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"S-sorry," said Neko, looking abashed herself. Maybe she lost family to the war! Maybe she just does not like the terrible enemy that tried to destroy her people! Deciding that she didn't want to alienate someone who sounded like a friend, she changed the subject, smiling nervously as she ruffled her hand over her ears. "Okay, I see you later," she said to Starshine before she sat down again, her feet bumping against a duffel bag in front of the couch where she'd been perched. "This is -  all I have. I will just wait here for my room-mate." As she sat there, a white and brown cat jumped onto her lap and began audibly purring as she petted its back. 

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Multi-Girl

 

Bernadette had felt a little foolish after asking her question to Neko, that was not quite what she had meant to ask, but luckily Neko did not seem too offended by the poorly worded question. The redhead listened as Neko described where she was from in Japan.

 

"That sounds wonderful." The Irish teen stated with a small smile. "I've pretty much lived around cities me entire life, Dublin and then up near Boston, not so much time spent in the countryside."

 

When Neko and Muirne began talking about some other dimension and discussing some connection to someone named Nacht-Krieger, Bernadette felt a bit lost in the conversation. Luckily it was then that Rosalind spoke up about wanting to get her bag to her room.


"Looks like we are roommates." The redhead said with a smile as she looked back over at Rosalind. "It's over this way." She stated, starting towards the room. "I want to get a few things put away meself."

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A slight mechanical hum from the hallway, followed by an audible thud announced another new arrival to the floor. Another quick whir, and suddenly the doorway was filled by a girl riding what might have been a purple Segway, if the Segway had been invented in an only-slightly-dystopian cyberpunk future. It was all sleek lines and had faint blue running lights in the treaded wheels, an assembly that looked perfectly capable of climbing stairs and possibly mountains if necessary. The girl riding the scooter was small and a little stocky, with lightly freckled olive skin and bright blue hair in a side-shave cut that brushed her chin on one side. A tiny sparkling stud glinted from one side of her nose.

 

"Hey, new kids!" she greeted everyone with boisterous enthusiasm. "Welcome to Claremont! It's awesome to see you all! I'm Danica! Muirne, hi, welcome back! Did you have a great summer? I had an amazing summer!" She nudged the handle of the scooter to roll all the way into the room. 

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Natalia nodded to Muirne's roommate confirmation, but with so much other chatter going on she hadn't bothered with more than that; in fact, with so much ongoing chatter she'd been content to lean against her oversized luggage and watch the room. She should probably have just left. Was it weird to just hang out? She could stand to learn more about the new blood, but needed to not look like she was actively interested. That wouldn't do.

 

She'd even put her sunglasses back on, the better to hide where she was looking.

 

And yet she probably shouldn't have bothered - at Danica's entrance she had to at least slide them down her nose a little to get a better, and approving, look. "Danica," she said. "Looking good. I like the hair - a little loud, but it's a nice contrast. If you can't match your own colors, you can at least match your accessories, hm?"

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Shadowborne

 

Muirne quickly moved to reassure Neko as she apologized, wondering why she looked ashamed. "Hey, it's alright. I'm not offended or anything, I... I guess you could say I'm a bit removed from the war." She offered the tray of muffins again when the sounds began signalling Danica's arrival. 

 

It is the Turtle Girl. She looks different.

 

"Hey Danica, it's good to see you. I like the new look." Quickly she channelled her darkness into her free arm again, holding in a wince at the pain that always came with her using her powers. Still, it was done and she picked up the bowl of cookies before extending out the arm to offer them to Danica. "I made muffins and cookies, feel free to help yourself!"

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England? Ooh, I had better not tell Owain about that. She knew enough of her friend's history to know that, just like the ancient Taira clan of her own childhood tales, his people had fought hard, but had ultimately lost in the generation to come.

 

Settling into her seat, Neko watched as the new girl arrived, her eyes widening with amazement as she studied the scooter. The engine makes almost no noise; how did she accomplish that? Even the best bikes make noise when the engine runs, and you can smell the gasoline for miles. (Well she could, anyway, those without the blessings of her heritage were heedless to the smells their machinery produced.) A little unhappily, she concluded that this was going to be yet another set of mysteries of this future America.

 

"Hi," she said with a cautious wave without getting up, smiling and tilting her head. "You are Danica?" she asked, still petting the large cat sleeping on her lap, her ears twitching slightly. "I am Neko. I am your roommate. I do not speak English very well," she added nervously. 

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"Thanks, Nat!" Danica replied, all smiles. "You look awesome too! I bet you got some cool new clothes this summer, I can't wait to see them!" She took a cookie from Muirne's extended plate. "That was really nice of you, Muirne, I'm starving!" As she bit into the cookie, the overstuffed backpack on her back shimmered and grew, an illusion that melted into an enormous black and gold patterned tortoise shell that encased much of her body. "We were running late this morning and I didn't even eat breakfast. You'd think I'd know better after doing this five times already, but oh well." 

 

Her attention was caught by the new girl in the corner. "Oh, hey, Neko! I saw your name on the door! You're a cat girl, that's cool! Are you the avatar of an animal spirit too?" Another nudge of her scooter had her crossing the room to meet the person she'd be spending the next year with. "I hope you like warm temperatures, I have to keep my dorm room pretty cozy." 

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Neko stared at Danica for a moment, trying to process her words, then lost the thread for a moment when she saw the other girl's powers. "That is-  very amazing!" she said, her accent thick, words chosen carefully. "You are a minogame - a-a tortoise!" She smiled, and felt a profound sense of relief upon encountering someone not so different from her.

 

"I am Japanese," she said. "My-" she blinked as images of her family swarmed behind her eyes, gone without ever having to say goodbye, and her hands tightened in her lap. "In my home, um, town, we were all like me."

 

A place where the sons and daughters of the nekomata and bakeneko could live in harmony with the mountains that had sheltered them for so long; a place she might never see again. 

 

"I have never been to America before." She shooed away the cat on her lap, who promptly leaped away and scuttled out the door of the common room. She reached up and brushed her ears with one hand as she said, "I like warm, it is very nice. I love your - bike?" she guessed. 

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"Scooter," Danica corrected cheerfully. "It helps me get around faster. My natural pace is pretty slow, and the scooter means I'm not fifteen minutes behind everybody else when we try to go someplace. And hey, if you like warm, we're going to get along so well! I got a new heat lamp with three way bulbs and this crazy surge-protector looking thing to keep it from tripping the breakers all the time. You'll love it," she promised. "How many cats do you have? Do they all live here too?" 

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Neko tried to suppress a wince. Danica seemed extremely friendly and cute, had very interesting powers, and the way she was describing her room sounded very comfortable, but she said many things that Neko just did not understand at all. Oh, she must be some sort of mechanical genius to have built all of these amazing things! What are we even going to talk about? Neko's knowledge of machinery had been limited even in her own era, as she had well known.

 

Some of the things people had now in the fantastic world of the 21st century might as well have been magic as far as she could tell. She was able to answer Danica's question easily enough. "Oh no, I - I do not have any cats," she added with a nervous laugh. "I make these." She reached into her kimono and pulled out a fluffy white kitten which she proceeded to hand to Danica. The kitten looked up at Danica with bright blue eyes and purred lustily.

(Danica could see it and feel the vibrations of its purr, but it didn't quite smell right to her keen tortoise senses, and there was no feeling of weight to it.)

"Do you want to see our room?" She reached down to the duffel bag at her feet and pulled it up onto her lap. "I do not have very many things. It will not be much." 

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Starshine

Rosalind carefully manoeuvred the bag, making sure not knock into anyone or anything. The fact that she could carry such a large bag easily wasn’t that impressive when someone could make multiple copies of herself. At home she’d managed to lift a car with relative easy, but again that probably wasn’t that impressive.

 

Erm in that case lets go!” she finally said as her brain caught up Not to be rude but are they’re always multiple version of you around? Because that would get pretty crowded in our little room! I’m an only child so getting use to one person going to be new, let alone a dozen!”

 

At the edge of the room she was just close enough the arrival of Danica, it was a quite an entrance as well and another weird event in a weird day.

 

Does all this ever get to be just normal?”

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Multi-Girl

 

Bernadette had started walking back towards room 308 with Rosalind as the other girl asked her about how crowded the room might be. The Irish teen gave a small laugh. "Bein' an only child must be nice. I have two older brothers an' they can be a right pain in the arse."

 

The redhead then gave a small, slightly apologetic smile as she answered the question. "Well, there are not always some o' me duplicates about. But…I'm still tryin' ta learn to control me powers, so there will sometimes be some o' them about. But I can merge back with them, so, should only be temporary."

 

The pair were at the door to their room when Danica arrived further down the hall on her modified Segway. Bernadette watched the scene with a bit of wonder similar to what Rosalind appeared to feeling. "If it ever starts feelin' normal ta me I'll let you know." She replied to her roommate.

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"Sure, that sounds great!" Danica grinned down at the illusory cat, then tucked it safely in the crook of her arm where it would not be pinched by her shell. Extending her own palm, she produced a glowing blue tortoise and proffered it to Neko. It looked less like a real animal than the kitten, but had the same odd almost-weight to it. "I carry all my stuff with me in my shell, we can unpack together! Usually my parents bring me to school on the first day, but since this is my fifth year here, I asked if I could just come by myself this time." She looked over to Muirne and Nat. "Want to all get together in the caf at dinnertime? I can't wait to hear how everybody's summer went." 

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"If I have the time," said Natalia, which meant 'yes'. She pushed her sunglasses back up. "Unpacking wouldn't be the worst idea, and I have a lot of it, even if I don't pull any projects out." Maybe she'd have time to track Ryder down, if she was efficient about it. That part was not for saying out loud. "You and I should talk, too," she added, pointing a finger Muirne's way. "Not now, but soon. One on one. We'll se ground rules, figure out allergies. It'll be great."

 

She did not sound like she thought it would be great.

 

She laid a hand on her luggage and picked it up like it weighed nothing, setting off toward her room. "Later."

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While Danica and Neko were comparing miniature magical animals the sound of metal and plastic lightly clacking against the floor drew their attention downward. Scuttling nimbly around the feet of students passing through the common room was a robotic praying mantis coloured in pearlescent white and eye-catching pink, roughly the size of an open hand. Magenta hurried up to the bottom of Danica's mobility device and hopped up and down to get her attention. Looking up, she scampered back a few steps in surprise then tapped her creviced forelimbs against the top of her triangular head, chittering approvingly.

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Neko looked down at Magenta, her yellow eyes open and pupils narrowed. Her ears forward, she bent down and peered curiously at the little robot. "It is - a machine?" she asked, sniffing her small, upturned noise. After a moment, she smiled and tilted her head, showing slightly pointed front teeth. "Ohayo! It is very small!" She looked up at Danica and asked, "Is he yours, like the scooter?" Ah well, she thought, if the future must be full of mechanical wonders I do not understand, at least some of them are pretty to look at. She kept the glowing turtle in her other hand as she spoke, carefully holding with thumb on top and fingers underneath, keeping her twitching tail away from its mouth. 

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"Magenta!" Danica squealed in delight, slowly bending down to allow the robot insect to climb onto her open palm. "I'm so glad you're back! I bet Ryder's around here somewhere, huh? I'm glad you like the new hair!" She gave Neko a reassuring look. "This is Magenta, she's an arti- um, she's a robot bug," she corrected, hoping to hit the correct vocabulary level for her new roommate. "She belongs to my friend Ryder. He helped design my scooter, and he's awesome! You'll probably meet him later. Want to come with us to see our new room?" she asked Magenta, even as she began to roll the scooter around towards the door. 

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"Okay," said Neko after a moment's pause to take in this new information. So she is not the gadgeteer. At least I didn't ask her to show me her tools, or whatever it is she keeps inside her shell. "I do not know about - machines," she said as they headed inside their room. "Where I am from is very different. The machines were not like that. But Magenta is very cute." She smiled at the little bug as she sat her bag down on her side of the room. She hadn't yet admitted to being an enemy from decades in the past, and so far that omission was just fine by her.

 

Neko's side of the room was noticeably bare of anything save the desk and chair where she'd be working, and she took a moment to remove some things from her duffel - The Tale of Heike in Japanese and English, a few small porcelain statues that she set on the desk, and some spare clothes that she went to hang up on the closet in her side of the room. I will put the tortoise here too; why not? That closet was full with a carefully-wrapped futon, which she obviously expected as she hung up her clothes. Occasionally she seemed to pause and look somewhere into space as she went about her work, occasionally singing softly to herself in Japanese as her tail twitched behind her. Ah, so that boy is Ryder! And that girl upstairs, did she speak Japanese? She actually smiled at that thought before she turned back to Danica. 

 

"How did you get mino, um, tortoise spirit?" she asked, making a gesture behind her that roughly mimicked a shell. "Your parents?" 

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Magenta took the invitation gladly, scuttling in a zigzag path back and forth across the hall as one thing or another caught her momentary interest but always hurrying after Danica to catch up with the scooter after a moment. She preened when Neko called her cute, mimicking the girl's tilting head when she smiled. The little mantis crawled up the front of Danica's scooter with ease once they stopped, perching on the handlebars and using the vantage point to survey the room. Neko's quiet singing caught her attention and she made a series of musical chirps along with the melody. Noticing the cat-like ears on top of the girl's head Magenta bent her forelimbs into triangles over her own head and trilled excitedly.

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Starshine

Being an only child is nice and all, but sometimes its nice to others around your old age. Once a year I’d stay with my Aunty and it was crazy at times but also a lot of fun.”

 

She dropped the bag in the room with a large thump, wondering what she’d do with so many sweaters through the year. She looked up at the taller, thinner, woman it was a shame they couldn’t share clothes. Thinking of clothes made an obvious question come to mind.

 

I was going to ask about clothes and duplication but I guess you must already be fed up of such questions?”

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Multi-Girl

 

Bernadette walked over to where her suitcase and box were placed off to one side of the dorm room. She smiled slightly at Rosalind’s questions about clothes and duplication. "It's alright, I would probably be askin' the same questions meself."

"But yes, luckily I do somehow duplicate whatever I’m wearin' when I create me duplicates. Would be bloody embrassin' to have a duplicate appear just starkers."

 

The Irish teen glanced around the room and looked back over towards Rosalind. "Any preference on which side?"

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On 9/16/2021 at 10:58 PM, Avenger Assembled said:

"How did you get mino, um, tortoise spirit?" she asked, making a gesture behind her that roughly mimicked a shell. "Your parents?" 

 "Well, sort of?" Danica equivocated, making a see-saw motion with her hand. "My parents are zoologists, that means they're scientists who study animals. My mom's specialty is the giant tortoises. She really, really devoted her life and all her attention to learning more about tortoises, and she really, really liked them." It was kind of hard to walk the line between making the words too complex and simplifying the concepts too much, but she did her best.  "Anyway, that kind of devotion, I mean, that kind of love for tortoises caught the attention of a tortoise god who was looking for, um, a solid body in the real world. So when my mom got pregnant, it put its power into me, so someday when I'm grown up, I will probably be a tortoise god myself. But that's not for a long time," she added quickly, waving away the topic. 

 

Magenta provided an adorable distraction. "You like Neko's ears, huh? They're pretty cool," Danica agreed. "Maybe you can get Ryder to give you cool ears, if you want." She turned her attention back to her new roommate. "So what's your story?" she asked curiously. "Where are you from? What do you like to do?" 

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Neko listened intently, staring at Danica with her big yellow eyes while her ears swiveled on her head to point right at her. She appreciated the slow way the other girl spoke. "A woman scientist? That is very - brave. The tortoise god must have chosen her for that," she said with a satisfied nod. There are much stranger things than the daughter of a kami, she thought. It's a good thing she's so kind. The school was right to put me with her. 

 

"I am from Japan, from Iya Valley." She was glad, suddenly, that Danica hadn't asked her about the ears and tail that marked her ancestry. Those parts of her body had been something she'd taken for granted as a little girl, since everyone else in her village had them, but in the outside world she had quickly come to understand how they marked her as different. "It is very small, very small towns, with very many big mountains, and everyone like me in our town." Her ears twitched at that, having moved back up to stand straight on her head. "Not like here, no, not the same. So I do not see...other places until I am older." A look of frustration crossed her face, and she looked away, gathering her words, before she looked back at Danica. "I like...singing, and telling stories, and playing games, but that is hard because English is hard. In school, we never...not any of that, it was bad." She waved her hand and shook her head, tail lashing behind her. "I read it okay but speaking English is hard." 

 

She sat down on the floor, folding her legs underneath her, and reached over to skritch Magenta as she would a kitten. "I came here with Owain, my friend from Britain. He was, um, a knight for Arthur. He is on the first floor with the boys. He taught me some English." She hesitated a moment, then said, "I...have bad dreams, but they will not hurt you. See?" She demonstrated by making arcane, twisting gestures in the air with her hands, summoning a shadowy-black, paper-thin figure of an old-fashioned samurai about as tall as Magenta. The little samurai ran up to Danica, poked her with its tiny blade, and promptly vanished in a slight puff of smoke. She gave Danica a worried look as it did. 

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