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Amara "Amy" Calen

"Ah, that was... a joke? Could you tell it again? I missed it..."

0 · 351 views · located in Throme

a character in “Masks of the Soul”, as played by Witless

Groups

The Student Council of Cenriel Academy

Description

Amara "Amy" Calen
Image


Grade
11th

Role
The Joker

If Itex, blurb?
N/A

Which Masks do they possess?
Elegant Harlequin

Gender
Female

Age
15

Personality
Amara is a very serious person who rarely smiles and never makes jokes. She takes everything literally, so most things just go over her head or make no sense. However, she's nice and seems genuinely interested in whatever people talk about, though she's most interested by her lessons in school and anything related to learning about the world. When she hears something new, her eyes positively glow with excitement. However, at times this is simply a facade, and it can make her seem patronizing or condescending. Most people do like to feel like someone's paying attention to them, so this doesn't hurt her much socially, and it makes her sort of a teacher's pet. Well, that and the genuine interest in learning and school...

She views everything objectively, and tries as much as possible to keep her emotions separate from her decisions. Everything must be thought through with pros and cons before making a concrete decision, as even the smallest things may affect her life. She wishes to become a lawyer like her mother and tries to keep a proper image.

Amara always has some sort of fact to spout out during any conversation. She says it nonchalantly, like it's something anyone would know, but most of the time, the facts are so obscure that few people even know if they're correct. The one thing she dislikes (and thus it rarely happens) is to say something false, to get a fact wrong. She always seems to get some strangely relevant fact into her conversations, during a pause or even as part of the conversation itself.

The one thing missing from her life, though she doesn't outwardly miss it, is a sense of humor. She rarely (if ever) smiles or laughs. The jokes that she tries to make fall flat or don't even sound like jokes. And she doesn't get other people's jokes either. But this doesn't make her unpopular either. She's well-liked for her attentive and well-meaning personality, as well as for her smarts and talents. She believes this will help her gain a spot in the next Student Council elections, whenever they are.

Amara is honest. It's not a brutal honesty, but she doesn't tell any lies, not even white lies. She may deliberately not say something in order to not hurt someone's feelings or may twist her words to make them sound nicer than they could otherwise be interpreted. She never says anything with an intent to harm, but sometimes her honesty works against her.

Amara is also absentminded. She often doesn't pay attention to her surroundings and gets herself lost, despite her amazing memory. Likewise, she may be inattentive or lost in thought, so she simply doesn't hear what people say at times. This never happens during class, but outside of school, she has a tendency to zone off while wandering the city of Throme only to end up in strange, unfamiliar places around people who have been trying to talk with her for the past ten minutes...


Brief Description
Amara has dark brown hair that turns lighter in the sunlight. She is often seen with a textbook, studying, pen scribbling furiously on notepaper or sticky notes that she carries around. At times, her hair is in disarray, but most of the time it's held up away from her face by some assortment of hair ties. For anything academic, she has a disturbingly intense focus that can unnerve others, but for everything else, she gives almost no interest, a sad mimicry of interest that seems to be only poorly disguised indifference or boredom.

When not wearing the school uniform, she wears a variety of things, from clothes that may have simply been randomly picked from a closet (one with way too many clothes), to something handpicked by a maid, whether it's casual or formal.


Skill(s)/Abilities
Amazing memory (she remembers almost everything she pays attention to, but she's often inattentive...)
Extremely smart
Fencing (she was tutored early on)
Music (she plays the violin and piano skillfully and can figure out how to play other instruments very quickly)


Likes
Studying
Feeling involved
Playing games, especially strategy games
Stargazing (discovery of the unknown)
Heights


Dislikes
Crowds
Immaturity
Getting something wrong
Letting her emotions take control


Phobia
Claustrophobia (any place which she considers restricting suddenly seems even more so, and she becomes unable to breathe)
While not overwhelming, she has Atychiphobia (fear of failure)


History
Amara grew up in a wealthy family, the daughter of a prominent businessman and a skilled lawyer. Her childhood consisted of her being surrounded by tutors who taught her everything she could possibly need to know. She was kept inside the grounds of her house (admittedly, that's no small area) until she was eight years old. It was then that she started school (in fifth grade) and met people aside from her family and servants. She never really made friends and simply focused on schoolwork, using her extensive knowledge to her advantage and gaining the respect, if not friendship, of her classmates. Amara then went on to learn at the prestigious Valencia Earnest High. She quickly rose to the top of her class and excelled at everything she did, but it was here that her parents took notice of her lack of friends. They worried about this and concluded that Valencia was not a place where she could gain friends. After her freshman year, they began searching for a promising school and eventually found it, though not after much research and many school visits. It was a school called Cenriel, and Amara was scheduled to enter it in her junior year. She aspired to quickly take a student council seat just like in Valencia.

During her visit to Cenriel, she overheard some students talking and actually smiled, for the first time since she was young. Interested in the emotion, she asked her parents if she could apply to Cenriel, and they immediately agreed. After she had successfully been admitted and finished talking with teachers and the principal and getting acquainted with the school and the people in and around it, she searched for quiet and found an empty wing in the hall. It was there that she found a strange mask, a golden one that seemed like it was meant for her, like it complemented her and would bring out the bright side of her personality. Putting it on, she whispered the words that came to mind and later awoke in her bed with the mask lying next to her. Since then, she's been curious but reluctant to put the mask on. At least until she joins the Student Council...


Crush
N/A

So begins...

Amara "Amy" Calen's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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#, as written by Witless
Amy Calen; The Roof


Amy stood in the elevator, looking calmly at the people wandering around the mall, having fun, frantically looking for things, talking with friends, playing games, skating. The Mall was an amazing place, allowing people to do whatever they wanted with whomever they wanted. They didn't have to choose where to go; they could decide once they got there. If they wished to do something completely different, they simply had to move between floors, not walk halfway across Throme. And it had an amazing view of the town and the night sky! She glanced in anticipation at the ceiling, eyes sparkling with excitement as the elevator came to a stop, the lit up number 7 wishing good luck. She walked briskly to the stairs and pushed open the doors, exiting back into the open air: the roof.

For a moment, she stood there, stunned. The darkness, the silence of emerging night was offset by the glittering of lights in the town below, by the sounds of people both in front of and below her, by the thousands of stars above her; it was a spectacular experience. Brushing a stray hair behind her ear, she rushed to the edge, walking past, around, between people and finally peering over the edge with sparkling eyes, her lip turning up slightly in memory of a smile. She gazed down at the ants milling through the streets, spotting landmarks: Maybelle Avenue with Brio, Cenriel Academy, Liron River, Cherry Grove Park. Turning around, her gaze focused now on the vast expanse above her, the stars, constellations, the moon. "384,400" she murmured absentmindedly as her hand once again brushed the stray hair away.

After a few moments of stargazing, she remembered what she had actually come here for: the Student Council. Apparently, everyone in the Student Council also had a mask like hers. And it seemed like there was something else that they did, something outside of school. There was an organization, Itex, which wanted these masks for some reason, and the Student Council was against them, with the help of some strange woman, Liesel her name was? Anyway, in order to get in good standing with the Council, there was a package to retrieve. The others would arrive shortly and help out, or maybe they had already arrived? She glanced around for anyone she recognized.

The Rose Gardens were relatively empty. There were a few couples strolling around and the few wanderers, but no one who seemed like they were waiting for anyone. Except... there was one man on a bench, leaning against it and looking at his watch. Maybe this was the person, but it was best to check everywhere else just in case. Brushing a new strand of hair which had worked its way loose from her hair tie, Amy turned to look at the Playground. Not many people there, and it was such a weird place for someone to deliver a package. That was likely not the place. Moving on, her eyes lighted on the Observatory. Ah, how she wished that were the place. But that was also pretty unlikely... Unlike the other attractions on the roof, the Observatory cost money, and there were normally a lot of people there at this time of night quietly watching the stars. While it wasn't a bad place to deliver something, there were much better places. However, Amy wouldn't mind stopping by the Observatory just to make sure...

But for now, the most likely spot was the Rose Gardens where the time-fixated, hooded man was sitting on his bench. If nothing else, it was suspicious. Amy turned around to face the Garden and was caught off guard by a sudden blast of wind, blowing even more of her hair into disarray. Sighing, she took off her hair tie and shook her hair out, letting the long hair cascade into place and then get carried by the wind. She'd have to fix it later, but down was probably better than all the stray hairs. As she looked up, about to resume walking, she noticed Oskana just standing in the crowd. Strangely enough, she wasn't talking with anyone. Well, that was about to change. Amy walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Hey Oskana! What did you come up here for?" Without time for an answer, a fact wandered out of Amy's mouth, "Did you know there are 123 different species of roses? Do you think the garden has them all?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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#, as written by Witless
Amara "Amy" Calen; The Roof


Amy had addressed Oskana, but another voice responded to her question instead. "So you’re not hitting the books today?” Amy hadn't even noticed Treia on the roof, and it took her a little while to connect the voice to a name and then to realize Treia was talking to her. "No, the library's closed. 8 pm, remember? But aren't the stars beautiful tonight? You see Pleione and Atlas? With Alcyone, Merope, Sterope, Maia, Taygeta, Caleano, and Electra? Aren't they stunning? OOHHH!!! The Observatory! Let's go there!" Remembering that she was supposed to be looking for something surreptitiously, to help the student council, she paused and collected herself. Maybe they would separate from her? It was worth a shot… "Well, of course, if you don't want to go to the Observatory, I guess I could go alone..."

She gazed longingly at the Observatory. She should have enough money for herself, despite the high prices. And who knew? The item could very well be in the Observatory! It would save the rest of them the cost from having to go in, and she'd be able to look at the stars. If the Gardens really were where she was supposed to go, she could go later, after making sure that the Observatory was not the right place. And now that she thought about it, the Rose Gardens were too open, too likely to have people who are paying attention to others. If there were anyone around at the time of delivery, they'd notice. Roses were nowhere near as captivating as stars, of course. With all the stars around, and with wanting to make use of their spent money, who would spend the time to pay attention to others?

And the Observatory had a cost! So there would be less random people, more people who actually wanted to be there and would be devoting their time to making the most of it. It was actually looking like even better of a place for a delivery than Amy had originally imagined. Of course, the recipient had to know where she was going, but it would stop any extra meetings with people who weren’t supposed to pick up the package. So it wasn’t just for her own interests that she checked out the Observatory first…

Suddenly, a gust of wind blew her hair across her face and into her mouth. Spitting it out, she turned to block the wind, watching as her hair streamed out in front of her. And her eyes were drawn to Treia whose hair tie seemed caught on a stranger. She rushed over and tried to untangle it, finally succeeding but losing the tie in the process. She took off one from her wrist and offered it to Treia. “Hey, take mine instead. I’ve got more at home, and I’m not using it.”

Amy looked around the roof once more for anyone else she recognized, a student council member, someone else from school, maybe there was someone else she knew? She didn’t spot anyone, but it was always possible she was overlooking something. Anyway, she needed to get in line for the Observatory if she didn’t want to still be waiting in line at daybreak. “So, are you coming or not? We should get in line now before it’s too long.” Waiting a few seconds for a response from Treia and Oskana, Amy prepared to walk into line. It would be nice to talk with Suna again, see what new items she had recently acquired…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Vera Chung ; The Roof [Sagaro Mall]


Vera smiled merrily around as she and the rest of the student council entered Sagaro Mall together. She always did like this classy building - it was the best place to meet with friends and fellow classmates. However, it was so annoying that Liesel insisted that they travel to various places around Throme, day in and day out. It wasn’t as though she needed to be ferried around the city like one of those tourists anyways. But still, there was no need to fret, right? One day, Itex would get what was waiting for them - maybe they didn’t need to do work after all.

Lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t notice it when Lucas disappeared on the way to the roof. Looking at the crowded elevator, she decided to take the escalators instead - so with a smile, she disentangled herself from the crowd and headed up the escalators. Close by, there was a large crowd, gawking at some person. Vera wished that she was the one who was drawing the attention instead - somehow, it was too quiet here. Looking down at the small square piece of pink paper in her hands, she started to fold it in half, creasing it as she went. The people behind her started to talk amongst themselves, and Vera let out a breath that she didn’t realize she was holding.

How everything felt better when there was noise.

She turned her attention back to folding her new creation - this one would be an ox, with its head down and eating at the grass. In pink. Maybe it would look better in black or white - but still, origami wasn’t meant to be in such dull colors.

Her foot lurched over the end of the escalator, and Vera lurched forwards slightly. Smiling sheepishly to herself, she allowed the couple behind her to help her remain upright.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, her eyes bright and lively. “I must have gotten too engrossed in my work that I forgot to pay attention. I’m so sorry for being so clumsy. Thank you so much.” Ah, it was always good to smile at people after making a mistake. And if they thought that she was a kind person, there was no reason not to - well, introduce herself. “I’m Vera Chung, from Cenriel Academy. It’s nice to meet people that are so kind in Throme these days.”

The couple smiled, no doubt caught in by her little tangle of words. The trio stepped onto the next moving escalator, this time to the third floor. “It’s no problem,” one said, before extending his hand in her direction. “We’re glad to be of help. I’m Adam and this here is my friend Melody.”

Vera gave them a gracious nod. “So, what are you doing here in Sagaro Mall?” She took the hand and shook it twice, not too weak, but not too strong either. “I mean, it’s such a nice evening,” and then with a larger smile continued eye contact with the couple.

“Ah, we’re just meeting a friend on the roof,” answered the man, surely, before smiling at the young girl. “You?”

Vera waved one hand around happily. “Same here!” She made the absolute care not to ruin her origami ox - after all, it would not be what it needed to look like if it was crushed in any way. The rest of the trip up to the top of the building ended up with a upbeat conversation about Throme today.

“We’re finally here!” exclaimed Vera with a deep breath of air when reaching the roof.

“Ah, it was nice having you keep us old people company,” said Melody with a smile and a wave. “ I hope to see you around one day.”

Vera looked around, seeing that a few people were watching the conversation. Probably due to her almost too excited statement. “Of course! And you’re not old! I really liked talking to you guys too!”

On that happy note, the two split off, before heading into the rose gardens. Vera looked around cursory, before deciding that once again, Liesel had made a mistake. Maybe it would be better for her if she was seen to be working around. She saw the new member, that… Amara, speaking with Treia Rawler. It wasn’t right for someone who was new like her to be so pushy… It wasn’t as like she was even accepted into the Student Council properly anyways. But that Amara should really be waiting for the people who were skilled at dealing with Itex to deal with these tasks of Liesel. It was just… strange that she would dare.

And it didn’t even seem as though she was doing anything productive. Treia was a student - there was no way that she had anything to do with the killing of the principal , Arthur Torrings. But maybe Amara was a member of Itex. There was no other way that some new member would dare to be spending time talking to other people when there was something to do…

Not that Vera was helping. But…

It just wasn’t right! That she was accepted into the Student Council without any fuss whatsoever. They were the chosen ones by the principal himself - and now, they were giving this… newb a place in their ranks.

But this wasn’t the place to be mean. Not outwardly at least.

Vera smiled again, before waving excitedly in her direction. “Amara! What are you doing?” she called out, before running towards her. She was pretty near the Observatory’s line, maybe she was planning on going inside or something? “For the Student Council thing, do you have any ideas?” She smiled then, looking at the two girls that she was talking to, as though realizing that they were there for the first time. Then, she gave a nervous smile, “I’m sorry, Amara. Did I interrupt your conversation with Treia and Oskana? Sorry, I was just so happy to be on the roof,” Then, spotting the roses in the rose garden, she continued. “But the roses are so pretty these days. Do you like roses? Flowers? I love the Kawasaki rose - so elegant, yet simple.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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#, as written by Witless
Amara "Amy" Calen; The Roof


"Amara! What are you doing? For the Student Council thing, do you have any ideas?" Who was that? A Student Council member? She turned, regrettably into the wind, her hair once again blowing across her face. She sweeped it away and angled herself, so it wouldn't be as much of a bother. Ah, that's who it was. Vera. Vera Chung. What was this thing she was talking about? Oh well, better play along than seem like more of a hindrance. And go along with her to wherever they were supposed to be headed... Where was that, actually? She had never heard from anyone, and it was getting to be a bother. The others really needed to get here faster instead of leaving the ignorant member alone and clueless.

"I'm sorry, Amara. Did I interrupt your conversation with Treia and Oskana? Sorry, I was just so happy to be on the roof. But the roses are so pretty these days. Do you like roses? Flowers? I love the Kawasaki rose - so elegant, yet simple." Hmm... so it was the Rose Garden, was it? Well, no matter. It had been her first guess, but she had so hoped... No, it didn't matter, she had a job, and she needed to get along with it. In response, "Ah, Vera, you know there aren't any Kawasaki roses in the garden. I mean, unless you had some planting of your own. But why don't we use the Garden for the Council thing? I'm sure the Greenhouse could benefit from a little more color, more variety. Why don't we catalogue the species in there and find those best suited for life in the Greenhouse?"

Was that a good enough excuse to leave these two? Would they have questions about her relationship with the Council? Well, if so, there should be some convincing way to explain herself... She just needed to think of it. Well, she was not a Council member yet, so there was no way she could say that. And the mission was top secret, so that would be kept as a closely guarded secret. They were... comrades? No, wrong word. Friends. But... would that pass? It would have to do for now. She could build up the relationship and get an alibi. Or even... she had been in the Council before, albeit at another school. Of course it made sense that she would want to get back into the jobs again! And it was definitely true. She missed having a say in the events of the school, acting for the good of everyone and listening to everyone's opinions. But what would be the best way to present that? That she just wanted a position on the Council so was helping them out? No, that wasn't quite the right thing to say, either... It made it seem like that was her sole purpose in helping out. So... could she say that she was just getting to know people and helping out around the school? She felt a need to help out, to make things better for others? Or just that she had been approached, so she agreed? Well, something would work for now, but-

Oh, it had probably been a while since she had done anything, since she had zoned out. She brought her hand down from where she had been toying with her hair and tried to figure out if she had said something unknowingly or if they had asked her something in the meantime. Hopefully they hadn't, but she had to have some excuse for her long silence. "Oh, sorry. I was just thinking... Which type of roses would be best for the Greenhouse? There's the banksiae, a beautiful yellow. Or how about gallica? They're a nice, deep pink, a rather striking hue. Though if you want a more ornamental, rose-like shape, chinensis is better for pink. Ooh, another colorful rose is foetida, the bicolor kind, with orange and yellow? Or if you want a dark red, more traditional, there's always the kordesii? If white fits instead, we could go with... filipes? sericea? laevigata? They're all so pretty... Hmm... I guess we should go see what species are there?"

She started to walk off toward the Rose Gardens, assuming Vera would follow. After a few steps, she stopped, startled, and turned around. "Oh, Treia, Oskana! I completely forgot! I'm sorry! Umm... we can look at the stars another day? You two have fun, and say hi to Suna for me? Thanks! See you around!" Feeling slightly better, hoping she hadn't forgotten anything else, Amara turned around again after making sure that Vera was indeed coming with her to the Rose Gardens. She was correct in understanding that the Rose Garden was the right place to go, right? It seemed like Vera wanted to go there, so she had to trust that she was right. Which she was, wasn't she?

The setting changes from The Roof to Throme

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Vera Chung


There was no reaction from Amara for quite some time. Maybe she was lost in thought? Why wasn’t she saying anything? The silence… it was depressing, and seemed to bring an awkward aura to the meeting - why wasn’t anyone saying anything? Whatever the reason was, the sudden silence unnerved her, and she started to speak, mostly to herself. “It’s not that difficult to fold either, really. As soon as you understand it, it’s quite simple. Hey! That reminds me! Do you guys have any idea for student council activities?” She gave the three of them a large grin, before continuing. “It’s always nice to know what you guys want when we’re planning.”

To her greatest surprise, it wasn’t Treia or Oskana who replied, but that Amara newb. “Oh, sorry. I was just thinking… Which type of roses would be best for the Greenhouse? There’s the banksiae, a beautiful yellow.” What did this have to do with anything?

Vera would have tried to like this new person - as Amara was new after all. But only if she did nothing to do with the Student Council. She hadn’t gone through the same things that everyone else did - like the death of their principal right in front of them, and they’ve already put so much time into their fight. True, it was all wasted time, but they managed to find a little bit of information at the very least.

They’re all so pretty...Hmm… I guess we should go see what species are there?” This didn’t have anything to do with what their task was… It seemed as though this newbie didn’t realize the extent of Liesel’s anger. Still, Vera continued to smile. At least, someone was making some kind of noise and saving her from the silence. “Oh, Treia, Oskana! I completely forgot! Umm… we can look at the stars another day? You two have fun, and say hi to Suna for me? Thanks! See you around!

With a bound in her step, Vera continued closer to the Rose Gardens. There was a strangely bored-looking man who looked as though something was going to happen. He could be Itex, or maybe not. At the very least, it would give her something to tell Liesel she did… plus, he seemed like a more interesting man to talk to. “Come on, let’s go!” she exclaimed before walking up to the man. “Excuse me, sir, I have a question that I need to ask you. About the roses, which color would you prefer to see in Spring? I’m doing a survey to plan a garden for the park, so…” Her voice trailed off.

The man blinked, before looking at her blearily. “Pink, I guess. Red is good also. I don’t really care. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.” Well, that was boring. The man turned and left, without a backwards glance. It wasn’t a problem with her story - with Amara’s continued blabbering about gardens, it was the only thing that she could think of. It seemed to make sense, right? It seemed to be every week that someone approached her asking about this or that. They especially liked calling her - and asking if she wanted to buy a house.

Now what? The only other suitably interesting person around was that Suna person. But Vera didn’t quite want to go to see her, as that would instigate that she was wrong and Amara right. Was there anyone else that was close-by that she could easily turn the conversation towards? The couple that she had met when riding up the escalator was still there, but they seemed to be settling in for a long while gazing at the roses and having some sort of romantic encounter. It wouldn’t do to disturb them.

That would be rude, and it’d look bad in front of that other person.

Where was Lucas anyways? He was the King - or that was his rank after all, and he ought to be the person here that was dealing with this. Vera looked down at the ox in her hand, and looked at it, before making a mountain fold, giving the ox a better-appearing tail. Yes, that would do. But - seriously, she had to find someone else to approach.

Someone other than Suna. Speaking of Suna, she had moved away from her normal post at the door to somewhere else entirely. Glancing around, Vera couldn’t quite find where she was, but it didn’t quite matter. She was probably inside her Observatory, doing something. That was normal.

Hopefully something would come up for her to do. The silence was growing again, a certain heavy feeling that made her skin itch. “So… I guess that Liesel was wrong then? Like usual?” she said, with a frown. Another wasted Friday evening. “I can’t personally see anyone else that’d be doing anything that we could check out.” Then, turning towards the newbie, she gave her a bright smile. “Unless you can see something that I’ve missed that is?”

The setting changes from Throme to The Roof

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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#, as written by Witless
Amara "Amy" Calen; The Roof


They had gotten to the Rose Garden, and there weren't too many people around. Vera was asking questions to a random stranger, the suspicious one Amy had remarked upon earlier. It seemed like something to do with roses? What in the world was she doing? Oh well, the man left, and the only other people in sight were a man and a woman, obviously a couple enjoying their walk in the Garden. Vera seemed to be thinking, considering something before she spoke.

"So… I guess that Liesel was wrong then? Like usual? I can’t personally see anyone else that’d be doing anything that we could check out." Wait, this Liesel person was normally wrong? Then why in the world did they listen to her? Hmm... well, if that was the case, then it would make some sense as to why there was no one here. Though, in that case, this entire trip would be a waste. And she hadn't even gotten to go into the Observatory! On such a clear night, too! Well, that would have to change...

"Unless you can see something that I’ve missed that is?" Oh, that was Vera again, to her. Well, it deserved a response at the very least. Something to get her out of this and on her own, so she could go to the Observatory. If this was going to be a waste of time, it was not going to be a complete waste... Head turned to Vera, she pushed aside some stray hairs before responding.

"No, if Liesel's normally wrong, she's likely wrong now. If she said Rose Gardens, I don't see anyone here? Probably misinformation or something like that. So, if we're done here, I'll-" She cut off, a ruckus from behind startling her into turning. Startled murmurs were growing, and a young man covered in drying blood burst into the Garden running toward them. "Vera!" Lucas. Blood? Ah well, there wasn't anyone else around bleeding, but it did appear to be someone else's blood. Well, it was taken care of, whether the person was saved or not. And for some reason Mr. Student Council President didn't have the decency (or maybe it was the brains? but he did seem conscientious of it, so...) to cover it up and to stop from causing a distraction. "I’m sorry I’m so late. Did I miss anything?" Nope, but we did, apparently. Someone's blood... Not out loud of course. Now that she was facing Vera again, she continued what she was saying.

"Ah, well as I was saying, Liesel's probably wrong, and I see nothing. If you need me, I'll be in the Observatory. I'm not going to waste such a beautiful night just standing around here waiting for nothing. See you later!" Turning briskly, she rushed out of the Gardens, crossing the crowded roof, intently focused on the Observatory, where the line had diminished greatly by now. And for some reason Suna was not at her usual spot? Confused, Amara made a scan of the crowd to see if she was out recruiting potential star-viewers. Not there, not there, not there... Ah! There she was! Talking to Oskana and Treia! Well, Amara wasn't going to- A sudden gust of wind blew her hair once again into her mouth. Spitting it out, she tried to catch her train of thought again.

She turned: the Observatory. From there, Suna. And then... Following the same path, she got back to Oskana and Treia where Suna was. Oh! That's what she was going to do! Amara ran, pushing through the crowd until she got back to Oskana and Treia. "Hey guys, it doesn't seem like it was a big deal, and I got out of it! Now, let's go to the-" She turned, as if just catching sight of Suna. "Oh! Suna! It's a beautiful night, isn't it? We were just about to go to the Observatory, but I was pulled away. Did you finally buy that telescope you've had your eye on? I hope you can get it delivered soon!"

The setting changes from The Roof to Throme

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Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Treia Rawler; The Roof


Suna had come up to them asking about a package. They had been so close to delivering it, but then Amy just HAD to butt in on them. It was a good thing that she hadn't seen the package; that would have been a disaster! Amy sure seemed eager to talk to them. Maybe, since Oskana had the package, she could lead Amy away from the transaction? Wouldn't Amy think it was weird, though? She didn't really care anymore - all she REALLY wanted to do was write, and all this Itex stuff was really taking time away from that.

"Hey, Amy. Do you want to go down to shop for a new hair tie with me? I need another one because the one I had before snapped after that little tangle-up, and I can't really borrow yours forever, you know?" Her voice was lighter, higher pitched from her better mood - she had just sighted the cutest old couple. It gave her a previously nonexistent faith in the world. Of course, that was a sarcastic statement. She DID have faith in the things that happened, but it was very little faith, of course.

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Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Suna Sundevale : The Roof [Sagaro Mall]


Although none of the children had said anything, it seemed as though she had been correct in her assumption. They were the ones who were picked up, probably off the street, to be the messenger and representative of her customer. Somewhere, in the deepest trenches of her mind and empathy, she felt bad for them - after all, who knew when they would be deemed useless and left in the back alleys somewhere as a body. Evidently, when one was engaged in activities that were skirting the law, it wasn’t the most intelligent idea to keep underlings alive for very long. No one knew when they would spill all the details. Oho, it was true that there would be a police investigation into these matters - but only before they got diverted onto other cases by the offering of money. Oh, Throme’s justice system may have improved to greatness, but even then, people were only but human...

But there was no matter for this. Suna was just about to deal with her hated job as a bank, when another… distraction-type person ran up. It was one of the female gender, as evident by the length of the hair. With a sigh, she refrained from pushing onwards. A business transaction wasn’t to be broken off in the middle no matter what - who knew how many of her deals in the past had been broken off, after simply a few minutes worth of a pause. It gave them time to reconsider, to weigh their choices, to think that perhaps not selling to her would be more profitable.

The girl spoke, with a voice that seemed to irk Suna. “Hey, guys, it doesn’t seem like it was a big deal, and I got out of it!” Well, she personally hoped that it would have been somewhat more of a deal if just to make her leave. Suna pursed her thin lips together, before directing her attention elsewhere. Similar to advertisements, such distractions tended to last a while. “Now, let’s go to the-.

Oh, would she hurry up and leave already? Then, the girl turned in her direction and started to address her - perplexing behavior. “Oh! Suna!” Who? Did she even know this person? It sure seemed like it by her ridiculous greeting. “It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it? We were just about to go to the Observatory, but I was pulled away.” So… was this supposed to be flattery or somewhat? Well, the girl’s speech was quite familiar indeed, and Suna couldn’t say that was flattering. Not by a long shot. “Did you finally buy that telescope you’ve had your eye on? I hope you can get it delivered soon.” Suna almost wanted to ask her if this had to do with her wish to feel familiar with her, or… something more malicious really. If there was any doubt left, it was obvious that this girl knew her. Or, more truthfully, thought she knew her.

Personally speaking, Suna hoped that information about her business transactions weren’t quite as … common-place as it seemed. So where did she meet this girl, and why was she so blindingly familiar. Well, it wouldn’t hurt asking, would it? Before she could react, one of the children spoke. “Hey Amy. Do you want to go down to shop for a new hair tie with me? I need another one because the other one snapped after that little tangle-up.”

Suna almost laughed to see what this line of their conversation was going to lead to. One of them would distract the distraction herself for the entire point of finishing. If only she wasn’t one of her business partners. Who knew which one of them had the package that she was to protect - with her life if necessary. She wasn’t going to deal with it herself, but there was this tiny question that was wiggling in the back of her mind. “Who are you, and why in the world do you think that you know me?” Her voice came out blunt and cold, more so than she had thought. Perhaps it was a customer from the past - she didn’t know where else she would have contact with children. It wasn’t as though she remembered those moneys; they were just her source of income. “And on that topic, we have something to discuss, so please leave.” Tact was never her best subject.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Vera Chung


She only meant to give the newbie the opportunity to say anything, but Vera certainly didn’t expect that the girl would actually take her invitation and start expressing her own desires. “No, if Liesel’s normally wrong, she’s likely wrong now.” She had to admit that she wasn’t the best fan of the smoking scientist, but she had pride in her Student Council status. Liesel was a member of them. “If she said Rose Gardens, I don’t see anyone here? Probably misinformation or something like that. So, if we’re done here, I’ll -.” she suddenly stopped, and despite her irritation, Vera followed her gaze.

Vera!” shouted a highly familiar voice. Ah, it was Lucas - finally. He would be able to take charge of all their duties so that she could return home without the hassle that Liesel tended to bring. “I’m sorry I’m so late. Did I miss anything?” Vera felt a smile return to her face, and she turned in his direction - to see some stain on his previously white shirt. Even with the distance between the two, she could tell that it was a bright red in color. Like blood. And by the looks of it, it was still quite fresh.

What had happened? With almost a hurried wariness, she walked a few steps closer to the Masked King. Had Itex finally struck for the second time? For the previous couple of months, they had always been waiting for Itex to do something else atrocious - maybe go after another one of their ranks. It was comparable to sleeping underneath a boulder… one was always waiting for the boulder to crush you. He seemed to be pretty stable in terms of walking, so there was nothing really important about it, right?


“Ah, well as I was saying, Liesel’s probably wrong, and I see nothing. If you need me, I’ll be in the Observatory. I’m not going to waste such a beautiful night just standing around here waiting for nothing. See you later!” As though she thought that somehow Lucas’ arrival brought the plague with it, the annoying new tagalong made her way and all but teleported away. Vera’s eyebrows twitched in irritation - it wasn’t everyday that people were willing to ditch her extremely lovely personality for the chance to talk to an antisocial loner.

So, it was just her and Lucas who were actually going to do something now. Paying no attention to the blood on his shirt because they would just get him to a hospital if something had actually happened, she waited for him to tell her what there was for them to do. He did need to know what had happened right? Plus, there was a growing lag in the conversation that even the muted dialogue between the strangers could not mask. With that in mind, Vera started to speak, making sure to keep her tone light. “We were trying to figure out who could be the Itex person that was going to deliver the package that Liesel was talking about.” She pursed her lips, before smiling. “Well, there was a shady looking guy over here, so I decided to talk to him. Apparently, he didn’t think that my conversation was as riveting as it would have been.”

My, how much did she hate people leaving her. She was to be surrounded with those that were pleased to listen and follow with her every train of thought. It was already two today - and how irritating that was. “Well, and then, you see that the new person certainly isn’t helping my efforts all that much.” Her eyes wide and large, she addressed the King in a low whisper. He would be able to do something about it. “What if she’s Itex? What if Liesel was wrong? It doesn’t really matter either way - but I don’t think that she should be part of us. I - I wouldn’t want for someone to be dragged into this problem who doesn’t understand the problem… what if she underestimates Itex and hurts herself?” Fine, she couldn’t really complain about the newbie’s actions, as she wasn’t exactly helping herself, but there had to be some way to make sure she wouldn’t intrude on the sanctity of their greenhouse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Zensa Valobo Character Portrait: Deus ex Kaos Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Gage Vandergear Character Portrait: The Hermit Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen Character Portrait: The Star
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Throme - Friday, September 27 (4:30 PM)


How fast the clock does turn when there’s nothing important to do.

That is if one was normal. Just a few Fridays in the past, Masked and Itex met each other in a dramatic showdown, not unlike a fight between rival gangs. The thing at stake this time was not territory, but a small nondescript package. What exactly was inside that thin box? No one really knew for sure. Only that it was important.

It would take eight minutes for those on Earth to notice if the sun went out. It would still be warm; it would still be bright. It took longer than eight minutes for the conclusion of this fight to be seen.

Was the package worth it? The Masked were the ones who walked away with the package, and Itex was left there empty-handed, but no one side came out of the proceedings unscathed. A game with a wounded victor. This was the breaking point for the poor stability of a certain Miss Coraline Starlings. A few days after, the harried looking maiden turned in her resignation from the Student Council. This was almost like bowling; the first pin to fall. Liesel Moringmer was murderous.

The Vandergear family was next in line. Chasing some illusory job in nearby Lore, the family burned its own roots in Throme and moved for the sake of greed. It was fortunate for Liesel that her heart possessed a remarkable capacity for wrath. The delicate tea cups were not so lucky. Neither were the flowers.

But this strand of bad luck did not allow Itex to leave without its punishment for failure. A certain female who went by the name of 'En' claimed Oskana Sonnen's blood, time, and responsibility. While she did not disappear per se, Cenriel Academy was without a student when she was transferred to rival Thromain Institute of Fine Arts. But her partner was not spared either. Treia Rawler, with her lucky stars shining from the heavens, remained relatively untouched, with only a warning to show for her troubles. Itex, like Liesel, was not a believer of keeping their murderous intent bottled inside.

The beautiful observatory was without its owner for a week, before she reappeared, looking none the worse for her time. Perhaps there was something hidden under that smile of hers, but nothing was visible to the average eye. The clear nights kept the popularity of that rooftop attraction high.

Friday, August 16th. A day that would mark the transfer of humans from the thrifty Maybelle Avenue to more reputable Sagaro Mall. Many wallets became far lighter due to the ever-growing paranoia. Hector Mason, a man with two daughters who worked nights as a security guard, was seen in a puddle of his own blood. Was there a serial killer hidden in the depths of that brilliant district? The police found no leads or evidence. Despite attempts from shop owners to catch more customers, those that dare enter that shining crime scene were few and far in between.

Judgement did not have anything interesting for the Itex for the longest of time.
Liesel had no leads.

Perhaps they were waiting for today. The day that the package pointed to as important. So what exactly was in that package of Itex? It was with hoping expressions that the Masked had opened the case, to fall downtrodden.

A letter.

To whom it may concern:
After months of research, we may have stumbled upon something of great importance. The previous sample that we have received is an enigma, to say in the slightest. Despite weighing like an average granite shock of the same size, its chemical bonds are completely nonsensical. Instead of forming bonds in order to gain eight valence electrons, many of the carbon atoms possess nine or even one with six. Perhaps you were right in saying that this was a strange rock.

When attempting to find the volume of the sample, we were astonished to find the rock glowing upon contact of water. We were unable to find the source of this energy, but it is believed it is some sort of chemical reaction. Other than the output of light, we have discovered no other abnormalities. Our sample glowed red, bright red, but we shall be asking for further samples to support this hypothesis. It would not surprise me if it was a fluke. If it wouldn't be an issue for your organization, if you'd send us another shard, we would be much obliged. The things we do for science. Until then, we'll be sending back the sample on 9.27. Please do send a messenger to pick it up. This cannot fall into unaligned hands.

Sincerely,


The letter was signed, but illegible and smudged, seemingly on purpose. It appeared as though the writer was unwilling to give up his or her name. The letter continued with an address.

Nivcien Science Institute, Throme
Research Division


It is now September 27. Yet another Friday afternoon. The weather had mellowed in the months, with the leaves already in the process of dying. They were dull brown, many of them withering in the streets and on the trees. A steady wind made its way through Throme. Life is unfair, but yet it brings hope and excitement. Perhaps their adventure will beat reality television's entertainment value on this blustering November afternoon.

Those whose souls belonged to Itex ought to be making their steady way to the back rooms at Brio, where that violent angel of doom, Judgement, was doubtless waiting for them. The Masked had likewise, been summoned by Liesel to deal with their recently collected information. How will both sides dance this afternoon? That is a story to hear.

The setting changes from Throme to Cenriel Academy

Setting

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Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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#, as written by Witless
Amy Calen; Cenriel Academy - English Class -> Greenhouse


"So, in conclusion, we have three types of conditionals: potential, theoretical, and impossible. The difference between them is which tense of verb is used: present, perfect, and pluperfect, respectively. They also use a type of future verb, with the theoretical and impossible conditionals using words of doubt or uncertainty like 'would,' 'could,' 'might,' 'may,' and many more. We'll conclude this lesson on Monday with the placement of conditionals, real and unreal ones, and combining tenses within them..."

Mrs. Lengley had taken to teaching them about grammar lately, as she felt their writing needed more structure. Amy could hardly complain; she knew most of the material anyway, and she was making an A in this class, unlike most of her classmates (there may have been another skilled one or two in there). What really surprised her was how far below the Valencia students Cenriel students were. If she had no other reason to be here, there would be no way at all that she would have transferred. But she was curious, and she felt drawn here, by some sort of mystery hanging around, pervading the school.

The mask was the centerpiece, revolving around the Student Council. While there had been one in Valencia, it had been well-founded and strong. People knew and confided in it, and there had been elections. It wasn't made only a few years prior. It wasn't run by a woman from outside the school. It wasn't made of those people who simply wanted to be in it and who were accepted by the other members. But there was one key thing that it also didn't have: the masks. It seemed a unifying factor, like the masks chose who should be in the Student Council. Every member appeared to have one, and Amy had received one soon after transferring to Cenriel.

It was a strange thing, and she still had yet to test what it did. It made little difference; she'd find out eventually, when she needed to. For now, as the bell rang (It had already, hadn't it? The classroom was already mostly empty, with the final few trickling out.), she figured she should head out to the Greenhouse, where they were all supposed to meet. She had nothing else to do until then, so why not make sure she was on time?

She wandered over to the Greenhouse, opening it to emptiness and wandering to the back of it, passing by and through begonias, primroses, some newly added roses, petunias, daffodils, cinerarias, amaryllis, forget-me-nots, tulips, and peonies. Somehow they were taken care of, by gardeners never seen, never acknowledged. Maybe if she stayed long enough, she'd see them, maybe she wouldn't. Maybe they only came in when no one was around? What did they look like? Were they old, young? Female, male? Many, few? Like they belonged? Like they were skilled? How long would she have to stay to see them, to meet them? The curiosities of the school were many and diverse. Including the Student Council.

Yes, she was now in that group. Well, in a way, of course. Not that she was fully accepted, not that she likely would be soon. Not that she knew much of what they did, of what they battled, of whom they worked for. But she was finding out little by little and growing to like working with them against this big organization, this Itex, whatever it was. Some organization, a big one that seemed to be omnipresent. One that used the same masks that did... whatever they did.

And why the masks? Who made them? Who decided who was given them? Who decided what they did, how they worked? Was there more behind them than just masks created by a genius? Were they even created at all? What was the point, the use, the reason behind their existence? Was there something much bigger behind all this? The questions kept pouring out, and none were answered. Or, when they were, they raised even more questions to be left unanswered. Many mysteries, curiosities, many indeed...

The Student Council. Run by a Liesel Moringmer. Whoever that may be. A person not connected to the school and yet it seemed like she was fully accepted here, like she belonged and didn't need to worry about anything. And she somehow had a group of followers whom she had found... some way. These people, some were better than others of course, but they seemed to have as little of an idea of what was going on as she. And that gave Amy little confidence in this group, even if she had longed to be in the Council. But she'd last through this, get some questions answered before leaving, if she so decided. They- *slam*

A door closed, the entrance to the greenhouse, and Amy figured she should check out who it was. There was supposed to be a meeting today, right? Yes, yes... and so it was, as she walked out from the flowers - pollen, leaves, and petals down her uniform and throughout her hair, for some reason lacking a tie - to see Vera and Liesel. Maybe there was something new, maybe there wasn't, but there was one thing to be sure of: she would find out soon enough.

The setting changes from Cenriel Academy to Throme

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Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Vera Chung | Greenhouse -> Throme


Shooting the older woman a smile, she placed her purchases gently on the closest flat surface. As she straightened up, it was just in time to catch glimpse of that friendless, irritating upperclassman that was astonishing enough, younger than she was. It was almost obvious, ‘cause Vera was 100% certain, more than that really, that that kid… Amara, lacked any portion of intelligence. Today, she was a mess, with leaves and flowers in her hair and tie missing. This debris was doubtlessly stolen off of the beautiful plants that thrived in their greenhouse.

“Hey, Amy! Why did you get here so early? There’s still time to spare before… well, you know,” here, Vera flapped her hands as though she had no words to explain what she had to state. “I just took a little detour and stopped by the marketplace, and then I was able to find this set of teacups. Doesn’t it look amazing? Is the pattern alright with you?’ she asked then, gesturing excitedly in the direction of her purchases. “They weren’t that expensive either.” Catching a glimpse of Liesel’s pursed lips, as the woman’s hands tightened against the lighter that she was oh-so-conveniently holding, Vera quickly pulled Amara’s arm and attempted to drag her towards the door, babbling all the while.

Without a pause to see if the girl had said anything, or listening, Vera continued. “So, Amara, I think that we haven’t been able to really talk to each other yet. Since Lucas isn’t here yet, we might as well go on ahead and have a nice conversation since we’re the only girls on the student council now. Is that okay with you?” she asked, with a bright grin. She was one of those Valencia brats, right? With their tutors, snobbiness, fake posh attitude, and idiocy. It wasn’t everyday that one of those transferred over to Cenriel - heck, there were many rumors flying around about her before she came.

“What’s Valencia like? I’ve heard so much about it,” All of it bad, of course, “but I figured that since you were the one who really understands it, you should know it better than Sanya and her posse. I bet it’s not as good as Cenriel, right?” And if they were able to let go of their mistaken pride, and look somewhere other than their own little circle, they would doubtlessly be flocking to Cenriel Academy like the sheep that they are.

Throwing open the door, Vera breathed in the feel of the fresh air and cold breeze that had pervaded Throme through these months. She did not spare a single thought to what Amara would answer - Vera was absolutely certain of her own opinion and well, nothing would shake her of her conviction. The cloudless sky allowed the bright sunlight to shine through without impediment, but even its warmth couldn’t ruin the feel of this day. It marked the start of the transition to winter, which Vera was looking forward to.

“We should be heading towards Nivcien Science Institutes, so that shouldn’t be too far away. It’s just a few minutes by subway away, anyways. I think it should be Line 5? Yeah, the light purple one. Do you have any change on you? You need like 50 cents to ride the subway - the government cut prices, because they want to save the environment. Have you heard about the new decree? There was this complaint, so they have put all of these fuel efficiency, energy saving laws in place. Isn’t that so progressive of Ms. Cosette?”


Waving a farewell to the uniformed guard that made sure that no one strayed off campus during school hours, she made a left turn, and continued to walk on the flawless sidewalk. A blue convertible screeched by, with the driver blasting loud music and bobbing his head to its thudding beat. Behind it, a public bus, with a flashing 101, stopped at the Cenriel Academy bus stop, as an old lady stepped out of the bus. Vera gave her a face-stretching smile, before quickening her step. She really would help her, especially in front of Amara, but it really was rude to offer help before the person asked for it. Vera personally felt it humiliating.

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Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer
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#, as written by Witless
Amy Calen; Greenhouse -> Throme


Ah, what a confusing welcome. The first word heard was "teacups," and Amy had no idea how the topic had reached there. There was supposed to be a meeting today, correct? She could have sworn that was so, but before she could get more than a few words in edgewise (they were "What? Teacups? Where ar- Ah!" for those interested), she was dragged toward the door by the hand. And then followed the irritating conversation, probably to the bystander as well, but Liesel was always irritated, or so it appeared.

"What are you doing? I can walk by myself!" overlapped with "So, Amara, I think that we haven’t been able to really talk to each other yet."
"No, that's right. You won't let me. Wait, Lucas? What's that got-" overlapped with "Since Lucas isn’t here yet, we might as well go on ahead and have a nice conversation since we’re the only girls on the student council now."
"Well, what does that have to do with a-" overlapped with "Is that okay with you?" with "-nything..." hanging out awkwardly at the end.

What was with Vera? She seemed to always wish to be in command, but she was so immature about it! Talking over others, not letting them speak their mind, not encouraging an actual conversation. And no matter what, Amy never seemed to be able to find free space to say anything in. Well, aside from this awkward silence (okay, it wasn't a long awkward silence, but it was awkward nonetheless) while they paused in movement and voice. Speaking of... Amy opened her mouth to speak, probably something along the lines of Okay, Vera. What should we talk about? There really wasn't much to talk about... But Vera got there first, starting to speak again, and it was a battle to speak against the torrent of questions.

"What’s Valencia like? I’ve heard so much about it..." and Amy began once more to try and speak her mind.
"It's, well, a high school. Pretty, I guess you could say, and..." but that was drowned out as Vera spoke again: "but I figured that since you were the one who really understands it, you should know it better than Sanya and her posse."
Amy sighed, following as they neared the door and spoke under her breath, "Sure, ask but don't listen. That's so polite of you." as Vera continued speaking, "I bet it’s not as good as Cenriel, right?"

Vera thrust the door open, and went out, dragging Amy (whose lack of a hair tie was now more evident as it whipped around her face in the breeze) in tow as she tried to get an answer out. "Well, they've both got their benefits. I mean, both are, are good at academics and are prestigious... Umm... *pheh* Well, I think I like Cenriel better, but I don't know, I mean, I'm not, I haven't, well, been here... long enough?" The hair getting in her face and mouth didn't help at all, and she rummaged in her pocket for a hair tie, found none, and started as she noticed Vera had continued walking away without her.

Amy rushed, stumbling once or twice as she caught up with Vera to hear something about a bus, 50 cents, the environment, and Ms. Cosette. "Ah, um... Where are we going? There's a, a meeting, right? Shouldn't we be in the Greenhouse?" A bus. A bus? No, no, no, no, no. That wasn't going to happen; she'd walk if she had to. Did Vera know how small those were? How many people jammed into them, pushing up against you until you could scarcely breathe? How dreadfully stifling they were? No. She could get her own ride. Or something. But not a bus, never a bus. And where was Vera taking her, anyway? It was all so confusing...

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Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Vera Chung | Throme


With a soft smile, the aged lady brushed past the pair, before continuing down the sidewalk with hardly a pause. “Good afternoon, dearies,” she uttered with a tinge of a northern accent. Vera merely nodded her head in greeting before watching as the bus screeched off, leaving behind the curious scent of pepperoni pizza. The high school student wrinkled her nose irritably, before getting distracted by Amara finally saying something.

Ah, um… Where are we going? There’s a, a meeting, right? Shouldn’t we be in the Greenhouse?” Amara asked, while Vera mentally rolled her eyes. Really, there was no helping people. It was just like the newbie to have no clue about anything at all. It was all very simple. It wouldn’t be harmful to get there early - after all, who knew if the Itex would show up with their guns blazing, looking to get back at them for their spectacular failure from the roof.

Vera forced a smile as she continued to explain everything to the slow-witted peer. Making sure to keep her voice as impeccably cheery as usual, she attempting to describe the current turn of affairs to the extraordinarily dumb student - it was just proof that Valencia’s trendy rich kids weren’t all that smart away from their smart phones and all that junk. “Remember the note that we found on the roof? We’ve planned to do something and maybe get the Grace stone fragment that they were talking about. Liesel’s been gloating about her success for the past weeks - er, when she wasn’t breaking things and screaming because the others left.”

“Anyways, there’s nothing to worry about. Lucas will know exactly what’s going on when he arrives at the greenhouse and see us not there.” And if he doesn’t, Liesel would be willing to point him in the right direction after reprimanding him for being late. “And since I really don’t want to end up being late and having to run and try to hurry, I figured that we might as well get a head start and start now. Come on - are you ready? You have your 50 cents ready for the subway ride, right? It won’t be very far anyways. I think you can probably convert your argen to cents there, but there’s always a long line in front of the machine ‘cause no one ever has the exact change. So hurry up, I’m raring to go and finally beat Itex at their own game.”

There. If the newb didn’t understand it even after that lengthy explanation, Vera was going to hit her on the head and hope that the trauma would help her regrow her paltry brain cells. It was too bad that Gage and Coraline had disappeared off into the depths of nowhere - heck, Vera had lost track of where they had disappeared to. It was really a shame that they had lost the ability to continue on their path. With their aid, the student council wouldn’t even have to cart around this brainless idiot. “So, are you ready yet?” Vera leaned in closely, before whispering in Amara’s ear. “You do have your mask with you, right? Or at the very least, you have your code phrase firmly in your brain?” Even though it was highly improbably that Itex would have a discrete sprinkling of agents in the area, there was no way that she would lose her most valuable possession.

“Everything will happen perfectly, but there’s no point in losing an opportunity to transform into someone better right?” she continued whispering, before pushing Amara forward slightly. “Don’t you love that thrill when the power just takes over and you become someone that’s just utterly perfect?” Then, Vera quickly plastered a smile on her face again, before skipping forward a few steps, feeling the wind in her hair. “Come on, Amy! There’s no time to waste on a Friday afternoon! It’ll just be a few stops by subway - and when we’re done with this task, we can go home and finally do something really worthwhile.” Vera couldn’t help but scan the sidewalk behind them, looking to see if their president had caught up with them… While there was no point in worrying, it felt odd to be on an Itex mission without Lucas.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Twisted Emperor
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Lucas Toland | Cenriel Academy → Throme


Often times it was easy to forget that ‘student council president’ was only a ruse, a cover-up title for something else entirely. There were many reasons for this, but it all came down to the fact that he still held all the same responsibilities, day after day, organizing events, contacting clubs, making sure the office knew what the students wanted, if they were satisfied, etcetera, etcetera – all things Lucas, in all honesty, only marginally cared about. He had too much on his mind as the so-called ‘leader’ of the Masked to spare hours of his supposed spare time for something as mundane as school.

But of course, the school itself didn’t know the full story, so Lucas Toland was unfortunately, subject to reminders of his unwanted status day after day after day. Yes, it was really a brilliant oversight on Mr. Torrings’ part… unless it wasn’t an oversight at all. The man had always had a peculiar sense of humor and it was more than likely that this had been some elaborate joke before… well… the incident.

Still, the fact remained that every day, Lucas had to juggle schoolwork, Masked duties, student council responsibilities, and every so often a family arrangement, often all at the same time… and he was anything but a multitasker. And this afternoon, as lovely as the weather was, it seemed that every sentient being in existence was trying to prove this point.

“I’m sorry, but we really need them printed by tomorrow…” Lucas protested, balancing his smartphone to his ear with his shoulder while attempting to finish off his email to the school counselor. Apparently budget cuts meant that the upcoming junior retreat wouldn’t be taking place at the beach after all, which had earned him much undeserved protest. And some students even had the gall to, while complaining, also make requests on behalf of their own little groups, one such group being the academy newspaper committee. It should have been one of their own club officials trying to reason with obstinate half-listening adults instead of him, but no. Their club leader asked Lucas, and he just couldn’t say no. It just never happened. Ever.

Sometimes, he infuriated himself.

“Y-yes, I know that we’ve only paid for one set, but – ” he was interrupted by the classroom door opening, and a vaguely familiar face peered in. Long dark hair set in braids, a serious countenance – Jeanne Haden. She was in his biology class, and always sort of distant. What business could she possibly have with him today of all days? With an apologetic smile, Lucas gestured to both his phone and his laptop, then mimicked writing on a piece of paper. The other girl shrugged, before taking up a post-it from the teacher’s desk near the front of the room and scribbling onto it.

Ah, shoot. The email had somehow turned into a log of his conversation instead of a report on student accounting. Why was it just so hard to do two things at once? Sometimes Lucas wondered how he even managed to breathe while thinking at the same time – well, perhaps he wasn’t that bad, but he was feeling more than irritated and perhaps just a tad self-critical at the moment. There was really nothing more to say.

Given the circumstances, he should have just given up and headed over to the greenhouse about… twenty minutes ago, and he would have been able to had he just said that simply two letter word that began with an ‘n’ and ended in an ‘o’. Ah, and now there was an orange square of paper on his screen. Lovely. He gave a half-hearted wave and smile to Jeanne, who just gave him a strange look before leaving. Thankfully, she closed the door.

“I… I don’t think the school would be willing to pay another… office-assistant-is-absent-please-write-the-announcements? No, no, sorry! That was, um, I was distracted.” As if things weren’t frustrating enough, just after that last blunder, he heard the tell-tale beep of his phone indicating that his time was up – there was another call on the line, and he had one guess as to who it was.

Hoping that for once, just once, she would take the hint, Lucas rejected the new call. It started up again almost immediately, competing with the bored drone of the printer company worker who was talking as if he didn’t understand a thing about how the system worked. The two noises, possibly the most aggravating noises Lucas had ever heard, just refused to stop. He had been trying to keep hold of himself and just finish the work himself before he left, but…

… He didn’t care anymore.

“I’m sorry. I’ll be right back,” Lucas mumbled before setting the phone on the desk. Then, taking his time with slow, careful steps, he made his way to the classroom door and locked it. Checked the handle once. Twice. Secure. Good.

With one last resigned sigh, he held out his hand, then with only a moment’s hesitation, murmured to himself, “… Confidence is the key.” There was a flash of light, and a sudden weight upon his hand. It wasn’t heavy at all, really, more just a presence than anything. A mask. Torrings’ mask. The Emperor’s Mask. Those titles seemed to place so much importance into the one object, black and gold checkers across the right half of it, but in the end, it was his to use. And he chose to use it now. With yet another sigh, he fit the piece onto his face.

An immediate surge of reassurance. A sudden pressure upon his conscious mind. The weight of a gifted mask, Liesel had called it, as if she knew what she was talking about, but it wasn’t all that bad. Uncomfortable, but bearable for now.

But more importantly, now, he could actually get things done. Striding back and sweeping up his phone once more, Lucas brought it to his ear. “Alright, then. Let’s cut the nonsense,” he said flatly. “You delivered us our order on time, yes. I think I’ve made it clear that is not my complaint. My complaint is the fact that your printers saw fit to butcher the order, smear the ink, shuffle the pages like a deck of cards, and frankly did everything to ensure that it is anything but acceptable. And then you’re asking us to accept it.” Pointless protests. Tapping open a new document for his email, he cut the other party off. “Connect me to your superior.” Startled silence. “Well since you insist on being a hindrance, connect me to your superior,” he repeated, tone almost flippant in its nonchalance.

The email was, by this time, finished, edited, and sent. He started on the weekly announcements next. Really, all he had to do was copy paste the one from last week’s, change a few dates, and add information on the upcoming basketball game. Two minutes at most.

“No, I am not ‘just a high school kid’. I am a customer, a representative of the consumer that is one of the most respected schools in the city, and expect to be treated as such. Now, will you reprint those miserable excuses for final products or will we have to continue this tiresome conversation?” Some vague notion in the recesses of Lucas’ mind voiced its protest, aware that he was going way overboard over some stupid school publication, but when the other party finally conceded, there was nothing but a slight satisfaction. What an idiot. This whole hassle could have been avoided if they had just listened to him in the first place. “Good bye. I expect them tomorrow in the administration office by ten o’clock in the morning, and if they’re not there, we’ll be having another, less congenial, chat.”

He was on the line with Liesel with an economical flick of his thumb.

“I’ll find the others within eight minutes, I am well aware of what time it is, and yes, I know exactly the number of times you have attempted to call me. Now Liesel, take your rantings elsewhere and if not, make it quick because it’s really quite beneath me to indulge you in your temper tantrums.” His expression was deadpan, practically bored, as he typed away on his keyboard, waiting for the woman to break the silence.

Her voice was diluted at first, just a muttering of, “Oh, you’re wearing the mask again, are you?” before rising to her usual level of force. “Damn it, Lucas, take the damn mask off and get to the subway this instant! You are at school of all places and that’s enough of a risk as it is! We can’t have you gallivanting around in the Emperor’s mask, do you hear m – ”

“Hear, yes. Listening, no. We’ll continue this in five minutes,” was Lucas’ clipped reply. He could still hear the scientist shouting as he ended the call and blocked the number as well, sending his completed work to the office assistant at the same time. Now all that was left to do was make his way to the buses and the mission could finally commence… or he could simply transform and reach the center that much more quickly. There wouldn’t be worry of traffic at the very least.

However, there was of course, that nagging sense that the right course of action was indeed to remove the mask now that the task was done. Lucas knew this… but he didn’t want to. Why on earth would he possibly want to remove the mask when it gave him so much power and, really, made him so much more competent? Really, he might as well just live with it on. It would be doing the world such a favor…

‘But I go through this every time.’ The thought served to act as a barrier, severing the newer personality away from his old conscience. ‘And it would be an outright stupid move to walk out wearing a carnival mask!’

So with that thought solid in his mind, Lucas managed to bring himself to reach up and pry the mask off his face. Several sensations came washing over him – a chill as if losing a protective embrace, relief that he had managed to win against the ‘weight of a gifted mask’ once more, and most prominently… utter horror at his words towards the terrifying woman that was Liesel Moringmer.

And yes, he was very late.

Cramming his mask into the inside pocket of his backpack – the webbed one usually saved for pencils – he fumbled with his laptop, managing to untangle the cords before throwing that in as well and taking off at a sprint. He almost ran right into Jeanne, who was outside the door with hand poised in the air in a knock. He called a hurried apology before skidding a turn down the stairs and out the front door. Passing the guard, he managed a smile and a wave before setting off campus. He wasn’t sure where the others were, but a quick glance at the greenhouse had assured him that they weren’t there.

Finally, however, something decided to go right for him. Down the street to the left, although they were a little far, he could make out two distant, familiar figures. Although slightly out of breath, he secured his bag over his shoulder and pressed onwards, calling out, “Vera, Amara, wait! Sorry – I got a little held up with… stuff.”

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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#, as written by Witless
Amy Calen; Throme


So... they were finally following the note, were they? It was about time, a month since they found it, right? Who would have thought that back then, Amy's first mission, moments after being "inducted" into the Masks, that Liesel would actually get something right? The others still appeared disillusioned, like it was all a stroke of luck, but Amy had high hopes, that everything would work out fine in the end. Liesel knew what she was doing, and the others were strong enough to support her! And the masks, they held real power, something she had never felt, something she was at once enticed by and fearful of trying. But why...

...the subway? Really? Not only a mass of people, fighting for tickets, for space, for anything, but it was underground! No hope of escape if anything went wrong, crushed by the bodies, the heat, the stench, even without... ugh! It's too much. Really, she couldn't go there. There was no way! People touching you, crammed into a tiny box, flying underground at who knows what speed, people rushing furiously on and off, no time, no space, no air, no, no... just people! All the people and nothing to do about it! How could others stand it? And she had more than enough money for a taxi ride, so couldn't they? There was a much simpler way to go about this, but Vera? She seemed to enjoy torturing her, watching for inadequacies at every turn. "The subway?" She managed to squeak out before Vera continued.

"You do have your mask with you, right? Or at the very least, you have your code phrase firmly in your brain?" The mask, right. She had the phrase, of course. It had been memorized a while back, though there had been no chance to use it until now. When you're not used to it.... Simple words, maybe too simple. At times, it was hard to avoid saying it on accident, but she had managed so far. To Vera, she nodded in assent, hoping it was registered before Vera continued on with her speech. Talks about the thrill of transforming, but Amy hadn't done that. She hadn't, right? "But... I haven't... umm..." Again, she was pushed by Vera's insistence, moving ever closer to the subway. No time to waste? To get on the subway? She shivered at the thought, and tried to stop Vera. "But... but... umm... the subway... it... umm... I can't!" It wasn't going to do anything, of that she was sure, but she wasn't sure what else she could do. "A taxi? I have... the money. We could get there? By taxi?"

From behind her, suddenly, "Vera, Amara, wait! Sorry – I got a little held up with… stuff." Lucas! Finally someone else to take the brunt of the attack! She turned to Vera, "Lucas is here! Umm, why don't we, umm, get his input?" She scampered toward Lucas, putting him between Vera and herself. "Hey, Lucas, um, we don't need to take the, subway, right? Umm... we could, a car, right, a taxi, something? Can you talk sense into Vera? The subway! Really! Think of all the people! She can't be serious? ...right?" Lucas would listen, right? He was on her side, there to help them? And it would be more direct, faster, better! It was to get there before Itex, so why not? "And it's... faster, the taxi," she mumbled as an afterthought.

Amy looked up at Lucas, glancing between him and Vera, a plea for help, for safety. Something had to be done, and they were there to do it. So they all had to be there. Lucas understood that, right? He wouldn't leave her behind just because Vera wanted the subway? Worse yet... drag her along? She'd... she'd... well, she had Lucas there to help out. So everything should work out just fine! Everything would work out.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer
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[Liesel’s portion was written by Cienpher.]
[Niv! You used my account!!!]
[Yes, yes, I got that... D: It was an accident okay! ... And it was a good post too. >.>]

Vera Chung | Thome


Caught in her own thoughts and the current of her relentless speech, the young sophomore missed the vast majority of whatever her companion was speaking about, except when they quieted slightly, just in time to catch the final pieces of her outburst. “A taxi? I have… the money. We could get there? By taxi?” The insistence of hers in taking a taxi bewildered Vera slightly, and she turned from her scanning of the road to stare at her. What was going on in her mind?

There was nothing questionable about taking a subway, right?

Her opinion immediately leaned towards the negative. Amara was most likely trying to show off her great affluence. Vera mentally rolled her eyes and her absolutely transparent attempt, and even then, the black-haired girl was certain that how much money the other could pull out of her wallet wouldn’t surprise her in the least. Valencia brats were always the same even if they changed their abode.

Thinking of this, she was lucky to catch a glimpse of a rapidly approaching person, whose brown hair and recognizable appearance made him their missing Student Council President. “Vera, Amara, wait! Sorry - I got a little held up with… stuff.” Her smile brightened extremely noticeably. Finally, just finally, he had caught up, and perhaps he would actually know what they were supposed to do.

Lucas is here! Umm, why don’t we, umm, get his input?” Vera had no idea what they needed his input on, but before she could say anything, the annoying brat had darted towards the junior. If she didn’t know anything, her companion seemed almost terrified. “Hey, Lucas, um, we don’t need to take the, subway, right? Umm… we could, a car, right, a taxi, something? Can you take sense into Vera? The subway! Really! Think of all the people! She can’t be serious?… right?

… ‘Talk sense into me?!’ … Wait, what?! That can’t be right.

Vera opened her mouth to interject her own opinions over the blabbering of the newbie, before, Amara continued in a near murmur. “And it’s… faster, the taxi. Vera ignored what seemed to be terror. It was just a mindless gushing of words from the other’s part, all because she evidently had no compassion for the environment or Vera’s own opinion. The optimistic sophomore’s eyes narrowed slightly, before stepping towards Lucas with an almost invisible scowl on her face.

“Lucas, I think that with this traffic, it’s better to use mass tra -.” Her voice was cut off when her jarring ringtone slowly emanated from her pocket. “Sorry, I’ll just take this call,” she murmured, the minute traces of anger leaking out of her tone. Rummaging around, she took out a glossy silver cell phone, before holding it up to her ear. After a few minutes pause while her phone did something high-tech, the electronic connected the call and emitted the oft-heard tone of Liesel. More precisely, an extremely irritated Liesel.

“Liesel?”

As always, the woman was in no mood for pleasantries. “Tell me the royal pain has finally decided to grace you with his presence, and if he’s there, tell him he better unblock my number or he’s dead.” Vera stared blankly at empty space, before her mind connected the two ideas together. The sheer idea that someone would be willing to block Liesel was akin to committing suicide. The royal pain would be a reference to…

Vera thought Amara, just because she was annoying, but Liesel hadn’t been particularly angry with her. Which left… Lucas. That was strange... He was always the one who was always listening to the irate woman, and had never provoked her before - not that she could remember, anyways.

“Yeah, he’s here,” the black-haired girl replied. “Do you want me to pass him the phone?”

The smoker answered in the negative, and Vera acceded, before hearing the telltale monotone beep that signified that the other party had hung up. “Lucas - it was Liesel,” she stated with a frown, arms on her hips. “She… seems to be upset with you, and really wants you to unblock her from your phone. Really? What were you thinking? She’s going to kill you and break stuff - and I just bought those teacups for the student council.”

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Lucas Toland | Throme


Now Lucas wasn’t exactly sure what had transpired between the two girls while he was stuck at school, but from what he could gather, it seemed to be at a stalemate… and he was expected to make the final choice. Taxi or the subway? Was it really such a big deal either way? Both girls of the Masked certainly seemed to think so, although he couldn’t for the life of him understand why. Still, Amara seemed almost frightened out of her wits, and that was concerning. He wanted to help, but at the same time… ‘That didn’t turn out so well with Kaden,’ he though sheepishly, scrabbling for anything that he could say to calm her down.

Unfortunately the boy didn’t have time to linger on the thought because he was distracted by Vera’s ringtone. Startled, he turned to her – why did he have a bad feeling about this?

Liesel?

Oh. That’s why. Even before Vera spoke, Lucas dropped his bag in a hurry, fumbling with both hands for his cell phone. Even from his distance, he could hear the frightening woman’s words, and he certainly didn’t miss the death threat tagged at the end. Why had he ever thought that using the mask was a good idea? Using the mask at school was never a good idea, no matter what the circumstances – he always ended up doing something monumentally stupid, embarrassing, or just plain offensive to everyone he cared about. Somehow, for some reason, he never seemed to learn this. It took him three tries to successfully unlock his phone in his rush before quickly unblocking the familiar number. His phone beeped mercilessly as countless missed notices flooded his screen. Wow. Liesel had a lot of free time…

He literally, visibly cringed when Vera asked if she ought to pass her own phone to him – that would have ended in bloodshed. Liesel would develop some means of science for the sheer purpose of murdering him over the phone. “It’s all that printer person’s fault,” he groaned under his breath, bringing his palm to his face. Internally he reminded himself, that no, no it wasn’t, it was no one’s fault but his own, but it was just overall such a bad day, that he didn’t want to take responsibility. In fact, deep down, he knew he did too much of that anyway.

By the time Vera was done with the call, Lucas was thoroughly more troubled than before. He hadn’t thought that possible at this stage. He heaved a sigh before answering, “Yeah, I know it was her, and I didn’t block her – well, technically it was me, but… I didn’t mean to!” He then lightly kicked his backpack on the sidewalk and added, “It was the… you know what I’m talking about.” His phone buzzed again, most likely with another murderous message to add onto the whole gigabyte’s worth.

“So, anyway, we need to get to the science labs, right?” he asked, changing the subject. He managed to hide his exasperation with a smile, but it was clear from the slump of his shoulders he didn’t quite have the same vigor from before. All the same, taking a few steps forward, he added, “I think there’s heavy traffic around this time of day on Main Street and Parker Avenue, so a subway trip might actually be better… uh, unless you’re say, uncomfortable with it, Amara.” He only realized belatedly that there had been more to the conflict than just subway vs. taxi. “Is there some kind of reason you want to take the taxi? I mean, it’s kind of a waste of money and all, too…”

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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#, as written by Witless
Amy Calen; Throme


What, so now Lucas was taking Vera's side? No reason? No REASON??? How could they not understand? The bodies, the heat, encroaching every instant, growing closer and closer together until you just can't breathe, packed into the train, moving who knows how fast, because of the people, the darkness, the ground, trapped, trapped, trapped! HOW COULD THEY STAND IT??? It made no sense. Perfectly logical, perfectly logical, and if they wouldn't listen to reason, she at least would.

Amy took an almost threatening step toward the already worrying Lucas, her fluster at Vera's onslaught forgotten for the moment. "How could you not see the logic here? It's right in front of your face! Sure, money, time, but... the people! Think of all that could go wrong!" She hmphed, glaring sullenly at Lucas, now the target of whatever anger had suddenly appeared. "If you won't... If you don't... If... I..." She put her head in her hands, turning away to think, of the possibilities, thoughts rushing past before she decided, a few seconds pass in thought.

The mask. She could take it and transform, either letting that new personality go and get her there or... was there some skill she could use? She was regretting taking the time to experiment with the mask. She had considered it once, even putting the mask on, bringing up the words (had she said it? no, she couldn't have; she'd remember), but nothing farther. She had no idea of the skills, the looks, and what if the transformed... being? was unnatural? What if it didn't fit in in society at all? She'd have an even worse time getting to the subway, and getting a taxi would be even harder. Assuming that were the case, she'd have to go by foot, attracting whatever notice came, with nothing to do to detract from the notice. There would be no good repercussions from Liesel after that... And Lucas was having a hard enough time as it was. So no, she couldn't transform. Or wear a brilliantly gleaming mask in broad daylight for no reason. An Itex member might see. So what did that leave her?

Well, she could take the subw- NO. How did that thought even enter her head? That was out of the question! Unless... could Lucas or Vera do something? Well, if so, probably only with their masks. So back to the first idea, as a no. Subway was out of the way. Good. Now, on to whatever's next?

That left... the taxi. Whether they came or not. There wasn't anything they could do to stop her and no blatantly obvious reason not to do it. Well, there was the traffic, but didn't they have time? They had some... probably. Most likely. There was no time on the letter, and the traffic would clear up. More likely than not, Itex worked covertly at night, after visiting hours, closing hours, whatever time there would be the least disturbances. So they had time to spare that she could use. So that was her decision.


Turning now to face the both of them (now they were arranged in a sort of obtuse triangle), Amy gave her ultimatum. "I'm taking a taxi. I have the money, so come with me or not. Take the subway if you want; I'll meet you there. Bye." By the last, most of the anger had disappeared from her voice, leaving a dispassionate, impersonal tone. She gave one last look, then turned and strode away, nearing an empty part of the street and waving for a taxi. There was no need to look back. What happened happened. She'd done what she had to, and now it was their turn. She'd see where she stood in this group. And whatever consequences came from it...

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Vera Chung | Throme


Images of shattered porcelain danced inside Vera’s mind eye. She actually really liked those cups in the first place, and also dreadfully missed having cups of tea during the meetings. There went her amazing plan - they were probably only little pieces by this time. Well, whatever, Lucas can buy them the next time because it was his fault. The student council president sighed before answering her question. “Yeah, I know it was her, and I didn’t block her,” Vera’s mind went blank as she tried to figure out how to connect these two pieces of information together. First, Liesel said she did, and then Lucas said he didn’t. “Well, technically it was me, but… I didn’t mean to! I was the… you what I’m talking about.” Oh! A spark of comprehension dawned on her. Lucas had been using his… Emperor’s mask during school and somehow hadn’t been caught. She rounded on him with her hands on her hips, but anyways, it really didn’t matter.

So, anyway, we need to get to the science labs, right?” The older boy smiled and took a few steps forward. “I think there’s heavy traffic around this time of day on Main Street and Parker Avenue, so a subway trip might actually be better…” Vera shot a grin at Amara - she knew that Lucas would’ve taken her side against the Valencia brat. And it was obvious why, too. Not only was the subway better all arond, but he must’ve also seen through the newb’s disguise and seen just how odd she really was. “uh, unless you’re say, uncomfortable with it, Amara. Is there some kind of reason you want to take the taxi? I mean it’s kind of a waste of money and all, too…

She knew that she could count on Lucas to realize her logic, and the lack of thinking on her part. Wasn’t it obvious from the beginning - everything pointed towards taking the subway. But Amara obviously wouldn’t understand anything anyways. The newb looked almost as though her life rested on being able to take the taxi. “How could you not see the logic here? It’s right in front of your face! Sure, money, time, but… the people!” … Well, it was obvious she was from Valencia here. People in Throme being threatening? Vera could’ve laughed had this conversation gone on longer than necessary. “Think of all that could go wrong!” ‘You mean like missing our stop because I fell asleep or that someone tries to sell you newspapers?’ Vera couldn’t stop that slightly catty thought, but refrained from saying anything.

Wow, she really was emotionally vested in this topic. Not that Vera wasn’t, but the newb looked… strange. “If you won’t… If you don’t… If… I…” Placing her head in her hands, the girl turned around her before doing some mockery of thinking. “I’m taking a taxi. I have the money,” Vera scoffed mentally, but gave no intention of her scorn on her face. “so come with me or not. Take the subway if you want; I’ll meet you there. Bye.

Blah, blah, blah. Vera really couldn’t care about what she had to say. Her tone didn’t make it any better - it sounded as though she was talking to a tree or something. The girl strode away and made an attempt to take the taxi, before Vera looked at Lucas with annoyance in her eyes. “Let her do whatever she wants. I’m going to take the subway.” She then shot Lucas a smile and a shrug. “I wonder what’s gotten into her. She’s been pushing taking the taxi for the last couple of minutes - it’s time that we could have used in a more productive manner.”

While Vera was quite upset that her voice sounded petulant, she turned and kept walking down the street with the assumption that Lucas would follow her. That much was a given - the subway was so much more important and helpful and great and… well, basically everything. That Valencia brat would have to deal with the consequences of her little fit. The subway station was just a few minutes away, and the black-haired girl merely stuck her hand in her pocket and felt the few argen that were rattling around there. Perfect. Just enough money to take the subway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen
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Lucas Toland | Throme


If someone asked Lucas exactly how long he stood at the bus stop, confused and speechless, he wouldn’t have had an answer. In fact, his only response would probably have been, “Too long,” – at least, that was how it seemed to him. He would, however, be able to elaborate on the things that ran through his head during the duration of time he stood there like the indecisive idiot he was.

‘Great. What do I do now?’ was his last coherent thought. The things that followed couldn’t quite be called coherent, and they were more a coalescence of feelings and impulse than anything even reminiscent of rational thought. He was torn between confusion and frustration, but his immediate and most prominent emotion was simply concern. Perhaps paranoia might have been the better word. Now Throme may have been one of the safer cities in the world, but that meant nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Especially with Itex around.

There was a reason they were supposed to travel as a group after all! Although they knew near nothing about the illusive organization, it was evident that Itex was powerful and deeply involved in the workings of the city. That was made abundantly clear when Mr. Torrings… passed away. He knew that, and the others should have known that too! It was clear that they didn’t because otherwise the girls wouldn’t have bickered and split up over… over transportation. The destination was the same place anyway!

… He just didn’t understand girls.

He sighed at the thought, kicking his bag. It scuffed across the sidewalk, hitting the metal pole that held up the universal bus sign. No, that wasn’t it – he just didn’t understand people in general. It was times like this that he missed Gage or Coraline. Either of them would have been able to prevent this situation. Either of them would have been so much more of an asset to this team. Always levelheaded, the former Jack was always ready for anything. The former Queen was a far more sensitive person than he ever was, and she always resolved conflict when it arose. This line of thought was depressing. “Why did you both have to leave?” Lucas muttered under his breath, before something caught his eye.

A large blue bus was coming down the road.

Immediately his hands flew for his cell phone – had it really been so long already? He’d been standing there long enough for the next bus to pull up? As if to prove that yes, he had, the bus ambled along the sidewalk before heaving itself to a stop by the sign and the boy. Lucas stared for a moment at the vehicle, wide-eyed, phone in one hand with the other tucked in his pocket… before reaching down and grabbing his bag. He’d wasted enough time thinking, reminiscing… whatever he was doing.

He claimed a seat near the back – fortunately the bus was empty enough that he had a free space next to him for his bag. However, unconsciously, Lucas tucked his bag into the corner, trying to keep it from sight. After all, due to his lack of good judgement before, he had something dangerous in that bag… No one could see him with that mask. His hand immediately reached for his throat, touching the cord that slipped under his shirt. He knew it was a risk to wear that stone around his neck as well… but that was the start of everything. He wasn’t willing to give it up.

He spent the first few minutes of the bus ride in silence, pondering, staring out the window. The city of Throme was deceptively peaceful. “It’s wearing its own mask,” he murmured with a wry smile. That was a terrible pun, but it was also true… and only those with masks themselves could see what lied beneath the cover of the city. And these thoughts brought him in a complete circle back to his initial thoughts.

Vera – the subway could be dangerous with all those people… but she was smart. Lucas probably didn’t have to worry, but that didn’t mean that he could stop. As for Amara with the taxis, it wouldn’t be the first time someone he knew was swindled out of their money…

Finally, he gave in and did something he probably should have done a long time ago.

He called Vera first, solely because she was closer to the top of his call log.

And now he waited.