“But… I’m supposed to make death scythes. It’s kinda the point.”
Luka mentioned this and the thought resonated with Aiden for a moment. On multiple levels. Long, long before entering EAT, Aiden faced a crisis of purpose. He saw what his mother was and what his sister was becoming. He saw the ambition and determination within them. Not bad things in the slightest, but what drove those two and even his brother--a Meister--was not what drove Aiden. In this sense, the young shield wasn't able to relate to his immediate family and for quite some time, this left him feeling rather isolated. It wasn't a situation where he needed a boost to his moral or a kick in the ass, but a readjustment of perspective. Aiden wasn't much younger than Luka when he had this revelation, and seeing her in that moment almost confused by the thought of two weapons nowhere near as driven as the others to become Death Scythes flung him back.
His grandfather was a more gentle soul. He loved to fish. Even taught Aiden when he used their place as a retreat from the constant "encouragement" from his immediate family. His grandfather was a Meister that married his grandmother and admittedly the men in his family tended to be more relaxed, but his grandfather was an exception to even them. He remembered the late night stories of how his grandfather would only fight when necessary, how in his youth he was rebuked plenty as he only used a weapon to defend himself. Decades ago, perhaps, but a situation not too unlike Aiden. The difference was that his grandfather was a Meister. A weapon, unless autonomous, was a tool to be used; the Meister determined how. The conversations between his grandparents were plain as day, his Grams reminding him of every time they were ambushed because he was so against a pre-emptive strike. He would always admit he was too idealistic then, perhaps a little narrow minded, but he never admitted he was wrong.
And just this thought of what they were supposed to do brought Aiden back to a specific memory, not just an assortment. Aiden was always fidgety, fishing was something that required patience. But, he went nonetheless to spend time with his grandpa. Most of the time, it was just about the fishing. Learning where the fish might be, taking their environment into account, getting the sinker in just the right spot, and of course how to cast. But, on one of his later evenings, that was not the case. His grandfather broke their normal silence to ask Aiden why he would rather come fish instead of train, why hanging out with an old geezer at a humid pond in the middle of the summer was his choice over getting stronger. Aiden had been confronted by his parents this way plenty, but never his grandfather.
But, he explained nonetheless. He explained to his grandfather that the exercise and training and conditioning and most of all getting in the mindset of taking down an enemy was just not what felt right to him. Could he do it? Sure. But, it felt wrong. It felt wrong to aspire to power and look for the next target, to exploit weaknesses, to just... be a weapon. The very core of this memory is what his grandfather had to say next...
"Oh, Ai-ai... you don like fighting, do ya? Well good."
"Yeah. Good. If ya don enjoy it, you won't seek it out. But importantly, it means if ya have to fight, it'll be for a good reason."
"Is there even a good reason to fight?"
"Yeah, boy, there sure is. Plenty, e'en. But the most important one is that there are people that can't really fight for themselves. So, we ought to defend them. That's why I fought. I became a Meister 'cause someone impor'ant to me got hurt and I decided I wouldn' let 'at happen again."
"You chose to become a Meister? Gramma always makes it out like you just... were."
"Oh, yeah. I chose. Went through the same trainin' an' tests, got through EAT and met yer Gramma. I never liked to fight, though. But y'know what I hated more? Seeing people get hurt."
"I've learnt trouble comes knockin' at everyone's doorstep at least once an' sometimes you gotta fight. Doesn't mean you're fightin' to hurt anyone. Means you fight to save them."
The memories went through his mind still, but it wasn't time to reminisce. But, that didn't mean Aiden would just let this go unaddressed.
"What is the point of becoming a Death Scythe? To be wielded by Lord Death. By why does he wield us? To have the power to protect as many people as possible. At the end of the day, our goal is to protect people one way or another," Aiden said as his response to Luka and more so an explanation of his previous comment. To him, becoming a Death Scythe or making a Death Scythe was secondary and always would be.
"And, Rio, that's alright. I think you're plenty strong and I think us three will be fantastic team. The downside to dual wielding weapons is that it changes the goal to one hundred-ninety-eight evil souls and two witch souls, but you don't have to worry about that, love. You can have every soul from our partnership so long as we always prioritize making sure no one gets hurt," Aiden said, this time turning to Rio more so for the focus of his speech. It did at least bring an answer to what would eventually be the upcoming process of how to divvy up souls between the two. Aiden didn't care for them in the slightest and he wasn't sure if the fact had occurred to either of them.
"And, since we're so curious as to my form, how about I take it?" he said, readjusting to address them both now. "Luka, if you would be so kind as to extend whichever arm you would like to wield me with, I will show you," he added, prompting Luka but also asking permission in a roundabout way. Per her wishes, she wouldn't be touched without acknowledgement. Once she did, Aiden's body turned into a thin, pink energy and formed above her forearm. Aiden was an impressive four feet tall as a shield, leaving only eleven inches of height for Luka unaccounted for, and could easily be crouched behind to cover her whole body. More so, his transformation was slightly more unique than simply shifting into a weapon. The straps on the back of his shield where Luka could grip also wrapped around her forearm to secure a tight grip, making his weapon form feel more like a sturdy extension of her forearm than a wieldy piece of metal only held by two grips. It was almost akin to a massive bracer and given in this form and at their stage of partnership Aiden likely only felt like a few extra pounds but covered her body made the prospect of using him that much less daunting.
Unlike traditional Roman tower shields, Aiden was comprised completely of metal. A brilliant red sheen on the front adorned by matte, brassy features with only the wings standing out as glistening and glossy while the back of the shield was a dull, steely material. His voice echoed from the inside of the shield, "Is this to your liking, miss?"
Adelle StoneWhen her meister was prompt to correct an error in her words, an error Adelle didn’t even entirely believe to be an error, she was quick to notice and everything about the demeanor that could be sensed from her soul went flat and silent as the grave. For more than a few minutes, her soul was a more literal comparison to the vastness of an empty cave. Nothing came out of it. Everything that was even close to the edge of it echoed immensely. There were a million ways Adelle could think of to reply to his statement that movement would not help matters at all, but instead of offering any single one of them, she chose to stick with complete and utter silence.
Although her meister had directed a question towards her, there was no immediate response on her part. This was partially because she wasn’t sure what sort of reply he wanted since it hadn’t been very open-ended, and partially because she was frustrated and therefore didn’t want to answer. After another moment of grumbling in complete and utter silence, Adelle decided to actually pay attention to what the other members of their team were doing so that maybe she could offer some suggestions.
‘It doesn’t seem appropriate to take the one who appears to be the fastest meister on our team and have him stop and build a fire. One girl’s already disabled one and it seems to be just a switch. We could get this done before a fire is even feasible if we work fast enough.’
She scoffed briefly as another thought occurred to her. ‘Heck, we could probably even shoot them if your aim is any good.’
Given she hadn’t worked with Edgar at all before, she had no idea what sorts of weapons he preferred whether they be ranged or up close and personal. However, he seemed reasonably adaptable in the moment and so she decided to just go for it and see what happened. A silver light enveloped her weapon form as she went from not being a spiky club, but instead a crude but highly functional slingshot. If one looked close enough, they could even see the term ‘Stone’ carved on the woodwork of it. ‘This is my second form,’ she explained. ‘Not much good for bashing paintballs, but if you shoot a turret with a curbed level of power, it should be enough to flip a switch without damaging the turret.’
Though she wanted to remain hopeful, her soul radiated skepticism. Would he listen? She didn’t know. She barely knew him, after all.
Luka Baines Although she’d been unaware of his approach, too focused on her new weapon partners and on figuring out how to use them properly, Luka wasn’t startled when Sion’s voice suddenly jumped in on the conversation she’d been engaging in. Although she was intrigued when he mentioned fighting back to back, she wasn’t sure she was fond of the thought. Having someone behind her sounded like it would involve a lot of bumping into one another and touch was… well, sensitive. She didn’t come straight out and say that, though. Luka got a sense that it would make her seem weak if she brought that particular dilemma of hers up in a planning conversation and she didn’t want that. Lord Death had trusted she could manage herself in a group of much older students and she knew she needed to prove herself for them to fully trust and be aware of her.
Her thoughts had been much more in line with Roman fighting style actually. She could advance on a turret with the shield protecting her and then poke at it with Rio’s weapon form. It would be effective, it didn’t require too much precision, and it allowed her to accomplish things thereby demonstrating to the rest of their crew that she was not a mere child. She’d earned her spot in this class.
As her thoughts swam with different ideas, Aiden snapped her out of the haziness of her brain. Briefly, she looked at him with some confusion in her eyes before she did, in fact, extend her arm and allow him to take his weapon form. Then Luka found herself in a state of awe. It wasn’t unusual with her when it came to wielding new weapons and with Aiden, there were multiple things to adjust to. First of all, Luka had never actually wielded a shield before because she’d never really had anything to go well with it and she wasn’t one to be left alone on defense. She was just too small to do it all by herself. That being said, she had read about their value in combat and about how they’d been used historically. Secondly, though, Aiden’s weapon form was absolutely beautiful. Luka could also tell right away - without even trying to lift it - that she would be able to without a problem. It really defied physics, but that was part of the DWMA.
“Yes,” she answered Aiden’s question with much enthusiasm. “Definitely. You’re not very heavy at all, but you’re still big enough to whack someone with if I need to, which is nice.” Surprisingly, the little girl’s mind went straight to thoughts of using it in a fight.
With a smile on her face, Luka looked up to Sion, Tevares and Cole. For the first time, she realized she was the only female meister on their team, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that bothered her at all. “While it might sound wise to have the two shieldy weapons doing defense stuff, I wanna help more. And I’ve got more than just a shield at my disposal. We can’t forget about Rio.” Waving her hand, she called her other weapon partner to her side. “I could just as easily approach the turrets Roman Legionnaire style and then poke them with Rio.” She crouched behind Aiden as if to demonstrate and then she poked forward with her arm right above the top right corner of the shield’s edge.
Although she may not have gotten the terminology of things quite right, she was fairly sure it got her point across.
Muy buena. Miss Elegante's proposal was brilliant, it not only treaded along the lines of that which he thought himself but it seemed she had pointed out something even he had not recalled to consider. The 'extra challenge' lstruttore Ezrah had made clear would be theirs. "A good point Miss Elegante", Tavares stated with a nod of his head in a form of respect. "I had not considered the prospect of the extra challenge at all till you mentioned it." He stated with a finger tracing his jaw in thought. Seconds of silence, then: "I do not doubt it is something that will turn the tables around for us when it is our turn. After all, if Istruttore Ezrah fame precedes him well, then it is of no doubt our tutor has plans that will not make things simple. For all we know he might have something up his sleeve that could change the challenge completely from what Team 1 faces currently."
Turning his attention to Miss fille and her two partners, Tavares refrained from saying more till the young Miss had spoken in full. Age wise, he found it reminiscent of home. It was not uncommon to work with the younger ones in the past, to him Luka's input was no different from anyone else's even if there was a small gap in age between them by two or three years or so. He couldn't help but smile just a little though at her statement at wanting to do more.
The comment in regards to her method of approach however was something that he personally did not agree to. "Miss fille, I do not believe this approach of yours will benefit us as a whole" he injected with straight honesty. Though he did not say it rudely or harshly, or with any sense of disdain in his visage, the bluntness was there. "I mean no disrespect Miss fille, but from what I understand Miss Rio and Miss Aiden may be the perfect combination for you three to get close on your own to one turret- but there are multiple. You may be able to take out one, but you'd also have to deal with the other turrets since the rest of us would be preoccupied without you, aiding in support on top of trying to take out turrets on our own. Then again..." he hummed, "Miss Elegante made a good point about this mystery challenge. We don't know what it could be, and frankly" he ran a hand through his hair, "I don't think we should waste time stressing over the possibilities of what his challenge could change. We could wing it" he shrugged, "I am quite flexible, and am of course willing to formulate a plan on the field." He grinned.
The grin however faded quickly along with anything else he was going to say at the sound of Yuan's rather sudden explosive fit of laughter. Like he'd been poked in the neck with ice, Tavares immediately moved off the tree he'd been leaning on and moved swiftly forwards to get a better look at what was happening with just a few steps. The moment his eyes laid on her, he was transfixed. Unnerved, disturbed. He didn't know her, frankly he'd yet to talk to most people in this new class as of yet but what he was seeing right now--
A frown of deep distraught settled on Tavares' face. Even as he kept watching Yuan just standing there and laughing like a banshee which had heard the greatest joke in history, he couldn't help but get this gut feeling that something was wrong. He wished he had Soul Perception in this moment, something to let him see clearly what was happening or even The Gift to hear the spirits so that they might whisper in his ears of what might be wrong, but...the frown didn't vanish even after she seemed to calm down. Several seconds of eyeing her, and Yuan was virtually back to normal as she re-engaged her situation like nothing had happened at all.
Was that...? "Uhhh, Sir?" He turned to Ezrah, not even feeling like he had to add 'what was that about' part. Because from his perspective, she'd clearly gone mad just a moment ago. And if a liability like that or liabilities like that were in the group, it'd be best to clear the air now.
Professor Ezrah After stepping out of the clearing and setting things to get started, Ezrah’s main purpose was to observe and gather details about how the students managed to function as a team. He knew quite well that Lord Death would want him to break them into smaller yet still functional groups quite quickly into their lessons so he needed to know how they worked with their new partners in order to decide who he could pair off together. Additionally, and as per the usual, he was there for safety reasons. Particularly with this group of students, there were risks to be found in multiple pairings and he needed to help manage and mitigate those risks should the situation arise. Even without a weapon of his own available in the moment, Ezrah was more than capable of managing that.
His eyes at first focused on Dai and Yuri. They were definitely compatible, not that he had doubted Lord Death’s proposed pairings in the slightest. He was surprised at how some of Yuri’s bluntness actually reigned in the more wild meister quite well. From his own teaching experience, he knew that Dai was quite capable of following logic even in the midst of a fight; he just needed it shoved right into his face sometimes and it seemed Yuri was not afraid to do that. Good. It worked well.
Edgar and Adelle were another interesting combo that he was trying to make heads or tails of. Ezrah wouldn’t have really thought that finding Edgar a reasonable partner would have been a difficult task, but this new girl was almost a total mystery to him aside from the family that she came from. It was one of the remaining great families able to trace their ancestry back to Lady Arachne’s first weapons, after all. Very few in academia were unaware of them. His eyes widened slightly as she took on a second weapon form, not because he had never seen it before, but because he knew when he saw it that Edgar would be able to find plenty of options with this one if he could come to terms with her stone-like personality. Hopefully the meister could manage it because that would make them another dangerous combination.
The professor had no doubts at all about Vox and Lucien’s ability to function as partners, and he was curious to see how they functioned within the team they’d been given to work with. It was no accident that he’d placed them in the same team as Dai and Yuri at all. Ezrah wanted to know if they could overcome the friction of a previous debate.
Lastly, he observed the pairing that was the most tricky within this half of the class, and also possibly in the whole class. Lord Death had briefly prepped him on Yuan’s situation so Ezrah wasn’t completely blind to it. He was also fully briefed on the scenario eveloping the twins. They were a special case in almost any situation presented. However, they both understood how to work with it. Ezrah was actually really glad they’d be able to work together in this class with a meister as opposed to being separated. Separate, it was harder to rein in the difficulties that came with their condition. Would it be enough, though?
Soul perception activated and he was not oblivious to Yuan’s temptation at the potential power they offered her. It certainly was power enough to achieve everything she wanted, though not in the right ways in the slightest. Wavelength tickled at Ezrah’s fingertips as he prepared to separate them should it grow too extreme, but as the laughter settled, and as Yuan spoke to the team she worked with, it calmed down and he relaxed again.
It was only after that he became aware of the question from Tavares and he turned to the meister without the slightest glimmer of concern in his eyes. “I knew something like that could happen,” he explained calmly, “and it seems they have it well under control. Erica’s very good at introducing meisters to Grace’s wavelength so there was very little danger. Madness often fuels some of the best students here at the DWMA and its part of why Lord Death assigns partners in an advanced class like this one.” Ezrah didn’t feel the need to offer more information than that. The twins’ stories were their own and he wouldn’t spoil them when Tavares could just as easily ask them directly.
“Better late than never.” Milo Ismael
Milo only stood in stunned and disbelieving silence as his would-be team mates spoke of strategies between each other. After a moment he cleared his throat and approached the crowd, saying "Pardon me, friends, but do you honestly have NO issues WHAT-SO-EVER with a school exercise threatening to RUIN our CLOTHES and make us SPEND MONEY to have that FIXED?" He crossed his arms and raised his face with a disapproving expression. "I, personally, believe this particular lesson is less than inappropriate. It is downright discriminatory to those among us who may not have the necessary funds to replace ruined clothes." Of course, that issue would easily have been remedied by anyone not as prudent as Milo wearing clothes that could stand to get dirty, but that line of thinking was a foreign thought to Milo's mind.
Though, before he continued on a tangent, Milo's attention was swept away by the display of Aiden transforming into his regal shield form. His annoyance was replaced with joy, and he clapped his hands together with a big grin on his face. "Ah, I'm sure Aiden will be to the disappointment of none! He has an exquisitely beautiful soul, in spite of his sometimes crass nature." Perhaps Milo needed to learn how to shut his mouth from time to time, but he simply had not been raised to know when those times were. Ever. "Grigori souls are extemely rare, after all!" He said with a raised finger, as if lecturing the lot. He'd had issues with students previously for peering too intently into their souls and loudly stating his opinions of them, but as per usual he'd learned absolutely nothing from those encounters.
Then he heard the laughing, and followed Tavares' eyes into the clearing. There, a red-haired new face stood and shrieked, hardly at grips with herself. He recognized the weapons she held. Those twins, or whatever they were, always gave him a bad vibe. Their souls looked like they weren't all there, and this wasn't the first incident with potential madness fluctuating from a meister of theirs. "Madness, so soon?" He pondered. Ezrah filled Tavares in on the situation, and Milo took a step up besides his partner. He raised a hand to his chest and offered a small bow - which more resembled a nod - to his professor. "If the need ever should arise, I'd gladly offer myself to mediate in their wavelengths, professor." He proudly spoke. "I have some experience, perhaps you recall."
Finally, he turned to Tavares. "Either way, mr. Castelo," He offered his hand to him. "I have no intention of getting a single stain on my clothes, so if you'd like to take over from here that would be great. Just standing this close is giving me chills."
Honestly, no matter which way he looked at it, Noelle and him seemed like a complete mismatch. Yet still, their demeanours seemed to ebb and flow with each other as naturally as anything, even when her wavelength wasn't involved. Sion scratched his chin contemplatively and looked back to her. "Correction, it's a challenge that we need to overcome." He let his arms fall to his sides and gave her an apologetic look. "I'm not bad at resonating with weapons, but I've been told there's a lot I need to learn about wavelengths." Then he shrugged it off and threw her a peace sign. "Still, I think we've got proper potential. Might take some time, though." Then he turned his attention back to the strategizing.
The new character who'd joined the fold eagerly joined in on the planning and answered Sion's question. Tavares came with a lot of ideas and angles that aligned with the plans slowly forming in Sion's head, and then Noelle joined in. "With my size-- in my weapon form, that is" She uttered, and Sion snickered. He let out a low whistle when Aiden took to his shield form, and nodded to both Luka and Tavares' ideas about the coming trial. "Trying to shield one other person might be the way to go. It's not a very fair exercise in the first place. Since we aren't allowed to attack, most weapons don't have much of a purpose if they aren't defensive, Luka. It's a lot more geared towards meisters than weapons." Sion tried to explain, with one hand on his hip and the other on his chin. " 'Sides, you can't make a phalanx by yourself, and there's no guarantee you won't be assaulted from all sides regardless of which one you approach."
"And yeah, we can't plan without knowing the variables, so depending on what that twist is, we should all be aware that the plan might have to change mid game. Currently, there's not actually any danger in play." Sion looked over to the other team, and their slow progress through the challenge. "We haven't been told that we fail if we get hit too much, so honestly we could just grit our teeth and walk up to the turrets and shut them off normally. Also, the turrets are ought to be primed to a human range of heat. Otherwise they might just start firing at the sun."
Sion let out a sigh, and turned back towards the group. "In the end, it doesn't matter. We don't know what we're being graded on, or if we are at all. Tavares, I'll stick to you and try to shield you. If we get enough of these turrets, we'll probably have no problem just dodging them, right? Let's try to stay efficient and keep our eyes on the prize. Turn the turrets off."
With that, he held out a hand towards Noelle. "If you wouldn't mind, Noelle." He spoke, implying for her to change. "I'd like to see it for myself." She'd already stated her willingness to try to get over his wavelength, and he'd be lying if he didn't want to feel the healing one again, so why not familiarize themselves beforehand and skip an obstacle the other team had to face?
Callah had followed along with her meister when they stepped out of the fighting zone for the time being, and she momentarily zoned out. The world suddenly filled with unfamiliar sounds as paintballs zinged through the air and crashed into everything from trees to the ground to students themselves. It was something that she needed to adjust to as sound was her primary method of becoming aware of the world. Then excitement filled her because she knew she would have an opportunity to transform soon and that always offered a pleasant return of her sight. It was something she always looked forward to.
Stepping forward - only slightly, because forest terrain could be tricky to navigate if she got too far from Cole - Callah waved in the general direction of the voices who she heard making plans. “Hey guys! My name’s Callah! I’d like to help in the planning of the things, please!”
Having heard the proposals from Sion, Tavares, Noelle, Luka and Milo, Callah had her own things to offer. “Having a defender with each offensive person sounds ok in general, I think, but you guys seem to be missing something. I’m a sniper rifle. There’s a scope. Cole needs to see through the scope and he can’t do that with a shield in the way!” Her eyes rolled about in her head a bit like it was such an obvious thing that nobody should have missed. Then again, Callah may have been neglecting to realize that they didn’t know her exact weapon form. “Even the blind girl could figure that out!”
Gesturing in the general direction she presumed Luka to be - which was admittedly a bit off - Callah continued, “Miss fille here is called Luka, by the way. She can cover our backs and stuff, sure, but if Cole sets up camp close enough to one of the turrets, she can certainly work on taking it out while covering us.”
While Callah did understand that letting Luka just go offensive on her own wasn’t a good strategy, she also sensed that their youngest teammate was seeking some independence and that rang through one of Callah’s heartstrings. She remembered when she had to fight for her own independence when everyone thought the new blind girl was completely helpless. It had been nice to have people stand up for her, even a little bit, every once in a while, so that was what she was trying to do here.
Stepping back so that she was alongside Cole once more, Callah added a few more thoughts. “And don’t underestimate Cole here, either. He can be speedy on his feet which is helpful for dodging the ones that Luka can’t block. And as for the extra challenge, adaptability is one of the first things they teach us in E.A.T., right?” Though she was maybe a little naive, Callah thought that when they mashed everyone’s ideas together, it all worked out well enough.
In short, Cole pulled an Edgar. From the moment the team were declared and goals were set, he began observing every little detail of the mission. The pairs, the weapons, the Meisters, how they approached their task, and the clear objectives--alongside limitations--they were given. Paintballs would hurt, maybe even leave a little bruise, but were hardly the end of the world--despite what some of the others made it out to be. In reality, Cole was quite sure if this alone were the mission, under these parameters, any single pair would be able to successfully pull this off, albeit with a few bruises. There was hardly a detriment to being hit with paintballs and their reaction speeds in EAT should all be honed enough to keep up with them. Eliminating them one by one, depending on how they were setup, without damaging them wasn't that daunting of a task.
Yet, as he listened to his teammates, it didn't appear anyone else caught onto this. For as arrogant as some were, none seemed to approach this in a purely 'do it myself' mentality--at least from what he gathered. Inherently, this was a good thing. It meant they at least had some semblance of the value in their numbers. But, it also meant that they all likely weren't considering what here was actually being tested. Right off the top of his head, of course teamwork came to mind, but also the ability to create and stick to a plan, their ability to adapt on the fly--he never trusted this particular Professor not to throw a wrench into things mid-way through an exercise. Or, perhaps, it was their ability to keep to a plan even if some on-the-fly adjustments needed to be made.
What interested him most of all, however, was the mention that the second group would have an extra element in their exercise. This got the mental gears of Cole moving. If the ability to watch another team was so significant in terms of making the mission easier, then perhaps what was being tested was in fact their ability to adjust. Cole weighed his options as the others interacted. Introductions, explanations, and Aiden taking his weapon form before being requested to. It was clear with two defensive weapons, the group had a clear advantage from the very beginning. This pushed Cole to believe whatever difficulty spike they would face would likely be fairly significant.
It also led Cole down another mental path. Perhaps it wasn't necessarily their ability to adapt, but the extra time. Of course observing the first team was a huge boon, but the first team also had virtually no time to discuss a plan. His team did. The ability to at least have some idea of what to do going forward was critical and the more he considered it, the more likely he believed this was the actual benefit that the professor was attempting to mitigate.
Then, on queue to break his train of thought, Callah darted in giving her input. A social butterfly as always, but making good points. Cole, however, did not agree with her assessment. In fact, Cole agreed with very few plans presented. None seemed the most efficient way to approach this particular situation. Callah was likely thinking Cole could snipe a few paintballs out of the air, which might have been true, but each shot he fired risked damaging one of the paintball guns and worse, those likely had a rate of fire Callah and he couldn't compete with. Sniping a paintball out of mid-air likely wouldn't be the worst challenge as regardless of how fast they moved, Callah's shots would be faster by far. The volume of shots, however, made the idea of a sniper's perch much more unrealistic.
Cole signed, then let out a loud clear of his throat.
"Ahem. If I could have just a minute to speak, I believe I have some input that you all may appreciate," he told them in quick, relatively affirmative start.
"First, I would like to address the elephant in the room that I haven't heard brought up. Our group will have a 'twist' to it added in by our slightly sadistic professor to make it more difficult. I believe that is because we have two significant advantages over the other group. The first and least important I believe is that we get to watch the first group. I call it the least because we're all different so how they approach this situation will clearly be different than us. The second far more important advantage is that we have far more time to plan. They were thrust into this exercise with no time to even discuss things amongst themselves whereas we are here making a plan," he continued on, clearly explaining his first point--which was an explanation of his previous assessment made.
"Secondly, I think we need to take a step back and look at what we're actually doing. We're just disarming a few paintball guns. Fact is, Callah and I will be nigh useless. I could take out a few paintballs, but there will just plain be too many for me to effectively help cover you from a static position. Callah and I will need to be mobile with you. That said, there are four Meisters and two defensive Meisters. What I believe we should do is split into pairs of two with Tavares and I focusing on actually eliminating the paintball guns via whatever means we can while Sion and Luka cover us. While I don't have a lot of experience with paintballs guns in specific, I do know a little about their basic functions. They require a CO2 tank to propel the balls, some type of targeting system to hit is, and a mount. If we can somehow eliminate any of those three systems, is should suffice for the mission. With one defensive Meister covering another and two separate teams, we'll be lightening the load on each individual. One Meister merely needs provide cover from five turrets, one Meister eliminates the turrets one by one. And, depending on what surprise we have, this buddy system will make sure we're never completely alone or isolated," Cole explained, going into fairly deep detail of his plan. It incorporated several ideas the others had come up with, but in a more refined, applicable way. It also acknowledged the strengths and weaknesses of the team, particularly how ineffectual Cole and Callah would be in this particular type of exercise.
"I do not mean condescend anyone here, especially you, Callah," he finally added in a softer tone, less stern and assertive than before, "but I do wish for us as a team to make full use of the advantages given to us."
Edgar glanced off to the side and noticed the white-haired boy named Dai had seemed to snap out of it. Thankfully, he was cooperative enough to take the advice he gave, along with a remark that Edgar almost entirely ignored. "Hmm." He pondered to himself as he sidestepped a paintball and smashed some others. As he became lost in the ever-expanding thoughts of his brain, he was interrupted by Dai's partner. Previously, Dai had thrown his partner over to one of the turrets to see if there was anything like a switch or where one might be located.
Edgar was interested in what she had found and waited for her report. "Panel under lock and key..." He shattered two more paintballs. Yuri's suggestion to form a line to protect Dai wasn't the worst idea. "I would assume generating a fire with sticks would take no longer than a minute. Could be possible..." That's when Edgar heard a callout from another one of his teammates. One he hadn't paid much attention to since they started.
Yuan had managed to disable the turret with relative ease. But something else stuck out to Edgar. "That one didn't require a key...?" He turned and busted three paintballs all in a horizontal line. "So some turrets require a key and others don't? Could this be to throw us off our path and make things more complicated?" Yuan opted not to strip which was understandable and something Edgar already assumed would happen. He was interested by her defense duty idea.
"A team of four pairs... Starting a fire... Defense duty... Offense duty..." He contemplated as he smacked a few more paintballs. "If we've got one person making a fire, we'd have three pairs left. Two people could be on defense duty while the third proceeded to turn off turrets. Would that be too risky? We could possibly have two people on offense duty while one pair stayed and protected Dai. Would that be enough defense? There is the possibility of having weapons transform back to human form but would they be able to do anything? That would change a few things. What about the keys? That one turret Yuan turned off could very well be the only turret with no key requirement while all the rest did. Then again, that one turret with the key requirement could very well be the only turret requiring a key. There is also the possibility that some of the other turrets could have other weird requirements or different ways to turn off." Edgar's head was flooded with racing thoughts, lots of which solutions were missing. A paintball managed to slip by and strike him in the arm, staining his shirt with a bright rosy splotch. "Too many variables are missing... Not to mention..." He looked down at Adelle who was spotted with red paint. Was she even there? It felt like he was actually just wielding a stick.
Usually, from a weapon, you'd feel at least something. Could be bad or good, but it was definitely something. All Edgar felt was emptiness. Like he was just holding a random stick and his partner disappeared. She didn't speak either which didn't help.
Before he could start into another mental rambling, his partner actually spoke up and responded to him. Adelle mentioned how it wouldn't be wise to temporarily put our possible fastest meister out of action. "I did consider that, but what abou-" Before he could finish his sentence, a silver light flashed in his hand. When the light vanished, in his hand was a rough slingshot. Two paintballs soared towards Edgar but he couldn't smash them.
Luckily, he was fast enough to dodged them with a backwards somersault. Just then his partner explained how it was her second form and that it wasn't ideal for smashing paintballs. "I appreciate the late warning." A bit of sarcasm drifted in his comment but he wasn't bothered all that much. Edgar thought for a moment. "With a curbed level of power it could be enough to switch the turret off?" He looked up at one of the turrets.
"When Yuan turned off the turret, she was behind it. Taking that into consideration, I would assume the switch is behind the turret." He looked behind one of the turrets to check for a tree. "If calculated correctly, there's a chance I could shoot something at the tree and have it bounce off and hit the switch." Edgar jumped to the side, dodging some paintballs and picking up a few rocks. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening them and beginning his calculation. "Power. Considering my position I would need a fair amount of power to get the rock over to the tree and maintain enough momentum to bounce off just enough to hit the switch. Weight. When thinking about power I have to consider the weight of the rock." He picked out a medium-sized rock. "Wind. Usually I would take wind into account but it is highly unlikely for the wind to be strong enough to move the rock midair. Plus the winds seem to be calm today. Angle of elevation. Not really looking for an arch or elevation of any kind. I need a linear shot. I do need to shoot slightly upward so the rock doesn't bounce off too low and miss the switch." Edgar leaned his head to the side to get a better look at the distance between the tree and the back of the turret.
"Fortunately, it's fairly close. I think I'm ready to shoot but let's go over it again." He put the medium-sized rock he picked out in the band. "Power." He drew the band back with extreme focus. "Linear flight." He released the band and the rock flew towards the tree behind the turret. "Height and momentum." Like he planned, the rock hit slightly high on the tree and maintained enough momentum to hit the tree and bounce off. "Distance between tree and switch. Will it be enough?" The rock just barely hit the switch with a click and the turret stopped firing.
When Edgar used sarcasm to deflect her information about having a second form, the closest term to describe Adelle’s reaction would have been a snort. Even meisters she was familiar with usually were beyond grateful to have a multi-form weapon and yet here her meister was acting like it was no big deal at all. She had two more forms, on top of the ones he’d seen, but Adelle decided at that moment that neither one of them were worth pulling out of her hat because he didn’t seem interested in knowing more. Most probably would have told her that he was in the middle of a fight and had to focus on covering himself from the incoming paintballs, and they weren’t wrong, but Adelle knew that if he could tell people to be making fires in the midst of this without so much as thinking twice, then he also had enough focus to be able to comment on a multi-form weapon with more than just sarcasm if he truly was appreciative of it.
Then he proceeded to load a rock into her.
‘What the fuck!?’ was the only resonating sound that could echo from within Adelle’s soul space and it echoed against everything, bouncing around through their shared soul link - the link that allowed them to communicate and the link that made them weapon and meister. ‘How dare you load a rock into me!? What do you think I’m some stick!? I am a demon weapon just like every other weapon here. I fire condensed wavelengths of my meister’s soul!’ Anger resonated through every ounce of her being, and her weapon form heated in Edgar’s hands or just a moment before she realized that allowing it to go that far would harm their ability to complete the exercise. She was determined to pass this thing more than she was to get rid of this meister who apparently had no idea the value of the weapon he was wielding. She was destined to be used by Lord Death himself, after all.
Luckily for Edgar, the rock hit its target so she couldn’t proceed to also accuse him of being a poor shot. It was one good thing in a massive mess.
Quickly, before he could repeat his dire error, Adelle transformed back into her club form as she muttered, ‘That’s enough of that nonsense.’ Now he could bash things again, which was probably needed anyway. After all, he’d been so focused on preparing his shot that he’d taken quite a few welts from paintballs. Unfortunately, his pile of clothes didn’t retain heat very well and his body continued to produce it so Edgar was still very much a viable target for the turrets.
“Dai!” Adelle called out using a loud voice that seemed as though it resonated out of a cave. “I don’t think the fire’s going to work. Some of the turrets have switches so try knocking those ones out!” She remembered the wild boy’s name from when they’d all been gathering on the staircase. Adelle missed very little when she was observing things.
Almost on cue, she saw a flick of light out of the corner of her vision - she could still see what was around her in her weapon form, after all - and when she looked over, she saw a single key on a chain flying up into a tree. It had just been flicked straight out of their Professor’s hand, as though he knew they would need it. “Key!” she yelled out, her voice echoing again so everyone could hear her. They would need that if they were going to complete this task, after all. Up in a tree, it hung loosely and wouldn’t be too hard to fetch if someone could propel themselves high enough. They would have to be careful, though. It was right on the edge of their field to work within and the Professor had warned that they couldn’t leave the clearing.
Things were moving very quickly. Another influx of people and partners left the space feeling crowded, and Vox could feel herself spacing out as she bounced from foot to foot, caught in conversation and what others seemed to think was conflict when it was instead conflict resolution. Lucien's stated forgiveness prompted a small shake of the head. She'd thought it might be good for morale (or at least her own learning) to participate in a mediated duel and had jumped at the chance without much thought as to Lucien's feelings - it felt somehow dishonest to pretend that it had been on his behalf. "It could be fun. A good way to settle tension, right? Don't worry about it."Really, she'd simply had to respond to Yuri. A challenge unanswered was hardly a challenge at all, and she owed Yuri a challenge, after all this time.
Dai and Yuri accepted that challenge, of course. It was the way that these things had a tendency to go. She nodded to him in a sort of way, verifying it, but found herself quickly distracted by the other guy in a leather jacket. Sion raised a hand, counting himself in to a potential duel, and Vox's eyes glinted with excitement as she felt the desert heat pull toward her face. They could maybe set up a sort of tournament, and wait - he was laughing, aside to Noelle, and no longer very involved. It felt awkward to interrupt them as Noelle said that she'd participate as well (and though Vox thought to herself that Noelle pretty much had to, she pushed that aside, because the other woman had never seemed easy to push around) she refocused on Ezrah. She would have to introduce herself to Noelle's new partner later in the class.
Ezrah's answer to their request for a mediator left her somewhat dissapointed. The professor seemed much less amused by the prospect of the duel than her classmates were enthusiastic, which was unfortunate, considering the handbook that she'd read once every summer in preparation for the coming year. It wasn't like they could do any sort of unofficial duel at home without causing problems. He drifted away to deal with the last of his partner assignments, and she fell back into her thoughts, keeping pace quietly beside Lucien. "I read your message about the knives," she mentioned to her partner,"I watched a video about them, even. Some sort of weird review where they were cutting candles. They were gross at the end of it, so then they went though how to clean wax off of them, if you ever need help with that. I don't know why you'd be cutting candles."
This, too, was interrupted by the eventual beginning of class. As the group gathered around the professor, a smile crept across her face, considering the paintballs and their function. Turrets were incredible in some ways - rapid fire, especially if it had some sort of automatic aiming system, but also wouldn't it be cool if we could take turns and the other team could control the turrets? That would be cool. Heat sources, though.... That was cool too. Maybe just a bit less cool.
The teams pleased her, although she wished that Sion and Noelle had been included, so she could see what they were capable of first off. If they were going to be duelling (and the future of that duel seemed precarious at best), then the earlier she could become familiar the better. Dai was young and had fire behind him, and she felt in her soul that Yuri would find a way to keep that in check, as she always moved with purpose. She didn't know much about Yuan, Grace, or Erica - so those were complete wildcards. Edgar and Adelle looked compatible enough to her, at least aesthetically. The formal wear really was out today, and she wondered how they could stand that sort of style, in a heat as stifling as this. Hopefully the paint didn't ruin their clothes.
She could handle some paint.
Lucien reached for her hand, and she took hold readily, pausing for a full beat as she weighed the knife in her hand. The transformation never ceased to amaze her, no matter the weapon. It felt good to share that space with another person. "10 turrets and you'll do lunch? Sounds good to me." The knife was light in her hand, flexible, and she rotated her wrist to check her angles in a slow sort of time. Lucien was right. Blocking was not going to work here, so she had to keep moving and on her toes, and that thought prompted her toward the nearest turret in a zigzagging sort of pattern. She heard Dai shout, and turned her head slightly to look, a sudden rush of blood coursing through her veins as she broke into a run. "We've got this. Movement is what I'm made for."
Edgar brought up heat sources. Her mind turned to her lighter, and she reached into her pocket with her left hand, pulling the lighter from it. "Half a fire right here,"she told the others as she approached the turret. It had a hard time keeping up with her, but as she moved the woman found she had to work her way from side to side to avoid some extremely close calls, and she hesitated in gaining ground as Yuri instructed a line. Instead, as Dai began to take off his shirt, she tossed the lighter toward him on the ground. He was just dripping paint. Poor guy."Heads up!"
As she had paused to aim her throw, the woman felt a series of paint balls burst across her shoulders and chest, and she hissed quietly as she rocked back on her heels. The beat had broken, which would make this all just a little bit harder, but if Dai could find some paper or something to distract them for just a moment it would make this all so much easier. "Going forward,"she called again to the pair, "I'm not much use for anything but body blocking."Some of the turrets had already been disabled, besides, and a bit of paint had never - another ball struck her thigh - hurt anybody. She made her way to the turret, and though she'd been struck but a few times, she could feel the first wave of fatigue starting to set in.
Combat moved in waves like that, for her. A give and take. She'd have to give herself some space to breathe in a second, but for now she danced around the turret, pushing the blade of the knife toward the turret head flat."Won't make you take many like that,"she muttered as it fired, fingers of her left hand searching for the switch - and Lucien took three shots, she thought by sound, before the turret finally quieted under her hands. A simple switch made for easy disposal. It seemed others weren't so lucky with their choices. The fire was relentless, and she took to movement again, making her way towards a second turret as a close distraction from the others. The turrets didn't seem to wise to her ploy of rapid back-and-forth movement. It was sustainable, for now. Her blood was certainly pumping.
All the excitement that had slowly built up while Luka explained her thoughts and her idea faded away quite quickly as her teammates shot it down and instead seemed to prefer her just being a shield. None of them seemed to be doing it because they wanted to protect her, per say, but it still bothered Luka that she was being reduced to nothing more than one of her weapons.
“You guys are all acting like we can each only do one thing at a time.” The young girl mumbled it, not really intending to spark a conversation on the matter, but merely needing to make the statement out loud. She was fairly certain that each of these meisters she was being assigned to work with were more than capable of dodging or simply taking a couple paintballs over the duration of this assignment which meant that they didn’t necessarily need to be shielded throughout the entire thing.
Then Sion made a comment that Luka had to reply to directly.
“‘Sides, you can’t make a phalanx by yourself, and there’s no guarantee you won’t be assaulted from all sides regardless of which one you approach.”
“Doesn’t that also apply if I’m shielding someone else, though? There’s no guarantee we’re not going to be receiving fire from all sides and I can only shield one direction at a time.” Looking back out onto the clearing, Luka verified with her own eyes the situation at hand. The turrets surrounded the clearing. They weren’t all in a pretty little line that would allow her to simply shield in one direction. Looking to Cole, she added in reply to one of his remarks, “There’s no guarantee five will shoot at one pair and five will shoot at the other pair, either. We don’t know how they decide who to shoot at.”
In the end, Luka understood that a buddy system in and of itself would be wise, but that didn’t mean she wanted her only task to be defending someone else. It didn’t make sense for her to just do one thing when she was capable of doing multiple things. “I’ll try to stick with Cole and Cal, but if I get close enough, I’m hitting the stinkin’ button.” Luka let out a ‘harumph’ of defeat that sounded very childish, and that indeed was very childish, but it was Luka and it wasn’t going to change.
She took a large bite out of an apple and turned to watch what was unfolding with the other half of their class. Her eyes followed the fighters, saw the slingshot fire and turn off a turret, and then saw Vox charge at another one. ‘Everyone in their group gets to be useful,’ echoed through her soul link and Luka didn’t quite realize that she was still connected to Aiden. However, before she could catch onto it, Luka recalled another detail and this time spoke out loud, but still to the shield she carried. “Aiden, what’s a grigori soul?” She had heard Milo mention it, but she hadn’t known what it meant.
"If you need wood, bring it to you. One good swing above should send plenty of the tree's branches to fall at your feet."
Dai had opted to ignore the sudden (and, to be honest, slightly frightening) fit of laughter to acknowledge yet another good suggestion from his partner. Dai nodded, and raised his arm to send the head of the flail flying towards the canopy above. In a matter of seconds, sticks and branches were falling down towards him. As they fell, a few of them even bouncing off of Dai's head before hitting the ground, he whisked his arm back, attaching the head back to the main body of the weapon. The others were already moving to his defense, sacrificing the cleanliness of their own clothes for him. It annoyed him. He wasn't one to normally accept protection from others, but he had already screwed up once-- if he did it again, he'd hate himself. "Tch."
He crouched down, gathering the sticks together to form a tipi over a small pile of grass he'd ripped out of the ground. Instinct had prompted him to immediately start rubbing two of the sticks together to create an ember, but the quiet 'thud' of the object Vox had thrown at him shook him out of his concentration. He reached over to pick it up, recognizing it as a lighter, and with a smirk, he flicked it on. As naïve as the boy was, he fortunately knew what a lighter was, and how to use it. He guided the flame towards the 'tinder' pile of grass, but, to his surprise, it refused to ignite. "Damn it, who the hell waters this grass?! This shit barely burns!" He tried to use the lighter on the sticks, but it took too long for them to ignite. Dai was quickly growing frustrated, and the sounds of paintballs flying from the turrets wasn't making things much better.
"Dai!" A voice called out to him. He didn't see anyone moving their lips, so it must have been the stick in 'Edward's hand. "I don’t think the fire’s going to work. Some of the turrets have switches so try knocking those ones out!"
He was calm again, rising from his crouched position with a firm grip on Yuri's handle and pocketing the lighter Vox gave him. "Whatever you say!. I've been waitin' for my turn to shut one of these fuckin' things up, anyway." Before he made his way towards one of the turrets, he glanced over at the redhead who'd been protecting him this whole time. "Thanks for the help, giggles. I owe you one." He detached the head of the weapon once again to use Yuri's chain as a shield, swinging it as he quickly inched closer and closer to the turret closest to him, until he was behind it. It took an absurd amount of mental strength not to propel his wavelength into the machine and destroy it right there, and he examined the back panel of it. A switch, right? He gripped the turret, trying his best to keep it in a fixed position without accidentally breaking it, while he searched for a switch. There was nothing but a keyhole, and his eye twitched. Just my damn luck.
"Yo!" He called out to the rest of his team, probably a bit louder than he had to be. "I can't get into this one! Looks like it needs a--"
The same familiar voice resonated from the stick in 'Edward's hand. Dai's eyes flickered over to the glint of light that had caught his attention moments ago. He had assumed it was just the sun glaring through a gap in the tree's leaves, but upon closer inspection, it was definitely a key attached to a chain. Immediately, he lowered himself, concentrating his power into his legs, before he launched himself towards the tree holding the key, grabbing onto the sturdiest branch he could and reaching over with Yuri to lift the key. Once he was sure he had it, he dropped back down, taking the key and returning to the turret he'd been at to finally disable it, still managing to get hit a few times before doing so. "Fuck yeah! Howzat, Yuri?! I shut the damned bucket o' bolts up!!" He exclaimed with a fist pump, noticing the overwhelming sound of the turrets firing was slowly beginning to die down. "How many is that now?! If you need the key, I got it!"
Noelle figured that she'd have to get used to 'Miss Elegante', for now. Before she could even make an attempt at correcting green-hair, an attention-grabbing mixture of laughing and screaming forced Noelle to turn and see what was going on. Before she voiced her concern, Professor Ezrah explained, and she decided not to pry any further. As long as the trio could handle themselves, she had no complaints. It appeared that someone else in the group did have complaints, however. She recognized Milo, and his objection to the assignment they were given amused her, though she showed no signs of amusement. "Do not worry, Milo. It is just paint. Although I cannot say I'm too happy about potentially getting dirty either, we've been given orders, and so we must follow them." She glanced at her own clothes with a quiet sigh.
Ideas were still being thrown out within the group, and while heads weren't clashing, it grew clear that finding some sort of middle ground would be difficult. It didn't matter much to Noelle. She'd given her input already, and it wasn't like she'd be the one running around doing the turret-disabling. As long as she was supporting Sion, she was doing her part. Speaking of her meister, he had called out to her, requesting that she switch to her weapon form. Her face rose in temperature as she realized it was finally time to change forms. She was embarrassed, but she knew a good handful of the people around her. Besides, Sion had told her that they would be fine, right? She clapped her cheeks together, letting out a loud exhale, before her body began to glow pink.
A quick transformation later, and she had guided herself into Sion's hand. As soon as the grips of the brass knuckles surrounded his fingers, the felt the pulling sensation from his wavelength again. It was more intense than it was when she was in her human form, but she was able to relax a bit more knowing she wouldn't have to move. All she had to do was concentrate on something other than the fact that her energy was being forcefully taken from her, and she would be fine. "W-Well...?" she called out to him, still a bit embarrassed by her form. "How is it?"
Lucien Boulanger (Weapon)
Lucien let out a melodramatic, withering sigh as he was pelted by paintballs, but otherwise didn’t comment negatively as Sheena used him to block the pellets of paint coming from the turret head while she turned it off. Paintballs fired from a turret weren’t nearly enough to hurt, or even damage, a demon weapon like himself while in weapon form. Compared to his meister, Lucien barely even felt the impact of the balls and could hardly complain if she used him to protect herself – least of all if it made the lesson end faster. As a 5-year student of DWMA, even he didn’t need Erzah to remind him that demon weapons protected their meisters with their lives. “So long as it doesn’t stain too badly, I’ll live….”
Probably. Her comment of not being good at anything but body-blocking worried him more. Lucien might not have had very many partners remain with him for long, but none had ever died on his watch before and he’d like to keep that record.
“You may use me as you see fit to get this task done, Chère” Even if Lucien were thrown, it wouldn’t be the first time someone used him in such a manner. Meisters specializing in knife-throwing did exist in DWMA after all—especially among the assassin sorts. As annoying as it was suddenly finding himself in the air, Lucien wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with it. Different meisters used knives differently. “But if you’re going to be a knife meister, my meister specifically, I must emphasize the importance of keeping my blade clean after use—especially if you are going to cut into food. Even a single, errant blemish on my part could distort the taste of whatever I’m slicing into. I am a chef’s knife, after all. I’ve cut through more disturbing things than candles—like flesh and bone—to carve out the finest kishin eggs and I expect I’ll be cutting into much more as this class progresses...so it's a good thing you're doing research on the topic I suppose...”
This was DWMA after all. He hadn’t a clue what weird review Sheena had been watching that she learned to clean wax off a knife, but he couldn’t say he had ever truly understood the girl’s interests just as she never truly understood his. She was always lost in her own rhythm such that he sometimes wondered whether she even bothered listening when he spoke at all, but he continued nonetheless.
“Precision is the key properly wielding me. As a shorter weapon, I don’t tend to penetrate very deep” unless his meister was especially strong “hence why you’ll want to aim for the vitals when you strike. Knife-fighters should always keep an eye on the range and try to close the gap as quickly as possible.”
Lucien couldn’t say how good the boxer was at using a knife, but Death at least paired him with someone who could work within his range. “That said, the advantage of wielding a lighter weapon is the ease in mobility. Focus on your own rhythm and don’t let yourself get distracted by the things around you. You got hit because you hesitated. Defense isn’t your strength, nor is it mine. Whether the imbecile creates a forest fire or not doesn’t change what we have to do in the slightest. ”
Disable all 10 turrets.
It actually annoyed him that Yuri would call for a line to protect her meister, endangering his meister (as well as others), when she was perfectly capable of de-transforming to do so herself. The boy didn’t even make a fire in the end, which meant Sheena threw her lighter and got pelted for nothing. It would seem Edgar and his new partner weren’t exactly getting along, considering one suggested trying out a plan and the other rebuked it aloud. Then there was Yuan who suddenly stopped moving and started laughing as paintballs pelted her before regaining her senses.
Quite the team.
At least she managed to disable one turret before moving to help Dai. The redhead appeared to enjoy swinging the twin axes around, as if testing a new weapon, though every swing managed to hit its mark as the balls split and paint splattered. She seemed to be moving better than before…and he could’ve sworn he sensed something around her eyes, though Lucien wasn’t entirely positive. He might’ve commented on it, but he didn’t want to break his meister’s concentration. It didn’t matter either way. He refocused on his attention on his meister. Her back and forth movements seemed to be effective, but they looked to be wearing her out a little as well. Bursts of speed followed slower periods of rest, Vox moved like an oscillating wave. Up ahead, the second turret seemed to notice them as Sheena danced. “Don’t hesitate. The turrets are firing at a beat as well. Once you catch the rhythm, step in to close the gap…or throw me if you have to and I’ll turn off the bloody turret.”
Assuming it didn’t require a key of course; Naturally, Erzah couldn't just make things simple.
He didn’t know if it was Sheena’s energizing wavelength empowering his pace or his own distaste for the lesson, but he wanted it done as quickly as possible. Arms folded, his soul tapped its foot.
Yuan winked at the half naked boy, watching him drop the fire plan to approach the turret he failed to the first time—but this time a bit more cautiously. Her eyes flickered to the key Professor Erzah threw, though it was Adelle Stone that pointed it out first and Dai that jumped for it. The turret was disabled not long after and Yuan tucked the dual axes under her arms, handles sticking out, to clap for her excited teammate. There were less turrets firing, and therefore less paintballs to avoid, but the redhead was still forced to remain in motion while she did so lest she get struck.
“Six more to go! Since teamwork isn’t quite working out for us, why not make this a contest?” Yuan suggested playfully to the entire group in the clearing. “The weapon and meister team that disables the most turrets among us will be the MVPs of this group! We can work out what prize they get together—something harmless and fun. Doesn’t that sound exciting, girls?”
Gripping the handles of her demon weapons, she returned the pair of axes to her hands as she addressed them, blocking some paintballs that shot her way before glancing shyly at each of the four R.I.P meisters and their weapon(s). “What do you guys think?”
Sion nearly staggered to a side when the girl appearing alongside Cole spoke. Her voice was like TV static to his Soul Sense, and he could never completely turn it off. There didn't seem to be anything rough or unkind about the girl he'd observed to likely be blind, but her entire sound was like the screech of a banshee, and he was very quickly learning how to fade it away to the periphery of his attention. She raised some very valid points, though. Cole would be ineffective acting out a traditional sniper role, but even if he was to run around hip-firing, what would he even be firing at? The paint balls? It'd be more effective using the sniper as a club in that case. If he was as fast as she said he was, maybe he'd just be able to run up and turn them off anyway. He was glad that they were opting for Luka and respecting his dibs on Tavares. Not that they seemed unpleasant, it was just how horrifically loud Callah was to be near.
Noelle transformed, and Sion felt as his fingers were encompassed by cold metal. The sly smirk made its return as he looked the umbrella in his hand up and down. It was a gorgeous black Victorian looking piece, with alternating sheets of textile making up the canopy and an elegant brass knuckle formation that fit snugly into his hand. The tip was indeed sharp like the end of a rapier, and when collapsed it felt like it could easily be used as one. "Absolutely gorgeous!" Sion replied, and gently tossed it into the air to hook his index finger through the ring at the end of the handle and spinning it around a few rotations. Though he tried choking it, her energy was still feeding into him, and he hopped from foot to foot like a boxer as he twirled her around. Then he let her slip from his hand again, and caught her by the brass knuckles once more; only this time holding the umbrella backwards.
Though seemingly in other thoughts, he offered a meager response to Cole's planning, "It might be a bit of stretch, calling me a defensive meister." He threw a couple punches in thin air, now mostly unobstructed by the umbrella. Then, sliding his left leg back and crouching slightly, he placed the butt of the handle against the palm of his left hand close to his chest, as if to gauge how strongly he could pierce with it. Content with his test, he spun her back to upright position with sleight of hand that betrayed his years of practice, and leaned her over his shoulder. The canopy flew open over his shoulder, and satisfied he asked "Can you open and close at will? That would be more than handy."
Then he stopped hopping back and forth and pondered aloud, "So, do you need to be washed off after this to avoid looking like clown vomit, or does that kind of resolve itself? Come to think of it, I've never seen a demon weapon shift back all covered in blood..."
The youngest member of their team, however, seemed to have taken some strange offense to his words, and Sion turned so that Noelle's canopy wouldn't block the view between the two. "I-... That's not..." Sion stopped himself before he started arguing semantics with a kid. Instead he let out a long breath and collected himself before answering. "Exactly. Turn 'em off if you get the chance. I know I will." and turned away again rather than let the conversation drag on. It'd been a good long while since he had to socialize with children. He didn't know how to, and he certainly didn't have any intentions to learn. Your world view is only as wide as your experiences will expand it, and she only had so many years of that.
And frankly, he didn't like kids.
He gave his full focus to the current group instead, looking for any successful strategies. Currently, the winner seemed to be just running up and flicking them off. It might get a couple shots splattered on you, but at least it was time efficient. Honestly, the exercise seemed more fun to watch than to be a part of, he thought as he pulled his jacket off and hung it on a nearby branch, revealing the plain black t-shirt beneath. The walking disco girl, Vox, had gotten to action and made quick work of a turret. There was a peculiarity to her movements - no, wait... Sion cocked his head. He could hear the ever-changing, genre-less dancing beat that exploded from her soul, and for once an observation he could make about someone's soul didn't seem so incidental. She seemed to make her major movements in beat to the music that poured forth. Sion couldn't help but tap his foot to it, before his attention was snagged by another impressive display.
He gave a silent whistle and whispered to Noelle, "Did you see that shit?" and pointed to where Edgar had just managed to disable a turret by bouncing a rock off of a tree. "That's fucking precise. I'm not even gonna attempt that." He turned to look back at the group over his shoulder. "Hey Cole, Callah, you wouldn't happen to be able to bounce shots?" Sion spoke with newfound energy, sponsored by the Accessoire family, and was eager to get this exercise over and done with.
None of them would get much done if they stayed here eating paint balls all day.
Callah’s body shifted a bit uneasily as Cole said they would be basically useless in their exercise; however, it wasn’t unusual for Cole to see things differently than she did because he had eyes that actually worked. She nodded briefly as he mentioned his counter-proposal of them being mobile with the rest of the team. She knew that it meant she wouldn’t be as useful as she’d hoped, but Callah didn’t mind. She’d still be able to see for a brief while, and she trusted Cole in situations like these. It was part of how they worked - they trusted each other.
“No worries, Cole,” she accepted her meister’s apology in stride. “You’ve gotten us through silly trials like this in the past so I don’t think you’ll fail us now.” She gave him a playful and friendly pat on the back with a smile on her face.
For the rest of it all, the team seemed to be debating minor details that didn’t necessarily impact Callah and therefore, she didn’t pay much attention to it all. Her focus was obtained once again, though, when Sion yelled out and asked if they could bounce shots. Her head turned in his general direction and she promptly shook her head. “I don’t think soul energy works like that,” she answered. “Unless someone else did it…?” Not being able to see, Callah had no idea.
“Did someone else bounce a shot? If it's possible, then maybe we can?” Her questions were more directed towards Cole.
Then, Callah made a decision that she wanted to know more of what was going on. “Actually, I wanna see for myself,” she declared before leaping up into the air and allowing her weapon transformation to consume her. It was clear as day that she trusted her meister to snatch her out of the air before she hit the ground; it had been a long time since he’d failed her on that point, after all.
Aiden heard the exchange between all of the Meisters. It made sense. Sion had a fairly nihilistic outlook on the situation, Cole however concurred with him and took it a step further by outlining a whole plan based on the same principles. Best of all, at least to Aiden, was that neither plan conflicted with each other. The mindsets going in may have been different, but the outcome was all the same. More importantly, Luka seemed to agree.
Aiden also heard something else. Not quite a voice from within his Meister, but more akin to a primal desire to just be of use. It had a childlike sense of fairness to it. Had his connection with Luka been more developed, he might have perhaps had a more clear idea of what she was thinking, but this was the first time she had ever touched him, weapon or otherwise. This would take time which was best wasted now and not on real missions.
Before Aiden even had a moment to let his mind wander, Luka then asked him what a Grigori Soul was. It wasn’t often he was asked and for some reason Aiden was under the impression Luka, much like Edgar, was a type of know-it-all. A lesson in assumptions for Aiden, at the least.
“A Grigori Soul is arguably the rarest Soul. There are some soul types that are basically one-offs or adaptations, but a Grigori Soul is pretty much natural, like a Strong soul, but much more uncommon. The text on it says it occurs in about one in fifty million people, so that’s around one-hundred and forty right now and last I checked, we only knew of about twenty,” Aiden responded to her in a fairly flat, rehearsed tone. Statistics weren’t his thing, so he was hardly excited about them. His voice, however, came more to life in his following explanation.
“Our souls have the ability to take flight. We quite literally have wings. I’m not really sure how this works for Meisters, but for Weapons, if our connection is strong enough to a Meister, we can manifest literal wings and fly. I’m sure you’ve noticed how light I am to you--this is a lesser manifestation of my soul. As we get closer, I’ll weigh even less and Rio might as well. If we reach the point of real, proper soul resonance, though, those wings on the front of my shield will become massive and prehensile and we’ll weigh next to nothing, letting us fly or block incoming attacks effortlessly. I’ve only done it a handful of times before, particularly with my brother… but it’s the peak of my abilities,” he explained more completely. It was clear as he droned on that the ability to fly was quite exciting to him. His tone was somewhat like a roller coaster, up and down as he mentioned needing a strong connection to his Meister or his brother, but overall, there was a unique type of energy in his echoing voice as he told her what they could do.
As Luka listened to Aiden’s explanation, her face was fiercely locked in concentration while she tried to absorb it all. Sometimes, Luka managed to be a sponge for information whereas other times, it seemed that everything she was supposed to learn just bounced right off her. She wasn’t quite certain how to make things stick more often, but she was trying and that much was hard to miss in the intensity of her focus.
“Flying sounds fun,” she remarked off hand as it was mentioned. “I’ve never flown before. I’ve also never used a shield before, but I’ve read about it a lot because shields are useful with a lot of different weapons and I’ve always been good with those. You are a lot lighter than you look like you should be, and a lot lighter than I would’ve expected. That’ll be good. It means we can still be fast.” She liked being fast, but she’d also worked with weapons that required a more slow and steady approach. It wasn’t as exciting, but Luka could do it more often than not.
Her comments seemed a bit disorganized and scatterbrained. Luka commented on various things slightly out of order and she wasn’t quite as emotionally attached to it all as Aiden obviously was. She tended to get more enthusiastic about experiences than she did just talking about things. “I never had any brothers or sisters,” Luka added. “Is your brother a good meister?” Briefly, she wondered why they wouldn’t be in this class if that were the case, but the question still hung in the air. Luka was always looking for new people to teach her new things about weapons, after all.
‘Flying sounds fun.’ What a thought. It was really sinking in for Aiden that his Meister was the youngest here. Not that it was particularly a problem for him, but more something to adjust to. In a way, Luka reminded him much of his younger sister, Ciara. The two were about the same age. He didn’t know much about Luka yet, but Ciara was right on his heels and chasing after the curtails of Roslin. If Luka had half the drive of her, then they might be in for a wild, wild ride.
“Yeah…” Aiden replied, his tone a little more dull. “Yeah, Brendan is a damn good Meister. He uses two weapons, like you, but they’re both daggers. Well, one’s a long knife, the other is more like a dagger, but they’re close enough in nature he can use them. He’s not quite like you as a Utility Meister; he’s a blade fiend. But, we trained a lot. We spared my eldest sister a lot… and she doesn’t hold back. She’s a name you might have heard before. Roslin McCarthy, the Searing Flamberge, gifted with a flaming wavelength. Brendan and I both have more than a few burns from her,” he explained. Aiden caught himself almost reminiscing over those times, neither good nor bad, just memories of his homelife. When they were all together.
“Rosalin…” Luka echoed the name he had given her as she searched her brain for any recollection or thought of having heard it before. Nothing in particular popped up, but she was also well aware that names didn’t tend to be priorities when she was memorizing things. It reminded her of history classes where they wanted her to know the names of all these supposedly important people and she always wound up failing. A grimace carved its way onto her expression at those memories. She still wasn’t sure how she got out of having to redo them, though she guessed it was because some teacher somewhere had taken sympathy on her. “I’m not very good with names,” she finally explained. “Actually,” her tone sank quite a bit, “I’m not very good with a lot of things. Just weapons, really. I wanted to show that I’m good for something.”
Once again, her mind was back to the challenge their team prepared to face and to how she was essentially being limited to being a pair of legs for her shield weapon partner. She liked Aiden - he seemed really nice and he wasn’t too loud. But she didn’t like being limited to just being legs for his weapon form. Anxious about the pending situation, Luka pulled out a tooth pick from her pocket and added it to the collection rolling between her teeth absentmindedly.
And, there it was again. Aiden felt it. That longing to be useful. He wondered if she felt any of the emotions he did explaining these things. For a moment, he wondered how he actually felt explaining these things. He had more experience with partners while in EAT, so he was accustomed to these vague feelings in a new partnership. But had Luka? How many weapons had she honestly held or developed any type of connection to? Was she even familiar with the feeling? He wasn’t sure, couldn’t be really. Not without asking. But, that one resounding feeling was ever present. It made Aiden wonder far more than about her experience.
Aiden lowered the volume of his voice as he went on. Not quite a whisper, but not quite loud enough to hear from outside the thick walls of his shield form. “Luka, what do you think of the plan? Earlier, it was quite obvious you had some counter points, but agreed anyway. When planning with your team, it’s important everyone be on board. What about strategy do you question?” he asked her, reflecting back on her comments about the turrets.
She heard the question loud and clear and for a moment, Luka wanted to scream her answer as loud as she could. Time at the DWMA taught her some restraint, though. It had also taught her that some people were scary and quite capable of being cruel to her when they wanted to be. All that combined led her to look over her shoulder, back at the rest of their team, to see what they were up to before she returned herself to her conversation with one of her weapon partners. She didn’t want to give any of them a reason to distrust her more than they already had.
Finally, though, she spoke. "I don't like it," Luka admitted. "No one’s giving me a chance to prove myself and I DO know what I’m doing. Everyone out there right now gets to take out some turrets, and they’re just paintballs. I don’t see why there’s such a big deal about needing me to just be legs to move a shield around.” Frustration was evident in her tone and she grimaced as she spoke about it. “I gotta show what I can do or everyone’s going to treat me like a child, which will be even worse than being bullied.” Bullying had been a big thing Luka had been forced to face when she was in EAT classes among kids her own age.
Aiden spent his time listening to her quite fairly. He understood now more than before why she felt this desire to be useful. Typically, given that Aiden was quite ignorant to these topics, Aiden wouldn’t have picked up on this issue, but Luka wore her heart on her sleeve and even Aiden was able to pick up on it. And, now he was told to his face--or at least the closest thing he had to one right now. Even on this level, though, Aiden still had a disconnect with Luka insofar that he didn’t quite perceive their uselessness in this exercise as being measured by the number of turrets they took down.
Aiden reflected back on the points both Sion and Cole made. This mission was entirely possible by virtually any of them if they felt like taking a few paintballs and having a few bruises. Sure, it might result in a ruined wardrobe, but it could be done. Sion likely said it best when he said there was no real threat for this mission. Cole explained that the advantage they had was the ability to plan. The words of their teammates seemed entirely lost on Luka--which was a fairly significant sentiment given Aiden wasn’t always the best at reading a situation.
“I’m not on the best terms with Cole, I don’t know if you’re aware,” Aiden told her, slightly shifting the topic. “I don’t really have anything against him, but he definitely has a few with me--at least when it comes to Callah,” he went on, further explaining. “So, I’m about to ask you a question and I think it may be a good idea to consider that I’ve already been confronted by him once,” Aiden informed her, preparing her for what was to come.
“Luka, if you were to be ‘treated like a child’ for any reason, do you think it would be because you didn’t flip a switch or because you didn’t stick to a plan? Which to you seems more… immature?” he asked, posing a question in a way to try and change the perspective Luka had on the situation. If she was worried about being bullied or the backfire of her actions, hopefully some insight to what the alternative would actually be seen as by the others might be enough.
Sighing, Luka tried to understand what he was going for. “I know that not sticking to a plan is bad for a team and not mature, but I’m also a child if I can’t actually do anything and this plan makes it look like I can’t do anything.” Grimacing unhappily, she added, “I’m going to do my best to protect Cole and Callah, but I’m afraid that everyone’s always just going to have me be legs for a shield, and that’s not what I do, Aiden. No one here really knows me, but that’s not what I do.”
Quite frankly, this was not Aiden’s forte. He heard what she said, he knew how she felt, he was fairly certain of how things would go if she did break from the plan and something happened that pissed off someone else, but he had already tried quite sensitively to explain that to Luka. This simply wasn’t a situation where he was at his best. Nothing immediately came to mind as to what to say and for a moment, that made him even doubt himself as a partner.
Well, not ‘a’ partner, per se. Aiden wasn’t one to let himself get brought down that way. No, this doubt was if he would do well as her partner. Luka was young, insecure it seemed, and while she was apparently prodigal in some skills, she wasn’t as well-rounded as Aiden initially thought. Would anyone else blame him? He could already hear Cole in his disapproving, judgemental tone, but what about those new Meisters? Or any of the weapons? Noelle was already seeming to do so well with Sion. Aiden wondered if they would blame him or Rio for not being able to keep Luka to the plan.
The thing about Aiden, though, was that he was resilient, if anything at all. He realized he was worrying about the opinions of others, but more so, he was questioning himself. And, in that moment, it hit him that he and Luka weren’t entirely too distant. She worried that others would see her as a child or just the legs to a shield, but he let himself worry that others would think of him as some type of poor caretaker or mismatched teammate. Aiden decided that instead of just giving her advice, he would rationalize it to her the way he did to himself.
“This is our first mission, yeah? The way I see it, this is just a DWMA style meet’n’greet. We’re not even fighting an enemy. You’re worried about just being legs for a shield, but Luka--I am the shield. If you don’t like me, you could just request another teammate and there are thousands. Me? I get just this one form. And sure, I’m glad to protect people, but--” Aiden tried to explain before being cut off.
A frown almost immediately overtook the young meister’s face because she hadn’t at all meant to imply any dissatisfaction with Aiden’s weapon form in the slightest. He was shiny, lightweight and sturdy and just all around useful. He was everything Luka wanted to be. “But you’re awesome, Aiden! With a shield I can get up close and stay up close in a fight which means I can have that much more time to be effective and I don’t have to worry as much about dodging. You’re just the right height for me and I can use everything that I’ve read about what the Romans did, too! It’s so exciting to have a shield when I’ve never used one before and I can’t wait to hold you and Rio together so I can see how powerful that feels!” Somewhere in the midst of her little monologue, Luka’s passion for weapons really started to flow through it all and it was clear she was eager to be able to try new things with a different weapon than she’d ever held before.
Aiden was somewhat taken aback by the emotional roller coaster ride that was Luka. She went from seeming regretfully guilty over his form to excited about it all in one go. Aiden quite genuinely was out of his comfort zone here as this was not quite the intended effect he was going for. But, at the very least, he could see Luka wasn’t feeling like some beaten dog not being given their treat. If anything, she was just too excited to actually get out and do something.
“I think,” Aiden said after a delay of simply not knowing how to respond to this, “the only real thing I can say is that ‘being effective’ means more than just getting something done. Sometimes it’s ‘how’ you get it done. What I think you’re overlooking here is that you have the potential to be the most useful member of our team because you can be a shield--it’s just, that won’t always be the case.
“I’m more than a shield, Aiden. You are a shield - and I know that - but I’m more than that. But they don’t see it.” At least, Luka somehow got herself into the impression that no one else there thought she was good for anything else. Obviously it was silly, but her young mind didn’t see that. Sighing, Luka added, “Don’t worry. I’m going to stick to the plan, Aiden, but I… I don’t like it.”
“Luka, real talk here, I’m not going to treat you like a kid; I’m going to treat you exactly like I did Cole when he went off on me. You need to get out of your head. You are supposed to be some prodigy capable of wielding any weapon. Literally, you’re the exact same age as my younger sister that’s just now entering EAT, and you don’t see her now, do you? Why would Lord Death waste such an incredibly rare type of Meister on being a dedicated Shield Meister? They have those. I thought I’d end up with one, but I didn’t. We won’t just be the shield of our team else I can’t imagine a single reason they wouldn’t give me to a Meister as hell bent on protecting others as I am. But, here’s the thing. Sometimes, you are gonna be a shield. Sometimes, that’s gonna be the most effective thing for you to do. And, when it is, don’t whine about it--be the best damn shield you can be. You’ll save lives, not just take them,” Aiden rebutted with a fair amount more passion in his tone. Luka and her resistance to this idea of being a shield when clearly she was more than that had finally grate his nerves just enough for him to pull off the velvet gloves.
Although Luka was beginning to see that being a shield could be more than just carrying Aiden around, she still lacked confidence that the rest of her class would see her as anything more and it had her nerves all standing on edge, but she knew that in this particular drill, there wasn’t a whole lot more she could do beyond follow the plan everyone had laid out. After all, anything else would make her even more of an outcast and that was Luka’s worst nightmare. She was proud to have been selected for this class, and she liked Aiden. He did a good job at making her feel like someone even though he’d just met her. Luka didn’t know how he did it, but he did. She supposed they would have time to figure it out together.
“Now, Luka, you said you wanted to feel what it was like to hold both me and Rio,” Aiden said, not losing an ounce of momentum, but definitely changing the course of the conversation. “Why don’t you ask her, and we’ll figure out right now just how that feels,” he asked, indirectly proposing an end to this particular line of conversation.
“I’d like that,” Luka agreed. With the intention of her departure being brief, Luka set down Aiden's shield form and gently leaned it against a tree before emerging from behind it and glancing through the team that she would be working with. "Rio!" she called out - not terribly loud, but enough to be heard - and then she added, "Can you transform, please? I need to get used to wielding both you and Aiden so we can be a good team."
Watching the first team, Rio couldn't help but notice, after a rocky start, as each student struggled to get their bearings with the many paintballs flying through the air at them, it seemed the team was working somewhat well together. It appeared that Dai had been at least mostly wrangled in enough, likely from Yuri's curt attitude with her miesters. Followed by Vox and Lucien, whom... It was like watching someone gracefully dancing in a fight, she wasn't sure of everything between the two, but, the two remaining miesters were... Unreadable to Rio, which, wasn't uncommon. As much as she watched from the sidelines, new people like Yuan were not always as easy to get an idea of, unlike the boisterous Dai, and Edgar and her never quite interacted, both are the quiet types that keep to their own...
Though her mind was drawn away by the voice of her miester. Whom had been discussing strategies of what may come, but had broken off from the rest a bit, mostly to familiarize with her weapons. A mild jolt went through Rio when Luka made that mention, so often Rio was forgotten about, both on a weapon level and a human level. Yet, the acknowledgement from her partner was a breath of fresh air. Taking a few steps to her partner, Rio joined her meister, whom had set Aiden against a tree, he was a tower shield, which, worked much more in the favour of Rio, though she was more a knight rather than a legionnaire. Nevertheless, Rio soon took an all too familiar form.
With a silver blade no more than 81cm (~32in), met with a blue-coloured gemstone at the center of her golden crossguard, balanced about ten centimeters forward of her cross-guard, Rio's form looked rather similar to many of the swords of Arthurian Legend, though lacked the length that a longsword possessed. T'was the same form that her mother took up, and when paired with a shield, Rio became all the more versatile. As she took her form in Luka's hands, Rio remembered something heard earlier, about simply hiding behind Aiden and poking the paintball guns from behind the shield with Rio. As much as Rio wished that would work, her knowledge of not only her weight, but how to fight with her suggested otherwise, "Poking from behind a shield may not entirely be wise, as you would be reaching around the shield and that would impact the centrifugal force you would need for a thrust." With her words echoing to Luka, Rio then began to ponder the ideas of Sion, Cole, and the others in the team. It was a defensive team to say the least, though, they had a disadvantage, speed. That wasn't to say that her teammates were slow by any means, however, with two shielding skillsets, it often left something to be desired elsewhere, and being there was only one ranged miester in a challenge of ranged weapons, the dramatic lack of maneuverability would lead to a failure. Though the mention of breaking off into two duo's was definitely a boon, if not the best plan of action available.
Feeling her soul linking with Luka's soul once more, Rio couldn't help but ponder the twist, and the possibilities it held. There had to be a way to sense the twist before it arose, and if possible draw it out earlier, or, at the least recognizing what it could be before it was sprang... Then, as she could hear the subtle sound of a thud, something was thrown Dai's way, while Rio couldn't make out everything of it, Rio's attention was brought to Luka once more, her soul wavelength increased the senses, making her more perceptive to everything around her, and soon, Rio voiced her thoughts, "I've an idea to add to the plan, Luka." Rio's voice came through the link that the three shared, "The biggest problems are the paintball guns have a three-hundred-sixty degree radius around us while all ten are up, and the twist which we're unknowing of." Pausing for a moment, Rio collected her remaining thoughts before continuing, "Being that I am a sword, and not very effective in this situation, I can focus using your wavelength, and direct you to where the guns may fire, and also do my best to find the twist's mechanics to minimize the effectiveness of it. That way, we use each other's strengths to cover our weaknesses, and ensure our first mission is a success!" Gleaming with positivity, Rio wasn't going to let the pain of feeling useless for this drag anyone down, and, even if she played a backlines role, Rio was happy to do all she could for those around her, Rio had faith that her partners could succeed, even with a kilogram bladed deadweight in Luka's primary hand...
A fair amount went on in a short amount of time. Sion was the first to respond, although long before he did, Cole noticed that he nearly winced at Callah just speaking. Normally, Cole wasn't so observant to these things, but he could actively see any time Callah and her wavelength spiked even in the slightest, Sion reacted like it was nails on a chalkboard. This was a feeling he knew all too well; it wasn't that far off what it was like to fire Callah within their first few months training. Was it ear splitting? No, not at that point, but it was definitely a task. More importantly, it lead Cole to deduce Sion had some type of sensitivity to wavelengths that extended beyond just normal Soul Perception. For a brief moment, he wondered if the Meister like himself had some type of Paranormal Sensitivity. This thought waned fairly quickly as he could still see the odd, active distortion that was Sion's soul, so it likely had more to do with that. Nonetheless, it was something to note. If possible, warn the man before using Callah's wavelength. Not much he could do, but at least expecting it would be better than feeling it unbraced.
Then both other Meisters had their weapons transform. An umbrella, at least outfit for combat. Cole, in one of his rare moments of humor, wondered of Noelle would find it annoying to ask her to actually transform into her weapon form solely to block rain. She was an umbrella after all. Cole, also not being a weapon, wondered if she would feel the sensation of rain drops. Would it be unpleasant? Or, would it just be her normal function? If it was unpleasant, would it be less so because she was an umbrella? Cole dwelled on this thought for a minute, oddly enough encapsulated by the idea of using Noelle as a standard umbrella. Callah was quite the opposite of her in this way. Callah was a devastating device of destruction and death that in her weapon form didn't really have another purpose. Noelle did. That must be nice.
Too bad she wasn't a ranged weapon, so Cole didn't care too much in the end.
While Luka and Aiden were having some type of conversation behind his shield form, Sion was commenting about a ricocheted shot and Callah inquired to it right after. Cole certainly didn't feel a condensed wavelength behind him; that might have caught his attention enough to turn around. As interesting as Noelle was, another ranged weapon would have caught his eye far more. Though, no one could replace his Callah. Admittedly, a pistol of some kind for close range encounters would be nice. For a brief moment, Cole wondered what Aiden was discussing with Luka, but they were partners now and Cole--while he questioned Aiden a lot--didn't think he would make a pass at his vastly underaged partner. Besides, Cole knew Aiden learned a lesson back in EAT about flirting with his partners, so he doubted Aiden would even be interested in Rio.
"I don't believe we can ricochet a shot without the assistance of some type of reflective surface for a wavelength. Our shots aren't like normal bullets. They travel much faster and in a perfectly straight line until they either hit something or dissipate. I don't have to factor in wind resistance or slopes. A shot at fifty meters is just like a shot at five hundred, and so on," Cole explained in a fairly matter-of-fact tone. He thought now since he was asked, it would be a good time to explain. He also decided to explain his abilities further, just in case it would help in the mission. Luka was off in her own world and so was Rio, but hopefully they would at least pick up some of it as background noise.
"Almost all Weapons that use projectiles do so by condensing the wavelength of their Meister. This means the projectiles take on the characteristics of the Meister. I don't really have a special Wavelength, although I can speak and see ghosts and spirits. Most wavelength attacks, like Menace, can hit them, though; I can just do so from a range if need be," Cole went on. Cole then looked directly at Sion for this next part, " That also means that most of my normal shots will use my wavelength, not Callah's. I've noticed you have issues with it. But I do want to warn you that we've made some shots that use part of her wavelength, too, using another skill of mine. I can embed my soul signature into a target if I hit it and track it for a while. If I use Callah's instead, the target gets a good dose of her wavelength coursing through them. Not hard to track for you guys and can debilitate the target. Doubt it will be useful this mission, but it might be useful to know for the future."
Cole intended on explaining more, but by the time he finished that explanation, Callah decided she wanted to see what was going on. Cole was likely dulling them with his explanation and Luka had just called to Rio anyway, so moving on was probably for the best. Callah transformed into her stunning black matte form of a sniper rifle mid air and Cole reached out his hand in the perfect spot before she even materialized to grasp her stock. Her form was long and slender, though not quite like any formal sniper rifle. She didn't need a bolt, but still had a detachable cartridge, and her scope worked with Soul Perception alongside different zooming, but without practice just looked like a regular set of magnifying lenses. To Cole, it might have been one of the most beautiful things in the world, even though it wasn't nearly as adorned or feature packed as some military-grade rifles.
Callah didn't need to be.
Once Cole grabbed her in rifle form, his entire relaxed stance changed. He was tense. It was visible. Even in his mundane casual clothes, he was as focused as a soldier in uniform. He planted the butt of her stock firmly into his right shoulder and stretched his left arm down to the forestock, gripping the textured sides and planting her in her usual spot. Before he pointed her at the others, however, his right hand reached to a lever above the trigger and switched it up. This was her safety. With it engaged, her trigger was locked into place. This would prevent unnecessary discharge. Almost a redundant feature given they would have to charge a round into her clip, but nonetheless a step taken while they were merely surveying their teammates. Beyond that, his finger wasn't even on the trigger, instead extended in full length above the trigger and along the length of her stock while grasping the curved down handle of her midstock with the rest of his hand.
Cole then raised her up slightly to peer out of her scope. In this instance, he kept both eyes open--one to view out the scope, one to see more of the overall area. 'So, Callah, who do you want to watch?' he asked her internally, their voices intertwined in their mingling souls.
"Och na! I was afraid of this," commented Erika. She was hoping to make a good impression on the teacher and was sure teamwork was an important part of that. The fact that the others were all over the place made it extremely hard to analyze the situation effectively. Erika was prepared to do what she had to do to help her meister, but it still bothered her. She didn't have long to worry, though, as encouragement came swiftly.
Grace, who had been largely silent up to this point frozen in her internal battles suddenly spoke up, "That sounds like a stoatin' idea! I like the way you think, mo charaid. Come on Erika, let's show these gommies how it's done!" Grace loved competition and was confident they would succeed.
"Well, if you think so. Forby, we can't just stand around. I'm with you guys." Erika responded.
"That's what I like to hear. Airson Wallace! (For Wallace!)"
Edgar’s brief moment of satisfaction was cut short by the irate internal shouting ringing in his head. Unlike before, Edgar actually felt something from his partner but it was everything but pleasant. Rage consumed his partner and he could feel it through the rapidly increasing heat coming from Adelle’s weapon form. Edgar did become slightly irritated as the heat hurt. Especially so suddenly. “It’s not that big of a deal. Don’t get your undies in a twist.” Before he knew it the heat vanished and a brilliant light flashed. Adelle had transformed back to her club form. Choosing to ignore her momentarily, he looked around and noticed the progress they were making. They were actually managing to shut the turrets down. “Good.” He smashed an incoming paintball. Off to the side he could hear Yuan mention something about a contest. The thought seemed like a waste of time so Edgar spent no time considering it and flatly replied, “Not interested.” He crushed a couple more paintballs before switching the hand he wielded Adelle with. His dominant hand was still recovering from the childish act Adelle pulled. “You know, I’m disappointed in you Adelle. You would go so far as to harm your own partner out of anger and risk our chances of success with the exercise.”
"And I am disappointed in you for lacking the knowledge that demon weapons fire condensed wavelengths of their meisters' souls. It is the most basic concept in all of soul studies!" Adelle flared back, her weapon form heating once again. Contrary to how Edgar put it, the heat was not intentional; rather, in her anger, their souls became more incompatible. "Weapons and meisters work together on a foundation of respect and the minute you loaded a rock into me, you completely ignored the fact that I am a demon weapon capable of so much more than the stick you treated me as. My soul is bound to flare at disrespect."
Edgar chuckled at his own ignorance. “Yes, yes, my apologies. I have failed you as a proper meister. Therefore I am undeserving of your camaraderie.” Though he felt it, he chose to ignore and not speak on the rising heat in his left palm. “What was I thinking? This just goes to show how much I have to learn and grow. I may have shut off the target but what did I really accomplish? Do I really deserve to be in this R.I.P. class? Do I have what it takes?” A speeding paintball was stopped dead in its track by a forceful swing from Edgar. “No.” He spun, dodging another paintball. They were coming at a much slower rate. Or rather less of them were flying towards him. “I mustn't think like that. I was chosen for a reason. I must learn, grow, and experience all that is needed to show Lord Death I am worthy. I must do better.” He mentally beat himself on the head.
Adelle could not help but feel as though she were being mocked and it certainly left a sour taste on her tongue. She had been well under the expectation that her class would be well educated on the basics. Apparently, she had a lot to clarify with the grim reaper at a later date.
However, none of her attitude would help her until they finished this exercise. "Well, at least you're able to use a club properly. One form ought to be enough for now. Can we please take out the rest of these turrets so that perhaps it might be safe to talk as humans so I'm not burning you?" He seemed capable of smashing paintballs so it logically followed that he could make this way to the turrets. From there, flipping a switch ought to be easy.
“Yes.” Edgar tossed Adelle back into his dominant hand. “I feel there is a bit we should discuss to find a common ground.” With that, he located his next target in the midst of the trees. Fortunately for Edgar, he had been running small calculations and simulations since the exercise began. Things varying from turret placements, firing rate, firing angle, etc. He charged at a turret with full confidence. With finesse and precision, he whacked his way through several paintballs, all while making his way closer to the turret. Upon finally arriving at the target, he quickly switched it off and scanned the field for another.
“Five left now!” Adelle shouted out so the rest of their team could hear. She surveyed their playing field to get a better idea of what was going on around them and formulate a plan as to how to best address it all. She had to believe that at least one more would require a key as the whole point of it would have been silly otherwise. “Dai, keep that key handy!” she called out to the more impulsive meister. “And Edgar, lets take out another one.” Taking too much time to think things through would only make the exercise take longer in the end and in a drill like this one, speed seemed to take precedence over strategy. Adelle didn’t want to think too much about it all.
“Right!” Edgar wasted no time and charged at another turret. At this point, crushing incoming paintballs had become rather easy. He approached his new target with good speed and managed to make his way behind it. He flipped the switch in the back and called out to the rest of his team. “That makes four!”
To say that Mr. Ismael's immediate reaction over the fear of his clothes was anything but somewhat disappointing- would have been a understatement. Yet despite his own personal disapproval at Milo's immediate reaction, Tavares did not say or show in the slightest he did not agree. All his brow did was raise slightly in curiosity. The Miss Elegante's attempts to assuage his partner's concerns, while understandable- was ultimately seen as unnecessary in the eyes of Tavares. Getting dirty was a natural part of both the Weapon and Meister's job. To whine over that was...well he wasn't sure what to make of it. It was petty, childish, and frankly rude to the duty they all upheld. If the clothing was the issue then simply wear something else that he would not mind getting as dirty? It's what he had done. Tavares could not help but internally shake his head even though his expression only changed with the raised brow. More and more he wondered what this partnership between he and Milo would entail. Certainly it was not like he and Mai had gotten along instantly, nor could he say the same for any of his past partners either. The prospect of what awaited ahead was certainly something he had to admit that he was curious to see what would await them. In his eyes however, Milo did not deserve immediate judgement. If he had not been worthy of remaining in DWMA then he would not be in this class, let alone EAT as a whole. Time would tell what would happen, and as always- he would take it in stride. So his attention went from Milo's response and Noelle's consolation to focusing on what Cole was saying instead as he gathered everyone's attention.
Listening to Cole's explanation, it made sense. Tavares was ultimately silent as nothing that was said really required a rebuttal or any more input. The fact Sion and Cole's ideas were undoubtedly -heh- on a similar wavelength as the general direction that he and Noelle had been thinking was good enough for him and so he neither added or said a thing. The only outside factor was Luka, whom while he could sense the feeling of being belittled given the conversation so far, he ultimately found it better not to jump in. Not too long ago, some two years ago he was her age and thought similarly. Had he been a year earlier since this year was his second year here- then he might have still had that mindset. But time changed people, and he was sure the lovely ragazza would change with experience too. Turning his attention back to the fight ahead, Tavares decided it would be better to turn his attention to something where he might be of more use to the team as a whole. Unable to resist turning his eyes back on to mainly Yuan and the twins as he watched them work, then turning his eyes to the rest of Team 1. From Yuri and Dai to Edgar and Adelle as he watched them in action. Vox and Lucien also receiving his attention as he observed them. Watching Vox and Lucien in particular made Tavares wonder if he could test something in mind with Milo to shut off a turret.
Lost in his thoughts, Tavares was not so lost that he didn't become aware that some of his colleagues had begun calling their partners to 'suit up', as Andrew Whiles, a senior in his own Suite once said. And once all had, he whistled, a budding sense of excitement building as he observed each of his peers new forms. It was short but a loud little tune of appreciation as he looked at all and beheld the forms in which some could take. To him, despite his preference for melee weapons- each and every one of them were magnifico. There had always been something about Demon Weapons being able to transform into indestructible gifts from above that had always touched him deeply as a child. It would be a lie to say that he didn't have something of a flame for Demon Weapons. A deep respect that stemmed strictly due to maternal influences. To most it was probably no big deal, to Tavares- even if he and Milo had gotten off so far on a rocky start- it was a literal honor. Not that he was about to say it or show it, because the last time he had- well, it hadn't gone well. Which only reminded him of home. On his mother's side there was not a single meister. All three of the Gwan Sisters had all been Demon Weapons just like their father and mother. While Tavares had never had the privilege to meet his paternal grandparents since they died before his birth- or his Avo's mother, he knew well that it was mainly him and his father, save a few relatives he had met which made up the Meister deck of cards. And sure, being in DWMA gave him the same level of exposure being the the Black Deck had (albeit greater), but to him it was always a marvel to observe the other side Demon Weapons could become. How their appearances could be reflected in their Weapon Forms, how their souls could be reflected in this second form, these were things that held his interest the most.
The moment however was ruined as an unfortunate thought wormed its way up to the surface as daydreaming sometimes did. He recalled being told how weird he was once by a former partner. One of the shortest terms in his list of partnerships since entering DWMA. It was a memory unneeded, but it certainly reminded him to avoid staring at Noelle and any other Demon Weapons around here for too long. Lest he earn their ire and become labelled the class oddball.
Turning his gaze to glance at Milo, Tavares felt the temptation to ask his partner to transformer if he would do so kindly. But then again- in his mind, Tavares considered if it was necessary. He had already seen Milo's form upon being assigned to him by Lord Death once in the Death Room. Calling for Milo to change again now seemed redundant. Unnecessary even. Sure the moment had been brief, but doing so now might be better served for when they were about to get on the field.
Looking at Milo silently, then glancing at each of the Weapons in their Weapon forms in turn, Tavares moved back towards his tree, into the shade. Choosing to watch the show in comfortable silence while everyone else was given their moment of space. Surely with the planning done the need for conversation was most certainly over, yes? Adjusting his glasses, he watched the field. Pondering just what Ezrah might have in store.
Her wavelength didn’t really look special.
To most others looking, her soul was the size and color of any other human soul. Indeed, even with her ability to see occasional visions of the possible futures, Yuan was still very much human. She herself liked to think of her ability as manifestation of a human’s highly enhanced predictive capabilities; She was a really good guesser and had a sixth sense about the things to come as her soul was inclined towards the future…but it wasn’t an all-knowing magic or anything. She was still limited to the lengths of which a human could see.
That’s was why her father had given her a demon weapon.
Yuan helped her control her wavelength technique and expand the scope of her sight even further for the sake of the Crimson Dragon. Future stock market prices. Future enemies. Future allies. Staying ahead of the competition was what allowed the Crimson Dragon to thrive and the reason her position as her father’s heir had never been contested. Her father loved her…or rather, loved what she could do for him.
It honestly amazed her how blind she used to be.
The paintballs came at her like afterimages. Or rather, future-images. When she first developed her ‘Soul Vision’ technique, she would sometimes lose sight of the present. Yuan’s voice was what kept her grounded. This time though, it was voice of twin Scottish girls. She hadn’t lied when she told them she thought them adorable. From the matching clothing to their accents and dialect, they gave off a kind of cheery Scottish charm. Well, Grace mostly. Erika was less cheery, though still cute in her own way.
“I’m glad you at least think so, Grace,” Yuan replied as she ducked and weaved, easing her way to a turret she knew didn’t require a key.
Edgar didn’t seem too interested in her idea, but his quick and flat response gave her an insight into the sort of things that motivated him—or rather didn’t motivate him—which was the purpose for suggesting a competition in the first place. Some thrived on competition. Others didn't. It was good to know which of the two her classmates fell into. “And here I was hoping for an awesome prize if I did win. Like Chef Lucien’s double-baked cheese souffle with parmesan cream~ Or maybe some plum-flavored macaroons. I love macaroons~”
As expected, the topic of food brought the previously silent chef’s knife in Vox’s hand talking. Well, silent wasn’t the right word seeing as his soul had been talking his meister’s ear off about the ‘proper’ way to wield a knife and didn’t seem to care to much about what everyone else was doing. The only reason she heard him at all was that his soul was highly opinionated, constantly radiating a desire to be heard, and, like Yuri, he didn’t bother to filter his words for only his meisters ear. It was for the same reason she knew that Edgar and Adelle Stone were fighting to some degree, though the exact details of the conversation were lost to her.
“Spiced-roasted plum macaroons aren’t difficult to make provided I find a firm but ripe plum with a nice, fragrant scent…” The reflection spoke contemplatively. “But that’s beside the point, Mademoiselle Yuan! Competition between us would hardly be fair considering there is only one key required to turn off some of the turrets! Not that I dislike challenges, but the existence of a singular key suggests that Erzah wants us to work together to get this lesson done…so hurry and get over here with the key, Barbare! This one seems to have a locked panel!”
“Very well…” Yuan sighed with faux disappointment. While Lucien urged his meister to continue moving on to the next turret, Yuan circled her own turret—this time blocking with Axel Grace and tapping the off switch with Hunter Grace. “For Wallace it is~”
Edgar and Adelle managed to take down another two from the sounds of it and Yuan continued their line of calls. “Three more to go!”
With only 3 turrets left, avoiding the paintballs wasn’t very hard at all so Yuan moved leisurely towards the next turret she knew wouldn’t need a key. Axes were heavier than tonfas so wielding the girls felt strange at first—since she had never duel wielded battle axes before—but Yuan was quickly growing used to it. As a line of paintballs came her way, Yuan held the demon axes out horizontally and spun, slicing into them as she twirled forward step by step as if she were dancing. “By the way, why were you girls late today? I never got the chance ask, what with this exciting lesson Professor Erzah sprung on us and all.”
The proposal of turning the group exercise into a competition was quick to intrigue the simple-minded boy. "I'm in!" he proclaimed, flashing a greedy smirk as he realized that winning would result in him getting both praise and a prize-- and would also maybe make up for the serious screw-up he had earlier. While immersed in his self-centered fantasies of claiming a 'victory' over Lucien and proving the weapon wrong, he swung Yuri to keep a paintball from hitting him. "If its a competition, though..." He uttered, tightening his grip around the key in his hand before quickly dashing over to one of the last few turrets.
"Then none of you are gettin' this key!"
He winced at the feeling of a paintball tagging him square on his forehead, but powered through it to get to the back panel of his attacker. It didn't need a key, but that was fine. A quick flip of the switch, and it was off. He didn't even bother announcing that he had disabled another one, instead rushing straight towards the turret closest to Vox and the pain in the ass she was carrying. "Shaddap, you fuckhead!" He yapped directly at the knife, as though Lucien were standing before him in his human form. "Before I toss you so far you'll be lost for weeks!" A few seconds passed as he angrily fiddled with the key, and it was off.
"Hah!" He proudly laughed, before reaching into his pocket and pulling out Vox's lighter. "I've done my part, nee-san. There's one turret left, right?" He glanced at it, before dangling the lighter in his hand with a playful grin. "You can get this back once it's off, got it? And maybe once that idiot knife admits how stuck-up he is."
The compliment Sion gave was enough to make Noelle's face glow a bright red again. It wasn't very often that she was complimented on her form, after all. He appeared intrigued as he examined her, taking note of every single part of her that could be used both offensively and defensively. Once she was able to quell her flustered (and, concerned) thoughts, she managed to finally respond to her meister. "...Thank you."
It seemed that Noelle had passed the aesthetic test with flying colors, and Sion was now moving on to the more important test-- combat ability. He tossed, twirled, and shadowboxed around with her, and it was clear that he was getting used to her very quickly. He wasn't lying about studying martial arts. While he did this, Noelle's face went back to its normal complexion, and she studied his movements with focused eyes. Every time he switched stances or tried something different, she felt her head violently nodding in approval. Yes, just like that... you know what you're doing!
He was perfect. Well, perfect in terms of versatility, at least. She wouldn't be able to give him an outstanding score until she saw him in the heat of real combat-- something they wouldn't be participating in today. Until then, she would simply have to put her trust into the young man. She continued to watch with an unwavering expression, until she heard his voice call out to her.
"Hm?" She jolted slightly, taking in his question. She was so into it that she hadn't even noticed she'd been opened. Stupid Noelle. "Ah, yes, I can! I will do my best not to do it without bringing it to your attention first, but if I notice something you need to defend against, I will open up immediately." By the way things looked, she probably wouldn't need to do that very often. As she sat idly, she felt her energy being taken from her again. It was vicious, alright, but she swore she would overcome it. Just as assassins were conditioned to endure pain and poison, she would condition herself to treat this vacuum-wavelength like it was nothing.
Another question. This time, a more trivial one. "I will be okay. Milo is just being...dramatic." Though, his question made her think. True, she never returned to her human form with any blood or other things on her, even if she was stabbed straight into an opponent and covered in it in her weapon form. She brought an increasingly weary hand up to her chin in thought. "You are correct about us not being blood-stained when we go back into our regular forms. Now that I think about it, despite being a weapon myself, I have no idea why that is..."
Opting not to lose her mind in existential pondering, she snapped her fingers, remembering something crucial she forgot to inform Sion of. "Merde! I apologize, Sion. I failed to mention something important..." She placed her head into her palm and sighed before speaking up once again. "I'm sure you've noticed it by now, but I have a special wavelength, as well. Hopefully it will help you out. How are you feeling at the moment? Both physically and mentally, that is." Once she asked her question, she briefly turned her attention towards Team One, who was now making quick work of the turrets that were once hindering them. "Seems as though we'll be going up soon..."
Luka BainesBefore Luka could even fully take the chance to admire Rio’s weapon form when it fell into her hands, she was bombarded with thoughts and comments that stole her focus away from her senses and directed it more towards her thoughts and her mind. “There’s a lot more that a sword can do than just thrust, Rio,” she remarked. “And the Romans based an entire fighting style off of poking things from behind shields. It worked quite well for them for quite some time.” It never once occurred to Luka that it probably sounded funny for her to be replying to things Rio had spoken into her mind with her own words out loud.
As Rio continued, Luka couldn't help but get stuck on the first piece of the next thing that Rio said. It consumed so much of her mind that she didn’t really process the rest of it in the slightest. “You’re not useless in this exercise, Rio,” Luka asserted. “As a sword, you extend my reach much further than I could otherwise. That can help me block more paintballs. Moving you in my hand can help propel me forward to make me faster, too, which will help me defend our allies.” Swords were so useful in so many ways and Luka couldn’t even begin to describe them all. Yes, they were one of the first weapons she’d learned to use and while they weren’t very exciting to her in and of themselves, the young meister was very excited to have the opportunity to wield both a sword and a shield simultaneously. It would be an entirely new experience.
Carrying her new partner back to where she’d left Aiden, Luka carefully shifted his weapon form so that she could reach the back of it again, before she slid her arm back through to equip the shield properly. Holding both partners, Luka experimented with how her body balanced and she was surprised that she didn’t have to change much about her stance to keep her weight evenly distributed. Even though Aiden’s shield was so much larger than Rio’s shield form, the weight difference was far less severe than she’d anticipated.
Now, linking together two weapons when the weapons were not used to working together was not an easy task. Telepathy was possible between weapon and meister and while Luka was capable of that - though she rarely used it - she wasn’t the best at linking up two weapons together in such a way and neither was she about to put in that effort when she was still learning how to hold and balance them. Therefore, communication between the three of them would have to be out loud or just one on one with Luka.
“Knowing Professor Ezrah, he’ll have another lesson for us later about linking souls more efficiently. The three of us are compatible enough that nothing much needs to change right now. While I could try matching you guys more, I’d rather focus on learning your balances and how we can all move together for this one, so we’re going to talk out loud, ok?” She remembered being told by several teachers that while working with multiple weapons was a rare talent she possessed, she would need to work on communicating properly to make it work. That was what Luka was trying to do with that statement. She wanted her weapons to be on the same page as she was.
Plans mostly in place, Luka’s gaze shifted to the battlefield that her comrades were finishing up on. It was going to be covered in paint by the time everyone was done today and the paint might be slippery. She made a note of that, but also glanced to the rest of the team she would be working with as she shouted to them, “We’ve gotta be careful not to slip in paint while we’re out there.” She was sure they saw it too, but again, Luka tried to communicate even if it was the most basic of things.