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Forum: Character/Story Workshop
 Topic: Twins Divided - Shizuka
Twins Divided - Shizuka [message #94791] Fri, 24 October 2014 17:29
NeoMagus is currently offline  NeoMagus
Messages: 52
Registered: October 2014
Location: Somewhere in the USA
This is one of the primary characters for the storyline I'm working on. Her power set comes with some possibly confusing implications, so I'm putting her up here to get some feedback in that regard.

Codename: SHIZUKA (meaning "Quiet One" in Japanese)
Ratings: (EX-2)(ENG-4; Internal Sonic/Kinetic Absorption)(REG-3)
Techniques: Enhanced Strength & Agility; Pistol Marksmanship; Silent Stealth Engagement; Unarmed Martial Arts
Affiliation: Parkour Hooligans

Additional Data
Name: Keiko Mizashi (formerly: Kaito Mizashi)
Age: 14 years
Height: 5'2"
Weight: 98 lbs.
Build: Trim and athletic, small A-cup bust
Hair: Black, worn in a shoulder length semi-bob style
Eyes: Electric Blue (don't glow, but look like they could)
Origin: Born in Okinawa, Japan but now lives in the Los Angeles area
Language(s): Japanese (Native Language), English (Fluent), ASL (Beginning to learn)
Cottage: Poe
Birthdate: March 30, 2001
Academic Year: Freshman
Family Status: Father - Riku Mizashi; medical doctor who runs a private clinic / Mother - Deceased / Twin Brother - Kenji "Hardlight" Mizashi; Whateley student
Soft Classification: Brick (Exemplar/Internal Energizer)
Key Equipment: Nothing specific at first, but about midway through her first semester she takes up using a customized magnum revolver with specialty ammunition.
Common Attire: Long slacks or jeans; T-shirt or blouse; Running Shoes; Pull-over Hoodie
Favorite Foods: Calamari, Agemochi, Rice Dumplings, etc. (Pretty much anything Japanese or generally Asian. She's proud of her heritage.)
Hobbies/Interests: Reading, Calligraphy, Violin, Parkour, Martial Arts
Sexuality: Confused (she is beginning to find herself attracted to boys but is very resistant to the idea)
Other Notes:
- The sonic absorption aspect of her energizer trait is generally a handicap. While her mouth and vocal cords function normally, any sound waves they produce are instantly absorbed by her body, rendering her effectively mute.
- She is not dealing well with the sudden transition her manifestation has put her through, especially since her identical twin brother doesn't turn into a girl.
- Before manifesting, Kaito was confident and outgoing. Afterwards, Keiko is shy and introverted, generally mistrustful of the world for taking so much away from her. (Her ability to easily communicate with others, her close relationship with her brother, her manhood; you get the idea.)

General Outline
> Riku Mizashi moved his family to the States in the summer of 2004, following the untimely death of his wife, Kiyo. The twins were three years old at the time.
> Growing up in Santa Monica, Kaito and Kenji were inseparable, doing virtually everything together. Both were interested in martial arts and music, and were also introduced to parkour by their sensei.
> Kaito was an exemplary student, even more so than Kenji in most classes, and was well liked by most of his classmates because of his approachable and helpful personality. Though he easily could have, he never really ran with the "in-crowd," mostly because he and Kenji preferred to do their own thing rather than trying to fit in.
> Kaito and Kenji both manifest simultaneously, which they recognize is rather unusual, late in the summer of 2015.
> During an encounter with a villainous devisor, Kaito is seriously injured while trying to protect Kenji. This causes his regen to overtax his newly manifested body and trigger a major burnout.
> Kaito regains consciousness two days later only to discover that he can no longer speak and that he has turned into a girl (completely due to the combination of his regen and the burnout). The inability to speak is a result of the burnout modifying his energizer ability to include sonic energy.
> While at first Kaito believes his muteness to be the more immediate concern, that changes when Kenji comes into the hospital room in an attempt to be supportive. It freaks Kaito out that he has turned into a girl but his brother hasn't. Kenji feels guilty about that, and since the two don't know how to relate to each other anymore, a rift develops in the formerly close relationship they shared.
> Over the following few days, Kaito is encouraged/comforted/instructed by Izumi Kenning, one of his martial arts instructors and the closest thing he has to a mother figure. Absinthe (Morpheus's character, who I have permission to use for this fanfic) is also involved at this point and helps to encourage him/her as well. It is during this time that Kaito takes the name Keiko and the codename Shizuka, both at Izumi's suggestion.
> The twins then leave for Whateley, less than a week after manifesting. They are escorted on the journey by Absinthe, who is returning to her usual post as the MCO Liaison at Whateley. (I'm assuming she stays on in that role for some time after graduating, since she is the best candidate for the job and it would give her an opportunity to do some additional studies.)
Arrival at Whateley
> Keiko arrives the day before the fall 2015 term starts, as part of the regular freshman intake for Poe Cottage. (Note that even though Kenji arrives at the same time, I don't plan on him being informed of Poe's Secret. He gets assigned to Twain and spends the day with other early arrivals there, mostly GSD cases who had to get to Whateley before the start of term because of safety issues.)
> Keiko is likely the least adjusted of the changeling freshmen, due to the sudden nature and recent occurrence of her transformation. She is possibly the only one who is 100% transformed, but has also had the least amount of time to get used to the idea. As a result, her self-confidence is rather lacking as she interacts with the other students.
> She also has the issue of her muteness to deal with, which makes it even harder to relate to most of her new cottage-mates. Overwatch takes note of this detail and offers to tutor Keiko and anyone else in the cottage who wants to learn American Sign Language, so that it will be easier for Keiko to communicate with the others.
> Keiko ends up rooming with Skye "Solstice" Nilsdottir, a better adjusted MtF mage from Iceland.
Interpersonal Interactions
> Keiko's muteness puts a severe limit on the amount of interaction she has with other students, especially early in the term. At first her closest friends are Solstice and Wilder, Solstice because she is Keiko's roommate and Wilder because he also went through an almost instant gender-swap. Overwatch becomes something of a mentor to the trio, especially when he introduces Keiko and Wilder to the Hooligans.
> Keiko quickly develops a relatively strong bond with the Hooligans, because parkour allows her to vent stress and doesn't require her to talk in order to interact. The group in turn readily accepts her, more than willing to be patient with her when communication is required.
> About midway through the term, when Overwatch encourages her to find a way to protect herself from a distance, Keiko starts to frequent Range 2 pretty regularly, finding that she has a knack for pistol marksmanship. She develops a reputation on the range for her quiet demeanor (obviously) and focused attitude.
> Her relationship with Kenji remains strained over the course of the fall term, the rift that developed between them when she transformed being exacerbated by the two of them living in different cottages and having different circles of friends. Part of her wishes that two of them could be close again, but the other part of her is both scared of being rejected and also still resentful that she has to deal with an unwanted sex change while he doesn't.
> Her friendship with Wilder is bolstered when she starts tutoring him in Tai Chi, as a means of helping him to control his rager instincts. This friendship could eventually become romantic (I haven't decided yet), but Keiko still has quite a lot of adjusting to do before that happens, and Wilder certainly isn't going to force her into anything.
> Keiko's reputation with the other Poesies does get a bit of a boost when she finally gets comfortable enough to start practicing with her violin again. She's quite talented with it, even after not playing it for quite some time due to the stresses she's been dealing with, and her "recitals" in the sunroom are a notably pleasant contrast to her usual silent (and easy to overlook) existence.
Story Plans
> Again, Keiko is rather limited in how she interacts with most of the student body (since the majority of them aren't likely to be inclined to learn sign language), so it will probably be difficult for other authors to use her as a supporting character in their own stories.
> My eventual plan for Keiko is for her to be a founding member of Vanguard, the parkour-based training team I'm putting together. This will take place at the start of winter term, after the fall term Combat Finals.
> On that note, a specific story idea I have in mind of Keiko is her Combat Final, which I plan to be a Crash event involving her and five other students, including Kenji, in a free-for-all match-up. The idea is that she and Kenji manage to reconcile enough during the match to work together and win the scenario as a team, before fully reconciling after the match is over. This is what will bring Kenji into the fold to be another founding member of Vanguard.
> The primary focus for most of Keiko's stories over the fall term will be how she handles the general day-to-day chaos of Whateley, particularly in the light of adjusting to both her gender-change and handicap, her strained relationship with Kenji, and the overall rebuilding of her shattered self-confidence and identity.
Power Specifics
> Exemplar 2 - While this trait is the source of her unwanted sex-change, it's a little unusual compared to most exemplars. While she has all of the enhanced physical and mental abilities of an EX-2 (highest limits of baseline potential), her appearance wasn't drastically altered (sex-change and eye color notwithstanding). She didn't develop GSD, but she also didn't get the usual "Exemplar Effect" of enhanced attractiveness. She's basically a rather plain looking female version of her old self. Why her BIT is female yet still so similar to Kenji's BIT is unclear.
> Energizer 4 - This is at once both Keiko's key combat ability and the bane of her social existence. When she first manifested, she had the ability to absorb just kinetic energy and store it internally for later use. It wasn't until her burnout that sonic energy was added to the mix, resulting in her inability to speak (and other troublesome side-effects, such as her inability to clap) The passive effects of this absorption power include: virtual immunity to impact based weapons and attacks (or fall damage, for that matter) and the muffling of both her footsteps and the sound her clothes make when she moves (making if very difficult to detect her audibly even when she isn't trying to be sneaky). Active Effects: she can use her stored energy to temporarily boost her physical abilities, making her comparable to an EX-5 for brief periods (possibly even EX-6 if she gets into a fight with a strong enough opponent who keeps giving her additional energy); alternatively she can use her stored energy to temporarily accelerate her regen ability up to about REG-5, though this use is very inefficient and has a high chance of causing burnout with more serious injuries. Another notable active ability she develops toward the end of fall term is extending the area from which she absorbs sound. She can extend this area to about 10 inches from her body, further muffling her movements and automatically silencing her revolver when fired.
> Regeneration 3 - Pretty standard here. She's practically immune to sickness, and heals from what injuries she is vulnerable to (such as knives and cutting weapons) very quickly.
Forum: Questions and Answers
 Topic: Loose Ends?
Loose Ends? [message #94506] Mon, 20 October 2014 10:45
JohnB is currently offline  JohnB
Messages: 2
Registered: October 2014
It's probably just another loose end (an accidental one rather than a Noodle Incident), but who are the "Beth and Daisy" that Ayla mentions in "Welcome to Poe"? Presumably only ScramblerJ knows, because Diane Castle doesn't mention them in Ayla #1. The simplest explanation is that they are a mistake (uncorrected first version) for "Tiffany and Amy" who are correctly named later on. Does anybody have any idea?
Forum: Fan Fiction
 Topic: Painful Divergence
Painful Divergence [message #94370] Sun, 19 October 2014 00:18
NeoMagus is currently offline  NeoMagus
Messages: 52
Registered: October 2014
Location: Somewhere in the USA
(Please note that this is my very first Whateley fanfic, and only my third serious attempt at creative writing period.)

Painful Divergence

A Whateley Academy Fanfic - Second Generation

Chapter One
Santa Monica, California - September 5, 2015

My heart was beating rapidly as I ran down the crowded sidewalk, dodging my fellow pedestrians left and right as I skillfully wove my way through them. I usually tried to avoid the more crowded streets, specifically to avoid the indignant glares and angry shouts that I was currently receiving, but Kenji had forced my hand this time. The brat had darted off a second early in our little race, meaning that he got to choose our general route, at least until I could manage to over take him. Which I was really close to doing by the way, with him likewise weaving through the crowd only a few feet ahead of me.

My name is Kaito Mizashi. I'm a parkour-loving, martial arts training, 14-year-old Japanese-American who lives less than two miles from the beach in sunny California. Kenji is my identical twin brother, the younger of us by two minutes. I suppose it would be fair to call us a couple of troublemakers, if only because we're really competitive with each other and like to push the boundaries of civilized society ever so slightly. Like free-running down crowded streets in the middle of the day, that's a pretty good example.

Thankfully for everyone around us, I knew that wouldn't last much longer, as I watched Kenji dash to the right towards the next alleyway, roughly spinning around a tall man in a business suit in the process. I followed right behind him, dodging around the man somewhat more gracefully and closing another foot of distance. As I rounded the corner, I saw why Kenji had chosen to shift our track this way. There was a seven foot tall chain-link fence just up ahead, which he was obviously hoping to use to increase his lead. I grinned as he shifted slightly left while I went more to the right.

Using a set of pipes in the concrete wall as a step, I managed to get up onto the closed dumpster right next to the fence. From there it was an easy two-handed flip over the top of the fence, which I immediately turned into a forward roll as I hit the ground on the other side, allowing me to come up running again with little lost momentum. As I sped back up again I was pleased to note that Kenji was only just hitting the ground, having had a harder time clearing the obstacle. My bold move with the pipes had managed to reverse our positions, so now I was the one a few feet ahead.

While it wasn't easy, I managed to hold that lead for the next ten minutes, right up until I passed the street sign for Royal Avenue, our designated finish line. I gave a triumphant shout as I started slowing down, pumping my fist in the air as Kenji ran up beside me.

"Not fair, bro!" he said to me after taking a few deep breaths, "that move with the pipes was cheap, and you know it!" An uninformed observer might have guessed that he was really angry at me, but I knew him well enough to catch the impressed grin on his face as he said it.

"You're just mad that you didn't think of it yourself, you little brat." I chuckled a bit as the two of us continued to walk side-by-side down the block, heading for the low building on the next corner. "And what gives you the right to calls fouls, anyways, after that false start back at the park?"

"Preemptive action creates tactical advantage, my friend," he replied smugly, kicking a small pebble out into the empty street as he did so, "I can't help that I want to win more than you."

"Right. Says the guy who just lost." With that I reached out and tousled his already messy black hair, one of the many ways we tended to mess with each other. He tried to retaliate in kind with an exaggerated growl, but I was expecting it and ducked away too quickly. "Too slow," I taunted him as I reached the door of the building and opened it for us to step inside. The sign next to the door read Kenning Dojo of Martial Arts.

The dojo wasn't anything fancy, but we'd certainly grown to like it over the past three years that we'd been coming. It mainly consisted of a large, open room with mirrored walls, where all of the lessons, sparring, and kata practices took place. There were two changing rooms off to one side and a couple of storage rooms in the back, while the entryway/waiting area was in the front, right next to the small office.

As we stepped inside, a tall man who was leisurely sweeping up a pile of dust in the waiting room turned to greet us. Jonathan Kenning had become a rather easy-going fellow, apparently a pretty radical change since the six years he served in the Navy, and he always had a warm smile for his regular students, of which my brother and I were two of the longest-running.

"Good afternoon, boys," he said, his bright green eyes only showing the slightest embarrassment at being caught still cleaning up. "You guys are a bit early today. Class doesn't start for another thirty minutes." He motioned to the clock on the wall to prove his point. Kenji and I both glanced at it, seeing that it was only just now 3:00 on the dot.

"Sorry, Sensei..." Kenji and I both started to reply, in unison no less, which caused all three of us to chuckle. Kenji and I tended to do that from time to time, though it was seldom something we intentionally planned, so it was always amusing whenever it happened. I was the first to stop chuckling so I continued, "we decided to race on our way here today. We ran all the way here from South Street Park." Kenji nodded his agreement with a proud smile on his face. Sensei Kenning looked impressed.

"Not bad," he replied, as he stroked his red goatee thoughtfully. "It seems like you two have already had quite the workout, then. Are you both sure you're not going to pass out on me during class today?" He grinned at his own joke. Sensei knew full well just how much the two of us had taken to parkour, since it was him who had introduced us to the sport just over a year ago. He knew we had more stamina than that.

"Well, now that you mention it," Kenji replied, his grey eyes flashing just a hint of mischief, "I have been feeling somewhat faint this afternoon." He let out an exaggerated sigh as he touched the back of his hand to his forehead. "Maybe I'm coming down with something?" To put some more emphasis on the joke, he dropped his hand to his mouth and gave a single obviously fake cough. Sensei and I both shook our heads at that and smiled.

"Right..." was all Sensei could say in response to that. "Anyways, why don't the two of you go ahead and get changed, then you can meet Izumi out on the floor and go through some extra forms while we wait on the rest of the class to get here."

"Sure thing, Sensei," I replied, just as Kenji did the same. We looked at each other and busted out laughing as we made our way over to the boys' changing room. Sensei just shook his head again with an amused sigh.

A few minutes later, after we had both changed into our gis, we met Izumi Sensei out in the middle of the floor. Izumi Kenning was Jonathan's wife, whom he had met and married while stationed at Yokosuka City in Japan. The thirty-two year old woman was actually a couple of years older than her husband, but you couldn't tell just by looking at the two of them. Izumi was 5'5" and looked to be in her early twenties at most, while Jonathan stood at 6'1" and looked every bit of his thirty years. I'd even heard from some of the other students my age that some people thought Izumi Sensei might actually be a mutant with a low level Exemplar trait. While I had to admit that such a situation would explain her youthful appearance, I'd never seen any proof of that claim in the three years I'd known her, so I was rather doubtful.

"Greetings, Izumi Sensei," I offered respectfully as Kenji and I both took our places and offered our customary bows, which she returned in kind with a warm smile.

"Greetings, boys," she replied as she flipped her long black Chinese braid back behind her shoulder. "I hear you two have already had a bit of excitement this afternoon. Was it a good run?"

"Yes, Izumi Sensei," Kenji replied, taking his turn since I had offered our greetings, "it was very enjoyable."

"Good," she replied simply with another easy smile, "then you both should be well warmed up and ready for today's lesson. Let's go ahead and start our forms, shall we?"

With that, she started leading us through some basic Tai Chi forms, which is how she usually liked to both start and end every class session. I was glad for it. Though I would never admit it to either Kenji or Sensei Jonathan, Kenji's joke earlier had in fact been somewhat accurate. I had been feeling somewhat under the weather for most of the day, and that race had taken more out of me than usual. Going through forms with Izumi Sensei gave me the perfect opportunity to relax and get settled for the class session. And it didn't hurt that doing forms had always been one of my favorite parts of the class anyways.

Thirty minutes later, at exactly 3:40, Izumi Sensei brought the forms to a close and bowed to the assembled class. After we all bowed in return and took our usual kneeling positions, I took a moment to glance around and see who all was here today. There were twelve of us total. Chris and Mark were 17 and 16 respectively, while Rachel and Cameron were the same age as me and Kenji. The rest of the group was all younger, ranging from ages 8 to 12. I was personally pleased that Derek, one of the newer members of the dojo and somewhat of a show-off, was not present. I focused my eyes back to the front as Sensei Jonathan stepped forward to address the whole class.

It turned out that Sensei Jonathan and Izumi Sensei had an easy session planned for that night. We spent most of the class time on unarmed free sparring, which basically meant we could pair up how we wanted and help each other practice, leaving our instructors free to wander around and give personal attention to those who needed or desired it. I paired up with Rachel like I usually did, since the two of had an understanding to not go too easy or too hard on each other. She'd only been coming to the dojo for about seven months now, and though she'd been progressing pretty quickly, she was still somewhat uncomfortable sparring with any of the other boys. I don't know why, but she seemed to trust me more than the rest of them, including Kenji.

At ten minutes after five, Sensei Jonathan called us all back together, and I was pretty sure I knew what he had in mind. Sure enough, he dismissed the majority of the class to begin cool down forms with Izumi Sensei, but asked the senior members, meaning Chris, Mark, Kenji, and me, to stay with him for a bit more sparring. He paired us up, Kenji with Mark and me with Chris, and told us to spar one match for each group while he observed.

I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated as I faced off with Chris. The guy was a star athlete at the local high school, standing at 5'11" and weighing in at 185 lbs. of lean muscle. I on the other hand stood at only 5'3" and only 120 lbs, not even having entered the ninth grade yet. And I was getting tired, more so than I usually did. Even so, I managed to fight him to the final point, with him just beating me out at the last minute by taking me down and locking my right arm behind my back. His extra reach and my abnormal weariness had made all of the difference.

"Are you okay, Kaito?" the older boy asked as he helped me to my feet, his voice tinged with mild concern. "You seemed a bit sluggish today. Not your usual decisive self."

"Yeah, I'm alright," I replied rather non-committally, keeping my head down a bit out of embarrassment at being beaten, "just getting tired. I guess that run I had earlier wore me out more than I thought."


Chris and I both started when Sensei Jonathan called out my name in such a way. Our teacher seldom used honorifics, and almost never spoke so sharply, two details which both of us noted immediately. When I turned to face him, I could have sworn that I saw a strange look of worried recognition flash briefly across his face as his eyes met mine. Then he practically stormed over to where we were standing.

"Chris, go ahead and get changed out, I need to talk to Kaito for a moment." Sensei's tone was firm, and broached no argument. I didn't bother looking as Chris turned to do as told. Then Sensei turned his attention back to me and I almost flinched. I'd never seen the man this on-edge before, not in the entire three years that I'd known him.

"I've just sent Kenji to the storage room," he told me rather brusquely, motioning with his arm to indicate the corner room where all of the dojo's protective gear was stored. "I want you to go meet him and the two of you are to wait there. Izumi and I will be in there shortly to speak with you. Go now."

"Yes, Sensei," I replied almost automatically, more than a little stunned. As I followed his orders and headed straight for the storage room door, I couldn't help but wonder what was going on. Why was he so on edge?

As I opened the door and walked inside I saw that Kenji was indeed already there, examining a box filled sparring chest-pads. He turned to face me as I shut the door behind me.

A startled gasp escaped my mouth as our gazes met. His eyes had changed! Just this morning his eyes had been their usual dark grey color, but as we both stared wide-eyed at each other in that moment, I could see that his eyes were now a startling electric blue. And that scared me, because I could only think of one reason for it. Normal human eyes don't just spontaneously change like that, especially not to such an unusual, almost glowing color. Those had to be mutant eyes. And judging from the way that Kenji was staring at me, I had a feeling that he wasn't the only one who'd suddenly acquired a set.

"Oh shit," he spat out, confirming that fear.

"Me too, huh?" was all I could say, spoken with a forced but worried grin. "Electric blue?" Kenji looked confused at that for a moment before his eyes widened even further when he realized what I was implying.

"You're kidding!" he exclaimed, hurriedly rubbing his eyes with his hands as if that would confirm the change. "Both of us at the same time? No wonder Sensei went so strange all of a sudden." There was a worried timbre to his voice as he stared at me once again. "How is this even possible?"

"It's not all that strange if you think about it," I replied back, trying to sound calm but unable to hide my own worry. "We're identical twins, and mutations are supposed to be at least somewhat based on genetics, so it makes some sense that we'd both manifest at the same time if either of us were going to." Even as I said it my words sounded hollow. It was relatively common knowledge that psychological and environmental factors also played key roles in the manifestation of mutant powers, so the odds of even identical twins manifesting at the same time still had to be pretty long.

"Sure, I guess that makes some sense."

I could tell that he didn't believe it any more than I did. We were obviously both really worried about what was happening to us. I sat down against the wall to do some breathing exercises Izumi Sensei had taught me a long time ago. Kenji started pacing back and forth.

"You don't think they would try to do something to us, do you?" he finally asked me after what was probably less than a minute, obviously referring to Jonathan and Izumi. "You know, like turn us over to the MCO or something?" He visibly gulped at that, having never been very fond of the MCO and the rumors that circulated about it. I thought about it for a few seconds before shrugging my shoulders. I had no idea what Sensei Jonathan was up to.

"What about Dad?"

That question sent a chill down my spine. How would Dad react to this? Not just one but both of his kids turning out to be mutants? And at the same time, no less? There were always plenty of stories about kids getting kicked out by their families when they manifested, what if Dad did something like that? I pushed that thought from my mind, not wanting to think about such a possibility.

"I...I don't know," I replied slowly, my voice shaking despite my best efforts to remain calm. The thought that I didn't even know how my dad would react scared the hell out of me, but I couldn't let Kenji see that. I shook my head and forced back the tears that I felt beginning to form. I was not going to cry over this. I had to stay tough for both of us.

Kenji kicked the box of pads as he growled in frustration. "Why does this have to happen to us?" I was about to express my agreement with that sentiment when the door of the room started to open.

As our two instructors came in and shut the door behind them, I stood up and went to stand next to Kenji, who had stopped his pacing rather abruptly. Both of us eyed the two of them warily, a detail that Jonathan didn't fail to notice.

"You can relax, boys," he said to us calmly, as he put his arm around Izumi's shoulders, "we just want to talk. We've just called your father and he is on his way here." Considering what Kenji and I had just been thinking about, that's wasn't a very comforting comment.

"Why should we trust you?" my brother demanded, perhaps a little more harshly than I felt the situation called for. "How do we know you haven't called the MCO to come take us in? And why did you send us both in here while you dismissed the rest of the class?"

Both Izumi and Jonathan were startled by that response, and I thought that Izumi in particular actually looked hurt by the accusation. She turned a questioning glance to her husband, who met her gaze with a subtle nod. She nodded once in return before turning back to face us and lifting her hands to her eyes. She removed a pair of contact lenses that I'd never known she wore.

Kenji and I both gasped.

Her eyes were not the beautiful crystal blue we'd always known. Rather, her irises were a mysterious pale grey, almost white in fact, and showed no visible pupils. They were somewhat eerie to look at, and they were definitely not the eyes of a baseline human. I knew we didn't have to worry anymore. There was no way she'd have called the MCO on two of her own kind.

"You're a mutant?" Kenji asked unnecessarily from beside me, his tone indicating that the question was more out of shock than doubt. Izumi nodded with a sheepish smile, prompting Kenji to turn his focus on Jonathan. "And you?"

"No, not me," the older man replied quickly, holding up his hands defensively, "I'm just a regular old baseline." Then he also gave us a sheepish grin as he ran a nervous hand through his short red hair. "I just know better than to be cruel and unjust to people who have no choice about being different. The only reason I told the two of you to come in here and wait was to reduce the chances the other students noticing."

Thinking about it, I decided that was probably a good idea. While I didn't think any of the others would have maliciously tried to hurt us or anything, it was probably best if they didn't find out anyways. Where mutants are concerned, staying hidden is generally the best first line of defense.

"So..." Jonathan continued, a look of worry mixed in with the sheepishness as he rubbed the back of his neck, "do you trust us now?" He and Izumi both looked at the two of us, half worried and half hopeful about what our response would be.

As a way of answering, Kenji suddenly darted forward and wrapped them both in a hug, startling them briefly and causing me just to shake my head. That was Kenji for you, always wearing his heart on his sleeve. I generally tried to be a bit more reserved, though I had to admit, at that moment I was really tempted to join in. They'd just been watching out for us, and here we were thinking they might have actually tried to hurt us in some way.

"Yeah, we trust you," I stated unnecessarily as I walked more slowly toward them. "We were just worried, but now we can tell you were just looking out for us."

Jonathan caught my gaze as I approached, and raised his arm toward me. I saw the invitation for what it was and threw my caution to the wind, joining in the group hug. It felt good knowing that someone was watching out for me and my brother, even when I didn't know it. I didn't even complain when he tousled my hair, much as I'd done to Kenji earlier. I was just glad we were going to be okay.

When the group hug finally broke up a few moments later, Izumi shifted past Kenji to hug me more directly, even while Kenji did the same with Jonathan. It was comforting but brief, after which Izumi stepped back and laid a hand on my shoulder as well as Kenji's. I could see a faint glistening in the corners of her unusual eyes.

"You're both good kids," she said to us before fighting back an emotional sniffle rather unsuccessfully. "There's no way we would ever turn you two in."

"Yeah, and besides," Jonathan added with a dramatic grin, "you guys are two of the best students I've ever taught. I don't know what I'd do if the MCO made you both disappear. We'll do whatever we can to help you guys out." With that he reached out and ruffled both Kenji's hair and my own, and we reflexively pushed him away, sporting wide grins of our own. Izumi chuckled softly at that, before clearing her throat to speak.

"Well, now that the mood in here has brightened up a bit, why don't we all go wait in the lobby until your dad gets here?" Even as she said it she was putting her contacts back in her eyes. Once finished she flashed her familiar blue-eyed smile. "Heaven knows we don't have to stay all cramped up in a storage closet."

I felt a lead wait settle on the bottom of my stomach. Glancing over at Kenji, I saw that he looked worried as well. We still didn't know how our father was going to react to his. The thought of what he might yet say weighed heavily on my mind as we all headed back out onto the dojo floor.

Forum: Writing Tools
 Topic: Character Driven
Character Driven [message #94725] Thu, 23 October 2014 16:54
Cryptic is currently offline  Cryptic
Messages: 1524
Registered: June 2012
Location: PA
An interview from on Deviant Art I think is worth sharing: acter-Driven-489740238

For those who can't access it, or for when it is taken down

Toggle Spoiler

Just keep the caffeine flowing, and the bad ideas will be kept to a minimum... Step away from the Caffeine and no one will get hurt. I am one of the Caffeine Heathens who prefers Dew over Coffee. Beware my Muse: She wants to Break the Writer
Forum: Administrative Notes
 Topic: Check Dr Bender's story page
Check Dr Bender's story page [message #94374] Sun, 19 October 2014 00:35
Cryptic is currently offline  Cryptic
Messages: 1524
Registered: June 2012
Location: PA
Not sure if it's my browser being wacky or a stray fragment of code that effects everyone, but if you mouse over the blurb for Boston Brawl and Insanity there's a faint underlining. Not really doing any harm, just seems weird. Also not sure if it's on other story pages or not.

Just keep the caffeine flowing, and the bad ideas will be kept to a minimum... Step away from the Caffeine and no one will get hurt. I am one of the Caffeine Heathens who prefers Dew over Coffee. Beware my Muse: She wants to Break the Writer
 Topic: The Wayback Machine *did* crawl the forum messages in 2010
The Wayback Machine *did* crawl the forum messages in 2010 [message #94368] Sat, 18 October 2014 23:23
JonLennox is currently offline  JonLennox
Messages: 14
Registered: October 2014
Location: New Jersey
While poking around on the Wayback Machine, I discovered, somewhat by accident, that they *did* crawl at least some of the messages in the Crystal Hall forums in 2010 -- mostly, it looks like, in June and September.

Unfortunately, it's pretty sporadic, and they didn't do so in a way that makes it easily possible to browse the forums, but if you have direct links to specific pages, you can see them -- for instance,

A complete list of the URLs of everything that was archived between May of 2009 and May of 2011 can be seen here, using Wayback's scriptable CDX search.

I've also grabbed everything on that list to my local disk, if there are specific things people would like me to look for.

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