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 southern sun, tag: min
Grant Booker
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 01:06 AM
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Twenty-two hours since the time he'd moved in and already his schedule was booked. One moment he was perfectly content in combat school and under the assumption that he'd stay right here. It never occurred to him that he'd be picked for the Elite class, given that there were other people in the combat academy that were better. Not that he was upset by this appointment-- it was quite the honor-- he just knew he was likely the very last pick and it was only because he was the best lancer of the few they had. Needless to say he didn't understand his placement in the group; he didn't realize it was because different skills that set him apart, a sort of moral drive to complete goals that a lot of others didn't have.

If he'd known that, perhaps he would've been a little less self conscious. As it was, however, he stood smack dab in the middle of the arena, a sort of fear pulsing through his veins that he was familiar with, yet the context was distinct. He'd been here before, certainly, but it was always with a class. Always with a group of people facing a similar trial. Never by himself-- never with any clarification of what he was walking into. And he'd heard of how difficult the Elite classes were, how intense; needless to say his palms were sweating as he balanced his lance in his hands.

He circled the area, eyeing the stands for any observers and seeing none. Not a soul. Just himself and an oval of grass, his mind left to wander. And then he heard the padding of shoes on earth and he turned quickly, lance still lowered in his hand. It occurred to him too late that he should've raised his weapon in case it was the challenge itself, but he caught sight of another student and felt thankful.

He recognized her from the hallways. She was in a different class set than himself yet still in the combat academy, a face he knew but never spoke to, never familiarized himself with. Her skill was renowned, though, so it was easy to piece together that she was picked for his Elite class. No surprise here. He nodded vaguely at her, certain they would be working together. Or was this part of it? Facing off?

"Booker," he introduced himself, his voice betraying his confusion. He couldn't quite recall her name. "You're in Eli--"

A deep rumble from one of the entrances silenced him and he turned, blinking, his defenses strong enough for him to bring up his weapon this time.
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Min Jia
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 09:30 AM
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Min knew exactly why she had been chosen, having always been a confident (read: arrogant) sort of person, so it came as no surprise to her when the classes filtered out and she was kept after, handed a letter and a key for her dorm and sent on her way. It helped that she was the only real student of her kind, too. Most rogues chose daggers or bows, stealth or distance, but she had always had a real knack for building things and while it took some work and a hell of a lot of magic, she eventually managed to turn a skill into an art of war.

She wasn't the first of her kind, certainly, but she was rare all the same, and that alone paired with an aggressive and competitive nature made her a shoe-in for a spot. She knew early on what path attending the academy meant for her. They all were meant for the battlefield in the end, but at least being an elite meant a different kind of destiny.

Needless to say, she was excited, both at the idea of being unique and powerful and also at knowing that she would always be a life valued a little more than the rest. Most students were considered cannon fodder for the war; she wasn't so stupid as to think otherwise, wasn't optimistically blind to the fact, but having a specialty and being considered special did at least mean her life was held a little higher in regards than most. She almost had guaranteed safety compared to others.

Knowing that brought on the pressure, though. Slipping and showing any sort of weakness wasn't an option. If any of the council ever thought she wasn't up to par, she could easily be dropped and replaced. And as she stepped into the arena, it was that thought that stripped her of any joviality, her natural friendly demeanor warped into a sort of playful bloodlust. She had no idea who or what she would be training against until she stepped inside and saw him, either, her body loose, its language casual as she drank him in.

She nearly assumed he was a regular student but he got halfway through a sentence that informed her otherwise. The arena barring shut behind her hardly left her any chance to say anything back, though. Already she was on her feet and acting, a hand shifting through the satchel on her hip, palming a bomb, and throwing it between them, leaving a smokescreen in the middle of the arena that allowed her a chance to slip off into the rafters to the side and hide for a second.

He was another Elite, someone of her caliber, which meant this wouldn't be easy. Then again, she probably shouldn't have expected otherwise. At the very least it would a challenge, a chance to prove herself.
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Grant Booker
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 02:26 PM
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A thousand possibilities ran through Booker's head just before he caught sight of the door closing. They could either be enduring this challenge together or alone, against one another. Perhaps the other Elites would show up in time, as well-- he hadn't had a chance to befriend anyone well enough to ask for their schedule-- but for now he was left in the dark. It wasn't until the door was shut and there was a smoke screen up between them that it occurred to him-- oh. She was his enemy, at least for now.

What kind of initiation was this? Weren't they supposed to be a team? There wasn't even an introduction! Just toss them in a ring together and let them fight until-- what? Surely they wouldn't be able to truly hurt each other. She could light his ass up if she wanted, and he-- well, he wasn't sure if he could do it, considering how much better he thought she was than him, but if he landed his lance just right it could prove fatal.

So this entire thing seemed ridiculous to him. Had anyone not made it through the initial Elite trials? He scanned his worried brain for any student deaths, but found none. Then again, his mind was scrambled; he couldn't remember much of anything.

He fumbled with the lance in his hands, tossing it a few inches above him and spinning it so it would gain some momentum. The smoke screen between them proved it impossible to find his target, however, and he would expend precious time by throwing his lance where she wasn't. He had the ability to retrieve his lance almost immediately, one of the few magical talents he did possess, but the time spent prepping and tossing unfortunately left him exposed.

"Do we seriously have to fight each other?" He asked no one at all, more letting his voice project into the unknown. He'd come into this experience expecting to never challenge his authority, yet here he was. Already questioning, already worried about the moral implications. This wouldn't be very team-building.

His fear was damn near palpable as he caught sight of something stepping out of the smoke screen and towards him. Thinking it was Min, he opened his mouth to call out to her-- but in the time he waited, the creature revealed itself and leapt towards him with a guttural roar.

His lance flew out of his hand by pure instinct, colliding with the creature, both his weapon and the animal phasing away upon contact. The lance back in his hands now, he spun on his heel to find many more headed towards him. Instead of waiting for them to approach with his one lance, he ran through the smoke screen and towards Min, where he thought there would be strength in numbers.
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Min Jia
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 04:28 PM
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She had assumed this would be some sort of person to person training exorcise. Of course she hadn't expected it to go too far, and of course she figured the administration wouldn't let their prized soldiers get too banged up, but she had most certainly guessed that it was her versus him. It never even occurred to her that there would be anything else in the arena, though that was mostly impulsive, shortsighted reasoning on her part. Then again, thinking things through and planning had never been her strong point. One of her greatest flaws was being as reactionary and combative as she was. Sure, that fighting spirit of her's seemed like a good idea on paper, but what came with it was a disdain for authority and an impulse to do things her way.

At least she hadn't done major anything yet.

Which was a good thing because it took no time at all for the real problem to reveal itself. Monsters. Of course. She scoffed a little at how tedious it seemed, at how impersonal, but she jumped down from the rafters regardless at his approach, shifting her stature upwards in yet another casual movement before she tossed a grin in Booker's direction. Fighting was fighting, no matter how she would have rather fought a real, living target and not some magical illusion.

"Figured this would be a little more fun than this,' she commented idly, amusement audible in her tone as she shifting through her satchel again and threw another bomb, this one entirely different looking than the last. As soon as it hit the ground it detonated, taking out two monsters in front of them and blowing back another. "Kinda seems a little shitty that they don't think we can handle any real targets since, you know, they fuckin' picked us."

The threat was real though, wasn't it? Illusions or not, the monsters could still very well do damage if they absolutely wanted to. She was aware of that, too, having seen this sort of thing before, though it didn't really do much to alleviate her offense. People were unpredictable and much more suited for training, especially since the vast majority of them came in a variety of flavors as far as weapons were concerned. Monsters could eventually be broken down into patterns, into a small set of skills. It was hardly a challenge.

Between complaints she managed to pull out another bomb, something small and unsuspecting, her hands flashing briefly before she tossed it again, though this time it at least laid dormant, crackling on the ground as a trap.

"The name's Min, by the way."
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Grant Booker
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 06:49 PM
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He could do this. One creature fell after another, his lance pointed in the direction opposite of Min's bombs, and he knew he could fall into some sort of pattern. In fact this seemed entirely easy; if this was the only challenge they expected of him, he supposed he could understand why he was picked for the job. Not that he could have taken on all of these creatures by himself, certainly not, but with Min in tow it was incredibly easy.

"Maybe this is just a warm up round," he said hesitantly, not sure what that would mean for the rest of the time. Yet more of these clawed creatures came out as he spoke, his lance still dissipating along with it upon contact, the entire thing clearly a magical illusion. It was easy, too easy, disturbingly easy-- "I can't imagine this is all we'll be doing. But it's not like they can pit us against anything real, can they?"

He'd heard of the Elite challenges and how a lot of them were illusory. But he'd also heard of the more difficult ones, the ones outright touted as sport, the ones he'd seen in person when there were events. Oftentimes the Elite class was challenged with an audience, as some sort of sporting event in which they were expected to survive, like a gladiator match. He hadn't ever seen someone die during these events, but he supposed it wouldn't be a first if one did. He figured he should be thankful that these trails were illusory.

Just as he was getting comfortable, however, another roar grabbed his attention from the opposite side of the arena. Giant claws pawed at the earth, dust rising in a cloud around its thick and furry legs, its fangs so long that they couldn't be contained in his mouth. A behemoth stood at the entrance to the grounds, the door shutting slowly behind it, and judging from its interaction with the actual environment, that one was alive. The others were meant to be distractions.

"Shit," he muttered, looking over to Min. The only way through this was strategy. Lobbing bombs and tossing lances pointlessly wouldn't get them anywhere, especially with all of these dickhead monsters running about. "We either need to take out the little ones or disarm them long enough to take out the leader. I have a bad feeling the little ones keep coming until we've taken out the alpha."
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Min Jia
 Posted: Aug 21 2016, 08:31 PM
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This was boring and already she found herself hating whoever decided that this was a better test than letting their best students fight each other. Sure, it sounded dangerous on paper, but wouldn't it have been a much better exorcise than this? Than fighting creatures that possessed no real threat? Her eyes rolled as one of the lumbering magic beasts triggered her trap, sparking a storm at its feet that took it and two other monsters out, before she audibly sighed and crossed her arms. So much for being the highest caliber soldier, right?

"Hell yeah they could! You don't think we won't be fighting real shit later? Giving us this watered down illusion of a fight doesn't do us any favors at all. If we get too comfortable with patterns and shit, imagine what that kinda comfort will do to us on a battlefield? Where shit, y'know, can actually kill you?" It all sounded very grandeur and very noble but Min really didn't care about any of that. Her real, underlying problem with this whole mess was that she had worked and trained tooth and nail to be the best she could be and this was what they thought of it? That she couldn't even handle something that would bleed. Admittedly most of her offense was rooted in her outright desire to fight and to be challenged, too.

She was outright snarling by the time she finished ranting, her fingers working absently to toss another bomb in the direction of the steadily respawning beasts, so distracted with her irritation that she hardly noticed (or even cared) about the real threat until Booker pointed it out.

And therein was her problem. That haughty attitude, her offense from earlier, how easily she underestimated enemies and overcalculated her own skill threw her headlong into too many situations she couldn't just punch her way out of. Had she been alone, had this been a solo exorcise and not one in teamwork, she likely would have eaten it big time. Hell, she wasn't even much better off without him here. His words did have her standing still for once, though, head cocked as she watched the beast from a distance.

"Got any plans?" It was clear by her tone that this still wasn't necessarily a serious threat to her, though she was at least taking precautionary measures by asking. "Cause I sure as hell ain't a strategist."
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