[ISS] Speedball Fan (Ash, 2.4)

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Ashlee,
Three days have passed since Jace's arm was broken. He returned to class this morning, as did Olivar. Tabitha, however, is still in iso. Instructor Malcolm has been teaching a much stricter class agenda, reading from texts and quizzes, no class projects, no open discussion. There's a harried look in his eyes, and he's called for frequent breaks.

It's "afternoon" now. You were excused from class by Corporal Rys so you could attend Team Power's practice in Pod Eight. Did you ask him nicely or argue for it? The Hawks have a "friendly", a practice scrimmage, scheduled later today with Power. Anything you can dig up from watching Power practice could help the Hawks have a chance.

Power's practice gym is bigger, better equipped, cleaner... pretty much everything is a step above. It reminds you of official courts you might see on the Feed, minor league stuff, but still, nice. Ezekiel is leading the team on some advanced gravity drills, with Gen Yu moving through them with her usual grace. Gams barely keeps up, but she does. Pellit is fine, nothing flashy like Gen, but economical. Which one of them is most suspicious of you "just being a fan", Ashlee?

Who did you hang out with after class last night? How did that go?

Where are you seated in the arena?

Comments

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    Three days seems long. The uncomfortable "truce" I'm sharing with Nadja... the awkward situation with Mark and teetering around the edge of being actually involved in the game. Lucas... and whatever that was. Not to mention Corporal Rys, who continues to linger under my mental push, but who I still don't trust.

    I was nervous asking the corporal to release me from class for a few hours to attend team power practice, but once I got the words out he pretty much agreed immediately. He said he was pleased to see me getting involved with my classmates. What does he know?

    I hung out with Mi Sun, of all people... I was trying to reach to her mind... not something I'm good at but I can feel it a little. So I was sitting in the hall with my back to her wall pretending to mess with my navi... eyes closed and reaching. But she must have felt it and she just opened the door and asked me to come in.

    Thing is, we didn't really talk... just spent a couple hours sitting together. It was odd, and strangely intense. We chatted a little about before... when we were almost friends. About a couple of kids we used to know and where they might be today... probably don't want to think about that too much. But it was mostly silence.

    I wondered after if she was trying to read me? I hope I'm as hard to read as I think because... well... yeah. I don't want her to know. That would be bad, right?

    ---

    Team Powers gym is great! Ours is kind of lame, really, by strict comparison. But to me it's really the whole speedball thing. And they're equal there. I don't care where the match takes place, it's the winning and losing, the all out effort... the courage...

    I shake my head and remind myself to stop daydreaming and concentrate on their practice. Gen Yu is ferocious, you can see in how she moves, even in drill. She plays like I'm not even here... all in the game. But Ezekial notices me... too much. Every time I take take a moment to take notes when I think nobody's watching I look up to find him watching me. I've been trying to figure out their playbook, more or less... their signs. But he hasn't made it easy the way he keeps watching. He's suspicious... and complicated.

    I sat in back at first, hoping nobody would notice. But once it was obvious that they saw me I moved forward... being a little bold here (for me) and getting a closer look.

    I gotta figure this out.
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    Ashlee,

    Let's see what you've noticed about them, Ashlee. Watching their skills and their artistry is like Gazing into the Abyss. Why don't you roll that and we'll see what you learn?
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    Ashlee,

    Your Navi glows and buzzes with an incoming message.


    Thanks, superscout :smile:
    U're on list as "team assistant" for Power game,
    let me know if u think of better job title.

    Mark
    x
  • Ashlee
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 6, 4. Total: 11)
  • Ashlee
    Gaze into the abyss (11)
    xp(5)

    My choices: Granted this is scouting The team, but some mental weirdness may be involved.
    - The visions are lucid and detailed
    - The visions show you what you must know
  • edited April 2016
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    I watch team Power carefully, all while pretending to just watch... maybe they'll believe I have a crush on someone. If someone asks that's an easy enough thing, right? But it's getting harder to hide my grin as I start to notice their faults.

    Marks message buzzes in while I watch and reminds me of this stupid mental truce I'm playing with myself. The last few days Mark has been all yippy-skippy to see me, telling me I'm a big help and how he wants me on the team... does he really? Does he remember that when Zola challenged me I actually lost?

    I tap-tap out a reply to Mark while Power takes a water break at the sides:
    No team is bulletproof. I'll find the cracks.
    I stare at that 'x' in his message, and wonder what it implies for a few moments before hitting send. But the team is back on the court and I'm all eyes for Ezekial.
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    Ashlee,

    Watching their drills, as smooth as they are, you see some holes. Their drills hone their athleticism, their skills are refined for upper-level play. You see Gen Yu and Ezekiel's coordination, Pellit's throws, Gams ability to clear the goal. They move in rhythm, and they are tuned for the game when played as an art.

    They are open to direct attacks. Their bench is nearly as good as the Hawks on an individual level, but much less refined, more raw. Take out a couple starters and the teams are move evenly matched.

    If you can communicate with the Hawks and give them direction, you can give them a +1 Ongoing with Lock Down plays. If they take advantage of your help, they roll, and you choose options if you want.

    Practice is nearly over by the time things finally unlock for you. Do you try to get out before they head for the showers, or wait until they leave the court, and go then?
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    Oh how my eyes must light up as I begin to imagine the plan. My body sways slightly to one risen then the other as I mimic Power's moves in my head.

    Gotcha, Ezekial! I close up my navi and listen to their banter as they wrap up.

    I take off as soon as they get off the court, no need to hang around and look even more suspicious.

    Back to our pod.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    Why don't you Run Away here?
  • Ashlee
    Running away from team power. +2 (Volatile)
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 4, 2. Total: 8)
    xp(1)
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    Ashlee,

    On a 7-9 Choose 1:
    - You run into something worse
    - You cause a big scene
    - You leave something behind
  • Ashlee
    - You run into something worse
  • image

    Ashlee,

    As Gen Yu watches you closely, you scoot off the bleachers, walk towards the door. You think Gen Yu calls after you, but it's best to keep moving, and the scrimmage is today, there's no need to keep up pretenses anymore.

    You walk down the clean, well-lit corridors of Pod Eight, towards the junction to your pod, you pass by someone dressed in a corporal's uniform. It's Corporal Eff.

    Corporal_Eff "Hello there. Ashlee Rai." she says as she moves up to you. "What exactly are you up to? Out of your pod. During school hours. That's some serious demerits. I think you're in some serious trouble." She has a stun stick at her belt and she moves with the sure grace of someone trained for combat.

    What do you do?
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    I slip away from practice, pretending not to hear Gen Yu. I have what I came for and we'll at least have a chance. At least I can be of use to the team... at least.

    I keep eyes down and try to just scoot past her but not going to happen and Eff cuts me off. I almost panic, but manage to crow out my excuse and not sound too flustered, "by permission of Corporal Rys... ask him. Ask him yourself!"

    I smile and stand politely with hands at my sides, my head nodding a tiny little encouraging nod.
  • edited April 2016
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    Ashlee,

    image She does move into your way, but she doesn't shove you back or handle you at all, just moves to intersect. When you offer Rys' permission she holds up a hand like "one minute", then pulls her Navi to send him a priority coded message, a few taps and then she looks back at you once she's sent it. "You're scrawnier than I expected. All those tests took it out of you, and you never got it back, hunh?"
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    I fidget nervously while she works the navi, the few seconds seem long. I try to keep calm and appear obedient as she probably expects, casting my glare at the floor by her feet instead of through her as she deserves.

    But then she takes that jab at me... and what sounds like a threat.

    "Wha.... what are you talking about?" the hell does she even know? Tests? This can't be... nobody knows about my time in the E.P.P. lab, right? Wait... Rys made some comment, too... coincidence?

    I grit my teeth and struggle to keep it cool and add, "...corporal."

    I hate that word.
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    Ashlee,

    image "That's right, Corporal, you little guinea." She stashes her Navi and pulls her stun stick out and taps you in the belly with it. It isn't on, but that's quite a threat. "When was the last time you got a checkup, guinea? Looks like it's been a while. You need to get a checkup."
    She eyes you, waiting for you to cow under her baleful gaze.

    Why don't you Hold Steady here and tell me what's the worst thing that could happen?
  • Ashlee:
    Rolling to hold steady: (Cold-1)
    (Rolled: 2d6-1. Rolls: 5, 1. Total: 5)
    Worst thing that could happen would be getting assaulted or detained here in the wrong pod away from everything familiar. I would say it's having my actual identity exposed by being forced into the medical system, but... seems like that's not really a thing, or is it? I'm not sure.
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    Ashlee,

    image She pokes you again in the tummy, "C'mon, guinea. Let's go see the doc, get you logged. You've been flagged for out of compliance." She gestures with her head for the corridor that leads to the Med Bay. She'll stun you if you resist, you know she's looking for it.
    Once you go in there, they'll run tests and all of them will know what you are, what you really are.

    What do you do?
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    Guinea? Yeah... that know tightens in my chest and it's clear that my secret isn't nearly as secret as I hoped. How much do you know?

    My hands tremble and I know there's no way I can just go along with this. It takes all my concentration not to lash out at her, to keep that feeling inside.

    "I don't think you understand.... corporal..." my voice tightens to a pleading whisper, "I'm here with permission..."

    I nod a little hopeful nod again, like... do you really want to do this? If she knows... (what does she know?) then doesn't she know not to drokk with me?
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    Ashlee,

    Sadly, you don't have any leverage to Manipulate Eff here. Nothing she wants.

    image "Uh huh, permission. To go to Pod Eight. You did. Now, you're leaving Pod Eight," Corporal Eff says as she clicks the button to bring the stun stick to life. It hums with an electric charge. "And I'm escorting your scrawny self to the Med Bay for a check-up. You. Are out. Of compliance. Guinea." She waves the stick in your face, little blue electric bolts arc off of it.
    "That's my second request. There won't be a third. Now, do you walk, or do I have to carry you there?"

    What do you do?
  • edited April 2016
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    That word again... I'm not even a person to you am I?

    Something tightens to a point and snaps inside me, the same look on her face as those technicians and so-called doctors. I'm a subject, a thing... an animal at best. There's no way I go to medical... no way. I've avoided it for years now, skipped checkups, made excuses... I'm not even sure I'm in the proper database. I haven't had an annual well... ever... doctors are poison.

    Just like corporals.

    I look at her face and slowly raise my hands, looking like I'm giving in but I just need the moment to find a crack and crawl inside her head. Eff seems harder than Rys, she's smart and sharp where he's dull and plodding... she's wary where he thought he had everything handled...

    "Ok... ok... corporal. Have it your way..." I say in a conciliatory tone that comes off maybe a little too mocking... I'm not too skilled an actor after all.

    Trying to get in her head and find my way out... a weakness... want to use Scanners on her. If I can find the moment that I need.
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    Ashlee,

    Roll Dark to invade her mind. Let's see how it goes.

  • Ashlee:
    Scanners: Dark+1
    (Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 5. Total: 9)
    xp(2)
  • edited April 2016
    Ashlee:
    I take a string on Eff and choose that we each take harm. I think mind reading isn't Ashlee's strength and she lacks finesse sometimes, especially in a desperate moment like this. It backlashes at us both.

    Going to spend that string and exploit that moment of pain and distraction, spend my string and make her hesitate.... and try to escape.
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    Ashlee,

    You pierce into her mind, tearing past her will into the core of her essence. Inside, you feel her disdain for you, her contempt, her revulsion.

    This multiplies and rebounds back into your own mind and for a moment, you're deaf and seeing spots. Eff is, too, and you recover first, scampering away, heading through the lock into the in-between section that connects several pods and then into your Pod again. Eff doesn't follow

    Where are you headed?
  • edited April 2016
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    It hurts like hell... what she thinks of me, all those things, revulsion, contempt... yeah? Do you think I wanted to be this? I cry silently into her brain and my own fear and self-doubt crash against her hatred.

    I stagger, fall to a knee as the backlash rebounds and stuns both of us... but I've felt this before and although it's unbearable, I know it... I've trained to withstand this torment and I find my feet first and run.

    I run with panicked determination, dodging around corners as if she must only be steps behind. I'm nothing if not quick and all I need to do right now is escape.

    Only once in the quiet nowhere between pods do I dare slow to catch my breath and listen for her footfalls in pursuit... none. I hiss through my teeth, though... it's not like she won't remember this. Probably her head will hurt, she won't know exactly what happened, but she'll remember stopping me... and that I ran.

    - - -

    I rub at my temples and again find my feet. Where do I go?

    Chances are I'm going to be locked in iso or worse... how can I possibly avoid it now? My stomach churns and my throat feels tight. Every moment is borrowed now, isn't it? And what really hurts is there's nobody to miss me.

    I hate Mark. I hate him and how he doesn't even know how he's hurt me. I hate him... but I still relish his praise. Just like I hate Nadja still... those moments when we get along... it's like pretending to be something more than someone like Eff can see in me... and maybe it's all I can hope for.

    At least I can tell them what I've learned... Tabitha's probably still in iso... so again... I have to find Mark.

    Maybe he'll say something nice.
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    Ashlee,

    Walking down the corridors past the dorms towards Mark's room, you pass by Mi Sun, who's standing in the hall.

    image "Hey," Mi Sun says low as you come near. "Jace said you were scoping Power... but you look like," she peers at you. "Something happened? What's up, you hurt?" She's trying to pull you into her room, not roughly, more like concerned maybe?

    What do you do?
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    I'm so frazzled by what happened that I barely notice her talking at first and I almost walk past until she touches me. My head pounds and I don't even notice the blood down the right side of my chin and the bloody drops on my shirt.

    "Wha?" I pull my arm back with a yelp, startled, "I... I... uh..."

    My heart races and that feeling of doom hovers over me. A friendly voice, though... not what I expect and that sort of snaps me out of it.

    "I'm... I'm all right. Really." I look at her. Stop and my demeanor softens, just a touch.

    Something makes me ask, "are you all right?"
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    Ashlee,

    image She tilts her head to the side, her pink hair hanging over her eyes for a second before she does that subtle head shake to have it slide away. "What? Yeah. Worried about Jace, but then you were gone all afternoon, and so I wondered what stomm Rys had you up to. You look like hell, Ashlee." She tries again to pull you into her room, "Come on, let me get you washed off at least. The speedball practice is coming up."
  • edited April 2016
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    I relent, and follow her in. "Okay... oh yeah..."

    As we enter her room I can't help but check the halls behind like someone must be lurking out there watching. Surprised to find there's none... but I'm not thinking totally straight.

    "Speedball? Uh, is cl... class over?" How long has it been? I thought... "I'm fine, what do you mean, washed up?"

    I try to smile like, casually. But it probably comes across a little unsettled... far from casual thoughts race through my mind.

    "What... what makes you think I'm doing something for Rys?" Not an accusation, but I didn't know it was common knowledge.
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    Ashlee,

    Unlike everyone else's bunks, Mi Sun and Jace have moved theirs to make an L against two walls, with the heads of their beds close to each other.

    image Mi Sun closes her door, heads for the bathroom. You hear water running as she answers, "I don't know, had a feeling he at least knew about it? Something. Anyway, yeah, you missed all afternoon, which was mostly stomm, waiting for Malcolm to come back from an extended lunch. Rys took the speedball team, including Jace. I think they got Tabtitha out of iso. Maybe. I'm going to the scrimmage. I'm curious."
  • edited April 2016
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    Once the door is shut I feel a little more secure. The room is quiet... the beds arranged just so and I can't help but feel like the room seems a little bit lonely.

    "Tabitha? Really?" I actually smile a bit, that's surprising. I hear Mi Sun in the bathroom running water for me and this feels oddly familiar. I call after her, "we could go check it out together..." I realize I'd feel a lot safer not walking to the court alone. "Nothing else going on, right?"
  • edited April 2016
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    Ashlee,

    image Mi Sun comes back out with a washcloth and moves over to gently dab at your forehead, "Sure, that works." You see red on the cloth, bright red streaks in the damp yellow thing. "What were you doing, anyways, and what happened to you? Someone after you? Lucas do this?"
    Her tone sounds concerned, if not worried.

    What do you do?
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    Blood?
    "Oh stomm, really?" I reach up to touch my face, feel the blood as she washed it off. At least the bleeding has stopped, though my head still feels full of cracks.

    She asks about Lucas, "Luc... oh, no... stomm no. Lucas didn't..."

    I try to laugh it off but she's actually paying attention isn't she? It's so obviously something wrong.

    "I uh... you know. The corporals have some... stupid problem with me... it's not a big deal, ok? I just hafta live with it."

    Sort of true, right? Though living with it may be... impossible now.
  • edited April 2016
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    Ashlee,

    image Mi Sun doesn't say anything while you're talking, she busies herself with cleaning off your face. She's gentle with you, looking closely at your face. Once she's satisfied that you're cleaned off, she tosses the dirty cloth onto her desk and reaches her hands to either side of your face. "Ashlee." she says your name calmly. "Tell me why they give a stomm about you. What are you hiding? I... I can help."
  • edited April 2016
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    I'm probably trembling as she tends to me. Trying to be casual, trying to be normal and well.. nice. Trying... I'm not great at it.

    Surprises me again with the sudden, but gentle touch on my face. It doesn't even hurt.

    "Hiding?" Is it that obvious... she's sensitive, I'm pretty sure of it. I wonder if she can feel something in me. Probably without a clue what it means.

    I hesitate a few long moments and avoid her eyes, but she's holding me and making me engage... I decide to give her... something. Not everything... something.

    "Everyone thinks I'm just... some nerd... right? Truth is I grew up kind of alone... way more alone than all the rest of you. It sucked... and I don't fit in... even when I try... I... I don't think I can..." I briefly look at her eyes, then sigh and glance at the bloody cloth on her desk, "and... I don't like being told what to do."

    Those words mean a lot.. the closest I can admit to the truth. For now... I tighten my lips for a moment and glance up at her eyes again, hold my breath and wonder what she'll say.
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    Ashlee,

    image Mi Sun frowns a little at your admission, moves over to pick up the cloth, take it into the bathroom and fill the sink so she can soak it a little. She walks back in, sits against the desk. "I was never alone, Ashlee. And I loved it. Jace and I grew up with our parents, and everything was wonderful. Then the plague happened, but I still had Jace." She takes a small breath, exhales. "Then, I told him I was born a girl, but the biology drokked it up. He supported me. He did. Nobody would tell you otherwise. But ever since... he's been distant. And I don't know if he's secretly mad at me or if he doesn't understand, or if... maybe he feels like I was lying to him my whole life."
    Mi Sun folds her arms under her breasts and quirks a frown. Stands there for a few moments, saying nothing. "We enter each other's dreams sometimes." She says it like she's sharing a secret.
  • edited April 2016
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    I smile a little bittersweet smile at her memories of growing up with her brother and her parents. I... knew she was different but I didn't really think about how... hearing her just lay it out like that feels pretty brave?

    "I had... have a brother. If he's still alive... he stuck with me when nobody else even cared.... way past..." Why am I talking about my brother? It's years since I've seen him. Just not part of my reality any more. "There's a connection... more than any friend... more than a mom or dad. Brothers are like that... and for what it's worth I don't think you lied.

    But then that last bit... yeah thats something. I answer also in a hushed, secretive tone, "Does it... just happen? The dreaming? Or... is it something you have todo?."

    Maybe growing up in a lab makes one curious... ask questions.
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    Ashlee,

    image Mi Sun blinks with surprise, "You have a brother? Or, well... maybe had. I had no idea. Is he your age? Would he be... on this side?" She falters a little at the questions, worried about the answers and what they mean.

    But you move onto the dream and she perks up again, "At first, it was just an accident. But then, we studied what was happened when one of us entered the other's dreams. We got pretty good at it, too. I could pull him in, he could come in and wake me up, sort of. You know, tell me it's a dream. And then we could take over. Better than any VR, ever." She pauses, chews on the inside of her bottom lip for a second, a tic. "He hasn't come in since the... the operation."
  • edited April 2016
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    "Mason is older... I guess he'd be twenty-six or so today... if he's still..." hurts to think about. I quiet down to listen to her talk about dreams.

    She mentions how her brother won't come into her dreams any more:

    "Maybe he's afraid..." I sort of crow out without thinking. It just pops into my head. I turn slightly red-faced, like I've said something wrong. I stare down around the level of her knees, "that he might be... different, too."

    I inhale through my teeth and glance up at her. Hope I haven't said something stupid that will make her hate me too, now.
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image That suggestion makes Mi Sun shift uncomfortably. "What? No... I know he's gay, Ashlee. Everyone does. And I'm not a fan of Olivar, but whatever. He's not Rys, at least." She looks at you suddenly, holding up a hand, "No offense. You get you yours."
    She crosses her arms again, pondering, "What could be different about him? Can you... find out?"
  • edited April 2016
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    She leaves me staring. That comment about Rys has me a little stunned, what, has everyone heard about this?

    "It's n... not... like that!" My cheeks feel hot as I deny it, there's no way I actually like Corporal Rys. Seriously.

    But she asks me for a favor... nobody asks me for favors.

    "But I barely know your brother, Mi Sun..." I suppose I could find out... but that's risky. Seriously risky. But... but to have someone confide in me, ask me for a heartfelt favor like this... it feels good.

    I nod slightly, look at her earnestly, "I... you know I'm not great at talking to people... but I'll try... ok?"
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    Ashlee,

    image She sighs, accepting your answer. "Zeng. I know you're not great at talking to people, but I think you read them pretty well. You get them, maybe because you're looking in from the outside, you know?" She pushes herself off the desk and walks closer to you, you're not sure why. "What do you want in trade? What do you... I dunno, what do you need, Ashlee?"
  • image
    A compliment, even a little one, makes me feel warm inside. And it feels like she means it.

    She walks closer and asks, "what? Oh... no I don't need anything, Mi Sun. I just... just... want to help."

    It feels awkward all of a sudden and now I'm looking up at her. I fumble for something to say and tentatively ask, "uhh... do you think you could try that dream.... thing with me? Sometime?"
  • image

    Ashlee,

    image It's Mi Sun's turn to hesitate when you ask about dreams. She makes a face, a twist of her lips, "I'm not sure it will... work. See, Jace tried to get into, ah, Olivar's dreams. Came up nothing. I might have tried myself, not on you, ok. But it's..." She thinks for a second, then asks with quick words, "Maybe it's proximity? Would you, I dunno, crash with me one night? No offense, but there's no damn way I'm sleeping in the same room as Nadja."
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    I start to answer, "It's gotta be worth a try," then she gets excited and asks about spending a night in her room. And yeah, I have to agree on Nadja, I know where she's coming from on that one.

    "I'm totally ok with that! It'd be nice to get outta the house... for a night. I could use a break from..." the pained smirk on my face says Nadja "from that."
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    Ashlee,

    image "Great, so what about tonight?" Mi Sun asks with a hopeful tone in her voice. "Jace won't bother you, I promise. Plus, it's not like he's into girls, so you're safe. Cool?" She heads over to sit on her bed, then looks up at you, eager for your response.


    What do you do?
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    Surprised. Very.
    "Uh.... well," I can't really think of a reason why not. It's not exactly allowed, but since when do I have to respect their rules. May be worth doing just 'cause.

    "Okay... yeah. Let's do it!" I feel excited, and a touch of secret dread at the idea of spending the night with someone... new. And maybe... I'll be lucky enough to avoid some kind of consequences by avoiding my room tonight.

    I'm still sure, deep inside, that my time must be limited. The corporals aren't going to let this slide, right? I can only hope that Rys is more influential than I think.

    "It'll be fun..."
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    End Scene
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