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Gimme Storage

Testing Palace

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a part of Gimme Storage, by ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ.

A place to test my posts when the preview gets too long

༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ holds sovereignty over Testing Palace, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Testing Palace

A place to test my posts when the preview gets too long

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Testing Palace is a part of Gimme Storage.

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“Mouse get back!” Claire yells, dragging his partner back.

Revenant, class A, he recites to himself, beings raised from the dead either to fight or kill.

“Someone’s got beef with you what a surprise,” he frowns as he draws his gun, “what did you do to raise Drusilla from the dead?”

He prepares to fire, but curses once he realizes how close they are to the other passengers. Instead, he pulls Miyoshi closer as Drusilla thrusts her knife forward.

“I will cut you from this world!”

Using the gun’s barrel, he barely blocks her before she forces him to clumsily jab his gun at her again.

“I’m tired of your interference Claire,” she hisses.

“I’m not going to hear that from a trigger ghost doll,” he taunts, dodging her next strike.

With each of her slices, Claire slides farther and farther back, pushing and pulling Miyoshi to follow his movement. Deliberate steps lead him closer and closer to the back of the cart, but Drusilla’s bloodlust only drives her to run faster.

Red eyes and thin lips form into a grin as she nears the dimly lit corner. She needs only wait for the overhead lamps to flicker before she closes the distance.

Crash.

Vials of holy water shatter on the ground, spraying the revenant. Steam emanates as the holy water burns through her defenses. Rigid and petrified, Drusilla falls to the ground mere feet from Claire and Miyoshi.

After setting down Miyoshi, he reaches for his last device: a pocket mirror. The object is plastic and metal with a bejeweled daisy carved in the center. It flicks open effortlessly before a pair of arms thrust forward, embracing her apparent keeper.

“Big brother you’re back!” she exclaims as she nuzzles into his chest.

Claire smiles wryly before returning her hug.

“Mary I’m going to need you to do a special job for me,” he sighs as he nervously runs his hand through blood-stained, ethereal hair.

“But you always make me do jobs!” she whines before Claire releases her, “we never do anything fun!”

For a second, Claire considers grunting toward the revenant, but reminds himself that Mary is only a child.

“I...I know Mary, but I really, really need this. We’re in danger right now and Uncle Miyoshi’s not feeling well,” he replies, gesturing over.

She crosses her arms and throws an accusatory glare toward Miyoshi.

“Are you doing drugs again?” she gestures for Claire to turn the compact over so she can glare at her uncle properly.

“I’m afraid so, poppet,” Miyoshi says with a handsome, gentlemanly smile.

“I’m not a poppet! I can come out any time I want!” she huffs before giving a few hard tugs to exit the mirror.

Unfortunately, she is no poppet and merely bounces back to her compact.

“Er Mary,” Claire lifts open the compact once more, “we need your help because there is someone very, very dangerous.”

Peeking from the mirror, Mary nearly shrieks, but Claire quickly clasps his hand over her mouth. He turns her over before smoothing out her nightgown with his free hand.

“Sh-shh! People Mary. There are people sleeping,” he whispers sharply, “we need to get rid of her without wakin’ everyone up.”

She pushes away his hand before puffing up. It isn't like anyone could hear her.

“Alright let me at ‘er!” she announces, balling her hands into fists.

“No no, Mary, I just need ya’ to make a veil while I deal with this ghost outside.”

Claire sets down a pouting Mary, but not before giving her a reassuring look.

“When you get a little older I promise,” he says, facing the compact toward the hallway.

Despite her muttering about never getting older, spiritual energy emanates from the mirror, cloaking the area in a thick white fog before evaporating into a clear, seamless reflection of the sleeping cart. Anyone who passes by will see nothing more than a locked exit to the baggage.

“Thanks Mary, just keep the veil up ‘til I’m back okay?” Claire asks before shooting Miyoshi a knowing look.

“But it’s dangerous! You might-”

“Mary,” Claire cuts in before his face steels, “stay where you are.”

He seizes Drumont as she begins thrashing and dashes toward the back door, forcing the both of them out before he feels the door shut behind him.

“The darkness is closing in, I can see now,” she rasps as she escapes from his arms.

“Careful Drusilla, you know how good I am at bumping off you ghosts,” he taunts as he shoots forward.

Not to be outdone, she glides to the roof of the next cart, clutching her elbow.

Piker, he curses mentally as he climbs the ladder attached to the door behind him. The train shakes slightly as it rumbles along the tracks. He stumbles onto the roof, barely dodging the first of many strikes to his chest and stomach. For every bulb that lit the train’s journey, he had ten seconds of darkness to block or shoot her, but not let her escape. With the rest of the cart still lit, he knows the door is the only entrance left.

Drusilla might be a revenant, but the doll’s still smarter than me dead or alive, he thinks as he kicks away her knife.

“Come out Dru, you’re gonna have to go through me to ice Mouse,” Claire announces as he reaches his hand into the darkness.

Nothing.

“Clearly you don’t know me very well at all.”

She kicks him down and stabs downward, giving Claire a window to grab her bad arm and pull her down. Though she nearly falls, Drusilla catches herself on her knees and pins him by the legs. His grip remains firm, diverting her knife into the train’s roof before she reappears on top of him, knife at his throat.

“You’re right doll, two hordes of slaughs in Dublin and the only thing I know is that you’re a crazy, Catholic-hating bitch,” he chuckles before bashing her in the head with his pistol.

Instinctively, she raises her knife to block, giving Claire time to throw her body off the train.

“No, not Catholics, just you,” she replies, “leaving me to for dead to save the pastor!”

It takes only a brief moment for her to reappear behind Claire, but he detects her from sound alone.

“You wanted to throw him to the sluaghs!” he yells, firing two rounds into her heart, “do you think ‘cause he was sick he deserved to kick the bucket?”

“He was poisoning the House--still is,” she yells as she barely misses a swipe at Claire’s chest.

For each quip and retort they exchange Drumont blinks in and out of the shadows, taking advantage of the pattern Claire must run in to keep up with the railroad lights.

“You can’t have a dead man running a palace. You’ll only attract--”

“--attract vultures,” Claire finishes, watching for the revenant to apparate. “He wasn’t dead Dru! He had Ireland’s best healers helping him!”

“You couldn’t heal that kind of sickness with priests and holy water.”

Drusilla lunges forward with her knife, allowing Claire to take advantage of her momentum. Grabbing her arm, he tosses her forward before shooting her. She vanishes again, managing to graze Claire’s chest before landing on her feet.

“You didn’t even try Dru! The point of these missions is to help people--help the House,” he quiets his voice for a few moments, “I wanted to help you too.”

“Don’t you dare act righteous now when you’re protecting him of all people,” she hisses, “you know his true nature better than anyone.”

Claire winces, first in bewilderment and then in anger. More than the pain from the knife, turmoil wells in his body. He cannot refute her argument, but he cannot agree with her statements either. Miyoshi has his fair share of problems that could not be explained by physical or spiritual corruption which he is sure spurned his drug addiction. Everything beneath the Japanese male’s manicured exterior screams unsustainable and he hates Drusilla for being so frank with her words.

It would be easy, he often thinks, to drop him as a friend or a partner for issues of incompatibility or dangerousness but nothing is truly that black and white. If the House put every madman to rest, half of his superiors would be gone and Miyoshi isn’t nearly on the same level as those who became possessed by their inner demons. They called it something else, but even when the man they were protecting threatened to kill his Artifact Claire never had it in him to blame the guy.

“Yeah and he might be a pill popper, he might be a lot ‘a things but he’s still my friend,” Claire finally says as he moves forward, “I stick by them through thick and thin.”

Instead of waiting to dodge her next strike he fires a shot in the darkness, anticipating her evaporation before firing behind him and hearing a satisfying fall. Unfortunately for Drusilla, she hadn’t forgotten about the railroad’s pattern of overhead lights and left herself open to a second shot. She blinks back into the darkness, but each dash only agitates the shrapnel in her chest. Claire on the other hand, only continues to dodge and use her faltering stamina to his advantage. His empty-handed hits still make no impact, but the time between each apparition increases. Her slices turn from decisive strikes to slow motion swings until he finally grabs her by the arm and shoulder and slams her into the roof.

In one motion, he forces her knife into her chest, carving out a hole until he rips her heart out. Though bloodless, the color (what little is left) drains from Drusilla’s face as she uses her last efforts to wriggle from Claire’s grasp.

“Either you give up now or your next death won’t be as pretty as your first,” Claire pants, fully aware that this was only half the victory.

Swiveling his head, he sees her beelining for the window. Too exhausted to fully deform, she slithers toward the nearest window in a half-shadow and half-human form but Claire’s rough hands drag her across the roof. Then down the ladder, and within the entrance where they first started.

“I see we were never friends to begin with,” she surmises, her knife slipping through the rails.

“You lost me when you betrayed the House,” Claire states bluntly.

Expressionless and exhausted, he shoots the rest of his bullets into her neck until her head snaps right off from sheer force. Granted, he could use the knife, but the catharsis is too good to pass up.

“The House will fall...your friend a weak pillar,” she whispers.

Her body begins dissolving, but rather than run back the Irishman stays for the duration of her death. He whispers a few lines to put her to rest but her words weigh on his soul. During the fight he assured himself that she spoke only nonsense, but nothing keeps him from visualizing Miyoshi’s gaunt expressions.


who da fuck is raven summers

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I hope your wound festers.

The thought slips into his mind seamlessly as he lies, back to his roommate and legs curled to fit the slightly-too-short mattress. He traces the faint line Drusilla cut into him, briefly aware of the help his “partner” gave him to turn the corruption into a mere scar. With his ward being a powerful Spiritualist he sees no harm in wishing the man ill and feeling Miyoshi’s eyes on him (however briefly) only cements the thought into his mind. What gave the Japanese man the right to be so shady? If he had nothing to hide then why did he deflect everything and turn it onto him?

He turns his neck to glare at the man in question before the rest of his body follows.
There are times when he hates the good luck he’s had and this one of them. Working under Gandor, head of the West Wind, his loyalty to the House is especially important since the head himself has no favored allegiances. He is faithful to everyone and his actions show it, but right now Claire can’t even look at Miyoshi’s face and that would reflect poorly on his boss.

Lifting his blanket, Claire decides that he ought to investigate the original attack site for any other signs of activity.

For Gandor, the thinks. Not Mouse.

He keeps the oil nestled in his box of cigarettes and the key in his pants pocket while his gun rests in its holster, fully loaded in case anyone follows him. He doubts that anyone will be tailing him at this time of night, but the shiver in his spine tells him not to relax. A few patrolling officers throw him a look that is quickly met with a challenging one of his own. His wild, red locks and equally crimson eyes tag him as Gandor’s bodyguard and the company’s main gateway to American armaments. They could choose to overlook him, but to offend him would be a grave mistake indeed. It’s a new feeling, he thinks, to flounce about without another, higher-ranking party by his side but reminds himself that he has as much authority as any other Saniwa on the train.

Mouse included, Claire scoffs.

Miyoshi’s patronization angered him and fueled further accusations, but Claire could normally take that. He hates it, because the condescension is something new, almost exclusive to Miyoshi. Nobody else pulls the “be a dear” or “take Sterling around the block” card on him when his opinion isn’t necessary so the method and the timing felt like a slap in the face. Did their time in Shanghai mean nothing? Is every grievance just going to be met with lip service and avoidance tactics? Perhaps it is easier to avoid things because then he does not have to deal with them, but if that is the case why make such directed jabs?

Instead of smoke and mirrors, the Kazetanis are a collective mist, concealing via controlled information and even tighter appearances. Compared to Yuuki’s opaque fog, Claire can see vague shadows in Miyoshi’s miasma in the form of Kimura Asagi, drugs, and the camellia. He is sure that even amongst other Kazetani, they all remain nebulous to each other. Still, it does not stop the redhead from digging up post-argument retorts.

Everyone is an agent of your father. You’re only here because he asked you to be.

Claire exits the sleeping cart and tightens his hood, but it is futile against the brisk winds that punish him for investigation. Climbing onto the roof only exacerbates the chill whipping against his face. Instead of standing, he lowers his stance into a crawl to check for evidence along the sides of the roof. Drusilla’s knife, to his detriment, slipped between the cracks of the train and he is sure that she hadn’t carried a sheath with her.

We might have a better chance of finding it if she buried her knife in Mouse instea-, Claire cringes before he can finish the thought. No, he may ask for great pain but death is another matter.

Perhaps he has jumped the gun too quickly. He wants to think that he has the moral high ground on that end. Compared to Miyoshi’s normally grim comments, he reserves his death wishes for those who do tangible harm; Miyoshi’s worst crime was putting him in a position of danger.

Corruption, Claire affirms, let him be corrupt and nothing more.

Leaping from the restaurant to the passenger and baggage, he grabs his compact from his other pocket and lets his little companion emerge once more…

...only for her to freak out.

“Eek! We’re on top of a train!, a train!”

“Mrrph Mary you need to let me see or I’m going to drop it!”

“I’m going to fall?”

For all of the trauma reflected on her body she still carries the quirks of being a child. Wrapping her arms around his head, she gives him little in the way of vision or a chance to loosen her grip. Despite not having any earthly perception of temperature she shivers at the sounds of the billowing trees and the sense of something dangerous.

“Mary, please,” Claire backs up until he can fall harmlessly onto his bottom. From a less tall perspective, she purses her lip before peeling herself from Claire’s face.

“So what’s our next mission?” She asks, settling for “sitting” in her brother’s lap.

“I’m going to need your help again,” the redhead announces, pointing behind her.

“You seem tired Big Brother, shouldn’t you do this in the morning?” she tilts her head, more calm now that she didn’t have the fear of Claire dropping her.

If I wanted to do this in the morning then Uncle Miyoshi would probably, guilt trip me, was what he wanted to say, but he settles instead for something more child-friendly.

“It’s a secret mission,” he lowers his voice into a whisper, but clears his throat when Mary shoots him an odd look.

“I need you to help me find that bad lady’s remains. You know, like all Revenants have?” he narrows his eyes a slight and turns the compact around so that she can see the scope of the train, “she’s here somewhere but I just can’t find her.”

“Oh well I can help! I just need to-” she looks down at the compact before pressing her lips together.

“Relax, Mary,” he ruffles her hair, “I just need you by my side.”

She nods as Claire affixes the compact to his front pocket, returning to his previous state of crawling. Unlike fights he felt comfortable having her tail by his side since the worst trouble she could possibly get into is attempting to wake the other passengers and she knew that he would close the compact as soon as she tries to misbehave. She provides a softer, more stable type of partnership that doesn’t result in his resentment or someone coming back from the dead and attempting to kill him.

There’s a thought, having a partner you can trust, Claire grumbles a slight but continues toward the next cart.

“Big Brother I’m scared,” Mary whispers.

“We’ll only be here a little bit longer,” he assures.

Claire narrows his eyes as he scampers much more slowly toward the end of the sleeping cart. Feeling for the ladder he descends and runs his hands across the exterior of the doorway until something silky appears under his fingertips.

What is this? He pulls the piece of fabric from a door that closed too quickly and stares at it for a few moments. Red, soft, rotting. It may not have had any thumbprints, but he bet dollars to donuts that it belonged to Drusilla. And if a piece of her dress is here, the rest of her body could be far behind.

He turns toward the cargo, but a yelp from Mary is enough for him to refrain from walking over.

“Can we go please?! Now?” she urges, “I don’t feel safe here.”

Claire grabs the compact to keep her from shaking, but the terror in her face compels him to reach toward his gun.

“Don’t worry. We don’t have to go if there’s something bad in there,” he says, glancing at her pale expression.

“There’s...monsters in there. Strong ghosts,” she manages, reaching for Claire’s hand, “they feel like her.”

There is no arguing there and Claire sets course back to the VIP sleeping cabins.

He doesn’t complain at Mary’s questions about Drusilla nor at her insistence to clutch his torso during the entire excursion. Instead he gives her a reassuring smile and the occasional platitude. His mind, unfortunately, is on other things.

For such a strong, spiritual presence, why did Miyoshi not catch wind of any of this? If the aura of the ghosts on the train are so overbearing that they made Mary, who keeps gunning to fight, then there should not have been a reason for Miyoshi not to catch that upon boarding. Half of him wants to chalk it up to personal selfishness (he has been voluntarily taking soul tablets), but would it really be fair to pin everything on him if Mary herself had not detected anything until right before they entered?

“Are you and Uncle Miyoshi going to take care of all the bad ghosts?” Mary asks, gently tugging at one of Claire’s strings.

“I…” Claire hesitates before sighing, “I’ll take care of them. Mou-Miyoshi is...”

“Are you two fighting?”

The question cuts through the wind and air, hanging in Claire’s ears like dead weights. Had she always been this perceptive? She only barely caught the presence of Drusilla a few hours ago.

“I thought I told you not to eavesdrop,” he replies flatly, “how much did you hear?”

“I just don’t think you two should fight,” she murmurs, “people keeps secrets sometimes. You did it too, to protect me.”

Though he has only known Mary for about a year, he’s come to know everything about her from birth to afterlife. Her abilities to obscure visibility and detect ghosts or ghouls combined with her transparency have made her invaluable as an asset to his missions; however, there is no doubt that they are not on equal footing. He could put her away at any time and her C Ranking status meant that most Saniwa (as well as more dangerous ghosts) could kill her without issue. The only reason she is still alive is due to Gandor and...Miyoshi.

Two of the more important people in his life and he did not truly know either of them to the extent that he knew her. One of them, he incidentally, had no issue wishing death upon.

“It’s just...different though. I don’t want you to get hurt.” Claire stops only a few feet from the door to lean against the door, “he’s just being selfish.”

“What’s the difference?” she asks, tilting her head.

“You’ll...you’ll understand when you’re older,” he says, before glancing at the door.

“If you say so,” she shrugs, resigning herself to the compact.

Claire slams the device shut before switching it out for a lit cigarette. When he enters the sleeping cart, he feels safe enough to blow smoke without regarding anyone else who might be patrolling. What is more important is the reprimanding he is sure that he would receive from Graham.

He’d probably say something like ‘kind of a double standard isn’t it? Well he did it first. He should know. But then he’d say ‘that’s childish’ and we wouldn’t get anywhere. He’s here acting like it’s so bad that his old man’s head of the House and kind of hates him when he’s never been beat.

“He doesn’t know what it’s like to hop on a train and run the fuck away!”

“Stille!” an officer whispers harshly.

“My bad,” Claire says, pulling his hood over his hair.

Though the patrolling duo walks off, the redhead remains rigid. He blows out another cigarette before eying the wall in front of him. Miyoshi never really could walk around without being recognized. It isn’t as though Claire never thought of the scenario himself, Miyoshi severing ties and trying to be someone else but nothing he did would ever detach him from being a Kazetani. Even with Kimura Asagi’s power he could never be invisible the same way Claire was during his earlier years. Even now, if the redhead wants to, he could dye his hair and live life as Joe Schmoe, combat extraordinaire but a Kazetani death would ripple across waters.

The Kazetanis aren’t veiled by mist, they’re trapped in it. It only makes sense that Miyoshi might not want to get others too involved in his family because he still wants to protect them.

“I’m a fucking asshole,” Claire sighs, slapping his forehead, “fuck man.”

Whether or not Mouse is truly being shady the Irishman should not have jumped to conclusions for doing essentially what he would have done. Lord why did he need to be so insensitive? So impulsive? He is sure that Graham would be chiding by now if not smacking him over the head. He should only be so lucky that his Artifact is busy with Helene’s.

Unfortunately, he isn’t privy to waking Miyoshi up for the sake of groveling so he reaches into his pocket to feel Drusilla’s fabric scrap for some reassurance. If not an apology he knows Mouse would be happy to find a clue or two regarding the state of the train. He needs only wait until the morning to pull his friend aside.

He stamps his cigarette out before noticing a hunched over male fiddling with a lighter.

“Need a light?” he asks.

From across the room, red eyes glance up toward a equally red-haired male before walking off entirely.

A single match drops from Claire’s fingertips before he does the same, both uncertain and uncomfortable with the sight before him.


lmao kill me

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Joji leaned back in his chair, eying the shadows moving behind the art director's office.

Must be nice.

He hated open offices and shared tables even moreso. There was no room for personal knick-knacks and the half-wall barriers dividing the left and right sides of the table were laughable. It was easy to tell who was surfing Amazon and who was playing Diablo III, the office worker's game of choice. He couldn't deny that he'd been guilty of shirking his duties in the past but, well there was no "but." The Japanese man still needed to pore through the feedback his team received from the beta testers of their last update.

"Trying too hard to be like Apple" seemed to be the prevailing sentiment, although everyone was happy to finally have night mode (God knows how long Joji had been fighting for that feature to be implemented). Everything trickled down from market research to analytics to the art director to them and finally, to the coders. Those poor, poor coders. There was an art to predicting what users wanted and more importantly, delivering what they didn't know they wanted. He found too often that there could be all outcry in the world against a certain change, only for it to be well-received. The opposite, incidentally, rarely happened.

A ping from his desktop brought his attention back to his screen where his work chat was buzzing.


xxxChris V: yo
xxxanyone down for boba tonight? @everyone
xxxAlex H: I can't. I have to turn in early tonight.
xxxJun H: Depends. Can I get a ride back to BART?
xxxChris V: i gotchu bro
xxxDenise N: I'll go if Andy goes
xxxAndy L: Boi I'm broke


Joji pursed his lips for a moment. He had planned on cleaning his fridge tonight but...

xxxJoji K: Only if we can get Boba Guys.
xxxChris V: oh heck yea dude


He turned to his other screen, tabbing out of

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Outfit

She hated it here.

The mess of cars, the booming music, the smell of weed and alcohol wafting out of the doorway. The Myers' mansion was hardly impressive either. Its large windows were marred with rainbow lights. The would-be immaculate lawn had bits of vomit. The five hundred bulb chandelier screamed excess and opulence.

The funniest part was that it wasn't even the largest mansion she'd ever seen. The Lo Po Bia family had the largest house among the wealthy Asian elites of southern California as well as the smartest offspring, a fact that her mom would never let Sherry forget. Lo Po Bia Elaine in particular had a reputation among the first generation as the golden child aspire to and she just so happened to be attending the party. That wasn't why Sherry was here however.

The ghost of (one) Werewolf's past yanked her from a pleasant shower after tennis practice and the subsequent screech did nothing to deter him from barking orders at her to protect his granddaughter. The Asian girl slammed the door in his face but that did nothing to prevent him from sticking his head through the door and rambling on about the "chill in his bones." It wasn't enough that she had to dress herself up to party standard (per her self-imposed wishes), she had to throw around Elaine's name in order to convince her parents that she wouldn't end up drinking, smoking, having sex, or getting kidnapped. Because kidnapping was something that definitely happened at parties.

An icy "I'm already headed inside. Leave." left her lips before she walked up the steps and into the cesspool of hedonism.

Lucky for her, everyone was too self-absorbed to notice her crashing the party or perhaps, her "touch me and die" vibe kept most of the partygoers. Their minds contained nothing more than drugs and horniness, both of which Kenneth had in spades. Though his thoughts were muddled, Sherry could practically trace the trail of his groping, stumbling from girl to the next under the guise of a friendly greeting. She was no exception given that as soon as Kenneth finished greeting one of his friends, he swerved towards her.

"Sherry! Sher-ry! You should've told me you were coming. I would have bought a bottle o' sake for youuuuuuuu," he slurred.

"Where's AJ?" she asked.

"Her? I dunno but I'm sure she'll show up soon. In the meantime why don't you jus' loosen up" he grinned, his hand freezing short of her waist.

Despite his previous sleaziness, her scowl seemed to slap the alcohol right out of him

"You're useless," she hissed, pushing him aside

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testing testing

Suddenly, a swirling vortex appears to the in. You can see something appear in that direction.
Suddenly, a swirling vortex appears to the out. You can see something appear in that direction.
Doppio has left the area, heading out towards bitch what the fuck.

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WIP!!!!

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Ariza Jackson | Arcane | #3090C7 | Outfit

Unlike some people, Ariza actually enjoyed being home for the holidays. Seeing old friends, showing his family that he had asserted some control over his powers, and eating food with flavor. While Cascadia's students had that in spades, he couldn't say the same for the cafeteria which was woefully bland. He felt more comfortable among the Santeros given that their focus wasn't solely on a western style of magic. That wasn't to say that Cascadia's methods were exclusionary, but they were certainly biased towards certainly philosophies. It was a radical change from the religion-focused pedagogy of his community, but an effective one for containing his power.

When asked about his first semester, he recounted the lukewarm reception, his friendship with Beau (which of course, earned teasing from the rest of his family), and his trying hard not to be angry Cursed magic mentor who chewed him out more than once for not paying attention in class. The santero-in-training abstained from mentioning the murder that happened not too long before Christmas in fear of his parents chiding him for picking such a dangerous school. They were already skeptical of Cascadia and he didn't need more evidence that transferring home to community college was a better option.

Despite that, coming back to school felt like a hassle. Prior to the first day, his humanities professor assigned him reading and along with that, an essay that he would surely get a C on, B+ if he could differentiate a rough draft from a final. Lectures and theoretical knowledge never clicked with him the same way that lab classes did. Practical application suited his tastes more and anything that wasn't directly relevant to his arcane studies tended to fall by the wayside.

Were he actually an upstanding student he wouldn't even be at this party! He usually didn't attend house parties for hosts he didn't know (he preferred the play movies in the background while you drink and play games type of kickbacks). The only reason he was here was because of an invite from Beau and the promise of free drinks (pending what everybody else brought). He expected the rest of the party-goers to be upper classmen so it came as no surprise when the presumed hosts and a laundry list of other people he hadn't met were already there when he walked through the doors.

Beau, his one of maybe three or four friends was busy talking to Harmony who he vaguely knew, but didn't particularly hit it off with. Their personalities clashed (albeit not antagonistically) so he tended to keep his distance unless Beau or Monet were there to break the ice. In rare cases, he would sink into the background and stay on his phone while his great-grandfather marveled at the strange ways that modern young adults wasted their time. Today it seemed like the man was content to leave him alone.

"Hey...Beau!" He mustered as much volume as he could to call her and wave, which didn't amount to much over the din of students pounding drinks and the latest pop hits.

Ah, he would definitely need something to loosen up. Approaching the kitchen counter, he mixed himself a gin and juice (heavy on the juice) and downed it with vigor before heading over.

"Hey Beau, Hatch,"(did he even have the right to call her that?) "Everyone have a good winter break?"



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Lisa Chu | Human| #E10600 | Outfit


Lisa arrived relatively early to the party with a bottle of Moscato in one hand and plenty of hugs in the other. She'd already gotten tipsy off a round of shots with her housemates who split off the moment that they entered Hatch's abode. Everyone had their own cliques so she didn't take it to personally when it was up to her to find her own group to meld into.

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cayde "quickshot" mori // father ship // #990012 // img credit: alex flores
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"What's the purpose of currency on these ships?" a synthetic voice asked, "everything on the Prime sustains itself from the food to the government to the labor that keeps the ships afloat. So why bother with taxes? Everyone would live more efficiently."

“Without money how do you expect anyone to ascend from ship to ship? It isn’t as simple as throwing wheat at the government,” a white-haired individual mused, “having your wealth tied to your labor would create a caste system.”

“If all the money is being funneled to Mother and she hoards it like a dragon then the Prime is already one, just with extra steps.”

"Is this what you do when you get old? Blabber on about socioeconomic theory?" A blonde woman cut in.

"Hey, I'm only thirty-eight!" Cayde snapped, "now pass me the WD-40."

"So they say." Halo smirked as they tossed the aerosol bottle.

Small spurts of silicone filled the air as the cybernetic man lubricated his joints. It wasn’t easy being Cayde Mori, or Quickshot, as he would be known by the masses. Halo and Renee (their stylist), decided that he needed a stage name that reflected well on him and of the options they came up with, Quickshot was the most popular.

“Mmmm Halo, what do you think of this?” she asked, holding up a rhinestone blazer, “too flashy?”

“I’d prefer not to look like a disco ball,” Cayde deadpanned.

“You don’t have a lot of options looking like…” the woman gestured towards the mutant, “...that.”

“You just pointed at all of me.”

Halo pursed their lips for a second, stroking their chin in deep thought.

“A lone ranger, super soldier, a family man?” they suggested, cyan eyes moving towards his competitor’s mask.

“Definitely not a family man.” Renee shook her head vigorously as she pulled out a fluffy overcoat, “he doesn’t have the face for it or really...any face. How is anyone going to connect with him if they can’t even see him?”

“You don’t need a pretty face to earn patrons. Modeling is about more than that.”

“That's rich coming from the face of everything from designer clothing to toilet paper,” Quickshot scoffed, as he set down the spray, “I bet you landed every job you came across."

As if anyone below the ships could afford their products.

“I’m keenly aware. That’s why I stepped out of the limelight,” Halo frowned, “I always changed myself to fit the product, but here...we can build around you.”

They left the couch, approaching their stylist’s closet. It was a curious piece. The sliding door was only a few feet in length and inside appeared shallow in depth, yet the list of clothing was endless. Pulling up the navigation menu, they scrolled through a variety of themes ranging from western to cottagecore to an amalgamation of east Asian aesthetics. Each piece projected onto Cayde’s form via hologram, flickering as it went through each suggestion. After a long string of “no”s (from all sides), the human finally retracted their finger from the touch screen.

“Renegade,” Halo announced finally, “a man who lost everything and seeks to redeem himself by saving others, even at the cost of his humanity.”

“Isn’t the anti-hero trope played out?” the cyborg asked, “everyone is going to spin themselves into a hero.”

“Not to mention, nothing about him is even human," the stylist yawned.

“I don’t think you need to be human to have humanity,” Halo smiled, “you just need them to identify with you.”

The manager walked over to their competitor, draping a mesh cape over Quickshot’s shoulders. Upon closer inspection red, hexagonal outlines shimmered in the light, seemingly to dim and brighten with his breathing. The fabric was not unfamiliar to him as he’d used it in the past to dress people’s wounds. It was waterproof, breathable, and reacted with heat in order to regulate the wearer’s body temperature, making it ideal for protecting delicate skin. It wasn’t uncommon for mutants to dig through the trash of humans and repurpose what they found in ways both fashionable and otherwise. Long, continuous pieces of fabric were rare. It was far more common to see patchwork linens, threadbare garments, and if your species was hardy enough, nothing at all.

He was sure he saw a few people on Father wearing the same styles, but for them it was just that: an aesthetic. Fake eyepatches, prosthetic tattoos, and the gas masks that didn’t filter anything.

Perhaps he was getting old.

After snapping the magnetic strip down, Halo sat back down on the couch and motioned for Cayde to approach the closet

“Mirror mode, please.”

Pulling up the fur-trimmed hood, the mutant mutt gazed at himself, tugging on various parts of the half-cape half-cloak until it finally found rested around his shoulders. Despite his prosthetics, he could still feel the smooth, cool fabric between his fingers. The black matched him well and the fur was surprisingly unobtrusive. Pieces of himself still showed through the garment with the crimson parts of his armor shining the brightest.

“Renegade huh, I like the sound of that” Cayde murmured to himself, “Why didn’t you go with that as my nickname?"

”It didn’t do well with test audiences,” the white-haired model chuckled.

Cayde rolled his eyes beneath his mask. Who could they have tested in such a short amount of time?

“Well! If it’s all good with you two, I’m going to arrange for a fresh coat of paint, a tune up and a new mas-” she paused after seeing something resembling a glare-“okay no mask. How about just a cleaning then?"

Halo glanced at Cayde expectantly until the mechanical mutant took off his helmet and handed it over to Renee.

"In the meantime you should unwind, relax, and grab a drink while the pit crew gets to work,” she said before glancing over at Halo, "are you coming along?"

”Good luck out there, Cayde,” Halo smiled, standing up once more to leave the room.

Renee closed the door behind the two of them, a locking noise following soon after. Walking over to the minifridge, he cracked open a beer and sat back on the couch.

I don’t need luck. I always get the job done.

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With food, water, and medical care, the Vacuum ought to have been a mutant’s paradise and yet, it had way of appearing both vast and claustrophobic with its narrow hallways, metallic walls, and ever present sense that no matter how unsightly, their confinement was still better than the world below.

Though even “better” was a relative term.

In the wake of a living nightmare, Ljilja sought sleep. But her bed brought her no respite, and even a visit to the pool left her anxious and homesick. She craved a taste of the sea—after all, she might never return to it. And so, when she discovered that there was a large aquarium built for the competitors' enjoyment, she decided to indulge in it. But she was not content to observe behind glass.

In the late evening, Ljilja, in a one-piece swimsuit, snuck behind railings and signs and slipped almost soundlessly into the waters of the aquarium.

Surrounded by familiar sights, she found peace in the company of sea creatures that bore no fear of her. The predators recognized she would be too much of a fight and treated her instead with playful curiosity. Even the littler fish, sensing no aggressive movements, gradually flocked to her as a protection.

Her chest rose and fell as she breathed in the sea, at last feeling home enough to sleep.

But to the casual and uninitiated observer, she became just a small, faintly blue-skinned girl floating disconcertingly still beneath the water.

From the opposite side of the hallway, the door slid open as Cayde tapped his keycard against the sensor. The mutant had taken to late night strolls to ease his mind so the sight of a floating figure was more than enough to turn his walk into a sprint.

"Hey, kid! Kid!" He banged against the glass, sending tremors through the waters before climbing over the railing.

The fish scattered as Cayde extended his metal arm, grabbing onto her shoulder.

When she didn't respond to his calls, the situation only seemed more dire. It took his direct intervention in order to stir her from slumber; the hand at her shoulder caused her eyes to slowly open, and she peered half-lidded up toward its owner. She was still alive!

"What the fuck were you doing in there?" Cayde not-so-much asked as went into Dad Mode ™️

He continued dragging her towards the edge of the aquarium, grateful that she was breathing. Upon closer inspection, he noticed the fins on her ears, the way the blue tint on her skin looked natural rather than sickly, and the blue hair. These were all things that pointed to aquatic mutations, but that wouldn't stop him from lecturing her, at least not until his parental instincts finally switched off.

She seemed to weigh almost nothing even after being immersed in water for who-knew-how-long. How was it that this was one of his fellow competitors, someone who he would be facing on the field of battle in less than a week?

She made a sound like clearing her throat as she forced the water from her lungs, turning to reject it back into the aquarium. The motion was fluent enough to tell that it was one she had done many times before. If he had any doubts before, he knew now; she was an aquatic.

She sat up and took a deep breath of air, coughing a little as her lungs adjusted to the sudden dryness. Blue hair, blue eyes, pale skin, small as a mouse...Cayde had seen her before—at the opening ceremony. His voice had terrified her enough then to send her running, though not intentionally. When she now had enough clarity of mind to recognize her situation, she shifted backwards away from him, her eyes going wide. From her point of view, she had just been dragged from bed, and was now being interrogated by a fearsome mutant. She could not muster a proper response, simply stammering, "I...I-I..." as she shrunk back.

"You..." The mechanical mutant pulled his arm back, letting her out of his grasp. He let out a long sigh, realizing the amount of terror in her voice. Cayde massaged his temple for a good minute, muttering about the lack of regulations within the facility. He bit his tongue beneath his mask, swallowing all the scolding he'd meant to give his children years ago (and all the times that they were inadvertently in the right).

Instead he rested his arms on the corner of the aquarium and stared at the tiny girl floating in the water. Did she not have something like that in her own room? Or was it different when there weren't other creatures around?

"The important part is that you are alright." he said finally, "whatever reasons you have for being out here, you shouldn't be falling asleep in the open. It's too dangerous here."

When he released her, she slowly moved away until she was far enough outside of his reach to feel more comfortable. Floating there, she drifted to and fro with the rhythm of the water as though she and it were a single creature, inhaling and exhaling. For her lack of desire to leave, it seemed like it was where she belonged, and yet one got the impression that competitors' rooms were more or less standardized. As far as they knew, this was the only place she could feel like she was at home.

She looked around, then at her would-be rescuer, and then she frowned. "I-I don't...really have anywhere else to go," she offered in reply. "I can't sleep..."

As fearful as she had been of Cayde at first, she seemed helpless and lost, and he was the only one around for her to turn to. Where was her manager? Why wasn't he handling this?

"I guess we're both in the same boat, Kid." The older man softened at her words. As a former nomad, Quickshot had no issue acclimating to different environments, but that didn't stop the insomnia or lack of enthusiasm for his new living space. "Everything here is too sterile, lifeless."

He moved his gaze to the fish that settled near the bottom of the aquarium by the young mutant's feet.

"Do you think they like being stuck in a tank, forbidden from ever seeing the ocean?"" he mused, "or do you think they're happy to have clean food and water?"

She followed his gaze, looking at the fish, observing their behavior, their temperament. After a pause, she looked back up to him and answered. "It's home. Maybe compared to the ocean it's small, but it's all they've ever known." Though not exactly a fish whisperer, it seemed as though she spoke with knowledge and not mere supposition.

Being called 'kid' might have offended any of the other small mutants, but she seemed to take it in stride. "What's your home like, Mister...?"

Cayde paused. There was the ship, the Dead Cities, the Wastelands, and now the Vacuum. None of them were particularly great places. Resources were scarce and any sense of optimism a person had was quickly stamped out. As self-congratulatory as it sounded, his family's business was one of the only ones to provide care for the community without the threat of extortion. Most other places were beholden to the human in charge.

"Dark, grimy, diseased,"" he pressed his lips together, "can't say there was anything good about where I came from."

"...except the people."

Whether it was his family, his fellow workers, or the locals in the community, everyone had a mutual understanding of how the world worked and tried to help each other as much as possible. It was proof that mutants were far more kind and civilized than humans could ever hope to be.

"Are the waters any cleaner?"

For all the harshness in the world, Ljilja seemed relatively untouched by it. She shrugged. "It tastes like metal and hurts humans, but it smells like home to me."

With the distraction of company, her guard slowly lowered. She swam closer. "What's your name?" Suddenly her eyes seemed wide, not out of fear, but curiosity.

He stared briefly at his reflection in the water before meeting her gaze. She couldn't have been older than Sherry and if she was, she didn't have nearly as much sense. Normal people (mutant or human) would be wary of his disposition and the girl didn't appear to be the type to be putting up a facade. Was she naive then or lonely?

"Quickshot." He held out a hand to shake but made to move to close the distance.

When he reached out his hand, she lit up and eagerly swam up to shake it. "Ljilja," she added. While she didn't give the immediate impression of stupidity, naive was written all over her, and loneliness could not be discounted, especially considering how quickly her guard dropped at the slightest show of amicability. Where did her fear go?

"Sorry I worried you," she murmured, concerned more about having disturbed him rather than her sleep being interrupted.

"Nah, it's my fault for jumping to conclusions.." Cayde replied, shaking his head, "we don't get many of your type in the Dead Cities."

More gravely, he'd let his protectiveness get the better of him. He knew signing up that the majority of the contestants would be younger than him, but his instincts were becoming his weakness. First for Ten and now for this Ljilja girl. He needed to stop projecting his daughter onto every teenager that he came across lest one be the death of him.

"I should head back," he announced abruptly, "you should talk to your manager about getting something installed in your room. It's better than having someone else pull you out of here in the morning."

As he made efforts to leave, disappointment flashed over her face. She nodded guiltily, like a child being corrected, and pulled herself out of the water, climbing up onto the adjacent catwalk to dry off. "My room's too small for that unless we flooded it. But I don't think they would let me do that..."

From the main walkway, a snowy-haired human wearing a t-shirt and baggy pajama pants stepped into view. He slowly crossed his arms, watching Ljilja from below. Beside him was a small frog-like mutant who hid behind him for shelter. Was she afraid of Quickshot? But it was Ljilja who her eyes were stealing glances at.

"It's okay...I have to go, too," Ljilja said. "See you later, Quickshot," she added, dismissing herself with a wave and scurrying down the catwalk to be escorted away.

He watched her leave, a warbled sigh escaping his throat.