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RP Wardens of Forseti

Discussion in 'X-COM Role Playing' started by DarkGemini24601, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Wardens of Forseti

    Aesir Color-Corrected.jpg

    Summary:​

    Wardens of Forseti is a spiritual successor to Vanguard of Forseti. Some of the members of that old RP (which was itself a sequel to Story of Defiance) were able to complete their character arcs in a meaningful way before it was cancelled. I wasn't one of those people. Due to how busy I was during the year VoF took place, I was unable to progress with character development to a satisfying extent. Many a time I've looked back on that story, and felt wistful. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't come up with a satisfying way in which to come back to it, and finish off the stories of characters such as Sasha, Hermes, and Marianela without inconveniencing others.

    Eventually, I came to the conclusion that a smaller project was necessary. I'll be off to college in the near future, so I can't run a massive project like Liberation of Earth again (nor would I want to, considering how exhausting massive RPs are). Wardens of Forseti will be a collaborative effort between myself, Taxor_the_First, and MarineAvenger. We'll be taking cracks at characters we never got to conclude with, or - in some cases - new characters entirely.

    As far as the story itself is concerned, Wardens of Forseti will follow in the footsteps of VoF in many ways. Forseti here is a colony with rich elerium sources, as it was in the original incarnation. The difference is that it has its own independent government since spacetravel takes a long time. Stars are distant, and even at 100 times the speed of light, commercial starships takes months to get between planets. Therefore, the ESDF - the organization Atka Ipiktok created to protect and serve humanity - assists in local divisions where it can, answering to whatever local government is present. While it primarily protects from external threats... sometimes there is internal strife that demands their intervention.

    In present day on Forseti, there is a conflict that has been rising for some time. It will be up to the ESDF forces on Forseti, and the reinforcements on the Einherjar, to put a stop to the threat to Forseti's legitimate government. But before we can observe the action in present day, we must travel back in time thirty-seven years to catch a glimpse of how Forseti was founded, how it developed, and how the characters there grew up.

    For your edification, here is a link to a simple excel document that outlines how a Forseti day, or "Cycle", is subdivided into human terms. The prologue makes mention of it, but I found that a visualization was much more helpful.
     
  2. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Wardens of Forseti: Prologue
    Entry 1 - Dawn of a New World

    2059 A.D. by the Standardized Earth Calendar

    “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” The words echoed through a silent hallway, passing down a corridor dozens of meters in length. There was, naturally, no response. Not a single heart beated at the moment. All was frozen away in a deep sleep - the necessary provision for distant space travel in class one ships. For the moment - for all intents and purposes - Merlux was alone. In the past the A.I. would not have thought to do something as irrational as speaking to himself. But, as humans did, he had matured over time. It was over two decades ago that he had been created, and since then what had once been a splinter had grown into a full-fledged artificial intelligence.

    “Those words are from Socrates,” Merlux continued anyway (as if someone were listening). “Smart guy. I see why people tend to look to him for wisdom. I’ll log that away with the other philosophers I’ve perused during this travel.” Reflecting on the journey the starship he found himself within had taken, the artificial intelligence continued, “we’re nearly at the end of the nine months, huh? I suppose I could have slept through it like they did, so the trip would seem like it took place in the blink of an eye. Unfortunate part,” Merlux remarked glumly, “is that AIs don’t dream as humans do. It’s more of a spiraling abyss.” With a mental shrug, he dismissed that uncomfortable reality.

    “At least I’ve had a chance to learn in this time,” Merlux tried to look on the bright side. “Doubt I’d be sparing the time to look through the collection of Shakespeare’s works that Christine and Adam were so fond of.” The holographic projection frowned. Thinking about those that had fallen - even if their deaths had been two decades ago - wasn’t a pleasant prospect. He pivoted back to the topic at hand. “This will be the furthest-out colony from Earth yet established. An impressive feat, to say the least… provided we don’t accidentally fly into Aesir’s gravity and be crushed by turbulence.”

    The A.I. sighed, hanging his head. “I’m bad at this ‘optimism’ thing,” he readily admitted. “That shouldn’t be an issue. All of the human crew is asleep, but once we enter the Asgard System the alarm will wake up the pilots. And the autopilot’s already got a flight plan anyway, the human element is just here to correct for any miscalculations by the navigators back on Earth. It may not sound like it, but I’m actually looking forward to this. Never been to another planet, let alone another star system. And no, the Moon doesn’t count.”

    Silence. “So what’s this new world like, you ask?” Merlux responded to an unspoken question. “It’s certainly not completely analogous to Earth. The orbit takes us a tad closer to this system’s ‘Sun’ than Earth ever gets; I suppose you’d call Forseti a desert world. This alone wouldn’t make it too out of the ordinary, but here’s the real kicker: Forseti itself is in orbit around a gas giant. That ‘Aesir’ I was referring to. The closest comparison I can make is Saturn if you threw it between Earth and Venus’s orbits. It has an abundance of moons large and small, many of them rocky unlike Saturn’s icy satellites. Captured meteoroids and smaller planetoids, I’m told.”

    “Forseti is one of those, and revolves around Aesir every fifteen Earth days. Because Forseti’s tidally locked to Aesir, its own ‘days’ take place over that 360 hour period. And its seasons are determined by Aesir’s slightly-elliptical orbit instead of an axial tilt - something Forseti doesn’t have. We’re set to arrive during winter, which is supposed to be the mildest of seasons. As for terrain, climate, and all that… I’ve seen the reports and the images from scouting probes, but I’d rather just see it for myself. Just a matter of time…” Like clockwork, a series of cool blue lights flicked on along the hallway, accompanied by a melodic drone that sounded the alarm for the cryosleep pods. “Huh. That’s impeccable timing.” Merlux chuckled. “I planned out my little speech to coincide with this, of course. Nothing in life is that coincidental.”
     
  3. Taxor_the_First

    Taxor_the_First Well-Known Member

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    DarkGemini24601 & Taxor_the_First


    It felt like waking up with a severe hangover, after a rough, fitful night.

    Samuel scowled, nearly bumping his head on the side of his pod as he groggily attempted to clamber out. Around him, others were undertaking the same task. He ignored them. He had his own concerns.

    Dimly, the Russian tried to remember procedure. What was he meant to check first again? Breathing? Clearly that was working fine. “Ah, fuck it,” he grumbled, rubbing his eyes in an attempt to focus his vision. “Never paid much attention to shit like that anyway. Stacie, Isaac, Charlotte! You three awake?"

    “Define ‘awake’,” the former responded, bracing herself against a wall with one palm. “This feels more like lucid sleepwalking.”

    A point of light appeared between the couple. With their eyes still adjusting to the light it was hard to make out what it was, but the voice that emanated from the projection cleared that confusion. “It really shouldn’t be that hard to adjust. Charlotte is doing leagues better than you two,” Merlux commented with an amused expression that was lost on the two.

    “That’d be because she’s young,” Stacie growled at her A.I. “Wipe that smug look off your face.”

    “I honestly doubt you can see that right now.”

    “But I know you’re making it,” was the retort.

    “That’s what you two get for being so old,” a young man nearby said, smirking.

    Samuel growled. “You might not have a room yet, but I’ll ground you in it as soon as you do if you don’t zip it.”

    His son scoffed. “You aren’t the boss of me. I don’t even have to live with you two when we’re settled.”

    “I know none of you are morning people, but this is worse than usual,” Charlotte spoke up. The younger sibling was able to stand without needing to prop herself up, and helped her mother adjust. “Simmer down… we’re in too tight of quarters right now to be arguing. Only Mer can escape from that sort of situation. Cheater,” she said in the A.I.’s direction.

    “Guilty as charged,” Merlux conceded. “It was kind of the captain to allow me access to the ship’s network.”

    “You’d find your way in anyway somehow,” Samuel noted, running a hand through his hair. “I think the captain just wanted to save you the trouble.”

    “Perhaps. In any event, as the alarm would suggest, we have arrived,” Merlux announced. “We’ve dropped out of the slipstream, and in a few minutes we should come up upon Aesir.”

    “Oh, so you didn’t wake us up because we were about to plunge into a star. Good. Weight off my shoulders there,” the former Aerotrooper snarked. “Bloody hell, give me a minute to get my bearings.”

    “Is there a window or something we can look out of?” Isaac queried. “I’m curious. I want to see our new home in the flesh.”

    “Of course. If you would follow me, I can guide you,” Merlux replied, ghostwalking through the air until he passed through the cryosleep chamber door.

    The gas giant that Forseti orbited around soon came into view. Although Merlux had compared Aesir to Saturn, this Jovian planet was much less calm. Turbulent winds created subtle ripples in the bands of hydrogen clouds that made up Aesir’s atmosphere. The upper rungs were yellow, bronze, and gold colors - the lower bands the same - while the center was a brilliant spectrum of oranges that made up a line of storm cover. Although they were moderately calmer during Aesir’s winter, the ever-present gales still had telltale ‘eyes’ where their tempestuous winds coalesced.

    Samuel whistled. “Angry looking bastard, isn’t he?”

    “Get used to seeing it,” Isaac noted. “Must be big from Forseti…”

    “It takes up a third of the planet-facing side, yes,” Merlux reported. “The cloud cover is bound to get more detailed during the summer when Aesir is warmed.”

    A grunt from Samuel. “That’s… interesting, I guess. Honestly so long as Forseti itself doesn’t turn out to be covered in lava or something, I’m less concerned about the one above.”

    “Merlux said it was a desert planet, father.”

    “Then my point stands. It’s pretty and all, but…”

    “We’ll be landing on said planet-facing side of Forseti. Wisely, the charter dictates that the first city we build will be on the coast of her only ocean.”

    Samuel looked at his wife. “What do you think?” he asked. “Ocean view? Or would you prefer something more inland?”

    Stacie laughed. “I think we’re going to have to wait awhile to have much choice in the matter. But… an ocean view wouldn’t be bad.”

    “Ah, who’s going to argue with two war heroes?” The Russian smiled. “Though I suppose there is some order to go through first. What even is the plan when we get down there? Just start building things where we can?”

    “The ship is designed to undergo a permanent touchdown and serve as the colony headquarters until a proper capital can be built for the Constitutional Forseti Republic,” Merlux reported, smirking a bit at the name. “The full national title sounds like a moniker that would give Crusader a… what was the term she used…?”

    “Freedom boner, I think,” Stacie enjoined, earning a laugh from Charlotte.

    Samuel glanced at his daughter, and sighed. “I still can’t believe the history books are going to include that one time she kicked my ass off the field. Going to live with that for the rest of my life now.”

    “You still have the first Elder kill on record, so it works out,” the black-haired teen replied.

    “And the texts I’ve seen thus far don’t tend to include the context of that ‘takedown’, so it appears legitimate,” Merlux noted with a knowing smirk.

    “Oh good, I’m glad my honor is maintained,” Samuel murmured sarcastically.

    “It’s ok,” Isaac said, gripping his father’s shoulder comfortingly. “We’ll always know you aren’t actually the badass history makes you out to be.”

    Charlotte broke out into unrestrained laughter, while Stacie merely gave her husband a not-so-reassuring ‘ouch’ wince - meant to show solidarity. The alarm had begun to abate completely at this point, and it was not long before Forseti came into view.

    The star-facing side of the planet lacked any ocean-sized bodies of water. Instead, seas of red-orange sand and rock crisscrossed the terrain, giving the land below an appearance not unlike Mars. A few sizable ravines and mountain ranges could be made out from near-orbital distance, indicating substantial tectonic activity. The fact that Forseti was geologically active and had a discernible nitrogen atmosphere made it appear much more alive than the red planet, as did the blue dots pockmarking the sunside deserts. They were large lakes and miniature inland seas that breathed life into the otherwise-parched regions. But still, this side of the globe that the settlers intended to call home was much more barren than Earth.

    Light streamed onto half of this side of the tidally-locked body, but the other side was halfway into the proper angle to receive starlight as well. And as the ship came around, it bestowed upon the passengers a much more promising view. A vast ocean dotted with small islands and rimmed with green stretched out before their eyes, surrounded by more desert but at least offering an oasis - a shelter from the scarlet dunes.

    “And that,” Merlux remarked, “will be our landing site.”

    “AKA, ‘Home’,” Isaac said, clearly entranced by the sight. “Never going to get a view like this again.”

    Samuel shrugged. “I’m more concerned about the ground-level view,” he muttered. “First few weeks are probably going to be pretty rough. Not as bad as when I was a boy, but still…”

    “Well, that’s the life of a pioneer,” Stacie responded calmly. “We’ll manage.”

    “Damn right we will.”
     
  4. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Entry 2 - Landfall City

    And so they did. The colony ship safely made landfall on the coast of the sole ocean of Forseti - which would be fittingly titled the ‘Solitary Ocean’. Similarly, the settlement that sprung around the colonial headquarters was quickly named Landfall City. In the first year of colonization, the settlers faced a multitude of challenges. Foremost was adjusting to the new ecosystem. Forseti’s day-night cycle was vastly different than Earth’s, with day and night cycles that stretched on for a hundred and forty-four hours each, and twilight that lasted for 36 hours - over a day back on Earth. Without the means to adapt to Forseti’s elongated Cycle, Landfall City was purposely designed from its inception to accommodate human temporal sensibilities.

    During the daytime, living quarters were heavily shuttered so that the blistering light of Forseti’s sun would not preclude proper sleep cycles. And during the night, a plethora of lamps glowed to simulate daylight in the hours during waking hours of the long night. Twilight required a mixture of both methods. The colonists created a calendar unique to their new abode. Each 360 hour Cycle was divided into fifteen Earth-length days. At the end of every two weeks - on the fifteenth day, which was always night - a new day was created to fill in the gap. Its original name did not last long, as the 15th span came to be known by a different name by the second year. The fifteenth day came to be known as Vauxday, dubbed such by the neighbors that Landfall discovered.

    Scarcely a Forseti year after Landfall City had been founded, the fledgling Constitutional Forseti Republic made first contact. Despite the fact that the probes preceding the colonists had come up with no signs of local intelligent life, there was in fact a sapient species on Forseti. The Vauldrin had escaped detection due to their regressed technological level. Centuries ago, the desert-dwellers had been on parity with Earth in the 2030s, but a series of famines brought on by blight and rising tensions that were either extant already or created by the crop crisis had devastated their society, and led to years of ensuing warfare. Eventually there were very few Vauldrin left at all, and the survivors had lost even the ability to operate radio - their only advanced technology being crude elerium-powered lasers and other machines of war.

    The Vauldrin that came to Landfall City did not seek conflict, however. They sought to join the advanced civilization that had set foot on their world, fearing they would not survive for much longer without human aid. The young government handled the predicament well, and worked to integrate the Vauldrin into human society. There were tribal groups that had no desire to be part of the CFR, and remained outside of settled land, either ambivalent towards the newcomers or openly hostile towards them. The majority settled in Landfall City and the satellite settlements that gradually began to spring up around the capital. Prejudice towards the natives was largely avoided, although cases of exploitation were from time to time reported - as some of the Vauldrin were too keen on viewing their human benefactors as saviors, and endowing themselves with a debt ripe for abuse.

    Despite the turmoil, the republic held itself together. As the years passed, the early issues began to die down. The Vauldrin - nocturnal by nature - found their niche as nighttime workers. Landfall City developed a thriving nightlife, in which humans and Vauldrin alike mixed their cultures to create parties unlike anything on Earth. The vibrancy of the six days of darkness reflected how much the capital was growing as a whole. The colony ship that had brought the settlers to Forseti was gradually deconstructed, until the command center was all that remained - serving as the seat of government for the regional governor and president alike. The downtown area rose up with skyscrapers, while a tightly-packed suburban region stretched out to the outer limits of the city (demarcated by a defensive wall, most prominent in the southern side of town). A thriving harbor was born in the northern part of town as settlements were established on verdan islands in the Solitary Ocean.

    All and all, twelve years Post-Landing, Landfall City had become an urban centre matching the megacities back on Earth. Nearby elerium deposits brought the capital city additional prosperity to the community, and would - in time - spur additional settlers to come to the city in the future. With those new waves of colonists would come the prospect of expanding onto the frontier, which would be rife with potential and danger alike. And, as any population grows, so do the problems indigenous to it become larger.

    ***
    Landfall City Concept Art (as with the images above, not mine; I claim no credit for their creation):

    Suburban Marketplace
    [​IMG]

    Downtown Area
    [​IMG]

    Administrative District
    [​IMG]

    Wharf District
    Better Wharf.jpg

    Southern Wall
    [​IMG]
     
  5. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Entry 3 - Constraining Complacency

    LCPD Headquarters, Downtown Landfall City
    Tuesday the Ninth, 4th of Spring, 13 P.L.
    Twilight [1500 Hours, Local Time]


    The pictures lining his desk stared back accusingly. “How the mighty have fallen,” Samuel muttered, shaking his head. Even Lester, nestled among the rest of the old squad, seemed disappointed in him. This from the image of a man who had made himself head of a company full of desk jobs. Desk Job Supreme.

    The Russian grunted, and turned to look out his office window. Landfall City was finally complete. Which naturally meant a larger area to police, a larger area to keep safe. Least expansion would slow down a bit now.

    A light knock came on his door. The sound was odd: rather than being the hard rap of knucklebones, it was the soft patter of some sort of thick fabric. While some people had a habit of clearing their throat before asking to enter, there was no utterance - merely silence overlaid with a faint pneumatic hiss.

    Samuel frowned. “Someone there?”

    “Yes,” was the reply, although the voice sounded mechanical and stilted.

    Oh, no. This can only end badly. “Alright, come in. Door’s unlocked.”

    The door was gently pushed ajar, and a being that was almost assuredly not human stepped into the office. The voice -likely synthesized- had originated from a pair of small, subtle speakers on either side of an atmospheric helmet. Small cords ran from the miniature devices up to a concealed apparatus on the minutely-waved, domed cap of the helm. Metal there and on the sides of the alien’s head encased a full-face visor. It was pitch-black, allowing no light to leak out and illuminate the wearer’s features.

    The rest of the intruder’s body was encased in a bodysuit of similar design. Dark grey metals acted as a support frame around thick violet-black fabric, which covered the subject’s entire body. His movements were not awkward, although a nearly imperceptible whirr indicated its weight was carried by servomotors.

    Clasping his gloved hands behind his back, the alien questioned, “would it be acceptable if I spoke to you telepathically?” in that monotone ‘voice’.

    Samuel raised an eyebrow. “Worried the walls are too thin?”

    The alien’s head shook slightly - the neck movement seeming somewhat restricted. “No, although privacy is preferable. I cannot speak as humans do; psionics allow me to approximate your language more naturally than this converter does.”

    A dismissive wave of the hand from the seated human. “Go ahead. You want to sit down? Glass of water? Alcohol? Bit early in the day, but I won’t judge you.”

    While the offer is appreciated, the alien replied, his mental voice sounding human with a backdrop of crackling ice, the fluids I consume are based on liquid methane.

    “Suit yourself. Probably a good idea for you to not diversify your palate here, eh?” Samuel himself partook of the glass of water already sitting on his desk. “So what can I do for you… what was it, Odin? It’s been a while.”

    I have come to you with a job offer, so to speak, Overseer Odin responded. Your skills in intelligence, honed in the Earth Liberation War and here on Forseti, would be useful to my ongoing efforts to preserve the peace.

    “I’m a cop, not a PI,” the Russian responded dryly. “And I appreciate the flattery, but I can’t really think of anything that would drastically require my attention… unless you know something we don’t?”

    Silence followed his words. The Overseer paused for a few moments - whatever facial response he’d had to Samuel’s words being masked by his helmet - before speaking again. Forseti’s community is idyll compared to Earth as a whole. The larger a population is, the more wolves there are that nip at the heels of stability. There are a few criminal elements in Landfall City right now - you’ve dealt with a gang that trafficked that Vauldrin narcotic - and there are bound to be more as additional colonists immigrate to Forseti, and the population grows.

    Already, Odin continued, I have averted a few catastrophes. Do you recall the fire that burnt down the clinic on 47 street? Some maniac had tried to blow it up, claiming the doctors were experimenting on their patients, and my agents were only able to save the workers - not the structure itself. With a more competent, experienced operative… perhaps I could have detected that threat sooner.

    “And you think I’m your guy?”

    I wouldn’t have come here if I did not.

    “I…” Samuel considered. Hadn’t he just been mentally complaining about his job? How dull it was? Dealing with common drug addicts and jaywalkers only contributed so much to society, after all. Maybe he would be better served taking this opportunity, sudden as it was. “... and what would you have me do?” he asked. “If, theoretically, I were to accept your offer, what would I be doing?”

    Information gathering, both in person and from my headquarters… potentially field work as well, if you so desired. The Overseer lifted one of his arms, accentuating the mechanical whirr. You may have aged, but with an exosuit you would be operating at full capacity physically - not to mention you still possess your psionics, whether you have trained with them recently or not.

    A shrug from the human. “Not really, no,” he admitted. “I worked out very quickly that by the time I draw a psi amp the person I’m trying to arrest has already drawn a gun or bolted.” He tapped a finger on his desk, thoughtful. “I suppose… I would be trusting you to know what I could handle, and I trust Chloe to pick someone who’d be good at that. Alright. I’ll give it a shot.”

    Very good. Samuel felt a telepathic surge slightly different than normal communicate pass through his mind, and a set of coordinates appeared before his eyes for a moment before becoming implanted in his memory. Visit this location when you are ready. One of my agents will be waiting for you there, and will take you to my HQ where you can begin your new work.

    The Russian nodded. “I should probably resign from my post here, huh,” he muttered. “Thanks, Odin. I guess I’ll see you then.”

    Another slight nod from the Overseer. Without another word, he departed, walking with steps so light it was as if he were floating.
     
  6. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Entry 4 - Progeny

    As Samuel began treading down a new path in his later years, his family had begun to take root in Landfall City themselves. Charlotte, after experimenting with different jobs across the circumfrence of the CFR, finally found a reason to settle down. While serving as a volunteer for the local police force (ironically joining less than a month after Samuel had left), the war hero’s daughter met a member of the militia advising the LCPD. Modya Dragomirov was the descendant of a resistance fighter himself, and like many members of his family before him, he’d joined the army. A local gang calling themselves Luchshiy - ‘the best’ in Russian - managed to get ahold of magnetic weaponry, requiring the intervention of a man such as himself.

    Despite the honor he held, being selected for a task such as this one, Modya had to overcome a streak of cowardice that had plagued him for years. Though he feared he could never match up to his father, Charlotte encouraged him. And for his part, he reassured her that she would eventually find her calling. As the two worked to end the threat of the Luchshiy, they began falling for one another. The week after Modya led one final raid to apprehend the leadership of the gang, he proposed to her, and the two were married not long after. Modya had overcome his fears, and Charlotte had found her place; she wanted to spend her life with him, and be a mother. In 15 P.L., Charlotte gave birth to twins: Sasha and Mikhail.

    During her elementary school years, Sasha fit in. She was a normal girl with average performance and interest in school, and made a few friends. It was in third grade in particular that she met another girl that would become a lifelong lifeline: Irina Beaumont. Shy and reclusive, Irina was as invisible as a ghost – but for some reason Sasha noticed her, and forged a lasting friendship. Although Irina could not be persuaded to become as sociable as Sasha’s brother, her connection to Sasha meant that both were content. Good things seldom last forever, of course, and the ground Sasha thought she stood on quickly proved to be a plywood surface masking quicksand beneath.

    For his part, Mikhail had blended in with the crowd himself during his early years. He made a lot of friends, having the sort of mild personality that led him to get along with others easily. None of his friends were quite as close to him as Irina was to Sasha, though. Mikhail never really got to know her at the time, being too busy enjoying the wide retinue of acquaintances he’d amassed. In this time, he did have the beginnings of a central worry that would plague him for years to come. Mikhail felt intimidated by Modya’s legacy and Charlotte’s as well. They both came from a line of heroes, and in comparison Mikhail felt small. He wanted to be friends with people and do the right thing – to be the salt of the Earth and a paragon of justice… but such dreams seemed farfetched and impossible for him.

    In junior high, the winds of change blew, and Sasha began to stand out more. Her body began to develop, becoming more voluptuous in nature. This attracted the jealousy of other girls and mixed reactions from the boys – but little of the attention drawn was good in nature. Sasha’s peers began to bully and sexually harass her. By the middle of her seventh grade year she could only really rely on Irina – who stayed at Sasha’s side even if it meant drawing the ire of her tormentors. Even Mikhail was of no help. He continued to be a social chameleon that didn’t stand out, and – fearful of losing that status – stood idly by as Sasha’s mental state worsened.

    Her grades went into the gutter, and the light seemed to leave her life. By the time Sasha was almost done with middle school, the dark wind began reaching its crescendo – in tune with the bad dust storm year. Her parents had done all they could for her, but most of the abuse dished out was impossible to get the other kids in trouble for – and the therapist Sasha went to wasn’t enough. Her depressive tendencies worsened to the point of considering suicide. Sasha truly felt as if she was drowning when Irina was taken away to a medical facility to treat her ailing lungs and her increasing medical complications.

    Alone now, and entering high school with the only familiar faces being those that treated her like dirt, Sasha was nearly at rock bottom. Then that fateful day came. Mikhail’s friends - not any ally of Sasha’s - thought it would be funny to humiliate her by dumping ice-cold water all over her (with the side effect of making her clothing transparent). They urged Mikhail to do the deed, convincing him that he’d be cool in their book if he did. And so, reluctantly but foolishly, Mikhail doused his sister.

    It was as if he had spit in her face, and told her that he hated her too. Sasha fled school in tears, and groped through her father’s drawer for his pistol. She pressed it to her temple, and sat there with her whole body trembling and her fingers sweating for what must have been an hour or two. She almost did it, but fear of death and dying held her back for long enough. Modya returned home, and pleaded with Sasha, ultimately talking her down from taking her own life.

    Although Sasha was brought back from the edge, her lot did not immediately improve. She continued to be bullied relentlessly, and the air around her seemed to have physical, melancholy weight to it. Sasha did not speak to her brother much at all for months. She had grown to hate him for what he did. Part of her knew that it wasn’t entirely his fault – he’d just tipped her over the edge. But his selfish actions cut a rift between the twins far deeper than the one that had grown between them in middle school. Sasha hadn’t blamed him before; she did now. And Mikhail, wracked by intense guilt, became convinced he was a horrible, spineless person that didn’t deserve happiness.

    When summer rolled around and the animosity continued throughout a vacation to the Lyandree Islands, Modya and Charlotte knew something had to be done. As soon as they got home, the pair got in touch with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed Sasha with clinical depression and was able to put her on medication that kept her overwhelming sadness at bay. The weight was still there, but – alleviated slightly – Sasha was strong enough to face Mikhail with her mother’s encouragement. The two made tentative amends. As time went on, Sasha went beyond simply letting go and forgave her brother. Mikhail didn’t exactly forgive himself, but moved past his self-hatred a little. He strived to always be there for his sister. As they entered their sophomore year, the twins’ budding relationship was challenged.

    Luckily for Sasha, Mikhail’s resolution proved solid. He abandoned most of his friends, remaining with the ones that had left Sasha alone or turned a new leaf. The former, Sasha allowed herself to become an acquaintance with. For the latter, she let their actions go – but made no effort to be friendly with them. She had other concerns. Her grades were in tatters for last year, and she needed to work extra-hard to have a prayer of being successful in school. Hard work ensued: Sasha stayed up late studying, stayed after school for supplemental aid, and overall stayed determined to make good grades. Mikhail assisted her in this process, the two studying together and deepening their growing bond.

    Little by little, Sasha overcame her depressive disposition and stepped back into the light. When Irina returned in junior year, the Russian-American was living a more normal life. She had a few friends, played on the school’s hockey team, and had gotten herself a telescope with which to look beyond the skies. In a culinary arts class, she met Leo – the two bonding over a mutual appreciation for good food. And when Irina did return, Sasha was overjoyed to have her best friend back. Her mood improved substantially during those last two years of high school – enough so that she pushed beyond her comfort zone. Mikhail, still nagged by self-condemnation, never sought out an intimate relationship; Sasha dabbled in romance twice.

    At the end of her junior year she dated a boy named Owen, and managed to preserve the relationship through the summer – but eventually he broke up with her, unwilling to deal with her emotional problems. Early in her senior year she tried again, finding that a close connection to the opposite sex gave her a fulfillment little else did. This time it was Sasha that broke up with her boyfriend, though. The second one got too forward with his advances, and – still nursing psychological wounds from years of helpless harassment – Sasha wasn’t willing to commit to anything venereal.
     
  7. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Entry 5 - Nightfall

    Classroom 2B-10, Northeast Wharf High School, Landfall City
    Friday the Twelfth, 5th of Autumn, 36 P.L.
    Nighttime [1600 Hours, Local Time]


    DarkGemini24601 & MarineAvenger

    The windows were open, and the strong gusts of wind coming off the ocean flowed unabated into the room. Normally the shutters would be kept closed at this time of year; the spring and fall did tend to have some harsh rainstorms and even monsoons, after all. The weather was relatively peaceful at the moment, however, and the second-floor classrooms of the high school had the tendency to overheat during the transition seasons for some unknown reason. The wind as just as bedeviling as level two’s heater mystery, however. Students had to hold their papers down, with one hand while they struggled to finish their work - or with some sort of paperweight if they’d had the sense to bring one.

    Thankfully for Sasha, she’d had the wisdom to bring such an object. Her pre-calculus assignment sat sixty-percent finished, wedged under her shut laptop - which itself hung a bit precariously off the front of her desk. The senior didn’t have any time to worry about her device tumbling to the floor at the moment. With only seven minutes left on the clock, she would be hard-pressed to finish enough of the assignment to make it a passing grade. Every click of the timepiece on the wall sent a pang of apprehension through Sasha, but she knew she had to focus. Six minutes wound down into three, and soon the bell rang.

    Four of the twenty-five questions remained unanswered; about 80% had been completed. Letting out a sigh of defeat, Sasha placed down her pencil, and brought the assignment up to her instructor. Handing it off, she silently hoped that she’d gotten enough correct that all that stress wouldn’t be for naught. The Russian-American returned to her desk to pack up her things. To be fair, this situation is partially my fault, Sasha thought to herself as she wedged a binder into her backpack. Sasha had been distracted throughout the first half of the quiz, thinking about the appointment she’d made for afterschool. By the time she was down to twelve minutes, she’d realized how much time she’d wasted.

    And thus the struggle. I can’t help it though! Sasha thought with a faint smile forming on her features. I can’t believe he hasn’t gotten tired of me yet after five weeks now. It’s so- Sasha’s eyes widen as she heard something slip, and swiveled around with barely enough time to save her laptop from smashing against the tiled floor. Embarrassed, she ignored the amused looks from several of her classmates as they departed - putting away the portable computer and zipping up her backpack. At last, she left her math class, heading down the hallway.

    More windows - these ones closed - followed Sasha as she went down the corridor. The waters surrounding the wharf were pitch-black without Ijei’s light, although the docks weren’t darkened by any means. A wide variety of warm yellow and orange lights brilliantly illuminated the area as much as the rest of the city during the waking hours of Forseti’s long night. Sometimes, Sasha would remain for awhile to look off towards the water and admire the view. But the easily-distracted senior had a dinner appointment to make, and that preoccupied her mind more than the lively wharf at the moment.

    Sasha stopped momentarily in the bathroom next to the stairwell. The Russian-American approached the sink mirror, looking herself over. She brushed some creases out of her school uniform’s black skirt and aqua-green jacket, and straightened the white shirt underneath. And then did it all again, unsure. Is this good enough? Should I head home and change into a better dress? Oh, but there isn’t enough time… I don’t want to risk being late. I’d make it if I took a taxi, but chances are that’ll be too slow. I need enough time to walk… but is being better-dressed better than being late? the teenager went back-and-forth in her head. With a frustrated sigh, she realized that her hesitation was - in of itself - burning away the time she needed to get to the restaurant regardless. And so off she went.

    Twenty minutes and a hurried walk later, Sasha made it to Roskosh with four minutes to spare. She opened the opaque double-doors of the restaurant, stepping inside. The establishment was fairly narrow, like a wide hallway. Booths lined the wall to the left of her, while the bar and kitchen extended off of the right, and normal tables were sandwiched in-between. Consulting with the front desk, Sasha confirmed her reservation and was seated towards the back of the restaurant. She waited, tapping a foot nervously and losing her gaze in the elaborate lighting on the ceiling - which was like a miniature nighttime city of its own.

    Around ten agonizing minutes passed in the restaurant, and then - just as the reality started to crush down on Sasha’s mind that she may have been ditched - a young man at the reception desk caught her eye, luckily disproving her worries. In a sense, Leo Sinclair was as much Sasha’s opposite as a guy could get aside from his somewhat plain good looks. His life was stress and anxiety free from what she glimpsed into his private life from the past five weeks and beforehand - during their initial friendship.

    His black jacket indicated him as a high honor roll member, having one of the highest grade point averages in the school for a guy who for all intents and purposes seemed like a slacker on the exterior. Somehow he did it though, and to make matters even more enticing, he was apart of the handball team at the school. Leo stopped by the table, blinking a few moments as he came to a decision and decided to sit across from Sasha, so he didn’t crowd her. “Hey, sorry I’m late. Got held up with friends and… and other such excuses a boyfriend can make, I am really sorry Sash.”

    Sasha waved her hands, which trembled a little bit due to her anxiety. “N-No, it’s alright. Don’t worry about it,” she insisted non-confrontationally.

    Leo looked at Sasha’s hands -something of a skill he picked up since dating her was learning people’s tells- and he reached out, lightly taking one of them in his. “How was the test today?” he asked with a hopeful tone.
     
  8. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    For the most part, the contact seemed to relax Sasha. “Alright…” she answered, rubbing the back of her neck with her other palm. “I didn’t finish it all the way through, but I got most of it done. As long as I didn’t mess more than a few up, it should be a passing grade.”

    “As long as? Knowing you, I am sure you aced every question. Time constraints are bullshit anyways. At least with finals they give us several hours. Usually all you do is use two-thirds of the time and nap the rest of the allotted time. I do at least,” the young man explained with a slight, nonchalant shrug. A moment passed before he looked back to her, and then went over her a few times as he shook his head. “How is it every time we meet, you just seem to get more gorgeous?”

    Sasha glanced away, unable to meet his gaze in the midst of the complement without becoming bashful. “You’re too nice… I didn’t really do anything special to prepare for this… n-not that I didn’t prepare at all, of course!” she clarified quickly.

    Leo’s chuckle rolled out like warm honey, and his hand grasped hers just a little more forcefully. “Seeing you like this never ceases to amuse me. Reminds me of how much you stumbled trying to get us together. I said it then, I’ll say it now: your mental scramblings can make any man fall head over heels himself.”

    “Again, you’re too kind,” Sasha adjudicated with a smile. “I’m glad you think of me that highly, though.”

    With a nod and a charismatic smile, he slowly pulled his hand away and looked to the side. “Of course, though we both didn’t just pick this spot for vanilla romance. Want to get something to drink? I think you could use one after your day.”

    “Hey, it wasn’t all bad,” Sasha pointed out. “I had fun in culinary arts with you. That class is never dull.” The Russian-American opened up her menu, taking a look over the available drinks.

    “You say that every day.” Leo pointed out, already knowing what he wanted. Reaching into his schoolbag, which was modeled in the Japanese style - not at all cheap looking. he pulled out a small wrapped giftbox and placed it on the table carefully so she didn’t notice with her face buried in the menu. After that, he sat back and waited with a smirk.

    “I think I’ll have a White Russian,” Sasha mumbled, nodding to herself. “Mikhail said it’s one of his favorite drinks, and I trust his judgement as far as taste goes, if not when it comes to moder-” Her eyes widened when she looked up, catching sight of the present. “What is this?” she asked with grateful surprise.

    “You made a big deal about us getting to five weeks, so I thought I would do something special for the girl I love. Why don’t you go ahead and open it instead of ogling?” the young man suggested.

    “You didn’t have to,” Sasha murmured, reaching forward and undoing the tie so she could open the box and see what was inside. Inside was a nice-looking silver charm bracelet, simple enough with Sasha’s name written using letter blocks put together and, inlaid with them, were sparkling green gemstones. “T-This is…” Sasha held the bracelet up in front of herself, a disbelieving expression painted on her features. “This didn’t cost you too much, did it?” she asked worried.

    “Any worries about the cost are for me and me alone. The only worry you should have is deciding if I got your shade of green right or not. I know some girls are picky.” Despite his teasing, Leo felt just as good giving the gift as Sasha likely was getting one. The aspiring chef was generous almost to a fault. Almost.

    Sasha let his words relax her. She let herself smile broadly, putting the bracelet around her right wrist. Her right iris sparkled just as brilliantly as the matching gemstones on the bracelet. “Thank you so much, Leo. I’ll take good care of this, I promise.”

    “And there’s something to keep in mind with this gift too. It is not just merely a bracelet. It’s a special vow. Whenever some petty bitches come to try and talk down to you, or you feel like you might worry about a grade, just know you’ll always have a part of me there with you along the way.” He placed his elbow on the table and leaned his head against his fist, making him seem a bit cheeky for being purposefully cheesy with the delivery.

    Sasha didn’t seem to consciously pick up on the fact, as thankful as she was for the present. “I’ll remember that.” She held the bracelet close to her heart, closing her eyes, smiling, and cherishing the moment for awhile. She only opened them when a Vauldrin cleared his throat. “O-Oh. Sorry…”

    The Forseti native shook his head, a faint smirk touching his features. “No problem. What can I get you two to drink?”

    “I’ll have a White Russian, please,” Sasha ordered.

    “The Royal Flush, and easy on the tonic.” Leo said, in kind, his smiling gaze not leaving the girl.

    The waiter nodded, and went off to get the drinks. Sasha was silent for a moment, mentally scrambling to find a conversation topic. “So… you asked me how my day went, but what about yours? Anything interesting between third period and the last bell?”

    “Don’t ask me how or why, but a bird got in through one of the open windows in the cafeteria. They had us relocate to the auditorium for that study hall, but those cushy chairs are a lot better than the hard benches. Other than that, handed in a twelve-page paper about old Ethereal theatre for drama class, and all the rest was just white noise. Pretty easy day. Must have been because of the nice weather.” The young man surmised with a dreamy sigh.

    “I like fall too… might be my favorite season, though winter is a close second,” Sasha responded with an approving nod. “I can’t imagine taking the advanced classes you and Irina do, though… I think I’d pull my hair out.”

    “Bleh, you and your Russian blood. Summer is my time, baby. Hot sun, no school, days by the waterfront with girls in bikinis. It’s paradise.” Leo contested.

    “I can swear by the ‘no school’ part, but I can feel my genetics screaming in protest when the heat rolls around,” Sasha said with a light laugh. “I still remember the time three years ago when the water receded so far from a drought that some of the reef was exposed. We live in a world of extremes.”

    “Extreme heat, extreme work, extreme beauties.” Leo made sure he met Sasha’s eyes when he said the last. “What more could a simple highschooler ask for?”

    Sasha couldn’t help but flush a little, smiling an embarrassed smile. “...I’d be up for a visit to the beach when it gets warm again, though only if I could wear a swimsuit around you without turning into a beet.”

    “Could always bring Irina along and really make it a party.” Leo suggested with an evil snicker. “Think she would be brave enough for a cute swimsuit, or would she be the kind to wear the one piece the school requires you to wear for the pool?”

    “The latter, without a doubt,” Sasha decided with a shake of her head. “Irina’s not the sort to show off. I’d try to encourage her to find someone, but she can be really… passively stubborn, if that makes any sense.”

    “Perfectly. I think it’s why she secretly hates me for corrupting her best friend.” he asserted, leaning back with a relaxed look. “From the glares she gives, I think she suspects I used some sort of psionic compulsion on you or some sort of voodoo.”

    “She doesn’t hate you,” Sasha defended. “She’s just wary… protective.” The waiter dropped off their drinks.

    “Perhaps. Just shows how much she cares.” He looked down at the palm of his hand, smiling as a few golden orange sparks flew up like a mini sparkler. “You know… I’d never do anything to hurt you. Gun to my head, they’d have to shoot me before I would even consider. I hope you know that. I’m not the other two.”

    “Of course I know that. I trust you completely,” Sasha told Leo sincerely.

    “I trust you too.” The sparks that flew from his hand suddenly came together to form a tiny bird, merely a fraction of the actual size Leo could make it but he wanted to be modest when in a public place. “There’s something important I think you need to know Sasha. Something very important.” he insinuated, leaning forward slightly to give her a hint.

    “Y-Yes?” Sasha returned, leaning forward herself.

    “You make me the happiest guy on all of Forseti.” Leo whispered resolutely, going in for a kiss.

    Sasha closed her eyes, pressing her lips against Leo’s and losing herself in the warm feeling it created in her chest. She momentarily lost all sense of where she was, her awareness being limited to herself and the man with her. Only gradually did the restaurant come back into view as she reluctantly pulled away, whispering, “I love you,” to her boyfriend.

    “I know.” he responded in a way only he could make sound right.
     
  9. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Entry 6 - Summertime Stress

    Lyubovniki Beach, Wharf District of Landfall City
    Friday the Fifth, 1st of Summer, 37 P.L.
    Daytime [1100 Hours, Local Time]


    DarkGemini24601 & MarineAvenger

    The heat rolled through the air like a physical presence. It permeated every aspect of the summer on Forseti, being present in the scorching embers that were the sand on the beach, the ripples in the air that obscured one’s view, the fabric of swimwear, the metal of warning signs. The waves tumbled and retracted in the sweltering summer temperatures, functioning as a cool relief for the beachgoers on the micro level and a global air conditioner that kept the moon from overheating on the macro level. On this blistering day, Sasha had made good on her promise to take Leo out to the beach with her.

    Enough time had passed that she did not blush furiously at the idea of Leo seeing her in a swimsuit. Sasha was not dressed in her beachwear quite yet when they arrived at the scarlet-colored waterfront, however. She wore a pair of blue jeans and a white shirt with the logo of her favorite headphone company on it, the rest being underneath. The Russian-American helped her boyfriend set up a pair of chairs and an umbrella, before saying, “I’ll go head over to one of the booths and get changed.”

    “See you when you get back.” Leo told her, trying to suppress a knowing smirk and holding his tongue about how he couldn’t wait. Instead, the man wearing a sleeveless tea with multiple BBQ stains on the front not from eating, but from actually cooking in the past and white trunks with black zigzags reached into a bag and got out some water bottles and sunscreen.

    Soon enough, Sasha returned. Gone was her normal attire, replaced with an outfit that - a few years ago - she never would have had the courage to wear. The Russian-American was dressed in a bikini, colored orange with speckles of green to give it more flair. The outfit was not immodest, but on a woman with Sasha’s proportions it did not leave too much to the imagination - highlighting her near-hourglass curves. “H-How do I look?” Sasha asked, one arm under her chest and the other at her side - finding herself a little nervous after all.

    Leo’s eyes almost bulged out of his head, his cheeks going a bit crimson, and not from the heat. He spent so much time being respectful, he never really concerned himself with her actual bodily attractiveness. In fact, he never recalled her being so curvy. “U-Uh I mean… g-g-good, good. You look… extremely good in fact.”

    Sasha’s posture relaxed slightly. She lowered her arms to her sides, allowing herself to smile. “I’m glad to hear that,” she breathed, walking over and sitting beside Leo. “Could I see the sunscreen?”

    “M-Mhmm.” He took the tube and handed it out to her, and when she took it, looked down at himself and removed his shirt, revealing to Sasha he was as much of a looker without much clothing as well.

    Sasha’s eyes darted over to his chest as she began applying the sunscreen onto her skin, her gaze not lingering for too long but finding its way there a few times. "It um… sure is hot today. I did warn you, though.”

    “You don’t come from my family without learning how to deal with heat. Trust me.” he assured her. When did I start sweating so much damn it!

    Finished with the sunscreen, Sasha passed it back over to Leo. “You’d better hurry up before more people start coming out here and the water gets crowded,” she noted as she scanned the horizon.

    Leo quickly applied the protection to his skin, swallowing hard as he tried to make his mind go somewhere else. He noted the birds were out, the water certainly looked refreshing and just how well his hand rested on her hip as suddenly he realized he unconsciously had put his arm around her. Screaming internally, he calmly asked, “Should we go cool off in the water, love?”

    “U-Um...s-sure, that’d be n-nice,” Sasha stammered, not having expected the contact - but not exactly upset about it either.

    Keeping the poise of a stoic while inside he screeched about how lucky he was, the two made their way to the water’s edge. Striding in, Leo removed his arm and reached down, sticking his hands in the water to splash some on his face for more meaning than one. “So cool… exactly what the doctor ordered.”

    Sasha stepped into the water, getting her feet wet to get used to the much-colder temperature than the air at first. “Yeah, this is great,” she echoed. She waded in a bit further, and then swam fully into the water, allowing herself to float on her back. “Come on in!” she beckoned her boyfriend.

    Shaking his head, he stumbled his way until he finally was able to swim himself, being rather good at it. Coming up besides her, her smiled, “Looking good there, sea cucumber.”

    “Cucumber?” Sasha questioned, turning her head towards Leo. “Why am I a cucumber?”

    “Because… you’re cool as one. You keep me around for my looks, not because I am a stand-up comedian.” Leo remarked with a laugh as he swam further out.

    Sasha followed him. Despite her professed love of the colder months, she was fond of swimming, and thus had no difficulty keeping up. "There's something refreshing about being in the sea, as opposed to an indoor pool," the Russian-American mused, coming to a stop momentarily to slide down one of the more gentle waves. As she floated on the water-slope's crest, Sasha stared up at the crisp blue sky - her mind drifting.

    Peace, quiet, and repose were usually pleasant conditions for Sasha - one of the things she had in common with Irina was her desire for the occasional feeling of solitude. But at this moment in time, the thoughts that Sasha had been repressing came to mind. She'd been trying to avoid looking towards the future, but in her struggle to stay in the present her mental gaze was dragged towards the concerns she had by a psychological riptide - prompting Sasha to frown as the wave passed by her and Leo.
     
  10. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    "Something you want to talk about?" He boyfriend asked with a slight concern to his tone, having spent the last minute trying and failing to decipher what could be troubling her.

    "What?" Sasha blinked, snapped out of her trance-like state by his utterance. "I-I... it's not important. I don't want to trouble you with my worries right now."

    "You never trouble me by talking to me, and as my girl, your worries are mine. Come on, spill." Leo urged her, swimming close and resting a hand along the small of her back.

    Sasha looked away. "I-I've just been thinking... you're going to college, right? "

    "Well, yeah. I'd like to become a chef after all. Maybe get a job as one on the side to take up some freetime." Leo answered honestly, then he looked down at her. "What about you?"

    "That's the problem..." Sasha sighed sadly. "I don't have the grades to make it into the same school as you. I'm going to Overlook Trade School on the south side of town. We're... probably going to be seperated that, not to mention our jobs will end up being really different too."

    "I see. Well, I'll only take something part time anyways, and when I am free, I will be on my way to you faster than you can flip a pancake." Leo assured her, trying to wane her doubts, even if he too had them.

    "Are you even sure you're going to a school in Landfall City?" Sasha questioned, unconvinced. "I know a lot of good schools for your interest are out in the islands, like Novedena."

    "If I have to skip out on those places, I will to be closer to you. We all make sacrifices, and even at a community college, my skill is more than enough to cover me for my life."

    Sasha shook her head. "I don't want to keep you from your dreams, Leo. The fact is... i don't really know what I want to do. I'm going to try and figure something out to study in trade school, but the future for me is uncertain. I can't in good conscience make you turn away opportunities just for my sake."

    "Yeah but... But Sasha come on, I won't just abandon you cause of school. I would never dream of doing that to you. We can make something work. And when we are out of school, we can *really* be together. Start a life together. Wouldn't that be something?" he asked, trying to maintain a firm smile but couldn't help but have it waver.

    Sasha smiled regretfully. "It would be nice... but we both know it may not be feasible." Sasha waded over to Leo, placing a hand on his cheek. "I-I'm not breaking up with you Leo, I d-don't want you to think that. I just want you to... t-to be free to pursue a career that's going to make you happy."

    "Yeah, I know that." Leo said, shaking his head, "It's just that you are... mine Sasha. I'm never more exhilarated than when with you."

    "I know," Sasha responded, tinges of pain in her voice. "I wish that I'd done a better job in school... maybe I could have gone with you. This is probably my fault..."

    "No, that is a stupid argument." He told her genuinely, running the back of his hand along the right side of her head. "It would be like saying it is my fault for not doing worse. You worked your tush off. You've done well for yourself with how hard you have worked. Harder than any other person I know."

    "Still wasn't enough to ensure that we could stay close together," Sasha whispered. "I'm so sorry, Leo..."

    "It's alright." he whispered back, an invisible force holding Sasha's chin and making her lift her gaze to meet his. "You said this wasn't us breaking up. And it isn't. We can just do what we need to do. And when it is all over... A life all to ourselves. I'll get us a nice house by the sea, a place all to ourselves. The breeze and ocean will cool us in the summers, and a nice fireplace cuddled in one another's arms will keep us warm in winter. I promise. You'll have a happy life."

    Sasha smiled faintly, wistfully. "I'll work for it, though. I don't want to just leech off your talents."

    "You could have my kids," he suggested teasingly.

    Sasha reddened, moving back from Leo. "Don't just say things like that!"

    Leo laughed at her reaction, momentarily forgetting about the worries of the future. "I didn't hear a no."

    "I'm not answering that question!" Sasha rebuffed, shaking her head furiously.

    His laughter continued, and he reached out, seizing Sasha by the waist and pulled her into his awaiting arms. "No matter what Sasha, know I'll love you always."

    Momentarily forgetting herself, Sasha pressed up against Leo, bringing him into a kiss. "How could I forget?"

    "I'd hope you never do." Kissing her himself this time, Leo's thoughts wandered. What had once been a friendship he cherished with a girl he got along with well in one of his classes turned into an infatuation with a good looking girl with a huge rack and presence he enjoyed. Now, it is was a love he had gained after all she confided in him, after all the sweet memories they shared. For the first time in his life Leo was genuinely scared, and it was of losing the girl he admired.

    Sasha rested her head on his shoulder. "I promise I'll keep in contact with you at the very least. Make calls when I can, send emails when I can't. I won't lose my connection to you, no matter what."

    "Yeah, that sounds like a plan. And even if it is brief, I will have vacations. I can always visit, right?" He asked.

    "You're welcome to, yeah. I'm sure I'll be around the Wharf District to visit family during my breaks, so we can meet up back here," Sasha readily agreed.

    "Sounds good." With one last look in her eyes, Leo kissed her again, this time a bit deeper than the ones before, not caring who may have seen them.

    Sasha's thoughts were only for Leo at the moment, and so she didn't care either. She wrapped her arms around the back of Leo's neck, holding him close as they shared a passionate kiss.