Episode 41

In the back field, near the corner of the ranch style house, Dretphi pants at a slowing rate, wipes the sweat off her brow, and drapes her platinum blonde braids back over her shoulders. She stands under the shade of a tree, stares out patiently, and idly stretches in her workout shirt and shorts. After a few minutes, Bach staggers up the small hill into the shadow of the branches, and stops to support his upper body with his hands on his knees. He breathes loudly and slowly straightens his back, noticing the obvious sweat spots on his shirt. "Well... At least I made it to the base of this hill before almost collapsing... Ungh... I guess that's progress?"

Kindness graces Dretphi's face and she smiles with a perk of the brow. "No wheezing."

Bach pauses in thought, pays careful attention to his breathing, and slowly nods in agreement as he fails to hear a trailing whine to his exhales. "Huh... That's... Hadn't noticed that. I guess that actually is progress... And I feel tired, but nowhere near the close to passing out... Like I have felt."

Dretphi steps over to the base of the tree, leans over to pick up a water bottle in each hand, and moves over to give Bach one. "It takes time. Persistence leads to progress."

With an inquisitive eye towards Dretphi, Bach quaffs down the water and swallows to a smirk. "That sounds like another bit of wisdom from your birth father."

Rolling her eyes, Dretphi dons a reserved grin and shrugs her shoulders. "My mother. Her wisdom proves true. In certain situations."

Bach wipes the overflow of water out of his beard and chuckles lightly. "Well, don't think I'll be beating your speed any time soon."

Dretphi stops drinking her water as her mind brings forth a few memories to the foreground of her thoughts. She narrows an examining gaze at Bach and calms her tone. "You have moved faster than me before."

Slowly nodding, Bach turns his full attention to Dretphi and approaches the subject. "Yes, with A LOT of careful magical assistance."

With a questioning glance, Dretphi rests her hand on a hip and holds her water bottle at her side with the other. Her curiosity guides her interest and she watches Bach carefully. "I do not believe you have used assistance during training. Why?"

Bach blinks blankly as his brain gathers its resources to compose a response. Seconds later, he draws in a long breath and fashions together an explanation. "Um. I guess because I honestly want to get into decent shape? The magical augmentation helps in a pinch... But, I've learned from experience that you really shouldn't rely just upon that."

He sighs and shakes his head as he averts his eyes away with a tinge of shame. "And, it'd really nice to lessen certain... contrasts of physique... between my brother and me."

A slight frown creeps from the corner of Dretphi's mouth and her expression tints with concern. Bach cracks a smile and glances over to Dretphi with an appreciative tone. "Also, I thought it'd be really disrespectful to you to not take this training seriously. I probably would have given up a bunch of times if weren't for you helping me along."

The statement surprises Dretphi. She presents a warm smile to Bach with the faint traces of blushing in her cheeks. "Thank you."

After a few moments, her thoughts refocus and she resumes her inquiry. "I know of people augmenting physical abilities. Great feats possible. Rarely done. Significant risks involved?"

Bach eyes widen and he exaggerates a long nod with a trailing exhale. "Oh gods, yes! Aristespha could go into more details, but if you don't have the body and focus for it... You can really hurt yourself doing anything more than minor assists with simple actions."

He shakes his head and scratches the back of his neck with a grimace. "I really don't like doing it, unless I really need to. As out of shape as I am, I'm surprised I haven't broken a bone, torn a ligament, or dislocated something. While the magic helps your body move, you actually need to have a body that can handle the strain. I've only figured out the basics and it's spooky enough."

Dretphi's attention drift away to her memories, but she eventually returns her focus to Bach. She nods in agreement and eyes her large flow blade resting against the trunk of the nearby tree. "I will not lie. Those are techniques I have interest in. Risky now... Maybe later?"

She walks over to the tree, grips onto the flow blade handle, and hoists it up. "I need to understand this blade. Then learn augmentation."

Bach finishes another long pour of water into the mouth, clears his throat, and walks near Dretphi with an encouraging smile. "Well, actually, that's not a bad plan. The flow control required to empower that blade are similar to what is needed for basic augmentation magic."

Dretphi secures her hands on the handle, gazes over to Bach, and smiles hopefully at him. "That is good to hear. Would appreciate your help. I have given up... a bunch of times... before."

Bach rolls his shoulders into a stretch and stands next to Dretphi with eyes illuminating blue. He aims his gaze upon the blade and grants an acknowledging nod. "Only fair to return to the favor. Now just flow some energy and I'll assess."

The humvee turns right onto an entrance roadway towards an expansive complex. The vehicle passes by the "Amaranth Valley Medical Center" sign and rolls down the road past a number of other guide posts. Cideeda scans out into the large parking lot ahead and directs her voice behind. "We're here! Now the fun part of figuring out where we drop you off."

Sotalia leans out from her seat and gazes back to Aristespha with a mischievous grin. "Is someone excited for their first day at work?"

An audibly annoyed groan rumbles out from Aristespha and she crosses her arms petulantly with a dramatic sigh as she stares out her window. "Really?"

She twists an unamused expression on her face, squirms out some nervous energy, and fidgets in her seat. With a laugh, Sotalia smiles brightly at Aristespha and rolls her eyes. "Oh, come on! I'm kind of jealous, actually. Most other magical professions don't get the special treatment like medical mages do."

She winks at Aristespha with a sly smirk and points towards the badge hanging from Aristespha's pocket. "And, you are DEFINITELY dressed nicely for the part. That outfit is so professional... and cute."

Aristespha carefully inspects her white doctor's coat, brushes off her neatly pressed, black cotton pants, tightens the bun of silvery blue hair on the back of her head, and guides clear stray strands off her very long, pointed ears. Some satisfaction arrives upon her face when finishes her checks and she relaxes her shoulders with a long exhale. "I hope so..."

Cideeda rotates the steering wheel through another intersection and curiously glances into the rear view mirror at Aristespha. "Nervous?"

Tensing her shoulders, Aristespha draws in a long breath and releases it shakily, hanging her head forward in her hands. "Yes. Is it that obvious?"

Sotalia quirks a brow and adopts a quizzical tint to her encouraging voice. "What do you have to be nervous about?"

Aristespha lifts herself back into the seat, sighs, and rests a firm hand upon her stomach. "I haven't been in a clinic environment for close to two years now. It is vastly different than when you only have to worry about the same small group of people everyday. You never really know what your next patient will be and what you'll have to contend with. Often with no prior knowledge."

Cideeda spots the series of parking spaces with "Short Term" labels near a main entrance to one of the building in the vast complex. She navigates the humvee through the pathways of the massive parking lot and glances into the rear view mirror. Noticing Aristespha's discomfort, Cideeda dons a confident, reassuring smile. "You have nothing to worry about. I know from personal experience you are an amazing medical mage. This place is lucky to have you for awhile."

A reserved smile graces Aristespha's lips, and she closes her eyes. The humvee rolls in between the lines of a space along the sidewalk near the front entry. Another stress venting sigh escapes Aristespha and she stares at the automated sliding glass door of the entrance. She blinks, leans out into the aisle, and inquisitively gazes at Cideeda. "That actually reminds me. Has there been any noticeable scarring on your back and buttocks from the bullet grazes?"

Cideeda shifts the humvee in park and pauses in thought for a few moments before feeling the bottom of her back. "Not really. The skin feels a little thick there, but nothing too bad."

Aristespha nods and her eyes search her mind for a possible solution as she settles back into her seat. "There's a few simple treatments for that. I'll check in on those later for you."

Seconds of silence pass in the cab of the vehicle. Stares eventually fall upon Aristespha as both Cideeda and Sotalia wait. Aristespha retrieves her aetherphone, and taps through a few menus. "Okay, let me double check the procedures at this place and where I need to be-"

Sotalia rolls her eyes with a dismissive smirk, unbuckles her seat belt, climbs over the center console, and reaches a hand out to Aristespha's seat. She presses the release button Aristespha's seat belt, covers up the screen of the aetherphone, and faces Aristespha's surprise. "You will stop stalling already?"

Aristespha swallows some of her nerves, chuckles out some anxiety, and eventually puts forth a genuine smile. "Okay. Sorry."

Sotalia smiles and pats Aristespha on the shoulder, a sly grin spreading across her face. "Don't worry. If it'll make you feel better, I'll hold your hand and walk you to the door. Just like I did with my little sister on her first day of school!"

Aristespha closes her eyes hard and reopens them to project an unamused stare at Sotalia's ill-humored face, with a grumble. Cideeda snorts into laughter and covers her mouth to hide her toothy grin. Aristespha shakes her head, groans with levity, and fails to hide her smile under a grimace. She opens her door and glances back. "I think I'm perfectly capable of walking myself. But, thank you, though."

She steps out the humvee onto the sidwalk, brushes off her white coat, inspects her hair bun again, and closes the door. She waves to Cideeda and Sotalia in the vehicle. Cideeda gestures two thumb claws up and Sotalia exaggerates a wave. As Aristespha walks towards the entrance, her posture straightens, her expression calms, and her usual air of confidence resumes just as she arrives at the automated doors.

A loud beeping rings out across the area. A truck crane hoists up a flattened wreck of a vehicle off the street surface. The hydraulics strain as the pistons actuate the metal arm and the motor reels in the cable. A few Hattan city workers lift up barricades and carry them off to the sidewalks. Police officers cut plastic caution tape off and ball up the refuse into a nearby garbage can. Nearby, Isaac sits patiently on a distant bus stop bench and peeks over a notebook to spy upon the activity. His gray eyes focus upon the clearing road, intrigue growing on his face. The wind rustles his graying white hair and blows his blue scarf around. As his mind drifts to other thoughts and his stare idles, his attention snaps to a young evuukian man. The man approaches the partially cleared perimeter of the cordoned off area, aims a camera device with both hands, and looks through a viewfinder. Isaac starts to dismiss the activity when the young man presses the button to a prominent mechanical click. Isaac's full focus latches on and he watches the young man crank a winding lever. Putting the notebook away into his backpack, Isaac stands up with the bag over his shoulder and approaches the young evuukian man. A minute later, Isaac stands near the young man and witnesses a series of aims, clicks, and winding with the camera device. He scratches his graying beard and hems. "Excuse, sir? Whatever is that device you are using? I was curious if it is an old film camera, since they are quite uncommon these days."

The young evuukian startles, but quickly regains his composure as he turns around to greet Isaac. "Oh! Um. Well, it's technically a film camera, but not quite at the same time."

Isaac curiously smiles and arches an inquisitive eyebrow. "Well, you my have curiosity, young man. If it's not too much, I would love to pry into why it isn't quite a film camera."

A spark ignites the viridian eyes of the man and excitement fills his face. "Oh! It's not a problem at all! Well... If you aren't bored by the finer details of magical theory... and other long explanations... I'd be happy to discuss it."

Isaac nods and affirmatively gestures towards the device. "I'm a bit of a magical scholar myself and have done some work with the Grand Library."

The young evuukian's eyes widen in absolute surprise and he reveals his joy. "Really! Wow! This is actually a research project I'm hoping to use for my application to the Grand Library!"

Isaac maintains an intrigued smile and directs the evuukian's attention toward the camera. "Excellent, so let's try out a short explanation for the paper's brief."

The man nods excitedly, shaking his wild, light blue hair. He presents the device to Isaac, and clears his throat to an explanatory tone. "Okay... Magical imaging has been around in many forms over the centuries since the introduction of magic. While spells such as mage sight have become the most prominent method, there have been historical examples of using photographic devices to capture light affected by magical flow. Despite such practices being relegated towards novelty in the past, I theorize that, with the refinement that today's technology allows with many magical aspects, we can augment these methods to allow fidelity and resolution typically restricted to specialized arcane equipment... In a portable device."

Isaac projects a scrutinizing gaze upon the young man and device with thoughtful stroke his beard. After a few seconds of pondering, he nods with an honestly interested grin. "That is certainly an avenue of research that deserves a project."

He crosses his arms and cocks his head to the side. "Do you have any results so far you could possibly share?"

The young man nods energetically, lets the augmented camera hang from a strap around his neck, and opens a satchel at his side to showcase the contents. "Oh, yes! I've been experimenting with different alchemical solutions for every step of the development process, applying enchantments to a variety of lenses, and doping films with a hybridization of techniques-"

With a delighted grin, Isaac presents a hand to the young evuukian and curiously gazes at him. "Pardon my lack of manners. My name is Isaac. Whatever is your name, young man?"

The man energetically reaches out his bluish hand to shake Isaac's and smiles wide to the blue tints on his face. "Blesk Ziebens."

Isaac thinks a moment and blinks perplexed. "That's an interesting name for an evuukian. Not the common style."

Blesk shrugs his shoulders and sighs. "Ah, my family is a bunch of houseless black sheep. We pretty much do our own thing away from the usual insanity of... Proper... Evuukian politics."

Isaac laughs, releases Blesk's hand, and points down another street. "Well, would you allow this fellow black sheep to treat you to lunch as we discuss this further? I know this sandwich shop that is very nice."

Blesk scratches the back of his head and sheepishly, awkwardly grins. "Well... As broke as I am, I can't really say no to such a generous offer."

Isaac gestures Blesk to follow and walks down the sidewalk. "Good. Let's eat and discuss things. I'd like to see samples of your work. And, I'd be very curious as to how the pictures you just took develop. I think we should back here later."

Inside the living room of the two-story house, Chad sits comfortably in a couch chair and shows a bright white smile to Tassilda. "Well, I think it was my leadership that helped organize the masses and guide them to where they needed to go."

Tassilda rolls her light blue on black eyes and defiantly flicks a lock of black hair over a horn with grumble. "Oh, so yelling at people and pointing in random directions is what passes for leadership these days?"

Veevi perches herself upon an arm of Chad's chair and narrows her pink pupil eyes at Tassilda with a wry, sharp grin. "Oh, so wandering around putting up magical barriers that did nothing to slow the Nightmare Geist is what passes for magic these days?"

Tassilda crosses her arms, sneers at Veevi, and growls lowly. Chad smirks at Veevi and his arm wraps around behind her to pat the side of her leg. Veevi slyly smiles at Tassilda as her tail flicks over on Chad's shoulder. Laying on the long couch nearby, Trakenthin momentarily breaks from playing a game on his aetherphone and mumbles. "Did not see any of you haul equipment. Set up tents... Be productive."

A flurry of tense words echo out into the dining area and kitchen. Modoran peers over the open refrigerator door, and shakes his head with rolling eyes. He examines two flavors of bottled drinks in his hands. He bites his lip, indecisively inspects the other flavors in the fridge, and sighs. He closes the door and quietly sneaks towards and up the stairs. Another outburst of arguments resonate up the stairs and Modoran cringes momentarily. He glances back down the stair well, sways his head in annoyance, and walks calmly down the hall. Stopping next to Deedri's room, he slowly approaches the door, places his ear near the door, and waits in near silence. After a few moments, he cautiously knocks on the door. "Hey, Deedri?"

From the other side of the door, Deedri's voice calls out. "Come in."

Modoran turns the door knob and glances into the room. "Hey, hope I'm not interrupting anything."

Sitting cross legged on her bed, Deedri shakes her head and gestures Modoran to come in with a smile. "No. Not at all. Come in... And, close the door, please? I don't want to hear them right now."

Pulling the door closed, Modoran walks into in the modest bedroom. He surveys the various medical texts and neatly laid out equipment on the desk. He steps towards the bed and holds out both drinks to Deedri with an embarrassed smile. "Sorry, but I didn't know which one you'd want. Take the one you like the best."

Deedri blinks back to awareness of her surroundings, glances between the two choices, and leans over to happily grab one bottle from Modoran. "Oh. Thank you! I'm actually a bit thirsty."

Modoran shrugs nonchalantly and opens the other drink container. "Well, you've been working on paperwork for quite some time."

A shameful sigh escapes Deedri and she averts her gaze from Modoran to hang her head. "Actually, I finished all my paperwork back in Hattan. I just... Needed a some away from-"

The muffled voices of Chad, Tassilda, Trakenthin, and Veevi resound upon the bedroom door and fade out as the squabble wanes. Modoran nods sympathetically and groans eyes away from the doorway. "I completely understand. Had to sneak away myself."

Deedri musters a weak smile, scoots over on her bed, and pats a clear spot for Modoran. "They've been really... strong willed... since the geist attack."

Modoran settles to a seat on the bed and laughs. "You mean full of shit."

He watches Deedri rolls her shoulders to a slouch as she slowly drinks her beverage. With a frown, he gazes at her with obvious concern. "You really need a break badly. You need to get away from this bullshit drama for a bit. I wish I knew where you could go... And, be free from them and the crew."

Deedri releases a long sigh and shakes her head as she blankly stares down at her legs. "I can't even go to the forest without a chance of being followed anymore."

After a long swig of his drink, Modoran hums in thought and his eyes search his mind for possibilities. "If there was a place they literally weren't allowed to go... But you could..."

An idea springs to the forefront of Deedi's mind and her auburn eyes widen. Her head lifts up and some her long red, blonde, white, and tan hair tosses back over her shoulders. She reaches over to a nearby nightstand, grabs her aetherphone, and quickly swipes through recent items. With a press on an entry, a guild notice appears, detailing a request for volunteers at the Amaranth Valley Medical Center. Deedri bites her lip and struggles with her emotions. "Maybe. There IS a possible place."

Modoran perks up and leans over to peek at Deedri's aetherphone screen. "Where would that be?"

Deedri contemplates with a wavering smirk. "I could volunteer at the local clinic. The local guild office put out a request for volunteers to assist. But, it's only voluntarily... And, my quota is very little right now."

A sly grin creeps across Modoran's lips and he chuckles with a mischievous tinge. "Well, does anyone else know that?"

Deedri pauses in thought, glances over to Modoran, and returns her attention to the phone display. A plotting smile creases her mouth and she drums claw tips in the thick rubber case on her phone. "But, how do I convince everyone to let me go work there for a few days?"

Modoran lifts a brow at Deedri and cranes his head over to gaze at her face with a scheming aura. "Not everyone. Just Chad. I mean how generous and noble of HIM would it be for HIM to support a fellow party member in their profession? And, for HIM to facilitate the medical mage in providing assistance to the local community in their time of need? I mean, what a wonderful service for HIM and the Flames of the Phoenix to make possible. "

Deedri slowly turns her head to look upon Modoran's dark bluish gray face and his dark blue eyes. She gradually nods with a toothy grin and growing wag of her long tail. "I think I get where you are going... Could you help me practice saying the right thing... the right way to Chad? I want to see if I can convince him later tonight."

Modoran smiles brightly and winks to Deedri as he leans forward off the bed and rests his drink bottle on the floor next to the bed post. "Of course. But, I need to check my tablet in my room. It hung on an update and I'm trying to see if it finally worked through it."

Deedri smiles excitedly, slides over to the other side of the bed, and unzips a large fabric case. "Thank you, so much! I'll start typing up the answer back to the guild."

The bedroom door opens inwards and Modoran steps out, pulling the knob quietly behind him. He turns immediately towards his room and moves quickly but near silently down the hallway. He slips swiftly through his door into his room and out of sight. Around the corner of the wall leading to the stairwell, a pair of pink eyes glare harshly towards Modoran's room and shift towards Deedri's. Veevi's fuzzy ears lower as she grits her sharp teeth. She tosses back her pink hair and drags a faint groove into the wall with a finger nail. Her eyes drift back towards Modoran's room and a wicked smirk forms as she slinks down the hallway to her room.

Samantha stares out through the windshield of the crew van. She grits her teeth in sheer irritation and maintains a low, annoyed tone towards her aetherphone. "So... What you are telling me... Is that we aren't allowed to step foot on even the SIDEWALK with camera equipment?"

A stern voice responds through the ear piece speaker and Gerald glances over from the driver's seat at the developing twinge in Samantha's face. With a long groan, Samantha sighs heavily, shakes her head, and rolls her eyes. "No. It's fine. We understand, there's no need to contact the guild about this. You have a... Nice... Day..."

She firmly presses the end call button on the display, tosses the phone onto the front dash, and runs her fingers through her brown hair with a growl. "Gods dammit. We can't go in... If we exit our vehicles with camera equipment, they will file a HUGE complain with the guild. So, we'll just have to record what we can from the vehicles."

Gerald nods, rolls down his window, retrieves his camera from behind his driver's seat, and braces himself upon the door frame. "We'll get a few shots and let the editing guys do their magic. They'll be able to stitch something together with a few good clips."

Samantha sinks into the passenger's seat, sneers, and picks up her clipboard. "It'll have to do. What the hell prompted her to do this? I can't stand that we can't put a camera in her room."

Shaking his head, Gerald aims his camera towards Chad and Deedri standing on the sidewalk meters ahead. "Again, no recording devices where personal party medical information maybe stored and/or reviewed by a medical professional. Howard has explicitly told me to follow that rule... Especially, after that last lawsuit."

Chad stands on the sidewalk, just to the side of the black sports utility vehicle, in front of Deedri. He presents his trademark bright, white smile, spots the camera coverage nearby, and clearly speaks. "Deedri, I hope you have a nice Wednesday at this fine clinic. Thank you again, for trusting your party leader and giving me a chance to support your esteemed profession. I trust your efforts will bring goodwill towards the Flames of the Phoenix."

Deedri dons a nervous smirk, and bows slightly. "I'll try to do my best, Chad. For you and the Flames of the Phoenix."

Chad gazes over Deedri's white doctor's coat, neat black scrubs, professional identification badge, and hair tightly braided behind her head. A few moments later, he notices a few clinic security staff approach the crew vans, glances over as the argument between crew and staff brew, and looks to Deedri with a genuine smile and calm tone. "By the way, I just wanted to say you look amazingly proper and professional. If what you did in Hattan is any measure, this clinic should be delighted to have you. I would be surprised if they didn't request us to bring you back in the future."

Deedri's ears perk and her eyes flit wide with mild surprise. She smiles, graciously nods, and voices her appreciation. "Thank you, Chad. That's very nice of you to say. I- Thank you."

She tilts her head towards the entrance and takes a step away. "Well, I need to check in at the main desk."

Chad proudly stands tall and grants nod to Deedri. "Of course."

Deedri walks a few meters away, turns around briefly, and gives a final wave. Chad returns the gesture. From the confines of the front passenger's seat in the cab of the sports utility vehicle, Veevi leers through the windshield with hands supporting her head, seductively lifts a brow, and gives a long sultry wink to Deedri. With renewed purpose, Deedri speeds quickly across the sidewalk and through the automated doors of the Amaranth Valley Medical Center. Passing through the entryway, she releases a slow sigh of relief, spots the front desk, and quickly approaches it. A man at the desk looks up. "Welcome to Amaranth Valley Medical Center. How many I help you?"

Deedri unclips her badge and presents it to the receptionist. "Yes. My name is Deedri Preetta. I'm a medical mage volunteering from the guild."

The man takes the badge, inspects it briefly, guides an edge of it through a scanner, and returns it to Deedri. "Oh, excellent! I'll inform the head doctor. Another guild medical mage started yesterday to work on her quota, too. I think she went to the bathroom, but she should be here soon."

As the man picks up a phone and dials a number, Deedri blinks in thought and contorts expression warily as a particular possibility arrives in her mind... And presents herself. Aristespha walks up to the front desk, notices that the man is on the phone, and shifts her attention to the fvalian woman next to her. Both Deedri and Aristespha turn towards each other, exchange awkward gazes, and remain in silent surprise for a number of seconds. Eventually, Aristespha musters the situational awareness and assembles a greeting towards Deedri. "Well, I did not expect to see you here. I assume you are working on your quota."

Deedri nods slowly with surprise still keeping her auburn eyes open wider. "Um... Yes. I thought it would be an appropriate time to assist this clinic."

Aristespha acknowledges the statement and searches shakily for an appropriate response. She pauses in thought, draws a deep breath, and gradually dons a professional, stoic demeanor. "As did I. It is good that we share a common interest. I do hope we both can benefit from each other's skills and experience during our time working together."

Deedri briefly cocks her head to the side after witnessing the shift in Aristespha's mood. Moments later, her posture straightens, her expression calms, and Deedri looks Aristespha right in the eyes. "I actually look forward to working in the same environment with you and hope we both can be of assistance to the other."

The man hangs up the phone, and notices both Aristespha and Deedri. "Oh good. You both are here. The head doctor is down this hallway in the diagnostics and general practice wing. She should be expecting you."

Aristespha and Deedri exchange looks, both nod to the receptionist, and move down the directed hallway.

Modoran lays on the dark gray blanket on his bed, props up his tablet upon his chest with one hand, and slowly maneuvers a long blade dagger through the fingers of his other hand. An instructional video plays on the display and Modoran nods his head slightly on his pillow with quiet mumbling in a dialect of evuukian. He presses an on-screen pause button, glances over to his knife twirling hand, and carefully works through the steps, paying careful attention. After repeating the process from the video a few times in a cautiously controlled manner, he enacts the maneuver a number of times at a greater speed. Satisfied, he taps the play button and continues the rest of the video. Minutes later, a light knock on the door sounds out into the room. Modoran freezes briefly, blinks in confusion, and ponders a moment. He mouths out his bewilderment in evuukian, places his tablet on the pillow, rests his blade on the bed, and slides off the top to his feet. He curiously approaches the bedroom door, listens a moment, and turns the knob to open it. As the door open inwards, the suggestively posed frame of Veevi stands confidently just outside the door frame. She flutters her eyes, tosses back some of her pink hair, and firmly grips both sides of the doorway. "Hello... Modoran."

Modoran glances down at Veevi, quirks his bewildered brow, and eyes towards either side of the hallway. "Hey... Veevi. Um, if you are looking for Chad, I haven't seen lately. He might be outside with Trakenthin or maybe doing some personal interview with the crew?"

Veevi grins sharply and hoists a dark pink eyebrow at Modoran with a low giggle. "Oh, I'm not looking for him. I was actually looking for YOU. I wanted to see if we could do some... Training."

A smug smirk graces Modoran's face and he snorts, hinting towards dismissive. "Well, if it's more stealth training. We could do some hide and seek today. I'll give all the head start you need to find a good spot before I find you."

With mischievous glint sparkling in Veevi's eyes, she suggestively pushes through Modoran into his room, softly raking her fingers across his tight shirt covered chest and dragging a coiling tail over his upper legs. She saunters through the room, surveys the average contents, and locks her attention upon the blade on the bed. With a playful, sultry grace, she wanders over, seats her herself near the knife, and glides her self upon the sheets to a revealing pose. She runs her fingers up the handle, slides a sharp nail along the blade, and lightly taps the tip. With a devious, hungry gaze to Modoran, she touches the tip of her finger to her lips, and exaggeratedly licks it. "While hide and seek has been... Fun. I was thinking something more... Personal. Physical, even."

A strong wave of unease and discomfort floods through Modoran's body language and he does his best to suppress a nervous twitch in his eye. "Uh, sure. I guess you want to learn more about knife fighting? I have some spare training blades..."

A reserved smile pulls across Veevi's lips and she stretches herself out on the bed top with a sigh. "I guess that would suffice... For now."

She spins herself around, slowly places her feet on the floor, and gradually lifts herself up, presenting herself in the most overt fashion. With each step towards the doorway, she sways her hips with hands firmly upon them. She purposefully brushes against the utterly confused Modoran with an evil grin, slowing her progress across his body and dragging her tail intrusively behind. Once in the hallway, she pivots with a wink to Modoran. "So... See you in an hour out in the backyard?"

Modoran rigidly nods once with a blank face and empty tone. "Sure... For the knife fighting training."

Veevi struts away, a plotting, sinister expression growing upon her face as the distance between her and Modoran grows. Modoran carefully closes the door securely, takes a few steps away, and shudders. His body twists and flexes in a mix of disgust and horror, ending with him pressing the fingertips of both hands on his temples. He shakes his head and mumbles a strong expletive in evuukian repeatedly as he drops his hands dramatically. He vainly attempts to blink off the horrified stare and subconsciously tries to brush the intangible off his shirt.

Bach plants his feet, steadies his stance, and aims the plasma pistol at a steel plate target in the distance. He waits for the wind blowing across the taller grasses on the side of the ranch style house to still. With a gentle squeeze of the finger, the trigger moves slowly to make contact, and the plasma bolt launches out the barrel. The orb of energized gas flies straight over the field and impacts the lower corner of the metal target in a concussive cloud. Bach sneers his upper lip, glances at the pistol, and holsters the weapon. He crosses his arms, hums in thought, and pivots in place to face Cideeda. "Okay, I'm lost now. I can't tell if the sights are off or if I didn't get one of the accelerator stages aligned right..."

He awaits a response, but does not receive one. An amused smile grows on his face as he watches Cideeda quietly voice an incantation and methodically gesture through a simple spell. Joy fills her face when a small bright orb remains steady for a number of seconds over the palm of her hand before dissipating gently in the breeze. She continues to gaze delightfully at the magical miasma drifting off. Her furry ear flicks over to the idle quiet at Bach and Cideeda glances over. With a bit embarrassment, she tries to nonchalantly play off her recent distracted moment. "Oh, um... Yes? Did you hit the target?"

Bach lifts an inquisitive eye brow, chuckles, and shakes his head. "Still figuring it out?"

Cideeda rolls her eyes at herself, crosses her arms, and shrugs her shoulders. "Well, I... I know I'll eventually get used to it all and this will seem like boring, trivial things to do. But, right now... I just find it SO AMAZING and COOL."

Bach catches Cideeda's contagious grin and laughs. "Don't worry, it never gets old. You just find new aspects to explore. Sort of like Legends of Nexus."

Cideeda pauses in thought, and curiously eyes Bach with a wary gaze. "You mean you find some new army you want to try out of curiosity, take the time to learn the rules, and then spend a ridiculous amount of money to get everything you need to put it together? While you may never even get a chance to test it out on the field?"

With a hesitant but agreeing nod, Bach sighs and shrugs his shoulders with his hands out to his sides. "Uh... Yeah, actually. But, it's still fun to explore it."

A giggle escapes Cideeda's smile and she retrieves a practice focus from her shorts pocket. As she holds it in her hand, a green glow gradually climbs up the encircling magical inscriptions on the wooden stick. "Still so much more to go..."

Bach quirks his brow and a sly smirk pulls at the corner of his mouth. He points to the practice focus and adopts a convincing tone while tapping on the back of his holstered plasma pistol. "You know, there's a number of other effects that can be imbued in those wands and focuses... I could easily alter that focus with one."

Cideeda's ears perk at the change in Bach's voice, and her brow arches over her emerald green eyes. "Really? Could you give me an example?"

Bach extends his hand out towards the distant steel plate target. A small few millimeter wide pellet of magical energy condenses the tip of his pointed finger. With a brief flicker of blue in Bach's eyes, the tiny orb flies off at the hanging metal, impacts enough to ring the steel softly, and puffs into a faint magical miasma. Cideeda's eyes refocus from the pellet upon Bach, and she presents a calculating smile with a brief glance to the holstered plasma pistol. "I think I MAY be interested in that. But, at what cost?"

With an exaggerated sigh, Bach hums in faux contemplation and gestures towards his plasma pistol. "Oh, a small price. Just a friendly shortcut to diagnosing the problems I'm having with this."

Cideeda dramatically acts out her playful deliberation via purposeful body language, nods carefully, and hands the magical focus to Bach. "I believe I can accept those terms."

Bach takes hold of the wooden stick and waits. Cideeda grins mischievously. "You've been counteracting your adjustments between the sights and the last accelerator stage. You should have gotten a laser bore sight to check the weapon sights... THEN, you should calibrate the accelerator stages."

Cideeda lets go of the magical focus, places her hands on her hips, and presents toothy grin to Bach with an amused pose. "I was curious how long you'd go back and forth, before you'd ask me for help."

Bach shakes his head, grumbles to himself, and sighs with embarrassment. "Gods dammit. Of course, it'd be something that simple. Oh well... Thank you."

After a loud snort, Cideeda laughs, combs her claws through her short mix of brown, white, tan, orange, and black hair, and flicks her long, tufted tail. "Don't feel too bad. I'm very impressed you got the rest of the stages aligned correctly so quickly."

Rolling his eyes at himself, Bach directs his gaze at the magical focus in his hands and a blue glow illuminates his face. "Okay. I won't feel too terrible about it then."

Cideeda steps closer and attentively watches magical flows twist, turn, and warp around the wooden stick in Bach's hands. Wonderment captures her completely and she stands fidgeting in anticipation. Minutes later, the magical flows settle and the focus rests down in Bach open palm. He presents the artifact to Cideeda with a proud grin, elaborate wave, and an embellishing voice. "Behold, your first specialty wand. It's a finely crafted Wand of Really Minor Mage Bolt!"

Cideeda maintains a tight smile in face of the corny, goofy display and shakes her head as she grasps onto the newly minted wand. "As if it wasn't obvious that you've played a few late nights at a tabletop."

Bach relaxes his shoulders, chuckles at himself, and smirks. "I know. Just couldn't resist."

He scans around the area and squints towards the front of the house. "Do we still have any cans or bottles in the recycling bin? The metal plates aren't bad targets, but there's just something about plinking cans and bottles that make this spell A LOT more fun to use."

Cideeda turns herself towards the front of the building and walks casually in the direction. "We should. It seems like the county collects the bins whenever they feel like it. I swear we need to call the landlord and ask what the deal is with that."

Bach follows behind Cideeda and surveys the tall grasses as they push a path through with their feet. "By the way, are we responsible for the lawn care or does the landlord do that?"

Cideeda stops in place, examines the overgrown lawn, scratches the back of her head, and uncertainly grimaces. "I actually don't know."

With a thoughtful hum, she directs plotting voice at Bach. "I think I might have to check to see if any of the people at Steve's shop have a lawn mower and want to make some money."

A sly smile emerges on Bach lips and he eyes Cideeda. "Make sure to ask the Legends of Nexus players."

Cideeda shines a toothy grin to Bach and chuckles darkly. "Oh, those are THE first ones I'm going to ask. Miniatures, paints, and rule books don't buy themselves."