The Miskatonic University School of Ancient Sciences (Game Thread)

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~Shaun~

Shaun was perfectly content to follow behind the teachers assistant, Gibbons, along with his fellow roommates. The campus was certainly interesting enough, but if he was really honest, he would rather discover most of it on his own. After all, he was used to fending for himself when at all possible. But it was when Henrietta made a suggestion that he had to smile mischievously.

"Right... I think the next thing is a department presentation in the College of Science building. Or we could skip it and just go hang out in Garden. Assuming The Professor here is willing to let us get away with it.".

He spared a glance at Gibbons before he gave Alex a sidelong glance at his response.

"Sounds more interesting to me. Think I'll go do that, instead. Anyone care to join me? We can even show off and such.".

With a soft snort, Shaun grinned and nodded. "I like that plan. What do you think, Dex? Should we join our comrade in his revelry?", he asked, motioning with a duffel-laden hand to their departing roommate.

"I like that plan. What do you think, Dex? Should we join our comrade in his revelry?"

Dexter smirked, "I would love to see Mr. Alex have some actual fun, yes. Should be amusing indeed."

Dexter took up his bag and prepared to follow Alex.

Right after Jessie were told the other people's names, someone started speaking about Henrietta. Actually, it turned into a sort of a competition almost, even when someone was eagerly whispering, it was clear what it was about. Two guys passing by also seemed to talk about her, since others reacted to that. Jessie didn't really hear what was said, and he decided not to speak.

I guess that's how it is being a girl in college. Every guy seems to just want to shag her, must be harsh. At least I prefer to have friends, rather than suitors.

It was almost sort of selfish of the boys to show up, and suddenly show such interest already. They could at least have pretended it was because of her personality. And she didn't seem to revel in that attention either, she seemed a bit crept out, actually. And it wasn't that they just wanted to have sex with her, or even meant to act like that. Jessie was sure they were nice guys all of them, but some people seemed unable to befriend girls without wanting them.

I do hope it didn't seem as if I was trying to hit on her.

Nah, he had spoken to everyone, and it should be obvious that he had spoken up because there was a crowd, not because Henrietta happened to be a girl, one that had an appeal of sorts, if fairly a unusual one. She spoke.

"I think the next thing is a department presentation in the College of Science building... Or we could skip it and just go hang out in Garden."

I don't really have a choice... if I don't provide an explanation of it to Mr. "I need to know absolutely everything all the time!", he's going to get annoyed again. Just in case there might be info there he haven't already checked out. Besides, I want to meet others too. Although it would be sort of nice if I didn't have to go alone...

Jessie shrugged. "I'll be heading for the presentation." Skipping the first possible thing to go to would only bring bad habits. Jessie looked over at the others, especially Teddy. "Anyone else? It might be a good idea to show up, in case there's information you'll only get there."

If he had to go alone, so be it.

~Shaun~

Dexter gave his reply with a smirk, causing Shaun to give him one in turn.

"I would love to see Mr. Alex have some actual fun, yes. Should be amusing indeed.".

"Its settled then!", he said cheerfully.

Then he turned to Henrietta and smiled, offering an arm. "Well, milady? It was your suggestion after all, it's only right to follow through.", he told her in his best attempt to be charming.

"And of course, everyone else is welcome to join us.", he added with a glance to the five others.

He imagined the teachers assistant, Gibbons, would probably do just about anything to get away from orientation, since he hardly seemed enthusiastic about it. As for the others, well, he supposed they would likely be just as willing as he to get away from something they could probably figure out on their own time wandering the campus.

"I'll be heading for the presentation. Anyone else? It might be a good idea to show up, in case there's information you'll only get there."

At that, Shaun just shrugged. "Up to you. You should know where to find us, if you want to join in.", he said easily.

"Anyone else? It might be a good idea to show up, in case there's information you'll only get there."

"Yeah I think I'll go there first, wouldn't want to miss out on important details," Teddy said, he was tempted to go to the garden, but far more curious about what sort of information about this odd place might be revealed at the presentation. "I'm sure it won't take too long though, we can meet up with you guys later," he added after a moment, then turned to follow Jessie.

As some of them spoke he noticed an odd movement from Alex's shadow, his instincts told him it was no trick of the light, curious, I wonder how that works... some sort of light manipulation perhaps? Or maybe its a collection of dark colored organisms bonded to him... heh or maybe it got torn off and stitched back on wrong and we can all fly by thinking happy thoughts. It was certainly something worth looking into, although he wasn't sure how he would ask about it, from the way they were talking it seemed the others might know about the animate shadow already, though he wasn't sure.

Ephraim looked over each one of the gathered students in turn, making note of the strange energies about them, unlike Teddy he had witnessed the demonstration of fire and shadow, though neither concerned him greatly. The others were still unknown though, it was possible that if they possessed some magic it might be able to interfere with his plan, he would have to be careful. Not much posed a threat to him, but he was not yet ready to proceed, and revealing himself too soon could prove disastrous, as it had before.

Gibbons was lost in thought again. Nothing specific, just struggling to remember who claimed to have what powers and trying to work out how they might interact with the orb... if at all.

That's when he overheard some of the undergrads talking about ditching the orientation. That didn't really bother him all that much. He knew full well it was a useless waste of time, however... the quiet one, Jessie... well... at least he seemed to be keeping his mouth shut through most of this. Hmm... talk with him first... or wait until orientation?

"Okay everyone," he called out to the group as he turned to face them, "I know its tempting to just skip orientation. And to be honest, I would to if I weren't bound by contract to be there. They aren't going to give you any information that will be at all useful to you. All they're going to do is say 'hi', introduce some of the heavy hitters in the faculty, and scare all of you into studying harder by showering you with shitty statistics. I, however, will give you some practical advice about this place. First of all, there is a laundry-room in the basement of our building, and in the basement of every house, really. You'll need your student ids to use them... you have to add 'Misky Dollars' to them in order for it to work. Think of it as a less convenient credit card that you have to charge up with whatever money you do have. A limited credit card that only works on campus... and maybe, if you're lucky, a few select businesses near good old Miskatonic."

He paused to take a deep breath.

"I don't care how much privacy you think you'll get there, don't have your 'funtimes' in the laundry-room or the bathrooms. Other people have to use those, you know. Also... don't stay in the main library after midnight for any reason whatsoever. The last student that did that well... we haven't seen them since. I'm kidding! Just kidding! But seriously, don't stay in the library too late or they'll lock you in. Lastly, there is at least one kitchen on every floor in our building. I strongly recommend that you all cook your own meals... the food here... well... 'terrible' would be too generous. 'Hazardous Materials' would be a bit closer."

He chuckled a little, but didn't smile.

"Lastly... whatever you do... do not, I repeat, do not talk to, approach, smell, taste, inhale, look at funny, or indeed, interact or acknowledge the presence of Groundskeeper Jenkins. He's the one in the brown coat in the background. Always in the background. Just... don't admit he's there, okay? Its for your own safety."

And if you ever want to get a good night's rest ever again.

"Yeah I think I'll go there first, wouldn't want to miss out on important details.I'm sure it won't take too long though, we can meet up with you guys later."

"Yeah, we probably can... although, I might have to head back to my room before it gets dark... I sorta have a lot to do..." He thought about it, he had to type up a lot of information, especially since he had just gotten there.

I think the other Jessie could have had the decency to give me a day to relax, though. But I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Experience tells me I barely have to this night.

In the meanwhile, the Professo--- Mr. Gibbons provided them with partly helpful, and partly plainly creepy information, especially about this Jenkins guy. Of course, being told not to interact with a person, made Jessie more curious, and creepy had never been a problem for him. He nodded.

"Yes, okay. Thanks," he smiled, before adding. "I do think I will still go to the orientation, though. As I said, I might meet new people. Right, Teddy?" Before the other got the time to answer, Jessie had dragged him along. When they were a short while away, he spoke to his roommate, as they kept walking to the orientation. Hopefully, they wouldn't just be wasting their time by going to it, like Gibbons had told them they would..

"Do you think the thing about that Jenkins was true? Isn't that curious, in that case? I sort of want to speak to him now..."

~Shaun~

When Gibbons noticed that they were planning on simply ditching orientation, his response made Shaun feel some newfound respect for the man: He clearly wanted nothing to do with it, but he had to follow through, and if nothing else, he was going to be the one source of some practical information for newcomers. That alone more than made up for his introduction earlier. The fact that he acknowledged orientation as utter bullshit added to that, and made Shaun break into a full grin.

"Thanks for that, Gibbons. Once you get done, you're more than welcome to join us. Since you seem to know the campus better than we do, you should know where we'd be.", he said, smiling and nodding to him.

Then he looked between Dexter and Henrietta. "Well? Shall we?", he prompted, before he turned and started to follow after Alex.

It didn't take him long to catch up. When he did, he smirked just slightly. "Turns out even Gibbons feels that orientation is a waste of time. Though, he did manage to impart some wisdom for newcomers. So, what were you planning on doing to show off?", he asked, quirking a brow as he glanced down at Alex's currently inert shadow.

So, what were you planning on doing to show off?" said another of the students, whose name escaped Gibbons at the moment.

"The only thing I'll say in favor of the orientation is this: its a good opportunity to meet some of the professors before the real start of term; make an early first impression. That sort of thing. That makes it utterly useless for me of course... since I already met them during my interview process for this job. But... for undergrads like yourselves... well... up to you really." he explained, starting to turn away from the group, "That said... I certainly wouldn't mind not being the only person from our floor to turn up at this... 'shindig' as some of the older professors would call it. Eh."

Gibbons gave up on leading the group to orientation and started walking at a brisk pace towards it. Get this useless waste of time out of the way I guess.

"Do you think the thing about that Jenkins was true? Isn't that curious, in that case? I sort of want to speak to him now..."

Teddy soon pulled himself into walking alongside Jessie rather than being dragged, and shrugged. He glanced back over his shoulder, it seemed that for all that Gibbons had said about how pointless the orientation was he had decided to head to it anyways, I'm not sure even he knows why he does anything...

Turning back to Jessie he spoke "I doubt it, Gibbons seems like the kinda guy to make up lame jokes like that all the time," he said, then grinned "I kinda want to speak to Jenkins too now though, if he even exists that is."

While he was skeptical of Gibbons, Teddy wouldn't deny that he was easily fascinated by things that other people found creepy, so someone like Jenkins that others spread whispered rumors about was often the sort of person he would love to strike up a conversation with.

"I doubt it, Gibbons seems like the kinda guy to make up lame jokes like that all the time."

That's sorta true... He struck me as being a bit of a jerk too.

Jessie didn't want to say anything bad out loud, it might just be the man was as socially awkward as he seemed to be, or even more. Teddy grinned, wanting to say something more.

"I kinda want to speak to Jenkins too now though, if he even exists that is."

"Why not check it out later, then? Sounds like a mystery," Jessie suggested. "Of course, we might encounter a lot more interesting people around here, it's far from a normal school." He then noticed something that had been hanging in the air for a while. Jessie had a hard time putting his finger on it, but there was something... it took some consideration before he decided to speak up.

"Say, have you been feeling a bit odd for a while?" he asked. "Sorta like... I don't know, someone's keeping an eye on us?" His voice bore a bit of a serious tone as he spoke. Jessie then chuckled. "Sounds like I'm a crazy, doesn't it? Heh, perhaps it's Jenkins?" he joked, someone watching them was ridiculous. "Nevermind, we're not far away now," he said, and pointed to the group of people at the orientation.

"Turns out even Gibbons feels that orientation is a waste of time. Though, he did manage to impart some wisdom for newcomers. So, what were you planning on doing to show off?"

"Figured as much also way too many people... Oh, yeah. If we're going to be roommates it's best if you know about this." Alex said pointing his thumb over his shoulder at his shadow. The arms seemed to rise from the earth, and the vaguely human shape pulled itself from the earth. It's head was a smooth egg shaped thing, that turned to look at Shaun. A blue slit that looked like a cartoon smile appeared below two blue circles.

"Meet my Monster." The shadow was connected to a tail, but had a clear torso and arms. It performed a small theatrical bow as Alex trudged on, though he could see the garden again. The sun felt nice, and Alex took off his hood, making the shadow grow hair as well. The thing looked surreal, not bouncing with Alex's steps, rather gliding along side his master. Alex stretched his arms, and the shadow grabbed them, raising Alex into the air to crack his back.

"Ah, god I'm glad I don't have to keep this in all day. Anyways, I lose control of it in complete darkness, so please know we're going to have to keep a light on while we sleep. Just a heads up." Alex smiled, and froze as Gibbons spoke. The shadow reacted immediately, diving back into the earth to hide. ".... Er... crap."

~Shaun~

He chuckled lightly at Alex's muttered aside about there being too many people. The poor guy really was shy it seemed.

"Oh, yeah. If we're going to be roommates it's best if you know about this.".

Moments after he said that, his shadow seemed to rise up as a solid entity, forming arms and a smooth, ovoid head that turned towards him. Shaun leaned forward to examine it a little closer with clear interest, even as a pair of blue 'eyes' and a blue 'grin' appeared on what seemed to be its face.

"Meet my Monster.".

"I have to say, I'm impressed. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that there are more out there that have unusual abilities like me, but I'm getting the feeling that skills like this are more common here. Still, that's a neat talent.", he said, even as he strode alongside his roommate, smiling at his shadow.

When Alex took off his hood, he watched as the shadow 'grew' hair, much like that of Alex himself. Really, despite its bottom half, and the face, it was a near perfect mimicry of Alex's silhouette. When he outstretched his arms, however, he was amazed to see the shadow pick him up, and help set his back right.

"Ah, god I'm glad I don't have to keep this in all day. Anyways, I lose control of it in complete darkness, so please know we're going to have to keep a light on while we sleep. Just a heads up.".

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. I'm something of an insomniac, and when I do sleep, I usually take pills to help me stay that way.", he said with a small smile.

When his roommate froze at Gibbon's words, however, Shaun merely shook his head. "Don't mind that, chances are most people are ditching orientation at the first opportunity. Anyway, just to warn you: I'm a coffee addict. I literally cannot function properly without a cup every now and then, so I need to make sure our dorm has a constant supply. You and Dexter are welcome to it, just so long as you pitch in to buy more if you drink it, and that whoever finishes off a pot, puts on a new one.", he told them.

He was steadily relaxing around them, and his hackles were lowered now that he was calm again. While things were off to a pretty good start, what with meeting a pretty girl and the fact that his roommates seemed to be decent folk, he couldn't afford to go off on another student. Certainly not this early into the semester at any rate. He had had far too many close calls like that during his last year of High School.

(Remember when I said I was back? Yeah...Called that a bit early, I did.)

Dexter had been following his roommates around dumbly, not quite managing enough material for a funny response each time he'd seen an opening to speak. Although, it seems now really isn't the time for jokes, which Dexter can at least respect.

"Meet My Monster."

Dexter was almost taken off guard when Alex's shadow rose up from the ground to crack the original's back, but not quite.

"Nice." Was all Dexter said. He'd rather not share his...ability unless it proved absolutely necessary.

"Ah, god I'm glad I don't have to keep this in all day. Anyways, I lose control of it in complete darkness, so please know we're going to have to keep a light on while we sleep. Just a heads up."

Dexter shrugged, gaining his conversation-momentum back. "No worries. I'm sure we're not gonna be in our room much at night anyway, huh?" Dexter smirked as he nudged Shaun.

"Don't mind that, chances are most people are ditching orientation at the first opportunity-

"I second such a course of action, by the way."

Anyway, just to warn you: I'm a coffee addict. I literally cannot function properly without a cup every now and then, so I need to make sure our dorm has a constant supply.

Dexter chuckled, "You know, I've never had a sip of coffee in my life, so I think we'll be good."

Dexter smiled and looked over his compatriots. He could probably call them his friends, and despite a tense meeting with some other students it looks like he'll be able to get along with everyone.

Yay, no more nightmares.

At the Orientation Meeting

The College of Science had five floors. The top three floors were all labs and classrooms that were stretched out over a labyrinthine series of hallways. It was clear that over the years the building had been expanded upon, as the building's interior design and exact elevation changed subtlety every few dozen feet. The building stretched on for what seemed like a mile, but couldn't have been more than a few hundred feet across and back to front. The 2nd floor smelled of peutrid chemicals; formaldehyde and worse. The sign called it "Biology/Bio-Engineering" though it seemed more like a morgue by the smell. The 3rd floor smelled more varied, but still rank of chemicals. The sign called it "Chemistry/Chemical Engineering" which seemed a mite more believable that the biology sign. The top floor was lacked any distinct odor and was labeled "Physics/Electro-Mechanical Engineering". Strangely, there were no windows on any of these floors, giving the whole building a sort of displaced feel. The only exception to the window rule were several glass sky bridges which led to the adjacent buildings - for easy travel.

The 1st floor was different from those above in that it lacked classrooms of any sort and instead seemed to be composed entirely of auditoriums, presentation rooms, and study lounges - no matter how many additions one went through. This floor was similarly in want of windows, save at the doorways where the light burst through with a noticeable dimming.

As I'm sure you noticed, I mentioned there were five floors, yet described only four. That's because the "0th floor" is a bit special. All of the top floors had several staircases that offered continuous travel up and down all the floors. There were even a pair of freight elevators which traveled up and down in opposite corners of the building. The bottom floor was a bit different. For one, it had but one staircase and a single fright elevator that led to the level, crammed into the oldest corner of the original building. The bottom floor was in fact the basement level and served several purposes.

First and foremost, the sign read "Misc. Science", though someone had long since craved long lines into the label and scrawled beneath it "Freak Floor" as some kind of joke. At the bottom of the stairs were all the vending machines for the building, as well as four pair of double doors that led to tunnels that connected with each of the other school buildings. These tunnels crossed in several places, making a ringed star pattern. Each of the tunnels was lined with lockers for staff and students who wished to rent them, as well as dozens of maintenance, janitorial, heating/cooling, and bathrooms which no one could remember when last used.

A fifth pair of double doors led into the "Misc. Science" department which, after Applied Mathematics had moved to the top floor, consisted solely of the Ancient Science department and all it's affiliated sub-degrees. Like the floors above, the floor consisted of labyrinthine corridors which led to labs and class rooms; though a few led to specialized auditoriums. One doorway lead into the College of Science's storage area, which - strangely enough - didn't smell like any of the chemicals either the biology or chemistry floors wold likely use. Where the doors on the floors above would have small windows embedded in them to allow visitors to see what was in process, the doors on this floor were constructed of ancient, heavy wood and impeded all ability to perceive through them.

All of the floors had bulletin boards plastered on what space was available so that students and faculty could post important information, but the bottom floor's boards consisted almost entirely of scrawled symbols that didn't seem entirely real in their design; like they contained more information that could possibly be stored in a single piece of paper. A few were written in English, but the writing was so incomprehensible or illegible that reading the words was as effective as reading the aforementioned symbols.

Being underground, the bottom floor lacked windows just as all the other floors did, but even the lights on the floor seemed remarkably dimmer then the floors above, as though something about the light upset the floor so it tried to reduce it. As a result, the floor was a crisscross of shadows that never seemed to entirely vanish.

Most importantly for the moment however, were the several arrows posted on signs throughout the floor that were labeled "Ancient Science Orientation" and led off into the poorly lit maze of hallways. After nearly a dozen such signs, a single door was open; the sounds of the the room's occupants leaking out into the hallway and echoing off into a thousand corners, distorting the noise and making it intelligible. A sign said "Sub-Auditorium #6" and had "Ancient Science (and affiliated programs) Orientation" posted below.

Inside the room, the lights were much brighter and the sound clearer. It was a small room, with seats for only fifty or so people, but the seats themselves were large and comfortable looking, as though the room wished to look like an Victorian English gentleman's hall. It was complete with large stuffed chairs, red and brown oriental carpets, small tables by each chair for the sitters things, and walls covered with large tapestries featuring symbols and lines no mortal mind was meant to see.

Many of the chairs were already taken, though their seemed to be enough for every new arrival to sit (and then some). An old man stood at the front of the auditorium, his white hair long and nearly down to his hips and his skin sickly pale with more than a few liver spots. His eyes however were sharp, piercing through whatever illusions might appear before him. "Welcome. Welcome! Please take a seat and we'll begin" he said, waving the new arrivals down with some kindness and no fanfare.

The Garden

As the group approached the Garden, the light seemed to brighten - though not increase the temperature - as if inviting them to sit and enjoy the day. The grass was green, the flowers were bright, the surf was good, and the wind was just enough to keep it all comfortable. Already, more than a few of the students had taken to the more fun activities. A pick-up game of (American) football was underway in the field between some of the more athletic freshmen. It was clear which people were here on an athletic scholarship based on their ability to score touchdowns every few minutes, despite the full 100 yard field upon which they played.

On the other side, some of the less athletic people were laying in the grass - either speaking with new found friend, enjoying a "what food the parents left" picnic, or just sleeping. Needless to say, most of the sleeping students would be less than happy with the crude artwork drawn on their faces when they awoke. On the other side, some of the students were already trying their hands at the hedge maze - with exceedingly limited success - or sitting on benches enjoying the flowers (or the taste of each other's lips as was so often the case). Lastly, the beach was already under heavy use by people sunbathing, swimming, and surfing; enjoying the warmth before the flippant Massachusetts weather stripped them of their ability to use it.

Henrietta, for her part, seemed to be admiring the flowers, though her eyes were currently locked onto a rather tanned and muscular individual on the beach showing off said tanned muscles with pride; not her type, but she could certainly admire the dedication and view no?

~Shaun~

The rest of the trip to the 'Garden' was relatively uneventful all-in-all. Though, once they got there, Shaun had to let out a low whistle of appreciation. The place was much more than a simple garden, being made up of a large, sunny field with the very occasional tree and patches of flowers here and there, and was flanked on either side by a hedge maze, something he was sure to try out at least once (And inevitably get lost in), and a rather impressive beach, considering where it was.

Once they found a place to call their own, he promptly dropped his duffel bags and book bag, pulled out his thermos of coffee and took a quick drink. "You know, I'm actually surprised this university pretty much has its own beach. In fact, the whole Garden is pretty damn nice. Though, far from private.", he added, glancing at the rest of their small group.

He took notice of the fact that Henrietta was admiring one of the muscular men on the beach, and he had to quirk a brow. Personally, he couldn't see the appeal of having muscles like that, much less being tanned. But, to each their own, he supposed with a shrug.

Sitting down on one of his duffels, he turned back to his roommates. "Anyway, if you think it's safe to show off, be my guest. As for me, I'm going to be keeping the pyrotechnics to a minimum. Besides, I use it too much, I'm just as likely to get burned myself.", he told them.

To illustrate his point, he reached up and pulled down the right side of his turtleneck's collar, revealing the rather harsh burn scars that were still on his neck and collarbone. "I learned really early on that everything, and I do mean everything burns.", he said wryly.

The once jovial Alex's mood took a rather sharp turn into the land of 'sour' when he noticed the couples. The people were fine, he found the place big enough that he could avoid them if need be, no... The couples reminded him too much of her. How long had it been since he watched his Monster choke the life out of her, while it smiled it's demonic crimson grin? Weeks? Months?

Too damned soon.

He sighed, he'd frozen up when Gibbons saw his Monster earlier, but now he simply didn't care. He wanted to go sulk in the shade, but he'd stick with his bunk mates. He'd agreed right away, anyways, so he might as well tough it out. The sun was nice too...

Seemed Henrietta was admiring the view of the bronzed and muscular man, a show off clearly... but that ass. His faint smile dropped when Shaun spoke up, and his attention snapped back to his markedly less fun roommates. He felt a small pang of guilt again, that he'd even thought that.

"Anyway, if you think it's safe to show off, be my guest. As for me, I'm going to be keeping the pyrotechnics to a minimum. Besides, I use it too much, I'm just as likely to get burned myself."

Alex looked behind him, to see his shadow was still above ground. "Seems I haven't stopped showing off." The shadow shrugged, while Alex dug his hands into his pockets. He looked at Shaun's burn scar, seemed fire was less fun than he'd been led to believe.

"Yikes." Alex said simply, monotone. All powers came with their price...

~Shaun~

"Yikes.".

Shaun had to nod, even as his expression turned grim. "Yep. This is what happens when a pissed little twelve-year-old tries to use powers he can't possibly control. Everything burns. And if I can't keep my temper strapped down, I'll end up burning not only some poor bastard to death, but I'll be burning right along with em.", he said in graveyard tones.

Leaning back, he held up a hand and instantly a small ember came to life an inch above his palm. "See, once I learned what made my flames, making them appear was piss-easy. It's keeping them from growing into an all-consuming inferno that's the challenge.", he said, before waving his hand and extinguishing the ember.

Then he motioned to the still upright shadow. "Going by what you said earlier, I'm getting the feeling that your 'Monster' isn't very much different, is it?", he asked quietly.

Teddy took his seat eagerly as he waited for the orientation, he glanced down at the map pamphlet he had grabbed and quickly located the map of floor 0. He had gotten a strange feeling that it was shaped weirdly as they walked through it, and the map swiftly confirmed that, a star from the looks of it. He glanced about the room nervously to see if anyone was paying attention to him, the orientation was about to begin but he still wanted to show Jessie this without disturbing anyone else.

"Hey Jessie, check this out," he whispered, nudging him and showing him the map "I wish I had my notes with me, I'm sure I've got some things that link back to this, I wonder if the direction of the points is important, like if they line up with anything..."

He paused, "Er sorry, I'm rambling I suppose, might just be a joke the builders put in, at any rate the orientation is starting now so I'll be quiet."

Dexter Drake was listening to an MP3 player in one ear, his compatriots in the other. Since he'd not exactly been paying attention, his eyes had to look away from 'Henrietta's Harem' to figure out where he was.

Oh, the beach. Meh. Nothing wrong with the beach, it allowed for some nice venues of performance. looking over at the glum nature of his companions, he decided one such performance was in order.

He checked his carrying bag, for just the right assortment of flowers. Finding them, he carefully grabbed an arrangement and slipped them into various folds in his clothes.

"Yep. This is what happens when a pissed little twelve-year-old tries to use powers he can't possibly control. Everything burns."

"Grab some polyurethane-blend gloves. That shit doesn't burn at anything less than atomic fire. It chars, but at least your hands don't black up."

Suddenly, Dexter spied the perfect target to cheer up the harem. Giving a wink to the group, he sauntered off to a couple more interested in exploring each other's mouths than the grounds.

Making sure everyone had a good view, he used the bony part of his wrist to smack his arm a view times. After he was nice and in pain, he turned on the waterworks.

Stumbling up to the couple, he quickly pulled up a bouquet of mauve carnations. "I...I...Ahhhhh~" Dexter cried, before *tripping* and falling down some ways away from the couple. Both of them noticed, but as the man tried to get his partner to ignore Dexter, it seems the girl was a bit of a bleeding heart.

"What happened!?" The girl asked, rushing to his side.

Dexter only sniffed, "She...She...said no." He said, really hamming it up. Poor girl couldn't tell when she was getting fooled, though.

"Ohh, you poor thing. Did you need someone to talk about it?" She tutted. She was being nice, but Dexter had a better idea.

"No, no, I don't want to be a burden." Dexter said as he sat up. Quickly, he snached up the girl's free hand and looked into her eyes, flashing his best winning smile, despite the fake tears. 'Thank you though, sooo..." Dexter trailed off.

"...nice of you." He finished as he pulled a while tulip out of his sleeve. "For you, madame." He said, slipping the flower in her hair.

As he stood up and dusted himself off, he threw the bouquet of mauve carnations to the now-scowling man. "You'll need those." Dexter said, smirking in such a way that only the girl couldn't see.

After that, he turned the water on again and stumbled back to the harem, wailing incoherently, before plopping down face first in front of Henrietta and Shaun and laughing his ass off.

The floor of ancient sciences fit the subject, it had this odd atmosphere that almost made him feel home... in some sort of way. It felt alien, perhaps that was why it was familiar. It made Jessie want to both relax and get unsettled at once, but he made sure to keep a somewhat serious, if friendly expression.

"Hey Jessie, check this out,"

Teddy showed him the map, and pointed at it.

"I wish I had my notes with me, I'm sure I've got some things that link back to this, I wonder if the direction of the points is important, like if they line up with anything... Er sorry, I'm rambling I suppose, might just be a joke the builders put in, at any rate the orientation is starting now so I'll be quiet."

"It might not be just a joke," he said, and looked around. He hadn't taken that much notice of it before Teddy had pointed it out, but it would probably require a bit more examining to determine the intention and purpose, another thing to check out later if he could. "But yeah, you're right, let's pay attention." Jessie took up his typewriter -a small one that didn't make that annoying noise each time he finished a line- and prepared a sheet of paper, ready to type when the speaker started speaking.

---Neil Gibbons---

May as well get it over with. Gibbons thought as he took a seat in the back corner of the room, a virtually empty row. Gibbons crossed his legs and arms out of yet another nervous habit (no, he did not at all resemble a pretzel), and checked his watch. Every two minutes. Exactly.

Waiting for the orientation to be over with, Neil decided to examine the room around him. Aside from the boring assortment of students and professors... there were no less than three people in the crowd jotting down... something on clipboards. Weird. Neil chanced a look at the ceiling and walls, no decoration, no obvious bulges anywhere... nothing where a camera could be hidden. And there weren't any obvious security cameras hanging around either. Mr. Gibbons started to sweat. If there's one thing he'd learned in his first year at this bloody place, it was that one should always be nervous when the faculty didn't want something to stay on their databanks until the end of time.

I really wish I had one of those more 'useful' sounding powers like these other kids have. Probably come in handy right about now... at least... it would make me feel a bit safer. But no. All I have is that stupid orb and those bloody nightmares. Oh happy day.

~Shaun~

"Grab some polyurethane-blend gloves. That shit doesn't burn at anything less than atomic fire. It chars, but at least your hands don't black up.".

Shaun snickered a little at Dexter's response, then shrugged. "That's a good idea, but gloves like that would be pretty conspicuous. Not to mention, I have a lot more to worry about burning than just my hands, so unless they make polyurethane-blend turtlenecks and suits, a pair of fire-resistant gloves won't help very much. Not to mention, they don't have much in the way of style, either.", he said.

It was when the stage magician got up however that he blinked, then glanced at Alex. "Where do you think he's off to?", he asked.

He got his answer when Dexter promptly fell, then played the couple he fell in front of to an impressive, yet extremely hammy, act. But, he had a feeling that was simply for fun, and that Dexter would make for an excellent bare-faced liar, should he ever take off the half-mask he wore. When he turned towards them after tossing the bouquet of flowers into the male's lap, his eyes had tears in them and he barreled towards them with mock bawling before falling in front of both him and Henrietta, laughing like a loon.

Leaning down to him, Shaun had to smirk. "You are an absolutely horrible person, you know that? Very entertaining, but horrible.", he said with amusement.

"You know, I'm really glad you're a stage magician and not a clown.", he added with a chuckle as he sat back up.

"You are an absolutely horrible person, you know that? Very entertaining, but horrible."

Dexter was still laughing in the dirt, but managed to peak his head up to talk clearly, "That's not even the best part~!"

Dexter finally got a grip on himself to shuffle into a cross-legged position, forming a triangle with himself, Henrietta and Shaun.

"The meanings of the flowers were probably the best part. I'll always find it funny that ether people don't care what flowers mean, or if they do, they believe whatever I tell them." Dexter grinned.

Dexter points with his thumb to the boy behind him, who he gave the bouquet of mauve carnations. "Those color of carnations means that I think the recipient has dreams of an absolute fantasy. That is, bedding her." Dexter explained, pointing to the girl with his head.

"I could see it in her eyes, so I have her the white tulip. It means one-sided love. Poor girl." Dexter smiled.

"You know, I'm really glad you're a stage magician and not a clown."

"I dunno, I got the costume for it. I mean, look at this thing!" Dexter laughed as he tapped his mask.

Shaun commented on how horrible Dexter was, prompting an explanation from the stage magician.

"Those color of carnations means that I think the recipient has dreams of an absolute fantasy. That is, bedding her. I could see it in her eyes, so I have her the white tulip. It means one-sided love. Poor girl."

Henrietta stared at him for a long moment before responding. "Nope; still horrible. she said, though with a bit of a laugh to show she was (mostly) joking. "Kinda hope he ends up living across from you though."

She sat there for a moment before a question came to mind. "So what did the yellow flower you gave me mean?" she asked, slightly worried.

"Kinda hope he ends up living across from you though."

Dexter smiled. "Great! Nothing like some old-fashioned pranking to bring roommates together!"

"So what did the yellow flower you gave me mean?"

Dexter wrinkled his nose, "Well, it was a yellow rose I'm pretty sure. I hate using those because anyone can google search what a non-red rose means, and they'd all get different answers."

Dexter sighed and took off his top hat, sporting short black hat-hair. "Including but not limited to; exposing of infidelity, an apology, breaking a heart, describing intense emotions like undying love, or acknowledgement of extreme betrayal."

Dexter smiled, "I like the first meaning I learned. Friendship. Although I should tell Shaun to get you a burgundy bouquet, he'd probably agree with me."

(Captcha: Face the music. Uh...)

~Shaun~

Shaun just shook his head and smiled as Dexter pointed out the mask he wore. "Nah, you don't look the part of a circus clown. Which, really, is a good thing, since I hate clowns.", he added cheerfully.

Then he looked over at Henrietta's quick remark about the couple that Dexter had just 'pranked'.

"Kinda hope he ends up living across from you though.".

With a wry smile, Shaun held up a hand. "I don't. Don't forget, Dexter's my roommate. I'd rather stay out of the line of fire for that sort of rivalry as much as possible.", he said quietly, but what she asked next piqued his interest.

"So what did the yellow flower you gave me mean?".

He turned to his roommate and listened as he explained the varied meanings behind it, all while taking off his top hat with a sigh.

"I like the first meaning I learned. Friendship. Although I should tell Shaun to get you a burgundy bouquet, he'd probably agree with me.".

"I'm betting burgundy and other dark shades of red have romantic overtones?", he asked with a raised brow, then he chuckled and continued, "Probably too soon for anything like that. It's better if we know each other better first.".

I'm betting burgundy and other dark shades of red have romantic overtones? Probably too soon for anything like that. It's better if we know each other better first." Shaun said.

Henrietta was quick to add "I second that". It wasn't that Shaun was bad - or even unattractive - just it was the first day at a new school; better to wait and see no?

"Going by what you said earlier, I'm getting the feeling that your 'Monster' isn't very much different, is it?"

Alex felt his eye twitch, and saw the small bit of red in the face of his Monster. The head seemed to look more like Alex's too... Alex forced it to take a more oblong and less distinct shape, still a silhouette, just far removed from Alex's form. His silence must've been telling, he realized as his roommate asked a question. Alex was glad he was too distracted to notice anything up with him.

"Where do you think he's off to?"

Alex glanced as the Magician tormented a couple. It was almost painfully, and more than a bit sickening to Alex. He rubbed his temple as he went about his act. When it was done, he returned laughing. To Alex's annoyance, they laughed with him, though the flowers interested Alex a bit. Was flowers this guy's shtick, or was he just into flora?

"I could see it in her eyes, so I have her the white tulip. It means one-sided love. Poor girl."

Oh how deep that stuck Alex... He just inhaled and took a few seconds to compose himself. He opened his eyes and looked at Shaun and Henrietta. Apparently they were resisting flirting again. Alex rolled his eyes, he got the feeling this was going to be a common thing.

"So, anyways, how do you know so much about flowers again?" Alex thought, still having trouble moving past that.

"I'm betting burgundy and other dark shades of red have romantic overtones?"

"Not necessarily. Blue roses are rare-ish, so they indicate an air of mystery about...well, whatever the reason is for getting one in-context. A darker pink rose is just a symbol of gratitude. Pink roses in general, actually imply a less intense feeling of affection than love." Dexter explained, feeling nice that for once, people cared about his flowers.

Dexter smirked, "Burgundy flowers imply the receiver isn't aware of their own beauty."

"It's better if we know each other better first."

"Bah, says who? We gotta live for the moment. What if you two find out you're not compatible? Then you'd have wasted all this time you could have spent making out beforehand. Or not, if that's not your fancy. I mean, it really isn't mine either, but I believe the first part of what I just said." Dexter sarcastically waved away the thought.

"So, anyways, how do you know so much about flowers again?"

Dexter smiled, "Glad you asked, mah boi. It's a cliche that Magicians pull flowers and other things out of their outfit or thin air, so I jumped onto that bandwagon. But I didn't always want to use the same flower, so I wanted to get a variety. But I didn't know which kind to get, so I spent some time on the internet looking up flowers. Then I spent A LOT more."

Dexter laughed, then looked to Henrietta, "So when secret admirers start putting flowers on your metaphorical doorstep, bring 'em over and I'll see if you got insulted~!"

Jason strolled the vast grounds of the university, frankly put-out. He had twisted himself into such an uncomfortable knot over the girl he saw by the statue that he didn't feel like going to orientation. Instead, he found a quiet place on the grass to bask in the sun, right about when fate happened to bring Henrietta and her entourage back into view.

"Always with that group, never going to get a chance with her if they're always around..." Jason mumbled aloud as he spied from his vantage point. Then, he remembered the whiff of a certain smell when he crossed Henrietta's path the first time, the girl had a cat with her. Jason let out a long sigh as he got up from his seat. "I'm sure a quickie won't hurt."

Jason left the garden as he tried to find a quiet place to try his plan. Fortunately, there were plenty of deserted corners of buildings obscured by bushes, a perfect place to hide someone's clothes. Acting from experience, Jason quickly stripped in the bushes and, seeing no need for flair, transformed into a common, brown cat.

From there, cat-form Jason carefully hid himself in the foliage as he avoided anyone who might shoo him off. Eventually, he could see Henrietta just a few yards away...but he also saw a bird lazily looking for bugs just a few feet away. Not now... Jason had to hold himself back from chasing the bird. ...it's just going to fly away, it's going to taste awful, it's going to make you look like a killer in front of the girl you're trying to impress! Ignore it!

Luckily, the bird took off, giving Jason a chance to suppress the urge and continue on his mission. He managed to emerge from the bush and avoid detection just long enough to get a foot or two away from his target. "Meeeeeooowww" Cat-Jason exclaimed, intending to get Henrietta's attention.

~Shaun~

"Burgundy flowers imply the receiver isn't aware of their own beauty.".

That response made Shaun laugh and grin, just before motioning to Henrietta. "If she isn't aware of the fact she's pretty, she should be. It's hard not to notice.", he pointed out, before glancing over at his other roommate, Alex.

The boy looked uncomfortable, possibly due to Dexters antics. And he would've sworn he saw something change about his 'Monster' out of the corner of his eye, but he couldn't place his finger on what it had been. But, he waved that off. Chances were, things would work out sooner or later, and at the moment, he wouldn't be bothered by minor curiosities just yet. There was ample time for that later.

But when Dexter responded to both Henrietta and himself both saying it was best if they knew each other better before pursuing a relationship, he snorted softly and shook his head. "But you're right, we might find out we're not right for one another, or find out it's one-sided. Things like that, it's best to take one's time. Let romance develop at it's own pace. Besides, I'm more interested in the journey than the destination.", Shaun pointed out.

As Alex redirected Dexter's attention with a question on how he knew so much about flowers and their meanings, the firestarter relaxed a little, only for his hackles to be raised a second later. A brown cat had come out of the bushes and promptly meowed pitifully for attention. But there was something... Off, about it. Still it was a pretty cute cat, even though it looked a little mangy.

Standing up and striding over, he crouched next to it and gave it a testing stroke along its back. "Hey there. Didn't know there were other cats on campus. You lookin' for someone to take you home?", he asked, smiling just slightly.

(First draft of the response was Dexter tackling and hugging the cat because he's rather crazy, but I remembered Jason probably wanted to DO something.)

"If she isn't aware of the fact she's pretty, she should be. It's hard not to notice."

"Pfft, you never know with these girllllllllls." Dexter said, saying 'girl' the way one would say 'alien' and winking surreptitiously at Henrietta, laughing.

He also noticed Alex starting to clam up, but if he's not gonna bother talking then he doesn't have to bother responding.

"But you're right, we might find out we're not right for one another, or find out it's one-sided. Things like that, it's best to take one's time. Let romance develop at it's own pace. Besides, I'm more interested in the journey than the destination."

Dexter smiled and rolled his eyes bombastically, "Suuuuuurrreeeee. You're only saying that because she's right there, huh?"

At that time, he noticed a brown cat slinking out of the bush that looked awfully...generic. "It just came out of the bush, best not touch it. Rabies is a bitch." Dexter said, nonplussed.

"Glad you asked, mah boi. It's a cliche that Magicians pull flowers and other things out of their outfit or thin air, so I jumped onto that bandwagon. But I didn't always want to use the same flower, so I wanted to get a variety. But I didn't know which kind to get, so I spent some time on the internet looking up flowers. Then I spent A LOT more."

Less than satisfactory. Alex tried to keep his expression interested and neutral, but he was hoping for more of a story behind it. Of course, the magician could just be lying. Still, why lie about powers, especially if they're dangerous. Like fire or monsters.

The talk of romance flared up again, despite Alex's best efforts. He'd say nothing, but he thought Dexter was right on that one. He tormented himself for years with those thoughts, it was better to seize the day and ask her out, learn of her through romance rather than time. And becoming friends with someone to build up courage to ask them out just seemed... creepy.

Then the next thing happened. A cat appeared, making Alex smile once more. It was almost immediately accused of having rabies, making Alex hesitate in letting his Monster get any closer. He shrugged as his monster moved in front of it, looking at it with it's two blue orbs. It held out an ebony hand.

Garden

"If she isn't aware of the fact she's pretty, she should be. It's hard not to notice." Shaun said, which was nice of him. Untrue; but nice.

"Shaun... dogs - and most other animals for that matter - run away at the sight of me. The only animals that don't try to attack or run away from me that I've ever met are really strange sea life and cats for some reason. Thanks for the compliment, but it's just not true." she said, matter of factly.

As if on cue, a little brown cat came over to the group. "Does it smell Mr. Biscuits?" Henrietta wondered before she decided on a course of action. "It just came out of the bush, best not touch it. Rabies is a bitch." Dexter said, but Henrietta had to disagree. It didn't look like it had rabies and cats approaching her at random was hardly new.

"Aw... are you hungry little cat? Hold on" she said, reaching into her bag and pulling out a little cat food - much to Mr. Biscuit's annoyance. "Here you go little one." she said with a smile, putting it down in the middle of the group. She liked cats.

Orientation

The orientation was - as expected - dull but enlightening. For one, the old man at the front - who was the head of the Ancient Science's department: Dr. Stewart - was hardly an engaging speaker. He spoke in monotone the entire discussion, giving the base rules of the college. It did have the positive side of providing some interesting information.

First, it listed several rooms on the floor which were - as he put it - off limits to those who valued their continued presence at the school. Second - and more importantly - he revealed the truth of the college. Everyone in the Ancient Science department - from faculty to staff to students - either had the ability to use magic or had been affected by it in some way. Needless to say, much discussion among the students started at that point - curious how anyone knew "their" secret and wondering what the others could do. A warning to be cautious with their power fell on deaf ears as the room descended into talk. Strangely, the present faculty seemed either used to or unconcerned with the lack attention the students paid to the warnings about magic.

Thereafter, a few mentions of school rules and locations and the meeting was over.

Next Day (for those seeking time skip)

As was expected on the campus, with no parents to defend them, the weather had taken a turn for the oppressively humid and hot; sapping the student body's will to live. Still, they had little choice but to get up; breakfast and class awaited.

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