Aug 17, 2022 2:29 AM
rebecca, shannon, and raleigh, plus bonus orion, graduate into velgarth
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They're not one of the faster teams.

There are a lot of reasons for this. They're not casting a timespear, so that leaves them out of the top tier of speed all by itself. Running increases Rebecca's error rate, and while she has a spell to steady her voice and was able to teach it to the other two so they can do it without her interrupting herself, she hasn't been able to get it to last very long - translating it into Spanish didn't even help - so breaking into a run is a last resort. And, given that, they have decided they will stick by Orion, insofar as is possible. Orion isn't in an alliance. He's just planning to go in there and cut through mals and rescue people for the full half hour and then an earsplitting timer will go off in his ear and he'll make for the gates. But he's agreed that he will mostly focus on cutting a path toward the gates rather than going after anything that's huddling off to the side, and a team that is walking, not running, will be able to remain in his general orbit for much of their journey.

They wind up going even slower than anticipated, spending a while literally standing in the middle of the hall trying to figure out, without any of them wanting to pause to talk while they're trying to cast, how to get the corpse of a bus-sized argonet that Orion just killed out of their way. They wind up climbing it, after there's enough of a lull in the onslaught for Shannon to cool its glowing-hot scales, and then the gates are right there, and it's time to run, a song won't stop Patience or Fortitude anyway and running is the way to go -

Orion swoops in behind them to pick off something that was coming at them from behind, Rebecca's supposed to be on head-checks but she didn't think anything was coming over the argonet after them, and it's such a stupid thing to happen but the whirl of their hurricane shield catches a torn bit of the hem of his pants and flings him forward, right while they're taking a step, and they wind up all touching the gates at the same time.

It feels just like induction.

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That was easily the most terrifying few minutes of Raleigh's life, boosting Rebecca's song from the Sacramento mana, but now it's OVER and in the final moment, as the spell seizes them, the terror transmutes to exhilaration, the blood is singing in his ears and he feels more alive than he ever has before. Shannon's hand is in his and they're going to make it and everything is going to be okay - 

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They MADE IT. She's going to see her parents again. Maybe they would even have flown down to Sacramento, to be there waiting... She's drained and giddy with relief and on the edge of laughing for no reason. 

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And then there's an immense swirl of magic, more mana than any of them have ever felt even through a power-sharer, and something twists, as though the spell is turning itself inside-out, and - 

 

 

- then they're tumbling onto snow, and there's a shimmering barrier nearby, and on the other side of it, a white-hot explosion of fire is starting to curl into a mushroom cloud shape, and the ground is shaking and there's a roar too loud to hear anything else. 

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He had been going to kick off the wall, launch himself at the blue thing - there's no wall, there's no blue thing, there's snow, what the - Orion whirls around, sword-whip crackling.

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The entire world is still INCREDIBLY LOUD SOUND and the ground is shaking and all of them are going to be half-blinded, but there are definitely people running toward them! Or maybe just toward the shimmery barrier. Half of them are wearing military-looking uniforms - archaic-looking military uniforms - and all of them are carrying weapons, mostly swords, except for one man who's wearing scarlet-and-gold robes and a cloak and isn't carrying anything, and then there's someone else catching up to them, because he's riding an enormous white horse which is galloping toward them. 

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Raleigh flops to the ground the instant they're through, and it actually takes him a few moments to...notice...that this isn't Sacramento at all

What. 

....He kind of wants to burst into tears, now, for some stupid reason. He was supposed to see his mother. 

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Shannon is on the other side of having any feelings, apparently. She shields her eyes against the huge explosion and wonders blankly if that's the enclave being nuked or something - no, wait, this can't be Sacramento, there's snow on the ground... 

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Is this Rebecca's fault, because she didn't come in from a normal induction point, did she somehow pull all of them to the middle of nowhere - the nuclear war is not her fault - she has no idea what the shimmery barrier is, did someone invent force fields in the last four years -

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Orion tries a spell that is supposed to work on psychic mals that are making you hallucinate. It's in Ancient Greek and as far as he knows none of the other three have it but that doesn't matter any more at all and never will again! When the spell doesn't find a target he squares up against the approaching swordsmen.

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The uniformed soldiers slow down as the man riding the white horse - who's dressed in matching all-white - overtakes them and leaps down from the saddle, a dagger in his hand. 

He says something in a completely unrecognizable language, his tone more confused than hostile. 

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What is that supposed to mean. That doesn't even sound like a white people language.

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"I have - English Deutsch Español Lingua-Latina Russkiy Italiano Français Hindi -"

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Baffled headshake. Then the man actually gets a good look at their clothing - and their age - and does a double take. He frowns, then, oddly, turns and...makes eye contact with his horse? 

The horse's eyes are very large and blue and radiate an almost creepy level of intelligence. 

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Maybe he has a horse familiar. Oh damn now she wants a horse familiar, she'd been thinking about getting a pretty bird but maybe a horse would be better...

She is wearing an all-denim outfit handed down and patched in twenty places, too small in the bust and too wide in the legs, and amethysts around her neck and wrists, and a hiker's backpack weighed down with her books, and a tiara she made herself as a final shop project out of silver wire and more amethysts, and battered ancient sneakers that at one point she attempted to jazz up with some of Chloe's spare paint in pink and green. Her hair has been hacked off unevenly and she hasn't taken a shower in two weeks but her teeth are in fantastic shape.

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Orion is tall and has much nicer clothes - a shirt with a print of rectangles occluding a sunset on the front, for some reason, and dark gray pants that are slightly too long for him and have been hemmed up at the cuffs but otherwise look about right, and practical black boots, and he has a sword-whip thing which is currently more of a sword than a whip but does have visible joints. He has a wristwatch-thing. "Hellēnikḗ?" he offers.

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Raleigh is also dressed more nicely than Rebecca; his senior year jeans were modified to fit him pretty well, and he's wearing a button-down flannel shirt with a plaid pattern over a soft grey sleeveless-tank undershirt, and his sneakers are in excellent condition. He's wearing a beautiful bracelet that looks woven out of silver and copper and gold or at least gold-colored wire, and a necklace with a ruby pendant, and a chain-mail-like sort of half-vest half-cape garment that covers his back and hangs down to around his knees. His hair was also recently cut short, but much more neatly. He doesn't have any languages that the others don't so he just looks warily at the stranger. 

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Shannon's track pants are hand-me-downs; she grew out of her original spell-embroidered pants, and they've been handed down in Sacramento ever since, most recently to Jessie, who's a– no, not a freshman anymore by now, the new freshman will be arriving. Shannon and Raleigh both ended up taking Jessie under their wing. Shannon is going to miss her a lot. (Probably she'll be all right? Tough, brave, great affinity. But it's never guaranteed.) 

She can offer Mandarin and Korean and Japanese? 

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Nope! None of that is any more recognizable! 

Herald Marius sighs and tries Rethwellani and Hardornen and Karsite. At this point he's not very surprised when these get only blank looks. 

Sigh. He takes a deep breath. :Can you understand this: There's a reason it's not generally done, to talk to non-Mindspeakers directly; it's probably going to startle them a lot. But this is incredibly confusing and the timing is alarming and they need COMMUNICATION. 

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Orion's response to this is SWORD UP AND AT THE READY.

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"Um - yes?" says Rebecca. "I... understood that?"

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:What are you doing here: 

The man's body language is carefully controlled but there's definitely some hostility leaking through in his telepathy. ....And fear, too. 

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"We don't know! They were supposed to wind up in Sacramento and he was supposed to wind up in New York and I was supposed to wind up in Chicago!"

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:What...country, are those places in?: 

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"America."

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The man gives her the blank, harried look of someone who is very busy and very stressed and does not have time for incredibly confusing answers to questions. :Is that north, south, east, west?: 

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