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The Painted Desert, Arizona

October 4th, 2020

10:00 AM


"Sorry kids, grandpa wasn't kidding about this desert being hell during storms."


Blue Squad had been told that they would be going on a field trip to Arizona, to the painted desert, to meet up with a Doctor Macedon for a survival class. Leon might have heard about his friends' trip the year before, and how the aging Doctor Macedon had decided to swear off any and all future field trips after yet another trip to the past through the Magic Mesa, but maybe this time would be different? 


The whole thing had started out pretty well. Doctor Alexandra Macedon had picked Blue Squad up at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with an off-road van with enough space for the entire crew, their luggage and Danica's ride. It turned out she was the previous doctor Macedon's granddaughter, and she had been more than happy to take up the task of leading another squad on a survival class.


They had reached their dropoff point and then proceeded out into the desert. A few hours later, a sandstorm had started kicking up, slowly growing in strength and intensity.


"We gotta find shelter! Anybody see anything?"


Doctor Macedon's long brown hair was kicking around her in the wind already, while she fought to keep her stetson secure on her head.


Up ahead, the group could see a mountain that just so happened to have a cave.

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Wilona did not want to be here. It was hot. It was dry. It was gasp educational. Oh god, did she not understand the point of this. She could literally fly. Pretty damn fast, too. Wilderness wasn’t so big she couldn’t get out of it in an hour or two. Faster than that friggin’ van,anyway. She was a city girl, okay? A Freedom City girl. She had, quite literally, never left it before. It’s not like she was scared, or anything. Got it? And she had survivalist skills. Raised herself on the streets, dammit. She should be teaching this class. No, she was not disoriented in a non-urban setting. And, of course, there was a sandstorm brewing. Blowing her hair around and…was that sand in a place sand should not be? All right, that’s it. “Aerus Servinius!” The wave of her hand was a bit sharp, due to her annoyance and irritation, but the wind spell sprung up nonetheless. There was no way she could hold enough an entire sandstorm, but weaken to nullify the current winds and keep the sand out of her Effigy Robes? Yes. “Listen up you stupid magic desert! Sand! Stays! Out! Of! My! Clothes! Got it?!” Her irritated nasal exhalation would’ve been adorable on someone less inclined to throwing around blazing hot fire when in such a mood. Was she paying attention to anything but her own thoughts and emotions? Hahaha, no.



Naomi was having a perfectly lovely time. The desert was beautiful, Doctor Macedon was really nice and also beautiful, and her invisible force field meant that the wind and sand just glided off her. She knew it was going to be hot because desert, so she’d skipped wearing clothes under her costume. Just breathable cotton undies. The ones she’d dyed a special design into for this trip. She was actually paying attention, even if as usual it looked like she was terminally spaced out. Her vision was really good, so she saw the cave quite easily. She pointed at it and said quietly “Cave.” Her words were more or less lost in the wind, and before she could speak up, Wilona started yelling. Oh, boy. Well, at least she was countering the wind Naomi guessed.

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Leon had been happy to get off campus. The flight would have been better if he could have got an upgrade to first class. But then came the drive out to the middle of nowhere.

Their chaperone was a little old, she had to be in her 30’s he guessed, but at she was pretty. He’d have to make sure he showed his mettle. How hard could it be.


The sandstorm whipped around them as Dr Macedon raised her voice to be heard.


On 10/4/2021 at 4:20 AM, RocketLord said:

"We gotta find shelter! Anybody see anything?"


There was anything he could think of at the moment to help keep the sand out of their eyes, at least not without completely blocking their sight. It wasn’t the fist time he’d dealt with stuff he didn’t want to breath in.

It only took a couple moments and Leon had a multi-layered paper mask over his nose and mouth to filter out the sand. Stepping up to Dr Macedon he reached out, a few pieces of paper in hand, and created another mask over her nose and mouth. 

”Looks like there’s a cave up ahead.”

Leon leaned in to be heard as he pointed towards the mountains.

He held up more paper and nodded towards the others to indicate his intentions.


Moving over to Heroditus, or just Hero as Leon usually called him, he tapped his own mask and pointed to the Atlantean’s face. Leon had a feeling he’d be having it worse here.


After offering Hero a mask he moved over to Danica and offer her on too.


He checked on Wilona and Naomi last. He had Noticed Naomi was able to block the sand with her force field, and Wilona could… well a little sand wouldn’t hurt her.

Catching Naomi’s attention he offered to make her a mask before offering her one to give to Wilona, since he was sure the fire mage wouldn’t except it from him.


The masks are strapless but cling to the wear to make a seal, but can be removed if desired.

Edited by Spacefurry
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Heroditus had been interested in seeing more and different parts of the Surface world.  And he could certainly appreciate the need for survival training.  One never knew what sort of environment they might find themselves in, and some things could not be read about, they had to be experienced.


But not like this.  Not like this.


He had barely said a word once they'd gotten off the plane.  In minutes his exposed skin was lobster-red, though the alchemical sunscreen he'd made before the trip did seem to help.  He'd tried to endure the withering heat with stoic dignity, as any Atlantean facing such hardships should, but it was clear he was suffering greatly. 


Why would anyone choose to come here?


He had kept his goggles on tight once they'd gotten in the jeep, in an effort to prevent his eyeballs from completely desiccating, so he had a bit of protection from the sudden sandstorm.  He took Paper's offered mask and slapped it on, and marched as steadily as he could towards the cave.

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Danica's first impulse had been to simply enlarge her shell and offer to let everybody inside to ride out the storm and maybe watch a movie or something, the way she had on a few Nicholson field trips when they'd gotten rained out. But this was a minimal-powers survival exercise, according to the instructions, and that meant only using powers if they were inherent or if somebody might actually get hurt badly or die. Leon's masks were a good idea, but she suspected that "magical tortoise shell house" was a bridge too far. It was okay though, because desert sand and heat had never bothered her, and her new scooter was soooo much better than the old one about operating in bad conditions! Even now it was trundling along like a champ, chewing up the uneven ground under its thick treads and keeping sand out of its intake with a series of solid-light baffles. 


"The cave looks good!" she agreed, shouting over the storm. "Stick close together, if we get spread out, somebody could get lost!" She kept to the back of the group herself, ready to pick up anybody who started floundering. Heroditus looked pretty rugged already, but he was still walking so she let him be. 

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Naomi was actually the very first on in the cave. Wearing Leon’s nice paper mask. She really, really wanted to help the others by screening out the wind and sand with a force field, but it wasn’t allowed. She patted Leon on the shoulder in thanks as he came in, and handed Herodi…something as he came in. Her supply bag was uh, big. The rules against powers didn’t say you couldn’t use them to help carry supplies for the whole team, pack mule style. And if she didn’t have her sketchbook and art supplies she might literally die. Well. Probably not, but why take the risk? Anyway, that was everyone now inside. Which was good! So she sat down on apparently nothing. The rules against powers didn’t say you couldn’t make yourself a comfy chair with them either, dang it. As long as it was just you.




Minimal powers. Tch. No flying, no shielding, and especially not firebombing the desert in irritation. She hated it. She hated it so much. But she turned off her sepell anyway. Fortunately Chelone was there to gently guide her towards the cave, otherwise she may well have stayed outside hollering obscenities at the approaching sandstorm. Instead, she stomped into the cave second to last, her right arm literally smoking, and muttered said obscenities under her breath. Until Naomi handed her a paper mask. She blinked confusedly for a second, visibly changing mental gears. Then, with a long suffering sigh, swallowed her temper for now. “Hey paperboy!” With Leon’s attention grabbed, she held up the mask and did not incinerate it. “Thanks.”

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"Remember, no big powers!" Alexandra tried to shout above the howling wind, holding her hands up to the sides of her mouth to try to make herself heard. 


"Nice job fighting the wind, Wilona! Good idea with the masks, Leon! Somebody help out Hero, keep everyone together Chelone! Good spot, Naomi!" she shouted words of encouragement to all of them, making sure not to leave anyone out. She could see how Hero in particular was struggling, but at least the others were backing them up. She had accepted Leon's mask, holding it up over her face to protect herself from the storm.


Professor Macedon waited by the cave's mouth, waiting for all of them to enter. The mesa itself stretched far above them, into the sky above them, a shelter in the storm. Once everyone was inside, the professor followed, directing the students to move further inside. "Alright, nice work everyone! That storm sure came out of nowhere, huh? We want to move a bit further in so we stay away from the entrance and don't get caught up in any sand that blows in if the wind changes, alright? It's gonna get darker in here, so if anybody got any flashlights or anything, now's the time!"


Illuminating the cave would reveal a barren place. There was plenty of space to move around, with about double the height of the tallest member of their little group to the ceiling. Nothing in particular stood out about the cave, though it seemed to stretch onwards, further into the mesa.


Anyone able to see or sense magic could see it only grew more intense the further into the cave they looked.

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Leon squinted against the sand as the group made it's way to the cave. He was glad Danica's scooter seemed to be working fine in the sand. He would have called it cheating but, damn it, the older girl was just to nice for him to be mad at her. So he trudged his way to the cave one step at a time.

Inside the cave he nodded to Naomi and moved aside to ruffled his hair,

trying to get some of the sand out.


On 10/9/2021 at 12:43 PM, EternalPhoenix said:

 “Hey paperboy!” With Leon’s attention grabbed, she held up the mask and did not incinerate it. “Thanks.”


Leon had looked up to see her, fully expecting her to turn the paper to ashes to spite him. But Wilona was full of surprises, and he gave her part of a smile and a friendly nod in acknowledgement.


On 10/13/2021 at 3:15 AM, RocketLord said:

Professor Macedon waited by the cave's mouth, waiting for all of them to enter. The mesa itself stretched far above them, into the sky above them, a shelter in the storm. Once everyone was inside, the professor followed, directing the students to move further inside. "Alright, nice work everyone! That storm sure came out of nowhere, huh? We want to move a bit further in so we stay away from the entrance and don't get caught up in any sand that blows in if the wind changes, alright? It's gonna get darker in here, so if anybody got any flashlights or anything, now's the time!"


Leon's own pack wasn’t quite as stuffed as Naomi's, but he remember the important things. Snacks, water, a few books... oh and a few other think some people might think were important. Reaching into one of the side pockets he pulled out a small flashlight and a couple glow sticks. Sweeping the flashlight around he gave a low whistle.

"Wow. There is jack and squat in here."

Unable to sense magic or such Leon was unimpressed by the apparent normal cave. But at the their instructor's insistence he moved deeper into the cave with the others.

Edited by Spacefurry
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  • 2 weeks later...



"I would n-," Heroditus panted, "would not say... that."  His breathing had eased a bit after they'd entered the cave, though he was still clearly struggling. 


At least I am out of that blistering sun.


He took a long drink from his canteen, paused to catch his breath, then took another long drink.  "I have noticed -- can see -- that the amount of ambient magical energy in this area is higher than normal.  Certainly higher than most places in Freedom."  Another swallow, "that sandstorm was sparking with it, and this cave holds even more."  He pointed further into their shelter, "and it seems to grow stronger deeper in the cave." 


He too another drink, forcing himself to take a much smaller drink so as to conserve the previous liquid.  "Doctor Macedon," he said, barely moving from his spot on the ground, "what can you tell us of the... the history of this place?"

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Danica shook sand out of her hair as she entered the cave, then ran the little fan-cycle that would blow any stray particles out of her scooter's inside parts. "Blah, now I know what a sandblasting cabinet feels like." She looked around, her all-black eyes wide and shining a little in the low light. It was bright enough for her to see quite a way, but she pulled out a headlamp anyway, just in case, and another little light to mount to her handlebars. "Here, Heroditus, stay close to me," she offered, "and you won't be so hot or thirsty. It's just a little power, and I can't even turn it off," she added a little stubbornly for the benefit of anyone who might quibble. "If we're going to make this our camp for a little bit, we probably need to get the lay of the land. Do you think the magic is dangerous, or can we go back and take a look?" 

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Effigy and Invisigirl


Naomi pulled out a big ol’ LED lantern out of her bag. “You still have that? I thought it was half broken.” Wilona asked, somewhat befuddled.


“Yes. It is a good light. Headmistress knew a shop. It is fixed.” Naomi spoke matter of factly. At least, in her quiet way. She turned it on and handed it to Wilona. It was a little bright. “No more burning fingers.”


Wilona rolled her eyes. “They’re my fingers to burn. But I will accept your generous loan.” Then she was listening both Herodi-whatever and Danica. She was, technically, the other magically proficient person on the team. So she stepped up. “Magic’s always dangerous.” A flame danced on her extended index finger. “A lot like fire, really. Just more complex. Burns and smoke inhalation aren’t the only things to worry about. It’s tough to be ready for literally anything. Old places like this kind of do whatever they want.” She blew her finger out. “Magic Mesa has a good rep, but that’s not the same as safe.” She grinned. “Dunno about you guys, but it sounds exciting. Or more exciting than marching around the godsforsaken desert some more.” She rolled her eyes. Naomi stepped up just behind her, large and full bag of supplies floating in front of her instead of behind as a backpack. “Invisigirl’s geared up, and if all else fails she can turn everyone invisible as we run away.” She grinned again, more fiercely. “Good to go.”

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