eyes a pile of slowly dissolving limbs laid where her target had been standing.

    Yulia stared, the beast not even her entire team could defeat was casually swatted aside by the older Ministra in the time between a single blink of the eye.

    Kagehoshi replaced her knife with a smile.

    This was the power of an Elite.

    -------------------------------

    Safety is always a concern for The Union. Even with those Ministra who can decide for themselves rarely is a Ministra or a team allowed to take a mission they could not reasonably assume they could walk away from if not succeed at. There were exceptions, but only in the most dire of circumstances.

    Only high ranking C-rank Ministra could hunt C-rank monsters alone where else a partner was considered the minimum amount of back up. Under normal circumstances a small team of lowly D-ranks, fresh recruits all, would not be allowed to hunt a single C-rank bounty. The chance of death or serious injury was too high to risk.

    The exception to this was a Promotion Exam. A lower ranked team could be allowed to face a higher ranked bounty, so long as a a higher ranked Ranked and sufficiently powerful Ministra was present as a safeguard against the worst.

    The team of three sat in bitter silence on the stone wall near the clearing they’d been so abused at. Each one nursing a bruised body and a bruised ego.

    Standing opposite them was their supervisor for this mission, Kagehoshi Degozaru, balancing herself on a tree branch about level with them. Despite her earlier carefree nature, both before and during the embarrassing fight, she was leveling the three with a serious glare.

    “You three, it would be well within my right to simply decline you all promotions and return to what I was doing before zam,” She smirked beneath the thin cloth covering her lower face at the collective cringe of her temporary charges, “But, This One would rather have a more complete image of the events before making a decision, that I would zam.

    “So, which of you girls is the leader of your squad?”

    When none of the girls answered, save for shrinking deeper into themselves, the young ninja sighed. She sat herself on her branch in a more relaxed stance and waved her hand at the less experienced group.

    “That was likely your first issue, it was. A Ministra must always be ready,” Kagehoshi nodded and waited for the girls to follow suit before continuing, “This city is too large to have a plan that contains it all, so one must always be ready to be surprised. That is the duty of a leader zam.”

    “Quick question,” Yulia raised her hand, “What does that mean?”

    “This one supposes that it may be hard to grasp,” Ignoring the brawler being attacked by small fabric strips the ninja nodded to herself, “A Ministra must ‘expect the unexpected’ to borrow a phrase zam. They must have a plan for every situation, even for when they do not have a plan.

    “You three are still young, you are not expected to be great, but you are expected to be competent at least as a unit,” She fixed the three in place with another look, “And for that a leader is needed. If you wish to be promoted you must display the skill required for it zam.

    “Now please report, what is it that you each did when started this mission zam,” She pointed to Rus, “Starting with you.”

    The tan Ministra, polite as always, stood up and bowed to the senior member. She winced a bit in pain but otherwise didn’t let any discomfort show as she stood at attention.

    ----------------------

    We had arrived by train as one group at the one station available in the designated area. We had accepted our mission in the early morning and decided to begin as soon as possible given the nature of the threat we were to face.

    I was fairly nervous about the mission we’d be going on. A C-rank bounty was not something I believed we were ready for. In the last weeks we’d been able to handle D-rank bounties, even several at a time. But Spectors and Imp packs were not a good gauge to use in measuring higher threats.

    But it had been Arya who had initially voiced the idea and Yulia who was somehow able to get the idea approved. There was no point in trying to disagree as I was already outvoted.

    At the very least we would have capable back up if my fears proved correct.

    Petra and Linen were still arguing when we exited the train. It wasn’t unusual for them to intentionally aggravate the other over some matter of personal taste. And indeed, the two had been rowing since before we’d even left. The subjects involved were lost to me, switching from one thing to the next just so they’d have something to conflict over it seemed.

    At the very least it did not appear overly personal, just another of their squabbles on food preference. Thankfully their arguments didn’t affect their duties as Ministra, both were fully capable of placing it aside when required.

    “So these are the ducklings that This One was assigned to assess zam?” A voice came from behind me. I withdrew my blade and turned as quickly as possible, “Yare~ you should be more careful else you will remove the crown off someone's head in fright, you would!”

    The speaker had easily dodged to avoid reflexive strike to her head. Her head tilted while finger gently nudged rapier aside. I ceded ground to better assess her.

    She stood at about my height, black hair in a high ponytail. The lower half of her face was obscured by both a cloth mask and a thick scarf. Her clothes dark, baggy, and exposing. For a moment I was reminded of the Troubadours and Gypsies of my homeland but dismiss the thought. The cloth was thicker fabric and not the transparent silks nor did they have the bright eye catching colors they loved.

    My first instinct was distrust. The mask, dark dressings, or comparisons to Gypsies would each individually be enough to spark suspicion but all three were all but a guarantee of one's nefariousness. But more than that, and what frightened me most, was how easily she was able to sneak up on me.

    As much as might appear so I am not human, at least not fully. And that heritage displayed itself in my keen senses. ...Among other things.

    My nose could pars hundreds of scents at once and single out a single individual. I could track even the faintest trail days old and miles aways. I had been told it was like that of a bloodhound, but I felt that was inaccurate if not far too noble. My nose was that of a shark, one that seeks out blood.

    The woman before me had no scent. Not her own nor the lingering smells that one accumulates daily. I could hear not the tell tell signs of life in her body such as the beating of a heart nor even the shallowest of breaths. Even the ambient signs of life I would normally detect were absent. Despite what my eyes could see every other sense told me nothing was there.

    I did not lower my blade.

    “Oi, Rus are you okay?” As much as it relieved me to know my teammates were still there I wished very much to smack Yulia for using my name on a mission.

    Étoile, what happened,” Arya seemed just as ludicrously nonchalant about the thing that was beside her.

    I pointed my blade, fully aware my attempts at intimidation were probably woefully inadequate.

    “You! State your name and purpose, answer now or be labeled an enemy!” I could only hope my teammates backed me up.

    “Wh- Rus what are you doing? Put your sword down!”

    Étoile, this is our Magistra! Stop threatening superiors or we’ll fail before even starting!”

    I was confused. A Magistra, a supervising Senior Ministra, for these exams was supposed to simply be someone of only slightly higher ability than those of the juniors they would be watching after. Strong enough to prevent them from being overwhelmed but not so much as to render the test pointless by completing it herself.

    Looking at the woman I wondered if C-rank was somehow much further away than I initially thought or if my team was being severely overestimated.

    That is if it were true.

    The sneak frowned for a moment before snapping her fingers and I prepared in case it was an attack.

    “That’s right, the hanyou had enhanced senses, she did!” She smiled apologetically at me, “This One is sorry, it has become a habit to ‘Walk in Shadows’ and it is easy to forget how some like you perceive it, that it is zam.

    She clasped her hands together in some odd manner, and with a “Kai” she was there. Fully there. Scent, sound, and assorted other things were now agreeing with my eyes and I could relax.

    The woman introduced herself as Kagehoshi, a B-ranked Ministra. She didn’t elaborate on why she was watching after us rather than a normal C-rank veteran. Instead she dodged around the topic.

    Eventually we made it to the fenced off woods where our target was said to seek refuge in.

    “Now, there are 28 other teams, there are,” Kagehoshi stood before them on top of the gate, “Each one is also attempting to track down and secure the target. The mission is to be the first to both find and defeat the monster Urswine Man zam. Of course you cannot sabotage your fellow Ministra, such actions are counterproductive to what Ministra Union stands for and any attempts to hinder your peers will be punished most harshly, that it will be. Ministra must rely on their own skill alone to succeed and advance in this organization.

    “You three will have six hours to complete your mission. Are there any questions zam?”

    I nodded in understanding not fielding an inquiry. Yulia seemed similarly unconfused.

    “Excuse me,” Arya raised a hand, “Could you explain why six hours?”

    A smile came over Kagehoshi’s face and she pointed up in lieu of an immediate answer.

    “The current time is Ten AM,” When none of us came forth to explain her riddle she frowned, “The month is November, it is, and dusk begins earlier in the colder months.”

    So it was to keep us out of the dark then, it made sense. Yulia either understood as well or simply didn’t care about the explanation. It was hard to read her at times, anything that doesn’t instantly enrapture her seems to only merit a flat expression and an indeterminable portion of her attention. I would admit that it is fairly aggravating at times to not know if she was actually paying attention to me or the world around her.

    Arya however looked to be dissatisfied with the information.

    “So, what? It’s just so we finish before it wakes up? If we’re just going to be fighting it anyway it shouldn’t matter if it’s awake. We won’t be any safer in day than the sun sets”

    I felt myself cringe. Arya was wrong. Very wrong about that. To fight a monster of the night in the dark was incredibly foolish. Of our entire team I was the only with any type of Clairvoyance, even if it was only enhanced senses. Neither Yulia nor Arya would be able to fight in the darkness that would form under the shade of trees and waning sunlight. I would even doubt their ability to navigate in such conditions.

    Kagehoshi didn’t bother to correct her. Instead addressing her other assumption.

    “What makes you think this is about your safety zam?” The expression of her face appeared a normal friendly smile, even her words had no bite to them. But I still felt uneasy even under its indirect gaze, and Arya herself froze like a mouse before a snake, “The creature has never attacked earlier than six in the evening, and it will not get another chance to prove that wrong. The time limit is not to protect you, it is simply how long it will remain possible for you complete the mission. By Four PM today, the Urswine Man will be eliminated. If not by the hands of you three or the other Ministra teams, then it will fall by This One's own blade."

    Kagehoshi pulled out her knife, a small dagger like straight blade to spin between her fingers.

    "Six hours, that is the handicap given to you until This Shinobi enters the race. At that time, the outcome will be decided zam."

    The blade, that had been freely spinning was grabbed in a reverse grip and held before her face. It was a defensive stance, though it seemed to serve the purpose of unnerving Arya who had an aversion to blades. A not altogether unfounded sentiment given her ability and it’s unfortunate drawback.

    “I thought the Magistra was supposed to help during the test?” Yulia raised her hand.

    “Yes, but within reason,” I chose to step up and answer the question myself, “Our team is the one to be tested, not Miss Kagehoshi.”

    “Yup! This One will not be lifting a finger to aid you during this test until time is up, That I will not,” Our supervisor stepped off the fence link to fall to the ground silently, not a even a bit of dust from the landing, “To do otherwise would be more unbalanced than leaving your team to it’s own devices. This One is not so good at holding back by that much, so the moment This One has to step is when your test ends zam.”

    “Ugh, that sucks,” Yulia sighed and put her hands on her hips, “When you said you wanted to be our Ministra I said yes because I thought you were going to help. This… this is the opposite of that. This is Anti-help!”

    Kagehoshi simply pushed aside my teammates pointed finger with her own.

    “This One would like to think you have been taught a valuable lesson about not impulsively agreeing to deals with strangers zam.”

    Yulia’s fist was easily parried, the force redirected to deposit the girl painfully into the dirt. Our supervisor gave a mocking salute and vanished in a swirl of pink flower petals.

    “So,” Arya drew out the word oddly. Her eyes weren’t on me, rather where she was roughly pushing Yulia to her feet using her cloth, “We have six hours, do you think you can find the thing before then?”

    She didn’t seem to question defeating it I noticed. Victory was probably a foregone conclusion in her mind.

    “It is a large forest. While I am confident I can find our target’s trail it is another to reach it. It is possible that even if I could pinpoint Urswine Man’s exact location he could be too far for us to reach in time.”

    “Then we don’t have any time to waste.”

    Arya didn’t ask for permission before lifting the three of us over the fence and dragging us into the forest with her using those linens of hers.

    ------------------------------

    The Ninja nodded recalling much the same as the tan girl’s story. Satisfied at finding no contradictions to indicate a lie she continued.

    “And then?”

    “We searched for the mark until I found a recent scent trail to follow. It was nearing the six hour mark we were able to confront the target,” Rus answered dutifully, “I engaged it first with the assumption that my team would offer back up.”

    “And do you think they did so adequately?” Kagehoshi prodded, “Please, be honest zam.”

    “They…” Rus bit her lip and lowered her, until then, steady gaze to the ground, “...They did not.”

    The two remaining teammates flinched at the accusation. Both wished to speak up, to deny the claim, but each was held down by the steady stare of the ninja.

    “After engaging the creature off and on for approximately two minutes, with the occasional attack from Linen Sew when I disengaged to catch my breath, the creature was able to land a decisive strike,” Rus continued, “I was lucky enough to be able to absorb the blow with my blade and lept back to further bleed the force but strike broke my Barrier Coat and I was rendered incapacitated for several seconds.

    “When I was able to stand again I found Linen Sew engaging and Petra standing in the clearing. I was hoping to form a plan of engagement but struck when I saw the target was fully restrained.”

    “Yes, This One saw that, it was quite an impressive display, that it was,” The Magistra smiled, “This One didn’t catch the name unfortunately.”

    “Star Liner Burst,” Provided the fencer, “Sadly the creature was somehow able to survive and break the restraints. While I was… distracted checking on Linen Sew I heard Petra engage. Unfortunately she was captured and used against me before I could properly recover. The impact was enough to break my recovering Barrier Coat again, and I was forced to absorb the majority of the damage in the roll as hers was as well and she would be unable properly roll.

    “My memory of afterwards is unclear as the blow had addled me too much and the accumulated damage prevented me from reengaging.”

    No one said anything as Rus sagged in defeat. She started when she felt something touch her back. She hadn’t noticed her fellow Praelia moving closer to give her a hesitant and awkward pat on the back. Even when she noticed she was unable to see Yulia’s begging look to Arya and desperate gestures to get some back up, completely unused to comforting someone and afraid of somehow screwing things up.

    The Esper sighed and scooted over to place a hand on her teammate’s knee while looking off in another direction entirely. It was an odd little scene of someone who didn’t know how to receive comfort being the recipient of it from two someones who did not know how to give it. The end result was a lot of a lot of held breath, tense muscles, awkward movements, and none of them able to look at any of the others, redfaced.

    The touching scene was interrupted by a familiar ‘click’.

    “Well, as adorable as that little moment was, that it most definitely was,” The ninja called out, placing her camera back in its pouch, “We still have a report to complete zam.

    She pointed to the blonde now sitting five feet away from her two confused teammates.

    “Miss Esper, how would you like to go next? Start where you think you should.”

    ------------------------------------

    “These piddling things are beneath us, we will never advance fighting nuisances like them.”

    Both Rus and Atyanas stopped where they looked through the list of D-class monsters to hunt. Pitiful things like stray goblins or skeletons. At least they weren’t so lowly as rat or slime extermination, that was Rank-E work, practically civilian.

    “What are you complaining about now?” Atyanas of course, “You were the one who said patrolling was a waste of time.”

    “And it is, Area 32 is among the most low risk Areas in the city. 12th most safe Area in the city, from both a combination of having possibly the lowest Crossover rate, being a Low Level spawn area with low spawning rates, and hosting a disproportionately large number of Ministra capable of dealing with the few threats that arise we’d be lucky to run across a Green Slime if we patrolled the entire day. If you bothered to pay attention then you’d know that most higher ranked Ministra commute to Area 11 to take missions.”

    Atyanas, of course, was wearing the same aggravating expression and scratching her nose like a dunce. No doubt either she did not care about or possibly even understand my explanation. The fool probably didn’t even know that our home district was known as “The Starter Town” for how incredibly safe it was to fresh Ministra. Compared to most other Areas where a C-ranked Magistra at minimum was mandatory for a team to patrol it was easy to see why.

    “Unfortunately Miss Arya we are not higher ranked,” It was Rus chiming in, probably smelling my annoyance or some such, “As all of us are rank D, so our team is only capable of D class missions. These are the highest level jobs available to us. Until such time that our ranking goes up our options are limited to what’s on the screen.”

    Atyanas ‘pointed’ to one using that odd little gesture of hers.

    “Hey this one’s got a pretty big reward for just exterminating the rats and slime infesting a park.”

    No, I decided, I will be having none of that.

    “We are getting promotions.”

    The two looked confused at my declaration of intent.

    “We are?” Where Atyanas looked bemused Rus appeared entirely lost, seeming to have issues following how the conversation progressed.

    “Of course,” I said deciding to explain my logic, “We are overqualified for this demeaning grunt work so of course we must be promoted to be able to partake in missions more suited to our level. It would be inefficient otherwise.”

    Quizzically it was Atyanas who was nodding while Rus seemed even more confused.

    “Blondie thinks we’re ready to rank up and take better jobs,” She placed a hand on Rus’ shoulder to explain, “So she wants us to get tested.”

    Somehow Rus was able to understand that but not explanation. It was probably a Praelia thing.

    “Atyanas come with me,” I turned and left the mission assignment area trusting the girl to follow suit.

    And indeed, soon after exiting the building Atyanas came jogging up from behind.

    “So, whatcha need?”

    “Atyanas, do you still have the contact information for Miss Àimyrhja Vwahln Klydhe?” I asked.

    “Emmy? Yeah, I called her yesterday after we got back from spider hunting and we went out to-”

    “Yes, good,” I interrupted the girl before she could go on about another one of her dates with our shorter senior. Normally I just tuned her out and let her finish speaking her inanities but right then I didn’t really want to waste time, “Now could be please call her and ask her to meet us at the main office?”

    “I could,” Atyanas sounded unsure, “But I’m not sure why you want me to.”

    And here I was thinking she was able to follow along.

    “It is so she can vouch for us to the board about increasing our rank.” The pink haired girl was obviously a much more senior agent than us, probably high C-ranks. Her word would probably be enough to get at least one of us promoted.

    “What? No! Emmy’s my friend, I’m not gonna ask her to do that!”


    It was a much more fervent refusal than I would have expected from Atyanas. At worst I’d expected hesitance about calling her girlfriend for favors so soon but not flat out denial. I didn’t think I could convince her to change her mind, at least not without using more time than I was willing to give. Well there went Plan A.

    “Fine, then ask her to sponsor us for a test.”

    “No,” Atyanas was not making this easy, “Can’t you call up one of your sisters and ask for their help?”

    “Of course not,” There was no way I’d humiliate myself by asking my family for help after becoming a Ministra, “Then we are at an impasse, I don’t see how we can proceed then.”

    Again Atyanas was giving me that annoying look of hers. The one she always wears.

    “We could do what people who don’t have connects do. Sign up and wait our turn.”

    “Please Atyanas, let’s be serious here,” Waiting was for plebeians.

    Rather than answer Atyanas just started walking to the main office. I didn’t like that she ignored me, but I assumed she had some sort of idea. A better one than the last at least.

    And lo and behold when we finally made it to the Main Office she had stopped by one of the desks with a an odd looking and pallid woman sitting behind it.

    “I thought you worked in Resource Assignment?”

    “I work in a lot of places, dear,” the pale woman said not bothering to look up from her nails, “But today I’m filling in for Wynnie since she’s indisposed for the day.”

    “What happened?”

    “Nothing to worry yourself over this isn’t anything new, just her time of the month,” As crude as the comment was I couldn’t understand how that would excuse whoever this Winnie was for a full day, “So how are the gloves working out for you Pinkie?”

    “They’re pretty good, I’m still trying to get used to the thumb cont-”

    “Yes, well that’s nice but we’re here to- Ow!” My interruption of Atyanas distraction was intern interrupted by a sharp pain in the hand I placed on the desk to lean forward.

    “Now now, it’s rude to interrupt others when they’re talking,” The unnamed woman waved the ruler that had not been in her hand moments ago, “And Wynnie was quite adamant that no one touch her things while she’s gone.”

    She picked up a decorative bowl of candy that had been sitting on the piece of furniture and held it out.

    “Mint? They’re bacon flavored.”

    Atyanas, of course, took one.

    “Arya is right,” Of course I am, the obvious needs not be stated, “We weren’t here for chit-chat.”

    “Well, since I am watching her desk for today, I believe that qualifies me to handle Ililwynenn’s cases while she’s gone and turned into a merciless man-eating she-beast,” Such a crude woman, “So, what is it that you want?”

    “We wanted a promotion,” I answered not wanting to deal with any more distractions.

    “Approved!” The woman clapped her hands with a smile.

    “Really?” I couldn’t believe how easy that was, maybe Atyanas was useful for something after all.

    “No!” The woman clapped her hands with a smile.

    “Why you Ow!” I pulled back my hand again nursing it where the woman had somehow found another ruler to smack it with.

    “I already told you Ma’am, Wynnie said not to disturb her desk and I intend to take that request to heart,” She conveniently ignored Atyanas snatching another mint.

    I don’t like you, I resisted the urge to say. The woman just kept smiling back.

    “Your team will of course need to take the promotion examination like everyone else. You’ll sign up, and some of our people will review your most recent test results and record to determine if your qualified. Of course since you all have only been active less than a month and your test results are still considered recent your request will be summarily rejected!” She somehow managed to say it like she was trying to sell us on the idea.

    She sounded all too cheerful to be telling us we would fail.

    “But, of course that would be terribly boring,” The woman leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially and pointed at the two of us with her ruler, “So, as it so happens I have a request from B-rank Magistra Kagehoshi Degozaru to temporarily sponsor a low ranked team to to hunt down a the dreaded C-class monster Pigbearman, eater of souls and defiler of your mothers.”

    I’m not entire sure how the two of use refrained from attacking the woman for that last line. Yulia at least ended up crushing her third mint into dust as she was taking it from the bowl.

    “Little Miss Shinobi was originally requesting for a team of C-ranks but I think I can swing it as a promotion test if you want,” She waited for us to nod, “Great! I’ll dial her up now.

    The woman picked up the phone from her desk and dialed the Magistra.

    Shiina-chan~ I got the bait you requested!” She announced over the line, “Your request from the other night, I got the fresh blood… Well I remember that conversation going differently, anyway I got the girls you wanted. ...Yes, girls. How else do you plan to lure out the Pigmanbear? …Well that’s too bad, I already said you’d take them. ...Three, they’re redsh- er D-ranks. ...Well, one of them is that girl Emmy’s been going on and on about when she thinks I’m ignoring her. Yes, the freakishly tall one with the attitude problem.”

    Crack. Atyanas broke another mint.

    “It’s a promotion exam, Shiina. All you need to do is watch them scramble around like ducklings while laughing. And when they inevitably fail throw a dog treat at them to make them feel better. You know, like with Wynnie.”

    I was beginning to ponder if a promotion was really worth this level of aggravation.

    After settling some details, the meeting place and time we had were officially given our chance.

    “Oh, and tell Rus we’ve received the required nutrient supplements and to talk to the Cafeteria staff before you all leave.”

    Thankfully the woman's last words to us as we left were not some parting barb. So we found and informed our third teammate of both the new mission and his appointment.

    ---------------------------

    The Ninja rubbed her chin, “Well as nice as it is know why Syble called when she knew This One was doing live stealth training to dump you three on This One’s lap for the day, did you have anything to add about afterwards. That is after arriving here on the train zam?”

    Arya shook her head.

    “There wasn’t much that differed from Étoile’s account. We engaged the beast, him going first, while I waited for opportune moments to strike. They moved too far too fast to build up any decent strength in my cloth and Étoile’s fight was intense enough that I feared any attack I made out of turn could possibly hinder him more than assist. I assume Pugno felt the same given she was circling around to the creatures blind spot near the end of the fight.

    Étoile was knocked back and Pugno rushed in, most likely to land the finishing blow. She didn’t seem to notice however the creature had not moved to pursue our dear teammate who wouldn’t have recovered in time to defend himself. Having seen the creature’s movements during the fight with Étoile and my own cloth in turn I came to the obvious conclusion.”

    At this point she gave a hard glare at her pugilist teammate.

    “It was a trap. The creature would likely have dodged the blow and strike when you were recovering and unable to dodge. I attacked to prevent you from becoming a smear on the ground.”

    The brawler looked away guiltily and Arya returned to addressing her superior.

    “After that I distracted the creature for as long as I was able and Étoile landed what I thought was the finishing blow. I noticed Pugno backing away from the assumed corpse but didn’t realize in time to brace myself. And…”

    She hesitated unable to put what had happened to words. After a bit of shuffling she was the one being comforted by two socially awkward teens. Kagehoshi waited for her to settle and continue.

    “It… It ripped my cloth,” Arya shuddered at the phantom pains, “My cloth is like another limb. It’s a part of me, I feel what it feels. And with that… that beast ripped his way through it… I just dropped, I couldn’t think or do anything.

    “That was probably the single most horrible thing I had ever experienced. Before when my cloth was struck or torn I could grit my teeth and continue. But to have a whole length violently torn apart… you were right it was excruciating. Everything else after that is just a blur of panic, desperation, and of course pain.”

    The ninja allowed the team to comfort the shaking girl for a few more moments.

    “Thank you, now on to the last one zam,” Kagehoshi pointed to Yulia, “If you would please?”

    -------------------------------

    It was already starting to get dark when the door opened and let in the most recent occupant of the room. Seeing a familiar face at the bar she took her seat beside them.

    Jizake please,” The asian woman announced placing her license, both of them, on the counter, “And keep them coming.”

    “Oh my, it sounds like you had a rough day,” Came a familiar voice as someone seated themselves and the asian woman felt her eye twitch in irritation.

    “Yes thank you for that,” Shiina bit out not looking away from the shot glass placed in front of her, “Thank you for alerting my mark on one mission and saddling me with a team of baby ducks for the second.”

    “You welcome Shiina-chan~” Shiina considered it a personal victory that she didn’t crush the sake glass in her hand.

    “What are you two talking about?” Asked the pink haired girl Shiina had initially been hoping to talk to, “Syble did you do something to Kagehoshi-senpai?’

    Emmy, bless the girl’s heart always remembered she prefered her second name over her original. And it warmed the ninja’s heart how she tried to defend her senpai from a woman not only several cm shorter but also far lower on the power scale. It was only with an extreme act of will that she didn’t pinch the girl’s cheeks and coo, Shiina was pretty sure that doing something like that would only anger the tiny witch in training. And as cute as that image would be Shiina didn’t want to get to to be on the bad side of the next coming of The White Witch.

    Such tended to be very bad for one’s health.

    “Àimyrhja, I have no idea what you could be implying. I simply contacted a friend to let her know of a great opportunity to invest in the future. I suppose it may have been at an inconvenient time but it really couldn't wait,” Shiina had no idea how the vampire was able to twist the truth so smoothly so quickly. Even knowing her horrible personality somehow she was still able to goad you into believing her lies. Shiina suspected the woman had a forked tongue hidden behind her teeth to be able to work such double speak, “You seem to really be enjoying that drink there, maybe I should order a glass?”

    “I don’t think you’d like it Syble, it’s just orange juice from the bar.”

    “A pity.”

    “Emmy, why do you bother coming here if you’re not going to drink?” It was something that always puzzled the Ninja, “You’re old enough, and I’ve seen sister drink dwarves under the table so I know it’s not about that.”

    “Ah fun times, when Ala Alba wanted to drink she really drank,” The vamp raised a glass, “Here’s to you, you adorable ball of unfathomable destruction, shine on you crazy diamond!”

    Emmy ignored the living corpse in favor of nursing her glass with an embarrassed look.

    “You two and Wynnie are my only friends.”

    Shiina winced, she felt like she just kicked a puppy.

    “What about that Yulia girl you’ve been telling us about?” Emmy jerked back as the vampire invaded her personal space, “I would have thought she would have counted as well with how often you talk about doing something with her, hmm~?”

    Shiina didn’t need the subtle elbowing to know what was going on and smirked.

    “Yes, young miss Atyanas. I believe you were going on about seeing a moving together the other day and trying out a new restaurant that opened up on the campus last week. That sounds like the sort of things friends do.”

    “Yes, sitting and talking for hours, eating together, I even have a picture of the two of you sharing a large parfait, see?” She showed her phone screen to the girl who was rapidly starting to look like her head was going to overheat, “Why if you weren’t friends I wonder what you could be to do… this!”

    Syble shoved her phone in the girl’s face. Shiina couldn’t see the screen but she was thankfully able to take her own picture of Emmy’s reaction to seeing it. Whatever it was was enough to get her jaw to drop and render her temporarily mute.

    “No!” Emmy smacked the phone out of her friend’s hand and started to stomp on it in a desperate attempt to rid the world of whatever incriminating image was saved on it. It was be the fourth stomp that she realized what she was doing. Shiina could see the color drain from the already pale girls face and her expressive hair flatten.

    Emmy shakily turned her gaze up to meet the vampires and froze at what she saw. Syble was no longer smiling, no more amusement was on her face. Instead a very flat and neutral expression was there. The only sign of her displeasure was slightest narrowing of her eyes.

    Emmy looked ready to run, and likely only reason so had not already done so would be that she was too frightened to remember she had legs.

    “All of next week,” She stated, “You don’t get to complain.”

    Emmy flinched but nodded. Shiina’s heart went out to the poor girl. Ouch.

    “So how did your second mission go?” The vamp was back to smiles again and sat back down beside Shiina, snatching up another one of the ninja’s shots, “Did the ducklings do anything funny?”

    “Ducks?” Emmy asked, but the sanguine woman just waved her off.

    “Other than the Hanyou nearly having a heart attack when I said hello nothing much. I have no idea why you lied to them about me in the first place.”

    “The Union doesn’t encourage taking jobs below one’s station, and I know you going to be taking an enthusiastic walk in the woods regardless,” Syble sipped her stolen drink, “I killed two birds with one stone. Possibly more if the ducklings did as well as I think they did. So do go on about how I saved you from the disciplinary action for indirect ‘newbie hunting’ that your kill stealing would have earned.”

    Shiina grit her teeth, Sybella was most infuriating when she was proven right. She ignored Emmy’s continued questioning on what the conversation had to do with ducks.

    “The little yellow one has potential, the Hanyou too. Pinkie, I’m not sure but she’s a bit of a wild card. Determined if short sighted and short tempered. Their teamwork is… well, terrible. The only reason they didn’t stumble over each other trying to work together was because they didn’t try working together. It was three little ducks all doing their own thing, they just happened to be in the same pond.”

    “This isn’t about ducks at all is it?” Emmy accused, and growled when her senpai unconsciously reached over and started rubbing her head.

    “On their own, each is strong enough to earn a promotion on their own. Even their teamwork outside of combat isn’t bad, they support each other emotionally and tactically. They even seem to mesh well together in personality. They just sort of waddle about lost when it comes to an actual fight.”

    The purple haired woman looked concerned, “You sound awfully chipper about that. Please, tell me you didn’t actually pass those rug rats.

    Kagehoshi laughed.

    “Oh no, oh no, This One told them them in no uncertain words where they stood, that she did!” She chuckled taking back up her alternate persona’s speaking manner again, “This One tossed them each a biscuit telling them they failed their promotion test and then came straight here, leaving all three stranded in the deep dark woods zam!”

    The vamp chucked and clinked her glass against the ninja’s even as Emmy looked on aghast, “I knew there was a reason I liked you!”
     
  23. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    dragonx99 likes this.
  24. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    Well, it will be quite a while until I can do anything like that again. Until early next week I will probably only have internet access via my phone.

    It would be a lot easier to do this if you spread things out across more posts. The most hellish part is that when I highlight text on my phone, the "+Quote" popup doesn't appear unless I scroll up or down to click the permanent Like or +Quote button of a different post.
    Missing a word between "down" and "creature's".
    Get rid of "to".
    Get rid of one of the "the"s.
    Add the word "of" between "force" and "the".
    Need an "and" between those last two words.
    Comma after "skull", and then "forced" instead of "force".
    "too" instead of "to".
    I think you meant "tell tale"?
    Add the word "when" after "mark".
    Add a "the" before "strike".
     
  25. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Thanks again, I was mostly posting in the form of the chapters written since I write up until about 2.5k or when I get sleepy so it cuts off randomly if I tried daily.
     
  26. justinkal

    justinkal Well worn.

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    You could also post it by scene.

    There's one fic I follow that consistently posts 800-1200 words a day, 6 days a week, by doing one scene (or segment of a battle) per post.
     
  27. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    The thing is it's a minimum of 2500 daily to reach my stretch goal for Nanowrimo.
     
  28. qof

    qof Getting out there.

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    ... You are a bad person and should feel bad.

    I'm quite liking it so far. I appreciate the character development of the witch/vampire/shinobi friends.
     
  29. dragonx99

    dragonx99 Master of Phantasm

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    Hehe manbearpig.

    Also poor girls. This is what you risk happening when you sign up for a random team like this. I could see who this team could work together on paper, but their personalities are such that without a guiding force of a theme or a dedicated leader they really just... well Kagehoshi said it best. They just run around doing their own things while happening to be in the same area.

    On the bright side at least Emmy can cheer up her girlfriend now~

    *A dragon is shipping them now.*

    *She will not be stopped from shipping*
     
  30. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu *Smug Drone Noises*

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    Generally speaking there's too many "Individual" cases for there to be a theme for everyone, so they generally just stick you together with those around your level and just fit them to a purpose. Theming is left to those at a high enough level that they can afford pick and choose their teammates or when it comes to specialized units like The Dream Team, a group of 5 C-class Ministra who battle nightmares in their district as well as Info-hazard type monsters. The problem isn't their lack of theme, it's their lack of experience working as a team. Teamwork tends to trump theme unless it's for specialized work and a more experienced team would have done something such as use Rus as bait to allow Arya to bind the creature and Yulia to deliver a finishing blow, ending the fight in a few seconds.

    As they've only been fighting weak monsters that they can individually kill their ability to act in sync is non-existent.

    Regarding Shipping. My goal was to have each of the girls be a valid target for shipping by the end, though Emmy would be the most obvious. Her and Yulia's relationship is more along the lines of "Romantic Two Girl Friendship", Emmy is aware of this and denies it if it's brought up, Yulia doesn't really have anything to compare it too and just think that's normal and is completely unaware of how her interactions with the girl can be viewed. Yulia has the romantic awareness of a turnip.