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Open Black Moon Academy - School for the Gifted

Black Yoshi

The new girl, Katie, suggested she could help out with their situation, assuming she could... "dump her body" somewhere. How very pleasant.

But it seemed something might be wrong. She very suddenly stumbled, almost into a tree, it looked like. She spat and assured them that she was okay. "You sure about that?" Nick couldn't help but let a little smirk touch his lips. In a sick kind of way, it was funny. "I don't want you hitting your head and dying on us. If we have to search on the ground, we can afford to do that." He stopped, seeing something on a different tree not very far.

Scratches, but not by any animal. And they were fresh. ... Maybe it's a clue of some kind...? I have no idea what it could mean if it is. Still, it's a sign of life. Guess we should go off of it. Nick ran his fingers over it. Definitely not natural; there was no sort of pattern to it, no rhyme or reason. He bit his lip. Moriarty was such a sly bastard, given the first day so far. This could mean anything. "Let's take a look around this area for a bit." He said. "I have a hunch. So to speak."

Releasing the Shade was still an option, but not an idea he relished. There was always that pain that came afterwards. That "afterburn." Nick figured he might as well reserve the Shade, in case it turned out he was needed for... Whatever else he might be needed for. For now, the Shade would simply whisper a suggestion in the back of his head, along with the occasional thought of abandoning the two "female creatures" to their own devices.

It was a bit early for yelling, but still, it was already happening... from someone who had barely left the area. That girl who'd asked about telepathy. She was with a couple of others, though, so it wasn't like she'd been attacked.

Ah, whatever. It wasn't like Quitterie was here for preventative measures. Still, she asked the nearby Qbeys to keep an eye and ear on those guys. The reports had a slight chance of being interesting and nothing was really happening yet.

And, hey, the male seemed like he had an idea. And it might actually pan out, Quitterie thought. In that case...

She sent an inquiry over a chain of Qbeys and casually drifted away to an area she could sit unbothered. Which might be natural for someone bored and also central to a telepathic network, but... she'd dropped the camera by a Qbey, and surely that would make it a little difficult to capture amusing memories.

A moment's thought, and she sent a second request, that wouldn't reach the students - <And can someone match the names of these guys to a picture?>

1. Luftballon

Danger, the others had been muttering as they’d been led out into the woods, and Priscilla began feeling … insufficiently prepared. She’d expected more a "field trip" around the building—they hadn’t been shown around it yet, after all—although, given that it was Professor Moriarty who’d said it, she probably shouldn’t have been surprised.

Still, she’d brought only her usual umbrella (9 ft., reinforced, otherwise ordinary), The Central Science, one cylinder; she should have brought at least a parachute, if they were going outside.

Well, there wasn’t much she could do about that now.

So she turned her mind to other matters—matters such as that, apparently, the older girl with the adorable white fluffies was some kind of necromancer, that the adorable white fluffies themselves were made of marshmallows and dead people, that the adorable white fluffies could send and receive telepathic messages … but not for her, apparently. She was a bit disappointed.

It was the same, apparently, for the girl whose car had been wrecked, and apparently there was another telepath it didn’t work for, but, well, at least they had their own telepathy. Priscilla, well, didn’t.

A ways into the woods, they met with Professor Moriarty and another—they had been speaking before the students arrived, it seemed; Professor Moriarty issued them a task: some figurines had been scattered throughout the woods, and they were to find them, one per student; the other one continued: they could cooperate, but still would need one each; and obstacles?

Priscilla was still standing around thinking about whether she could possibly save time by using her powers to detect the figurines—she didn’t think she could, they were basically too small to have any effect on their surroundings that she could detect—when the marshmallow telepath necromancer girl started talking to Professor Moriarty and then mentioned that the activity was a sort of race.

That would make grouping up not really the optimal strategy, wouldn’t it? But if there were to be obstacles, and she couldn't access the marshmallow necromancer girl's telepathic network, well, it could still probably be a good idea for her.

And in any case, nearly everyone else seemed to have grouped up and left. There was the hamster boy—Gundam Tanaka, that was the name, wasn’t it?—whose roommate was the girl whose car she’d wrecked—at least two of his hamsters were giving off strange heat signatures again, though; he seemed not to have joined a group or left yet, and, well, she still wasn’t sure what his power was, but if he could raise adorable hamsters, it was worth a shot, wasn’t it?

She walked over and began introducing herself:

"I uh, um. I can, ah. Um. Er, what would you, um."

Lil Kuchiki

I'm like a sassy beverage. Sass-parilla. eeey
Serena had a mini-heart-attack when Katie fell over. If she hadn't caught herself, she'd have really knocked her head good. But as it was, she was fine, and Serena could take a deep breath. "I hope that doesn't always happen." Serena sighed. "I thought for sure you'd be in a hospital." Nick seemed rather amused by it, and while Serena could imagine it being funny, it was hard to actually regard it that way when you could so easily see just how hard she'd have cracked her skull if things had gone worse.

"Let's take a look around this area for a bit. I have a hunch. So to speak."

Well, that was as good an idea as any. Serena wasn't exactly sure what she was doing, though, so she just started sifting through brush and kicking dead leaves. She found a felled tree that had hollowed out, but it was empty. Nothing shiny in any of the branches, either. "Sooo... This is fun." She commented. Unsure of what was to come, she started sticking rocks in her pockets. She would have to pick up some knives or something soon, if they really had to learn combat techniques. "Oh! Look!" She pointed up in a tree. "... That's what it'll sound like when one of us spots one."


Gundam caught up with Sun-D rather quickly (it's not like she was outright trying to flee from her, after all). He walked just slightly behind her, and stopped to examine things more thoroughly than she did; she kept to the middle of the path, mostly, but scurried off occasionally almost at random to investigate whatever caught her interest. Cham-P, flying around as a tiny dragon, did a mix. He flew into the smaller crevices and holes in trees, and once he spit out a flame for light; cautious, Gundam warned him that he "should be wary of letting the whole grove alight, lest there be a reenactment of the Great Fire of Rome, and let brimstone reign upon us."

"I uh, um. I can, ah. Um. Er, what would you, um."

Gundam looked up, distracted from searching inside a hollow log (he found a squirrel, but no Praetorian). Someone was standing right beside him; a girl with an umbrella, actually. Hm. She was unfamiliar, like almost everyone else in the school, but she was obviously trying to talk to him...

He stood up, brushing the dirt off his pants. "So you have bypassed by my protection barrier so easily? Hmph, do not think yourself a skilled mage; in my search, I simply neglected to put it up. All Praetorians would turn to ash within kilometers of me otherwise. Speak clearly, mortal; your ineffective imitation of the eldritch language has no purpose here. Who are you to seek Gundam Tanaka, the Ascendant Ruler of Ice? Reveal your true name to me, and the Four Dark Gods of Destruction will feast on your bones!"

The Omskivar

chah, dude
((I really hate my computer I had this post really really good before it crashed))

"If we have to search on the ground, we can afford to do that."

Katie opened her mouth to protest, but realized immediately how ridiculous she would seem considering her...episode. She sighed lightly and trudged behind Nick and Serena, eyes open, mind wandering (as always). She'd be a lot more (read: at all) useful in the air, if not in the treetops, but Nick had a point, she didn't really know how much of her conscious mind was still functioning okay, and it would definitely be better to test that out in a controlled environment, which this most certainly wasn't.

"Let's take a look around this area for a bit. I have a hunch. So to speak."

Katie followed Nick's line of sight, seeing the markings on the tree. She considered them briefly while Serena went about searching. They were definitely scratches, not insect burrowing patterns; what's more, they were too perfect, too evenly spaced to be territorial animal markings. Slashes might be a more appropriate word, but whatever they were, they were deliberate, and Katie (silently) agreed with Nick's decision to poke around a bit. She spread her mind out through the forest to gently probe her classmates for scavenging updates (taking extreme care to warp around Quitterie) as she began foraging around the nearby trees.

The dirigible girl was the loudest at the moment, a little flustered it seemed; interestingly, she also couldn't hear the Qbeynet. She wasn't remotely telepathic (though of course she had been just near enough to notice Katie's brief swoon), so it stood to reason that it had nothing to do with bad power-meshing. Priam, he could hear it, that was the vampire child, right? The walking Hazmat could hear it, so maybe it was just the gloomier, broody types--but hang on, Serena could hear it, and honestly she was one of, if not the least depressing person Katie had been around as of late. Gundam was pretty enthusiastic, too, she supposed--there he was, and yep, he could hear the Qbeynet. So emotion had nothing to do with it, it seemed, or at least morale; maybe it--

"Oh! Look!"

Katie whirled around, almost tripping over a largeish rock and steadying herself quickly. She followed Serena's index finger to the treetops, searching fervently for any sign of a Praetorian. She was not overly excited to hear Serena's next words:

"... That's what it'll sound like when one of us spots one."

Katie rolled her eyes and walked over to the marked tree, scanning the roots fanning out slightly from the base. Serena clearly meant well, that was easy to see even if you couldn't read minds, but Katie was tired, and to be honest a bit wary (frightened was too strong a word, and even then she wasn't wary often). She hoped she wouldn't seem rude, she just needed a bit less...vocation in her immediate vicinity. Nick seemed absorbed in his own searching, and his own thoughts--Katie noticed that he hadn't shown up in her mental scan of the class. That was interesting; she probed his brain with a small amount of force, and was met with a familiar dark shroud (mist would be the best tactile analogy, while functionally it was more of a barrier) that prevented her from continuing. This was probably the same as that thing that Nick had summoned--released?--back in the arena. Katie hadn't really gotten a good look at it at the pace the combat challenge was going, but it seemed to be otherworldly enough; it wasn't hostile, at least at this point, but it was deliberately protecting Nick, which was oddly reassuring (she couldn't place exactly why). She put a minuscule amount of additional force behind the next prod, and as the shroud pushed her back, slowly but forcefully, Katie withdrew entirely. Catching a flash of white in a nearby bush, she moved a few leaves aside--

She gasped as a small white animal--a Qbey for Chrissake--jumped past her and scampered over to squat in a nondescript part of the forest floor. Losing her balance, Katie fell backwards and threw her arms backwards to catch the ground (taking extreme care of the angles so as to avoid breaking or twisting anything). To her surprise, her arm plowed through a pile of leaves and tall grass and into a small hole in the ground, obviously a burrow of some kind. Pulling her arm out and massaging her slightly bruised elbow, Katie peered into the tunnel. It seemed to go on for a while, more than was usual for a small species of animal typical for burrowing under tree roots (could be a very small variety of a larger animal, or a new animal entirely knowing the Academy). It was worth checking out if Nick and Serena would be occupied for a while longer.

"Um," she said loudly, "can anyone see a small animal, preferably like a squirrel or something--I think I might have found something."


shitty wizard
Ace shuddered for some strange reason while the two... interesting men spoke up front. He peeked behind him in an attempt to see what it was, and there was a boy standing there. He sensed fear in him-- a very complicated fear, that gnawed away at him, but somehow he could not avoid it. It was inescapable. The word "Shade" came into his mind, but he pushed it back and looked ahead.

So, it was a hunt, then. Ace was really terrible at finding physical things-- it just wasn't his prowess. If he really had to, he might be able to feel around and check people's minds. If someone feared something like, say, their statuette being taken, Ace would know that this person indeed had a statuette, and thus probably knew how to find more.

It occured to Ace that he might be able to pry into the minds of the Qbeys. He reached out to one that was perched near someone who was already fairly distanced from Ace (for Ace hadn't moved yet). What do you know, Qbey? he asked. He awaited a response, but didn't get one; he glanced at the woman who had made the telepaths, in fear that she might be angry, but she seemed to be occupied with other matters. So, getting informations from the Qbeys was a no-go.

Ace cursed in French under his breath, and then began to pace around. He let the tendrils of his mind brush against those of others, but he found nothing of use. Frustrated, he looked around for clues of the alleged Praetorians-- anything, anything at all. He had always loved puzzles, and they were his escape from bitter reality. But this... there were no clues to this puzzle!

For a moment, he considered asking for help, but quickly discarded the thought. Why ask for help? So that my partner can take the prize and run off? I'll gain nothing from it... like usual, this is a problem best solved alone.

His eyes swept past the foot of a tree, then fixed back on it when he realized a strange burst of color. There was a puddle of sap collected at the roots, dripping down from a spot in the trunk-- but there was no hole there. Another illusionist, perhaps? Someone who can heal plants? he thought to himself, and walked over to investigate it.
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It's over. I'm sorry, but it's over.
So far, Priam's searches had been utterly fruitless. He hadn't found even one tree with a hollow in it, and he couldn't even see if there were any figures wedged into the countless tree branches, dark as it was. Sighing, he took a moment to sit on a stump, taking a drink from his flask after sitting down. How far have I been going? Priam wondered, looking around him at the forest, it can't have been a mile yet, I know I haven't been walking for that long. Entirely possible that they'd put the figures at the fringe, to make the return trip all the more harrowing. Though that's assuming- Priam cut off his own chain of thought when he saw a tree with a hollow about halfway up the trunk.

Getting up from his stump and clipping his flask, Priam warily approached the tree, under an assumption that if there was a figure here, the tree could very well be booby-trapped. Once he got close enough, Priam tentatively reached into the hole and his hand closed around... empty air. The first of what would likely be several dead ends.

For a moment, Priam's mind wandered; that little chain of events had reminded him of how he and his brother used to play in the woods behind their house. Time and again, Priam could recall him reaching into a tree hollow, and yelling in pain, just to get a good scare from his brother. Sure, repeating that trick numbed his brother to the surprise of it, but it had been little things like that-

Stop it, Priam admonished, withdrawing his hand from the hollow, you can't think about that life. That life died when he died. You're not that kid, and you never will be. Don't forget that. Walking past the three, he made it perhaps ten steps when a worrying thought crossed his mind, one that he needed to investigate immediately:

His thoughts immediately focused towards one of those Qbey creatures, in an attempt to ask a simple question: <Quiterrie,> he began, <do you and your network have a constant access to my thoughts as long as I am in range? Or do I have to do as I am now, and directly 'speak' to you, in order for my thoughts to be heard?> His worries stemmed from one simple idea: given what he knew of this Quitterie girl, he suspected that if she was privy to those thoughts he'd just had, that she would go and reveal to the other students what Priam had done in the past - the mere thought of the others knowing that a murderer was in their midst was something that genuinely scared him.
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Quitterie had been wandering off aimlessly, though in a direction decidedly away from where the other students had gone, in her search for somewhere that she could keep an eye on the network without having to pay much attention to her physical surroundings. This didn't really affect the network one bit, though, and though there was a brief delay as the private message bounced from node to node on its way to her, it wasn't noticeably longer than it otherwise would have been.

<I'm not psychic,> she said, her message similarly private. <There are a few people who are, though. If you're paranoid... get over it. That'll just draw their attention.> A pause, then, <Your secrets aren't the biggest in your class anyway.>

At least, his despair wasn't. Not that anyone in this class was totally and utterly consumed by Despair yet. Maybe later. But they just had a normal amount of tragic past and all that, inevitable in a school of freaks, and while she could work with it, she'd need a bit of effort.


I am the master of cakes
"I-It's not even your eye really, I hadn't even noticed it before..." Aimee glanced at it quickly before looking away again. "I just. Don't really... it's not you personally."

She was probably being more nervous than she should be but she couldn't help it. Now that she had noticed his eye, that scary feeling she felt about him was growing. Right now he didn't seem too menacing or like Vidal was, but she couldn't help but feel uneasy. Dragging her foot along the ground, she tried to think and change the subject away from her uneasiness.

"I can, um, shock things. I guess that's what you'd call it. I'm... electrical." She put up a hand and let electrical sparks dance along her arm before going away. "It probably won't be all that useful, but..."


Uh, I didn't do it.
Ugh, Raisa thought when the girl told her who her room mate was. Not that that Vidal kid had done anything to her- Wait yeah he did, he almost killed them all, what was she thinking. The other thing was, how did she end up on the short list to getting a room with Vader boy? Was she dangerous too? Or did she just have really bad luck.

Raisa shrugged as Aimee dismissed her abilities. "More useful than me. Just don't tase me and I think we could work together. " It sounded like a power that could be used both as a defense and an offense, either way, it would be safer to have the help.

She looked around. "Looks like we should get going though, everyone else is. What do you say fire boy? And anyone had any ideas?"
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Egahds, I've been gone a long while!

"Electrokinesis? Sounds interesting. Is it like...a charge based ability, and thus you can risk a blackout, or can you just manipulate and generate electricity freely?" Reneé asked with genuine curiosity. "And not personally something about me? Does that mean like, your being...apprehensive about something that i can't quite control about me?"

Reneé snapped out of his inquisitive trance when he heard Raisa's voice ask him a question.

"Raisa, you know my name, are you really going to address me by a nickname for the entire year? And plan? I dunno, walk into the forest, and look for these things. Like sure they're small, but they seem to reflect light pretty damn well." Reneé replied. At least the praetorian was reflective, maybe the rest won't be. "Oh hey, um...I don't think I got your name...anyways, with your electricity, can you locate things that conduct your electricity? I remember that silver is an excellent conductor for electricity, I think its categorized as a super conductor. Oh, and mind you, it'd be a good idea to point out if and when I ramble, as I have a tendency to do so..." Reneé said, grinning rather sheepishly. Rather absent-mindedly he flicked the lighter open, and manipulated the single flame to become three small wisps, the wisps proceeding to revolve around the hand with the lighter.


Uh, I didn't do it.
Raisa grinned. "Yes, I'll keep calling you that until I come up with the next nickname."

She smile widened as he started to play with his lighter. "And it's an apt name anyways."

Black Yoshi

Nick gave a sigh at Serena's... outburst. "Serena, not to be the bad guy, but if you feel an impulse to say something like that, do us all a favor. Just shut up." He went back to examining the tree scratches and checking behind brush. Shade insisted that the figures had to be in a bird's nest or something. The other girl, Katie, suddenly spoke up.

Seems she found something.

Nick moved over and peered into the tunnel. "Interesting." He mumbled. It certainly wasn't big enough for him, or probably anyone over the age of three, to fit into, but it was sizeable. "Well, as far as I can tell, there's nothing down there. Not now, anyway. Still, can't hurt to..." He grew quiet as he stretched his arm, reaching down as far as he could. He was up to his shoulder, and staring up the nearest tree, wiggling his arm around in hopes of finding something. It was the first time he noticed the Hunter.

He was just crouched on a branch about twenty feet up, staring silently back at Nick. His mask was a cracked white skull with black streaks shooting down from the eyes. He didn't move, didn't make a sound. He only watched. Nick pulled his arm out and stepped to the side, and found the Hunter did not follow him with his gaze. He continued to stare straight down the tree trunk, at the hole. Nick looked to the same spot and took a tentative step back towards it. He reached back in, and found a tiny black velvet sack. He opened it, and out fell a little silver man with a spear. He looked at the underside of the figure, where the word "Zulu" was inscribed.

"Katie, Serena. Check it out. They're not really that hidden." He said.

"No, but they are guarded." Nick almost wet himself at the silky voice beside him. The Hunter had come down. Nick backed away, clutching the Zulu tightly. Do these guys even make sound? He wondered. "Now, hand over the trinket." The Hunter opened his hand. "Hand it over, and find a different one."

Guarded. Focus on the objective. Get the piece back to the center. But Katie and Serena still needed one. Or did they? After all, Moriarty never mentioned anything about handing off the piece once you completed the objective. Maybe all they needed was one. Better to take that risk, in his mind. "I'll hold onto it, but thanks."

"Wrong choice." The Hunter growled. There was knife in his hand faster than Nick could register. He managed to scramble backwards in time to avoid it, but he felt the rush of air as the blade passed by.

Nick turned and started running back. "Come on, we have to get back!" He shouted as he ran by the two girls. Hopefully they would just run with it, and not question the fact that they both lacked a piece. The Hunter didn't seem to care about them, though. He just wanted the trinket. Nick wasn't sure if he was making a straight line for the tree, and in fact he could go right by it without noticing.

The Hunter's steps kept getting louder and faster behind him. Closer, and closer. A knife flew past Nick's head, and lodged itself into a tree. Oh, christ, is he trying to kill me? They wouldn't actually throw a bunch of these guys with lethal intent at students, right? They said all the deaths were accidents! He tried his best to calm down, and saw the Qbey gliding on next to him. The Qbeynet! Answers, answers staring him in the face with those hollow, beady little eyes!

<Quitterie! What the hell, why are Hunters guarding these things? What is going on?!>

It turns out Shade didn't like Nick using the Qbeynet. It agitated him, having his host's mind connect to something else. His forehead burned a bit, but he managed to calm the creature down with a silent promise to not use it unless he really had to. Although this was pretty important, and Nick would say that he really, really had to ask this right now, because the Hunter was still closing the distance.
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By this point Quitterie was out of sight, hidden in a tree that had, irritatingly, managed to scuff at her clothes a bit... but even so, a grin spread over her face as the cry came over the network.

Regardless of what he'd intended, Nick's mental voice reached every student that could access the network, the better to increase the drama.

She took in a deep breath... but it wasn't through the Qbeynet that she gave her answer.

Instead, she reached out to all her Monobears, every combat-ready familiar she'd been able to prepare over the summer, and she sent a command through the network of Qbeys that filled the entire forest.


Not everyone would have the power to sense it: the silent pop as a hundred small bodies made of pure Despair teleported into the woods, distinctly different from the Qbeys already present.


"Aaaa— Aaaa— Mic test, mic test! This is an announcement!"

The voice, somewhat high-pitched and gender-indeterminate, could be heard by everyone. It wasn't that it was just that loud, exactly. Rather, there were multiple sources. One was in clear sight of every group of students: a large teddy bear, split down the middle into black and white, with a glowing red eye and one side grinning an evil grin.

But, perhaps for the benefit of those being chased, there were many other apparent speakers scattered through the forest, the voice following any runners wherever they went. If they had time to look closely, they'd see a Monobear clinging awkwardly to a tree branch, hidden by the leaves.

"Is this thing on? They can hear me, right? Ehh... in any case...

"My name is Monobear. I am your supervisor for this field trip. Pleased to meet you all!"

For Nick, it was also likely becoming extremely obvious that this announcement had little regard for the rush he was in.

"Well then. I’d like to begin an opening ceremony you'll remember for life!

"To start, I have a short statement regarding the hunt from this moment on...


"You are all gifted with a wonderful and dangerous power. In order to protect our innocent and vulnerable world from it... we will teach you the consequences of attacking it! Harming people without permission is against the will of this prestigious academy you have willingly joined. If you should go against the school... these Hunters are the very same as those that will be deployed against you.

"In short, once you have succeeded in the role of a hunter, you will then become the hunted!"

The Monobears glanced down at the floor.

"Unfortunately, this is a mandatory school exercise. For this reason, you must act the part of a hunter at least once. You may not leave the area within a one mile radius around the tree that was previously pointed out to you until every one of you has taken part. The amount of time you can be separated from the outside world is indefinite."

Their apparent sorrow vanished.

"However, the rules remain the same as before! To preserve the realism of this scenario, you will be given the same choices as a true traitor. There are ways to circumvent the Hunters even if you become their target. If you can accomplish those and bring your object to the tree at the centre of this playing field, you will have successfully achieved safety! ...in this metaphor it is essentially finding a stronger group that can protect you. In reality, you will rarely know where to find one. Please take this into consideration before you consider any sort of betrayal!


"Until every one of you has achieved safety or is taken out by one of the Hunters, this activity is not considered over. Please consider your classmates before you refuse to take part. You must not back down in the face of danger. With that said... Hunters often take out their targets in a lethal manner. Once you have joined the dark side, there is no choice but to seek safety. Of course, you can take as long as you like to find safety if you have removed the danger, but this is not always possible."

A brief pause.

"By the way, you don't have to take special action to preserve the Hunters' lives. However, attacking your supervisor is forbidden. If you damage Monobear or a camera, you will be severely punished!"

At this, all the Monobears raised their right paws and flexed, revealing three sharp-looking claws. Then they dropped the pose and continued with the announcement.

"Of course, in deference to the wide variety of powers you possess, you may play this game however you like! Will you hide yourself and attempt to avoid the Hunter's notice? Will you simply race to the known source of safety and take advantage of your speed? Or will you take part in a field trip of mutual hunting? The choice is yours!"

Another pause, and the Monobears looked meaningfully at the students.

"Rules are what bind us together as a society. Without rules, how can mankind live peacefully? That is why severe punishment is necessary for offenders!

"Well then, with that the announcement is over! Please enjoy our demonstration of what happens to those who threaten the sanctity of our school system!"


Uh, I didn't do it.
Raisa wasn't liking the chances of this at all. They were going to be attacked as soon as they picked up the statues? She looked at the two students with her. A group of three? She didn't like this at all. If they stuck together, worked together, not only would it take more time, but they would be attacked three times, in theory, at least there was a chance of being attacked three times.

She had a feeling this would work the best two ways. She finds this... statue thing, on her own, or she found hers first in her group. Take herself out of the game. Of course, they couldn't know it. She gave them a weak smile. A part of her felt bad for maybe ditching them, but she had very strong intentions, to, well, leave this in one piece, hopefully.

They had fire and electricity, they could defend themselves, in theory also, they could defend her, or maybe the demonic teddy bears would force her to work on her own.

It wasn't worth the risk.

"Hold on a second guys," she said, holding up her hand to stop them from making plans. She activated her hub, the glowing orange, blue, and white characters appearing in front of her. Raisa reached forward, and a few sweeps later she had accessed Brighton's camera feed. She would so have to integrate further with this neural hub, how weird she must look touching nothing but air. With a smirk she put his feed in the top right corner in her vision. She could see what VI was 'seeing', but still could she where she was. "I have an idea."

"Brighton," she said to the VI.

He floated at level with her face. "Yes, Miss Winters?"

"I have a task for you," she began to explain, and the VI waited fo rher to continue. "Did you see the small silver statue that Moriarty had? I need one, one exactly like it. I need you to retrieve one."

"Exactly like it Miss Winters?"

"Yep," she said with a nodd. "So, uh..." She paused. What if Brighton was attacked? He could always be rebuilt, but that took time, and money. "And Brighton. Initiate Combat Mode. Code Delta 612, retrieve package."

Brighton 'nodded' once, and then the holograms around his body began to spin faster. They changed from the bright blue, to red. Raisa had intiated his combat mode, the one that he was built over.

"COPY," Brighton confirmed, his voice now much deeper, and to be honest, a bit scary. Without another worked he buzzed off, and damn fast.

Raisa watched as he flew above the canopy. And... why was he heading back to the school? The statues were in the forest...

Oh shit, she realized. He's going after Moriarty. "Shit," she repeated aloud. "Apparently I was a little too specific," she explained in a haste. She pushed the 'button' in front of her to speak to the VI. "End task!" No response. "Disengage!" she ordered. Yet again, there was no response. She puleld up her display, frantically trying to stop the combat drone. He was blocking her. Outright blocking her. Her screen flashed red. Oh of the love of- "CONTROL-ALT-DELETE!" she said loudly. "STOP! BAD COMBAT DRONE! BAD!"

"TARGET CONFIRMED," was the only response the drone had.

"Dammit," she said before releasing a slew of curses that would make even the heartiest of sailors flinch.
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It's over. I'm sorry, but it's over.
Quitterie's response was, despite how harsh it sounded, surprisingly comforting for Priam. The implication was there that she knew about his past deeds, but wouldn't be telling anyone else, and there was also the matter of others in his class having a past more vicious than his - that idea had sounded strange at first, but the more Priam thought about it, the more it made sense. All sorts of freaks went to this school, they all had some story to their name and their powers. It was rather self-centered of Priam to think that his was the worst story of anyone's.

And she is right in the other regard, he thought, reaching into another hollow, and grabbing nothing, acting paranoid would draw undesired attention. Better to simply lie low and- his train of thought was cut short when another student's voice rang out over the network; he'd found something, but seemed to have been ambushed by-


Then, a new voice echoed through the forest - the voice of this "Monobear" was issuing an addendum to Quitterie, Moriarty, and Pope's earlier instructions: this was, as it turned out, far different from the earlier search for the Cafeteria.

Crouching behind the tree he'd just reached into, Priam listened intently as Monobear listed off these latest rules and regulations for this "scavenger hunt."

We're expected to return to the starting point with trained assassins constantly dogging us, where the slightest misstep would result in our deaths at the hands of said assassins, Priam removed his gloves after a moment of deliberation, and the fact that we're not to concern ourselves with the safety of the Hunters implies the high unlikelihood of us successfully killing them. Quickly and quietly, he moved towards another tree, this might very well decrease the likelihood of the figures being at the outer edge of this area - the chances of most students surviving a mile-long chase with a hunt strikes me as... unlikely.

After arriving at this particular tree, Priam took a moment to drink from his flask, giving him something to keep him active. This tree lacked a hollow, but there was one nearby that had a wider hollow in its trunk. Darting towards that tree, Priam reached in the hollow (briefly shuddering, as the feeling of the tree's bark on his bare hands was something he hadn't felt in a while), and this time, his hand closed around something small and rigid.

Priam withdrew his hand and examined his find: it was indeed a silver figure - a man atop a tiny horse, with a halberd in one hand, and the word "Cavalier" inscribed on the bottom.

Hastily, Priam turned away from the tree, and immediately saw the Hunter; this Hunter was perched on the upper branch of one of the trees, staring at Priam with the intensity that a predator would stare at its prey before pouncing. This Hunter's mask was white, with a long, thin beak where the nose would be, and red markings across the mouth and upper section. Looking at that mask, the only word Priam could think of to describe it was "Vulture."

Without a word, the Hunter extended one hand openly, while a knife appeared in the other. The meaning was clear: hand over the figure - essentially, lengthen the assignment - or die. He made no move other than that, so the Hunter and hunted stared at each other for what felt like hours on end; each waiting for the other to make the first move. Priam, who had once been a predator of man, knew that this sort of behavior indicated full and utmost confidence in the predator's chances of killing, as well as a desire to instill fear into the prey.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Hunter's patience wore thin, and Priam didn't want to stick around for that to happen. So... may as well give this predator what he wants, Priam thought with a sigh. Bracing himself for whatever might happen next, Priam sprinted away from the Hunter with as much speed as he could muster. Immediately, a knife flew past Priam's right shoulder and lodged into the roots of a tree. As he was running, Priam was only vaguely aware of the knives raining down from above him - the Hunter was opting to jump from tree to tree, taking advantage of the maneuverability that it provided.

Unnecessary, Priam thought, jumping over a particularly obtrusive root, doubt that I could possibly outpace him on foot; doubt I could provide half as good a chase as the other students. Even as that thought crossed his mind, Priam could already feel himself tiring out. He probably had, at best, half a minute left of running before exhaustion would force him to break out of his sprint - that in itself would be a death sentence.

The question, then, was simple: how to lose the Hunter before exhaustion won over. No, not even "how do I," Priam realized grimly as another knife grazed his hood, the question is in all actuality "can I?"

1. Luftballon

Priscilla didn’t catch much of what—Gundam Tanaka?—was saying this time, either; he spoke oddly, almost as if in an unfamiliar language, and too quickly, if not necessarily quickly at all. To what she understood, her reaction:

"Er, ineffective … imitation of—I, uh—"

"Aaaa— Aaaa— Mic test, mic test! This is an announcement!"

An interruption; a toy bear—definitely not a giant panda, nor any other sort of real bear she could think of—popped (not noisily, but still displacing its entire volume of air) into being nearby. (At the same time, Priscilla realised, the same had occurred in not a few other parts of the woods.)

(Now that she’d been cut off, Priscilla realised that that had perhaps been not the best way to begin a response, but still, there wasn’t much which could be done now; it would have to wait until after the announcement.)

She didn’t understand, at first, what the toy bear was saying (although that was ludicrous, someone had to be controlling them—and there was at least one telepathic network in operation in these woods) but as it continued, she … arrived that the understanding that, upon finding a figurine (only then?), some "hunters" (the masked people from earlier?) would hunt them down.

Possibly lethally, apparently.

But the marshmallow necromancer girl had mentioned that they’d had the same exercise the previous year, too, hadn’t she? Surely it couldn’t be that lethal an exercise. Even so, though, she wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of being killed.

Still, it meant that some kind of combat was likely again (and that, indeed, it’d probably be best to be prepared for combat at all times at this school in the future). There wasn’t much she’d be able to do, but the objectives now were to find a figurine and to return to that tree safely. Speed and maneuverability, then—which meant she’d best ascend: then she could solve both problems by liberal application of well-controlled explosions.

She could perhaps make use of the hamsters again for the flight; that wouldn’t be enough, she didn’t think, for explosions, but that was why she’d brought along a diving cylinder filled with, well, fireplace fuel. She started burning the contents. She’d have to keep it contained until she spent the energy, but still, better the known devil and all that.

As the toy bear finished speaking, Priscilla began to open her umbrella (the parachute would have to wait) and to reach for the hamsters’ warmth—and became aware, in the process, of not a few human-sized warm bodies dotting the woods (and, oh, running water, too, was that?). Some had been clearly moving; but then there were several, raised quite a bit above the ground—in trees, perhaps—which seemed to be lying in wait.

She’d found the figurines, she realised.


First there was a cry over the Qbeynet, and then the girl who had approached him earlier began a stuttering response--but it was not to be. She was interrupted by yet another strange almost-animal, which introduced itself as Monobear. Monobear was a disturbing creature, unnaturally split into two contrasting halves. One seemingly benign and the other exerting an aura of malevolence. It began to explain the activity, and it spoke with an arrogance that made Gundam seethe; but he was more worried than angry. Of course, he could handle any battle... but he had to fear for his Dark Gods.

"Return, o wicked beasts!" He called as the announcement ended. Sun-D had been within his line of sight, lighting the way a few meters ahead with Cham-P beside her; Maga-G had appeared from nowhere, almost, though it was not by illusion and he noticed small, hamster-sized pawprints leading from a nearby bush. Jum-P returned from the sky and happily found his usual perch on Gundam's shoulder. "You have heard the black and white messenger. Our quest's level of danger has increased tenfold, but we shall not be fazed! Yes, what we must do has become clear: we shall enact slaughter on any Hunter that decides to make us their prey! In a situation like this, our survival will not be guaranteed any other way. We must not give in!"

At this he gestured dramatically, pointing back at the clearing where they were supposed to bring all Praetorians. "Maga-G, your armor of steel will act as a shield as we charge our way to victory! Jum-P, once we find this Praetorian, you must mask us all in your mirage! We must be invisible! We shall sneak our way to victory! Cham-P, your flamethrower will be the perfect offense! We shall burn our way to victory! And you, Sun-D... plunge the Hunters into shadows! Light our way to victory!"

Maga-G had transformed, gaining stature almost to his regular form (which in itself was much less than the normal size of an elephant, and more around the size of a slightly above average horse). Cham-P, also motivated by Gundam's speech, had grown to about terrier size himself.

"All we must do now is acquire our quarry... that which we shall never become." He grinned and reached inside a nearby tree trunk; his smile began to break as his hand closed. Wordlessly, he pulled out a small black pouch and opened it into his palm. A small silver figure fell into his hand, and he clenched his fist. Not bothering to read the inscription, he called, "Now! Jum-P, obscure our mobility in the darkest umbra as we navigate this treacherous path of the damned!"
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As of now, there were a hundred Monobears and significantly more Qbeys in a circle with a one mile radius. Hundreds of embodiments of Despair itself. They had gathered for no reason other than because it was Quitterie's will. Perhaps it was overkill for merely supervising her underclassmen, but then, many people within the school had the desire to display their powers with as much drama as possible.

The teachers had said nothing about it, and Quitterie didn't know if they even realised the incredible cost in human lives required to achieve this moment. In a power display, it would typically be an implied promise: I can do this and more.

A telepathic message flitted across a long chain of Qbeys and reached Quitterie's mind alone. The source of the message was within the school.

Quitterie let the other party wait for a few long moments, and then, with a dramatic sweep of her hand, replied, <Well. Let's begin.>


"Hm," the Monobears standing around the other students said, raising a paw to their mouths. They tilted their upper bodies and lightly blushed. "I've never done this before because I'm a bear, but I've studied humans on field trips when I was following them for food. The supervisor leads the others on activities like songs and dance."

They straightened. "I couldn't bear it if I left out something so essential to your experience! I'm going to be the beary best subearvisor you've ebear had!"

The Monobear speakers in the trees once again emitted a sound, but this time, rather than Monobear's voice, it was distinctly not a voice at all. It would take a few seconds for everyone to realise it was instead the musical beginning of a song, and that would only be because at that point the vocals joined in.

It was a male voice, slightly distorted, that began a rap:

"Reality slips far away
Fiction comes alive, we start to play...

It would soon be joined by other voices, including a more feminine voice singing.

The professors would recognise the voices as those of upper-year students, and could probably imagine the group - with Miki Maizono as its centre - huddling around a music player and a Qbey, singing into a microphone so the sound could be telepathically transmitted to the Monobears, who could produce audible noise.

For the students, though, there probably wasn't any such significance. Instead, they'd see a sight they probably could have gone their whole lives without seeing.

The Monobears were dancing...

...in a manner that might be described as trying to be sexy, if one was willing to ascribe that word to an animated teddy bear.

And furthermore, it seemed that they were relocating themselves to ensure they were seen by the students; even those on the move would pass by a Monobear only to see the dance continue several metres ahead. There was a pair in the clearing around the oak tree, too, so that the professors could also enjoy the show. For given values of "enjoy".

Seriously, this bear.