Thursday, May 17, 2012

Chimera Rising: Chapter One: Mostly Mundane

Elemental Guardian:
Notice: This story is an original creation of mine, and as such, all the characters belong to me. Please do not steal this fic.

"Hello, this ABC-7, your local morning news. We're broadcasting live here with the 10 O'Clock news with anchors Chad Letts and Paula Angel*," the announcer said as the program began

"Hello," Chad Letts said. "Today, viewers, you're in for a treat. The top story of the day is a very interesting one. It seems that the Chicago area has a new superhero that just became active last night when she thwarted a bank robbery at the local Bank of America, located at 4500 W North Avenue. She identified herself as The Elemental Guardian after handing perpetrators over to the police before vanishing from the scene."

He turned to his co-anchor and said:
"Over to you, Paula."

She smiled back with the standard overly pleasant look all news anchors seem to have, and turned back to the audience to speak.

"Thank, you Chad. The bank heist was orchestrated by none other than Lucian Owens. You probably know him as the superhuman felon 'Hardcore', currently guilty of repeated accounts of theft, breaking and entering, arson, and several instances of manslaughter, including police officers and last year, Police Detective Charles Hobson. The police have already taken him into custody, for the fourth time. According to the report, they're going to be putting him under into suspended animation until they can design a cell that can hold him indefinitely."

"Hardcore is not known for being a pushover for even the toughest of superheroes, like The Prime Paragon, who assisted in his previous incarceration," Chad added.

"We're now going live to the scene of the crime with Ash Gibson," Paul said. "Ash, what can you tell us about the robbery and how it was thwarted?"

The view cut to a reporter standing out front of the bank. Behind him, not even a foot away, was a line of police tape with the broken front window of the bank also visible behind him.

"Hi, this is Ash Gibson live at the sight. Let me tell you, I have not seen a bank heist this elaborate in quite some time. This was an inside job. The plant was Alexander Winston, a security guard hired seven months ago. He'd been memorizing the layout and the technical aspects of the security since the beginning.

"Winston even managed to sneak Michael "Mouse" DiMaggio, a small time cyber hacker and embezzler, onto the roof to intercept the silent alarms and hack the feed of the security cameras. From there, it was simple for them to gain entry and dispatch the rest of the overnight personnel."

"So how did this robbery get turned on its head," Chad asked.

"My guess is that our new hero spotted Mouse on the roof," Ash replied. "That this scheme was thwarted may have been by happy chance. Mouse was found unconscious on the second floor by the SWAT team. She then took out most of the rest before they even knew what was happening."

"Ash, what exactly were the Elemental Guardian's powers?"

"According to Hardcore, Winston, and the other criminals, her abilities were simple martial arts augmented by Elemental Manipulation. Their testimony said that they witnessed her using air, fire, water, and earth before she successfully stopped their heist. Here's Officer Trevor Murphy to give his thoughts of this new face."

Gibson held the microphone up to an aging police officer.

"Officer Murphy, what is your take on this new hero in Chicago?"

"Morning. You see a lot on things as a policeman, especially since Supers started showin' in in the 80s. I haven't quite seen this before, though. Um, sure, sure, you get fire starters, wave surfers, mud slingers, and windbags, but all four? Not around here. I can't really figure her yet. We'll just have to wait and see. You get a lot ego-tripping "heroes" and few men and women that're the genuine article as far as Supers go. Time will tell."

"And there you have it. The Elemental Guardian: Hero or Ego-Stroking Menace? Back to you, Paula," Ash replied, facing the camera again.

"Thank, you Ash. And this is the only photo of the Ele…"

"Ego-stroking menace," the girl in question exclaimed angrily. "No one would even have known they were stealing all that money until they were long gone if I hadn't broke up their little party!"
She chucked her empty coda can at the TV screen. She crossed her arms and pouted where she sat cross-legged on the floor.

"Now, now, Peanut. You're just going to have to expect this kind of suspicion. Unauthorized superhero work is a very divisive issue right now," her father replied matter-of-factly.

"But daaa-aaad," she whined.

She turned partially around to face him while speaking. She sat cross-legged on the floor while he was sitting on the couch.

"Ugh. Stop whining, Lisa. You'll live," her father replied becoming somewhat annoyed.

Lisa blew him a raspberry. Her dark brown eyes still looked upset, but then she sighed in resignation, and raised both arms in a shrug. She tangled a hand through her black hair, which has tied back in a ponytail and draped over her shoulder. Hanging straight down, it came halfway down her shoulder blades. She had a thin yet somewhat rounded face thanks to her high cheekbones.

"Oh, I guess you're right. But I was really hoping for a warmer welcome, you know. Especially after I got hit by the big guy not just one, but twice. It still huuuurts and already left bruises."

"You still did the city a service by stopping those men. You couldn't do better than that. In all, I'd call your first outing a resounding success," her father replied without looking up from his paper.

"I guess," she replied doubtfully.

She turned back to the TV and picked up the remote to change the channel.

"Now you mean to tell that this she isn't the first Elemental Gua…" She heard the anchor start to ask some expert they had contacted for an interview.

The channel flipped it over to cartoons.

"…Big adventure, tons of fun, a beautiful heart, faithful and strong, sharing kindness is an easy feat, and magic makes it all complete…" The theme song sang. She set the remote down and settled in. Her father lowered the paper for a second. He grinned, shaking his head and pushed the transparent frame of his narrow lenses up to the top of his nose and went back to reading.
He took a sip of his coffee. Sans his usual gray jacket, he was already in his business suit and black power tie, ready to tackle the horrors of patents and all the procedures relating them to law and practice. Lisa actually thought he had the more dangerous job. He was an unathletic and skinny man that stood no more than 5'5", the same height of his daughter, no less. Lisa largely shared his Asian features and tanned skin. Her mother, Madison, or "Maddie", was blue-eyed brunette American.

The home phone on the table next to the couch started ringing.

"Hello, Ellison-Shirakawa residence. Koji speaking," he answered.

"Koji, we need you in here at your usual time. Do you think you can make it," the voice on the other end said.

"Gary? What's this about?"

"Look, the client, the one patenting the Nanofilter wants to move the hearing up. She's not taking no for an answer," Gary replied.

Koji sighed and gripped the ridge of his nose, clenching his eyes shut. He spoke again.

"I'll see what I can do, but everything's already been scheduled. Gary, my daughter is heading off to college today! You know I'm taking a half day. Huh? Yeah… Yeah, I'll see you later Gary."

He hung up the phone and turned to Lisa, who returned his gaze.

"Getting called into work, dad?"

"Yeah, but if those pencil pushers think I'm going to miss giving you a proper sendoff today of all days, they have another thing coming," Koji replied and then grinned. "I wouldn't miss seeing you off into a bigger world for that bigger world."

Lisa smiled back at her father.

"Thanks, dad."

"It's nothing. Speaking of which, though, shouldn't your friend be getting here soon?"

"Rain," Lisa laughed, and rolled her eyes. "You know Rain, dad. She'll drive up with all her luggage squared away perfectly and make sure mine is, too, before we hit the road."

"Hit the road," Koji asked light-heartedly. "In that van? More like tapping the road. Just make sure you make it by tonight. Since you're just starting out, you'll have to arrive on compass a few days ahead of time since you don't know your way around yet."

"Well, if you and mom had donated a little when we were fixing it for the last two years, we might be able to make it go faster than 40 miles per hour on the best of days," Lisa chided him blithely.

"A young person's first car is supposed to be a piece of junk," Koji argued playfully. "It'll make you both appreciate the first decent one you can get. Besides, you can only do so much for a rattletrap you bought by pooling 700 bucks for two years."

"Yeah, but it's our rattletrap," Lisa replied proudly.

"Yes. Yes, it is, and you can have it," Koji replied.


"Yeah, Grandma?"

Lisa leaned over to look past the couch into the adjoining rooms beyond. There her grandmother stood, in full karate uniform. It might seem a humorous sight perhaps. The stocky and doughy form of the elder would not exactly inspire fear to anyone who didn't know her.

"Before you go, how about one more lesson?"

"One more lesson? I guess I could…but why, you told me I was ready yesterday?"

"Oh, so you're a big girl now? No need for old granny?"

"Wha—no, no! I didn't say that! I'm just saying I took out my first super villain and everything! And today's going to be busy enough as is."

"Is that so," Yuuka answered her granddaughter thoughtfully.

"Yep," Lisa replied, sounding very pleased with herself.

"So you don't want that final round?"

"Not really. I'm going to sitting a car for an hour and then hauling things into a dorm room. So I'll pass, thanks, anyway."

"You sure, Lisa?"

"Yes, Grandma. Why?"

Then Yuuki smirked mischievously and laughed at her granddaughter.

"I'm calling beginner's luck! It's probably just as well, anyway. A person too lazy, or scared, to spar with an old woman can't be that challenging of an opponent."

"Hey—hey! What'd you just say? I could take five of that guy in a heartbeat."

"Oh ho ho ho ho, you could, could you? How about you put your money where your mouth is," Yuuka replied. "What's a pup like you going to do, eh? Just going to sit there and let the carbs go to your hips like other kids? Kids these days, you just aren't good for anything other than getting fat."

"Mom, don't tease Lisa like that," Koji said while turning the final page of his newspaper.

"Oh! IT. IS. ON! You are going down, Grandma," Lisa yelled.

She leapt over the couch with a determined grin and ran after the elder into the back yard. She'd beat that old bat and make her eat those words.

Koji just sighed, shaking his said.

"Honey, was that Lisa just now chasing Yuuka," Lisa's mother called from elsewhere.

"Mm-hm," Koji hummed back.

He took a sip of his coffee.

"Okay. Just wondering."

"Need any help putting together that presentation, Maddie," he called.

"No, I've got it, but thanks, honey," she called back.

Meanwhile, in the back yard, Lisa and Yuuka circled each other. Lisa glanced down at herself. Oh right, she had on a pair of jeans and a 'Bears' T-Shirt.

"Hey, should I get chang…" she started to ask.

Yuuka suddenly blasted her with a wall of air, sending her granddaughter across the yard and rolling down into the ditch beyond.

"On the streets, you might be fighting for your life in whatever you're wearing at the time. Crime doesn't wait for you to get ready," Yuuka called. "From now on, your fights won't be sparring with me. Remember that next time you wear that little blue number."

"Arrrgh," Lisa screamed.

Lisa came into view again. She stood atop a tree branch that bore her to the top. When she hopped off, it promptly returned to its original state.

"For the last time, it was prom! I was not the only girl in a dress that didn't cover my knees! Would you let that go, already?"

"How shameful, my only daughter dressing like a…"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence," Lisa said severely.

She rushed Yuuka. She didn't use anymore Elemental attacks, despite what Yuuka had done. They couldn't have the neighbors seeing them in action.

She let loose with a mad flurry of strikes. Her leg snapped up in a simple forward kick, followed by a spinning roundhouse, and drop kick. All of these Yuuka dodged or blocked with ease. In fact, she wasn't even cracking a sweat, where Lisa was beginning to breathe hard with the amount of energy she was exerting trying to corner the elder. Yuuka caught the last punch and pushed Lisa away with a light kick. Yuuka yawned as if this bored her.

"Is that really the best you can do I guess you really are my son's daughter," Yuuka saidked, uninterested. "He brought shame to our family and you'll do no better."

Lisa growled in rage and punched at her again. Yuuka grabbed the strike, turned so her back was to Lisa, and then pulled with all her might while ducking down. Lisa cried out as she thrown onto her back at Yuuka's feet. She leapt up again and began a new string of attacks. Her movements became even more frenzied and chaotic. She was knocked down on her rump next. When she tried again, Yuuka grabbed her by the arm and twisted it behind her back.
Lisa let out a pained grunt as pressure was applied to the joints. She tapped her leg frantically.

"Okay, okay, I give, give," she said.

Yuuka released her.

"Good. Now let's go in and get some…"
Lisa slapped her across the face then knocked her over with a push kick. Yuuka landed with a strained 'oof'.

"Hey! What the hell was with the bad-mouthing, eh? And leave dad out of this next time," Lisa shouted angrily.

"Oh, yes. Please do forgive me for that, Lisa," Yuuka replied apologetically.

She held up both hands in surrender. She got up and dusted herself off. Lisa crossed her arms irately. In all their time, the teasing from Yuuka had never gone beyond that. Today she had outright slandered her own grandchild, and the younger woman had no idea why.

"But…" Yuuka added. "I had to make a point."


"When we last sparred yesterday, you easily beat me, on your eighteenth birthday, no less. And then you had a taste of victory on your first outing as the first American Elemental Guardian. Why was today any different?"

Lisa puffed up like an angrily bird for a second, but then she deflated when she realized what happened. She slapped her forehead with a distasteful groan.

"I let you taunt into a fight," Lisa moaned. "Then I guess anger took the steering wheel."

"Now why was that any different from what that man at the bank did?"

"That guy at the bank doesn't have a thing on me that he could use. So what? You didn't have to talk that way about dad."

"I know, and I'm sorry, but the point still stands, dear," Yuuka explained. "There are people out there that can deduce things about their enemies in a frighteningly short amount of time, and they will say far, far worse to get you good and angry, right where they want you. Today, you learned that you can still fall victim to yourself. So take that lesson and never forget it."

"Heh heh, kinda harsh how you did it, though," Lisa replied, mildly.

"It's a harsh burden we've been charged with, dear," Yuuka said back. "I wish that the agreement was finite, but no. As long as we Shirakawas endure, so does our burden."

Yuuka stopped, as if remembering something very important.

"Oh yes," she said thoughtfully.

She turned to Lisa.

"Lisa, dear, tell me, why do we control the elements?"


"Just think of this as a final test."

This had all been stuff that was grilled into her mind ever since the time her grandmother came stateside when her powers manifested on her fourth birthday. Thankfully, when the water suddenly lifted out of the kiddie pool and drenched everyone, the guests believed her parents when they claimed it was a 'freak accident' thanks to 'unusual moister-precipitation ratio'. From then on, Yuuka had been Lisa's trainer.

"Fight the evils of the world wherever we find them and protect the innocent, preferably from the shadows like right ninjas," Lisa answered, still not quite getting it.

Lisa chuckled then.

"Guess I blew the pooch on that last one, huh?"

"That's quite alright, dear. While it's true we always did our duty away from prying eyes in the past, but this is the present and many miles away from our relatives. It's entirely fitting that you've decided to go about our business in your own way. As long as you never lose sight that we're gifted with this power for a very specific purpose, it should be alright," Yuuka said.

"Yeah, yeah, with great power comes great responsibility and all that jazz," Lisa said growing disinterested with the history lesson. "I get it, grandma. I'm not…"
She stopped when she happened to see her father when he passed one of the rear windows passing through the kitchen, likely heading down to the basement. Her eyes fell downcast, her entire demeanor becoming saddened.

"I'm not going to falter," she finished.

She shook the feeling off and faced her grandmother with a determined smile.

"Hey! I've waited all my life to put my power to the test against slime balls like that that Hardcore guy! Lisa's got this town covered," Lisa declared.

"Good," Yuuka smiled back. "That's all I needed to hear, Lisa. Let's back inside now."

They both went back in and entered the kitchen. Lisa's mother, Maddie was sifting through her briefcase.

"Hey, mom, what's going on," Lisa asked.

"Just putting my presentation together for tomorrow."

Maddie held up a disc before stuffing it into her briefcase.

"This being the most important piece."

"Ah," Lisa replied.

Maddie looked at Lisa with a concerned expression.

"You sure you girls don't want us to come with? We'll be more than glad to help you get settled in over there. Moving out of your parents' place can be a difficult jump, you know?"

Lisa regarded her mother with affectionate humor.

"Oh, not again," she said. "Yes, I'm sure, mom. Rain and I are eighteen, not eight, and we're going to on our own at the dorm until the holidays, anyway. Besides, I don't want to be a bother to you guys."

"You are never a bother, sweetheart," Maddie assured. "It's just one afternoon. We'll be more than glad to see you all the way to Northeastern if you want."

"I know," Lisa replied. "Really, mom, we total have this!"

"Alright," Maddie replied. "If you insist, we won't follow along for the ride."

They heard a car horn blaring from the front yard. Lisa went over to a window and pushed a curtain aside. Rain was sitting on the open window of the faded, pale brown mini-van and waving to her. Lisa gestured for Rain to come in. She looked back at her mother and grandmother.

"Rain's here," Lisa called.

She opened the front door for her friend. Rain stood maybe an inch taller than Lisa. Standing at the doorway, Rain brushed a blonde lock out of her sapphire eyes. It didn't hang past her neckline, and was cut asymmetrically in one spot next to her right eye. The strand of longer hair hung down to her cheek. It was hastened in place out of her eyes with a clip. Rain also wore glasses upon her round face, with narrow lenses and transparent frames. She had on a navy blue tank top and knee-length skirt and sandals.

"Come on innnnn," Lisa sang.

"Ready to go," Rain asked flatly.

"What? That's it? We're about to embark into the next stage of life, and that's all you have to say," Lisa pretended to chide, but for the cheerful tone in her voice.

"So are you ready," Rain asked again, not breaking tone even slightly.

"You're no fun," Lisa pouted.

Both teens chuckled. Lisa stepped out of the way, letting Rain in.

"So how's our wreck behaving today," Lisa asked.

"Appalling. The ignition doesn't want to turn over and I think the gas tank is leaking," Rain replied, and then added wryly: "So it's been on its very best behavior."

"At least the brakes work now!"

Rain half-laughed and half-shuddered at that one, and remembered to thank whatever deity that saved them that they hadn't been going any over 10 MPH that day.

"We won't be laughing when it refuses to start again," Rain then added.

"Just as long as it gets us to Northeastern," Lisa shrugged.

"It'd be a start," Rain replied. "Well, we better your stuff carried out."

"Hello, Rain," Koji greeted. "How are you today?"

He shook Rain's hand.

"Just fine, Mr. Shirakawa," Rain replied warmly.

"Good, good. You know, you girls were standing right here in this exact spot the first time Lisa invited you over. How old were you? Four…five? I know it was either preschool or kindergarten?"

"Kindergarten, dad," Lisa corrected. "And I'd just found out that Rain lives four blocks away."

"How time flies," Koji muttered, melancholically.

"I know, our baby is all grown up and stubbornly refusing our help," Maddie added.

She had just followed her husband into the living room.

"Last chance," Maddie offered.

"Mom, it's only an hour drive if traffic isn't too bad," Lisa exclaimed, laughing.

"Alright, if that's how you want it," Maddie replied.

She rolled her eyes at her daughter's stubbornness. She was fully anticipating a phone call begging for help later in the day.

"Time to pack up," Lisa announced.

Lisa grabbed her purse off the dining room table, and looped the strap over her shoulder. She then picked up two large suitcases set alongside the stairwell. Rain grabbed 1'-2' plastic container and followed. Lisa out. Koji grabbed the last two, a carry on and her laptop, and followed suit. Then Yuuka , and then, Maddie.

"I've pushed all my things into the back. So we don't have to try to open up the back," Rain told Lisa.

"Thank you," Lisa replied.

The last thing either of them wanted to was figure out how to open up that back door which seemed to have fused itself shut.

When they loaded the baggage in, Rain walked around to the driver's seat while Lisa pulled the door shut. She turned to face her family.

"Why does it feel like I'm going halfway across the States," she asked.

She leapt forward and caught her mother in a tight embrace, which was returned. When they broke it off, she turned to her father.

"Now, it's just an hour away, so we will be seeing you before the holidays, right," Koji asked.

"Yeah, yeah, sure. Weren't you the one who said you'll be glad when I stop eating all your food," Lisa cracked.

"Oh, right. Never mind, then," Koji smirked.

"Oh, dad," Lisa said as they also embraced.

Lastly, Yuuka. She gave a standard bow, which Yuuka returned.

"Thanks for everything, teacher."

"You're welcome, and don't forget."

"I know."

"Lisa," Maddie said. "If you're going to go out again tonight, just be extra careful."
She leaned in and whispered in her daughter's ear.

"They know about you now, so the next crook might not be so surprised."

Lisa padded her mother on the shoulder, reassuringly. She gave them one final goodbye and climbed into the passenger side. With a loud crunching sound, the van started, and the Rain maneuvered it onto the road despite the slack steering. In a few minutes, the cumbersome vehicle was going 25 MPH.

"Oh, man, I'm so glad we live in Naperville. Northeastern would be a real pain to get to otherwise," Lisa said.

"Going to Kendall would've been a hassle, too," Rain said.

"Bleh. I already know how to cook, wait, and keep a restaurant clean. I just need to learn to how to run one."

"Well, I'm glad we're going together," Rain said truly.

"You betcha," Lisa nodded.

"What classes are you taking, again," Rain asked.

"Hang on, they're in my purse," Lisa replied.

She opened up the simple white bag and rummaged through it. After a moment or two, she pulled up the folded piece of paper in question.

"Let's see… Intro to Business, 9:55AM-10:50AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Intro to Accounting, 11:55AM-12:50PM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Culinary 101, Mondays at 5:00PM-8:00PM."

"There's a cooking class at Northeastern," Rain asked, confused.

"It's there just for this semester. I figure even if I'm not attending Kendall, I need to take something like this. And lastly, Hospitality Management, Wednesday evenings."

"No computer classes," Rain asked curiously.

"No need, I've been learning from Mr. Hargrove and mom on my off time," Lisa replied.

"For free? Now that's just cheating, Lisa."

"Ha! Ha, Rain has to paa-yay," Lisa joked with a chiming tone.

"Brat," Rain grinned.

"Meany brainy," Lisa said in a faux childish tone.

"Hey, if you want help learning how to use one practically, I can help," Rain offered. "Your plate's going to be full, especially with business. Well, as long as it doesn't cut into your study time."

"Ugh, and I hate studying," Lisa said.

A glance over at a surprisingly stern look from Rain made her back-peddle immediately.

"Ah, but I know I don't have much of a choice. As it stands, business and accounting just looks like a confusing mess of numbers to me."

"That's because that is exactly they are."

"Well, duh," Lisa laughed.

"Hey, wanna see something neat," Rain asked.

"Sure, what," Lisa replied.

Rain clicked the power button on the radio.

"This is KMMI, your station for light favorites," it crackled.

"Oh, cool, you got the radio to work," Lisa exclaimed.

Lisa began playing around with it trying to find a station she liked.

"I've barely seen you all week," Lisa stated. "Has Dr. Ferrell really been keeping you and the other lab assistants that busy all week?"

"I've been putting in overtime over at Ferrell Labs," Rain replied. "Even with a little money stored up, classes are going to start cutting into my work schedule on Monday."

"Ditto," Lisa agreed. "Gotta earn those extra bucks. We'll be paying for everything, ourselves, on campus. Heh! Mr. Hargrove's just happy to have a worker going practically from dawn past dusk!"

"Oh, what're you doing this semester," Lisa jumped subjects.

"Science, science, science, and more science," Rain replied.

"Oh, right, how could I forget your goal of becoming a mad scientist and taking over the world," Lisa teased, then added in a scratchiest voice muster. "WITH SCIENCE!"

"Goal? I'm already mad. I just need those suckers at the Pentagon to let me in the front door and then I'll finally have access to their legion of killbots," Rain deadpanned.

"So what made you choose Anthropology over Archeology," Lisa asked.

"Well, I love both just about equally, but my best friend got into a college that only has Anthropology classes," Rain replied.

"I'm the scale-tipper," Lisa was very surprised. "Er, you sure about that? I mean, I don't you to restrict yourself…"

"Ah, don't worry about me," Rain insisted. "If you hadn't gotten into Northeastern, I'd have decided with a coin toss!"

"…elieves this Elemental Guardian is not a part of Generation-E," a voice on the radio asked.

"Ooh, that new superheroine from last night," Rain said with interest.

She turned up volume slightly and listened. Lisa cleared her throat uncomfortably and went silent, not sure if she wanted to hear what they had to say about her.

"Well, that's difficult to say at this," another voice answered. "There are legends and rumors of people able to manipulate the natural world around them going back centuries, most of them coming from the Far East, in countries such as Japan and China. This is just the first time we've ever seen one go public like this."

"So it's entirely possible that her powers have nothing to do the '79 bombing?"

"Let's watch something else," Lisa said, wearily. "I'm not into that Super stuff."

"Aw, just a little longer," Rain begged. "I find Supers fascinating! After hundreds of years of minute change in mankind's development, we suddenly have variants jumping ahead and becoming capable of things no one else is! Oh, the evolutionary implications are endless! Even though most Gen-E only have mild physical advantages, it can still lead to bigger, better things do us as a race."

"Well, okay…" Lisa started to reply.

Suddenly, the hood of the van flew up, completely obscuring their vision. Both girls screamed, and Rain slammed on the breaks. She peaked through the narrow gap at the base to see the road.

"Pull over," Lisa shouted hysterically.

"I'm trying," Rain cried back.

Rain finally managed to park it next to a sign telling them not to. Lisa breathed in and out heavily a few times holding her hand over her heart. She climbed and shut the hood.

"Please don't do that again," she said.

She was about to walk back to hop back in when the engine stopped. Lisa looked at Rain and could see she wore a surprised expression, too. She tried restarting it a few times, but it wouldn't quite get turned over for them. Rain leaned in defeat over the steering wheel. Then she reached back and pulled out the tool box.

A while later…

"Alright, try again," Lisa shouted from under the hood.

With a lot of resistance, the engine sputtered into gear. Laughing triumphantly, Lisa slammed the hood down again and climbed back in.

"Quickly, take off before it dies again," Lisa ordered.

"On it," Rain said.

The thing crunched into forward drive and they were off.

"Let's hope it doesn't do that again," Lisa breathed.

"Rmmmmm-clunk," the engine died.

"Oh, just perfect," Rain huffed.

"Well, at least we're in the parking lot," Lisa shrugged. "Welcome to Northeastern Illinois University."

"Barely. We haven't even fully turned in yet," Rain replied.

She tried restarting it to no available.

A car horn honked behind them.

"Let's get out and push it out of the way, and then worry about getting it started," Lisa suggested.

"Right," Rain replied unhappily.

Both girls huffed as they pushed the heavy metal machine the final stretch into the nearest parking space available. Lisa pushing from the back, and Rain pushing from the driver's side, still steering it. It had been slow going for what seemed for perpetuity. After putting it into Park, Rain slide down and sat next to it on the grass just beyond the edge of the lot.

List wiped the sweat from her brow and leaned over to see Rain.

"Well, we're here. We better carry our stuff in and get settles," Lisa said.
Rain looked at her, and then at daunting distance to the Richardson Hall Dormitory doubtfully. She shook her head.

"Why? We have a whole parking lot of empty spaces a lot closer to the buildings. Why walk all that distance when we could just get the engine running again?"

"That could take hours, and I'd rather not be out in 80 degree weather and under the hot sun that long," Lisa said firmly.

Rain looked up at her friend's unflinching expression.

"Alright," she sighed.

"Great," Lisa replied relieved that Rain had actually given up without an argument for once.
They retrieved their belongings and started the long walk to the front office of the college. Mercifully, they each had a suitcase with wheels. So, with one hand holding both the carry on and the wheeled case, with the plastic container under her armpit, and the other arm carrying the other case, Lisa was walking.

"We can come back for the mini-fridge later," Rain said.

"But not too much later," Lisa pointed out. "I don't fully trust a hunk of metal we got that cheaply."

"Not anywhere than the other hunk of metal we got a bit too cheaply," Rain said, eyeing the van reproachfully. "I swear the next time mom and dad want to help me move, I am totally taking them up on that offer."

Lisa laughed guiltily, and looked away, knowing full well that this had been her idea.

"Well, too late now. Oh, well, look on the bright side. This is great exercise."

A moment of silence passed.

"Yeah… No," Rain said flatly.

"If you were actually in shape, this wouldn't be so hard," Lisa chided half-heartedly.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Rain grumbled.

"I did offer to take you on morning jogs all the time growing up, which you always refused," Lisa replied.

"Yeah, really regretting that now," Rain admitted with a sigh. "And no more rubbing in, alright?"
Lisa giggled devilishly.

After a long walk and several breaks, they finally arrived at the front desk. A receptionist looked up at the pair that just walked in the door.

"Hello. How can I help you," she asked pleasantly.

"Hi. We're freshmen, just getting moved in," Lisa greeted.

"Alright, I'll need your names," the receptionist replied.

She twirled the chair around facing the computer and checked.

"Lisa Ellison-Shirakawa," Lisa said.

"Rain White."

They gave her their address information.

"Okay and…you're both registered with us. Looks like you placed in a request to be roommates. I'll just punch in confirmation that you've arrived. Your room number is 3-18, on the third floor. I'll get your keys."

She got and went into another office.

"I hope they have an elevator," Rain muttered.

The receptionist returned with their keys shortly later.

"Here you go. You can just head on over now and get settled in. Your floor's RA should be in right now. There's a tour of the dorm in about an hour."

"Thank you," they both said.

They started to leave the building.

"Oh, where is my head," the receptionist suddenly cried. "Ladies, I almost forget to mention, the third floor is Co-Ed!"

A few minutes later at Richardson hall, they stepped through the front door of the unadorned pale gray building.

"Finally," Rain grumbled.

"Oh, come on, the walk wasn't that long. Hey, at least you're getting all kinds of exercise today," Lisa teased.

Rain responded with a sour look.

As expected, the inside was drab like the outside. White tile floors, punctuated by gray ceilings and walls were what passed for any kind of furnishing. Aside from some simple wooden furniture and potted plants, that is.

Rain set her things down and sat on a nearby sofa while Lisa walked off a ways to look around.

"Hey, Lisa, is there an elevator," she asked with a tired voice.

"Nope. It looks we've got stairs to climb."

"Wonderful," Rain muttered.

They found the stairs at the far left end of the building, and the climb bearing luggage turned out to be every bit as much lacking in fun as Rain feared. When they came to the third floor, they were greeted by a young man maybe a few years older than them. He was holding a clipboard and pen. He was about six feet fall, medium build, blue-green eyes, brown shaggy hair, and had a broad square face that remained angled at the chin. His features were rugged.

"Hello. Randy Strong," he greeted nicely. "I'm your floor assistant. Looks like I have myself some early birds here. Most of the other Freshmen won't even be arriving until later."
He stuck out his hand and shook their hands. The twosome introduced themselves.

"Well," Randy said. "Well, since I don't have anything else to do right now, I can give you two an abbreviated version of the tour right now."

"Sure," Rain shrugged.

"That is, as long as our room is the first of the many wonders," she added dryly.

Randy laughed, but was understanding. He had noticed that Rain did seem bushed.
He took them down the hall towards their room. Along the way, he stopped and pointed out an alcove right before the hall split in four directions where the vending machines and restrooms were located. He rounded the right corner, leading them halfway down that way.

"3-18, here we are," he announced.

He produced a key ring from his pocket, and then unlocked and opened the door for them. He stepped away.

"Thank you," they said, greatly appreciating his politeness.

Lisa went in first, followed by Rain. They beheld their new abode, feeling very underwhelmed.
The room was small. Enough so that it seemed intended to house one, but ending up serving two instead. It was ten feet across and twenty inwards. On the back wall was a window, a table big enough for one with one, and a chair. To either side of the girls were two single size beds with a small dresser each at their feet and a shelf thee feet overhead. Closets lacking doors were at the corners.

"Cozy," Rain said.

"Left or right," Lisa asked.


Rain then went to the back and stuffed her bags into her closet while Lisa just stacked hers' on her bed. After that, they were ready for the tour. As promised, it was over quick. Randy showed them the student lounge, the showers, the cafeteria, and the telephone, all of which were on the first floor.

"And lastly, there's a lounge meeting at 7, tonight. Attendance is mandatory. It's to go over the dorm rules and policies," he finished. "I can't be long away from our floor, so see you two later."
He departed. With that out of the way, they returned to their room. Rain began rummaging through her bags. She pulled out her purse, from which she took her wallet.

"I'm going to get a snack," she announced. "You want anything, Lisa?"

"Maybe later. Hey, don't forget your key."

"I got it. Be right back."

The blonde stepped out. Lisa got to emptying her bags and organizing everything she'd brought.

Ring! Ring! Ring! Rin-!

"Hello," Yuuka answered her cell.


"Kouta? Kouta, is that you? It's been so long! Is something wrong?"

Yuuka began to feel apprehensive at the fact that Kouta was calling from halfway across the world so suddenly.

"Sister, explain to me why the spawn of Koji has made the news and has been caught on camera."

A/N: Yes, I know neither of those news anchors actually works at ABC-7. Why yes, Lisa is a brony.

As for Yuuka's little talk with Lisa, I want to set the record straight. The only thing Yuuka means by Lisa having leeway to act as the Elemental Guardian the way she does is that things are different here halfway across the world. DIFFERENT,not better. Just different. I am in no way biased against differing cultures. I'm just commenting on the fact that different cultures do things differently.

Oh yeah, that junk pile Lisa and Rain drive? That's my old van. No exaggeration. How the van acted on the day I went away to college isn't an exaggeration, either.

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