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Persona: Philosophy of Man [IC/PG-16/No Longer Accepting]

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Beneath the Mask


      Greater Orleans High.  Academically, the second best high school in Louisiana, and the third largest high school in the tri-state area, nearly the size of Louisiana State.  Just steps away from New Orleans City Park, Greater Orleans High is one of the most aesthetically pleasing high schools one could attend.  A large, rounded campus consisting of six main buildings, two smaller buildings, an auditorium, a gymnasium, a football field, a public basketball court, and a public volleyball court.  Home to nearly three thousand students, Greater Orleans High boasts a proud graduation rate of 97 percent.   And while this is sometimes a surprise for new students and parents, Greater Orleans High's four academic circles (dubbed the Orleans High "rings of fire") have been the key to their students' success.  


The campus' primary buildings are labeled A through F.  Building A is the front of the campus and faces City Park, overlooking the canopy of greenery and a satisfying water-front.  Each of the primary buildings is two floors, but their numbers of rooms vary.  Building A consists of the dean's office, teacher offices, a large, plush teacher's lounge, and alumni tutoring rooms.  It is attached to the rest of the campus by a breezeway which exposes the life of the high school.  From building to building and due to the connection of Greater Orleans High to City Park, a lot of wildlife can be found sprawling around the campus' open areas.  Ducks and geese freely walk among the shade and find pleasure in the man-made ponds around the campus.  On average, it takes students between 5 to 7 minutes to walk from building to building, based on their class structure.


Building's B and C are located in the center of the campus.  These two buildings house most of the classrooms of G.O.H.  Freshman and sophomore classes are held in building B, while junior and senior classes are held in building C.  In building B, freshman classes are held on the first floor among twenty-four total classrooms on the first floor:  twelve on the east side of the building and twelve on the west side.  On the second floor, sophomore classes are the same, divided among twenty-four total classrooms with twelve on either the east or west sides of the building.  This structure is replicated in building C, with junior classes on the first floor and senior classes on the second.   Building's B and C are attached by a glass-covered walkway between the second floors of each building, or a shorter breezeway on the first floor.  This is due to having some honors classes for students being held in buildings in which they normally wouldn't venture for their classes.  


Behind building C is Building D.  But no one calls it that.  Building D is the auditorium, where yearly orientations, class meetings, pep-rallies, plays, and some club practices are held.  It's one of the three largest buildings on campus, equally as large as the library and gymnasium.  The auditorium seats 7000 people to account for staff, students, guests, and alumni alike.  


To the east of the auditorium is the gymnasium.  Equal in size, the gymnasium is primarily used for games for the Greater Orleans High basketball team, the Horsemen, and the Greater Orleans High young ladies' volleyball team, the Valkyries.  Currently holding four division titles and three championship wins, the Horsemen's basketball games are frequently packed and often end up as "standing room only" games.  This led to the need for digital upgrades to the outside of the gymnasium, which includes two enormous projection screens on the north and south sides of the building that is only brought down for game days.  The Valkyries also hold two division titles and a single championship win, attracting a gargantuan crowd all their own.


West of the auditorium is the Greater Orleans High Library.  It is the tenth largest publicly owned library in Louisiana and is available after hours to junior and senior students.  The library is two floors, with non-fiction works and two computer labs with 100 stations each on the first floor.  On the second floor, you can find fictional works, student-submitted works, a third computer lab, and a small array of vending machines for those late night study munchies.  For even greater convenience, there is also a 3 stall shower and a heated but separated lounge with pull-out sofas.  Entry is heavily monitored and restricted and is only granted on recommendation from student council and class representatives, requiring a minimum of two letters of recommendation to access them.


The two smallest buildings on campus (which isn't saying much) are the student lounge and cafeteria.  They were originally separated into two separate structures on the south of the campus just in front of the football field.  However, after popular demand and a school-wide petition signed by teachers and students alike, the two buildings were connected into one structure to form the Horseman Cafe.  The Horseman Cafe has two floors.  The first floor has a variety of student shops with everything from school supplies and study material to student-owned shops which sold some handmade sweets and treats.  The second floor was where most students went to eat.  From the Horseman's Gallavant (a school owned gumbo store) to G.O.H. Subs and Sandwiches, and many other dining opportunities for any craving students may have. 


The football field rests just south of the Horseman Cafe and is home to the G.O.H. Horsemen Football Squad.  Holding six divisional titles and four championships, they are the pride of high school football for G.O.H. and all of New Orleans.  Their success is the story of the city, and many of their players carry on their skills to a college of their choice.  The crowds drawn by the Horsemen Football Squad has resulted in city-wide parades, resulting in a fan-base that has seized most of Louisiana.



Due to the popularity and outstanding academic standards that Greater Orleans High has held for the last ten years, it has received many regular donations by locals and even celebrities to support its infrastructure.  While it isn't the most academically successful school in the state, it is the most widely known.  It has had its fair share of celebrity visits, musical junctures, and sponsors.  The wave that is Greater Orleans High has affected every high school in the state.  Now, it draws students from around the world who yearn to partake in the phenomenon of Greater Orleans High.


This year, however, will be much different.  When high school resumes in just two days, Greater Orleans High will open for orientation once more.  And there just so happens to be a gathering of students whose fate will shake the foundation of this school, and quite possibly, the entire city.

Edited by Hi I'm Dad

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Beneath the Mask

     This particular Tuesday was big for New Orleans public schools. It was hot this time of year, so buildings were usually quite frigid to battle off the steaming heat and humidity of the New Orleans climate.  Ducks and geese curled up beneath shady trees and under cool park benches in the school's field to shield themselves from the heat.  In just twenty-four hours, the school semester would begin once more.  The staff had returned, having prepared most of their lessons and curriculum around their school's system and their students' needs.  Staff at Greater Orleans High had returned two days early to refresh themselves with the "rings of fire", and they were off to a great start.  Coaches were reviewing their practices and preparing for tryouts.  Teachers were doubling down on their handouts of assignments and checking out their new textbooks.  The campus was pristine thanks to the hard-working custodial staff and the participation and cooperation of other staff.  The Dean and Assistant Deans were quite busy ensuring that each classroom, each teacher, each custodial staff, and every individual staff member on campus was prepared with whatever they needed.  The Horseman Cafe did a few dry runs with the staff at approximately 12:30 p.m. and things went smoothly.


This time tomorrow, school would be in session and yearly orientation would begin.


"How're we looking?" asked a tall, fuzzy, black-haired African American man in a strapping green uniform.


"Full house as always tomorrow.  We'll need you on your toes, Mr. Grant.  As always, I appreciate you looking out for my students.  It means a lot," responded a slender, well built Korean-American woman.


"Campus security, Ms. Coalesce.  It's our job," Grant said with a smile.  "All cameras are fully operational in each section of the campus.  We have crossing guards ready and waiting and they know their routes like the back of their hands.  There are brand new walkies stationed in your office for you.  Each man on security has one, in addition to the custodial staff.  We're well prepared."


"Good.  What stations can I find you on?"


"I left a note with the Assistant Dean.  He'll have the instructions for you."


"Good work as always, Mr. Grant.  I'll see you bright and early tomorrow," Ms. Coalesce said as she turned on her heels.


"See you then."

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Early Morning

Light Rain

Beneath the Mask

      The first day back to school was a dreary one.  The sky was cloudy and grey and rain sprinkled across the city.  While this was normally welcoming in this hot time of year, New Orleans' already humid climate made things really muggy and uncomfortable.  Greater Orleans High was already taking in its students and directing them across campus to the auditorium.  From freshmen to seniors, students were being directed to the auditorium for the year's opening orientation.  Many stopped along the way to catch up with classmates who they hadn't seen since before summer started, while others - typically freshmen and transfer students - may or may not have gotten lost on their way to the auditorium.  This year's Orientation would begin a little later than usual due to the weather and the influx of freshmen and transfer students.  


In the center of the campus near building C, a tall young man in blue jeans, a black t-shirt, and black sneakers was aimlessly browsing the internet on his phone.  This was Paul Lester Brown.  He preferred either Paul or Lester.  A vivid picture of fire in a bottle with a vague description beneath it was brightly lit on his screen, but it wasn't what he was looking for.  He sighed and tucked the phone back into his pocket before heading south toward the auditorium.  


"Students, please report to the auditorium!  Orientation will begin in ten minutes!  New and transfer students, please follow the breezeway south," said a tall, black-haired gentleman in a blue suit.  "God, this weather sucks..." he mumbled.


"Mr. Baker," called Paul from the breezeway.  The black-haired man looked back to see Paul standing before him.  


"Paul.  How was your summer?  You still shaking off those dreams?" Baker asked.


Paul shook his head and sighed.  "Yeah.  Only they've gotten uh... a lot worse.  Are you gonna be in your office today?"


"No, I'm only here to assist students this morning.  But if you'd like, I can make a house call today."


Paul nodded.  "I'll tell mom to expect you.  I've got a lot to tell you."


"I'll see you after school then."


Paul waved to Mr. Baker before disappearing behind building C and stepping into the auditorium.


Inside, students had been arranged by class.  Seniors lined the rear seats of the auditorium in no particular order.  Ahead of them, juniors sat and awaited the Deans.  Sophomores patiently sat in front of juniors, and freshmen sat closest to the stage.  Teachers and staff filled the rest of the occupant seats on the main floor, with the exception of security.  On stage, a large digital clock counted down with five minutes remaining.




Report to the auditorium for Orientation.

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Early Morning

Light Rain

Quinn took a long drag off of his cigarette as he crossed the street. The rain pittered against his umbrella, however he'd drowned it out with music from his headphones 3 blocks ago.



He'd left an hour earlier than he'd needed to for school. Sure it would've been nice to have extra to sleep, maybe watch some Netflix before he'd headed off, or hell he could've even worked a bit more on that paper he had due in a week. School hadn't even started yet and his jabroni of a lit teacher wanted a paper about the symbolism in Moby Dick or some sheet. That's just the way it was when you took the same bus as your rapist.


"He's a junior and he can't even drive his own ass to school. What a funking loser." Quinn's face involuntarily contorted into a face of disgust and his grip on his umbrella tightened. "That's just how it be on this gay earth I guess..." Quinn sighed, as he dropped his cigarette grinding it into the ground. He'd arrived at his destination, a Starbucks about 10 minutes from the school.


"Oh hey, Quinn! The usual?" Terry the barista asked with just a bit too much enthusiasm in his voice.


"Yeah." Quinn, didn't even bother taking his headphones to give his curt reply. Quinn had come in here enough times where the morning ritual was well established at this point, however today Quinn wasn't in the mood to engage in their usual casual flirting. Today Quinn simply decided to plop himself done in one of the cafe's many chairs and tap around on his phone until his order was ready.


"God... funk... I just..." Quinn cursed under his breath. He couldn't concentrate. He couldn't get calm. In the two minutes he'd been waiting for his order he'd clicked between at least 15 different apps, at least one of which was the calculator, and he was pretty sure he'd opened Twitter twice. "Alright, come jabroni. Pull yourself together, you're better than this." Quinn took a deep breath calming himself, and went back to his phone. "A selfie. Nothing like some vanity to put me back into a good mood." Raising his phone Quinn adjusted himself making sure he had a favorable angle. #firstday #sophmoreyear #greaterorleanspride Quinn cracked a smirk at the selfie. "Everything's going to be fine. We're not even the same class, it's not like I'll even see him."


"Order for Quinn!"


Quinn hopped up from his chair with a little pep in his step gingerly swiping the coffee of the counter leaving the cash for the drink behind him. "Catch you after school Terry~"


The rest of the trip to school passed rather uneventfully, and within a couple minutes Quinn had reached the school struting through the gates with absolute confidence. Bobbing and weaving through throngs of confused freshmen and transfers, waving at some of the people he knew. Quinn was just about to enter the auditorium when he felt the tug at his wrist.


"Hey there Quinn! Long time no see babe~" Quinn's stomach lurched, all the confidence he'd had up until now vanished in a puff of smoke. Slowly Quinn turned to face him.




"H-hi Grant," Quinn gulped his eyes quickly darting from various points on Grant's face to the impassive faces of his classmates who walked past.


"You know I didn't see you on the bus this morning. Shame I saved the seat just for you, and there was a real cute looking freshman too."


"A-ah, sorry about that. I woke up early and decided to walk instead..." "I was trying to avoid you asshat. Get that through your funking dense head."


"In this weather, and dressed like this. You must have been so cold, babe." Quinn grimaced as Grant ran his hand up Quinn's exposed arm. "It's ok though, I'm sure you can make it up to me later. Yeah, I know just how you can make it up to me. Make sure you meet after school, my parents won't be home so we go over to my place."


"I don't know, I mean I'm super busy already, I've already got a research paper due for that jabroni Hensley. I really don't know if I can hang out today." "Or anyday you son of jabroni. Never on my life will I ever do anything for you!"


"Aww, babe," Grant's grip had tightened around Quinn's wrist, suddenly pulling him in closer. "You're so smart and talented, I'm sure you'll figure it out, because you're my special boy."




"Good, see you after school babe!" Grant released Quinn's wrist and walked past him into the auditorium. Breathing a heavy sigh Quinn too proceeded into the auditorium doing his best to not to show how shaken he really was. "This year is going to funking suck."

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Early Morning

Light Rain



"Com'on you piece of crap..." Piper growled down towards her phone as her Navigation app wobbled and changed orientation yet again.


Her eyes drifted to the top of the screen to check the time, immediately causing the girl to sigh and hunch over in defeat.


"Three minutes..."


Despite all the effort she had put forth into waking up on time for once, it seemed that the the forces at be were sticklers for consistency... She was going be late every other day. So why give the nice people of New Orleans the false impression that she were an actual functioning member of society? "Message received, universe." Piper mumbled before blowing a strand of dark curly hair out of her face, and sliding her phone back into her acid washed boyfriend jeans. 


The pitter patter of rain dancing across the top her umbrella was completely drowned out by the sound of her doc martens slushing through a massive puddle as she hastily crossed the street towards the Starbucks she had passed whilst her GPS was in revolt. 


"Welp, if I'm going to be late..." A small smirk formed on her lips as she slid through the glass doors and let her umbrella fall to her side, dripping water all over her grey tank top. "I'll at the very least be late with coffee.


Strolling up to the counter, she greeted the barista with a sheepish grin as she rubbed the back of her head and glanced at his name tag. "Hey there, Terry! I'll just do venté ice coffee. Black... But do you think you could also point me towards Greater Orleans High?"


"Sure, hun..." The barista responded with a friendly smirk as he punched in her order. "You're gonna want to head about 10 minutes that way." He nodded his head towards the direction Piper had already been heading before she gave up, causing her to let a small scoff. "Can I get your name?" 


"Pimp Daddy P." 


"Cute," Terry let out a small laugh. "You can go ahead and pick it up over there, Pimp Daddy..." 




Twelve minutes later...



Sipping her coffee, Piper wondered around the school's campus with the expression of a tourist. Having forsaking any aid in navigation, the girl had decided to rely solely on her horrid sense direction and the kindness of strangers to get her to the auditorium.


Though unfortunately it seemed that the entire school was deserted... 

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Early Morning

Light Rain




The rain fell gently on Reno as he walked to the school. He was in such a rush to leave the house that he forgot his umbrella, so the man had to settle with his hands in his pockets, walking through the rain as if it didn't bother him. For the most part, it honestly didn't, but today had to be the day he decided it was the best idea to wear nothing but jeans and a red tank top. If he had an umbrella, that really wouldn't be an issue, but nope, here he was. It would take forever to dry to.

Hoping to take a little shelter from the rain, he went off the beaten path and down an alleyway. It was a bit of a shortcut, but also an easy place for a person to be jumped. Most people avoided this path... but Reno wasn't most people. He walked down quietly, hands in his pocket, hoping for easy passage. Sadly, that didn't seem to be the case, as he could hear the sounds of people talking ahead, and the voices didn't sound friendly. 

Looking ahead, he could see two guys, both wearing bandannas and some sort of 'bling', as people called it, one with short dirty blond hair and the other with longer black hair. Sadly, Reno knew these to. Most people saw them as people that would get violent to get things they wanted, but, Reno knew they were just punks that occasionally needed to be reminded who the real threat was. He walked up towards them, seeing that they were cornering someone that seemed to be a freshman, a scrawny boy with messy brown hair. 


"So Oscar, what do you say we do to this disrespectful little sheet, huh?" The black haired boy asked. 

"Well, isn't that simple, Diego?" The blond haired boy replied. "We'll beat the funk out of him, and then we'll take the toll," The two looked down at the boy, who started to shake a bit. The two moved forwards... only to hear someone approaching them. "Oy, just keep walking, and we won't hurt you. You didn't see anything, got it?" Oscar grabbed the boy by the shirt as Diego turned to look. 

"Um..., O-Oscar... l-let's just... go...," Diego's face turned pale as he saw Reno approaching the two of them.  

"What? Why the funk would we---?" before Oscar could finish, Diego grabbed his face and turned it towards Reno. The blond also turned pale as the sight of the approaching junior. "O-oh... h-hey, Ren--- boss! Yeah, boss. We were just... um... we were---,"

"Get lost," Reno said simply and clearly, his voice like thunder in the rain. The two boys nodded and ran off, tripping over each other to get away from the giant. Folding his arms, Reno let out a sigh and turned at the freshman, who was looking at Reno and seemingly shaking more. Shaking his head, Reno went back to his walk towards the school, leaving the boy alone in the light shower.

Pushing the incident out of his mind, Reno made it to the school, walking through the front gates. There was orientation, as usual, so he headed to the auditorium. It was time to get educated.


Diego and Oscar cursed to themselves. They had such an easy target, and that fuckin' guy had to come in and ruin it. Still, all they had to do was fine someone else, right? Right. And there was one close by. A sour looking girl with black hair and baggy eyes were in their sight. Time to try to make a haul.

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Early Morning

Light Rain




Rain. The time when the weather would get quite cloudy, gray, and it seemed like the world was either washing away the negatives that it had, or crying about something. Either way, it always seemed to keep people in quite the depressed mood no matter what. Despite that, however, some found it a calming sight and hell...even something to help them sleep.


Whatever the meaning rain had to some, it had quite the depressing feeling to Jason Garrett.


Standing outside, with his hood over his blonde hair, Jason only stared at the school's gymnasium. Closing his eyes briefly, he could see himself playing basketball, just like he did before. The sounds of the rain falling around him and on his jacket turned into the faint sounds of cheers and laughter as the young man continued to think about those days past. It almost brought a smile to his face, however he moved slightly and felt a small pain coming from his left hand. Jason's eyes shot open as he quickly looked down at his left hand and the wrist brace he wore on it.


Bringing me back to Earth...huh? he thought, letting out an audible sigh before holding his wrist some. Always the reminder of what he couldn't do anymore. Jason sighed once more, before taking another look at the gymnasium before turning slightly and walking away.


Time for Orientation...let's hope I survive this without being ridiculed. Jason thought, making his way through the school's front gates and towards the auditorium.


What would the day have for him was the question that plagued his mind the entire time. More stupid and pointless complaining to him by some of the upperclassmen regarding that game and the stain it's loss left on the school? Or maybe it wouldn't be from the upperclassmen this time, hell maybe it might be from his old basketball teammates this time. That hadn't happened in a while, so maybe they'll mix it up. OR!!! Or maybe it might be the coach this time. That windbag of a educator talking down to him would definitely be a change in pace.


But it wasn't like Jason could immediately do anything regarding any of that. They apparently only focus on the negatives rather than the positives. And if he tried to argue, well...that would be a bad. It would give them ammunition to use against him.


With most of this running through his mind, Jason exhaled slowly as he flipped his hood off his head after getting inside. At first glance, anyone could see that he had a pair of earbuds in his ears, which were plugged into his phone. Walking to school, he did enjoy a nice couple of songs, it made the walk a bit better.


"I'm only human I make mistakes, I'm only human that's all it takes to put the blame on me...don't put your blame on me..." Jason quietly muttered the lyrics to song he currently listened to, as he did his best to put on a happy face. It was a new school year...first impressions for new students was everything, right?

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Early Morning

Light Rain

Haruka never was one for rain, and as far as she was concerned, people who liked it were weird. If she had to choose, there'd never be a rainy day again. She hated the way it brought humidity with it, got everything inconveniently wet, and how you had to carry around an umbrella unless you wanted to get wet yourself. Having to start school on a day like this, she almost considered not showing up. But that would mean having to put up with teachers asking where she was for the first day of school, having to introduce herself to classes on her own instead of everyone getting to know each other all at once, and so on. Overall, it was just less of a hassle if she put up with the rain for a bit instead. In the interest of getting there in as little time as possible, Haruka opted today to take some shortcuts she wouldn't normally take.


Shady alleyways were great for that kind of thing. The sound of raindrops hitting her umbrella were less obnoxious here too. Along the way, however, she was met with a way more obnoxious sound as two figures appeared to block her path. Both male, a fair bit taller than Haruka, with tacky bandanas and piercings.


"Hold up there, missy," one of the boys said. "This here's a--HOLD IT!"


Haruka - rather than turning around to leave or try in vain to plow through the boys, opted to make a right turn where she had the opportunity.


"Don't just ignore Oscar like that!" the other one exclaimed, as the two began to follow her.


"So I was saying, this here's a toll road. You gotta pay... look, can you at least look at us!?"


"No," Haruka bluntly answered as she continued forward. "I got really bad food poisoning last week, so I've already had my fair share of puking my guts up this month." Haruka continued onward, paying no mind to the footsteps behind her getting louder and more aggressive. Pointing ahead to a dumpster Haruka could see in the alley, she continued "How about the two of you go make out in that dumpster or something? The scenery can match your personality and clothes." She could have sworn she almost heard one of them laughing. "It wasn't a joke," she added, just to make whichever one of them that was shut up. She made another turn as the alleyway came to a corner, and found... a dead end.




Turning around, Haruka was met with the sight of the two boys trying the timeless "toll road" scam. They looked pissed. "As I was SAYING," the one on the right started again. "THIS, is a toll road! You owe us a crossing fee of... what do you think, Diego? Thirty bucks?"




"Forty bucks! BUT, we charge extra for little shits who talk like they're hot sheet and go and piss us off. So NOW, that'll be FIFTY bucks! Pay up girlie, or this is gonna get ugly."


"You're already both here. Can't imagine it could get much uglier than that."

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Tyler Beckett wasn’t a morning person. He had almost fallen asleep twice on the way to his first day of class, and he was in desperate need of a pick me up. The gas station he used to stop at to snag energy drinks in the morning had apparently closed up over the summer, and he didn’t have time to find a new one on google maps, meaning his only real option was…


He pulled the car to a stop just outside of the local Starbucks, killed the engine, and brought his head down to rest on top of the steering wheel with a defeated sigh. He couldn’t stand this place; the customers were a bunch of white girls and dumbass preps who talked too much, the coffee was horrible, and the guy who manned the bar’s face was just so punchable it should have been a crime.


Needless to say he didn’t like it, but desperate times and all that.


Tyler pulled his hood up as he got out of the car, sliding his keys into his pockets, and shuffled into the coffee shop like a zombie. “Gimme two of those Nitro Brew shots,” he grumbled, holding his forehead with one hand and clutching onto  the edge of the counter with the other.


“Sir, I’m not actually supposed to sell you more than one o--”


Tyler pulled his index and middle finger apart to reveal one glowering eye, then glanced down at the name tag proudly displayed on the man’s chest. “Just f***ing gimme ‘em, Terry. I’m not me when I’m sleepy,” he snapped.


Terry didn’t argue much more after that.




Tyler had already thrown back the first cup of the Nitro Brew before he even left the shop. It wasn’t as strong as things he had tried before, but it worked to wake him up more. Still tasted like bitter piss though.


He crumpled up the first cup and tossed it into the trash, starting on the second, when he noticed a girl slipping off into one of the alleys. He stared at the corner she had disappeared around for a moment, rocking back on his heels. He was pretty confident that he remembered a couple of low-class thugs that liked to mug the pushover high schoolers, wallets padded with Daddy’s money with no spine to speak of.


The right thing to do was follow her, to make sure she didn’t get hurt.


That was a lot of effort for some broad he didn’t know. They wouldn’t hurt her; she was probably going to learn a good lesson from the experience.


He took another swig from his drink, crinkling his nose at the bitter taste. “Ahh damn it,” he sighed and downed the rest of his coffee in one go, then set off after the girl. Him and his dumbass conscious.


He followed conspicuously, hanging back. He wouldn’t interfere if he didn’t need to--


"As I was SAYING," the one on the right started again. "THIS, is a toll road! You owe us a crossing fee of... what do you think, Diego? Thirty bucks?"




"Forty bucks! BUT, we charge extra for little shits who talk like they're hot s*** and go and piss us off. So NOW, that'll be FIFTY bucks! Pay up girlie, or this is gonna get ugly."


"You're already both here. Can't imagine it could get much uglier than that."


Alright well so much for that. “You two get off on picking on little girls or somethin’?” he asked, stepping out from the shadows with his hands shoved into his coat pockets. He smirked. “Or are you just scared that a dude would swing on you if you tried to shake him down?”


“Who in the fuc--” they spun around to face him, but backed down when they saw who it was. The fear exhibited was different from the usual kind, like they weren’t scared of being beat down, but something much worse. They looked as if they had seen a ghost.


Tyler’s smirk died off and he stepped forward again. “Hate to break it to you, but she doesn’t even have the junk to be in your little dick measuring contest and I’m pretty sure she still wins. Did you hear what she said to you?” He laughed. “Get the f*** outta here, you two, and stop messing with these high school kids. You obviously can’t handle them. Maybe try the elementary school next, I hear parents 'round here give their kids lotsa lunch money.”


The two spat and snarled like pissed off chihuahuas for a minute, but they bolted quickly, not eager to stick around. It took a minute for Tyler to direct his attention to Haruka once they left. Once he did, he leveled her with an angry glare. “Really? Gonna run your mouth off like that to two guys twice your size? F*** were you gonna do if I hadn’t shown up?”


He exhaled heavily and shook his head. “I don’t even care. You’re gonna be late for class if you walk now. You want a ride or what?”

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Early Morning

Light Rain


Her umbrella up, the girl merely walked through the streets of New Orleans on her way to school. Her home was not far from the school campus, and so she had always preferred to walk rather than drive or be driven there. The girl looked around as cars drove past and examined what she assumed was a mass of students. It was hard to tell, given what was more a sea of umbrellas that stood over top them, though they were a necessary precaution.
It had been raining since the start of the girl's walk. Not too heavy, as to cause puddles everywhere, and not too light, as to still warrant an umbrella. Avery liked the rain.
Holding her own umbrella up, the girl continued to walk until she had made it to the gates of the school. It was the first day, as it had been twice before. The girl knew where they were supposed to go. She gulped, a slight pause in Avery's step before she began again. 
As she made her way to the auditorium she looked at her watch. Early. By fifteen minutes. Her pace slowed, as her gaze shifted from place to place, looking at the students.
They all seemed to be lagging at their own pace, some either walking slow by themselves or others merely being preoccupied in their own circle of friends, catching up with everything that had happened over the summer. The girl's gaze did not linger on any one person for long, and were she ever to feel like someone else was looking at her, she immediately looked in the opposite direction.
The girl's walk was practically a crawl in speed by the time she had made it to the auditorium. She looked at her watch again. Five minutes left. Picking the pace back up, the girl closed her umbrella as she made her way inside. Walking alongside everyone else, she eventually found a seat in the middle of her class. She was surrounded by people she didn't quite know the names of, but they were familiar all the same. The one to her left, a boy, seemed to be talking with the people around him. The one to her right, a girl who seemed to be preoccupied with something else. 
Pulling her phone out of her pocket, her earbuds already in her ears as the music had been playing, the girl started to fiddle around with it. "Oh, hey there Avery!"
The girl paused. 
Looking towards the voice, the girl on her right, with a small smile on her face the girl said, "oh, hey Lindsay. I haven't seen you since we got out last year."
"Well maybe since someone didn't give me there number," the girl joked at Avery. Avery too chuckled a bit at this, though her gaze shifted back to the head of the auditorium. 
Start. Start. Start.

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“You two get off on picking on little girls or somethin’? Or are you just scared that a dude would swing on you if you tried to shake him down?”
“Who in the fuc--”
“Hate to break it to you, but she doesn’t even have the junk to be in your little dick measuring contest and I’m pretty sure she still wins. Did you hear what she said to you?” He laughed. “Get the funk outta here, you two, and stop messing with these high school kids. You obviously can’t handle them. Maybe try the elementary school next, I hear parents 'round here give their kids lotsa lunch money.”
Haruka watched as the two generic thugs with awful fashion sense ran off. Don't forget to make out in the dumpster, bastards. She then directed her attention toward the other boy, who had scared Fiddle Dee and Fiddle Dumbass away. This guy actually looked like someone who could be pretty dangerous. On the one hand, it was probably a good idea to thank him. But at the same time, why? Not like they'd see much of each other anyway right? What was the point of saying "thanks" to somebody the one time if you were never going to see them again?
“Really? Gonna run your mouth off like that to two guys twice your size? F*** were you gonna do if I hadn’t shown up? I don’t even care. You’re gonna be late for class if you walk now. You want a ride or what?”


Twice my size? Please. You'd need to be some kind of freak to actually be twice my size. Of course, he was offering a ride to school. If she was being frank, Haruka didn't trust this guy. People who were good at scaring off thugs like the two from before were usually super-strong and stuff or even bigger problems. This boy looked like he was among the latter category. It wouldn't be a big deal if she was late on day one, would it? Just if she didn't show up. But taking the ride would be so convenient!


Haruka was obviously stuck on how to answer the question for a bit, before settling on "I'll take the ride if you're offering. It beats walking in this stupid weather." Now to get the hell out of this alleyway. Haruka started back the way she came from, making sure not to go too far ahead or behind of this boy that was now suddenly giving her a ride.

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Early Morning

Light Rain

Tokyo Daylight


      Students had filed into their respective class seats, each of them a plush, velvet red cushioned chair.  The chairs were actually theater chairs, so it was a perfect fit for the auditorium; they even had cupholders.  There was chatter among the students as they patiently awaited Orientation to start.  Heads turned to the stage as mic feedback interrupted the noise of the auditorium.  Students quieted down rather quickly as a slender Korean-American woman in low heels and a pants-suit approached a wooden podium at the center of the stage.  She stood silently for a moment and placed her mic into a holster at the podium.  She walked over to the leftmost side of the auditorium, where juniors and seniors were lined up.  She stuck out a fist toward them.  Then, she began to shout.


"Horsemen alive!?" she screamed at them


"Horsemen to ride!" replied the upperclassmen.


"Horsemen of pride!?" she bellowed.


"Horsemen in stride!" they called back.




"PRIDE!" cried out the upperclassmen.  They cheered and gave the dean a round of applause.


She returned to the podium and picked up her mic with excitement.  "Good morning Greater Orleans High," she said with a bright smile.  "Sorry, I had to get that off my chest.  Football season is around the corner, and I don't know about our freshmen but I'm super excited."  This was Dean Coalesce.  She probably had more pride in Greater Orleans High than anyone else.  She carried herself with great confidence.  Her shoulders were held back, she stood up perfectly straight, and her presence could be felt wherever she went.  Her voice carried a weight that was heavy but welcome.  "For those of you who don't know me, I am Jasmine Coalesce, your Dean here at Greater Orleans High.  Sophomores, upperclassmen, and returning students welcome back.  Freshmen, new transfers, and guests welcome to Greater Orleans High.  You are now apart of Horsemen County.  Remember that well and carry it with pride."


Jasmine was a high school and college athlete who fell in love with teaching.  She was a cheerleader and a track star, but her heart lied with the young minds before her.  Her navy-blue pants-suit really didn't show off her figure, but it fit her well.  Her hair was neatly tied back into a bun on the top of her head.  Her sharp silver eyes and rose colored lipstick across her blemishless face made some envious.  Now the Dean of the poopular and incredibly successful Greater Orleans High, she was on top of the world.  "While we are a prideful school in our sports teams thanks to our absolutely superb coaches for basketball, football, and volleyball -- I see you, Coach Overton! -- our athletics are just one of the many great things about our school.  We are among the top three high schools in the state in terms of academics.  More than ninety-seven percent of our students graduate with degrees and more than eighty percent of those graduating students go on to higher education.  And that's no easy task.


Our teachers are also top of the line.  Your education is second to none when it comes to them.  They're Horsemen just like you.  And Horsemen march together.  Whether it's onto the football field or onto the battlefield of academics, we leave no one behind.  You are the future of this great country, and we will strengthen your mind and bodies so that you too can go on to create the great changes you want to see.  So.  Students, staff, friends, and visitors.  Welcome to a new school year.  It is my sincere hope that you will see great success and go on to be the best damn Horsemen -- and students -- that we know you can be."


A husky man with broad shoulders stood just off to Dean Coalesce's left behind the curtain.  "In just a moment, Assistant Dean Deckard Edridge will go over some important announcements before class schedules are handed out.  Let's have a great school year."


With a round of applause, Ms. Coalesce left the stage and Assistant Dean Deckard Edgridge took her place.  He was a slightly husky man wearing a black suit that was just slightly too tight on him around his waist.  He was balding and he wore horn-rimmed glasses which made his face sort of pop out.  He was a Caucasian male in his late mid-fifties.  "Thank you, Ms. Coalesce.  First, and foremost, go Horsemen!" he cheered.  The applause was more stagnant this time.  "On the subject of sports, we have finally decided to adopt a baseball coach and will be opening the program this coming spring.  By way of LSU, our new Coach will be Coach Jules Hammerson.  I hope you'll welcome him with open arms.  Now, onto non-sports related business.


This year's senior prom and homecoming will be held in mid-October.  A bit earlier than usual, but the student council settled on this decision last spring and it sounds like they were pretty adamant about it.  For additional questions, please see your class representatives.  For those of you who don't know your class representative, they will be listed on your class schedule.


Uhh, let's see here... oh.  Parking for juniors and seniors.  The parking lot for juniors and seniors is being paved over once more due to some complaints last spring and should be completed just before September begins.  A There's also a new class grouping program this year.  Seniors and juniors will be spending more time together in joint classes.  If this proves to be a success, we'll see it used with sophomores and freshmen next year.  Furthermore..."




What's Going On?


"Ma'am.  Excuse me.  Ma'am!" said a security officer to Piper.  Judging by her pack and her age, she was headed to the auditorium.  "Are you late?  Orientation will be ending soon.  I'll escort you to the auditorium so you don't miss your schedule.  Please follow me."




"And that appears to be all for this morning.  Students, you can pick up your class schedules as you leave the auditorium.  Juniors and seniors, please exit out of the eastern exit where you can get your schedules.  Freshmen and sophomores please use the western exit," finished Assistant Dean Edridge.


At either exit were two students awaiting sophomores and freshmen or juniors and seniors.  Those four students were actually members of the student council who had been tasked with gathering student schedules.  

"Please form a single file line!  Thank you!" one of the student council members called out.


"Lumping juniors and seniors together this year?  No thanks..." mumbled one dissatisfied student to her female companion.


"Could be fun.  Maybe you'll finally hook up with a senior since most of the guys in our class are hideous," replied her snarky friend.  "The basketball team is pretty hot."


"Nah, I'd rather take my chances with a football jock.  Their bigger jerks but I bet they're big--"


"NEXT!" yelled one of the student council members who unfortunately overheard the conversation.


"If I see Garrett I'm gonna break his other wrist," spat Ivan "the Terrible" Louis.  He was a senior student and a member of the basketball team.  "Cost me my championship."


"Lighten up, stretch.  You'll get your chance this year," responded a student who was about six inches shorter than Ivan.


"Oh, I know.  Since Garrett won't be here to screw us."




The students had finally received their schedules, and class grouping had already begun.  Paul glanced down his schedule to see he was lined up for American History, Algebra II, Physics, and Computer Science for the fall semester.  He didn't flinch but he wasn't exactly excited about this class schedule.  Algebra II was probably the worst of the four.  American History was up first and it was a joint class with seniors for an hour and a half.  His teacher this year was Mr. Morrison, a teacher he was familiar with.  On the back of his schedule, the class chart of students for his 9:30 American History class showed up.


He searched the list of students anxiously for any familiar names.  No luck.  Instead, he came across one or two he thought he recognized.  "Jason Garrett and Tyler Beckett.  I know Garrett played on the basketball team last year but I don't know why Beckett's name looks familiar," he mumbled to himself.


"Talking to yourself again, weirdo?" said a feminine voice.


Paul raised his head to be greeted by a red-headed Caucasian girl.


"Hey Amanda.  Nah, just wonderin' where I've seen Beckett's name before.  My new schedule.  What'd you get?" he asked.


"Oh, hey, I'm in your Algebra class.  Good, I can copy off your homework," Amanda said with a sly grin.  "And uh, Beckett's the one with the Mustang.  I only know that 'cause the thots in Home Ec wouldn't shut up about him last year."


"Oh.  Oh!  Right, yeah, I remember.  Wait, did he flunk?" Paul snickered.


Amanda shrugged.  "Looks like it.  Good luck dealing with him though.  I hear he's an ass.  See you next period," she said as she waved to Paul with her back turned.


"Did you mean like next month or... ?" Paul asked with a laugh.


She flicked him off silently and turned down the hall of building C.  Paul shrugged and made his way to his American History classroom.




"Economics?  Ugh, funk me, dude," groaned a foul-mouthed boy.


"And first period too?  Sucks bruh.  Anyone you know in your class?" asked a tough looking student.


"Nah.  Mostly new names too.  Look at this.  Har--Har-ooka?  The hell?  Is that like, Japanese or something?  You watch anime, right?" the foul-mouthed boy questioned.


The tough looking student blinked.  "Yeah, but what's that got to do with anything?"


"I'm saying, like, does that name sound Japanese to you?"


"I don't know dude.  That's--what the hell, that's like sorta-kinda racist."


"Oh come on , it was just a question.  Funny ass name is all I'm saying.  And who the hell names their kid Reno?  Did this guy's parents stay up watching too much SpikeTV or something?  Were they big Reno911 fans?"


"You're an jabroni," laughed the tough looking student.  "I'll see you after school."


"Yeah.  But what about Avery?  That name is normal!" called the foul-mouthed boy.


"Yeah, but you're not normal!" replied the tough looking student.




When Piper finally got her schedule, she would notice she had been already assigned her classes.  At the top of the list was Art Appreciation.  How the hell did that happen?  It was also an advanced class.  If she were to flip the page over she would notice there were only five other students in her class.  Most of the names seemed average or boring, but one, in particular, might catch her eye.  Quinn.  A sophomore wasn't meant to take a junior level class.  How that happened was quite a phenomenon, but it wouldn't be changed any time soon.




"Alright, listen up," Mr. Morrison began, quieting his class.  "I'm Daniel Morrison, your American History teacher.  This class is pretty simple.  It's the history of the United States of America.  If you read the material I assign you, you should be able to answer any questions I give you.  Everything and I mean everything, will come from the book.  Understand?"


Morrison was an older black man.  He was bald and had quite a build on him for an older guy.  He was in his late fifties and today he was wearing cargo shorts, a black t-shirt, and light-up sketchers.  "P.S.  Don't ask me bout' my shoes.  I like the lights.  Yes, I'm bought 'em for me.  I'm fifty-eight.  No, I don't live with my mama.  Yes, my salary is fine.  If you talk sheet in my class I'm not afraid to talk sheet back to ya.  Just cause I'm old don't mean I can't cut with the best of 'em.  Now let's start with a question you should all be able to answer."


Mr. Morrison took a glance around the room and his eyes landed on Paul.


"Paul," Morrison bellowed.


Paul shook his head and looked forward to Mr. Morrison.


"Which of these was not a member of the original Thirteen Colonies?  Virginia, New York, Florida, or Delaware?"




Piper and Quinn would find their first block of classes was the absolute slowest.  Their Art Appreciation teacher was Mrs. Jane Hemley.  She was among the driest, most fatal teachers in the school.  Fortunately, Art Appreciation was the easiest class she taught.  She was also head of the math department.  If you had her for anything other than art, you would probably cry.  Every word out of her mouth was like a gust of dry, hot desert air.  It didn't smell bad, but it was as dry and lifeless as her old crow fingers.  She pushed her specs up to her face and began her morning lesson.


"Good morning.  Students."  She walked to the center of the classroom with a paintbrush in her hand.  "We'll start by putting you into pairs.  Whoever's alone will be my partner."


Someone in the class audibly gulped.


"Uh.  Let's see here.  Piper.  And uh, what's this?  Queen?  No, er, Quinn?  Yes, Quinn.  You two will work together for the remainder of this course.  Beverly and Christina will also be partners.  I'll fill in as Mr. James' partner."


"God damn it," he mumbled aloud.




In the Economics class, Haruka, Reno, and Avery were greeted by a sweet, younger lady who appeared to be in her late twenties to early thirties.  She was a Caucasian woman with silky brown hair and she wore a striped oxford shirt and slacks with a pair of matching Nike's.  Her hair was tied in a ponytail and she rolled up her sleeves to reveal a lengthy tattoo sleeve on her right arm.  It was a very dark depiction of the collapse of the Greek Economy a little more than a decade ago.


"Good morning," she said with a warm, upbeat voice.  "I'll be your Economics teacher, Kelsey.  Don't worry about calling me Ms. or Mrs.  I'm single and I'm only about ten years older than you all.  I'm not old enough to be your parents so please, don't call me ma'am.  While I do ask for respect, if you respect me, I'll respect you.  It's that simple.


Now, this class can be easy, or it can be hard.  All you have to do is understand how to work.  I'll K.I.S.S. all your work to make sure you understand it.  For those of you who don't know, that means 'keep it simple, stupid'.  So to anyone who can open this class with a bang, how should goods and services be produced?"


Her eyes fell to Reno in the back of the class.  "You.  Big guy.  Wanna give me answer?"


"Should've asked the Japanese broad.  I bet she knows," snickered a foul-mouthed student from the back of the classroom.


Kelsey paused and folded her arms.  She didn't quite hear what this student had said.  "Sorry, I didn't catch that.  What'd you say, young man?  Did anyone else hear him?" 




"Uh... Florida?"


"You askin' me or you tellin' me?" Morrison said with a nod at Paul.


"Flo-Florida.  It's Florida," Paul answered.


"Correct.  Studied over the summer, didn't you?  I know your momma made you."


Before Morrison could continue, there was a buzz on his intercom.  It was a school-wide announcement.  "Attention students and staff.  School clubs will be available for sign-up today in the gym after school from 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm.  Thank you."




Before they knew it, the day was over.  School was coming to an end and most students had hurried to the gym to either create or sign-up with school clubs.  There were a number of school clubs, some of which were even trying to get enough members to start a school organization.  They included:


  • The Kendo Club - see Amaris Ishida
  • The Video Game Club - see Lace Kendall
  • The Chess Club - see Mia Grayson
  • The Automotive Club - see Nathaniel Drake
  • The Swimming Club - see Grace Harden
  • The Dedicated Fiction Club - see Amanda Greenhouse
  • The Drama Club - see Riku Satsura
  • The IT Club - See Leroy Scott

Some of these clubs were already full organizations within the school and had a room dedicated to them for their activities.  For new clubs to be created, one simply needed to speak with Coach Overton in the gym at any time after school.



  • Interact with your classmates.
  • Investigate the gym.

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Early Morning

Light Rain


Jason took his seat the moment he got into the auditorium, making sure to sit in the Junior's section in a part of the seats to where he wouldn't be noticed out right. Last thing he needed at the beginning of this was something to start. Like clockwork, the orientation began. He remembered his last one going and starting in the same manner: the Dean got the student body hyped by saying the chant. He knew it by heart, hearing it every time he played ball.


"Horsemen alive? Horsemen to ride! Horsemen of pride? Horsemen in stride! Horsemen Pride!" he said in a quiet voice, in order for it to be drowned out by the sounds of the upperclassmen screaming it.


"Good morning Greater Orleans High! Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Football season is around the corner, and I don't know about our freshmen but I'm super excited. For those of you who don't know me, I am Jasmine Coalesce, your Dean here at Greater Orleans High. Sophomores, upperclassmen, and returning students welcome back. Freshmen, new transfers, and guests welcome to Greater Orleans High. You are now apart of Horsemen County. Remember that well and carry it with pride."


Jason sat there, having his head resting on his right hand, as his elbow rested on the chair's arm. Dean Coalesce was always the lover of the sports season, at least he remembered seeing here there at almost all the basketball games anyway. Nevertheless, she went through her motions of orientation, but he immediately cringed when he heard a certain name.


"While we are a prideful school in our sports teams thanks to our absolutely superb coaches for basketball, football, and volleyball -- I see you, Coach Overton! -- our athletics are just one of the many great things about our school."


Coach Overton. Jason couldn't ever forget the seasoned basketball coach, and it also didn't help that he could see man a bit a ways. The buzzcut haircut and the imposing looking mid-forties African American...yeah that was Overton alright. Great...I was hoping he WOULDN'T be here. He wasn't here the last orientation...guess he had a change of heart this time... Jason thought, shaking his head slightly and started sitting up.


The orientation kept going as per usual, but it seemed like it began to drag on...then again, most of the time, these things tended to drag on longer than they should.



-A Few Moments Later-


"And that appears to be all for this morning. Students, you can pick up your class schedules as you leave the auditorium. Juniors and seniors, please exit out of the eastern exit where you can get your schedules. Freshmen and sophomores please use the western exit!"


Jason got up a bit after most of the others, as he stood up and headed in the direction of the other Juniors and Seniors. So far, so good...no one seemed to be starting anything at this moment. He saw this as a gift from God at this point. However, while moving in line, he was just in earshot to hear a small conversation...and from one of the loudest mouths he remembered from the team: Ivan Louis...though most on the team called him "Ivan the Terrible".


"If I see Garrett I'm gonna break his other wrist! Cost me my championship."

"Lighten up, stretch. You'll get your chance this year."

"Oh, I know. Since Garrett won't be here to screw us!"


Hearing this, Jason let out a small sigh as he shook his head, before beginning to hold his left wrist some. Well...it's good to see Ivan hasn't changed much...still a bitter asshat... he thought, moving when the line started moving.


It wasn't long before he finally got his schedule and immediately moved on. For this fall semester, Jason was lined up for American History first. The rest of the classes he really didn't care about right now, so he didn't waste any time making his way towards the American History classroom. Guess I'm finally gonna see if the rumors are true on this teacher. he thought, having a small smirk now appear on his face.






"Alright, listen up. I'm Daniel Morrison, your American History teacher. This class is pretty simple. It's the history of the United States of America. If you read the material I assign you, you should be able to answer any questions I give you. Everything and I mean everything, will come from the book. Understand?"


Jason had a seat next to the window in the second row, and from what he could see, Daniel Morrison was quite the interesting individual. Including...his light up shoes. Holy sheet...the rumors are true! Damn...that is pretty funny. he thought, smiling a bit, before hearing Morrison speak once more.


"P.S. Don't ask me bout' my shoes. I like the lights. Yes, I'm bought 'em for me. I'm fifty-eight. No, I don't live with my mama. Yes, my salary is fine. If you talk sheet in my class I'm not afraid to talk sheet back to ya. Just cause I'm old don't mean I can't cut with the best of 'em."


After that little tid-bit, Jason sat there, watching Morrison interrogate...er...ask a question to a guy named Paul sitting in front of him. Jason hadn't seen him much before, so this might've been a good time to try and attempt to make new friends. Of course, there was an announcement regarding the after school programs and clubs, but he didn't care much about that right now.




With class finally ending, Jason made his move to approach Paul. He got up and stood on the side of the desk he was sitting at and smiled. "Hey. It's Paul, right?"


Paul stopped and turned around. To meet Jason Garrett was kinda cool. "Uh, yeah. You're Jason Garrett. What can I do for you, my guy? It's cool to meet you," he said, extending a hand.


This was a first, Jason wasn't expecting someone to be happy to meet him like this. He smiled a bit and extended his hand to shake Paul's. "Heh, well it's nice to hear that. Honestly don't hear that much anymore." he said. "I was just trying to start the new school year off on the right foot. Thought it best to, ya know, get to know a few of the classmates I have here in 'Dr. Light-Up's' class."


Paul chuckled. "Morrison is something else. And this is a good start. But hey man, it was one game. Kinda bugs me that people are still holding it against you. How's your wrist?" Paul asked with a nod.


Jason could only shrug a bit. "Eh, what are you gonna do? People like to hold onto those types of things. I'm over it though..." he lied, before looking over at his wrist. "It's doing better. Just pains here and there right now. But so far, I think it's healing up just fine."


"Well, I'm glad to hear it's healing at least. You sound like a pretty mature dude, being able to shrug all that off. That's hard to do. I'm assuming you're taking time off then."


Mature...? Heh...if he only knew... Jason thought before nodding. "Yeah. Just taking some time for myself...speaking of time, I gotta make it to my next class. I'll catch ya later, Paul."


"Take it easy, Jason."
Jason adjusted the bag on his shoulder and with a wave, headed out of the classroom and off to his next class. Once he left the room, he let out a deep, silent sigh as he smiled some. Jeez...
-At the End of the Day-
After his last class, Jason made his way towards the gym. The announcement said there were school clubs or something of the like, truth be told, Jason never paid them any mind before. He had focused on sports and that was all.
Nevertheless, it was a new school year, so maybe something would catch his eye this time.
Upon arriving in the gymnasium, Jason began his little excursion on seeing what they had. Kendo, Video Game, Chess, Automotive, Swimming, Dedicated Fiction, Drama, IT...these clubs seemed nice, but they didn't seem to immediately click with Jason. He sighed and shoved his hands into his pockets. Man...do I really need to join a club at this point? Nothing really seems to tickle my fancy... he thought, sighing once more.

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The Alley Beside Starbucks

Tyler lead Haruka out of the alley and over to Rebellion, still parked outside of Starbucks. “This is my ride. Get in,” he grunted, unlocking the car and dropping down into the driver’s seat. “There’s a towel in the back. Put it over the seat before you sit down.”


“Towel on the seat,” Haruka repeated, getting the towel first before setting it over the passenger’s seat and getting in the car herself. She didn’t know much about cars, but Haruka knew one thing based on this guy’s car. He really liked cars. There was even a pair of fuzzy dice hanging over the mirror. It felt like she’d stepped into the stereotype she’d see in racing manga. “I’m no expert, but it looks like you’ve put a lot of time and money into this car,” she couldn’t help but comment.


Tyler slid the key into the ignition and started the car. The dashboard lit up and the dials surged forward, the engine rumbling to life with a roar as powerful and majestic as any great cat. If the streets were a jungle, Rebellion was the mighty lion that ruled them. “More than any sane person would’ve.” He grinned. “I give everyone the choice the first time they ride with me. You want to do this the boring way, or the f***in’ awesome way?”


“I’m already in the car of someone I only just met. Might as well live it up while I’m here.”

Greater Orleans High, Auditorium


Tyler dropped his bag at his feet and slumped into the first empty seat that he could find. He had safely delivered Ms. Big Mouth to school in what was—probably—record time, dropped her off at the entrance then circled around to find a place to park, and still made it to orientation with a few minutes to burn.


He crossed his arms over his chest and stretched his legs, working at a nerve in his jaw. He could feel several students staring at him and it was already starting to piss him off. What in the hell were they looking at? Yeah, he was doing his senior year over. What was it to them?


New year, new leaf, he reminded himself. He couldn’t blow it again. This was his last chance.


He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, unwrapping his earbuds from around it, shoving them into his ears and cranking the volume up until he couldn’t hear himself think.




He kept them in for most of the ceremony. It was boring to watch, a sickening display of school spirit, something that he personally possessed very little of. The only announcement of note to him was the one about the parking lot, while nearly everything else said was either disregarded or ignored entirely.


He was one of the first out of the building when they were dismissed. The benefit of half the school thinking you were the physical embodiment of a bomb was that people tended to get out of your way.




Tyler only glanced over his schedule briefly, long enough to find out what first hour was and who was in it. He wasn’t super thrilled with finding out that his homeroom was American History with Mr. Morrison’s weird ass, but Hensley from auto-shop was in the class with him. Small miracles.


He pulled out his phone to shoot her a text as he walked to class: homeroom together. Save me a seat. ...dont ask Morrison about his weird ass shoes.




"Alright, listen up. I'm Daniel Morrison, your American History teacher. This class is pretty simple. It's the history of the United States of America. If you read the material I assign you, you should be able to answer any questions I give you. Everything and I mean everything, will come from the book. Understand?"


Tyler sat near the back of the class, propping his head up with his hand and struggling to keep his eyes open. All of this was old news to him. He had taken the class with Morrison the year before… which was to say he had shown up a couple times a month, and slept in the class when he did.


History was a pointless class. People were too stubborn and prideful to learn from their mistakes, so studying the past wasn’t going to teach anyone anything. Everyone thought they were too good to fall into the sinkholes of their predecessors right up until they did.


Morrison chose to pick on some dude named Paul on this particular day. He enjoyed that, just putting people on spot to see if they could handle the pressure. Something about if you could remember the answer with everyone watching, it would be easy to remember it when it was just you, a pencil, and a paper. Tyler rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to get on his cellphone. This was an eleventh and twelfth grade class, why was he asking seventh grade questions?


The class drug on slowly, and with it, the rest of the day. Tyler forced himself to scribble down notes, and asked permission to use his phone to record any lectures and homework assignments. People gave him strange looks in every class that he did ask that, but he was so far beyond caring it wasn’t funny. He needed to pass these classes this time.



After School, the Gymnasium

Tyler headed directly for the gymnasium as soon as the final class was dismissed, shoving through the crowd to get to the automotive booth. He grinned once he caught sight of Nathan, reaching his hand out to clap the other enthusiast’s warmly and pull him into a shoulder-bump.


“Long time no see. How you been man? And where are Jake and Hensley?” he asked, looking around for the others.

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"Who did I piss off to get Hemley as my teacher in the first period. God just kill me now." Quinn rubbed his temples walking into his first period class.


"Oh. My. Gosh. Quinn, what is up, girl?" A nasally voice drove a dagger through Quinn's head. Plastering a fake smile on his face Quinn turned to face the source of the nasally voice, Chelsea Van Patton. Chelsea was literally the epitome of the popular girl. Her entire personality could be boiled down to the villain in Disney channel high school drama. Blonde haired, blue eyed cheerleader, body that most girls would kill for, and a class A jabroni hag she was quite frankly one of Quinn's least favorite people. "At least she has the common courtesy to through good parties..."


"Oh my God, Chels, long time no see." "There's a reason for that."


"Yeah, like all summer~. Last time I saw you was at my Summer Bash. Oh, yeah that was when you hooked up with Grant McAdams in my parent's bedroom. Are you guys dating...?" Quinn had to mentally strain not to make a face when Chelsea brought Grant up. "God, Grant's so hot. Such a shame that he's gay like I feel like all the good guys are gay you know? Anyways you just have to tell me all of the juicy deets, I just need to hear what favorite gay has been up to."


"I am seriously going to smack the sheet out of this goddamn hoe. I would appreciate that she not lump the guy that drugged me in with "the good guys", but whatever. Also, I'm bi you stupid funking jabroni." "Oh, ah, me and Grant are... complicated. Oh, it looks like class is starting, catch you later."


"Oh don't be so coy~ You can take the seat right next to me. Hemley is a deaf old bat so we can just talk through the lecture."


"Shut up. Shut up. Oh my god please shut up." "Sure, but I really think I need to pay attention. This is an advanced level class, and I really don't want to risk my grades falling any further."


"Oh Quinn, you're sooooo funny. Everybody knows you're a little smarty pants, aren't you like number 1 in your class or something?"


"Number 2 actually, funk you, Anish Sharma." "Uhhhhhhhhh... oh here she comes." Quinn slid into his seat next to Chelsea praying to god that he wouldn't have to deal with her for a full semester.


"Good morning.  Students."  She walked to the center of the classroom with a paintbrush in her hand.  "We'll start by putting you into pairs.  Whoever's alone will be my partner."


"Oh, funk please don't let her pair me up with Chelsea. I would actually rather have Hemley as my partner at this point. God, if you're listening it's me, Quinn. I know I've been a very bad boy, but-"


"Uh.  Let's see here.  Piper.  And uh, what's this?  Queen?  No, er, Quinn?  Yes, Quinn.  You two will work together for the remainder of this course.  Beverly and Christina will also be partners.  I'll fill in as Mr. James' partner."


Quinn breathed an audible sigh of relief as he heard Hemley pair him off with someone else. Without even a quick wave in Chelsea's direction, Quinn slid out of his seat and next his new partner, Piper.


"Hi, I'm Queen nice to meet you." Quinn flashed a quick smile. "So, I don't recognize you. You new around here, or you just a wallflower?"




"Oh my gawd, Riku! Why do we have to wear these stupid costumes, can't we just dress like normal? Besides these tights itch." Quinn whined to the club president as the pair of freshmen they had been talking to got out of earshot. After school, all of the students had been directed to go to the auditorium so that they could get some exposure to the many clubs Greater Orleans had to offer. Currently, the members of the drama club had been made by the president to dress up in costume to help differentiate them from other clubs.


"Mmm... what a cute looking prince. I just gotta sweep you off your feet."


The next thing Quinn he was spun around and then dipped him so that he was only a foot or two off the ground. Once Quinn regained some of his composure he was finally able to look up at who had made such an aggressive move. Grant. Being so close to him immediately made Quinn's heart begin to race faster and his breath hitched a little.


"I know, aren't I romantic?" Granted smirked interpreting Quinn's fearful reaction as one of attraction. "You know you've been a very naughty boy, and for that, I think your punishment needs to be a bit more severe, don't you think?" A silent pause passed between the two before, mercifully, Riku spoke up.


"You know, I'd appreciate it if you didn't harass my club members. Especially in the middle of an event like this."


"Hey, it's alright. I'm just teasing my little Quinn here." Grant responded pulling Quinn up. "Besides you don't mind if I borrow him for a little bit do you? You've got plenty of people here."


"Well, I really don't think-"


"I wasn't really asking dude. I'm taking Quinn. Now." While Grant's general demeanor hadn't changed there was a definite edge to his tone now. Quinn knew Riku had his heart in the right place, but if he pushed the issue much further the situation would not end well.


"G-Grant, please stop. I'll be done here soon, and then we- we can do whatever you want, ok?" Quinn tried his best to be diplomatic however his trembling voice didn't really have much persuasive power behind it. In response, Grant's hand tightened around his wrist hitting uncomfortable levels of force. "Grant y-you're hurting-"


"Shut up. We're leaving." Grant's voice was cold now. Commanding. Quinn was now visibly shaking, and Riku looked opened his mouth ready to step for Quinn's sake.


"Riku... please, don't. It's fine." Quinn said quietly.


"What? But-"


"Didn't you hear him? Back off twerp."

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Muscle and Flesh


      Nathan grinned from ear to ear as Tyler brought in a hug.  Nathan was a Caucasian male about the same height as Tyler, with brown hair, green eyes, and a smug smile.  They were both excellent when it came to automobiles.  Nathan's slick red hair was thrown behind his head as he shook Tyler's hand.  Compared to Tyler's Mustang, Nathan drove a modded and restored Honda Civic CSI.  From body to engine, his car was super-charged.


“Long time no see. How you been man? And where are Jake and Hensley?” he asked, looking around for the others.


"It's been a while Tyler.  Jake will be here soon, I got a text from him ten minutes ago.  Something about staying after class.  Hensley is -- oh, speak of the devil," Nathaniel said, throwing his arms back.  "Hey, beautiful."


Hensley was a rich, blonde Caucasian girl, living mostly off of her parents' money.  She always wore top of the line name-brand clothing, even when it came to working with cars.  If Chanelle or Louis Vuitton  was on it, you could bet your gaudy tastes that she owned it.  She was less feminine than she liked to admit, but that didn't stop most guys from fawning over her.  Her body was curvy and well toned, so it was no wonder she had so many admirers. While she wasn't as fluent in "car-speak" as she often called it, Hensley wanted to become a mechanic.  She was throwing her full weight behind that line of work, so she took the club as seriously as Tyler and Nathan did.  "Don't do that," she said with a frown.  "You've still got zero chance with me."  She shook Nathan's hand playfully then let go to size-up Tyler.  She folded her arms and said, "You on the other hand.  When are you gonna let me show you my body shop, Tyler?"  She slapped his chest with a grin.


"Where's the new kid?" Hensley asked.


"Present!" Jake said from across the gymnasium, sprinting and out of breath.  Jake was a scrawny sophomore, often identified by the faded black beanie and skull plastered t-shirts he liked to wear.  "So -- phew.  Sorry.  Had to catch up with a friend."


"Present?  Really?  You absolute dork," Hensley said with a grin.


Jake shrugged it off and forced a laugh.  He had been interested in Hensley since last year.  "What's uh, on the schedule for today?"


"Oh.  We're supposed to get a new member," Nathaniel said.  "She's a new transfer but she's coming in by way of Cali."


"And how do you know all of that?" Hensley said, poking Nathaniel's chest.


"Oh.  Well, she's my sister.  She's as into cars as I am, so she won't be new to this.  But it'll finally give us another new member.  Maybe we can even get an organization," Nathan said with a grin.


"Really?  She uh, she gonna be here today?" Jake asked, curious.


"Oh, no, she'll arrive tomorrow.  In the meantime, let's get to that Trans Am.  Jake, I'm gonna show you some of the basics.  Tyler, could you work with Hensley?  I want you guys to flush the carburetor."


Nathan guided his club to the automotive garage located south-east of the gymnasium.



After School


Paul had browsed the gym for any new interesting clubs, but he ended up sticking with the "Dedicated Fiction" Club.  He was hoping to use the common interests that he and Amanda shared to get closer to her.  They were starting the semester with a student submitted manga series entitled, ':Alive:'.  The club read through the first chapter before departing from the library for the afternoon.  Amanda and Paul walked to the bus stop together but they always ended up on different transferring routes.


When Paul got home, his younger sister Ann, greeted him at the door.  She was about four and a half feet tall, with chocolate brown skin, a button nose, and the cutest afro puffs you had ever seen.  "Hey," she said with a big smile.  He swept her off her tiny eight-year-old feet and twirled her around before setting her down.  Ann hugged Paul tightly as he asked, "How was school, shrimp?" .


"I am not a shrimp!  I'm a crab!  See!?" she said, pinching his legs.


"Ow!  Crab claws hurt!  They're not for hurting, they're for eating," Paul said with an evil grin.


"No!" Ann screamed and ran back into the house.


Paul chuckled to himself and smiled.  When Ann disappeared back inside, Paul took his cell phone from his pocket.  As he did so, Paul felt his fingers glance across a smooth glass surface.  Paul's heart sank in his chest as he slowly removed the object from his pocket.  The crystal ball containing a blue flame.  His heart began to beat faster and faster, and Paul quickly shoved the crystal ball back into his pocket.  He thought he had left it at home in his locker, but yet and still it was present with him.  He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for just a moment.


"Paul?  Paul!  Boy, you ain't hear me callin' you!?" squeaked an older female voice.


"Hmm?  Oh, sorry momma.  Hey," he said turning to hug his mother.  


"Hey, baby.  How was school?  Meet any new friends?" asked Mrs. Brown.  She was an African American woman in her early fifties.  She was slightly plump, but if you saw her smile you wouldn't be able to keep your eyes off of her warm, soft, happy face.  She could often be seen in her worn-down jeans, simple ladies flats, and a neat ruffled black blouse.  She worked as a technician for a moderately sized law firm in the Central Business District of New Orleans.


"Uh, kinda.  I got to meet Jason Garrett."


"Garrett.  That's the one that broke his wrist, right?"






"He broke his left wrist," Paul joked.


"Oh, boy," Mrs. Brown chuckled, slapping Paul on the back of his head.  


"How was work, ma?"


"Good, just tiring as always.  What y'all wanna do for dinner?"


"You need me to cook, ma?  Is there anything defrosted?"


"No, I forgot to take the chicken out this morning.  I just stuck it in the fridge and we'll cook that tomorrow.  Go see what Ann wants to do for dinner."


"Well, if you're goin' out, I'm gonna have to stay behind.  Mr. Baker is gonna come through and we're gonna talk."


Mrs. Brown stopped in the doorway to her home and paused.  She nodded.  "Take your time, baby.  If those dreams keep bothering you, I want you to make sure you're getting the help you need.  Especially if it's free," she said over her shoulder with a smile.  "I'll go get your sister and maybe we'll shoot on over to McDonald's or something."


"Thanks, ma," Paul said, following her inside.





"So, you told me they've gotten worse.  How so?" Mr. Baker asked.


"Well, my dreams have just become like, super realistic.  To the point, I swear I can feel everything happening around me," Paul explained.


"So your dreams.  They've become more... vivid?  More colorful, more alive?"


Paul nodded.  "Yeah.  And I just feel like it's affecting me mentally.  I don't wanna assume I'm going crazy.  I mean, I'm studying and staying on top of my work and things.  But I sometimes feel like I can see and feel things from my dream, even though I'm wide awake."


Mr. Baker made a few notes in his black and white booklet and clicked his pen.  "Could you describe this place for me?  One more time."


"Uh, yeah.  Well, it's like, the place is completely blue, but it's like a prison.  There's a lot of cells too, like nine at least.  The cells are empty and the rest of the room is empty too.  But the last time I went there, there was this fire in a little glass ball.  And for some reason, in my dream, I crushed the glass ball and the flames jumped on me."


Mr. Baker clicked his pen again and took a few more notes.  "This fire.  What color was it?"


"Blue.  Same blue as the rest of the room.  I remember my chem teacher telling me fire is hottest when it's blue so that kinda freaked me out.   But, when I looked closer at the fire inside the little glass ball, I just had to have it.  I broke the glass ball and the fire instantly surrounded me.  Then I woke up."


Mr. Baker nodded, taking down the last of his notes.  "Well, I'm not much of a dream interpreter," Mr. Baker said with a smile.  "But there's a lot of things that this could mean.  Judging by your reaction and as you said you had to have that fire, maybe your mind is looking or longing for something.  Subconsciously, you may be searching for some deeper meaning.  To yourself.  To your life.  But you being so young, you have a lot of time to keep searching.  And I want you to try to take it easy.  Are you sleeping at all or are the dreams keeping you awake?"


"Usually I fall back asleep after the dreams wake me up.  So I'm not like, tired or anything."


"Well.  For now, I want you to avoid any major stimulation in the evening after 5, okay?  It's gonna suck, but no video games for a while."


"Aw, for real Mr. B?"


"I mean it.  That means movies and tv too.  Let's make it just for a couple days to see how it affects your dreams and we'll talk again on Monday, alright?"  Mr. Baker stood up from his chair and shook Paul's hand.  "I gotta run, but you keep me informed.  And if you have another dream tonight, see me first thing in the morning."


Paul stood up as he shook Mr. Baker's hand.  "Thanks, Mr. B.  I'll see you tomorrow."

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Piper watched her fellow classmates trickle into the classroom in pairs as she sat idly sipping her coffee. Having only made it to the orientation just as it had ended, she was lucky enough to able to simply grab her schedule and walk straight out the door before the horde of students attempted to make towards the exit.


Though she had originally been ecstatic about being placed in an art class for first period, her excitement quickly faded upon seeing that their teacher was about as try as one of the markers she usual found in the laundry.


"Class is too small for me to take a nap..." She mumbled to herself whilst sliding back into her chair. "But I guess I can't get in trouble for doodling in an art class, right?" Her lips curled into a smile at the prospect of getting in some good drawing time early in the morning.


"Hi, I'm Queen nice to meet you." Quinn flashed a quick smile. "So, I don't recognize you. You new around here, or you just a wallflower?"


Piper jumped slightly, too lost in her thoughts to realized that she had just been assigned a partner. Studying the boy for a moment she smiled, already enjoying his the aura he gave off. "I'm far from a wall flower..." She smirked whilst pulling out her sketch book from her bag. "I actually just moved out here! Got into some trouble back home, so my parents figured they'd give me the 'ol fresh princess treatment, and shipped me out North Bumblef*** to stay with my uncle and auntie." Her smile shrunk slightly after being reminded of her situation, but nonetheless she continued conversationally.


"You seem pretty popular..." Piper said whilst nodding towards the bubbly blondie that her partner had originally been sitting with. "Barbie over there a part of your clique?" Her old town was filled with girls identical to Chelsea. They looked plastic, thought they were smarter than they were, and sought validation by blowing the hottest guy they could find in their daddy's pool.


"Mmm... You could say that." Quinn smirked leaning closer to Piper. "Really most of us only hang out with her cause she throws the best parties. End of the year she throws this big one called the 'Summer Bash'. Real banger y'know." Piper turned to study Chelsea as he said this. Yep, she fit the bill.


"Anyway Little Miss Bel Air, what kind of trouble you like to get into?" Quinn's smirk grew wider. Yeah he was definitely happier to have her as his partner than yappy little Chelsea.




Piper's eye lit at the boy's question, as she produced a brush pen from the pocket of the hoodie wrapped around her hips.


"Ohhhh, so you guy's do party out here!" Piper scoffed before leaning closer to Quinn. She was in full gossip mode now. "I'm a horrible actor though... so she'll probably realize I hate her guts, but if you're looking for plus one, I'm your gal!"


"And in regards to trouble..." She pretended to think for a moment. "A little smoking here, a protest there... I drink a tad but I'm all about the green if we're partying!" A glint of mischief sparked in her eye as she twirled her pen between her fingers. "Boys are fun too I guess, but get me some paint and I can show you the world..." Her mouth was practically watering at the prospect of putting some color to one of the schools walls.



"What about you? Remember I'm new here, so you can go ahead and be whoever you want, I won't be bothered to fact check..." She smirked jokingly before whipping open her sketch book and throwing down a few lines that vaguely resembled a head.


"Oh yeah, well don't you worry I'm always geniune and authentic... well unless I'm not~ Anyway I think you and I will get along just fine. Cause if it's the green wish for then oh baby I'm your genie. I know all the guys with the best stuff, and I know get for a good deal too." Quinn winked and made a popping noise with his mouth. "You don't got to worry about Chelsea either, honestly that girl's got nothing in her head but air, you don't have to be genius actor like me to fool her." Leaning over Quinn watched Piper deftly place line after line in her sketchbook.


"So you one of those artsy fartsy types?"


"More art, less fart..." Piper grinned in response.


Her strokes begun to increase in speed, creating structures and textures from nothing. Within moments the girl seemed to be in her own little world, shutting out everything around her, and only glancing away from her paper to study Quinn's features.


Five minutes later, she slid her book over to the side with a sly smile. It was a caricature of sorts. Of Quinn with exaggeratedly elegantly features, sitting atop what appeared to be the blonde girl sitting a few feet away as if she were human stool. He wore a queen's crown atop his head, and what could either be a joint or a cigaret in his hand, with smoke billowing off the side of the page. In the smoke, Piper had scrawled in her surprisingly horrid handwriting "We're friends now b****!" Followed by her phone number.


Carefully ripping the page from her book she slid it over to her partner with a wink. "First one is on the house~"


"Nice," Quinn chuckled under his breath, however this was enough to finally earn them the ire of Ms. Hemley who shushed them both. "Guess she's not so deaf after all..." Quinn shrugged.




After School, the Gymnasium


"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE'S NO ART CLUB?!" Piper billowed in annoyance as she starred daggers at the list of available clubs. Spinning around immediately, she glanced around the room in search of a teacher, ripping the piece of paper off the wall and crumbling it in her vice grip.


Any faculty would do... even the janitor would get an earful until the school gave the arts the recognition it deserved!


"I don't care if even the heavens forgive suc-" She began only to halt herself up setting her sights on the only face she recognized in the entire school. Seeing the shaking expression on the boy's face, Piper's eyes instantly narrowed as she observed the scene. "Not cool..." Even if she didn't know these people, or even have a full grasp of the complexity of the situation, Piper's gut told her everything she needed to know...


That the guy grabbing Quinn was an a******.


Tossing the paper to the side, Piper thrusted her hand into her bag as she began marching towards the Drama Club's booth. As she approached, the girl produced the small tube of red acrylic paint, skillfully unscrewing it's cap with her mouth before spitting it to the side. She wouldn't be needing it...



"Riku... please, don't. It's fine."


What? But-"


"Didn't you hear him? Back off twerp."


"W-WHOAAAAAAH!" Coming up from behind the group, Piper stumbled dramatically, flailing her arms and squeezing the entire tube of red paint at the douche who had Quinn in his grasp. She hadn't been lying early, her acting was indeed quite horrible. Though regardless she continued to milk her collision, and quickly yanked Quinn's arm free from the bully. "Oh noooooo... I'm so sorry."


Recovering way too fast, Piper darted to Quinn's side and flashed her pigment covered victim a sheepish grin that didn't quite meet her eyes. "I'm sorry man, I think I got a little bit of paint on ya..." The eyes of passing students were now all on them, and though to the onlookers it seemed like a honest mistake by the new girl, those in immediate group would be able to clearly see the coldness in her gaze as smiled at Grant. "Hmmm... you wouldn't happen to wanna join the Art Club, would you?"

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As the small talk between Avery and the girl, Lindsay, was beginning, it was cut rather short as the auditorium was brought to silence. While Avery let out a small sigh, her eyes instantly went wide as she remembered what came next. As the school began to shout their motto, the girl's expression instantly shifted to one that was both positive and jovial. Shouting when prompted, the girl cheered the motto at a level of enthusiasm and volume that matched the students that were around her. When all was said and done, the girl leaned back in her chair and looked to the stage, her eyes glancing to the other students in her grade.


Bored. Tired. Disinterested. Chatting. 


The girl leaned further back in her chair, lifting her hand up to her mouth as she let out a yawn. Her eyes were no longer fixated on the stage, instead, her head turning to and fro and looking at the others that were here. She remained like this, until they were finally dismissed from their seats. As they did, the duo went to get their schedules, with Lindsay continuing the conversation. "Man, I'm so glad that it's mandatory we hear about how awesome are school is every year." 


The girl chuckled at her acquaintances joke. "Well, we only have to listen to that for one more year." 


"Yeah, and then like horsemen," she snapped imaginary reigns, "we ride on out of this joint. Speaking of, you never did say anything to me over summer break. So what 'Magical Journeys' did Avery Moreaux get up to?" 


Her pace slowed for a second, though went back to normal not a second later. "Oh, well, you know. Same old, same old." Lindsay raised an eyebrow. The girl's hand twitched before she shrugged, "honest. I didn't do anything special." 


Lindsay shook her head before saying, "really? Man, you are one boring girl Avery." 


She paused. "Uh-um -er, yeah." She murmured. Picking the pace back up, the other not seeming to notice this, she said, "well, the summer's over now. So, what do you have first?" 


Lindsay flashed her schedule at the girl saying. "PE, because running's how I want to start my day off." She shook her head, seemingly disgusted by it. "How about you?"




The girl sighed saying, "well, I guess you got the short end of the stick there. Sad we aren't together again but, them's the breaks. Be catching you Avery." With a wave, Lindsay left the girl to her own devices, going to her first period class.


As Lindsay left her sight, Avery let out a huge sigh of relief, her breath seeming to hasten a bit before she tried to calm herself. Putting her schedule away, once she returned to a normal rate, the girl looked at her hand. Sweat. She wiped it off on her shirt before continuing on.


At least it was raining. 



The day had gone by without much incident. Having been the first day, there was not much in way of material that they learned, nor was there much to talk about. Despite this, the first few pages of Avery's notebook had already been filled out. Leaving the building, there was a large gathering around the auditorium. as it was that clubs were being picked by the students now. Avery hadn't joined any club her past two years of high school. She merely got into school, and got out when she could. However, to everyone else, she did nothing. Most people did something. 


She stood there, looking at the crowd. Most people joined a club. Most people did something at their school after it was over. She did not.


Looking at the building, the girl began to walk towards it, joining the rest of the crowd and looking for a club. 


IT. Computers weren't her thing. 


Chess. Too much involved. 


Automotive. Ew. 


Kendo. No. Swimming. Absolutely not. Drama. Absolutely never. 


Fiction. Avery liked fiction. Video Games. Avery was fond of video games. Many people were. Though, girls probably weren't. 


With that decision made, the girl resolved to merely get in, sign up for the club and get out. Even if she signed up for the club today, Avery didn't want to stay at school for the whole of the day. 

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Early Morning

Light Rain

I Ain't the Sharpest Tool in the Shed


Reno was sitting in his chair, eyes closed as he listened to the school scream about horses and the sport team. To make sure no one dared to think he had no school spirit (which he didn't, but he had to keep appearances and all) he slowly mouthed the words "WatermelOOOOOOOON" to simulate chanting along with this school cult. He didn't pay much mind to the announcements as they were nothing they hadn't heard before. Soon, they were sent into groups to get their schedules. Reno kept to himself, or would have, if a certain conversation didn't reach his ears. 


"If I see Garrett I'm gonna break his other wrist," spat Ivan "the Terrible" Louis.  He was a senior student and a member of the basketball team.  "Cost me my championship."

"Lighten up, stretch.  You'll get your chance this year," responded a student who was about six inches shorter than Ivan.
"Oh, I know.  Since Garrett won't be here to screw us." Ivan replied. Reno's fist clenched. The combination of how much the sports team annoyed him and how much Ivan pissed him off made Reno have a snappy comment. 
"If the team was any good, then you wouldn't have lost even when Garrett broke his wrist. You funkers better stop blaming someone and instead work on your own shortcomings, otherwise you're just going to lose again. Because you suck," Reno spat out. Despite how much Reno stood out in a crowd, the fact that Reno barely spoke plus all the chatter made Reno sure no one on the team would actually know who said it. And if they did, what would they do? Tell on him? With that satisfaction, he went to his first class.

"So to anyone who can open this class with a bang, how should goods and services be produced?"The teacher's eyes fell to Reno in the back of the class.  "You. Big guy. Wanna give me answer?"


"Should've asked the Japanese broad.  I bet she knows," snickered a foul-mouthed student from the back of the classroom. Reno turned his head towards the foul mouthed student, growling.

"Are you saying I'm too stupid to answer the question?" He almost wanted to get up and toss the guy out the window, but he decided to restrain himself. Taking a deep breath, he turned his head to talk to "Buyers should express their preferences with certain goods, which then influences what is produced,"


"Correct. Demand influences production, which in turn, influences demand. It creates a cycle which moves our society to this very day." Reno grinned to himself, resisting the urge to flip the bird at the foul mouthed boy and try to listen to the rest of the class. 

He was very proud of himself though.



I Will Join a Club!


Reno sighed to himself as he looked over the clubs available to him. His first choice, the Martial Arts Club, sadly just... didn't exist anymore. The club leader graduated last year, and no one else wanted the responsibility of being the club leader, so it disbanded. Now he had to choose a new club, and looking over his options, he didn't have too many good options. Kendo was not his thing, as it was swords, not fists... he wasn't smart enough for Chess or IT... Cars didn't interest him, and Fiction wasn't... enough, so to say. As for swimming... he placed a hand over his chest over the thought of that club. No, never in a million years would he do that. That left only one left.

The Video Game Club. 

Reno walked up to the booth, looking over the group. There was a slender African-American girl who looked around his age, with dark black hair and brown eyes. Surrounding her was a European looking dude with dirty blonde hair and dark eyes, and a Latin American kid with a buzz cut and sharp silver eyes. All three of them were shorter by Reno by six inches or more. 

"Well, looking to join the video game club?" the girl said with a smile. "Well, before you do that, we have a few questions for you!" Reno blinked as he looked down at her. What kind of questions would a video game club have? "What's you're name, and what kind of games do you like?" 

"Well, my name is Reno Howard... and I like fighting games and RPGs... a good TRPG being one of my favorite kinds... but a good JRPG is nothing to sneeze at," He explained. The girl tapped her chin.

"Reno Howard...? I feel like I heard that name somewhere before... oh, whatever, I'm Lace Kendall, and these two are Bradley Yulstead and Kevin Garcia," She pointed at the European and Latino respectively. "Well, I gotta say, you add a variety of games we don't cover, so if you wanna join, then welcome to the club, Reno!" 

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"I'm already in the car of someone I've only just met. Might as well live it up while I'm here."
As Haruka took her first steps into the school building for her senior year, she wasn't sure if she regretted saying those words or not back when she was in that dangerous-looking boy's car. On the one hand, it was actually more fun than she expected, once she got past the initial thought of "he's going to crash into something and we'll both die a horrible death". Plus, just look at how fast he'd gotten her to school! On the other hand, her steps were wobbly and her balance thrown off by the sheer speed the boy had used. Haruka didn't even know cars not specifically meant for racing could do those kinds of things. Was he into street racing perhaps?
Not that it really mattered. She'd probably never see him again. Even if she did, Haruka didn't see any reason to go out of her way to try and be all buddy-buddy with anyone. If she didn't get going though, she'd be late for orientation. The fact that she got here on time at all after that little incident earlier was still surprising her. I guess that's how strong the bond is between a man and his car.


Orientation was - as were the three before it - a sickening waste of time. Haruka picked up her schedule, and her first class as it happened was economics. How convenient! She lived with somebody who was successfully running their own small business. Surely she could learn plenty of things from Uncle Ayumu that would help with this class. Then again, he might take that as a sign that I want to spend more time with him as uncle and niece. I'll pass; after the first fishing trip, I'm not exactly dying to have another one. As the teacher - who wanted to simply be called Kelsey - went over her own little introduction, Haruka flipped open her notebook. The one that wasn't really for any class in particular. Taking notes wasn't something she did anyway. She was a smart girl; she'd definitely be able to remember all this.
Instead of notes, Haruka got her trusty pencil, and started to draw. Right now, it was just basic figures atop one another, but she could have this wrapped up and looking good by the end of the school day. As she started the finer details of the bottom figure, working as the image came to her mind, she put a bit more of her attention on the teacher. She was asking a question.
"So to anyone who can open this class with a bang, how should goods and services be produced? You. Big guy. Wanna give me answer?"
"Should've asked the Japanese broad. I bet she knows."
"Sorry, I didn't catch that. What'd you say, young man? Did anyone else hear him?"
"Are you saying I'm too stupid to answer the question? Buyers should express their preferences with certain goods, which then influences what is produced."
"Correct. Demand influences production, which in turn, influences demand. It creates a cycle which moves our society to this very day."
Buyers express preference with goods, and it leads to influence over what's produced. Isn't that just supply and demand?? She'd have to figure out what to do with the wise-cracking boy in the back of the class sometime. Right now, however, she would rather focus on her drawing. She made sure to keep an ear open for anything else the teacher said over the course of class too of course.


Before Haruka knew it, the first day of school was over. And it wasn't even nearly as much the arduous grind as she'd expected. Not to say it wasn't, of course. As she entered the gymnasium, intent on joining a club simply so that people would stop pestering her about joining one when she told them she was already in one, she took a moment to appreciate her latest work, before closing her notebook. The drawing she'd started in economics was done. She didn't like that she had to draw the top figure - the boy from that morning - entirely by memory, but what was a girl to do? Haruka looked around at the different clubs. Among others, there was a kendo club, a fiction club that she felt was her most likely choice, an automotive club...


She briefly glanced back down at the notebook in her hand, its first page containing the fruits of today's labor if anyone were bold enough to take it and have a look inside. Haruka made for the booth for the dedicated fiction club. Better to get the pain of signing up out of the way first. And so, Haruka briskly made her way up to the fiction club's booth, and stated "I'd like to join the dedicated fiction club." She briefly glanced over the students at the booth. The one she assumed was the club leader was the shortest one of the club's present members, and even she had a good few inches on Haruka. This was something she was used to by now, nont exactly being the tallest of sorts, but the two boys had nearly an entire foot on Haruka! They all looked so happy and stuff.


Not the overly energetic types, I hope.


"Hey. We'd be happy to have you. I take the liberty of making a quick little card for you to fill out so we can get to know you better. It'll be easier when we dive into books and share. It just asks for your name, your grade year, and your phone number or email. Last two are optional," Amanda said with a smile as she handed Haruka the plastic card and a pen.


She looked over it real quick. It was still a bit weird to not write her name using kanji, but it was something she'd gotten used to in her years living here. She scribbled down her information, opting to include her phone number but leaving her email out of it. If it was important enough that somebody had to call or text her over something, it was clearly a bit too urgent for email anyway. That was one reason not to share it at least. "Here you go." Once she'd filled out the card, aside from her email of course, Haruka handed the card back to this Amanda girl.


"Nice. Thank you. Welcome to the club, er-- Haruka? Did I pronounce it right?" Haruka nodded as Amanda briefly continued about the smaller girl's name. "It certainly is a pretty name," Amanda began to mumble to herself. "Oh! Uh, this is Janet. This Leo. And this is my boy Paul."

Leo gave a wave and Paul moved to shake Haruka's hand, but they were both intercepted by Janet who practically squealed with excitement. "Oh, my word," she began. "You're so cute!  I can't wait to read with you!"


The energetic type, just like I hoped they wouldn't have. Go figure.


Amanda leaped in and pulled Janet away. "Sorry. She's eccentric. We're all kinda weird. Welcome to Ded. Fiction."


Haruka nodded. Her business here was handled, and now other clubs wouldn't pester her about joining some club that she cared about even less than she did this one. Time to go home.

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Beneath the Mask


       Paul let out a groan as he sat on the edge of his bed.  He had just gotten out of the shower after dinner and was putting his clothes away for the day.  He emptied his pockets from today and the crystal ball rolled out of his pants pocket and onto his bed.  He tossed today's jeans into his hamper before sitting on his bed with the crystal ball loose in the palm of his hands.  He observed it carefully, holding it up to the light in his room and peering into the crystal and its flame.  No matter which way he turned the crystal, the flame remained right-side up.  However, Paul noticed that when he turned the crystal at a very obscure angle and looked at the flame from the top down, he could see an engraving in the crystal ball.  It was some type of flower that he wasn't familiar with.  Out of curiosity, Paul took his phone from his bedside table and snapped a picture of the crystal ball's engraving.


He tucked the crystal ball beneath his pillow and began to dig for information on this flower.  


"Paul.  Psst.  Paulie!" came a soft, young voice.  It was Ann at his door.  


"What's up?" Paul asked with a smile.


She charged into his room and leaped onto his bed.  Her pink pajamas ruffled as she jumped and plopped down beside Paul.  "Whatcha want for your birthday?" she teased.


Paul pat his younger sister on the head.  "Ah, I don't want anything, sis.  As long as I got you and mom, I don't need anything else."


Ann rolled her eyes.  "That's boring.  Don't you want a cool toy?"


Paul looked around his room at his gaming consoles, then back to Ann.  "I've got enough toys," he laughed.  


"What abouuuuuuuut--a puppy!?" she squeaked.


"I've got enough responsibilities," Paul said, shaking his head.  


"Aww.  Okay.  If you change your mind, mom wants to get you something," Ann said hugging her older brother tightly.


"Aight sis.  I'll let mom know.  Now get to bed."  He kissed Ann on her forehead and hugged her.  "Goodnight, shrimp."


Ann pinched Paul's leg before darting out of his room.  "I'm a crab!" she screamed, giggling all the way to her room.


Paul went back to his phone and continued digging for information on the flower.  When he found it, Paul was sure that it was the same flower engraved on the crystal ball.  "The Lotus," he recited.  "A beautiful flower representing rebirth.  Huh."  Paul looked for other images of the lotus flower but they were all the same in description and depiction.  But he didn't understand the symbolism behind it or why it was engraved on the crystal ball.  He pulled the crystal ball from beneath his pillow and examined it again.  The Lotus sparkled and Paul had to stop looking at it rub his eyes.  Paul sighed and got up from his bed to close his door.  He went back over to his bed and took his lockbox from beneath it.  He rolled the tumbler until the combination was accepted, then opened the lockbox and put the crystal ball inside.  He carefully closed it and slid the lockbox back under his bed.  This time he could be sure it was safe at home and not on his person.


But what did it all mean?  This was the same crystal ball from his dream.  Objects didn't just jump out of your imagination!  So how on earth did it get to his room?  He had to do more research during the day.  Hopefully, looking at the crystal ball for too long wouldn't affect his dreams.  Paul turned off his bedside lamp and sat on the edge of his bed.  "I should get to bed..." he thought.  Paul turned over and pulled his blanket and sheet over him.  For some reason, he felt completely exhausted, despite not taking part in any major physical activities today.  His eyes felt heavy and his pillow felt cool.  In a matter of minutes, Paul drifted off to sleep.








"Wha--" he was here again.  Paul awoke on a cold metal slab with shackles around his hands and feet.  He was wearing a prisoner's uniform and had been placed in a cell.  He approached his cell door and placed his hands on the cold steel bars.  At the center of the room, a man with an obscenely long nose, wild white hair, and a strange but convincing unibrow sat with his hands folded under his chin at a fancy wooden desk.  His white gloves suggested he wasn't a prison warden, but a businessman.  His suit was a dusty gray and his tie was a dark black.  On the desk was a quill and ink with neatly stacked parchment before the strange man.


"Hey.  Hey!  Hey, where am I!?" Paul barked from his cell.


A slam came from Paul's cell as a new face appeared before him out of thin air.  Paul fell back out of shock and onto the hard floor.  A tall, dark-skinned man rippled with muscle and dressed in a velvet blue vest-suit had slammed a billy-club against Paul's cell door.  The tall man's dark green eyes frightened Paul, enough that he scrambled backward to the edge of his cell.  He was completely bald but had a fine goatee around his mouth and chin.  The tall man tugged on his vest just slightly as he spoke to Paul.  "You do not address the master until he addresses you."  His voice was deep and cold without an ounce of care behind it.


Paul remained silent as the large man stepped to the side and the other older gentleman in the center of the room finally spoke to Paul.


"Welcome, Paul.  My name is Igor.  And this is the Velvet Room."


The Poem of Everyone's Souls


"The... Velvet Room?" Paul asked.  He approached his cell door again.  It was the same room he had been in before.  There was a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and it illuminated the velvet brick that made up the walls of every cell.  "Why--why am I here?" Paul inquired.


"You will soon be thrust into a world with which you have no control," Igor replied.  "And it is in this world that you will find great danger and peril.  These dangers, no matter how false they appear, are very real, Paul.  They represent pieces of a coming ruin.  And only by the strength of your soul can you prevent this ruin from destroying your world."


Paul stared blankly at Igor.  "Ruin?  My soul?  My world?  What the hell are you talking about?" Paul asked again.


"Through your time, in reality, you will make many allies and enemies.  It is important that you use these bonds to strengthen your soul and unlock new power.  You cannot go on this journey alone, Paul."


Paul shook his head.  "I don't understand.  What are you asking me to do?  And why am I in prison?  I want answers," Paul demanded.


"You are not yet ready to commence your journey.  But soon, you will take on the power of the Lotus Crystal and you will discover what lies before you.  Whether or not you choose to save your world has yet to be seen," Igor replied.


Paul took a step back from his cell door and looked down at his hands then back up to Igor.  "We'll have to see then."


The large dark-skinned man appeared before Paul again, tightly holding his billy-club.  "Sleep, Inmate.  You must prepare for your journey."


By the large man's command, Paul suddenly felt exhausted again and couldn't help but climb back onto his slab of metal and drift off to sleep once more.





Early Morning

Beneath the Mask


Paul awoke the next morning having slept surprisingly well, despite his overly vivid dream.  He jumped out of bed, brushed his teeth, washed his face, had breakfast, and scrambled out of the door to get to school.  He had to see Mr. Baker immediately.  



Lunch Time


Paul made his way to the counselor's office immediately.  Mr. Baker had been waiting for him and allowed Paul in right away.  


"...and that's the whole dream.  I remember every word of it.  But I know for sure this was the same room.  Without a doubt."


Mr. Baker shook his head.  "This is... well, Paul.  This is one of the most bizarre cases I've ever heard if I can be honest with you.  A Velvet Room?  Being a prisoner?  A big-nosed man named Igor?  I thought we may have made some headway, but this information concerns me."


Paul sighed.  He thought he knew what was coming next.


"Let's keep this between you and me.  If it continues to develop, we may need to seek help elsewhere.  However, I don't want to jump to that conclusion right away.  For now, I want you to keep your promise to me and stay away from anything strenuous.  Understand?" Mr. Baker asked.


Paul nodded.


"Okay.  The second block is starting soon.  Hurry out of here and get to class."





Paul's third period, Physics, paired him with some new faces.  They included a new student who joined the "Dedicated Fiction" club yesterday, Haruka, and another face he didn't recognize, Reno.  He'd heard Reno's name before, but Paul didn't know much about the guy.  Since Haruka was in the same club as he was, Paul was happy to see a familiar face.  He didn't want to pester her just yet, so he simply took notes in class as Professor Young went over the semester's goal and how he intended to teach his students "step-by-step".  Nothing too interesting happened, and Paul simply kept to himself.



Piper's third period landed her in P.E. with Coach Overton. She would wind up in the same class with not-so-popular student Jason Garrett and moderately well known bad boy Tyler Beckett.  Boys were assigned to team building exercises today, which, unfortunately, included basketball.  There were 8 boys and 12 girls total in this P.E. class.  Boys were divided into teams of four and girls were divided into teams of six.  Girls would participate in volleyball today.  The class was not lengthy, lasting only 45 minutes.  This left the P.E. class with an additional 45 minutes of free time before the next bell.



Avery would share the third period with Quinn in English II with Professor Langston.  He was a bit of a hard-ass but he was a damn good teacher.  Having written and published several books, Professor Langston was one of the most well-accomplished teachers on G.O.H.'s staff.


As he explained his lesson plan for the semester, Langston was interrupted by a school announcement.


"Attention students.  Clubs will be available for sign-up again today after school.  Club sign-ups will close on Monday, September 3rd, so be sure to join and create clubs while you can!"




  • Interact with your classmates.
  • [OPTIONAL] Join a club.
  • [OPTIONAL] Attend a club meeting.

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One's Home is Their Castle


Light Rain




Jason decided to head back home after class. Between going between each club and doing his best to avoid Coach Overton the entire time, he thought it best to just go back home and get through the evening.


Not like he wanted to go back home though. Only one really he enjoyed talking to was Alice. Both of his foster parents were...well...real pieces of work in his mind. But luckily for him, it seemed like they weren't home, least it showed with one vehicle not there in the driveway. Guess there really is a God in heaven...


"Alice...I'm home." Jason announced, closing the door behind him and shedding his wet jacket before putting it up on the coat rack.


"Oh, hey Jase!" Alice said, poking her head from the kitchen. "Mom and dad said they'd be a little late getting home tonight. So I'm cooking dinner for us tonight."


"Fine by me." Jason shrugged, making his way to the kitchen, sighing as he sat down at the table. "...still hate me."


"Really? They still...? Good grief." Alice sighed, shaking her head. "Honestly! Dumb childish buffoons. Look Jase, don't let it get you down. Things will go back to normal for you in no time! I promise you that!"


Easy for you to say... Jason thought, crossing his arms and laying his head down on them. "Also, thought about joining some clubs today...unfortunately they didn't have any I wanted to join."


"What was there?"


"Kendo, Video Game, Chess, Automotive, Swimming, a Fiction or literature club of some sorts, Drama, and IT." Jason rattled off some. "And you can guess why I didn't wanna choose drama."


Alice nodded, turning off the stove and moving towards the table and setting down a few plates. "Fair enough. But, how bout the video game club?" she asked, causing Jason to give her a small reaction. "C'mon Jase! I've seen you playing the sports games on your game systems and computers. Heck, there was even that RPG game you played. So maybe that could be some help for you."


Jason looked at Alice, sitting up as he started eating and took some time to think about the possibility of joining the Video Game Club. After a moment, he nodded. "Ya know what...I think I will. Thanks Alice."


"Heh, no thanks necessary!" Alice giggled with a smile. "Just making sure my little brother is taken care of. Believe me, you're capable of anything you set your mind to, Jase! Now make sure you get some rest for tomorrow after dinner. Don't need you to be dragging out of bed like this morning."


"Oh jeez, you ruined my plan!" Jason laughed before waving his hand dismissively. "No worries, sis. I'll be going straight to bed after this."


The evening carried out between the two just talking and carrying on. Though by the time Jason's foster parents got home, he was already sleep and snoring away.






Shoot the Basket First...Ask Questions Later




Class started off alright this day, Jason was attentive and focused in his studies like he was hoping and expecting to be. And his plan to join the Video Game club was definitely going to be put into action after school today. But then he looked at his schedule again today...


Next is P.E....sheet... Jason thought, running a hand through his hair. This was one thing he was dreading, but he only shook off the feeling before sighing slowly. Don't let it get to you...don't let them get to you...




Jason stood near the doors to get into the gym for P.E., not exactly ready to do this, but he really didn't need to skip this class. He WAS graded on this stuff, so he needed to.


He slowly opened the doors and made his way into the room. Immediately, the laughter and talking that filled the room were replaced with murmurs. The looks Jason got almost made him feel like he was walking into Death Row. So many of the whispers and murmurs he couldn't make out, but the bulk of them sounded like: "Damn, it's Garrett...".


Great...they make it sound like I have the Plague...or Ebola... he thought with a small sigh.


The moment he got up to the area where his group was, he watched and listened to Coach Overton explain and split the team. Jason's consisted of himself, Tyler Beckett, Nathaniel, and Kendrick. Tyler...oh boy it was THAT guy. He almost wanted to skip class now. If he remembered it was THAT Tyler, then maybe he would've just stayed out of it. Nevertheless, the game was to 21 points. And right now, they needed a plan to do something.


"O-Okay..." Jason cleared his throat, looking at Nathaniel, Kendrick, and Tyler. "I need to know...w-which positions are you guys going to play?" He felt nervous right now. Was it because there was another P.E. group with their students watching? Was it that he had the eyes of Coach Overton almost piercing through his soul, watching him? He couldn't be 100% sure.


"Center..." Jason looked over at Tyler, hearing that he'd cover the center. He gave a small nod, before looking at Nathaniel and Kendrick.


"I can play whatever you need man. Just let me know," Kendrick says.


"I'll take point if you don't mind. I'm feeling pretty good today," Nathaniel boasts.


Jason nodded. "Alright..." he said, before moving into positions with the other three, after telling Kendrick to play shooting guard position. Jason looked at his left hand for a moment, before sighing. Keep it off the left hand...keep going for the right hand. Nathaniel says he's taking point...so if anything, just get him the ball.




The game was on and Jason's team had the ball first, so with Nathaniel running point, it was obvious he got the ball first. He went on in out of the gate, easily passing one of the opposing players, before taking a shot, scoring the first points almost immediately. This was so fast...almost like one of those basketball animes he watched. But this wasn't the time for daydreaming.


"Garrett! Get ready!" Nathaniel said, getting Jason's attention quickly.


The opposing team started their play and got passed Jason, immediately having Nathaniel steal the ball from them. The ball quickly made it's way towards Jason and he started dribbling it towards the basket. It was a bit difficult, given he still wasn't 100% able to do everything with his right hand. Luckily, he saw Kendrick in position and he passed it to the guy.


Kendrick got the ball and spun himself into shooting position. He took the shot, but missed as the ball spun itself on the rim and fell out. Luckily Nathaniel recovered the ball and shot it back to Jason....oh joy.


Jason gulped as he got the ball back, exhaling slightly before throwing it, using his right hand and watching it just fall right into place in the basket. He smiled as he silently was beginning to get confidence in himself again. Maybe they could win this!

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Tyler pulled into the familiar gravel driveway and killed the engine. The house in front of him was… quaint, but he still had trouble calling it home. Pops said it was a “shotgun house”—a long narrow house with one room behind the other—but to him it just felt like one long prison cell. Small and cramped. Something that wasn’t meant to be lived in for any reason besides punishment.


He shoved the keys into his pocket and headed for the door. He had stayed late working on the carburetor, and the grease had turned him black from head-to-toe. All he wanted was something to eat and a very cold shower after spending several hours alone with Hensley. She had made it obvious she was into him about a thousand times, but he wasn’t gonna be her ride on the wild side.


That didn’t change the fact that she was f***ing hot and she knew it, which lead to his current predicament.




Early Morning

Tyler’s morning went much better this time. His old man had already left to open up shop by the time he got up, but he found two energy drinks on the table, with a note that read:


Good job staying out of trouble on your first day. One down, one-hundred and seventy-nine more to go.




P.S. Check the fridge.


He found bacon, eggs, and one extra large pancake on a plate in the fridge. His favorite breakfast growing up; he would take the bacon and eggs, put them on the pancake and lather them in syrup, and then fold it over to make the perfect breakfast burrito.


Tyler took a picture of the breakfast burrito after he made it, beside the energy drinks, and texted it to the old man along with a brief “thanks”. He left for class with a bit more pep in his step than normal that day, flying to G.O.H. with the radio blasting.





Tyler wasn’t thrilled to find out he was playing basketball. It was too… soft, and bound by rules. You were punished for being too physical and more often than not players would take a fall if you grazed them, just to get a couple of free throws. He was a fullback in football and an enforcer on his old hockey team; all he knew was how to be physical.


He called Center knowing that Nathan would go Point. The game started off strong, with them getting two points on the board within almost no time. Tyler mostly made space the rest of his team, sticking closer to Nathan and putting himself between him and anyone who got too close.


The ball was passed back to the opposing team after Jason scored and the next play began. They managed to put a point up on the board, immediately followed by Kendrick sinking it from the 3-point line while Tyler shoulder-checked the guy that moved to guard him hard enough to knock him down. Probably a foul but he didn’t really care and the coach wasn’t watching him.


It went back and forth after that. Tyler noticed early on that they were targeting Jason, doing everything in their power to rough him up and run their mouths to him. One was especially bad. “Hey,” Tyler motioned to Nathaniel to call him over. “Who’s that guy, and what the hell is his problem?”


"Who, him?  That's uh, Pulpo--something or other.  European transfer from a few years back.  He's on the basketball team, like Jason was," Nathaniel said with a nod. Now it made sense. Tyler vaguely remembered something about Jason blowing a big game for the team.


Nathaniel managed to score with a lay-up on the next play, putting that score at 8-6. Tyler stopped jogging back over to his side once he was close to Jason, leaning his head in. “Why the f*** are you lettin’ them do that you? Shove back.”


Jason looked at Tyler and shook his head slowly. "I can't..." he said, looking over towards the other team. "I can't play as aggressively as I did...not with this..." Jason motioned towards his left wrist some. "Just… just don't worry about it, alright?


Tyler rolled his eyes and got into position to start the next play. So he was one of those types. Whatever. If Jason wasn’t going to do something about it he would.


When the next play started, the dude with the weird last name ended up with the ball. Kendrick tried to get in and steal, but he managed to score from up close. 8-7.


Tyler caught him as he was walking away. “Hey. What’s your name?”


The brown haired European student turned around, almost spitting at Tyler.  "My name is Brock Polpovich.  You would do best to remember it when you see me rise as star player," he said with a thick accent.


Tyler grinned at him. “Cool. I’m Tyler. See that scrawny kid over there?” he nodded towards Jason. “Touch him again and I’mma lay your punk ass out.”


Brock snorted and walked away, and the next play started. Nathaniel moved up the court, and shot a clean pass to Jason, who jumped to shoot. Brock jumped to swat at the ball and hip-checked Jason, knocking the other boy down and making his shot go wide.


The coach blew his whistle as a signal for him to knock it off, but handwaved it. That was it. Nathaniel went over to help Jason to his feet, and Brock looked at Tyler, who smiled back and nodded up to acknowledge it. They all got back into positions.


One of the other guys started with the ball, but he passed it to Brock to run it down center. Tyler didn’t even try to hide it. He shoulder-checked the European hard enough to send him skidding across the floor, knocking the air out of him and launching the ball high into the air.


“Whoops, didn’t see you there,” Tyler said looking down at him. “My bad.”

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By the Book


       Coach Overton blew a whistle.  "Beckett, you do that again and I'll write your ass up!  And Pulpovich, play clean before you get a hole stomped in you!  Season ain't started yet, son.  This is just a game between classmates.  Don't take it so personally," Coach Overton said, patting Pulpovich on the back as he got up and jogged back into position.


As players aligned themselves in position once more, Coach Overton reminded them, "game is to 21 points!  Let's go!"  Brock took the ball out and bounced it to his teammate as the pick-up game resumed.  



The game was close, with Jason's Team leading 18 to Brock's Team with 16 points.  Brock spun past Nathan and edged the ball into the hoop with a clean lay-up, closing the score to a 1 point gap.  Nathan received the ball and pushed forward to the top right of the court, finding picks behind Tyler's large body.  As Nathan moved to shoot a jumper, he saw Brock bend his knees.  Nathan immediately tucked back in and passed the ball between Brock's legs and to center court to Tyler.


Kendrick tried to get open but he was being pressured pretty hard by the opposing team.  Jason had a small window of opportunity to which Tyler reacted.  However, the ball was quickly intercepted and turned around as Brock stole it and drove the ball to the hoop, tieing the game 18 to 18.  Three points remained to claim victory for either team, and the gym was on fire.


The girls' volleyball game had ended, so they would be watching the boys' game carry on.  On the other side of the gymnasium, a second P.E. class held by Coach Wes was already over, and they too turned to keep score for the boys' basketball game.  


Girls cheered as Brock put up one more point and his team took the lead, 18 to 19.

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He Shoots...He Scores?




Exactly what Jason expected to happen was going on the entire game: he was being targeted. Brock Pulpovich was the one who was doing most of the instigating however. That guy had always been one of those players who was always in the background, namely cause he was on the team and in the "spotlight" more...


Guess after that day, he ended up getting more time to shine... Jason thought, shaking his head after talking to Tyler. He was right though. He should start playing aggressive again, but this injury probably wouldn't let him. Not only that...what was the point? This was only a pick-up game, not an actual game.




The score right now was 18 to 19, in favor of Brock's team. Three points for their side was all they needed to win the game. But how to do it...


"Alright." Nathaniel said, moving in position with the others. "I got a plan. Tyler, you need to keep them off our backs. Namely Brock. Kendrick, you get in your position and just wait. Garrett." he paused, as Jason quickly looked at the guy. "Think you can make the shot?"


Jason was silent for a little while, before he slowly nodded. "I...yeah. I can make the shot." he said, holding his left wrist some.


Before long, Nathaniel got the ball and started moving forward. Brock immediately was about to get in Nathaniel's face, but Tyler stopped him and was blocked, meaning Nathaniel was able to pass to Kendrick and immediately was able to shoot. It was now 19-19. A two point shot would win the game...it would win it for them.


The opposing team got the ball immediately, and before they could pass the ball to Brock, Tyler moved in and stole it before passing it back to Nathaniel who moved and motioned for Jason to move as well. Jason moved and followed Nathaniel's lead before he stopped and watched the point guard passing it to him.


"Make the shot!" Nathaniel said.


Jason gripped the ball and took the shot from the two-point line, instinctively using his left wrist to make the shot. He didn't realize what he did until it was too late. The ball left his possession and he immediately reeled back and held his left wrist, gritting his teeth because of it. But his eyes were just on the ball nonetheless...and was shocked what happened. The ball swished right into the basket. That was a two point shot...




The gym erupts with cheers to the surprise game ender, even Coach Overton was shocked at this.


Kendrick is hailed as a hero while Tyler's well placed pick seemingly falls under the radar. A handful of students from the second gym class over approach Jason's team but they are stopped short by Coach Overton. He ushers both teams from his class to the center of the basketball court and forces them to shake hands.


Brock congratulated Tyler on a good game, quietly encouraging him to "Consider joining the Horsemen on the court," in his thick accent. He even shook Jason's hand without malice. Which Jason was extremely thankful for. The rest of the class was given away as a free period as long as students didn't leave the gym until the bell rang.


Jason moved over towards the benches, holding his left wrist some with a sigh as he felt it somewhat throbbing. Y-Yeah...why did I even use this wrist? he thought, shaking his head. Probably...just some old habits... Though through the entire time, between being targeted on the court by Brock's team, he was still surprised they won.

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