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1 mo ago
Current Personal preference. I prefer realistic art or real images over big titty anime girls because it’s easier to look at and envision the character. It’s also about RP style.
4 likes
1 mo ago
For me, RP is all about creating interesting stories. I like post apocalyptic because that genre, like many others, lets me create interesting stories- no matter if they’re tragic or not.
6 likes
1 mo ago
Killed a cockroach and its blood squirted into my mouth. Wanna die. 🤢
2 likes
9 mos ago
i think i need to get better at time management
11 mos ago
Had a cup of coffee, now I’m just feeling more tired. WTF?
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___________________________________.......
Chu & An's Apartment · Afternoon · In collaboration with [&.Exit]Chu & An's Apartment · Afternoon · In collaboration with @Exit
_
Kanna was pacing. Counting items in her head and on her fingers and tallying what they had and what they had to leave behind. ”Water. Couple clothes. Yuan. Do you have a gun?”

Chu Hua was rooting frantically through her drawers and cabinets, stuffing whatever she could find into a quickly expanding black backpack. “No, I don’t have a fucking gun, Kanna. I never thought I’d need one." As she spoke, she stuffed a picture frame into her bag and then, deciding against it, took the photo out of the frame and tucked it into a pocket.

Chu Hua and An’s apartment was an intensely modern, open affair. It was monochrome, with the occasional pop of color in the way of flowers or a picture frame. Chu Hua remembered several intense arguments with her fiancee about decor, of all things- An was a snob, while Chu Hua was more the type of person who just put stuff in a room and called it a day. Aside from the living room, there was only one other room- the bedroom, which was directly off the living space. The kitchen was open-concept and bled into the living room, only separated by a step. They were currently making a massive mess of the place, which Chu Hua didn’t care about because she knew she’d likely never see it again.

“I have one,” An spoke up, pouring water from a filtration jug into bottles.

”What?” Kanna asked.

“Since when?!”

An shrugged. “A bit ago. I’ll go find it. Kanna, kindly stop being useless and fill up these bottles.” She walked off to the bedroom, leaving the waters behind.

”Useless?! In case we forgot, this is my plan we’re following! Kanna yelled after her, angrily complying to the order anyways and grabbing up one of the water bottles.

“Well, there you go, Kanna. You’ve turned my fiancée into a vigilante. Congrats.

”I’d be more worried about the fact that she’s looking for a gun… she owns in her fiancee’s house!” The second half was yelled so An could hear her.

Chu Hua continued methodically putting things into her bag, until… “Fuck, I’m out of room. How am I out of room?!” She threw things on the floor- clothes, books, silverware.

’Chu…” Kanna stopped pouring. ”...What the fuck are those doing in your bag? Why are you packing books? And silverware?!”

“I don’t know! I’ve never been a fugitive before, Kanna!” She threw her hands up. “What if I need cutlery?!”

”You’re not going to need cutlery because you’re never going to make it out of the city before they kill you carrying all that extra shit! Light! How in the world did you ever become second best stickball player in the world?”

“First of all, first best. Second of all, if you haven’t noticed, I’m built as hell. And I need at least one fork.” Chu Hua stuffed one fork back into her bag, opting to leave.

“Found it!” A voice crowed from the bedroom. An emerged with a sleek weapon in her hand, held comfortably. It was a Synergy pistol. Chu Hua’s eyes widened as An held it out to her.

“Since when do we own a Synergy weapon, babe?” Her voice was deceptively calm. Holy shit, her fiancée was a secret badass. Chu Hua was starstruck.

Kanna on the other hand was not calm at all. How the fuck did you get that?!”

An shrugged, nonchalant. “It was a gift from my boss. Gonna keep ogling it or are you gonna take it?”

Chu Hua shifted on her feet. “You keep it for now, until you can show me how to use it. I think I’d just blow my foot off.”

An tucked it into her waistband, going about packing herself. She was far more practical than Chu Hua… despite stuffing some very distinctly fancy clothing into her bag. Chu Hua remembered, belatedly, that her fiancée probably didn’t own anything practical for the desert. That’d be something to settle later.

Kanna capped the last bottle of water and walked over to place a couple in one of the side pockets of Chu’s backpack. ”I’m sorry. What do you do again?” She asked An, removing the fork from Chu’s pack.

“I work for SynEn, and I also happen to be extremely charismatic,” said An, taking two bottles and shoving them in her own bag. “My boss and favorite coworker also happens to be Vyska Moon. Great drinking partner. Terrible giver of birthday gifts.”

“Oh, shit, I forgot that one thing I really needed,” exclaimed Chu Hua, who dropped her bag on the kitchen counter and dashed into the bedroom. ”Gotta find it, gotta find it…” She dropped onto the floor, tapping the floorboards.

Their bedroom was, like their living room, modern and austere. It had many more photos and a large closet, however. A large floor-to-ceiling window faced the cityscape, covering one wall.

A long time ago, Chu Hua had hid her tapes in this room. She only opened it when she was sure An wasn’t present, which hadn’t been for a while. So she only had a very vague idea of where they were. Finally, she came upon a loose floorboard. “Aha!” She popped the false floor off, reaching into the hole she had made in the ground. She pulled out four ancient-looking video tapes, each deceptively labelled with a fairly explicit porno name. They were, of course, not porn- something much, much worse. She held them reverently for a moment before heading back out into the living room.

“Don’t want anyone to find these here,” she explained, wrapping the tapes in her clothing and placing them at the bottom of her bag.

Kanna wasn’t quite quick enough to catch the labels on the tapes, but she did notice the tapes themselves. Again, hardly something she thought worth enough to bring along. ”Tapes? Seriously? I haven’t even seen one of those in years. Why would anyone be looking for them? And don’t- Ugh!” She watched in mild frustration as Chu stuffed them in her bag.

Chu Hua shrugged, a blush coming across her cheeks. To think now, that she had risked her life over something so fucking stupid? She was such an idiot. But she couldn’t just leave them behind. “Um. Let’s just say… I had to go to the Underground and spend 100k yuan for these. Each. And I hide them in my floorboards. So… well. You can make the connection.”

An looked at her strange from across the room. “Sorry, what? What the fuck have you been keeping in our house?”

”Yeah. Besides the super gun that’s probably just as expensive.” Kanna asked, giving An a glance. ”Although more uself than a… 100k yuan cassette tape. King Wu better be naked on it.”

“Oh, fuck you for putting that image in my head. No, no. It’s more important than that. This is old shit. Pre-cleanse shit. I’ll show you, sometime. You’d like it, it’s… film of an old sport. Nothing like stickball, but it’s entertaining. Also super illegal, so that’s fun too. Not like I’m not already a criminal.”

”Well, we all are now.” Kanna threw the last two bottles of water into the bag she’d been given and tied it off. Although smaller than the others, she didn’t have much to carry, mostly because nothing in the apartment was hers. There wasn’t enough time to travel all the way to her house in the Upper Ring. Not with things as they were now. Sure the streets were chaotic but they wouldn’t always be and there was no way to know when people would start paying attention. Both Kanna and Chu had their faces plastered on televisions screens and monitors across the Ba Sing Se and even before this they were already well known. It wouldn’t be difficult for someone to spot them and recognize arguably the world’s most popular Firebender and one of the city’s greatest Stickball players helping her escape. Not to mention who knew who was keeping tabs on An, connected as she was.

In her musings, Kanna’s eyes fell on a picture attached to the fridge and a thought suddenly occurred to her. ”Chu…” She started, turning to the other woman. ”...Are you going to leave something for your parents?”

Before she could answer, however, An’s phone started ringing.

There was pain in her voice as Chu Hua began talking. “I… yeah, I mean, I don’t have much time but I’ll write-”

She was interrupted by a loud shushing sound and a ringtone. “Both of you, shut the fuck up right now,” An practically yelled from the kitchen island. Her face looked drawn and pale as she showed them both her phone screen. Vyska Moon. “I have to take this. Keep packing, just be quiet.”

Chu Hua stared, slightly concerned, as An pressed the accept button and raised the phone to her ear. “Vyska,” she said, sounding a bit concerned, “is everything alright? This is an inconvenient time for me to talk about work stuff, so unless it’s an emergency....”

...

“I made it back to my apartment, thank God. Where are you? Are you alright?” An’s voice took an a more concerned tone as she turned in her chair, away from Kanna and Chu Hua.

...

“She’s… fine.” She hesitated for a moment, glancing at Chu Hua with a bit of a confused look on her face. “The game got cut off thanks to the chaos. Listen, I can’t come in. I have some more important things occupying my attention right now.”

There was a short pause while An bit her lip. ...

“I’m fine. I just can’t come in right now, alright? I’m sorry.” Her tone was terse, snippy.

... There was a dial tone as the person on the other end hung up.

An slammed her phone down onto the counter as the call ended. “God, she’s such an ass,” she said, pulling her laptop out onto the counter. “She wanted me to come in, I said no, and now she’s sending someone to the apartment. Keep packing, babe, write your letter… it’ll be weird if I don’t at least do this.”

Chu Hua glanced at Kanna and shrugged, now scrawling on a piece of paper. That conversation had been weird. “We’ll need to get out of here before they show up, then.”

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll think of something.” An looked vaguely concerned as she tapped on her keyboard.

Kanna threw her backpack over her shoulder and moved toward the window to peer at the street below. There had already been a few bender sightings nearby earlier in the day when the explosion happened. Although most if not all of them had been taken care of, there were still a number of RSF officers nearby, talking to citizens and closing off crime scenes. All of them were presently preoccupied and were paying little attention to the apartment. ”You want to leave before whoever she sends gets here? Would that be more suspicious?”

An put her head into her hands, massaging her temples. Chu Hua put a hand onto her shoulder, trying to comfort her, but she shook it off. “Sorry. Still hot?” She was feeling much better, but her skin still burned to the touch.

“Yeah,” An muttered. “I guess I’ll have to stay here and wait for them, then.”

“What?! No!” Chu Hua’s voice rose a few decibels as she rounded the kitchen counter. “Absolutely not. What if it’s… a trap?!”

An snorted. “What the hell’s she gonna do, have me arrested? No, you’re the conspicuous one. Kannas right, she’ll call the cops as soon as she sees I’ve left. Out of concern, but still. You’re the most recognizable criminals in the city. You two need to leave. I’ll stay here and join you later. Finish up and I’ll take you down to the tunnels and let you in, alright? I’ll give you directions to where you can leave the city.”

”You don’t have any more weird tapes to grab, do you Chu?” Kanna asked, stepping away from the window.

Chu Hua glanced An’s way, pursing her lips. “No,” she said, gazing at her apartment with a wistful look on her face. She ran her hands over the couch, the walls, the photos on the wall. It was almost certain she’d never see this place again, and less certain that she would never again step foot in the city of her birth. Thinking about her future was awful, setting off a roiling feeling in her. Tears came unbidden to her eyes. Her life, that she had worked so hard to cultivate, had been destroyed in a single moment. Chu Hua didn’t say anything, instead taking her backpack in hand and putting it over her shoulders.

“I’m ready to go,” Chu Hua said, walking towards the door. An stood from her seat and walked to the door, putting a hand on the knob.

“If you guys are ready, then…“

Kanna grabbed her bandanna and tied her hair up with it. As she walked up to the door, she also grabbed her paddle. ”Ready.”

The three of them walked out of the apartment and into the street, heading to the tunnels that ran beneath the Middle Ring. Chu Hua turned one last, uncertain look at her apartment building before she left. She really would miss this place. Who knew what would happen to her next?
@ActRaiserTheReturned It specifies in the information that the main difference is a difference in ability level.
Super interested. I love witch RPs, actually ran something really similar a year or so ago.


___________________________________.......
Tunnels under the Middle Ring · Late Afternoon · In collaboration with [&.Exit]Tunnels under the Middle Ring · Late Afternoon · In collaboration with @Exit
_
A few minutes later, an insistent knock came at the door, startling Chu Hua out of her stupor. She and Kanna both stared at the door as the handle jiggled, seemingly terrified to move. They had been counting on waiting out the RSF or hoping for An to come- could this be the RSF, here? Chu Hua shushed Kanna with a finger to her lips. Surely if they thought the closet was empty they would move on. The knock, however, just became more insistent. Louder, more hurried.

“Open the damn door,” the knocker muttered. It was An- her voice was distinctive. Chu Hua wasn’t sure whether to be ecstatic or horrified. She looked at Kanna before creeping to the door and opening it quickly.

Her fiancée stood at the door, thoroughly drenched, a confused look in her eyes as she stared at the strange scene in the closet. Her expression melted into relief as she saw Chu Hua. “Chu, you’re okay, I thought…” Her eyes moved further into the supply closet, and she blinked. “Hello, Kanna. Um. What the actual fuck?”

Chu Hua found herself briefly mute. “I’m… babe, I’m sorry. You weren’t supposed to know.” Her voice wavered.

An’s expression turned to ice as she shut the door. “Weren’t supposed to know what? That you’re a fucking… a fucking FIREBENDER?! I was supposed to fucking marry you without knowing that? What would have happened if…” She trailed off, evidently wanting to say ‘if you got caught’, but that was already the case.

“You’re lucky I found you two. I have no idea what the hell your ex is doing here, but I can get you both out through the access tunnels running under the city. After that, though, we’ll have a bigger problem. Namely that the RSF is going to hunt you both- and maybe me- like dogs.” She breathed out through her nose. “We’re fucking dead. But maybe we can delay that.” An was stock-still with tension as she spoke, looking nearly as stricken as Chu Hua. She, however, was much more functional in crises. The tall, lithe woman, at odds with the two jacked stickball players, began to pace back and forth, staring at her phone.

Kanna was hesitant to speak at first despite the severity of the situation. Chu and An’s relationship was an environment unfamiliar to her and it was obvious the taller woman was heated. Sensing the gears turning though, she decided now was as good a time as any to chime in. “I was just telling Chu that there is a way out of this mess, but it won’t be easy. The tunnels are a good start but the rest of it is… well it’s outside the walls. Well outside the walls. Chu can’t stay here and if she’s going to survive in whatever the fuck is out there, she might need more than just her shoulder pads.”

“It looked pretty chaotic out there and if you’re sure about where you’re going in the tunnels, maybe a stop by wherever she lives isn’t a bad idea.”


An looked at Kanna with a slight look of condescension as she spoke, seeming slightly annoyed on top of her anxiety and shock. She crossed her arms. “Uh-huh. And you’re suddenly a person smuggling expert?”

Chu Hua blew out a breath. “She saved my life. Be a bit nicer?”

“I do not have to be nice, I’m just trying to-” An grumbled, stopping herself in the middle of her sentence. “Fine. Sorry. We’ll go to the house. ”

Kanna’s eyes narrowed, but despite the heat she could feel rising to her cheeks, she managed to stifle whatever words were bubbling to the surface. Is there… an entrance. To the tunnels nearby.” She asked, chopping up her question to emphasize the attitude she was trying desperately to keep under control. She crossed her arms.

An narrowed her eyes. “Yeah. I’ve never been through this specific entrance, but I know the entrance should be…” She checked her phone. “On the west side of the stadium. Entrance is in the boiler room, I have biometric access. All my service crews have been evacced because of the lines bursting, so there should be no one in there now. And if we need to go to the apartment, there’s one near there too.”

Chu Hua gave Kanna a sharp warning look. “Yeah, we’ll need to make a stop. There’s something that I need.”

”Lead the way.” Kanna said, pulling her stick out of the water and flipping it under arm. She glanced at Chu, acknowledging the warning and breathed the rest of her frustrations out of her nose. She knew it was best to keep things as civil as possible despite being in a room surrounded by arguably the two most irritating people to her. Besides, she couldn’t take back what she’d already started, not that she wanted to. Getting her own ass to the tunnel was just as important to her as it was to Chu and An was her ticket.

The three of them exited the closet and crept down the hallway. The sprinklers were still going off, and they heard echoing boots and walkie-talkie chatter once in a while- the RSF was still here, securing the building. The stadium was eerily quiet. Everyone had fled. Chu Hua felt a growing sense of shame as she followed An and Kanna through the hallways. What had she done? There were char marks on the floor, water flooding the halls. It would take them months to repair this- and she wouldn’t even be here to see it repaired. She’d be either dead or out of the city by then. She wasn’t sure which option appealed to her more.

They reached the boiler room after about five minutes of walking. They walked down the thin stairs in a single file line, An going first. “Alright,” she whispered. “It’s here.” She pressed down on a cinder block in the wall. It started to glow, reading her handprint. It made a ding noise, and the wall opened up, revealing a door in the wall. An glanced back at the two of them. “Be careful. The tunnels are old.” She opened the door and stepped inside.

Kanna followed An through the doors and stepped into another world. Cold concrete walls of the boiler room became buff brick masonry that stretched endlessly into the lightless hall ahead and arched above them. The surrounding walls showed signs of years of neglect as chunks had fallen off, exposing the wood beam skeleton underneath. Besides the electrical wiring that lay bundled together and attached to the wall, it was clear that very few had been down here in a long time.

Kanna had heard of the tunnels running under the city, especially when she had begun searching for a way out for her mother. She’d also heard of the Underground, but this was her first time experiencing either first hand. True to An’s word, the hidden path did indeed feel old.

”It smells funny down here.” Kanna commented. ”How do you even know about this?”

An held up the flashlight beam of her smartphone into the darkness, lighting up their immediate surroundings in a fuzzy glow. She started walking, the click of her heels resounding across the dark, cavernous space. “I work for SynEn,” An said, hushed, despite the emptiness. “We have a lot of secrets. This is one of them. These tunnels are ancient, so be careful.”

“Oh, and, babe. Don’t… you know. The fire will eat up all the oxygen.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Chu Hua said, hands stuffed in her shorts. It was getting better, but she was still burning up, shaking. Part of it was because that initial adrenaline rush was wearing off. She had started to feel the pain of the burns along her body. Still, though, she walked along.

After a few minutes of walking, she sidled up to her fiancee, looking reluctant. “An. You know, I’m… going to have to leave. One way or another.”

“I assumed,” An said, drily. Chu Hua winced.

“Before I have to go, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. For not saying anything. I was scared, I’ve never told anyone, I… I guess I thought if I kept my mouth shut I’d be fine. I’ve always just wanted to live, to have a good life with people I love, and you were part of that. I’m sorry we couldn’t get married.”

An slid her eyes to Chu Hua, still holding up the phone to the hallway beyond. Her face softened. “It’s fine. I’m just scared, that’s all. I never would’ve thought you were…” She seemed unwilling to say it. “We’ll have plenty of time. I’m coming with you, of course.”

Chu Hua made a briefly shocked face. She hadn’t expected An to want to come! “You don’t have to! You shouldn’t take my punishment, babe- it’s not right. Stay here. Live your life. Please.”

Kanna tried to remain quiet as the two conversed, watching in a silent contemplation that threatened to break. Their agitated shadows danced at odd angles against sloping walls as An continued to hold the light from her phone and as the women spoke, their voices would echo down the hall describing its length. Kanna imagined they had a ways to go and figured that if there was time to hash something out, there was no better time than now.

”Not that it’s my place to say but, like me, helping your girlfriend might put you out with the rest of us. Well…” She glanced to the side as she tried to ignore the decision she herself still had to make. ”...I say us but… I mean I’m honestly not sure sticking around is such a good idea for me either but then what? We make another stop at my place too? All the way the fuck in the Upper Ring.” She shook her head and then turned to Chu curiously. ”Actually, just cause I’m morbidly curious now, what is this thing you said you have to get?”

“None of your fucking business,” Chu Hua snapped, almost by instinct. She immediately colored in embarrassment. Why was she still being so cagey? Kanna knew she could bend, but it was mortifying to admit that she had had something in her house for years that proved her guilt. She sighed. “Something I don’t want anyone to find if they come by my place. You’ll see.”

”You know what, you’re right. It’s not my business.” Kanna answered with half rolled eyes. ”I just want to get the fuck out of these tunnels. This place creeps me out.”

Location: The Hotspot Interacting with: ??? (@dreamingflowers), Aleen'a (@baraquiel), Zach (@Crimson Flame)



A pink tint came to Alisa’s cheeks, and she stared down at her sneakers in embarrassment. It had sounded like a good suggestion in her mind! People loved it when you drew them- she had seen all sorts of YouTube videos about it. Zach’s eye roll, however, just made her feel dumb. “Sorry,” she muttered. Zach then got up to go put the tracker on them, and he did perhaps the dumbest thing he could’ve done- try to slap it on the guy’s bare skin. Maybe Alisa wasn’t so stupid! She glanced at Aleen’a in bemusement, shrugging as if to say ‘I don’t know what the fuck he’s doing’. Luckily, Kassy intervened at the last second, stopping Zach in his tracks. Thank god they had at least one smart person on their team, because Zach was an idiot. Alisa felt a twinge of annoyance. Her idea would’ve been better.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket, and she checked it, furrowing her brow. Apparently Viktor had left, and was that… an angry emoji? Alisa was briefly confused, but put it away. She at least trusted Viktor to not do anything too dumb. Hopefully.

Alisa listened to the conversation between Kassy and the black-haired girl. Huh? What weight? And Kassy wasn’t sick… maybe a ruse? She had a start, though, when the black-haired girl started walking towards their table and sat down. She glanced, poker-faced, at Aleen’a in panic.

“Um. Sure, I’d love some desserts!” Truthfully, Alisa did not feel like putting any more food in her mouth, but she guessed she’d have to. Noticing her notebook still open on the table, she hurriedly pulled it into her backpack. “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met… but I’m Ally, and this is Eena. You’ll have to excuse Zach for interrupting you two, he’s a bit of a player. And a bit oblivious sometimes.”



___________________________________.......
Badgermole Stadium · [&Exit]Badgermole Stadium · @Exit
_
The game stopped in the middle of an intense play. Chu Hua slowed to a halt in the opposing team’s zone, panting as she came to such a sudden stop, her stick clutched in her right arm. She stared into the sky with the others. “The fuck…” A blast of pink light shot into the sky, followed by the sounds of an explosion. Her eyes widened, glancing back and forth. “No idea,” she answered Li, furrowing her brows. “Maybe firewo-”

Chu Hua gasped so sharply she felt her ribs might break. No. Nononono. Not here, not here, not here, please-

Li’s eyes snapped over to Chu. The star player looked like she was exerting herself, which of course they all were, but none more so than Chu. They’d barely begun and she was already kicking ass. However, the gasp was telling.

“You alright?”

A sensation that Chu Hua could only describe as fire filled her body. She never, ever used firebending- even the very thought filled her with dread and terror- but this was… it was all-consuming. She felt the fragility of her surroundings, the heat building in her body begging to release, to destroy, and said fuck no. What was happening to her? It was still uncontrollable. Her head swimmed as she tried to rein herself in, to avoid ruining her life. An unbearable heat built in her skin, a deadly fever, and she moaned, grappling onto the nearest person as she tried her best to keep from toppling over onto the ground. Sweat dripped from her temples as a look of abject terror filled her face.

“I don’t… I don’t feel well,” she whispered.

“Holy..!” Li struggled with the girl for only a moment as she readjusted herself to better balance the both of them. What surprised her more than anything, however, was the heat coming off of her. It was so intense she could feel it bleeding through the girl's protective gear. “You’re burning up!” She exclaimed. Taking Chu's arm, she threw it over her shoulder to take her weight, but when she grabbed her forearm, Chu's skin immediately scalded her.

“Aah!”

Li screamed, recoiling from the pain and nearly sending them both toppling to the ground, but she was quick to react. She kicked out and caught them both before either of them had leaned too far, righting herself and Chu. Looking back at her in surprise, she could see now the beads of sweat that had formed on her brow and how quickly they were beginning to fall. There was a very obvious pained look on Chu's face and it was clear something was very wrong with her. Ignoring the burning coming on her hand and being mindful of Chu's exposed skin, she tried again to support the girl's weight and found a position that was successful albeit somewhat awkward. One hand was on her shoulder and over her shirt, which was still uncomfortably hot. The second was pressed into Chu's gut in an attempt to support her midsection. It was even hotter here.

"What is happening to you?!" She asked, turning Chu around and beginning to guide her to the bench near the nurse's station. By now a second player had noticed the two and moved to help. "Don't touch her skin!" Li warned. "She's crazy hot right now and I don't know what's going on. Just help me get her to the nurse's station."

"Okay!"

In the stands, a commotion had begun around a singular individual who, after a moment of looking rather uncomfortable, was suddenly launched fifty feet into the air. They flailed about wildly for a brief moment before they fell back to the ground, landing particularly hard against a guardrail and snapping their neck. Immediately, screams erupted from the crowd and people began scrambling from their seats, jumping over fencing and other people to get as far away from the freak accident as they could. Both Li and the other player stopped in shock.

Chu Hua immediately tried to remove her hand from Li’s bare skin. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry-” but she was practically scooped up by Li and another Badgermole, and had no choice but to comply with their ministrations. She continued to make small noises of pain and, frankly, fear. It couldn’t end like this. She had worked so hard to this end. She couldn’t allow herself to be revealed now, in a stadium with thousands watching her and even more millions watching on the TV. The RSF would execute her in a moment, no matter if she was famous or not. It would all be over.

Her concentration subsided for a moment as the screaming began and a body hit the field. She wasn’t stupid- that was a bender. Something awful was happening. She let out a scream of pain as fire flared in her once more, this time nearly uncontrollable. At the last moment, though, she managed to rein it in, although not without her body temperature spiking and her muscles spasming. Chu Hua gasped, panting. She distinctly felt the soles of her shoes burning and smelled the burning rubber.

At this point, the heat pouring from Chu was too much for either girl to bear. The pain of their proximity was enough to pull them out of their momentary shock and they both backed away, stumbling to the ground on either side of her and leaving Chu to support herself in her suffering. Li scrambled backwards to cooler air as blades of grass beneath Chu began to wither and the air around her began to tremble.

“Chu?”

Around them, players were running off the field now as yet another man on the opposite end of the stadium had erupted in flames.

By now, she was breathing hard, panting on hands and knees on the field. What was happening to her? What was happening to everyone? Chu Hua only faintly registered others experiencing what she was, but she saw enough to know that something was wrong. She had never felt like this before, and… she couldn’t control it. She screamed in agony as her insides were boiling. Just then, as she clutched her head in her hands, Chu Hua burst into flames, lighting much of the grass field on fire with her.

The feeling of relief was almost instantaneous. But just as that came, despair did too. As soon as she could stand, Chu Hua stood, dumbfounded, staring at the spectator box where her family sat. A feminine figure in a yellow dress came running down the stairs, followed by those she knew to be her parents and sisters. Her entire life had just fallen apart. She didn’t know what to do but run. She started bolting towards the emergency exit, bringing flames with her.

Li swung hard, slamming the flat end of her stick into Chu’s shoulder and sending the girl toppling sideways to the ground.

“Y- You’re fucking ONE OF THEM?!” She screamed, stepping up to the downed girl. The look in her eyes was changing wildly, from a rage filled hate to one of confusion and hesitation. Of sadness but also one of disgust. Her lip quivered slightly as she raised her paddle into the air above her head and stared down at the women. It took a moment, but the same look of determination she’d worn for Chu at the start of the game found her again as a decision was made.

A loud crack rang out and Li’s head was suddenly tilted violently forward. As her eyes rolled back, she dropped the paddle harmlessly behind her and fell face first to the ground. Standing behind her was Kanna, who immediately reached for Chu and pulled her up by the hand. Wrapped protectively around her own was her bandanna which had previously been holding up her hair.

“Fucking GO!” She said, shoving her toward the exit and following after her.

By now the rest of the stadium had descended into complete chaos as Chu was not the only person suddenly starting to bend. Fearing for their lives, many began making for the exits while others attempted to subdue the danger themselves. RSF security had already converged on a number of benders closest to them, but a few had entered the field and were now moving toward Chu. Their weapons were raised and they were shouting at her to stop and although they were moving fast, it was obvious they were not going to intercept the athlete before she made it off the field.

Chu Hua took Kanna’s hand, a dazed look on her face. Everything had happened so fast. Li… She stared at the eighteen-year-old girl on the ground for a heartbeat, still registering the pain in her shoulder from where she had hit her so hard. There wasn’t a minute to contemplate the girl who had looked up to her so much, though, because Kanna was shoving her and screaming at her to run. Kanna, who hated her. There would be time to think about that later- for now, she had to run!

Although they were being followed by men with many guns, Chu Hua and Kanna were still athletes in the prime of their careers- namely, they could run fast. Chu dashed after Kanna, through her own quickly spreading flames and past panicked crowds. The adrenaline from the game and from her own bending was still present in Chu Hua’s system, as she barely felt the awful burns of her own making. The fire trailed past her, as she was still unable to control her own bending, consuming the stadium in a fiery blaze.

As they were running, Kanna spotted an extra ball lying on the side of the field. Without breaking her stride, she shoved the flat end of her paddle underneath and knocked the ball into the air ahead of her. She then carried her forward momentum into a horizontal swing, smashing the paddle into the ball and sending it careening toward the nearest officer. It collided with the center of his face, breaking his nose and causing him to trip over himself and crash into the ground.

It was a small victory that would buy them a sliver of time to lose security in the halls. All they had to do now was get away from the fire that Chu was dragging behind her and they could easily blend into the crowd. As soon as they stepped under the concrete of the stadium and were in the halls, Kanna eyed and yanked one of the wall mounted fire alarms. The sound of ringing bells filled the air and water burst from pipes in the ceilings, sprinkling down around them and putting out the fire trail Chu had been leaving behind. It also had the added benefit of forcing people to shield their eyes and look more down at the ground. Those who didn't already know would never be the wiser and the ones that did were too busy running away. Of course there was the mist coming off of Chu’s heated body from the quickly evaporating water, but this was the better of their two options. Now, with the noise and the chaos and the confusion an effective camouflage, Kanna took the opportunity to lead Chu to relative safety. They turned down a few corridors until Kanna eventually found a door that would be familiar to them both. A little known storage room, partially forgotten, that had often been used in the past by the two for private trysts. Kanna opened the door and pulled Chu inside, closing it behind them both.

“FUCK!”

Chu Hua stood for a moment, shell-shocked. Then she collapsed against the wall as everything hit her all at once. She shook, bringing her knees to her chest. She wasn’t crying- the tears evaporated so fast she couldn’t. Everything was gone. Everything she had worked for, everything she had dreamed of having, every relationship she had ever built- burnt to ashes. She had tried so hard for so long to keep this secret and… had failed. She would not be getting married in two weeks, or winning a championship, or being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was all over. Chu Hua clutched her hand around a dusty piece of paper, startling as it lit on fire. It brought her back a bit.

Kanna. Chu Hua looked at her with hooded lids. Her ex-girlfriend, her fiercest rival, the girl who had punched her in the face earlier. “Why… why did you save me?” Her voice was hollow. “You hate me. You should have let me die- my life is over.”

Kanna stepped away from the door she was leaning against. She had been trying to listen to footsteps on the other side to gauge what was happening and as far as she could tell, for now, they were safe. However, there was no telling how in control Chu could remain in the enclosed space and to make matters worse, water was beginning to seep in from the outside. As she turned around, it splashed under her cleats.

"Yeah. You’re right. I fucking hate you. Your face irritates me and what you said about my mo-...” She paused, collecting herself in the moment so as to not go off on an unnecessary tangent. “Look… I don’t hate what you are." A frustrated sigh escaped her lips as she closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead, her mind finally realizing just how deep a hole she'd dug herself. It all happened so quickly and she'd barely had time to register the split second decision she'd made. Now, it was too late to go back and she had to commit. She opened her eyes and knelt in front of the defeated girl, being sure to give her enough space to breathe. "You're not the only bender I know..." She glanced at the corner of her eye as an odd expression passed over face. "... And your life isn't over."

“Easy for you to say. Do you know how hard I’ve worked for all this, Kanna? It’s all gone.” Chu Hua planted her fingers in the trickling water, allowing herself to create a flame which immediately fizzled out. “I was supposed to get married in two weeks. I was gonna win fucking Nationals today. But now… well, unless we miraculously get out of here and I live some pathetic, lonely life in the Lower Ring or the Outskirts, I’m only destined to die by firing squad- or worse. Just because you’re some fucking secret rebel sympathizer or something doesn’t fix that.”

“No. It doesn't help because I'm not a 'rebel sympathizer'. I just also happened to have had a firebending mother that they took from me because she refused to listen. I don't expect you to understand what it's like for people on the other side because you haven't lost that yet. You don't even have them. Not really. You haven't made your own family to abandon. You haven't made promises that you break. You haven't told someone that you know what the fuck you're doing when you really fucking don't. I bet you think you're fucking clever too, don't you? Just like she did. That if it wasn't for whatever the fuck happened today, you'd live the rest of your life just fucking fine, except you're not! One fucking mistake and that's it! She's gone! Two fucking weeks ago. So fuck you! You’re still here and you have a chance.

You love An don't you? Don't put her through what my mother put me through. I know a place you can go away from all of this. I know who to talk to and how much they want and that they do most of the leg work. All you have to do is want to do it. You could take An along too. It might cost some but your family will be fine. I’m your proof of that.”


Chu Hua was quiet for a moment. It made sense why Kanna had reacted so awfully earlier; she would have too. “I’m sorry about your mom. But I did everything right. I kept my mouth shut, I acted normal, and… still.” She gestured to the stadium and the fire alarm’s roaring.

“Huh? What are you talking about? Where the fuck would I go?! You can’t escape the RSF without going into the Wilds, and there’s nothing out there.”

"There is. I mean..." She bit her lip. "...I've been told. Apparently it's another thing they like to sweep under the rug. Not all benders are crazy murder psychopaths and... People live outside the walls. I don't know how but it's a big world out there. It's not that hard to believe. And people are always showing up from outside the walls so I've heard. Maybe they all look like they've been through hell but anything's gotta be better than dying.

Apparently there's a town that you can get to and supposedly, they don't care if you're a bender. Supposedly. I admit it’s not one hundred percent, but I do know one hundred percent your life here is over… but it’s not done. You can get out of here."


Chu Hua looked momentarily in disbelief. That was impossible; Ba Sing Se was the only city left in the world! Everything else was irradiated to shit. “That sounds like total bullshit, but… well. You’re right.” It seemed to cause her physical pain to admit this. “I don’t have any more options.” A tear came unbidden to her eye, and she wiped it away. Damnit. She didn’t like crying in front of Kanna, or anyone for that matter.

“You’ll probably enjoy having me gone, huh? You’ll win all your matches without me there to fuck your plays.”

”Don’t kid yourself, sweetheart.” Kanna said, rising to her feet. She was standing now in water a few inches deep. ”You were never going to get to win nationals…. Not that it matters.” She half laughed as she stared at the door. ”I won’t be winning any more trophies anytime soon either. I’m as good as a bender for helping you out, but at least this way… maybe someone gets to live this time.”

Chu Hua stood too, the water still steaming at her feet. She frowned- they should probably leave, but Kanna’s comment was more concerning. “So you’re just gonna stay here and die?”

”No. The plan is to get you to An so you two can get somewhere safe.” Kanna answered, half ignoring the real question. She knew what she was asking but if she were being honest with herself, she wasn’t entirely sure what she was going to do.





Chu Hua nodded at Li’s statement. It was indeed a big deal that the king was here- he rarely came to games, even Nationals, and even then he had never been seen outside of the Upper Ring. Something more was going on here. She glanced at the royal box every few moments as the woman sang, almost reassuring herself he was still there. Playing in front of the king made her sweat- even though she had done it before. They had to win this! If only to prove they were better than those fucking Wolfbats.

She snorted, but didn’t comment on Li’s obvious crush. Teenagers would be teenagers- of course the younger girl would be attracted to the Wolfbats. “Li. Don’t worry about Kanna, or their fucking trophies. She might play herself up, but she’s shit under pressure. And the wolfbats have gotten lazy. They’re too used to winning. We’re not.” Chu Hua found herself not listening to the anthem while whispering to the younger girl- she had heard it at least 100 times, and just lazily kept her hand on her heart. She had to maintain some form of patriotism, but it didn’t pay to be over patriotic or to just brazenly ignore it- right in front of the king!

“I’m calm because I’ve been doing this since I was 17. I’ve played-” Chu Hua took a moment to think. She was awful with math. “100 games. This is your first Nationals. At some point, it becomes more of a… well, not a habit, but a ritual. I’m not calm, but I’m not freaking out. I’ just know I’m too good to lose.” She said all of this in a relaxedl fashion, not belaying her inner anxiety. God, she wanted to win this game. It was more than a want, it was a drive. There was fire at her heels, bidding her to do it, to win, to get that fucking trophy and rub it in everyone’s stupid faces.





“You know, we really could have eaten somewhere nicer.”

An and Chu Hua sat in the back of a divey ramen joint, knees uncomfortably squished together underneath the small, sticky table. The restaurant, aptly named “Bong’s Ramen”, was in the part of the Middle Ring where Chu Hua’s team played and, coincidentally, near where she had grown up. It was just how she liked it- the tables shoved together, the floors slightly dirty, and a strange smell emanating from the kitchen. It was cheap and classic. And the food tasted great.

Chu Hua chuckled at her fiancees comment. An had a taste for the hipster and high-class: tea shops where they grew the herbs on the roof, restaurants where the dishes weren’t greasy and were mostly full of salad. This place was the opposite of that. “But it’s so good, babe! And I really need to carbo-load, so can it? For me?”

An rolled her eyes, the ghost of a smile on her lips. “I don’t like it when you tell me to shut up. But fine. I won’t tell the nutritionist you’re eating like shit the day before the game.”

“Atta-girl.” Chu Hua winked and sipped at her taro boba tea.

The two, especially An, looked highly out-of-place here. Chu Hua wore workout gear: a loose jersey with a black hoodie thrown over it, tight black shorts, sneakers, her black hair tied up into a ponytail. An, meanwhile, looked like she had come straight from the office, which of course she had. A sheer, collared white blouse hugged her frame, and she wore black slacks and kitten heels. Her black hair was down, brushing her shoulders, and her makeup was immaculate. Most people here were just trying to go about their business, but a few pointed and stared. That, though, was not about their outfits. Already two people had come up to ask Chu Hua for a photo or an autograph, and while she was happy to oblige, Chu Hua could see her fiancee slowly growing weary of all the interruptions to their conversation. Such were their lives.

The food eventually came, and was set down in a businesslike fashion. Chu Hua, feeling her stomach immediately ramp into gear, grabbed her chopsticks and went to town on her bowl. An picked at hers as she stared out the window.

“So. Your mom called me.” An turned her gaze back to Chu Hua. Whatever interested her had seemingly passed by.

“Oh?” This was said through bites of ramen. Damn, this shit was good. She might need seconds…

“She wants to know when we’re moving back in. After the season ends,” An said, rather pointedly. She looked at Chu Hua with a flat gaze.

“Oh. Uh. Probably after the wedding, moving all those boxes would be a pain in the ass while we’re still planning…” Chu Hua moved to flag down the waitress for a second bowl, but paused at the icy look. “Babe, why are you looking at me like that?”

An crossed her arms. “I thought we were staying in the apartment for a few months after the wedding. Did you tell your mom we were moving back into the house?”

“Um, maybe, yeah. I don’t remember. Are you… mad?”

“No. I mean- no, no. Just, maybe… I don’t want to live in your parents’ house when I’m a 28-year-old newlywed.”

Chu Hua fully set down her chopsticks in her bowl. “One: it’s my house. I own it-”

“-but your parents sleep in the master-”

two: I thought you liked my parents.”

“I do! I just don’t want to move right back in with them after the wedding. I don’t want to fight, either. Can’t we just have our own space? I want some privacy.”

Chu Hua finally flagged down the waitress, signaling for another bowl. She sighed, massaging her temples. This would be a tough one. Her parents were so excited to have them back, and she didn’t want to break their hearts. “Sure. You know I’d do anything for you, An. Just let me tell them, alright?”

An smiled, pleased at the turn of events. Chu Hua smiled, too, looking lovingly at the woman she was going to wed in only three weeks. Gods, she was lucky. Sure, her fiancee was willful and stubborn. But wasn’t that one of the things she loved about her? On impulse, she leaned forward to give An a peck on the lips. The other woman squeaked, surprised, but it was over as soon as it began. The second bowl came to the table, and as Chu Hua began to eat, An pulled out a tablet.

“So, the tuxedo guy called…”




Game Day was always rather anxiety-inducing, but today was something else. It was Nationals, for one. Every man, woman, and child had their eyes on the TV screen, and the competition was hot. No one had any idea who would win. Would it be the underdog Badgermoles, or the unbeatable Wolfbats? Chu Hua wasn’t sure, and Chu Hua was usually confident in her ability to win or lose. And all eyes were on her. It was exhilarating- but terrifying. What if they lost? What if something awful happened? She had a good feeling about today, but if everyone set the Badgermoles’ wins at her feet, would they set this loss at her feet too? And, number two: it was Centennial Day. The one hundredth anniversary of the end of the Great War. The streets and the stadium were even more crowded than usual, and Chu Hua had had to sit through an hour of traffic coming into the stadium where it normally would’ve taken ten minutes.

She eventually got to the stadium around 10 AM, making a beeline down to the locker rooms. Fans screamed her name as she walked past the main entrance, and the screams only intensified when she shouted, “GO BADGERMOLES! WE’RE GONNA FUCKING WIN THIS THING!” Chu Hua then went to greet her teammates.

“Yo! Li, Fei, Hiti! What’s up?”

“Good,” chimed in Hiti, a young woman with brown skin and dark brown hair. She was sitting in a chair, meditating. The locker rooms in this stadium were incredibly nice- equipped with a weights room, a sauna, showers, and even a bath. It was nicely lit and modern.

Every stickball player had their own game-day routine, and Chu Hua was no exception. She stretched, did some laps on the treadmill, stretched again, did some aggressive chanting with her teammates, ate a healthy and light lunch… and then it was 2 PM. The roar of the crowd was, at this point, deafening, even from inside the locker room. At this point, all the women were suited up. Chu Hua wore the helmet, jersey, and protective gear required of all players and gripped her stick in hand as she marched onto the field alongside the others.

The screams of fans felt like they would shatter her ears, but all those voices only lifted her up. A buzz began along the base of her spine, a high. So many names were being shouted, but hers was chief among them all. She managed to keep her mouth shut as they walked, along with the Wolfbats on the opposite field, towards the bedecked royal box. They all bowed, deep and long. It was a ceremony repeated every game, for every stadium had a royal box, although the king was seldom there. But, as Chu Hua raised her head… there he was. The king. He met her eyes, just for a second, but a jolt went through her. A similar one went through the rest of her teammates. None of them had expected he would be here. The king never came to the Middle Ring. But on Centennial Day… well, it was good symbolism.

Chu Hua glanced to the girl beside her, Li- a rookie, looking extremely nervous. As they waited for the anthem to start, she patted the girl on the shoulder. “It’ll be alright,” she said, conspiratorily. “We’re gonna win this shit, just you see.”


Location: The Hotspot Interacting with: Viktor (@FunnyGuy), Aleen'a (@baraquiel), Zach (@Crimson Flame)



“Zach! Stop. Talking! she whispered Alisa almost felt like kicking him again, but reined in the desire. Viktor went off to the bathroom, leaving the table abruptly. Alisa had seen Kassy and Ja go in there together, but had assumed it was for something relevant. Obviously, Viktor didn’t because he got up after them and walked off. She continued watching the couple talk for a few moments, lancing at them every so often while she continued to doodle. This time, she was sketching the girl. Black hair, seedy green eyes… even if Alisa didn’t like that she kidnapped people, she had a sense of style. Hot damn! Maybe she’d copy that outfit later.

Alisa nodded to Aleen’a in agreement, quirking a smile. “Good idea. I think I might’ve brought something for that…” She dug in her pockets briefly, pulling out a miniscule round piece of metal. “Someone’ll have to bump into her on the way out. And let’s try to get both of them, alright?” The plan was imperfect, but it’d have to work…

Just then, Alisa had an idea. “Wait. I’m drawing her. Why don’t I just do the both of them and show it to them on their way out? That’ll be less suspicious than tripping into them, right? I’ll finish it and then I’ll do it while Kassy’s in the kitchen. Is that a good idea?” She looked a little unsure, twirling her pencil between her fingers.
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