autokinetic: (n ~ tentative)
Aegis has her Sue back. Sort of.

She also has her Jane back, less sort of, and right now that's way less complicated and way less sad and Aegis doesn't, actually, have anything to do apart from reading to catch up, which she can only do so many hours in a row.

So she's dug up her old save file and she's playing with her animal-people. With Jane, although Jane says she's mostly running the original software, not inserting her mature personality. (She does commentate, for color.)

Clearing the jellyfish for the seahorses.

She remembers it like it was yesterday.

Her bird stopped playing before she did, so she doesn't even slightly expect him to show up all candleflame and join her, when she's doing this.
autokinetic: (h ~ rapt)
Aegis is puttering around in an anonymous patch of vacuum. Jane is eating up the news that has passed in their absence and feeding Aegis a steady stream of it by brainphone so she can catch up, while she waits for Sue to get back from teaching the other Jokers to freecast. (Or "teaching them to freecast", whatever.)

She still hasn't gotten any welcome-back kisses. Hugs, yes, but not kisses. Probably this is going to require a conversation.
autokinetic: (h ~ rapt)
After Sue comes back from freecasting lessons and inaugurating Harley into the exciting world of Jokers having sex with each other, Aegis asks him, "So who all knows what really happened to me? Anybody but you?"
autokinetic: (Default)
Unfortunately, when Sue comes back from Alethia, Peace is still empty of Aegis. Jane is still down.
autokinetic: (Default)
[Hey Jarvis,] Aegis relays through Jane. [Jane says you're open to running a Space Station Of The Dead?]
autokinetic: (a ~ playful)
Aegis has pretty thoroughly demonstrated to whom it may concern that she can teleport, "just like" (well, not exactly) Sue. Everyone finds this terrifying and prefers to believe that they cannot do this. (Except for the colonists, who are more than happy to keep quiet about her appearances and the fact that she arrived with their deceased comrades in tow.) Therefore, when Aegis and Sue are supposed to show up to meetings of the admirality on this or that space station, they travel by shuttle. Aegis consents provided she's allowed to drive. They let her.

"Undocking," says Aegis to the station operator, coppered hands flying over ship controls. She doesn't need the copper anymore - she's better without it now than she ever was relying solely on it - but she doesn't need to reveal all her secrets, so she still wears the parts that show beyond her uniform. She's used to it, anyway. "And we're detached - maneuvering - and we're clear."

"Safe trip, Admiral," says the station operator over the comm.

"You know it," she replies flippantly. She punches a button and flicks a wireball control, and they're off.
autokinetic: (Default)
There's fighting on Eros.

Aegis knows a little about Earthside politics, but not all that much: what matters is that several factions want to capture ("rescue") Aegis and Sue. (Or, as they are collectively being called on the nets with no consensus about which of them is which: "War and Peace".) The rest of the jeesh are in trouble too.

Aegis and Sue have been locked in their room for their own protection, and Sue has received conflicting orders about which contingent of soldiers he should be psychically helping.
autokinetic: (b ~ good)
They stay linked up for a few hours more, maneuvering between buggers and fleet-colony and Solside military types late into station night, and finally the colony is getting started on building houses.

Amusingly, they're going to build one house, and then some bugger workers are going to build more the same for them as shown, while the humans work on securing their food supply - they can't use unmodified bugger crops.

It reminds Aegis of showing her critters things and then watching them pick up the tools themselves and continue.

The buggers were by far the most puzzling and difficult critter-people but now they're hers, her little sisters, even if she has to share with some other people.

She pushes that at Sue, when they're all done, when they're out of link except for just the two of them and she can't quite reconcile herself to being in her own comparatively small and slow brain just yet, when they're on their way back to their room.
autokinetic: (e ~ edible)
Aegis starts giving the subordinates days off. There is a brief argument with the teachers about this during which she points out that if the teachers force a leave-given student into the simulator room, she can't stop them, but Sue needn't link them and they needn't be given assignments, so it would be more productive to just let them sleep, and if they thought they needed an eight-person team it was the height of foolishness not to give them ten or twelve for exactly this reason. She rotates people out before they start making mistakes - the battles are coming thick and fast now, and they're getting harder, and it's better to do with one less commander now than to have one burn out from sleep deprivation and stress later when it's worse.

She takes one battle off herself, after arguing with Qiaochu about it - he thinks she should, she thinks she's fine - but the team suffers more without her than it does without anyone else. They lose four ships. It's not the first loss - the buggers have been learning, have been compensating, they've gotten stray ships before - but it's the worst. There's no further discussion of Aegis taking time off. They need her and her speed more than anyone else.

Except Sue, who is essential, who obviously cannot take a day off at all.

But he seems to be holding up all right, and he can hang back from the strategizing and serve just as a relay; he doesn't have to be fully in the fight every time. He generally is, but it's an option if he starts to crack around the edges.

The battles keep coming.

They keep winning. They hold their losses down very, very low.

And then there is a planet.

They've been near planets before. Only a handful of battles have taken place outside of solar systems; they've had to worry about gravitic effects from gas giants and, on one memorable occasion, Aegis had to maneuver six ships through an asteroid belt, flicking her control between vessels several times a second and almost burning her fingertips with friction-heat against the controls before she could get a Little Doctor onto a flying rock and atomize the pursuing bugger fighters. There've been planets in the distant background before. But this time the planet is right there.

The buggers didn't come out to meet the invaders.

And the teacher who is in her and Sue's simulator room, wearing an earpiece and probably relaying the words of Mazer Rackham so neither commander has to look at the old fart directly, says, "This is the last battle."

Aegis holds her hands ready and waits for the fleet officers to join the link.
autokinetic: (Default)
Sue graduates from Tactical School a year early, he's barely fifteen. He's toned down the flirting - he treats Aegis completely platonically, in particular - and has cut down on the unhealthy amount of sleeping-with-everything-that-wants. And he's apparently, via his independent study, gotten far enough through the curriculum that they're nudging him along to Command.

They've given Sue a strange old man for a tutor, who appeared in his room and started a physical confrontation, which Sue won; Sue related this story to her with something between amusement and irritation.

And a quicker-than-average flurry of notes has been piling up in the psych data since about that time, according to the timestamps.

Aegis knows before they tell her that they're going to send her to Command early too. She's just barely fifteen herself when she gets another update of the psych files and sees that Sue's had - well, the files aren't terribly clear, some of the communication is happening via in-person conversation and memos that don't get stored in these folders, but Sue's had some kind of breakdown and the only things they can think of to get him out of it, get him back into shape to train and fight, are her friendship and Howlett. They have mixed feelings about both - Howlett's insubordination problem; their bewilderment that Aegis and Sue can be so close when "she's the one person he can't link!" - but they're desperate.

Bird? They don't talk as often over the long distance, just as there was a lull when he went to Tactical ahead of her; their schedules have nothing in common and their contexts less. But he knows her, and he can reach this far if he tries. And she wants to know what's wrong.
autokinetic: (Default)
Things go back to normal. Pretty much.

Aegis's thirteenth birthday approaches. She is slowly acquiring the promised features of adulthood, little by little; she's issued a new set of uniforms after she grows two inches. Boys begin leering at her, although she has not yet been outright propositioned. There just aren't enough girls to go around. Even a barely-pubescent one who has demonstrated no indication that she even knows what her sexual orientation is going to be when she grows up gets attention.

Meanwhile, Sue -

Her bird is kind enough to bring boys (both regular- and space-gay-or-bi) home only while she's in classes, but she can tell when they've been there - they leave things, there are hairs in colors that don't match her or Sue on his pillow, xenobio let out early once and she saw one leaving. Sometimes he's gone a long time and doesn't react when she bird-bird-birds at him and comes back walking funny or refusing to make eye contact.

He flirts with everyone.

He flirts with her, and she hasn't the slightest idea what to do with that, and he always backs off after a little while, but he doesn't seem quite - happy. He isn't fully unbroken, and she doesn't know how to help.

On the day she turns thirteen, she says, "Happy birthday to me."
autokinetic: (i ~ fold)
Because there are so many fewer diversions on this station than on the previous one, Aegis takes to those that are offered with more of an open mind than she might have done before. For instance, she stays after personal combat sometimes, to watch Sue sparring with Howlett. Now and then she takes a turn herself. Today she's just supervising.
autokinetic: (b ~ good)
Aegis attends classes. They're harder, but she doesn't have the game anymore, so she does her homework, and when her homework is done she flies. She is homesick for her critters, but she knows they're safe in her mother's storage space Earthside.

She takes the personal combat elective. She can learn everything intellectually: muscle memory, for her, is how she showers (and Nina hasn't even graduated yet, let alone to Tactical in particular: there are six females on the station and so far Aegis hasn't run into any of them except the one who teaches astrogation). Everything else is about knowing. All Howlett has to to is tell her where to put her arm or how to turn her leg and she can do it. But as it happens this is also the highest level personal combat class Tactical School offers, so when she can not only beat the best student but also do it with skill instead of mere speed, they can't promote her out of it. She sticks around anyway; Howlett knows a lot.

She continues to do her processing in non-English and lets the teachers figure out what they want to do about her psychology.

And once, when she has a sore shoulder from a misstep in personal combat and doesn't feel like flying and is all out of revisions to make to her military history essay, she tries a little hacking. She didn't get anywhere in Battle School, but maybe she can do something from another vantage point. They probably don't require such sophisticated authorizations when they're sending station to station; it'd hog bandwidth. And she has known-plaintext in the psych files.

It takes some fiddling. She's not a computer specialist. But she can pretend to the computer that she's very innocent, syncing a backup of the psych data. She's lost all but this version of a few files, won't it please spit back to her what she's missing.

Eventually it does spit at her, and she copies it to her mother's storage too before they can wipe it off her desk - if they catch her at this she'll delete it from there, too, but maybe they won't notice or they'll outright let her have her fun. She sets a little program to decrypting it while she attends physics and it's done by the time she finishes the problem set.

She looks at what they have on her. It's about what she expected: copies of all her notebooks, comments about the accurate predictions a computer model spat out when given them as data, hysterical flailing when she stopped writing English, and her essays, with a few sparse notes. They don't seem to find her worrying. They seem oddly encouraged by her willingness to injure the boys who were hurting Sue, back when she was littler, half her current age. Someone wrote she's not aggressive, but she's decisive, and the buggers struck first, she won't have any problem wiping them out of the sky.

And that's true. She's seen vid of what they did to China. Even if there were some misunderstanding behind everything and the buggers didn't intend to invite total war, they turned living things into soup, destroyed a hundred historical artifacts, killed millions of people - they were not making an effort to be compatible with humans. She will not have any problem wiping them out of the sky.

She looks at what they have on Sue.
autokinetic: (Default)
Sue turns twelve. He spends two months as a twelve-year-old in command of Phoenix Army, and then he graduates to Tactical.

The fantasy game is emptier now. But he finished her castle first. And all the space stations are on the same time zone, so Sue knows when to knock on her glass wall and see if she'll let him by.

Flame changes commanders again. The new one doesn't want a girl in his army - thinks she damages unit cohesion or some kuso like that - and he trades her to Rabbit, which would have been great ages ago, but Rabbit now has a different commander too. This one is clever enough - or has enough inertia - to leave her in toon leader position based solely on seniority (she is eleven, now). He gives her the boys most recently out of launch - the vets go to the toon leaders who curry more personal favor - and she trains them into a squad of formbusters and sharpshooters who inexplicably start coming to her about their personal problems too. She helps as best she can.

When she is eleven and a half, she receives command of Asp Army. She scopes them out and sees that she needs to reorganize the toon leadership completely - Asp's previous commander was an idiot, saved from last place only by good footsoldiers who could take vague or outright mumbled orders and turn them into reasonable objectives. Asp's record is still one of the worst in the school; it's ahead of Dragon (cursed), Echidna (they keep getting matched against the stronger armies but as far as Aegis can tell are intrinsically just mediocre), and Rat (the commander has checked out so completely that he's only still there because they haven't decided whether to ice him or take a chance on graduating him).

She trades the whining Asp toon leaders - one has the good grace not to whine - and their disgruntled seconds. (She doesn't demote them first: she wants good trades, and she can get more for a toon leader than for a former toon leader.) She promotes some of those good footsoldiers, trades in Qiaochu and a few other old friends with solid skills and gives them a week to get to know the boys and settle in, and then - unprecedented - lets them submit requests for their own underlings.

Everyone gets the toon they want, except for a couple of leaders with overlapping tastes in soldiers who she has to break ties on. That popularly requested handful (the ones with good records and charismatic smiles) she sorts by skill, not aiming to keep the toons all the same size: if Qiaochu wants to command fifteen men and Blue Moon wants a surgical force of four, she'll let them. The six soldiers no one asks for, she keeps for her own squad of cover fire and scouting; if she can't make them into something either, she'll trade some more.

Her six-man squad is called the Medusa in flat hours after she starts training them separately - if you so much as look at the Aegis, you'll be turned to stone! her soldiers repeat to each other with hysterical laughter. The other toons have roles too. Qiaochu's boys learn to move like a flock of pigeons, pushing off each other gently en route through the battleroom to make it hard to take steady aim at just one. Blue Moon's boys get Aegis's formbusting training. Emilio's learn hand-to-hand engagements - with strict cautions about how hard a blow a flash suit can absorb without injuring the child inside it - and Screwdriver's are a team of sharpshooters. She makes sure they each have seconds and that Qiaochu's huge toon also has a third and a fourth, so they aren't directionless if something happens to their leader. She makes sure that Medusa can be absorbed into the nearest available toon usefully if she's shot and their cover fire is no longer necessary. She experiments with combining toons, putting Qiaochu's flock around Screwdriver's gunmen or Blue Moon's formbusters on an assisted mission with Emilio's hand-to-hand (the skills are related, but not identical).

She has her army for a month, she gets a battle against Tide, and she wins it.

She doesn't win everything. Rabbit's good, Eagle's good, she gives them a hard fight for their winnings but eventually they both beat her (and she has to face Rabbit twice). But she wins most. Asp climbs the standings steadily from its miserable origins until her twelfth birthday, on which she receives an assignment to Tactical.

She sends Beri a message.

I wish to requisition a copy of my save file for the fantasy game. I have put a considerable amount of time into it. While I don't expect to have the software to run the game at Tactical, it is not impossible that I will eventually be in a position to revive my villagers.
autokinetic: (Default)
It is a known phenomenon that Whistles who are jailed or otherwise confined may have peculiar dreams.

This one seems to have a lady with wings in it.
autokinetic: (Default)
The project to build a dam at the river pass is going well. This was entirely my idea in the first place but I think the game must already have known how dams work - maybe there are beaver-people somewhere I haven't explored yet - because the bears got the idea very quickly. Once I have a dam I'm going to try generating electricity with it and then electric lights. The day/night cycle follows station time so I never see night, but sometimes if I play in the morning I find that something probably related to it being dark happened. There are burnt out candle stubs and stuff around even though they get stung when they get wax from the beehives. (The bears less than everybody so I have them getting the wax and giving it to the other three kinds for other stuff.) So it would be nice if they could have lights without getting stung.

The game didn't come up with anything that new for me this week but since this is the first report I should go farther back than a week. Last week I found an abandoned mine. All the nearby villagers acted surprised when I showed it to them. But it'd been mined before and there were supports and old pickaxes of a different design than the ones the bird blacksmith or the antelope blacksmith make. I think the game wants me to think about the place as having a history even though it's generating it as I go. (Right? I think it's actually generating it as I go.)

Everybody else's fantasy game has characters that talk but for some reason mine doesn't - I mean there's sort of an incomprehensible background chat going on when the villagers talk to each other, they transmit information amongst themselves, but they almost never talk to me, they just mime like I have to and when they talk to each other it's offscreen and quiet. Maybe it's doing this because it'd feel less like I was directing things if they were much better at communicating than I was. As soon as I showed up the first time they've been happy to do what I show them to do; I didn't show up like a refugee or a traveler, I was pretty much right away the bird empress and it didn't take much to get the antelopes and the butterflies and the bears on board too. They don't seem to be able to read what I write, though.

It's about due to give me a new species if the patterns from before hold. I wonder what it'll be. I don't know why it's giving me a bunch of different stuff - no, wait, I do. It's easier to figure out what the problems they have with each other are if they're based on visible stuff instead of invisible cultures a bunch of different groups of just birds could have. It gives me a fair chance at figuring out stuff like how they might not like how each other smell. If they were having religious arguments or something instead I couldn't tell unless they talked a lot more. I think that's why. If my avatar could talk I bet the animal-people would talk too and they'd get more complicated cultures instead of just being all different species.
autokinetic: (Default)
Flame's commander graduates. The next guy, promoted in from Salamander, doesn't get along with Brighteyes and trades him away for a girl, making Flame the only army with more than one girl in it. Everyone seems to expect Aegis to have some particular interest in befriending this girl, but she's not even in the same toon or particularly interesting. Aegis's new toon leader (a promoted second from another toon, not her) doesn't know what to do with her, but he's bright enough to know that he doesn't know what to do with her. She retains her nominal toon second position, which means that she takes over if he gets frozen - not often; he prefers defensive maneuvers - and otherwise she dances around alone, achieving higher level Flame goals as a one-girl formation-wrecker. She's good enough at this to sometimes lead opposing armies to decline to use formations at all when they're battling Flame, and then she's a sharpshooter, hiding herself behind human shields and holding her beam on everyone who gets in her sights.

Eventually command changes again. The new guy makes a lot of trades, but keeps Aegis, and makes her a toon leader at last when she's nine and a half. It takes this long for Brighteyes to make good on his promise to try to trade for Aegis, but the new commander knows what she's worth and won't part with her for any price he offers.

Aegis watches Sue in the rosters. He gets an army when he's just barely eleven: Phoenix. He makes a lot of trades too, but not for her. That's okay. She's got a toon, and she teaches them to throw her where she needs to go, to make formations that will stand up to all kinds of busting moves like the ones she knows, to freeze their elbows if they can't hold their arms steady like she can to shoot straight.

Everyone's rapidly terrified at Phoenix's hivemindy mutie kuso.
autokinetic: (Default)
"You wanted to see me, sir?"

"Yes, it's your unmonitored mutie kid, the one you did all that extra paperwork to get."

"What about her? Isn't she doing well?"

"More than well. But we're not getting psych data on her anymore."


"She gave us less than four hours of play with the mind game before she quit, and when she went back, she bypassed the Giant's Drink with a loophole that's supposed to be impossible to reach with her copper thing, you remember? And now it's turned itself into some kind of civilization-building simulation and we have nothing."

"...She's not building a civilization, then?"

"Oh, no, she loves it, she's in there every day teaching animal-people to underwater basket-weave, and the other mutie -"

"There are four known mutants in Battle School, and more who'll manifest after they reach puberty. Sir."

"The telepath kid, the one she rescued from the older children, you got the report about that since you're listed as interested in her."

"Yes, sir."

"The other mutie got into her game. They share a play environment. It's not supposed to happen."

"She did briefly play his login, didn't she? The game would have recognized the speed at the controls as hers. It's clever enough."

"She played six others in her launch group too. The game spat them back into the normal spaces and they've been operating normally since. It put her and the telepath in their own unique, unprecedented environments, and then it fused them together."

"So you don't know how to interpret the results anymore because it's made itself multiplayer and put her in a civ-building sim, that's the problem? I'm not impressed with our psych people anymore if they can't tell anything about her from how she runs a civilization."

"We can make guesses, but they aren't derived from past data the way our usual results are."

"I still don't see why this warrants a meeting, sir. Doesn't she write her notes anymore?"

"She's started doing them in gibberish - don't laugh. We break codes all the time, kiddy ciphers that they sometimes start journaling in are just automatically cracked by computer. This one isn't. Every analysis we run on it shows that she might as well be typing random letters and numbers rhythmically and drawing dots by poking randomly at her screen. There's no consistency day to day or from one ten-minute block to the next."

"I thought something like this might happen eventually. Something happened to her that she's not willing to take the risk of someone reading. Or she knows now that she's getting read, one of the two."

"We know that. We don't understand how to crack it. She's one of yours, figure it out."

"I'm not going to be able to -"

"We'll give you a cryptanalyst of your very own tied up in ribbon."

"Sir, that won't help. It's not going to be a cipher. She doesn't take notes so that you can read them. She doesn't take notes so that anyone can read them. Their primary purpose is to put her thoughts somewhere outside of her brain, and they only need to make sense to her in that format long enough for her to inspect them. If she types an asterisk, it means something to her, and she can hold that correspondence in working memory long enough to serve her purposes, and it will never, ever yield to cryptanalysis. I'm sure it's more comfortable for her to work in English or Stark, easier for her to refer back to past work, but she's apparently decided that - for reasons of content or risk assessment - it's no longer worth the hazard to her mental privacy."

"If we can't get psych data out of her from the game and we can't use her journal -"

"You can get psych data from the game. I don't see how you could fail to get psych data from the game. It gave her a civ-builder. What did she do with it?"

"She built a civilization. I told you."

"What's her friend doing?"

"He's not your concern."

"He's interacting with her game."

"He builds arbitrary things. Sets stuff on fire. Watches procedurally-generated landscape scroll by. Teaches her subjects to dance. Follows her around to see what she does, when they're on a the same time, he helped her make a crown to put on her avatar. We've got other people figuring him out. It's her I'm talking to you about."

"So she didn't, say, slaughter the inhabitants of the civ sim, like half the little psychopaths you collect up here would, she didn't ignore it until the game offered her something else, she spends lots of her free time teaching virtual creatures to make and do things."

"Which is uninformative, which was no problem until she started typing nonsense into her journal."

"Well, if you can't figure out who she is by watching her play princess with game critters, and if she hasn't convinced you that she is who she is in the two years and change you've had her, you could always do something ludicrously old-fashioned."


"Talk to her."

"We'll consider it. What's your advice on how to approach her?"

"Don't give her any bullshit."

"You think she's a lie-detector as well as an untelepath?"

"Not especially. I think in the event that she finds out that you're willing to lie to her, she'll become so paranoid that you will never learn anything from her again. She might become unusable."


"Self-possessed. She respects herself more than eight-year-olds normally do. Did you read what the psych boys generated from her notes?"

"Skimmed it."

"The what do I want, what do I -"

"I remember that, yes."

"If you make it clear that she does not have reliable information, at least from you, the answers to her questions won't be ones you'll like. She's not intrinsically contrary or uncooperative. She doesn't even have an objection to being understood, as long as she knows what's going on. But she's not suited for being a blinkered pawn, either, not in any context that matters to her."

"I don't know why you pretend you work for us. We ask you for pawns and you hand us a queen."

"Someone has to fetch up a few children who aren't sociopaths in training. A little balance."

"She's fallen in with the craziest kid we've ever launched."

"Maybe she'll build him a civilization, too."
autokinetic: (Default)
Fractal makes commander. Bella doesn't replace him as toon leader - she's only eight and her commander still doesn't know how to use her - but Fractal's replacement, a vet traded in from Platypus who goes by Brighteyes for some reason, does. He spends a chunk of Flame's practice sessions every day putting Bella properly through her paces, and in their battles, he uses her like she was meant to be used: a dancing wildcard, too fast to hit, torpedoing herself into formations with laser precision and shooting from glorious whirling motion with the steadiest arm in school. Bella likes Brighteyes, and he tells her that when he makes commander he'll swap for her if he has to give up six soldiers to do it.

There is an announcement of a rules change: you are not allowed to perform the victory ritual without freezing or disabling all of the enemy.

This rule change is generally attributed to the antics of a Thomas "Sue" Sanderson, who coordinated his toon across the room without commander authorization and won the game before more than four soldiers, total, had been taken out.

It's a month shy of Bella's ninth birthday when Flame and Meerkat once again meet in the battle room.

"Freeze their mutie," Flame's commander tells everyone. "Don't look at me like that, Aegis." (People have occasionally started calling her this; she always picks it as her username or her space station name or whatever she's allowed to christen, and it's started to stick.) "You're not that kind of mutie, but theirs is. He can't do his hivemind shit once he's froze or he'll get iced. That's everyone's priority, clear?"

"Yessir," says each toon leader in unison.

They form up in the corridor.
autokinetic: (Default)
Bella's routine carries on, though her classwork advances and the birds (and antelopes, and later bears and butterflies, so far all ultimately peaceful after she solves their respective puzzles) develop more of a civilization under her direction. (With random changes that Sue sometimes makes to the landscape; she'll log on one day to find that he's put up a dovecote-tower on a mountain or left a stack of firewood where a forest used to be or taught her birds a choreographed dance.) She has basic infrastructure under control by the time she's seven and has to work out how to solve more social issues: the bears don't like how the antelopes smell, the butterfly eggs can't survive in the northerly villages she shortsightedly settles a colony of them in and the birds won't look after them for free, the antelopes want open spaces and object to urban development, the birds seem to think she's theirs because her avatar is one and she found them first and they sometimes get into spats with the others over this, a butterfly is orphaned in a rockslide and starts following her around like she's his mommy. It's challenging and it's surprisingly devoid of war, but she supposes they handle her training for war in other settings besides this one.

They don't see each other outside of the fantasy game, so they don't talk (though she can write words, sometimes, if there's a reason). He goes into an army - Condor to start, he's traded to Meerkat soon after. He's a little before the rest of his launch.

She's a little before the rest of her launch too; she's getting restless playing in the battleroom with people who've had only as much chance to practice as she has. She gets promoted when she's not quite eight yet, and goes to Flame.
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