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 Border of Life [closed]

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Echo
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PostSubject: Border of Life [closed]   Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:21 pm

The battle against the gatekeeper hadn't taken place that long ago. Just yesterday, really. While the Second Level was just as fascinating and culturally different than the First Level, he felt no need to completely move on yet. There was other things he had to attend to on the lowest stage, and meeting the CPU that everyone called Hano was one of them. Town gossip and rumors from working at the pub had managed to reach his ears that she was located in Maeko Forest.

Almost on the same path as the First Level Gate, though not as deep and far away from Roslare, Callum strolled through in the break of night when the moon was at its highest peak. The ground of the dense woodlands was the same as before, formed from what could have been the remains of the trees that had fallen, sometimes shaping itself into a mountain and other times plummeting into a muddy swamp, extending in every direction within a canvas of monotony and regularity. Although the leaves fell from the trees in a scattered symphony, they were nothing less than brittle, pushing their papery remains deep into the soft soil. They were still green yet they had that sensation to them.

Several creatures exclusive to the world had appeared before him, from the Nymeria to the Boswin, but he paid no heed to them. After moments of looking on, they stared past him like he was a ghost and went back to their own paths. Dark shadows overcast in the wall of inky abyss already present, and the betaflies almost radiated with luminescence, their glassy surface reflecting the moonlight above.

It didn't take very long to find the AI's playground, in all of her grace and serenity. He already had an idea of where she was.

"Hey Hano."
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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:32 pm

In her hand was a boot.

The girl sat on a fallen tree trunk, observing it, turning it over and over again in her hand. It already matched her clothing, the pearl and red dress she wore. The boot was long, the same color as the rest of her garb, and one was already on one foot. But the other, she kept off, feeling the fabric, taking in what different clothing felt like. It wasn't what she spawned in. It was new, different. She'd never worn shoes before.

The boy's greeting was sudden, but she did not jump. Hano looked up slowly. There was a stoicism in her eyes, but she did not give a smile. Her full lips parted.

"You've been well, I see. That is welcome surprise."

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:24 am

Shepard had decided not to take on the second floor boss quite yet. He had taken on a few quests, but often found himself taking in the world. It was something that Hano had showed them the first time they had met. The world was not all monsters, but wonder and intrigue. Or at least--that was what he had told Mackenzie. He had also mentioned for her to meet him in the forest. After all, she had mentioned that she hadn't spent much time there, and he had. Besides, he wanted to show her the boswin...and Hano if he stumbled upon her.

A stray muddy path had been followed for the past hour, long grass whisked his legs as he made his way though. Illuminated was the trees in a blue hue, the mushrooms glowing in an iridescent light. Paired with the betaflies who only liked to appear commonly when he wasn't hunting them for a quest.

A cheerful tune filled the air as the blond began whistling his own rendition of Lollipop--a song that would grind on his sister's nerves. Luckily, she wasn't there. Whistling the song put a bounce in his step, and the rocking of his head. Blond hair flounced with each step, kept out of his eyes by the bandages he wrapped around his head. At the lower part off the song, the tune slipped from whistling to singing.

"Ba dum dum dum dum
Lollipop Lollipop oh lolli lolli lolli lollipop"
Shepard flicked his finger out on his cheek, making the signature 'pop' noise. Sparing himself a laugh, he continued. "Sweeter than a candy on a stick, huckleberry, cherry or rye. If you have a choice you fill your pick. But lollipop--" He paused. Partially because the song requires a short note of rest, the other because the form of two others crossed the corner of his vision, and he had walked into the edge of the clearing. He blinked owlishly at the two, recognizing Callum from day one, and knowing Hano at sight. Although, her outfit was quite different than before. Face turning a few shades lighter than her dress, he finished the stanza a bit quieter than he had been originally been singing. "Is mine..."

"H-hey guys." He stammered, feeling like an idiot for singing quite as loud. By no means was he an amazing singer, but when people know or--think--they are alone, they end up belting it out. Like poor Shepard. Who felt like an idiot.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:37 am

His lips parted to respond to Hano, but in the distance, it seemed someone else was around. A voice echoed in a rhythmic matter, altering its pitches to form a sort of melody for a song that was very unfamiliar to him. It didn't take very long for another figure to appear from the shadows, someone who was familiar. The blonde boy with whisker-like marks from the first day, and the one who had advocated to make the game a unified team effort. Callum blinked, almost not reacting to the singing that he had heard. With a side-glance to the AI, he sighed before turning to face Shepard.

"Hey Mr. Whiskers," the corner of his lips turned upward in a smile. "Enjoying yourself there?" He didn't seem surprised at Hano's existence; they must have met before. "Glad to see you're fitting right in with the forest, Hano."
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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:45 am

Hano looked up as well at the peculiar singing, mystery on her face. That was, until she saw Shepard. It was immediately replaced with a smile, a visage that had not struck her mouth when Callum appeared. She leaned forward, plopping the boot to the ground and placing her foot gingerly into it. "Whiskers!" she said, in an elevated tone. Her voice was still light and withdrawn, but there was excitement there. She stood, shaky at first, her foot wobbling inside of the shoe. Okay, maybe it wasn't an exact replacement for her foot. She processed this with a few seconds of balance control.

Hano was about to say more to Shepard, to walk up and greet him, but Callum had asked her a question. It was an itch inside her that caused the girl to paused for a moment, and she turned her head to Callum. "Of course I can fit," she said. "The forest is large. It can fit a million boswin. I'm just a girl."

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:05 am

The lack of ridicule allowed him to drop his worries, shoulders relaxing. His nickname from both Callum and Hano made a smile cross his face, almost enough to illuminate the forest with his own light. He found it nice that they all seemed comfortable around each other. Although, Shepard as certain that Hano would be comfortable around anyone. She seemed very open and welcoming. He wasn't certain how she could keep that up all the time. Blue eyes looked from Callum to Hano as they talked, chuckles escaping.

"I think they were commenting on your clothes, Hano." He offered, gesturing out with his hands at her. Sure enough, she did not fit in the muddy and dark forest. Clean clothes, red dress that screamed for attention. Any animal would see them coming from a mile away. Which is why the players mostly opted for something that wasn't as bright. But seeing as Hano didn't need to worry about that, he figured that she didn't have a care in the world if her outfit was functional. At least--that is what Shepard figured.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:18 am

Callum blinked momentarily, but he didn't question Hano's visible display of enthusiasm when Shepard had appeared. He knew better than to stop her when she was feeling happy, especially with this sort of thought towards a player. While her outfit did stand out in the murky depths of the woods, the pure white color and how her eyes shone with a dull brilliance, and several other matters that would have made it difficult for her if she had been a normal human; those clothes were, at the very least, flexible enough should she need to engage in combat.

"Her clothes?" He feigned curiosity and astonishment, his fingers readjusting the scarf around his neck. "Not at all. I was commenting about how her green hair would have allowed her to be mistaken as a flower bush, had she not been wearing red."
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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:18 am

When Shepard laughed, Hano laughed. She wasn't sure what it was exactly for, but she let out a soft giggle anyway. It dissipated only when Callum mentioned her hair, and the girl's hands instinctively went towards the strands weaving down her shoulders. "Isn't your hair the same color?" she pondered, eyes genuinely sparkling and wide at his comment. She let her hair run in between her fingers in slow strokes, like rivers in a stretch of sunkissed vallies. "Why do you wear a scarf now? Is it cold?"

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:20 pm

Mackenzie had jumped to the chime of the all-too-familiar Puh-Ding! of the message notification. She hadn’t been expecting it, but then again, how could she? That was more or less why the notifications existed. Swiping open her UI and going to her messages, she saw the new message waiting for her. The sender of the message wasn’t all that much of a shock. Since discovering the message system, she had prefered it as her way of communicating with her brother.

Sender : Shepard Herman
Subject : Meet Up
Message : Come meet me towards the middle of Maeko forest, ZeeZee.
There is some cool stuff to show you.


After closing up her UI and being sure all of her gear was secured, Mackenzie had taken the trek out to the place she had been told to meet her brother. Much to her surprise, there were other people there. Well, people… She definitely recognized Callum. His rather feminine features were still something she had yet to wrap her head around. Perhaps an error in the avatar coding? Dismissing it from her mind, she seemed to immediately place more focus on the new figure to her. She had heard that voice from a little bit away… It had a bit of a strange tone to it. Feminine for sure. Was this by chance the infamous Hano AI that rumors had been spread about?

Coming to a stop a few meters from her brother, Mackenzie blinked. “Hey, Shep.” She gave a brief nod towards Callum, acknowledging his presence. “Callum.” The word left her tongue with a short, curt tone. Since having been kidnapped into Project Aubade, Kenzie had grown considerably stronger in socializing on her own. While it was still nice to have her brother around sometimes, they had been more or less split up ever since they got here. It made Mackenzie a bit sad at times, but nevertheless, that was just how things were.

“I hope I’m not late for anything important?” She raised her eyebrow. Mackenzie’s gaze was focused solely upon her brother as she spoke, her vibrant blue eyes glowing an even brighter hue in the light. Out of the corner of her eye, she was still studying the other female figure. The more she studied it, the more she had to believe it had to be Hano. After all, what player wore clothing of that sort?
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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:01 pm

His lips grew into a wider smile at Callum's feigned voice and Hano's glittering eyes. Shepard couldn't help but water her face twist and change with emotions, wide eyes as she followed up with a question that forced the blond to glance back at Callum with incredulous eyes. "Wait, really? A scarf? The weather is nice. What gives?" He asked, cracking up behind tightly pressed lips.

Laughter was short lived, as the approach of another person caught his gaze. Heels dug into the muddy ground, Shepard spun on them to face the newcomer. The grin apparent on his face was enough to show the others that he knew who it was. His sister--twin in fact. They hadn't gotten to spend much time together, which kind of sucked. Yet they managed, through separation anxiety got the best of him at times. The brother was happy she was there. After all, she hadn't met Hano yet, and he was thrilled to introduce her. "Not much, you missed me belting out your favorite song 'Lollipop'." 'favorite' was a stretch. Once the song plays constantly, on the radio or by an overly excited twin brother--it could get rather annoying.

"Oh, Mackenzie--" He began, pulling her towards the AI by the wrist, stopping only a short distance from the green haired girl. "--meet Hano. Hano, meet my sister Mackenzie. You can call her Kenzie or ZeeZee." A beaming smile was sent between the two. The blond was enthusiastic two of the people he enjoyed being around got to see and meet each other for the first time.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:24 am

"Same general color, sure, but I couldn't pass for a Christmas tree if I tried," Callum replied simply, his shoulders raising in a shrug. When they commented on his scarf, he let out a few coughs, his fist covering his mouth to muffle the sounds. "Ah, my body's been frail from birth. I'm always cold." His voice was solemn, his fingers reaching towards the edge of his elongated gloves to try and cover the bare patches of skin within the gap between the cloth and his sleeves. Within a few seconds or so, another person had showed up in the area.

The whiskered blonde's twin sister, donning a rather comfortable outfit that was fit for the ranger class. He gave a quick nod in return towards Mackenzie, but he decided not to give a verbal response, seeing as Shepard had moved on to more formal introductions on introducing the two girls to each other. Siblings were always rather interesting. Once he was certain that Shepard had stopped speaking, he began, "You're actually just in time for the main event."

Without warning, the effeminate player stepped in very close proximity of Shepard, an innocent smile masking over his features. He snatched the fighter's hands, quietening his voice a slight bit - though it was already soft as is -, "I love you. Ever since I laid eyes on you, I couldn't stop thinking about you." His eyes were locked into the blonde's, his expression failing to waver as the words were spoken and his head tilted slightly to the side.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:36 am

Hano walked up, though not by much, Shepard meeting her. The mysterious girl processed Mackenzie was a long look. She looked at her face, her neck, her hands...Shepards' hands. She slipped her hand into that of the boy's. "Hello, ZeeZee," the girl said in a soft voice. She wasn't entirely sure what a 'sister' was, but she wasn't entirely sure what a person was before meeting Shepard. A smile addressed the girl's lips. "It's nice to meet you. I remember watching you drop down."

Then, just as soon as she took it, the hand was snatched away from her by Callum. She watched his theatrics, relatively unaffected, her brain seemingly taking infinite notes. "What willed you to do that?" she asked the effeminate boy. Surely he was coded in a stranger way than she. The green haired girl joined her hands in front of her dress, holding her own fingers, not looking down but inching her own palms closer together with each heartbeat.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:26 am

Mackenzie gave her brother a glare at the mention of the song. The only part of the song she could even enjoy was the pop! which she would always make. But as introductions were held, it confirmed her suspicions. It was Hano. Mackenzie offered the 'girl' a bright smile, giving a bow of respect, but pausing and offering an even deeper glare at her brother for mentioning her nickname ZeeZee. She wasn't exactly a fan of the nickname he had given her, and if anyone else used it she wasn't going to be very pleased.

"Hano. If you don't mind, I'd prefer another nickname... Zia would even work." She gave a bright smile to the AI, being sure to give respect. Of course, her words had the unavoidable impact of creeping Mackenzie out just a little bit. Rubbing her arm, alarm grew behind the girl's gaze as Hano took her brothers hand. Shepard may have been overprotective of her, but she was also cautious about letting those around her bro-

Oh, you had to be joking.

Callum's little display made Mackenzie leap back, her gaze instantly flipping between them both. Sure, her brother was rather charming, she had overheard girls at school swoon over him, but... seriously? A look of absolute shock was plastered all over her face, her brows furrowing as her mouth was left gaping. Shaking her head and closing her mouth, she turned towards Hano, grabbing the AI's now empty hand with a reassuring smile.

It was a friendly gesture from her, and the soft feeling of Hano's skin made Kenzie just a little bit envious. But her gaze went right back to Callum. "Pardon me?"
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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:10 pm

The blond had given a Hano a soft smile with her hand in his. It felt nice, and the blond didn't want to let go-- God damn it Callum. The player got close, softly speaking words of love that didn't fool Shepard for the slightest moment. Not to say that he wasn't confused. The scrunch between his brow, narrowed eyes and semi parted lips were enough to convey his confusion. It lasted for a few moments before it was like a switch was flipped in his mind.

Immediately, Shepard closed the gap between the two, bringing the shorter boy into a deep embrace, leaving no room for Jesus. He could barely hide his amusement behind his regularly animate face, his eyes practically shone with amusement unparalleled to all."Oh Callum!" He moaned, head upturned to the treetops, grasp like steel. There was no way he was getting out of this. "After all this time, you have finally come out to confess your love! How romantic~" The boy mock swooned, proceeding to bring him into a dip, one of Callum's legs in the air, and head merely a few inches from the ground. Shepard was positioned into a lunge, hand holding the green haired player up between the shoulder blades. Their faces were a breath apart, noses practically touching. A quick chuckle resounded in the fighter's chest. Shepard wasn't good at playing it serious.

"Fuck off." He whispered, eyes narrowing considerably, though not in anger, but rather in amusement. In a swift movement, he pulled them both to standing position, and as if they were dancing, he wrapped one arm around the boy and suddenly unwound, spinning the other player off to the side.

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PostSubject: Re: Border of Life [closed]   Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:30 pm

Hano watched the scene unfold in front of her. The initial advancement by Callum that shoved her out of the way, and Shepard’s rebuttal. He brought Callum all the way down, in a way that almost pleased Hano. How fun that looked. The girl furrowed her brow and yawned, then turned to Mackenzie with silent tranquility. It didn’t foreshadow what she was going to do next. The girl took Mackenzie by the hand, cupping her lower back, and dipped the girl without a single word. She put her nose towards the trees, carefully calculating what she she'd seen. Her green hair cascaded down her head, her bangs flowing all the way back as she placed her forehead to the girl’s, and then…

"Fuck off."

The girl tried to twirl the player, but her slender arm was buckling, like a newborn deer’s legs out of the womb. She lost Mackenzie, dropping her on the muddy ground, and immediately let out a worried gasp.

"I apologize, I..." Hano crouched down next to her tango partner, rubbing her forearm.

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