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After the Battle
Cassandra's entire demeanor changed with the departure of Andi and Gray. Things had gotten a little bit ugly at the end. Steven had almost forgotten that Andi and Gray weren't on perfect terms either, and Andi had definitely left with a bit of a shot at the boy. It didn't really mean much, though. Steven and Cassandra were left, and there were still things to talk about.

Her admission of culpability for not being clear was an odd point for Steven. It was probably supposed to be an attempt to placate him. At some point in there, she'd switched to focusing on her issues and future and all of that rather than his own initial problems with her. It wasn't a surprise. He'd realized right at the start that she was a very self-centered individual, and this just went to support it. Still, it also suggested that she knew she'd crossed a line, that she had enough capacity for embarrassment to want to salve her ego a bit by dialing things down.

She said she wanted to make money so that she could take it easier later on. Maybe that was normal. Maybe it was how most people were. Steven had never really understood that. All through school, his classmates wanted nothing more than to grow up, to be done with high school, done with college, always moving forward and advancing at a breakneck pace. They were so busy trying to get whatever the hassle of the moment was over with that they didn't actually enjoy themselves. Steven wondered how they'd feel when they finally retired in their sixties, if they'd maybe regret their haste.

Cassandra also emphasized how very much she wanted her kids to grow up safe and well provided for. Once again, Steven felt a little disconcerted by that. It seemed like Cassandra was pretty messed up because of her experiences and, rather than taking the normal route through therapy, had decided that the path to healing lay in vicariously experiencing a sane childhood through her own kids. Steven hoped those kids wouldn't end up getting messed up by that. He could only imagine the sorts of pressures Cassandra would exert upon them, the sorts of expectations that would be tied up with her own ideals. He thought that she wanted a perfect world, but that she was so absorbed in herself that her conception of one only extended as far as her own sphere of interaction.

Then those musings went away because she was asking him about his contingency plans. She was acting like she had a big point, like he was in trouble if he didn't have a flawless backup idea.

"I'll roll with the punches," Steven said. "Life's not something you can plan for. Maybe tomorrow I'll get hit by a bus. Maybe someone'll lie and say you cheated and you'll get kicked out of school and won't be able to do all those things you want to. You never know what's gonna happen 'til it comes, and then you just have to adapt.

"I'll be fine, I think. See, one of the big things I've learned is adaptability. I'd love to write, but if I have to flip burgers, then I know I can do that. If I have to work for a corporation, I can do that too. And, if that happens, I can always keep looking for something better, something I'll like, and eventually I'll find that. Flexibility's the way to go, from all I've seen."

He shrugged.

"I mean, like I said, can't plan for everything. The best opportunities in life are the ones you never see coming."

Moving Day
Lahela said she didn't need help with her stuff, which was a bit of a relief but also didn't really give Emily that much of a chance to do something nice to welcome her cousin. It sounded like Lahela wasn't too excited about her move, and given the circumstances Emily could completely sympathize. At least things seemed to be off to a pretty good start so far. At least the conversation was flowing smoothly, if a little bit less naturally than Emily was used to.

Then, Lahela said she'd brought something. It was a lei, a slightly wilted one, but pretty nonetheless. Emily felt some of her reservations beginning to dissolve as Lahela draped the lei over her head and gave her a one-armed hug. Emily returned the hug, and felt her smile broaden a bit. The enthusiasm Lahela was showing was comforting in most ways, but it made Emily just the slightest bit nervous that she wouldn't live up to her cousin's expectations, whatever they were. It was complicated in so many ways, having new people coming to live with her and go to school with her. Life was certainly about to get different.

Lahela followed her actions with a compliment, and Emily felt a few more of her initial concerns slip. Things were off to a pretty decent start, at least.

"Thanks," Emily said. "It's great to see you again. You look really great."

It was true, too. Lahela wasn't someone Emily had any reason to worry about being seen with in school. She might even be someone to try to coax onto the cheer squad, though Emily wasn't at all sure her cousin would be interested or able to qualify absent any experience in the area.

While she still wasn't entirely comfortable with her cousin, having really exchanged only a few sentences with her, Emily was anxious to make a good impression on her and a good showing for all of the older family members. As such, she kept her smile nice and wide.

"I really hope you like it here," she said. "There are so many great things in Seattle. I can't wait to show you everything. Anything you're especially excited for?"

Atsuhiko Ayukawa
Alrighty!

Atsuhiko's looking better again, but there are still some things that need fixing.

First off, the formatting error is still present. No line should be skipped between Advantages and Disadvantages.

Next, you still have his name inverted in the first sentence of his biography.

There's a little math error here: "Nobuyuki and Kichisaburō were nine and four years older respectively." "Kichisaburō was much easier to approach because he was only three years older". I'd like you to fix it so the numbers match, please.

I'm still having issues with Atsuhiko talking people into getting into trouble. It just doesn't make sense that he knows he doesn't want to get in trouble but thinks nothing of tricking other people into incurring it, especially since he's disturbed by his brother's lack of empathy.

I'd like to know a bit more about Atsuhiko's apparent competitive streak. Why does he like being better than other people at a given subject?

I still do not get Atsuhiko's disrespect of the hobbies of other students, given that he is obsessively interested in blogging, which is a hobby that could easily be painted with the same brush.

I have some issues with the characterization of the math and science programs as primitive. Aurora High School is established to offer Advanced Placement classes in all of its subjects. AP classes are very high-standard academic classes, considered roughly equivalent to university courses, so there would be plenty of opportunities if Atsuhiko had interest in furthering his academic pursuits.

I'd also like to know why Atsuhiko is so hellbent on avoiding getting a slight tan.

What sorts of acquaintances has Atsuhiko made in his three years in the US? Even if they're not close friends, I'd like to hear what types of people he gets along better with. Also, has he had any issues with anybody?

Atsuhiko's issues with difference need a lot more explanation in his bio, since right now it suggests he's really interested in positive differences as well as negative ones. Also, his eyesight issues need serious elaboration and integration into his bio. Why have they never been examined or corrected? His parents are very wealthy, and this is a serious issue, so it doesn't make much sense.

Post when you've got Atsuhiko edited, and we'll give him another look. Thanks!

Sean Kato
Hi again!

Sean is looking a lot better, but I still have a few things I'd like to see changed up.

First off, 5'9" still isn't very short. It's two inches below average for a grown man, and, given the high school age of the characters, still basically right in the middle of average.

What happened to Sean's nose?

Sean is mentioned to Japanese-American/African-American in his Appearance section, but is described as Japanese-American/Italian-American in his bio. I'd like either some more detail on his heritage so that that makes sense, or for things to be adjusted so they match.

What professions did Sean's parents have?

Intimidation and beatings do not qualify as abuse having been removed from the profile. This is something that really isn't being addressed in a manner I feel comfortable with here, and so it's got to go.

How does Sean's difficulty relating to people manifest? How does he feel about this? Has he ever tried to improve his social skills?

How does Sean succeed in debate, given his difficulties with people? How does this factor into him having to function in a setting largely dependent upon being persuasive to others?

How does Sean have childhood friends in the area? I thought he moved to Seattle when he was twelve, only about five or six years before the present.

Sean's black and white morality really needs more fleshing out. How does it manifest itself? Where does it come from? Does it cause him any issues?

Sean's understanding of his physical limitations should come up in his profile.

I'd also like to know a bit more about Sean's discomfort with his peers. Is it strong enough to actually cause him issues in a life-or-death situation? That seems a bit intense, especially for someone who actually is involved in a fair number of extracurriculars.

Post when you've got Sean edited, and we'll give him another look. Thanks!

A Breath of Fresh Air
It turned out, conveniently enough, that Probably-Maddie was Maddie after all. She said she was reading the book for independent study. That sort of said to Adam that she was either really interested in the subject or trying to look smarter than she was for some reason. He didn't have enough information to guess which, and didn't particularly care. Image was important, and the brainy kids had to posture just like the jocks did. Nothing wrong with that.

Yaz offered to let Adam take a seat, and so he did, saying, "Thanks."

She'd also asked what he was taking instead of science. Adam took a moment to think. Technically, he'd also chosen not to take math this year. He wasn't taking much of anything challenging or academic, for that matter. They probably didn't give at all about the sort of long-winded explanation that would be required to convey all of that, so instead he just abbreviated things a bit.

"I'm takin' pysch," he said. "It's useful, you know? Better than chemistry or something, since I'll actually use it every day."

That might have been a bit of a bad move, since Maddie was so into hard science, so Adam quickly added, "I mean, science is great if you're gonna be a scientist. It's just not my calling, so I'm not focusing on it."

Then another kid showed up. Gavin Hunter was one of the weird kids, but he seemed pretty harmless, so Adam didn't have any issues with him. Gavin asked if he could sit down, and Adam was very close to just saying sure when he realized that he was the newcomer to this table and it wasn't really his place to invite other people. As he thought about this, he half-consciously fished his pencil out of his pocket and started rolling it around in his hand. He'd never mastered that pencil twirl he'd seen some other kids do. It looked pretty badass, though. He'd always meant to learn, but had somehow never found the time.

Jake Hirohashi
Hiya, Shoji! Before we give Jake a full critique, please be sure his profile exactly matches the profile. Specifically, please remove the line between Advantages and Disadvantages. Post when you've got that taken care of, and we'll give him a full critique. Thanks!

Mimi's Sprite Station v2
Awesome job as always, Mimi. I am totally in awe of how much detail and care you manage to pack into such tiny packages. These are all so amazing, and they actually keep lending me new appreciation for characters. I totally love having visual references like these, and you do such a great job with all of them. They actually make me more excited to see these kids in game.

Also, if you're up for it, it'd be super awesome and I'd be incredibly grateful if you did Jennifer Perez from V4.

Thanks again for doing all of these. You rock!

MurderWeasel's Post Clinic
Not an update here, just an apology for this being so very much a backburner project for me. Getting hired a week after it started just tanked my time.

As I know people like current stuff, if I have not gotten to critique your stuff yet, you are absolutely 100% free to change your requested post, and I'll do the new one. Just please make sure you both edit your original post and post a notice here, because otherwise I may miss it. Anyways, yeah, that is all. I will try to be more on the ball on these. Just gotta do profile critiques first, as well as keeping on top of my own writing.

Thanks for your patience, everyone. :)

My Little Pony Mafia - Game Thread
Bah!

Posted Image

Further V5 Rules Changes
Hi, everyone! After some deliberation and much discussion, the staff has a few more rules changes for V5. The bulk of these rules affect most handlers, so it is important that everyone read them.

First off, we have consolidated all activity rules and procedures into a single document. We have also made some changes to procedures, including adding standardized deadlines for appeals, notes on what constitutes a valid appeal, and other things of the sort. Two key changes/clarifications:

1. No staffer has the authority to extend activity deadlines under any circumstances, so you must post on time or post as Away.

2. Placeholders or content-less posts do not count for purposes of activity.

The detailed set of rules may be found here. Everyone should read it. It also includes new rules for Endgames.

Next off, we've overhauled the adoption system. This has seen the biggest changes, and everyone should really read this in full, as we have addressed most of the adoption balance issues from V4. This may be found here.

Finally, the smallest change, which affects only the winner of a version: We've come up with a set of rules and guidelines for epilogues. These are designed to be minimally restrictive, and should present no troubles. They may be found here.

Any comments or questions about these rules or the rationale behind the changes should go right here, in this thread. We're also likely going to be introducing a few other new rules/changes in the next few weeks.

Thank you for your attention. We're looking forward to an awesome V5, and hope all of this helps it be the best game yet.

SOTF Activity Rules
Welcome to SOTF! As a site, we do not have too many rules, but one of the most important in-game rules regards activity and inactivity. The rules related to these concepts will be outlined here.

We expect a certain level of activity from our handlers. At a minimum, we require a single post every two weeks (fourteen days), unless we have been notified that a handler is Away during this time. Away handlers receive fourteen days plus the duration of their time Away (within the restrictions listed in the Away thread). We require this minimum because of the way the game functions. Rolls to determine character deaths are conducted approximately every two weeks. It is not fair to the members who put great amounts of effort into their posts for characters who have almost no actual writing to make it further in the game solely because of luck.

Also for these reasons, "placeholder" posts will no longer count as posts for the purposes of the activity system. More than that, they will not count as posts even after being edited to include content, as staff are not notified of edits and do not have time to constantly dig through older threads. From here on out, to count, any post must be sufficiently detailed and complete to a. allow activity in the thread to continue unimpeded, b. allow other handlers/readers to understand what is happening, and c. prove that it's not just been tossed out as an attempt to dodge inactivity.

Because of the varying natures of threads and posts and writing styles, the staff will not be setting concrete rules here. We assume that everyone is capable of figuring out when a post is clearly just a stalling tactic. Situations will be judged case by case, however, if you feel that a post in your thread is problematic, please notify a staff member so that the staff may review it.

Inactivity is measured from the exact moment a post goes up. After fourteen days (or 336 hours) have passed without a post, a character is considered inactive. In practice, it is very rare for inactivity to be enforced the minute it comes into effect, but, by the rules, such things may occur.

When a character becomes inactive, the handler will be notified. Each handler is entitled to one single activity warning per version. This warning will take the form of a message from the staff notifying the handler that one or more of their characters are inactive. After a handler receives a warning, they immediately enter a one week grace period in which none of their characters will be considered inactive, allowing them to catch up on posts. There are, however, some penalties for even a single instance of inactivity. A handler who has received an inactivity warning becomes ineligible to participate in the official adoption system for the remainder of the version unless they have no remaining characters. They may, however, still be given characters by other handlers outside the system, though they will be subject to all the usual caveats in doing so.

A second instance of inactivity, however, bears much more severe consequences. First off, it bars a handler from adopting during the next version as well as the current one. More than that, a character who becomes inactive after their handler has been warned is considered terminally inactive or irredeemably inactive (the terms are synonymous). This means that the handler has, by not posting, forfeited their rights to the character. At this point, the staff team will dispose of the character in one of two ways.

The first possibility is adoption. In the early stages of the game, after registrations have closed, inactive characters are given to new handlers or handlers without full rosters to write. If a character is given up for adoption, they become the sole property of their new handler, to do with as they please.

The second option is inactive kills. After a certain point in the game, or if the character is deemed too problematic for adoption by the staff, they will be killed off anonymously by the staff. This may take the form of an accident, a fight, or basically anything else. Once a character has been declared terminally inactive, and once the staff have decided to kill the character, the initial handler has no further role in the proceedings. They will not be allowed to write the death themselves or control its direction in any fashion. If the character is already in a scene which is supposed to lead to their death, the staff may make an effort to carry on with the plan, but this is not their responsibility and the character may be killed in another fashion if it is more convenient.

A handler is always welcome to appeal notification of inactivity. Such appeals must occur within three days. During these three days, characters will not be auctioned for adoption, killed off, etc.

Appeals will definitely be granted for the following reasons:
  • Staff error: Should an erroneous inactivity notification be sent, it will immediately be reversed and the handler will not be penalized in any fashion.
Please note that, as always, missing the appeal deadline will make you ineligible for an appeal even in the case of staff error unless you are correctly and completely listed as Away during the time in which the notification is sent.

Appeals will probably be granted for the following reasons:
  • Serious and unforeseen real life circumstance: Should some sort of disaster befall you, your appeal will most likely be granted. Real life always comes first, and the staff understands and respects this.
  • Technical failure: Should your technology fail without warning, preventing you from accessing the site, you probably have valid grounds to appeal.
Note that it is far preferable for you to, if at all possible, post as Away in the above circumstances. Appeals are a last recourse, and by relying on them you may lose a character due to missing the appeal deadline. Also, multiple appeals will be viewed with increasing skepticism, so it is in your interests to not have a history of them. Finally, note that staff will do a bit of research in these instances. Specifically, if you have often been logged into the site/chat, or have been posting at all, during the time immediately preceding your notification, the staff will be much less likely to grant your appeal given that that means you had plenty of time and ability to mark yourself as Away.

Appeals will not be granted for the following reasons:
  • Failure to realize inactivity: Inactivity always occurs after fourteen days without a post. No staff member has the authority to grant extensions on activity under any circumstances. This means that it should not be difficult to track when you owe a post.
  • Delays caused by other handlers: As above, inactivity kicks in when it does. Violating post order for activity reasons is valid and highly recommended.
  • Repeat offenses: Staff will be, at the very least, skeptical of multiple appeals on any grounds aside from staff error. In all cases, it is far better to mark yourself as Away, as doing so allows other handlers to plan around your absence.


Inactivity sweeps may occur at any time. During large parts of V4, they occurred roughly daily. It bears repeating that no circumstances excuse inactivity. Staff will sometimes exercise leniency should it be noted that inactivity was caused due to waiting on another handler, but this is not official policy and is absolutely not something which should be counted on. Similarly, staff will sometimes give slight leniency to characters who are already rolled. Once again,this is not official policy and should not be expected.

If an appeal is granted, a handler will receive forty-eight hours from the moment of granting to post. Away posts made during this period will not be honored. It will likely prove advantageous to prepare a post even as the appeal is being processed, though you should never post until your appeal has been granted. The only exception is in the case of staff error; should that occur, the handler will be allotted forty-eight hours or their actual remaining time, whichever is greater.

That's the basic activity system. There is, however, one case in which the rules change drastically: Endgame.

Endgame is the time during which the final handful of characters face off. In V1-3, it contained four characters, while V4 had five. Inactivity for endgame will be handled a little differently. Specifically, once it becomes a handler's turn to post, they have six days to get a post up. If they fail to do so, their character gets declared terminally inactive and is inactive killed. There are no activity warnings in Endgame. It doesn't matter if an inactive character was supposed to win; inactivity will be enforced. Being Away is still allowed, but will be very closely scrutinized and must be announced at least three days in advance for all incidents except emergencies, as the staff hopes to avoid huge delays caused by handlers being gone for long stretches of time. If a handler will be gone for a very lengthy duration, the staff reserves the right to ask them to select a handler to take responsibility for their character in their absence.

If a handler has no interest in being in endgame, or if they do not feel that they can keep up with the posting regime, they can opt out before the final pre-Endgame rolls by sending Help a PM stating that they are doing so. The staff will count those characters as automatically rolled, then roll down to the final four (or five, or whatever is being done for the version) from whoever remains.

Please note that six days is the absolute maximum. Really, it should take much less time than that. Bookkeeping is going to be very strict on this; handlers can and will get busted if they stray over 144 hours at all.

Finally, there are rules regarding the punctuality of the start of Endgame. Endgame should be a time of excitement and activity. Unfortunately, historically Endgames have sometimes gotten bogged down in the planning stages. There are many reasons for this, and the staff understands the necessity of some planning, but at a certain point things just need to get started. It makes no sense to spend months trying to reach an accord on the winner when everyone really wants to take it to rolls.

As such, there will henceforth be a time limit of one month after the death of the final pre-Endgame character for determining a winner. If a winner is not determined in that time, then the game will go to rolls.

There will also be a deadline for starting the Endgame thread. That deadline will be one week after a winner is determined. This is because activity is not enforced until the thread begins, and it's not really good for the climaxes of games to take ages to get rolling.

Revised for clarity on 8/17/13

How The System Works
The following serves as an addendum to and modification of the adoption rules premiered in V4. These rules supersede the old rules in any cases of conflict. The rationale for the changes will be given, so as to give insight into the thought process of the staff.

First off, we are adjusting the adoption eligibility process. Previously, handlers who had a character killed or given up due to terminal inactivity were permanently disallowed from adopting characters through the official system. The staff found this to be needlessly harsh, and have amended it.

From now on, a handler who loses a character to terminal inactivity will be disallowed from adopting only in the next numerical version. In other words, rather than being permanently barred from adopting, anyone who lost a character to inactivity in V4 is merely barred from adopting through the official system in V5. More than that, this restriction does not apply if a handler has no remaining characters. At that point, they become eligible in the same fashion as a handler who has received a warning during the version and then run out of characters.

Starting in V5, threads in the adoption section may only be started by staffers. All adoptions in the section will be handled through the official system. This is to prevent a practice common in V4: the total circumvention of the adoption limits by handlers handing off characters to anyone, regardless of eligibility. You may still give your characters to whoever you want, but arrangements should be handled through chat and PMs. If you wish to officially list characters for adoption by anyone, that should be done through discussion with the staff, who will start a thread which will follow the typical adoption guidelines.

Inactives will be offered for adoption only for the first third of the game. Some inactives may not be placed for adoption and may instead be killed, at the sole discretion of the staff. No character who has been in over four threads will be given up for adoption due to inactivity.

Newly adopted characters will be ineligible to be Swapped or Heroed out for the space of three rolls, regardless of whether they are adopted through the official system or are handed off by another handler, and regardless of whether that handler gives permission. This is to prevent handlers from adopting characters solely to bolster their original characters' chances of surviving. You may still Swap or Hero to save newly adopted characters. After three rolls, adopted characters will be treated as any other characters, and may be Swapped or Heroed normally. Note that this rule applies even if you adopt back a character you originally created and handled.

Finally, and most dramatically, there is a major change to how adopted characters interact with rolls.

Any character adopted after the 33% mark, or any character adopted by a handler who has already adopted a character during the version, will not be considered as belonging to their new handler for the purposes of protection against double rolls. These characters will be considered unattached, and may be rolled regardless of whether one of their handler's other characters is rolled in a given month.

This change represents a serious shift in the SOTF paradigm, which has until now not allowed a handler to lose multiple characters in a roll before the pre-Endgame rolls. We have decided on this change to mitigate the severe mathematical advantage having extra characters has provided to handlers in past versions. In effect, adopted characters beyond the first and/or after the 33% dead mark will not provide any sort of roll buffer to a handler's other characters. This change has been made to allow handlers to pass off their characters to whoever they want without punishing those who do not adopt. We believe that it goes a good way towards leveling out several of the less-than-fair eccentricities of the V4 rules.

We understand that this may prove inconvenient if a handler has to write multiple deaths during one roll period, and we encourage all handlers adopting characters affected by this rule to be cognizant of the possibility and ensure that they are able to handle that potential outcome before finalizing the adoption.

Also, note that if handlers pass their characters around a lot, this may end up with them all being eligible for simultaneous rolls even if they eventually revert to their original handler. We urge handlers to be aware of this fact when deciding whether or not they will pass their characters off.

V5 Rules Changes
4. Epilogue Rules

The following rules apply to the winner of a version. They are designed to be as nonrestrictive as possible, and are pretty much a formality to ensure universe continuity and plot cohesion.

  • No killing non-original characters without staff permission. The basically means you can't kill Greynolds unless the staff says you can. This is because often there are plotlines involving NPCs which span versions. If the character you wish to kill was created by another handler, then you require that handler's permission as well. You're welcome to kill characters of your own creation, including characters you create in the epilogue, as long as the other guidelines are followed. Also, if you have a great idea for killing a non-original character, ask! Staff are really receptive to well thought out ideas.

  • Epilogues should be realistic for the setting. No ascending to godhood, for example. No sudden military intervention spelling the end of the AT. Stuff should be kept reasonable, to the same standard as is expected in-game.

  • Leaping off of the other points, at least one staffer should review the epilogue for continuity purposes prior to publication. This is just to make sure that nothing will contradict the world/story. It's to avoid stuff like a handler showing that Danya's home country is really France or something silly like that. It also lets staff exercise some mild control over the preexisting characters used without crimping creativity.

    All of these things basically boil down to: Communicate with the staff and keep stuff reasonable for the world. As long as you do, there should be no issues whatsoever.

A Breath of Fresh Air
Probably-Maddie noticed Adam and asked his name. Well, that wasn't really the polite way to do it, without offering her own, but okay, he could live with that.

"I'm Adam," he said. "Nice to meet you. Hi, Yaz."

Yaz knew his name, at least, but she was being quiet and really shy. This was off to a pretty awkward start. Adam was already starting to regret his actions, but it was too late to change course now. He wondered if this was how those cavalry units in World War One had felt upon first encountering machine guns. In these situations, all he could think of to do was power on and hope he made it to the emplacement before succumbing to wounds.

"Sorry if I'm distracting you," he said. "I just noticed your book. Is it for a fun class? I skipped science this year."

Adam at this point thought his best bet was to just keep on talking casually until it was clear they wanted him gone or until a good opportunity came about to ask for a favor. Or until the period ended or conversation completely ground to an awkward, sputtering halt.

Introduction Thread
Hahaha. It's a race now, I see!

Anyways, yep, all of those things are good resources. Also, feel free to PM me or any other staffer if you have any questions. We're the ones with colored names.

Welcome to SOTF!

C is for Cookie
Michelle fiddled with the money for a bit, then tucked it into a fairly cute if somewhat unusual coin purse and launched into an explanation of the girl scouts and the sea scouts and everything related to them. Emily kept her smile up and nodded a bit as Michelle talked. The whole thing actually was really interesting. Michelle had also taken up station a bit closer to Emily. They were talking as classmates now, not as customer and salesperson. Emily liked it better that way. There was less pressure, less expectation of her. She'd already kicked in her money, so now they could be relaxed in their interactions.

She found the whole idea of the girl scouts pretty cool, actually. It must have been nice, to grow up as part of an organization, to make friends and compete with them and mentor younger people. She almost wished she culd have been a part of something like that.

Emily also found out some other interesting things. Michelle was captain of the girls' swim team. Emily knew of the swim team only insofar as she knew that the school had one. It was totally outside of her typical athletic interests and experiences. As far as she knew, swimming never got cheerleaders sent for its events. It wasn't like there was much room for acrobatics beside the pool, and besides, it'd have been awkward for the cheerleaders to not be the most scantily-clad girls at the event, even considering how decidedly un-sexy most sports swimsuits were. Emily occasionally went swimming for exercise, but she liked her lap-swimming suit a lot less than her fun swimsuit.

Michelle ended by talking about uses for old girl scout uniforms, and that got Emily to laugh. She was no stranger to slightly-trashy costumes, but the idea of sexy girl scouts was strange to her.

"Seriously?" she asked. "I mean, wouldn't that draw the wrong kind of attention?"

C is for Cookie
Michelle had way more information about the allocation of cookie funds than Emily had expected. She'd pretty much been prepared for the whole thing to be some scam backing a giant corporation, but it sounded like it really was by and large for the benefit of the local scouts. Michelle also explained that she was technically a boy scout as well, due to some intricacies involving eligibility for the sea scouts. Emily gave up trying to wrap her head around the logic behind the organization's structure; really, it sounded like something set up in the Fifties which nobody had ever bothered to modernize.

Michelle also elaborated on the trans fats. Apparently she hadn't seen them in anything, except maybe fried stuff. That made enough sense. Emily was pretty sure they'd been popular a few decades ago, before it was discovered that they caused cancer or heart disease or obesity or some combination thereof.

That had pretty much resolved all their business as far as the transaction went, but Emily had actually become fairly intrigued by the conversation and Michelle's stories.

"Are you the only one in town who's a boy scout and a girl scout?" Emily asked. Then, after a second's hesitation, she added, "What do girl scouts do, anyways? Besides sell cookies, I mean."

A Breath of Fresh Air
((Adam Morgan continued from Magic Man))

Adam felt like he had many better things to be doing than sitting around in the library. He could've been outside with the guys, practicing his moves. He could've been listening to some good music. He could've been with his family, probably shuttling his sisters to the mall or something. Instead, he was stuck at school. Worse than that, he was studying grammar.

English was a fine language. Adam was very grateful for his mother tongue. It was generally fairly elegant and intuitive, except when it came to little things like keeping tense straight in written assignments. Adam's thought patterns tended to be a bit all over the place, and so it was tricky to keep things straight. While talking, he would often switch from past tense to present tense. It just lent his stories that edge of immediacy, that sense that the listener was right there with him, standing in the ring as the announcer shouted out the countdown and the crowd went wild. Present tense made his backyard brawls with Paulo and Cooper sound less stupid. The only issue was, starting a story from the past in present tense tended to confuse people. Adam could almost hear Cooper or some other smartass going, "But, Adam, we aren't in the ring. We're at lunch." More to the point, he wasn't allowed to use present tense anyways for this essay, which was a major pain because the last essay had required only present tense. Such were the pains of remedial English class.

So, Adam was struggling stubbornly against his own natural instincts, trying to force himself to keep to past tense even if it wasn't quite so active. He had an essay he was working on in front of him. The first draft was complete, but Adam was intent upon editing it before taking the time to type it up.

Unfortunately, he wasn't focusing very well. The library was a good place for finding enough boredom to encourage attention, but today it just wasn't cutting it. From behind him, Adam heard some conversation. It was a distraction, but only because he hadn't been doing a very good job of concentrating anyways. It sounded like a couple girls were talking about their shared hobby of impersonating Hermione Granger.

And, right there, Adam found a great way to blow off his work while at the same time pacifying his conscience. He could just go over and say hi to the girls, maybe chat in a polite way for a few minutes, and if they weren't busy ask if one of them would be willing to give his paper a good proofreading. Best case, someone would help him get his thoughts in chronological order. Worst case, he'd get a break from his work for a little. It sounded like a pretty good deal all around.

With no further ado, Adam got up and wandered towards the table. He was pretty sure the girls were called Maddie and Yaz, or maybe he was just shortening their proper names. It didn't really matter. Since they weren't friends, he figured he'd offer his name once they got talking and hope they did the same.

Pausing a few feet from their table, he gave them a nod and said, " 'sup?"

Introduction Thread
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C is for Cookie
Michelle seemed to have her sales pitch down pat. She consulted her charts, then told Emily that there were in fact two types of peanut butter cookies for sale. The kind Emily liked were called Do-si-dos, which struck her as a pretty stupid name and something she'd have never guessed and didn't particularly want to say out loud. The cookies were also pretty pricey. It wasn't a huge surprise that girl scout cookies were a total racket. They were one of those things where people got to indulge their bad habits while at the same time feeling like they were doing good deeds.

Of course, Emily did have some questions. She decided to go ahead and place an order first, though, so that they'd come off more as polite conversation and less as skeptical interrogation.

"Can I order a box of the sandwich ones?" she asked, digging in her purse for some crumpled dollar bills.

"Oh, and have you ever seen anything with trans fat? I can't remember ever seeing anything that actually had trans fat in it."

Emily wasn't quite comfortable enough with Michelle to joke with her, which was what kept her from suggesting that trans fat might not exist and could just be a conspiracy among food companies to make their products sound healthier. Emily had managed by and large to avoid the worst of the dumb-cheerleader stereotype, and she wasn't about to risk being misunderstood and branded an idiot.

Having found four ones, Emily held them out to Michelle.

"That's eighty cents for your troop," she said, smiling. "What does the rest go to?"